Tasting the Meantime Coffee

Coffee, its not just for breakfast anymore! The Meantime Coffee Beer is exactly that, a beer brewed with coffee beans. The Meantime Brewery in London England has used Fairtrade Araba Bourbon Coffee Beans to brew this Porter style coffee beer. Meantime’s BrewMaster focuses on proper maturation of his beers, and never pasteurizing them. Because of this, along with his attention to detail and passion for creating real beer, the British Guild of beer Writers named him the 2008 Brewer of the Year.

This is actually quite an award winning beer taking home World Champion Medals in ’06 and ’07, as well as was listed as one of the World 50 Best Beers in the International Beer Challenge in 2008. This beer really was brewed with a lot of coffee, so there is actually some caffeine here; one bottle of it is the equivalent of one cup of coffee! One of my favorite things about this beer is the awesome, slightly wine-shaped 341ml bottle that it comes in. It is very slender and modern – I’d love to see it in a 750ml bottle. 

I had this bottle at Chancey Smith’s in London Ontario. It is 6.0% abv, and was served to me quite cold, probably around 6C (43F) in a nice large snifter. The pour was light and silky glowing a deep and dark brown beer with beautiful rays and red amber and mahogany shining through it. The head was soft and creamy forming a gentle, off-white nutty foam. Sitting there in the light it was quite pretty. The beer showed great ruby streaks everywhere, and the head was amazingly dense.

The nose was very obvious; gentle roasted coffee, dry coffee grinds, fresh brewed dark coffee, and hints of dark malt and roast malt. No joke. This is not merely just a coffee scent. All these variations were unique and distinctly discernible in this beer. It was gentle overall with a hint of lightly sweet dark malts, and some fresh earthy hops. It definitely smelled quite quenching, and less creamy that I would have originally hoped for.

As I brought the beer to my mouth, the coffee aromas got richer and richer. It glides into your palate smoothly and easily with a cold quenching wave of light iced coffee, fresh grinds and that indistinguishable flavor of freshly brewed dark coffee. Wide, but soft roast is everywhere on your tongue and melts into your cheeks very easily. Toasted nuts and dark malts begin to show a greater presence as the beer warms a touch, but the big deal here is the rich and ripe flavor of roasted coffee beans.

Unlike many coffee porters though, it is distinctly coffee and not espresso. It makes it very light on its feet and comes off as a easy drinking coffee porter with refreshing and quenching characteristics. This leads me to the mouthfeel – thin. The texture of this beer is lightly oily, but overall it is very light and delicate. I was expecting (and hoping) for a mouth coating creamy smooth beer, but this is not the case. It is quite smooth, but very gentle with a elegant and very small weight. It does lend itself to the overall structure of this beer, being very gentle and showing freshly roasted coffee – so really, I would not say that this is a fault.

The finish shows some bitter hob charater and an obvious bitter roast coffee note. Once again, quite refreshing; like an iced coffee on steroids. This will actually pair verywell will food I bet, especially with chocolate. But I would try with roasted meats and standard pub fare. Also, although 6C seems a bit cold for a porter, Meantime never really calls this a porter, and cold does work for it; quite well.

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