A Brief History
The Old Brewery is a newly opened microbrewery located in Greenwich, London. It is operated by the Greenwich-based Meantime Brewery and is attached to the Discover Greenwich museum. The brewery is located in the Old Naval College which was originally the Greenwich Hospital. The hospital was built by Christopher Wren between 1696 and 1712 and closed in 1869. Between 1873 and 1998 it was the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.
According to Drink Britain, Greenwich pensioners had daily rations of three pints for ‘restorative’ purposes. Local brewers supplied the beer, but sometimes there were problems with the brew. And because of the problems, a brewery was built on the site in 1717 to supply the hostpial. The brewery continued to operate until 1868.
The brewery consists of a large café area that transforms in to a restaurant in the evening. This area contains a lot of the brewing equipment stacked up high in the corner of the room. It’s a pity that it isn’t more on display like in the Zero Degrees microbrewies as I’m sure most of the people who sit in the café have no idea what the equipment does.
The room has a huge timeline that runs around most of the room that gives a history of brewing and brewing in London. I didn’t read much of it but one surprising titbit I picked up was that in 1890, the UK had over 12,000 breweries! Unfortunately, by the end of the century that figure had shrunk by a third. By the 1970s, this figure had shrunk to just 150.
The café contains a three taps – Kellerbier (a cellar-served lager brewed at the Old Brewery), Helles and London Pale Ale. Foolishly, I thought these three beers were all that were on offer a bought a pint of Kellerbier. It was only after buying the beer that I discovered the smaller bar next door that contained a much larger variety of beers.
On tap were no less than 8 different Meantime beers (The Famous Belgian, Wheat, Kellerbier, London Stout, London Pale Ale (cask and keg), Helles, Kolner and Hospital Porter). Also on sale were Haverys Best, Dark Star Hop, Aspalls Cider, Mort Subit, Brooklyn Beer and Schonram Pils and Dunkel. In addition, they serve a large range of bottled beers.
Whilst the selection is impressive, the prices are not. The bottles are very expensive – £5.10 for a Sam Smiths’ Nut Brown Ale and £3.50 for a half of the Hospital Porter! Granted the Hospital Porter is 8%, but I’m not sure that £3.50 is worth it for a beer that’s brewed in the room next door. That said, I’m glad I did buy a half as it’s a wonderfully smoky beer that’s very easy to drink.
There isn’t a great deal of room in the bar but if you are lucky enough to visit on a sunny day, there is a large amount of seating outside.
The Old Brewery is definitely made it to my list of London pubs worth visiting, just make sure you save up before you visit.
More Photos of The Old Brewery
The Old Brewery
Old Royal Naval College
Tel: 020 3327 1280
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