In the Meantime

While real ale in itself isn’t going to change white, male “boy’s club” feel of beer drinking in the UK, it does have the potential for wider appeal with women and people of color. How is this going to happen?

One possible way is that beer will be marketed to separate race and gender demographics. People will buy it from supermarkets and drink it in front of the telly.

Where is the fun in that? Beer is a social thing, a bonding agent. Beer has the potential to really bring people together joyfully. What if real ale culture harnessed that anew, starting with pubs and festivals radically rethinking their base?

Perhaps the nationalistic, tradition-based advertising approach of many British pubs, festivals and breweries is not ultimately the way forward if real ale is to have more appeal. In the changing landscape of Britain it must have wider appeal to really survive and grow.

Meantime– which doesn’t produce cask-conditioned ale– is an amazing example of British beer adopting international styles and learning from the American microbrewery revolution. Easy-drinking kolsh and Munich styles plus Strawberry cream, blackcurrant porter and raspberry ale are beers that will appeal to women, but they aren’t marketed patronizingly at us. Also the packaging in the grocery store and the pub spoke to me: bottles with a beautiful font and a great name. They were elegant, back to basics and yet full of London magic (Greenwich Mean Time– time begins here–).

The Greenwich Union pub did not disappoint, and echoed the branding effortlessly. Everything was perfect down to the details: the glasses were appropriate to the style and brewery branded, and even carefully sprayed down after pouring by the bar staff so they wouldn’t be sticky. The beer itself was perfect in every way– the kolner seemed quite accurate especially– I suppose it can’t be called a kolsh because you can’t hear the bells of the Dom in Greenwich! The dunkel rivaled my favourite of that style– Andrechs. The raspberry was specially perfect for drinking outside on a summer’s day. The sunny Union garden did remind me of happy times with friends in the beer gardens of Bavaria. It was a Sunday afternoon and there were many more women here drinking– maybe even outnumbering men. Though it was still a predominantly white crowd.

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8 Responses

  1. I just wanted to say: that picture of the Meantime makes me thirsty.

  2. Meantime make a fascinating marketing case study in the beer world. And of course make wonderful beer, which helps.

  3. I wish Meantime would do more cask beer.

    Pubs in which women frequently outnumber men aren’t so rare.

  4. Hi Boak– I was actually prompted to go to the pub based on your review. I had seen the bottles in Waitrose but I didn’t know they had a brew pub. So, thanks.

  5. Hi Stonch–

    It’s true it’s not a rare thing to see lots of women in pubs– but many usually drink wine or mixed drinks, though! I was happy to see that here women were drinking all kinds of beer.

  6. I’ve noticed that with beer adverts. It’s nearly always three men in a pub – and not women. But the only time my local gets predominantly male is when the football is on. If women aren’t represented in the advertising this reinforces the idea that beer (and indeed pubs) is a purely male thing.
    I do think you’re right about the need to readvertise ale with a fresher approach. Meantime certainly have a ‘younger’ look to the product, as do Bath Ales (or as they style themselves, bath ales) which hopefully carries over to the demographic. And if you get a younger market you also get a more mixed one – which real ale needs. I know it isn’t true of all, but the committee of my local CAMRA branch is entirely white, male and over 35 – not that there is anything wrong with being white, male and over 35, but for some reason other ethnicities, women, and younger people aren’t represented. Perhaps it has to do with the tradition-based thing you point out here and elsewhere: real ale and morris dancing, neither of which are specifically activities for middle-aged men, but seem to be seen as such.

  7. […] pedantic draft selection so I suggested checking out the bottles, and lo and behold at number 16 is Meantime. Oh, it’s a porter, but who cares? Here’s a chance to have some British beer that I […]

  8. This was my local pub when I lived in Greenwich. A fantastic pub and they even let you sample the beer to make sure you get what you want.

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