There’s a scene in Cloverfield where the mutilated, dismembered head of lady liberty is seen crashing down a Manhattan street. Apparently unfazed by a glimpse of the colossal monster responsible for this over-sized jeu de Boules, the nearby New Yorker reaches for his phone to record the moment. The scene sticks in my mind because every now and then I feel the same compulsion. Yeah it’s rare that London‘s under the attack of an unknown, possibly extraterrestrial entity at the time, but that basic urge to capture and record is the same.
The Kernel Brewery needs no introduction. If you’re a fan of good beer or you spend even the smallest of your free time visiting the pubs and restaurants of the capital, you’ll have heard of them. Their double black IPA - cannily named ‘Double Black’ - is an insanely-mental drink. Clearly it bears significant resemblance to French neoclassical sculptures of Roman goddesses because, upon taking a sip, I was sent immediately scurrying for pen and paper.
In this awesome age of ‘OMG!’, ‘legend!’ and ‘Best.Blah.Ever.’, you’d be excused for dismissing the use of a compound adjective like ‘insanely-mental’ as typical blogger hyperbole. Not this time though. This time I mean it.
The dark brown colour - rather than an ominous opaque black - and fresh hop notes in the aroma give rise to a false sense of security. There’s so much sweetness in this beer; it combines with the fudgey, toffee and darker roasted character of the malt to appear deep and rich and tar-like. It coats your mouth like a spoonful of black treacle before a bulldozer of bitterness powers in, stunning the back of your throat like a slap round the face on a freezing cold day. And if that bitterness makes the cut, then the burn of alcohol rubs salt deep into the wound; the one-two combination working to devastating, stinging effect.
Halfway down the glass, my tongue curling, my head spinning; I wasn’t ready for this assault, this is an unfair fight! Part of me says leave the rest and move on, but part won’t let me. That part that orders vindaloo, that throws hot sauce in the shopping trolley; it’s poking me with a stick and it’s egging me on.
The Kernel Double Black is an abusive challenge of a beer. It will mess you up. It’ll knock you out and then help you to your feet, leaving you with a parting kiss, knowing that you’ll forgive it and come back for more.
The Kernel Double Black is a beer that you experience as much as taste. You need that experience in your life. Look out for the beer at beermerchants.com or direct from the brewery.