Kernel

The Beer Lover’s Table: A Mixed Cheese Plate and The Kernel India Brown Ale

January is a remarkably bad time for self-punishment, though we always convince ourselves that this darkest and dreariest of months is when we’ll finally get leaner, stronger, better. Spoiler: we won’t. We’re weary. We’re half-hibernating on the sofa, aware of the void in our wallets where money should be. The last thing we need, at this point, is to cut out carbs. Or cheese.

A cheese plate is, in fact, an extremely good January meal, because it requires little-to-no effort (beyond vague curatorial sensibilities), and is also absolutely comforting - perhaps best enjoyed while wrapped in a fleece blanket.

The idea that beer is a natural pairing partner for cheese - better, even, than wine - is by now well-established; given that beer lacks, in most cases, harsh tannins and over-the-top acidity, it shows a particular kinship for curds. There are numerous beer styles that could be classed as broadly “cheese-friendly”, from stouts and saisons to pale ales and bitters. If you’re looking to save money, though, or want to limit your drinking to a single beer, a hoppy brown ale may be the best all-rounder for everything on your cheese plate.

The Kernel’s India Brown Ale is a particularly worthy candidate. This beer isn’t a one-note malt bomb: its first impression, in fact, is its vibrant aroma, fruitful with hops. This most recent iteration of the beer was brewed with Simcoe, Citra, and Mosaic hops, meaning you might detect pineapple on the nose, or perhaps mango. It pours with a generous, aerated head that takes long minutes to diminish, and which resembles proving bread dough. On the palate it has some malty profundity, and tastes even a little bit like Scandinavian rye bread, but closes out with a rumbling bitterness.

It’s a multi-faceted creature, this beer: at once roasty, subtly sweet, brightly aromatic, and resoundingly bitter. It transforms a little bit with every mouthful of cheese, its various attributes at turns receding or coming to the fore.

Alongside aged Gouda, for instance - pocked with crunchy tyrosine crystals, rich like butterscotch - it harmonises sweetly. When paired with earthy, sharp Isle of Mull Cheddar, or nutty Mimolette, it offers rusticity, a bit of bite. Blue cheese and stout are famously well-matched, and while this brown ale doesn’t quite share the richness or body of a stout, it’s still dark enough to pair affably with my wedge of Roquefort. You could also do well serving it with Alpine-style cheeses like Gruyere or Comté, or employing it like a saber to cut through the sticky pungency of a washed-rind cheese à la Stinking Bishop or Époisses.

The point is: this beer is so agreeable that it hardly matters which cheeses you pick to go with it. Find whatever catches your eye. Get some crackers, maybe, or some jam or honey, but there is no loss of dignity in eating cheese without a vehicle or accoutrements. Hunker down until all of this (gestures vaguely at the outside world) passes by.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is published by Dog’n’Bone Books in March 2019. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

Fundamentals #40: A Cautionary Christmas Tale (Ft. The Kernel Barrel Aged London 1840 Export Stout)

If you’ve ever trapped your finger in a car door. you’ll perhaps empathise with this tale of struggle and woe. It begins in East London, at Signature Brew’s new taproom, at the start of December. Was that a hint of Christmas in the air I detected? No. It was the smell of heat and spice emanating from the victims of HB&B’s latest round of Chilli Karaoke.

The premise of Chilli Karaoke is simple, yet effective. You choose a song, you sing the first few lines before being rudely interrupted by the host, at which point a Scotch Bonnet pepper is consumed and you try to finish your song. Meanwhile, your struggle provides quality entertainment for the gathered crowd. Having once taken part myself, I can honestly say this is the modern equivalent of the gladiators fighting in front of the baying masses at the Colosseum. Only with catchier tunes.

After another hilarious night, hosted by HB&B’s very own Lewis Blomfield (who, it also turns out, is a very good character comedian), our chariot (a Toyota Prius) winged us home from the Colosseum, my beers to review tucked safely under one arm.

This is where a good argument could be made for cans over bottles, as they tend not to shatter. As I turned to exit the car (parked on a slight incline), the door began to close – but I did not move the middle finger on my left hand before the door decided to shut itself. There was blood, there was profanity (told you it was just like Ancient Rome), but worse was that the shock of trapping my finger caused me to throw everything I was carrying in my other hand up in the air. I didn’t see the can and bottle hit the ground, but I sure heard them.

