Tap Talks: Laura Edwards, Meantime Brewing

Laura Edwards took over as general manager of Greenwich-based Meantime Brewing in 2016, after previously holding the role of director of brand marketing in fellow Asahi-owned beer brand, Peroni UK. She has worked in the drinks industry for 18 years, holding positions at Anheuser Busch Europe and Pernod Ricard UK. Meantime was founded in 2000 by Alastair Hook in a small lock-up on an industrial estate opposite Charlton Athletic’s football ground. It was bought by SAB Miller in 2015, and following AB InBev’s acquisition in 2016, it was sold to Asahi to comply with regulations.

When and why did you first get into beer? 

I grew up in a village near Stoke-on-Trent, which had a fantastic local pub that really was the hub of the village. My dad and I would frequently visit for him to enjoy his favourite brew, Marston’s Pedigree. His passion for that beer and the role that pub had in many happy family memories sparked my love for beer and this industry. My sister and I actually ended up working in the pub to fund ourselves through university (and to fund my love of beer!). Needless to say, my dad’s allegiance has changed and it is now Meantime London Pale Ale.

What would you be as a beer?

I’d have to pick our new Meantime Anytime IPA. It’s a hoppy session IPA, packed full of flavour yet balanced by a lower ABV. It’s also very on trend, quite low in bitterness and very easy to get along with despite having such character. Reading that back I’m sure many people who know me will rightly challenge this self-evaluation!

What is your favourite hop variety and why?

For me, it is the hop varieties that call the Yakima Valley in the USA home. The likes of Simcoe, Amarillo, Centennial and Citra for example, all of which give beers like our Meantime Yakima Red those amazing floral aromas and tropical fruit flavours. The hops native to Yakima, AKA ‘hop heaven’, have had a huge impact on craft beer universally and the fantastic evolution of styles and flavour profiles we see today. My personal mission this year is to make sure I join our BrewMaster, Ciaran, on one of his annual trips to hand-select the finest hops from all four corners of the globe for our beers. An amazing experience.

Who is your inspiration in the beer world?

It has to be Alastair Hook, who founded Meantime in 1999 and pioneered the craft beer movement in the UK through his passion to give people more and better beer choice. He is a true visionary, twice awarded Brewer of the Year, recognising his commitment to uncompromising quality and brewing flavourful, sessionable beers for everyone to enjoy. A legacy we passionately believe in and continue with his support.

Where are you happiest?

When I am with my husband and four-year-old son running around London exploring everything the city has to offer. We love finding new places to go out for good food and drink and are always looking for the next amazing experience London has tucked away. My son has developed a love for some unique and expensive foods which I guess is the risk (and benefit!) of living in such a diverse, dynamic city.

What is your greatest vice?

Having “just one more” which invariably means I am running slightly late to get wherever I am going to meet friends or family. Strangely, I am always on time for work related events!

What are the best and worst things about the beer industry?

The best thing is the people, the craft beer world is one big, highly sociable community, united by and attracting people who have a love of great beer and a passion for brewing.

The worst thing are the negative misconceptions that exist and do a disservice to what is an exciting, increasingly progressive and increasingly diverse, inclusive industry.

What is your proudest achievement in beer?

This job. Being responsible for one of London’s leading modern craft breweries which is putting value and interest back into beer for both our consumers and our customers, and getting to do that with a team who are united in our passion for spreading Meantime’s love of proper beer around the world.

What is your ultimate beer and food pairing?

It changes frequently! Last year we brewed Kansho, a Pale Ale infused with ginger and lime, for our pals at Wagamama’s, I love this with a hot bowl of chilli chicken ramen. The zesty flavours in the beer compliment the fresh coriander and lime in the dish. The hop bitterness helps to temper any heat, and the ginger notes in the beer elevate the whole thing to another level.

Which beer style do you find it impossible to get along with?

Gose beer, no matter how hard I try. I appreciate the brewing expertise that has created some exceptional brews, but I still can’t get along with it on multiple levels!

If you weren’t working in beer, what would you be doing?

Trying to find a way to get into the industry whilst having lots of fun with my son, family and friends.

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