The Kernel is a brewery I've enthused about before; they were the subject of one of my earlier Brewery Tours At Home and I've always loved their beer. Finding myself in the general vicinity of London Bridge recently on a Saturday, I took the opportunity to pop down to the brewery and pick up a few more interesting bottles to try.
This is their India Pale Ale Double Black, at 9.8% I think, the printing isn't clear and The Kernel's beer strength vary considerably! I've complained before about the current trend of "Black IPAs" – clearly I'm the only one who knows what the P stands for – so I'll spare you that rant today.
As is often the case with their beers, there was an astounding quantity of yeast in the bottom of the bottle. I'd been very patient and let the bottle settle for a couple of weeks but unfortunately when I opened it the beer foamed, quite slowly but steadily out of the top. This has the annoying habit of stirring up the sludge in a bottle conditioned beer.
The end result is glass that looks less double black and more murky stagnant river. I don't mind the taste of yeast, but it's not a good look – and that's not even counting the beer that escaped down the sink.
Anyway, on to the beer. The nose is just what you expect from a big IPA – floral hops by the ton, with some caramel and sweet honey under it.
The taste is seriously complex; sweet and malty to start, the alcohol then starting to make itself known along with a serious honey punch. After that the hops start making a comeback, floral, pine resin and a huge bitter tail and all the way through a thick, sticky sweetness.
I'm torn by this beer. It looks, frankly, terrible in the glass and I resent the beer I lost, both down the sink from the overflow and the half inch of sludge I had to leave in the bottle. It's also been hopped to within an inch of it's life, even for beer from The Kernel. It's almost too hoppy.
On the other hand, all those hops cut through what would otherwise be an undrinkably sticky sweet beer and they help turn this into a really interesting, rich beer full of beautifully balanced flavours. I don't think this is my favourite of their beers, but it's pretty high up in the list.
This review was originally published 2nd December, 2011. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.