The shattering of glass against tarmac drowned out the dull thud of a can hitting the same surface. I watched as this precious imperial stout, which had spent months maturing in red wine and Cognac casks, trickled down my North London street, only to be washed away by the rain.

And that would’ve been the end of this review. But thankfully, like all good Christmas tales, this has a happy ending. The next morning, I went for a walk and passing a rival bottle shop, I stopped in to see if they had stock of the same beer. To my delight, they did. Popping the bottle safely into my pocket, I rushed it home, chilled it down for just under an hour, and then – very carefully – opened it.

And what did I find? Perhaps one of the most exquisite imperial stouts I’ve tried all year: Unctuous molasses and roasted barley flavours, interspersed with a tangy bouquet of juicy red wine and mouth puckering tannins. The merest hint of Cognac adding a little boozy flourish to the end of each sip. I’d say it’s so good that its fit for Caesar himself. And perfect for some extended Christmas Day drinking. Well, it is The Kernel.

Matthew Curtis is a freelance writer, photographer and author of our award-winning Fundamentals column. He's written for numerous publications including BEER, Ferment, Good Beer Hunting and Original Gravity. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis.

#HBBAdvent Beer 10: Kernel Dry Stout (SE London)

The Kernel says: Nothing. The Kernel lets the beer do the talking.

We say: The following extract is taken from a short story inspired by the namesake and the wonderful, complex flavours of The Kernel Dry Stout Galaxy. I’ll stop drinking it when they stop brewing it.

The sound of a car backfiring woke him from a rough sleep. How long had he been out for? It didn’t matter now, Marcus and the others would be gone and there would be no way of tracking them. Getting out of the chair his joints made crackles like burning kindling. He looked around the room and tried to discern where they had left him. It was a rundown box apartment with several foldouts and no communicator, a work hostel no doubt. This meant he was either in one of the palisades or the bad part of the Garment district. The mixed smells of burning leather and coal fire made him bet on the latter. From the counter by the door his radio sounded, strange that Marcus hadn’t taken it along with his gun.

‘4.3 what is your location? 4.3 state location, you’re off grid. 4.3?’

‘I’m here.’

‘And where is here 4.3?’

‘Sal?’

‘4.3 confirm badge number and then give me your location.’

‘Piss off Sal.’

‘Fuck happened?

‘They got me as I came out of the station, Marcus and four others, one of them was the runner.’

‘Where are you at now? What did they get?’

‘Some box in the Garment district. They’re all gone, took my gun and they found my tracer. They’re gone, that’s it.’

‘Not it 4.3. Got one.’

‘Who!? How did you find them?’

‘No ID yet. And we didn’t. Two of them tried to stick up a taxi rank on 357th street, went for credits and two ships. One gets out and then the old girl behind the desk decides to reach for her purse. Lands two in the chest before she got clipped in the arm. Get over to the rank and then down to district hospital to get what you can from the woman, maybe she can do your job for you some more.’

‘Anything else Sal?’

‘Yeah 4.3, try to buy some Listerine syrup. You sound like your tongue’s growing mushrooms.’

‘Love you too Sal.’

Will Marcus and the others escape? Will there ever be a more sessionable and well balanced stout brewed? I doubt it. - Lewis

Hop Burns & Bottle Share with Paul Jones of Cloudwater Brew Co

We were privileged to travel to Manchester last month to brew with one of the very best breweries in the world, Cloudwater Brew Co. It was a fantastic experience - the people behind the beer are as top-notch as the beer they produce - and we especially enjoyed the chance to spend time with Cloudwater's charismatic co-founder Paul Jones.

We knew there was a lot more we wanted to discuss, so what better way to hear more than at one of our infamous Bottle Shares? As is customary, we asked Paul to nominate some of his all-time favourite beers to share with the crowd, and this time we had the added bonus of Paul selecting a piece of music to match each beer.

