Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
I love discovering a new beer that totally blows my mind, especially when the brewery is located within the same city as I am. Despite loads of people gushing about their beer until last week I had never had the opportunity to sample a brew from The Kernel Brewery who are located near Tower Bridge in South London but after a wonderful debut visit to the Mason & Taylor.
I finally picked up one of their bottles to take home with me. The beer is their incredibly popular India Pale Ale and this one has been hopped with Citra, instead of brewing to strict recipes The Kernel use what ingredients they have available at the time and so their menu is constantly evolving and their brewers adapting and it is a method I highly respect. As a drinker I am quite excited at the prospect of trying this beer again in the future but seeing how it has changed based on the ingredients used at the time so I will definitely seeking out more beers from this brewery as the year progresses.
Hype can be a terrible thing as it can result in a terrible anticlimax as it has done to me so many times before. Being such a huge fan of hoppy IPA’s and reading all the praise that the Kernel have so far received I assumed that this beer was going to be the best thing since sliced artisan bread but was worried that I was perhaps a little too excited and if the beer turned out to be ordinary then I would surely be bitterly disappointed.
The contents of that shot glass was the yeast of my problems
Before heading to work last Friday I decided to place the beer in the fridge before I left the house and as the day progressed the hype began to build, slowly at first but as the clock approached closing time I could barely contain myself. When I finally got home the first thing I wanted to do was rip the top off and start smashing it down but DISASTER, I’d stored the beer on its side and failed to realise that this was a bottle conditioned beer and that the brewers yeast within needed to settle. Thankfully after standing upright for ten minutes the little yeast dudes had sank back to the bottom of the bottle and I carefully poured the hazy amber contents into a glass. After pouring I swilled the remaining liquid and yeast around the bottle and emptied it into a shot glass, see I was told by the nice folks at the Mason & Taylor that yeast, in small quantities, is very good for your skin and nails however I wasn’t tempted then and I wasn’t tempted now, I think I’ll just stick with the beer.
Before I move on to my tasting notes I’d like to mention how fantastic I think the labels used by The Kernel are. Proof if was needed that less is more, the smart modern logo on a simple brown background are used for every beer with the contents and the ABV simply printed on after the bottle has been filled. The Kernel are open every Saturday from 9am to 3pm and you can buy beer directly from the brewery, sadly I run a shop and my Saturdays involve doing selling of my own but perhaps I shall have to take a day off at some point to go and check the brewery out and tell you good people all about it.
Right, back to the beer, is it going to live up to this mountainous hype that I’ve created for it? The lovely pale copper liquid is hazy and has most likely seen very little filtering, if indeed any in order to preserve the lofty flavours of those Citra hops. The aroma literally leaps out of the glass but instead of punching you in the face it embraces you with a warm and welcoming sleeper hold luring you in and politely requesting you take a large gulp. Who am I to refuse such an offer and diving in I immediately get a huge rush of citrus fruit with a few notes of tropical fruit just about present underneath. The beer feels fantastically funky in the mouth with loads of substance and a hint of fine carbonation to help unlock all of those complex lemon and grapefruit flavours.
IPA Citra is both smooth and zingy and has the perfect amount of malt to give the hops a solid backbone without ever bordering on being too sweet. The beer is tart and refreshing and leaves a lovely lingering bitter finish with each mouthful practically begging you to take another sip. Sadly I gave in to those begging cries and the beer lasted me all of around fifteen minutes but that was time enough for me to repeat the word ‘wow’ out loud several times and fall head over heels in love. This IPA ranks as not only one of the best beers in its class but surely one of the best beers available right now and I thoroughly recommend trying any IPA from Kernel regardless of the hop content because if it’s half as good as this then it will still blow your mind.
This is the best beer I’ve had so far this year, and I’ve already had quite a few.