Regular readers will perhaps not be surprised to read that my drinking buddy at the Union earlier was my close personal associate ‘The Kid’ Peter, we wanted an unpretentious lunch and some top beer. Our sandwiches were perfectly edible, whereas the beer was of the very highest quality.[image image_id=”2035″ align=”left”]
We started off with a pint of Meantime London Pale Ale. When we were served our pints we were both surprised by the colour of the beer. It was very pale, the colour of lager, we are used to it being darker than this. Any doubts we had about the beer were instantly dismissed as soon as we tasted our pints: these were the best examples of the London Pale Ale we had ever tasted. The beer was bursting with vivid life with brilliant floral hoppy flavours and an extremely pleasing bitterness. This was totally invigorating and refreshing, our pints just begged us to keep drinking them. Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, if it has been well kept, is probably a better pale ale, but this was a serious contender.
Next up were some fruit beers. Peter had a bottle of Boon Kriek; Belgian lambic beer with cherry juice added. It had a strong cherry character, so strong some might think it over-whelmed any beer characters. I like Boon lambics because they are usually pretty dry and have great acidity, properties this example also had.[image image_id=”2417″ size=”single-cropped-thumbnail” align=”right” ]
I think I did rather better with my fruit beer, a Meantime Raspberry Grand Cru. This is an old favourite of mine, a beer with flavours as livid as its red colour. It bursts with fruity vivacity and yet is totally dry with plenty of refreshing acidity. This clocks in at 6.5% but it doesn’t seem in the slightest bit heavy or thick which some beers of this strength can. I tell you, this is a really serious drink. Fruit beers are not just for people who don’t really like beer, this had what it needed where it needed it.
Our final drink was the quite mind-shatteringly fantastic Meantime India Pale Ale. This scores highly in the heroism stakes being 7.5%, and this alcohol level gives the beer some richness. However, it also has an array of dense, layered, hoppy bitter qualities which give this real complexity. These flavours give the palate a slightly savoury character which I find extremely pleasing. This was a truly brilliant beer for bold people who are not afraid of powerful tastes and getting a bit drunk.
If you want some extremely compelling beers and Greenwich is within easy reach then amble up Royal Hill and install yourself in the Union for a couple of hours of quality beer imbibing. Oh yes, the sandwiches are quite large, come with decent chips and are made from high-grade ingredients.
I was back at the Union yesterday. The pale ale was again very good indeed. But the food – oh dear. I tried a new sandwich on the menu. It claimed to be Foie Gras and chicken liver pate, with rocket and some kind of chutney. It really wasn’t very good. I won’t be ordering it again.
But the real disappointment was the chips. I’ve always liked the chips at the Union. Made from real potatoes, peeled, chopped and fried, not the horrible things that come out of bags that too many places serve nowadays. But today at the Union my chips were soaked in grease. Even the smell of them was horrible, before I got to tasting them. I tried a couple – inedible. I sent them back, and another portion was provided. From a new batch, I was told. The new ones were a bit better, but really not good. Still greasy. I thought possibly it was a new chef, but no, the barman told me it was the regular person. Another thought was that the oil had been used too many times – it was a late lunch, at around 2.30 pm, so they had been serving food for a while. Really disappointing. I’ll give food at the Union another go, but if it happens a second time, in future I’ll be going there only for the beer, not to eat.