You'll find Paul's pairings below, which gave way to much robust discussion. We were keen to hear more about Paul's thoughts on freshness, the changing UK palate, the art of label design and of course the future for Cloudwater. Also, don't tell anyone, but Paul sees himself as more of a wine man than a beer lover - shhhh...

Luckily we recorded it all so stay tuned for the first episode of our new beer and music podcast, Rock The Mashtun, coming your way shortly.

Huge props to our guests too, who brought along one of the finest selections of share beers seen to date - everything from super-fresh Treehouse cans to Cantillon, Lost Abbey, The Bruery, Garage Project and more. Usually we write them all down but the challenge proved too vast this time!

Paul's pairings

1. Water: Tegernseer Hell 4.8% with Benjamin Britten, Four Sea Interludes from 'Peter Grimes', 1: Dawn 

2. Malt: Kernel Imperial Brown Stout 9.3% with D'Angelo, Chicken Grease

3. Hops: Cloudwater x Hop Burns & Black HOP DDH NZ Pale 5.6% with David Bowie, Let's Dance

4. Yeast: Schneider Weisse Aventinus Vintage 2013 Wheat Doppelbock 8.2% with Steve Reich & Pat Metheny, Electric Counterpart - (Fast Movement - Part 3)

5. Wood: Cloudwater Speyside BA Imperial Chocolate Stout 12% with Jimi Hendrix, All Along The Watchtower

The Beer Lover’s Table: Sweet and Savoury Phyllo Pie and The Kernel Bière de Saison Apricot

If you missed the chance to get your hands on Cantillon’s latest Fou’Foune release, don’t fret: just pick up a bottle of The Kernel’s Bière de Saison Apricot instead.

It isn’t hyperbole—this is a truly exquisite, albeit underrated beer. One of the newest releases from The Kernel’s esteemed barrel-ageing programme, this Bière de Saison is a heady blend of aged and fresh saisons, which sits in the barrel with Bergeron apricots (the very same heritage variety that goes into Fou’Foune) for approximately six months. It’s elegant, tart, bright with apricot and lemon notes and undergirded by yeasty complexity.

Given how well cheese and saison go together, I wanted to explore that pairing here. But—to complement this beer’s beautiful apricot character—I wanted a lightness and delicacy, too. So I settled on this sweet and savoury phyllo pie: it’s flaky, gooey with cheese, but also drizzled with honey, perfumed with rosewater, and topped with crushed pistachios.

Think of this recipe as a combination of Old Rag Pie (a Greek recipe by way of Nigella Lawson, which is packed with crumbled feta, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and fresh thyme leaves) and künefe (a cheese pastry that’s soaked in syrup and is eaten for dessert in Turkey, Palestine, and elsewhere across the Levant). Or perhaps categorise it as a Mediterranean cheesecake.

Whatever you do—and whether you serve it with a simple side salad for dinner or add extra rose petals and honey for a quasi-dessert—just make sure you’ve got this world-class beer to go with.

Sweet and Savoury Phyllo Pie
Adapted from a recipe by Nigella Lawson
Serves 2-4

7 sheets of phyllo dough (defrosted, if you're starting from frozen)
60g melted butter
100g feta
120g fresh goat’s cheese
10g grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
100ml whole milk
50ml double cream
2 large eggs
2 tsp rosewater, divided
40g lightly toasted pistachios, roughly chopped
Honey, to taste
Dried rose petals, to garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. In a square 8-inch Pyrex baking tray or cake tin, add your first layer of phyllo dough and brush with melted butter (it should overhang the sides). Take two more sheets of phyllo dough and tear them into rough pieces; scrunch loosely and place so that they cover the base layer of dough. 

Crumble half of the goat cheese and half of the feta over this first layer of scrunched up phyllo. Add half of the thyme leaves, half of the grated Parmigiano, and a good drizzle of melted butter. 

Now, repeat. Top with two more scrunched layers of torn phyllo. Crumble the remaining goat cheese and feta over, and add the remaining thyme leaves and Parmigiano. Drizzle over with more butter, reserving a small amount.

