BeerCast #52 – Kernel Brewery Showcase

Posted by on Oct 27, 2010 in BeerCasts, Brewery Showcase, English Beer | One Comment

We haven’t recorded a brewery showcase podcast for a while – April 2009 was the last one (when BeerCast #30 featured four beers from the Hebridean Brewery in Stornoway). Twenty-two podcasts later, our 52nd BeerCast also takes in the work of a single producer – the Kernel Brewery in south London. Back in August I managed to pay a visit to the Druid Street site under the Bermondsey railway arches where Evin O’Riordain has established one of London’s newest breweries. As an ex-homebrewer and ex-cheese maker Evin clearly knows how to produce some great flavours – his strong beers reflecting traditional styles are already winning awards, only a year since he started production. After spending a pleasant hour or so with Evin I came away with four beers for a Kernel Showcase. On the panel for today are Richard, MrB, Grooben and Shovels.

1. Kernel Pale Ale (Centennial) (5.2%abv)
The Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey, London.
500ml glass bottle

Evin’s first test brew was in July 2009, and his affinity with traditional British styles of beer couple with the influence of US craft breweries to yield some fascinating outcomes. As he explained to me, in the past year alone six new breweries have opened in London (which everyone acknowledges in tremendous news) – yet only a couple of them are seeking to do unusual or interesting things. Evin – who once produced a 6% mild – is clearly one of them, and we started the podcast with one of his stock pale ales, this one hopped with one of the three C’s – Centennial.

What They Say
“Crisp, clean, fresh. Pale golden colour. Aroma of grapefruit and elderflowers, tastes of citrus, grapefruit. Rounded juicy texture. Firm bitterness.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Shovels – Classic pale ale, I would definitely have pints of this
Grooben – You can taste the US approach to this 8
Richard – Tremendously drinkable, very hoppy and not too strong 8
MrB – Smells good and tastes fantastic, very refreshing indeed 8

2. Kernel India Pale Ale C.S.C. (7.1%abv)
The Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey, London.
330ml glass bottle

One of the beers I sampled on my visit was this one – Evin’s punchy 7% IPA. The CSC stands for the included hops – Centennial, Simcoe and Chinook. Another thing I got to sample was a beer partway through production, another IPA – this one hopped with Citra (very definitely the hop du jour). Kernel IPA Citra + (6.2%) has since been released, it was at the dry-hopping stage during my visit. The small sample was the colour of English mustard, and an explosion of hops. As the Kernel facilities are so small, they (i.e. Evin – it’s totally a one-man operation) have a continually changing lineup, depending on what raw materials he’s managed to source.

What They Say
“American hops meet English malt. Burnished golden colour. Aromas of tropical fruits, hints of grass. The sweetness of the malt gives them the impression of fruit salad on the palate, juicy, then followed up with a big bitterness, with some pepper and spice.” [Official Website]

What We Say
MrB – Wow that’s good. Tastes strong but not 7%, it’s amazing 9
Richard – That is a fantastic piney imperial IPA, outstanding 9
Shovels – Starts off really bitter, which gives way to sweetness 8
Grooben – Strong and quite heavy on the palate – but it’s not a hop monster 8

3. Kernel Porter (6.1%abv)
The Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey, London.
500ml glass bottle

There are plenty of dark beers on the Kernel’s portfolio – and three of them are porters. We picked up their 6.1% Kernel Porter for the podcast, but there’s also a 5.3% Kernel London Porter and a 7.3% Kernel Baltic Porter, depending on which recipe Evin has on the go. He was brewing a porter when I was there, and the fermentation tank had erupted overnight, covering the floor with a dark brown slick of sticky beer. This happens all the time, apparently, and he cleans up and carries on.

What They Say
“Porter 06.04.10. Made with water, malted barley, hops and yeast.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – Sweet creamyness but it’s never too much, fantastic 8
Shovels – Caramel, hop bitterness, coffee – there’s a lot going on 8
Grooben – Sweetness goes through to burnt caramel and coffee 7
MrB – I’m more a fan of the big-hitting imperial porters 7

4. Kernel Export Stout (1890 London) (7.8%abv)
The Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey, London.
330ml glass bottle

We finish the showcase with the strongest beer on the Kernel books – a resurrection of the defunct Truman Brewery’s export stout recipe. This beer won Evin his first gold medals – Best Bottled Porter and Best Bottled Beer at the July 2010 SIBA SE brewing awards. He told me his biggest problem is continuity – due to the small scale of his production facilities and irregularity of ingredients, recreating a brew is hard – making the same beer twice is tricky. As a result, the Export Stout that won the SIBA awards in July is subtly different to the one available today.

What They Say
“Simple recipe – massive taste. Dark, dark black. Oily texture. Loads of rich dried fruit and alcohol warmth, rum and raisin.” [Official Website]

What We Say
MrB – This is the best strong stout I’ve had for a long time 9
Richard – I like the strength, it’s bitter but not a bitter bomb
Grooben – A bit too abrasive for me, I like my stouts rounder 6
Shovels – Good as an example of it’s type, but not for me 6

– (clockwise from top left) Grooben, MrB, Shovels, Richard

BeerCast panel verdict
Kernel IPA C.S.C. (34/40)
Kernel Pale Ale (Centennial) (32½/40)
Kernel Porter (30/40)
Kernel Export Stout (1890 London) (29½/40)

  • Listen to the episode here: BeerCast #52 – Kernel Brewery Showcase
  • Subscribe to the podcasts in iTunes or our Site Feed
  • Stay tuned for BeerCast #53, as we turn the presenting duties over to Grooben – he recently managed to source four schwartzbiers for a dark beer special. Look out for that, and thanks again to Evin O’Riordain for being such a genial host at his brewery.

    The Kernel Brewery is located at 98 Druid Street, London SE1 2HQ, with the entrance on Millstream Road under the railway bridge. They are open to the public every Saturday from 9am to 3pm for direct beer sales, and also distribute to Utobeer on Borough Market and several pubs and restaurants in London. Further afield, stock their beers for online sales.

    The Kernel Brewery website

    1 Comment

    1. Tropical Saloon » Kernel Brewery: Beercast Showcase
      March 19, 2011

      […] A little old, but a lovely showcase of a number of The Kernel Brewery’s offerings, by the guys at The Beer Cast can be found here, with Beer Cast #53: The Kernel Brewery Showcase. […]

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