The Kernel Black IPA is reviewed by Chris Hall
The Kernel Black IPA
The Kernel Brewery, London
The Kernel Black IPA is seen by many as a modern benchmark of a very modern style. A black IPA uses broadly the same recipe as a regular IPA, but uses darker, roasted malts to create sharper, darker, roastier flavours. Since stout and IPA are my favourite beer styles, it’s fair to say I was looking forward to this beer. I should note that this is The Kernel’s “standard” Black IPA, and not one of the many variations now available.
The people at the Trading Standards Authority wouldn’t have any problems when it comes to The Kernel delivering what’s advertised. This is a black liquid, with just the slightest of oaky hues at the very edges of the beer when poured into a glass. The head is a fierce, tan-coloured castle of foam, bursting with Kernel-patented dusty hopsack aromas, accented with bitter blackberries and a substantial booziness.
With black beer, you expect dark chocolate and almost barbeque-like charcoal texture. Kernel’s Black IPA lays all of its dark chocolate cards down in the first sip, piling layer after layer of bittersweet goodness onto your tongue. To say this is hoppy doesn’t really cover it. This tastes so strongly of rich, piney, resinous hops that I could smell it while it was in my mouth. Non-hopheads need not bother with this beer. After the double bombardment of chocolate and hops subsides, a slightly lambic sourness is left behind, mingling with the intensity of the flavours just departed. It is a mighty, rich and satisfying finish.
This schizophrenic beer pulls off both its black lager/stout and raw IPA ambitions admirably. Whilst the flavours compete furiously for your attention, all you can do is sit back and enjoy the show. Hugely impressive.