For your last two pieces of phyllo dough, tear in larger sheets and arrange over the top. Fold up any overhanging bits of dough, and pat into place. Drizzle over the remaining butter. Make two lengthwise and two widthwise cuts with the sharp end of a knife.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the milk, double cream, eggs, and 1 tsp of the rosewater. Pour evenly over the phyllo layers and allow to soak in for 15 minutes. Top with the pistachios.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until puffed and beginning to turn golden on the top. Cover with foil and bake for another 15 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and let sit and cool slightly for 5-10 minutes. Drizzle over with honey to taste, and the remaining 1 tsp rosewater. Garnish with dried rose petals, if you wish. Serve while warm.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a bottle of The Kernel's strictly limited Biere de Saison Apricot while you can.

HB&B Sub Club - our July and August boxes revealed

Our All Killer No Filler HB&B Sub Club boxes just keep getting better. Check out the most recent boxes below and then get yourself over to the shop to join the club...

July

 

August

Fundamentals #9 – Jester King/The Kernel Farmhouse Table Barrel Aged Blend

In beer, blending is a true art form. If you’ve ever tasted a great geuze from say 3 Fonteinen or Tilquin, or perhaps even a fantastic Flanders red from Rodenbach, then you’re tasting a beer that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

More and more breweries are investing in oak aging to further the beer experience they can offer their customers. This could involve getting used barrels from wineries or distilleries, or in some cases it could involve the use of larger oak containers called foeders. To make sure the beer that comes out of that oak tastes great, they too will have to master the fundamental art of blending.

If you ever get the chance to walk amongst the foeders at a brewery such as Rodenbach or New Belgium in the US, you should jump at the chance as it’s a pretty magical experience. If you’re lucky you might even get the opportunity to sample some unblended beer from the wood itself. This might help enlighten you as to how challenging blending the perfect beer from various components can be. The key to becoming a master blender is to be perfectly in tune with your palate, so as to achieve the perfect balance of acidity, flavour and drinkability.

To become ready for blending, beer needs time and this collaboration between London’s The Kernel and Jester King of Austin, Texas is no different. The original beer, a humble Table Beer with Citra, was brewed in April 2015. This beer was dry hopped the very same month before spending a year maturing in a steel tank with mixed cultures of yeast and bacteria taken from both The Kernel’s and Jester King’s stocks. In addition to this, some of the beer was aged in brand new – or virgin – oak barrels for 18 months. This beer was then blended back with 50% of the beer aged in steel before being refermented and allowed to mature further in the bottle.

The final blend of this beer is a living, breathing product and its character will continue to evolve in the bottle for years to come. According to the folks from The Kernel, the character from Jester King’s voracious house Brett strain dominated when the beer was packaged. However, this appeared to have calmed down in the bottle I opened, with notes of ripe berry fruit accompanied by strong flavours of vanilla from the oak, leading an incredibly dry and tannic finish.

This is an exceptional beer which blurs the boundaries between beer and wine - and that should come as no surprise considering the pedigree of its makers.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. We have a few bottles of the incredible Kernel/Jester King Farmhouse Table Barred Aged Blend in store or online while stocks last.

HB&B Sub Club - our April box revealed

Here's what was in our first ever HB&B Sub Club box that went out last month. We're just as excited about this month's box - we've found some mind-blowingly awesome beers to fill it with yet again...

We'll be releasing a limited number of new memberships this week. These will go on sale on Friday 5th April at 9am. Head here and get your finger on the button. More info on the boxes can be found at our FAQs page, or simply drop us a line.

Fundamentals #2 – The Kernel India Double Porter Citra Ella

When it comes to darker beers such as stout or porter, it would be obvious to focus on the ingredient that almost always provides them with most of their flavour: malt. This India Double Porter from South London’s The Kernel is no exception. Its malt profile of bitter dark chocolate and stone fruit laden roasted coffee is most certainly the most prominent element of this particular beer.

However, this is The Kernel we’re talking about here and in a typical break from the traditions that inspired this beer, it has been hopped with two pungent new world hop varieties. North American Citra hops add layers of grapefruit aroma and an oily, almost resinous mouth feel. This bombastic hop has a story of its own to tell one day but today we’re going to focus on the other hop named on this beers label, the Australian Ella variety.

