Review: Kernel roundup
If you don’t know about The Kernel Brewery, well, you should. I don’t mean that in a condescending way, but really, you should, man, what’s wrong with you? The Kernel has been around for two years now and in that short time they have become possibly the most well-regarded of all London microbreweries – they’ve won several awards, and they are the only British brewery to be invited to Mikkeller’s own beer festival, the Copenhagen Beer Celebration (look at the brewery lineup for that festival and you’ll see it’s a select group). Accolades aside, they just brew totally awesome beers. Simple as that.
Kernel specialize in two things: Pale Ales and IPAs, often with a high ABV, often single hopped, though not always (mixed-hop beers are usually named using cryptic-sounding abbreviations indicating the component hops, e.g. Pale Ale M.NS.NZC), and massive dark porters and stouts (some brewed according to classic 19th century London recipes, like their 1890 London Export Stout). Brewer Evin O’Riordan doesn’t like to repeat himself so most brews are one-off, limited runs – but a few beers survive the cut and get added to the recurring repertoire (the aforementioned 1890 London Export Stout is one such beer). Here are capsule reviews of three recent Kernels I’ve sampled:
Look: Dirt brown/dark cloudy amber. Very low carbonation, as is common with Kernel beers. Virtually no head.
Nose: Very subtle bread notes, slightly floral.
Taste: Immediate citrus (orange) bitterness with vegetable notes and more than a hint of garlic (aromatic, acidic). Weird and surprising but not unpleasant. Ends on a strong resiny bitterness.
Verdict: 3/5. Nicely bitter and complex but definitely not an immediate crowd pleaser.
Look: Dark as dark can be with a nice coffee-cream coloured head that stays for a brief while before dissipating.
Nose: Minimal. Hardly any aromas escape…
Taste: Full-on roast coffee, bread and burnt sugar followed by a subtle but lingering coffee/citrus bitterness. This is really a very well-balanced beer where roast malts and hops complement each other superbly. An easy drink.
Verdict: 4/5. I usually buy a bottle or two (if it’s available) when I make my bi-weekly Kernel run (the brewery is open for sales on Saturdays). A beer to return to.
Look: Dark golden/orange, cloudy. No head.
Nose: Tropical fruit and fruit flowers, rather subdued.
Taste: Much more balanced and mellow than most Kernel beers – in a good way. It has a very smooth, almost buttery, body of fruit (tropical/citrus) changing to strong citrus bitterness at the end. Balanced and drinkable.
Verdict:4/5. Kernel’s first session beer? Easy to drink a lot of this. One of several recent Pale Ales that rely on New Zealand hops, either alone or in combination with other New World hops, and I like them all – drinkable and flavourful at the same time.
I noticed on the Kernel website that one of the beers they’ve got going currently is an India Brown Ale. Sounds exciting, but I haven’t had a chance to sample it yet. Anyone out there who’s tried it and would care to give a quick review in the comments?
Posted on December 19, 2011, in Review and tagged 1890 London Export Stout, India Brown Ale, India Export Porter, India Pale Ale Summit, Kernel Brewery, Pale Ale M.A.NZC, Pale Ale M.NS.NZC. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.