You’ll have no doubt seen the news already – Greenwich’s Meantime Brewing has been sold to drinks giant SABMiller, home to Foster’s, Grolsch and Peroni.
Funnily enough, I was in Meantime‘s first pub, the Greenwich Union, for the first time in ages yesterday. Meantime’s high prices have increasingly put me off – over a fiver for something brewed down the road? – but I did conclude that if I was going to have a cheeky beer in Greenwich, I might as well make sure the profit stays local. Sadly, that won’t be the case any more.
Over the years, it’s interesting how animated people in this area get when they talk about Meantime – a kind of pride mixed with puzzlement. After all, it was the first of London’s craft breweries – remember when it was just Meantime and Zero Degrees, with both selling their beer remarkably cheaply? I may mist over shortly at golden summers spent drinking wheat beer and raspberry beer in the back garden of the Greenwich Union.
Prices have rocketed since but service – particularly in the otherwise glorious Old Brewery – has been patchy. One thing that struck me about the Greenwich Union yesterday is that they wouldn’t take payment for a round of drinks at the bar – which struck me as a ridiculously fiddly way of doing it.
Still, good luck to the Meantime team. I hope the firm – which now has a fourth outlet, The Tasting Rooms, at its brewery on Blackwall Lane, adding to the Beer Box, which opened last summer – keeps its local roots.
And cherish the local and London breweries that have followed in Meantime’s footsteps: Hop Stuff in Woolwich, Brockley Brewery, Brick in Peckham, Bexley Brewery in Erith, a whole load in Bermondsey, and many more besides. Anyone else now inspired to take up brewing?
Sad day for independent brewers… Don’t forget The Long Pond in Eltham (https://www.facebook.com/thelongpond)
Is The Long Pond brewing its own? Lots of micropubs springing up too: http://deserter.co.uk/tag/micropub/
I was put off by the prices on Blackwall Lane esp as its brewed yards away. It seems both meantime and 0 degrees were keen to price out the very people who put them on the map
“I hope the firm……..stays local”
Meantime will not be leaving Greenwich. The brewery will remain autonomous within the larger group (as many SABMiller-owned breweries are) and will be expanding and creating more local jobs.
SABMiller bought Meantime for its innovation and expertise – Meantime is going to be building a pilot brewery which will be SAB’s European R&D facility. Meantime will not be under pressure to dumb its beers down – actually quite the reverse.
Another way of looking at it is that a local business has done really well. Great entrepreneurship in action, congrats to Meantime!
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