Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Beers Of London Series 68. Meantime - Barbados Rum Barrel Aged Greenwich Ale

Beers Of London Series
68. Meantime - Barbados Rum Barrel Aged Greenwich Ale 6.0%

If you've followed this blog since its inception you may remember that I reviewed the Bourbon barrel aged version of this beer back in April last year. You may also remember that even though I enjoyed it I was a little disappointed that more of the Bourbon character didn't reveal itself.

You may well ask then why I would want to review a beer that might be almost indistinguishable from one that I've already covered, After all it's essentially the same beer, still brewed with seven different malts, brewed the same way in the same place with the only difference being the vessel in which it was aged. Well, first of all I admit that I'm a sucker for a smart box or tin and this one, with its rather garish nautical theme caught my eye as I came down the escalator at my local Marks and Spencer. Secondly I'm rather partial to Meantime beer, the people that work there are friendly and they invite me to lots of events, I'll be at the re-launch of their Union Lager next Tuesday if I can avoid the proposed tube strike, and these things are always rather well run. If everything goes to plan then I'll be writing about that soon. This beer is aged for five months in the rum barrels which, according to the information on the bottle was brought back by sailors who are traditionally partial to the stuff.

Onto the beer itself. Out of the box the bottle is corked and caged, a good thing you may think however this one was a bit stiff and a little tricky to open, but at least I know it was relatively airtight. At first glance it appears almost pitch black in the glass with a creamy beige head, but holding it up to the light you can see it's actually a deep dark ruby red, and really rather beautiful. The aroma is thick with coffee, chocolate and blackberry with a faint mustiness that you might associate with damp wood lurking right at the back. Daintily smooth as it glides across the tongue there's an initial thrust of coffee flavour which is rather pleasing, but this is pushed roughly to one side by a jarring metallic sharpness which isn't very nice at all. Not to be put off, I put this down to it being too cold and as I warmed it in my hands that nastiness retreated and it was transformed  into a wonderful coconut, chocolate and pineapple combination of flavours which is both interesting and tasty. The more it warms the harder the malts work, pushing burnt toast and espresso coffee flavours into the mix and it's here that those subtle vanilla tones creep in, rounding off the edges of any harshness, easing you into a creamy fruity finish with lots of lovely muted coffee and chocolate flavours. Be warned though, let it actually get to room temperature (admittedly I have the heating on) and it loses all its subtlety and becomes a bit of a gooey chocolate mess to be honest, a little too bitter for my taste and not good at all.

This beer has distinct similarities with its Bourbon barrel aged cousin but its nuances are all its own, and I can only attribute this to the Barbados Rum barrels, however it does have a definite temperature 'sweet spot' where it all comes together in perfect harmony and sings a beautiful song. Let it go beyond that at your peril.

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