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Thursday, 31 May 2012


If you like hops (which I do) what better way to spend an evening than quaffing your way through some of the finest offerings of the Kernel Brewery.  Still small enough to get away with never producing the same beer twice, their pursuit of punchy but balanced flavours is responsible for some of the best beer coming out of microbreweries today.  Having just relocated slightly east from their old brewery near Borough market into a brewery with five times the capacity in Bermondsey, I hope to see more of it around in future.  We were lucky enough to try some of the first brews from the new kit.  

There is something quite magical about heavily dry hopped beer barely a few weeks old.  Their pale ales are brewed with a simple malt and yeast base, allowing the hop character to dominate.  Dry hopped to within a sniff of perfection creates a delicate but powerful aroma, extracting all the fruity flavours without the bitterness from the hops.  We tried a couple of single variety hop pale ales - Nugget had a fresh lemongrass character and Nelson Sauvin the classic grapefruit and gooseberry notes that make it such a popular hop at the moment.  But the star of the show was the IPA SCCANS - the latter standing for the five hops it contains - Simco, Centennial, Citra, Apollo and Nelson Sauvin.  I could drink this beautifully balanced, intensely fruity, slightly hazy beer all night (probably not a daytime drink at 6.9%).  The precise mix in their multi-hopped IPA is a moveable feast, subject to what is, quite literally, 'flavour of the month' with the brewers.  I look forward to trying the next pick 'n' mix.

We then moved on to some of the darker beers.  Their IPA Black V is probably the finest example of a "black IPA" I've ever had.  According to Toby, if you tasted it blind you would think it was a normal IPA.  Quite some claim, and almost accurate.  It certainly smells just like an IPA, and the first taste is full of tropical fruits with a hint of pine.  But the slightest tell tale on the follow through is just a hint of chocolate.  I will however allow the claim as it's such a beautiful beer.

The Export India Porter had a huge coffee nose and bitter coffee palate, but the dry hops still came through. And the Export Stout was full of burnt toast body.  But these were probably wasted on a Fuggles who was still floating on a cloud of dry hops  from the Pale Ales and India Pale Ales.  And I think that's where I'd like to be left, for some time...

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