The thing I like most about the brewing scene exploding in London is that it’s now even easier for me to find interesting beer. Every other pub is trying to get something better than dishwater on its hand pumps and the The Kernel Brewery turn themselves into brewpub once a week. While nipping into Utobeer, Dr.ink or one of the other beer shops in London that I’ve yet to visit isn’t all that hard, but it’s really quite nice being able to wander into a brewery, order a pint, say hello to the brewer and then schlepp a heavy rucksack full of bottles home. That’s what I did last weekend. Although Kernel only serve 2/3rds rather than pints.
Evin O’Riordain and the Kernel gang have done some quite impressive things outside of beer. Their original brewery, at one end of the once mostly empty Maltby Street, has reinvigorated an area and created a secondary Borough Market. The railway arches both on Maltby Street and Druid Street on the other side of the railway track are now full of bakeries, meateries, oil pressers, coffee makers, booze merchants and restaurants, with everything from St John (fresh eccles cakes for the win) to Jensen’s Gin (only just opened – they’re building a distillery one arch east of Maltby Street) along a stretch of about 100 yards. If you walk a further 10 minutes east then you’ll hit the new Kernel Brewery, now taking up two whole arches and packed full of tables on a Saturday to cope with all of the visitors popping in for a beer. They’ve even had to build a separate ‘drink beer here’ bar to let people come and buy bottles to take away without having to wait in an increasingly ridiculous queue. I say ‘build’, they say ‘we put some tables around a door’.
Predictably the area around the new brewery has started filling up with Maltby offshoots, with a butcher one side of the brewery, a cold meat seller the other and a range of coffee shops and other food related businesses popping up in nearby estates. From one brewery to a new, thriving food and drink district, carrying on from where the high rents and increasing crowding of Borough Market have left off. Good work. Right, enough gushing.
I’ve not tried many new beers from The Kernel recently, having stuck to Table Beer and their various (I)PAs, but did manage to get a spot of London Sour (very sour, very nice) and Bière de Table (A saison. A proper one. Not some bandwagon jumping, fruit infused, barrel-aged, over-hopped thing that claims to be a saison, making the word saison mean even less one brew at a time) when I was in at the weekend. I also grabbed a few things from the takeaway table, including a couple of bottles of Kernel S.A.N.S. IPA.
I’ve seen a few bottles of their acronymed IPAs before, but never quite got as far as working out which hop each letter represented, other than assuming the N.S. is ‘Nelson Sauvin’ to mess with people like me who would assume that four initials = four hops. In this case the internet suggests that it’s Simcoe, Apollo and Nelson Sauvin. I’ve heard good things about the S.C.A.N.S. (with Citra extra) and the S.C.C.A.NS. (with Columbus, Citra and a contracted N.S.) so thought I’d have a try.
It poured with a decent fizz and the head collapsed to a very white and fluffy consistency. On the nose there were pine needles, resin, musty hop sacks and dried orange peel – not as much of a burst of aroma as I normally find with Kernel’s beers.To taste it was fizzy with sweet fruit – pineapple, dried mango, sweet and sour oranges. However, that was backed up by herbs, hints of flowers and lots of mulchy green hoppy bitterness. It finished with some incense and lots of green bitterness, with a touch of sweet citrus.
It was a lot less floral and fruity than many of the Kernel IPAs I’ve tried, focusing on a big hop bitterness through the middle. However, there was still enough fruit to balance things out and it was rather nice, as I’ve come to expect from them. Note to self: go to the brewery more often.
The Kernel Brewery India Pale Ale S.A.N.S.
India Pale Ale, 7%. £2.80 from the brewery