Studio 48 integrated brewing, tasting, shopping eating and drinking for London-based craft-brewer: Meantime
Designer: Studio 48 London
Size: 836 sq m
Cost: Not disclosed
Duration: 24 weeks
Words by Emily Martin
Images by Michael Franke
London-based craft-brewer Meantime Brewing has opened the doors on the Tasting Rooms: a new multipurpose venue that offers the chance to tour, drink and shop in the company's main brewery in Greenwich.
Studio 48 London created Meantime's 'modern craft-beer' experience, which converted an 836 sq m space, adjacent to the existing brewery, to provide a 100-person capacity bar and retail space against a dramatic backdrop of giant maturation tanks. Delivering a scheme that bridges the gap between consumer and brewing process, creative strategist at Studio 48 London Gabriel Murray says it has been a 'fascinating challenge' for the studio to integrate brewing, tasting, shopping, drinking and eating - and has done so by providing the brewery's new retail space.
Brewing tanks are made a feature in the bar area of the space
The shop immerses consumers in Meantime's modern craft-brewery experience, which is also the arrival space to the brewery and doubles as the visitor centre. Visitors to the brewery are greeted by a central, circular, aluminium table furnished with stools and iPads, and flanked with bespoke units carrying Meantime merchandise and lifestyle apparel.
As well as the magnificent backdrop of the brewery, complete with the new 80,000ltr maturation tanks and a 21st-century kegging robot, all viewable from the retail area, an impressive cold store is sited towards the rear of the shop, allowing visitors to buy chilled beer to enjoy later at home. 'The cold store is an American concept and has really taken off in the USA among the craft brewers there,' says Murray, who was keen to use the concept for Meantime. 'It uses a wall refrigeration system, but we had to adapt under-counter refrigeration units as wall refrigeration is not available in the UK.'
From Urban Cottage, metal cages sit over a 'classic' bulb to add to the industrial vibe of the space
Founded by Murray in 2003, Studio 48 London has completed a wide range of hotels, restaurants and retail spaces for brands on a global scale across its core disciplines of branding, interiors and architecture. 'This is the first time we have taken on a brewery project,' says Murray who, when living in the USA and working for FITCH, recalls the popularity of microbrewers and craft beer in that country. His experience in retail design, coupled with time spent in the USA, has inspired key features within the scheme.
Murray adds that it was important to create a destination, which is reflected by the interior design, by providing an inclusive experience that appeals to a wide range of craft-beer fans. 'The scheme is a warm, soft and all embracing one and we were careful not to create a masculine feel, as breweries can be male dominated,' he says. The scheme also features a distressed effect oak (as seen in the retail units) to help maintain the brewery's industrial feel.
The new retail space at the Meantime brewery
For the Tasting Room itself, Studio 48 opted for a bar design approach and features 'Brewery Fresh' tanks built into the bar. The tanks are unique storage and dispensing systems that protect the beer from light, oxygen and fluctuations in temperature, allowing the beer to continually mature, which means consumers can enjoy a straight-from-the-brewery taste.
'The bar had to be built around the tanks, once they were in place,' says Murray of the cladded-oak construction with glass fronts to showcase the tanks. 'The size of the tanks dictated the bar size, which gave us some challenges when fitting the bar and making sure it was a workable space.'
Distressed oak frames glass-fronted brewing tanks in the bar
Another challenge faced by Studio 48 was the low height of the ceiling in the bar area, meaning that lighting the space was difficult. Opting for a 'classic' light bulb, with a metal cage around each one, aligned with an industrial feel as well as creating what Murray calls an 'interesting shadow on the ceiling'.
Meantime is using the new space to also put on beer-and-food matching events, tutored tastings and as a restaurant area for year-round use. The brewery's initiative of 'immersing consumers and trade firsthand into the craft brewing process, while demonstrating the wide range of tastes that beer can deliver' is at the forefront of Studio 48's design scheme.
It has in return made the Tasting Rooms and shop a reflection of Meantime's dedication to British brewing and is changing the way people think about beer.
Design Resource Interiors