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Des de Moor
Best beer and travel writing award 2015, 2011 -- British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Accredited Beer Sommelier
Writer of "Probably the best book about beer in London" - Londonist
"A necessity if you're a beer geek travelling to London town" - Beer Advocate
"A joy to read" - Roger Protz
"Very authoritative" - Tim Webb.
"One of the top beer writers in the UK" - Mark Dredge.
"A beer guru" - Popbitch.
Des de Moor

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Kernel India Pale Ale Black, India Pale Ale and Pale Ale

London Beer Tastings 2011. For more background on the brewery, see previous post.

ABV: 6.8%, 7.1% and 5.5%
Origin: Bermondsey, London SE1, England
Website: www.thekernelbrewery.com

Pale Ale

Besides its old fashioned dark beers, Kernel brews contemporary beers fresh with the flavours of new world hops. These too are of exceptional quality, matching the standards set by the US brewers that pioneered these styles in a way I’m not sure any other British brewer has yet managed.

I’m still reserving judgement about as a style but Kernel’s Black might come close to persuading me. An early bottled version supplied as a tasting sample was deep amber-brown rather than black, with a foamy light beige head. It had sticky coconut and grapefruit hops on a very fruity palate that also yielded dark malt. A slightly mouth-numbing palate mixed rum and grapefruit with salty, twiggy exotic spice notes reminiscent of Indian paan, and black treacle far back. The finish had smooth brown malt flavours and definite notes of peppery, minty hop resins and powdery dryness.

An unpasteurised keg version tried at the Craft Beer Co a few months later was better still, and very drinkable for its strength. Again this was very dark brown rather than black, with a fine beige head. The aroma was quite light with dark malt, ops, salt and a farmyard touch. A very soft and full malty liquorice palate had a quality a little like a Belgian dubbel, but with a very un-Belgian flowery, fruity and blackcurranty hop complexity just held in restraint. An oily, lightly tangy finish signed off with macaroons and a touch of toffee.

The versions of the brewery’s India Pale Ale I’ve tried have all been extraordinary. A sample bottle I tasted earlier in the year made with five hops – Simcoe, Cascade, Columbus, Amarillo and Nelson Sauvin, thus the apparently cryptic subtitle on the label “S C C A NS” – was a yeasty deep gold with a fine, lightly orange-white head. A very earthy pine and passion fruit nose was well supported by aromatic blond malt. As you’d expect, the palate was crisp and hoppy but not overbitter, with a near fruit nectar texture, passion fruit, flowers and bittering resins over chewy soft malt. The long finish developed a firm but again not too bitter peppery quality with more floral hop notes and biscuit malt.

Another version with a simpler hop recipe of Centennial, Chinook and Nugget (C C N) popped up on the Byron Hamburger chain’s craft beer list this summer. A bottle I tried alongside my Portobello mushroom vegeburger was cloudy light amber with a plain white head, and a slight farmyard touch on a rich pine, citrus, toffee and fecund yeast aroma. The palate was surprisingly light and wonderfully crisp, with soft fruit and a hint of bubblegum, drying to a very long, seedy, piny finish that ended notably bitter. It’s quite something to achieve such harmoniousness with such vivid flavours, but Evin seems to manage it unerringly.

Finally, Kernel’s closest product to a session beer, its Pale Ale, is another high achiever. A sample bottle of a version hopped with Centennial and Chinook was rich gold with a fine orange-tinged head and a very obviously Pacific Northwest hop aroma with grapefruit, pine and herbal tones. A dry and gritty palate had juicy orange and grapefruit, developing a broad slick of hops with a slight and not unpleasant detergent-like hint. There were some gritty and ashy notes alongside the pepper and citrus in a long, mouth filling finish.

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