Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Kernel: The Darks

...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.


arn said...

they sound amazing, gotta get me some of those!

Richard said...

Agree totally Leigh - every blogger who has sampled Evin's work has come to the same conclusion. I don't think any of us can wait to see what he comes up with next!

Summer Wine Brewery said...

Great post, great beers, I've had a bit of a love affair with The Kernel beers recently, sensational beers, I cannot remember a better start for a UK brewery ever. Keeps it coming Evin!

Rob Derbyshire said...

Shame on me...I've only had the London Porter, I guess I've always been seduced by their hoppy beers more. Plus I've already got about 20-30 bottles of Imperial Stout in my cupboard.

I'm a big fan of London Porter weather its Meantime or one of my very favourites, Fullers (Not freezing cold on keg tho). I've bought Kernel London Porter a few times as it was one of the first that Beermerchants stocked and darn tasty it is too.

I've got two bottles of Black IPA in my cupboard and reviews are imminent!

Leigh said...

Rob - yeah, London porter, when done right, can be sooo complex. This, for me, runs a close competition with the lush Fuller's London. Let us know what you think of the BIPA! James - You know...I think you're right. It's been a while since I've unilaterally loved every beer in the range. Hence the 'special treatment' so to speak! Richard - glad you like. Arn - make sure you do!!