MASTERCLASS: “The Knowledge” at Meantime Brewing Company Greenwich

Hops? That’s the lipstick and mascara on a beer says our Brewer and Beer Sommelier of the Year, Rod Jones. You can tell he’s not a fan of fancy, hipster-style concoctions. He’s a ‘proper brewer’ and knows his stuff inside out.  And he’s generous in sharing his know-how on this terrific one-day master class at Greenwich Meantime Brewing Company in south-east London.

It’s called The Knowledge – and armed with this, I can now hold my own among the beerdies and  beeriasts. Man in London’s Alan Greenhalgh reports…

In a nutshell, Meantime have devised a series of courses aimed at giving budding brewers an opportunity to learn from Master Brewer Alastair Hook and award-winning Beer Sommelier Rod Jones on the fundamentals of craft brewing – giving what is arguably the very first footing in specifically modern-craft training for the public – quite simply helping incubate the next generation of trainee brewers in the UK. The Knowledge is the one day course, but there are other classes and tours you can book online here:

Greenwich Meantime Brewery

Beer Sommelier of the Year Rod Jones

I already knew that beer only needs a few ingredients  – water, a cereal containing starch, yeast and hops, but how the hell did we come up with the process over seven thousand years ago?  I get that fruit rots and ferments – et voila, we’ve got drunk farmers. But grains? Our ancestors may have milled the germinating barley with their teeth, making what’s essentially a pint of spit which they fermented and it turned into beer.  We might never know the answer how, but thanks that they did,  and now I learned so much more such as why Guinness is black and who’s this flavoursome Ester?

The Knowledge Beer Masterclass at Greenwich Meantime Brewery

Getting down to work…drink is part of the training

Class starts at ten and time flies quickly – well, it is Greenwich, home of the time line, before our first sup of beer around 10:30. This was the pattern for the day, lesson, beer, lesson. It reminded me of my school science classes – with schematics of seeds and fermentation processes, but without the beer in those days, obviously.

We find out that bakers and brewers used to be neighbours – one taking the wheat and the other the barley (have you ever tasted barley bread?) and there was always plenty of yeast left over from brewing for the bread to rise. You wouldn’t know it with all the fuss about craft beers, but at its peak in 1900 we made 1 billion pints of beer and shipped it all over the world from the British Commonwealth to the Baltic States. We’ve covered the ‘why’ and the technical ‘how’ in depth on the craft of beer and sampled of a few of the ‘what’.

After lunch – a very good steak sandwich in the bar (open to the public) with another beer, we headed into the brewery to see where the magic happens. With steel and robots these days, by the look of this state-of-the-art facility. It’s also a must see for the Mayor of Greenwich’s guests – a real pride for this industrial peninsula.

Inside the brewery

Inside the brewery

meantime brewing company robot

life support machine for beer – we weren’t allowed to hook up!

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The quality control robot checks the seal and weight before doing a nifty beer dance

Meantime Brewery inside

there’s so much yeast produced this is all live and smells lovely, sort of!

Meantime Brewing Company

The grain towers above


Greenwich Meantime Brewery

Man In London at the wheel – could be a dodgy pint!

After the great tour down and in amongst all the equipment – hi vis jackets required – it’s back to base for a wrap up beer and it’s home to share the knowledge.

This is the perfect gift for a beer lover.  A great taster for a want-to-be beer maker. Technical, extremely interesting but also fun – what’s not to love about drinking freshly made beer!

A full day master class at one of Britain’s best new breweries. A steal at £90.

NEXT DATES : One day Masterclasses 10am – 3pm (lunch included) 30 October, 27 November, 18 December

Find out more of London’s illustrious brewing history 

Book The Knowledge here

Read more about other London brewery tours here:

How to get there?

Meantime Brewing address is Lawrence Trading Estate, Blackwall Lane, London SE10 0AR – a short walk or bus ride from North Greenwich Jubilee Line underground station.

Tel: +44 (0)20 8293 1111

Read about my chocolate masterclass here


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