The Kernel needs very little introduction from me. This London microbrewery has been making big waves since it started out in early 2010. As an ex-homebrewer, Evin makes beers of the sort he actually likes to drink and the results, I've heard, have been spectacular. Big IPAs and old-fashioned porters and stouts seem to be the stock-in-trade. Why waste capacity on lesser beer styles?
Both of these were still better than the Motueka Pale Ale which I found had a sharp and brassy tang, plus some bandagey phenols which I didn't enjoy at all. And that meant I was on full alert when it came to the festival special. Kernel Borefts IPA was brewed with rye and cara-rye. The hops included Simcoe plus a dry dose of Motueka. Everything about this murky dark orange beer screamed "Run away!" at me. So I was stunned by how good it was. The hop cocktail lines up the citric flavours in mannerly order and the rye grassiness that follows complements and accentuates it beautifully. Just when I thought I was done with rye in beer, along comes The Kernel with this.
The IPA loveliness continued with Double Black IPA, though it's brown rather than properly black. 8.8% ABV read the badge (and not very clearly: it's actually 9.8% ABV, see comments) but it could easily pass for much less, so drinkable is it. The hops bring lots of fresh and juicy orange pith and this is tempered by mild coffee and chocolate flavours. A really beautiful combination and an object lesson in how to do dark hoppy beer well.
That leaves just Kernel Breakfast Stout. So much more simple compared to the others, this is light of body with lots of sweet caramel and a hint of banana. There's just a wisp of smoke to add complexity and make it properly interesting.
This brewery, it seems, really is turning out beer as good -- or at least as bold -- as everyone says. It was great chatting with you Evin and I hope to be able to drop into Kernel HQ before too long.