What’s not to love about The Kernel Brewery from Bermondsey? Great craft beer, independently made, with no fuss packaging that bridges the gap between traditional beer drinkers and serial hop juice guzzlers. For the latter, The Kernel is a name well known in the UK craft beer world, and arguably the progenitor of the London scene. They make consistently good beer, push boundaries, and were the first to open on the now ever growing Bermondsey Beer Mile. For the traditionalist, the bottles and brown labelling evoke notions of a simpler time. A time where things did exactly what they said on the tin, and beer had single syllable names.
I recently had a bottle of their ‘Hallertau Blanc, Mandarina Bavaria Pale Ale’. As it swirled in my mouth, popping with tangerine zest, grapes and meadow-like charm, my eyes were drawn back to the bottle. The understated labels on Kernel beers always draw my attention. Don’t get me wrong, I love good can art, I’ve got a wall covered in it. But sometimes the important details can be lost in the maze of colours and shapes. The Kernel label lists three things. One: the style, two: the ABV, and three: the hops. By listing the hops that went into the beer, The Kernel is subtly educating everyone who drinks it. By knowing the hops, you can start to understand what flavour and aromas they bring to a beer and, in turn, look out for those hops in other beers, comparing and contrasting the more you drink. To that end, I want to focus on the characteristics of the two hops used in this beer.
Hailing from the German Hallertau region, this hop came to the fore in 2012. As a daughter of the Cascade hop, it was cultivated to be used in American-style ales and, therefore, fits a similar profile. It’s profile has been described as complex due to the wide range of flavours and aromas it exhibits. On the nose, there are qualities of white wine, such as gooseberry and fresh cut grass, whilst the palate can demonstrate anywhere between more spritzy fruits, like grapes and grapefruit, and tropical notes such as pineapple or passionfruit. Even with all this going on, the hop usually creates a cleaner less ‘dank’ profile than some of its counterparts.
Another daughter of the Cascade hop, Mandarina Bavaria also has two other parents: the Hüll Melon and the previously mentioned Hallertau Blanc. Cultivated in Hüll and released in the same year as the Hallertau Blanc (2012), the Mandarina Bavaria was produced to feed an ever growing demand for bold and interesting aromas and flavours. On the nose it produces floral tones, but it excels on the palate with note of fresh citrus and mandarins/tangerines.