Dave HasteLondon Beer Quest: Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey
Welcome to our ongoing mission to explore what London has to offer the discerning lover of excellent beer - from pubs and retailers that take pride in the quality of their hoppy offerings, to local breweries and beer events. In this instalment we visit a micro brewery in SE1...
Tucked away under one of Bermondsey's Druid Street arches is a sausage importer. And a cheese-maker. And, notably, a micro brewery. Sharing the unit with his sausagey, cheesy pals, Evin O'Riordain brews and bottles a range of real ales whose widespread commendations had piqued our interest - so we paid a visit to see what all the fuss was about.
It was clear from the outset that Kernel is currently a relatively small-scale operation, and yet Evin has still managed to create a decent repertoire of ales, several of which he shared with us. We started off with a progression of pale ales of varying strengths and intensities, all wonderfully aromatic, fruity and sharp, crowned by a young, leafy but powerful IPA. Evin mentioned that time in the U.S. spent sampling craft beers had inspired him to start brewing, and American influences were quite evident in the flavour of these beers.We moved on to a London Porter, brewed to an original recipe from 1896, which balanced smooth, comforting hints of chocolate and coffee with a light drinkability. Finally, we had a taste of a not-yet-bottled imperial stout, which was pretty special - strong, oily, fruity and (of course) strong. We'll definitely be keeping our eyes open for that one.Kernel beers are mostly available in bottles rather than on draught. Evin explained that the styles that he brews are somewhat more suited to bottling - he feels that their sharp, lively flavours work better at fridge temperature than cellar temperature, and many Kernel beers are a bit too strong to be attractive to publicans on cask. That said, he's recently started dabbling with supplying the odd cask to local pubs.Kernel Brewery is open on Saturdays (9am to 3pm) for those interested in buying bottled beer directly - it's well worth popping in if you're in the area. Alternatively, Kernel beers can be picked up from a variety of places around town, helpfully listed on their website.