There is no doubt that the twelve deliveries of two 75cl bottles of special and rare beers as part of the College Beer Club membership will prove to be excellent beers. However, at a chunky £350 for an annual membership, the guys at Meantime know that they will need to offer something additional in order to get people to join and more importantly renew for a second year.
Their idea is to make the Club more collegiate and to bring to members something a little different than just pubs and beer and to include a number of exclusive member benefits and events.
The launch event was held a couple of weeks ago at the Courtauld Gallery in Somerset House, SE1 where members of the club were invited to a private viewing of one of Manet’s last great paintings, the Bar at the Folies-Bergère, painted in 1882.
About fifty members ventured out on a very cold evening and we were guided on arrival into the main gallery which is packed with major Impressionist works by leading artists such as Van Gogh and Gaugin. We eventually gathered in front of Manet's iconic painting where we were addressed on its merits, its context and its historical importance by Emeritus Professor John House, a leading authority on such works.
The only beer in the gallery was the two bottles of Bass that are in the painting of the Bar at the Folies Bergère - one thought is that the famous venue was a tourist trap attracting wealthy Brits who were drawn to their favourite beer - served warm from the bar - before legging it with one of the ladies of the night. Alternatively, the Bass could have been such a world famous beer that it sold well among the chilled champagne and fine wines.
After a full illustration of the painting we were led to the foyer where Peter Haydon of Meantime gave a talk on the history of brewing in London, the Bass application for the very first trademark and the tales that all beer - whether IPA, Stouts and Porters and indeed Pilsner lager all emanated from London.
We were all drawn into the stories with copious amounts of Meantime IPA, London Porter and were sent home with a bottle of the most tasty, Meantime London Lager.
A very enjoyable evening in good company that will hopefully set the scene for the year ahead. I am looking forward to the next event almost as much as the next delivery of beer.
It is hoped that the next event will be a talk on some of the famous Hogarth etchings that are in the John Soane Museum while the next beer will be a 7.5% Scotch Ale.