I’ve decided to try and do at least one beer review a week this year. However, I’ve been drinking through my stash of big US and Italian bottles recently, and neglecting all the ones squirrelled away for review. Thus I’ve failed in my goal already, as this should really have been posted last week. This was the last bottle of The Kernel‘s beer that I bought on a trip to London at the end of November last year, I should really make an effort to get some more.
It poured a light coppery yellow, with a slight haze and a rocky white head. The head dropped to a covering fairly quickly, but lasted down the glass. The aroma was amazing, it reminded me somewhat of Thornbridge Kipling. I couldn’t put my finger of the actual flavours though, I was too busy drinking the contents to worry about the smell.
In the mouth it was smooth, with a good solid malty backbone. The bitterness was upfront and developed from a tongue tingle, into a full on hop assault that crashed through the mouth and left a lovely lingering fruity bitterness in its wake.
For me, this is the best pale Kernel beer I’ve had, it was absolutely excellent.
I’d been looking forward to trying this beer, as there’s been a lot of love for it on Twitter and in blogs. I also adjusted the Advent Beer selection to fit it in, so as you can imagine, I was champing at the bit to get stuck in and try it.
The bottle poured a slightly hazy amber with a good fluffy head, I might have got a touch of yeast into the glass, but not enough to affect the taste. The head didn’t last long and dissipated to a ring around the edge and a bit of a patch in the middle. The nose was totally full on, absolutely chock full of hops, with definite Citra cats piss notes to the fore.
The mouth feel was large with massive up front hop flavours. The taste was really nice and bitter as well, with the bitterness seeming to grow throughout and causing quite a lot of mouth watering at the end. On the downside though, I had a bit of trouble trying to pin point what each of the hops were bringing to the party though, as I found the Citra sort of swamped a lot of the other flavours with it’s trademark cat piss notes.
To be honest, after the first couple of mouthfuls, I wasn’t really enjoying it, the Citra hops were just a bit too much. However, I did started to enjoy it a bit more by the time I’d got about three quarters of the way through the bottle, so your mileage may vary. I have another, which I’m looking forward to trying to see if it’s the same or slightly different. I have a nagging feeling though, that The Kernel’s darker beers are their strongest and the ones I’ll end up preferring.
After much hand wringing, not really1, I’ve decided to swap a couple of the beers on the list for something else. I’ve had a The Kernal IPA S.C.A.NS sitting in the cupboard looking at me for a couple of weeks now and I really, really want to drink it. I’d also like to blog about the BrewDog AB:03 and AB:04 in the correct order, rather than getting them randomly the other way round. So out go the AB:03 and AB:04, saved until the new year and in come The Kernal IPA S.C.A.NS and Thornbridge Kipling.
 It’s my advent calendar at the end of the day, so I can chop and change if I really want to, honest…
Of the four The Kernel beers that I bought from BEERMerchants, this was probably the one I Was looking forward to the most, I have a soft spot for this kind of beer. I have since picked up a couple of other The Kernel beers from Sourced Market at St Pancras station and evidently one of them is supposed to be sensational, it will have a hard job to beat this beauty though.
It poured almost totally black, with only the merest hint of brown at the edges when the glass was tilted at an angle. A good tan head formed relatively easily and dropped to a patchy covering fairly quickly. The nose was immense, full on dark chocolate and coffee, with some roasted notes dancing round the edges. It was quite hard to not just sit there with my nose in the glass.
The mouth feel was huge, the taste seemed to wash over every nook and cranny and filled my mouth with the most amazing flavours. There was a thread of alcohol that was in the initial taste, that while swamped by dark chocolate and roasted coffee, reappeared for a brief encore at the end. This beer wasn’t so much about the slight alcohol notes and big body, it was all about the dark, dark chocolate and bitter roasted coffee. The aftertaste was all pure bitter coffee and it lasted for what seemed like an age.
