...So let's wrap up my long weekend of unabashed Kernel-worship with a jaunt through their darker beers. First up, London Porter, weighing in at a moderate 5.5%abv. It's a super-amiable, easy drinking porter, which is surprisingly complex. There's digestive biscuit on the nose, finished off with a hint of woodsmoke - and the full mouthfeel turns out sweeter than you'd expect, with loads more biscuit and a drying seam of coffee towards the end. It's wonderful stuff, and I fear I drained my glass rather quicker than I really wanted to. This beer would be awesome with some smokey ribs or sausages.
Getting a little stronger at 7.8% abv, Export Stout (London 1890) is an absolute riot of Stouty goodness. Through the thick, tan-hued head peeps a nicely Phenolic nose, layered with even more smokiness than the porter. The tongue-coating mouthfeel only adds to the richness of the beer, which explodes with a vine-fruit profile rather than being the dryer taste you might have been expecting. The finish is all about bitter, black chocolate - drying at the end, only slightly creamy at the start.
I'm not the biggest fan of Black IPA's - simply because I've yet to find one that blows me away - but Kernel's (6.8%abv) comes damn close. Easily the best example of the style I've tasted, beneath the jet-black exterior lies tropical fruitiness; Lychee and a slightly peppery note on the nose, and a drying sip that leaves you wanting more. Balanced subtly, it's a big, fruity beer that comes wrapped in a smooth, smoky disguise. This beauty was joint-brewed by Evin and our favourite degenerate Bar Manager, Rakebar Glyn.
Finally, Imperial Stout (12.5%abv). Wow. This is a massive beer all right, as you'd expect. Rather than being Export Stout on steriods, there's a much more Dundee-cake, Raisin/Sultana note to this rich brew, with bitter chocolate and a hint of Vanilla coming in at the end. It's sweet, but ultimately smooth with it, and the hallmark of Kernel's beers is here in abundance; flavoursome, complex beers that remain drinkable. I mean really drinkable; I'm pleased to report that this beer saw in the New Year with a few others, and rather than tip me over the edge, it warmed the belly and gave me no headache the day after. If that's not a sign of quality then I don't know what is.
Tell you what, it's been an absolute plasure drinking these Kernels. Best of luck to Evin, and long may The Kernel prosper.