Another Kernel Roundup

Now that Kernel’s new brewery is fully up and running (including a snazzy new bottling plant!), what does that mean for the beers? Well, first of all it means that a wider range of Kernel beers are now available at any given time, which it nice. Second, it seems to mean that some great beers that were only available intermittently are now available more or less all the time – so far I’ve had no trouble scoring Imperial Brown Stout London 1858 and Export Stout London 1890 on every brewery visit, for example. This is also nice. Third, it means that Kernel’s sour beer programme has officially started – though the first sour has yet to be released, and it’s going to be a very small batch, possibly available at the brewery only. Stay tuned for details. Here follows some capsule reviews of recently-sampled Kernel brews, all from the new brewery.

Pale Ale Wheat (Pale Wheat Ale, ABV 5.2) is as far as I know the first wheat beer from Kernel, though it can hardly be described as a traditional wheat beer. It’s heavily hopped with Simcoe and Columbus which means citrus, grapefruit and resin along with some grassy notes. The wheat malt (I have no idea of the proportions of wheat-malt-to-other-malts here) seems to impart a sweet bread/cake batter-type flavour. It drinks more like a regular Kernel Pale Ale with some wheat notes – which is not a bad thing. Big flavours for the ABV and very thirst-quenching.

Kernel beer and food.

Pale Ale Columbus (Pale Ale, ABV 5.3) continues the refreshing Pale Ale selection: this is very much a “lighter” version of the 7-odd ABV Columbus IPA. Plenty of citrus, a bit of sour apples, and a short, dry aftertaste. I’m really liking these lower-ABV pales from Kernel. I don’t know if it’s my imagination but somehow they taste crisper now.

Pale Ale Motueka CCC (Pale Ale, ABV 4.9) is the first time in a long time I’ve seen a below-5 ABV Kernel beer. This has a considerably more NZ hop profile than the previous two (which have an American feel to them) with lots of tropical fruit and flowery notes. There’s still some distinct resin notes though so I assume one of the C’s in the name stands for Cascade or Columbus or something like that. Again, the aftertaste has quite a bite but is short, as befits a Pale Ale. If I could only drink these all summer long (or whatever’s left of it) I would still be a happy man.

Pale Ale South (Pale Ale, ABV 4.7). Then along comes two below-5 ABV Kernel beers! This one has a spicy, grassy flavour to it with a very restrained, woody bitterness. Perhaps the least distinct of the new offerings but overall I would say that the pale ales have benefited from the new brewing equipment; they’re cleaner and more balanced, somehow.

India Pale Ale Galaxy (IPA, ABV 7.4). It is here that the benefits of the new kit becomes clear, and I mean that literally: never have I seen such a clear, non-cloudy Kernel beer! It’s virtually transparent! The fruit cocktail flavours (apricot, passion fruit, citrus) are present as in the previous batch, with the malt adding more backbone and carrying the flavours through to a long, dry aftertaste.

India Pale Ale Double SCCANS (DIPA, ABV 10.2). The Kernel Doubles are a hard act to follow: the Double Citra and Double Black are both 5-star beers. The Double SCCANS suffers a bit from the comparison as it is more straightforward and less complex than its two cousins, but it is still a cracking beer. You get grass, hay, dried fruit (raisins), wood and resin in the aftertaste. The 10.2 ABV is well-masked. Dangerous.

India Brown Ale (Brown Ale, ABV 5.6). The new batch has a significantly lower ABV, I seem to remember this used to be around 7. The result is a creamy, roasty beer very much like a porter – very drinkable but lacks the depth and hop hit that the Export India Porter delivers.

Export India Porter (Porter, ABV 5.7). Speaking of which, this baby is still excellent and one of my Kernel faves. It’s genius to combine the roasted, malty flavours of a porter with a stronger hop bite. The hops on this one remain quite straightforward (resin/pine/herbal) and goes very well with the roast flavours, it’s just such a nicely-balanced combo and I’m happy this beer hasn’t changed any – it’s perfect as it is.

Imperial Brown Stout (French Oak) (Imperial Stout, ABV 9.8). Oh wow. This is the second barrel-aged version of the Kernel classic Imperial Brown Stout London 1858, and this is a contender for Best Kernel Beer Ever. The casks come from De Molen and prior to holding De Molen beers they were red wine casks, which you can clearly taste on the beer. This beast has strong read wine and whisky-like notes, plenty of tannins, dark roast coffee, vanilla, cocoa, and some honey notes to top it all off. The pronounced sour/vinous notes makes this very much like the kind of ‘sour stout’ I’ve seen recently from Jolly Pumpkin and others, and it’s a divine flavour combo. Just off the chart for me. This is a infernally complex beer – the one I had was recently bottled and I think it will just improve more with aging.

London Beer Blog will go on holiday to Sweden, so expect a few updates on Swedish craft beers in the weeks to come! Happy holidays!

Posted on July 30, 2012, in Feature, Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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