This is the best Kernel beer I’ve had to date, it’s stunning. It was so moreish, I was having trouble drinking it slowly enough to savour. If you’ve been thinking about buying any of The Kernel beers, then just do it and make sure you buy a bucket load of this one, highly recommended.
I’ve had this beer sitting around for a while, I’ve not really been in the mood for darker beers lately. I’m quite glad I picked it out of the hat though, I’ve heard good things about The Kernel‘s darker beers, so it was about time I got round to trying one.
It poured a really, really dark brown, so dark it basically looked black. An easily formed, decent, tan head sat on top and dropped to a loose covering that lasted. The nose was immense, you could smell it streaming off the beer during the pour. I’m sure there was more to the nose, but all I could smell was roasted coffee.
It was perfectly conditioned, not too much carbonation, just enough to bring the roasted coffee notes crashing to the fore. Considering the tickle of carbonation and the roasted notes, it was still felt quite a smooth beer in the mouth. Initially, I though the body was maybe just a tad on the watery side, it was like it needed just a bit more body. By the time I got to the end of the bottle though, this wasn’t really that noticeable.
As I’ve alluded to, this beer is mainly about the roasted coffee notes. I think there maybe a touch of really dark chocolate in there too, something drying like a Lindt 90%. It’s just as well there was a touch of chocolate in there, as I think it might have felt a bit one dimensional otherwise, but your mileage may vary depending on your tastes. The last mouthful almost had a sour edge to it as well, so there was quite a lot going on with this beer and it certainly changed from the first mouthful to the last.
Drinking this has left me really looking forward to the Export Stout that is still to come.
The Kernel is a small London based brewery, that has been going for just over a year. If you follow the blog-o-sphere or the twitterati, then you’ll have definitely heard of them, as they have a very good reputation. It was this reputation that made me seek out some of their beers, which I bought from BEERMerchants.com, unless you live in London, mail order is probably your only chance of getting hold of these.
First up was the Pale Ale Centennial, which poured a crystal clear pale gold with a loose white head. The head took a while to get going and dropped back to a covering fairly quickly. It didn’t smell of much to be honest, which might be due to it coming straight from the shed and thus quite cold.
It was very smooth in the mouth, with a nice weight to the body. It wasn’t as bitter as maybe I was expecting, but it had a nice grapefruitiness to it. The whole thing was nicely balanced and subtle rather than in yer face.
Next up was the India Pale Ale: C.S.C., the hops used were Centennial, Simcoe and Chinook, hence the C.S.C.. It poured a clear light copper burnished gold, with an easily formed loose white head. the head dropped relatively quickly to a covering. Again, I didn’t really get much on the nose, maybe a touch of malt.
It had quite a full bodied mouth feel, with an upfront maltiness that was quickly replaced by the hops. A nice resinous bittiness washed through the mouth leaving a nice citrus juiciness behind.
Of the two I preferred the India Pale Ale: C.S.C. I felt it was a bit more aggressive with the bitterness and hops, although I for my tastes, they could both do with being shown a few more hops. Both were good though and I’d definitely buy them again, in fact I’m in London on Sunday and might see if I can pick some up.
So Christmas is fast approaching, as is evidenced by the amount of tat that has appeared in all the shops since the beginning of the month. My kids are quite excited about it all, especially their advent calendars, I couldn’t really care less as it’s not December yet.
In an effort to regain some of the childhood wonder for the whole thing and be less bah humbug, I’m going to do a beer advent calendar for myself. I know this has been done before on blogs, but I’ve got a backlog of beer to blog about and this seems like a good enough reason to get through some of them.
I’ve selected twenty fives beers from my stash, they are listed below. I’m going to print their names out and put them all in a hat, then each day I’ll pull one name out of the hat and that’s the beer I’ll drink and blog about. I thought it was easier to do it randomly than try and put this lot into some sort of preference order.
There will be a bit of a break over the weekend of the 10th, 11th and 12th as I’m Rome, but I’m sure I’ll catch up when I get back.