FIFTEEN years ago, the first British man to have a masters degree in brewing, Alistair Hook, formed Meantime Brewing Company with a group of friends in a Greenwich flat.

Shortly after, they found premises in Penhall Road and now the company has a modern Bavarian brewhouse in Blackwall Lane, which is due to nearly double in size this year.

It has capacity to brew nearly 17.6million pints a year, supplies more than 1,000 pubs, is stocked in supermarkets and makes bespoke brews for Marks and Spencer.

Aside from its staggering expansion – it is now the second biggest brewer in London behind Fullers – the impressive thing about Meantime is its dedication to quality; perfect for the discerning drinker.

The brewery is one of the first brewers in the country to pick up the US-style craft method, where the focus is on producing the best quality beer using the best ingredients and the best available technology.

As an example, the beers are all matured for at least 28 days (some, like the M&S Whisky Barrel Porter matures for six weeks) and all of the carbonation is natural.

Some commercial lagers take just 90 hours to ‘mature’ before they are pasteurised and carbonated.

Rather than pasteurisation, Meantime uses an expensive filtering system which is also vegetarian and vegan friendly, unlike the fish-bladder based filtration system preferred by some ale brewers.

Popular two-hour tours of the brewery run every Thursday and Friday evening and during the day on Saturdays and Sundays and cost £15. Last year more than 10,000 people took a tour.

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MEANTIME has three beer sommeliers who are experts in their craft and know exactly which beer will suit your meal.

The strong hop flavour of the Indian Pale Ale is a good match for other strong flavours like curries or cheeses.

The dark, smokey and unctuous Porter is perfect with pies or gravy dishes.
Fruity flavours like the Raspberry Wheat Beer has a bitterness which cuts through flavours like goats cheese.

Chocolate Porter has a rounded flavour which contrasts nicely with sharp blue cheese.