Ella’s development began as early as 2001 (it takes a minimum of 3-5 years before a hop variety is ready for commercial cultivation) and after positive results it was fast-tracked for production trials in 2007. Ella was made commercially available to brewers in 2011 when it was released under the name “Stella”. It should come as no surprise that after legal pressure from AB-InBev - the largest brewing company in the world and brewers of the popular Stella Artois - that Hop Products Australia, who developed this hop, were forced to change its name in 2012. Henceforth it became simply known as Ella. 

Ella was developed by crossing the Australian Galaxy variety, known for its juicy, tropical fruit character, with Spalt – one of the four original European noble hops along with Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, Tettnang and Saaz. Noble hops are known for their “green” herbaceous character and they provide a spicy finish, not unlike white pepper.

Ella has a floral quality not dissimilar to something like lavender while also maintaining that edge of spice inherited from its noble parentage. The effect is that is rounds out the more boisterous qualities from the Citra, adding an almost parma violet note to the mix.

This is a big porter with a ton of flavour, yet it retains its drinkability in a way that’s unmistakably Kernel.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. Water, barley, wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, bacteria and even adjuncts such as fruit or maize are all fundamental parts of what make up our favourite beers.

To learn more about the joys of hops, make sure you get a ticket to our upcoming event Fundamentals Live #1: Hops on April 27th. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total Ales, Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. And pick up a bottle of the Kernel India Double Porter in store or online now.

#HBBAdvent Beer 4: Kernel Biere de Saison (Bermondsey)

The Kernel says: ---

We say: The Kernel usually prefers to let the beers doing the talking, and this is no exception. While best known for the iconic Table Beer and stunning IPAs which rank with the very best in the world, the Kernel team are also dab hands when it comes to sours, saisons and barrel ageing. This limited edition beer brings together all of the above. The Kernel team have blended a classic saison with some of their glorious London Sour to add extra tartness, before ageing in Burgundy barrels. The result is a light, citrusy, slightly funky concoction that we could drink all day. (Be warned - a couple of these bottles have been known to gush. Have a glass ready!) - Jen

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Find the Kernel Biere de Saison in 330ml or 750ml sharing bottles, in store or via our online shop.

Getting Away With It with Matthew Curtis

Quick and dirty blog post to share some of the images from another terrific night at ours with the mighty Matt Curtis of Total Ales/Good Beer Hunting fame. Six terrific beers accompanied by six fantastic tracks from the wonderful world of 80s electronica. Such a good time - look out for the next one coming soon...

1 Fruh Kolsch with Electronic - Getting Away With It
2 Yeastie Boys Digital IPA with Misex - Computer Games
3 De Molen Hel et Verdoemenis Imperial Stout with Spandau Ballet - To Cut A Long Story Short
4 Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour with OMD - Messages
5 Kernel Biere De Saison with Yazoo - Don't Go
6. Wild Beer/Beavertown Blubus Maximus with New Order - Blue Monday (12" Version)

Hop Burns & Bottle Share with The Kernel Brewery

It was with enormous pleasure that we hosted Evin O'Riordain, Toby Munn and Ben Landsberry from the Kernel Brewery for the second in our Hop Burns & Bottle Share series. The events follow a simple format - we ask our favourite brewers/beer legends to nominate their favourite beers, or those that hold a special place in their story, before throwing it over to our guests to share the beers they've brought along. Good times guaranteed.

The Kernel were the very first brewery we approached when setting up HB&B - such was the demand, back in 2014, that we had to go on a waiting list. Luckily the powers that be found a way to fit us in before we opened, and we've been proud to stock Kernel beers ever since. Table Beer and/or Pale Ale are constantly in the Top 5 bestseller list and we've never had a beer of theirs we haven't loved.

The reason we hold Kernel in such high esteem is probably the same reason you do - their unflinching integrity and devotion to creating the very best beer, setting the bar high for others to aim for. As one of the godfathers of the UK craft scene, they've also supported and nurtured those who have come after. This mutual love and respect was born out by the Kernel's team's Bottle Share beer selection. 

In addition to featuring two of their favourite Kernel beers - the iconic Table Beer and Export Stout 1890, a celebration of London's brewing history - Evin, Toby and Ben also selected two London classics from breweries they've undoubtedly inspired, Partizan Lemongrass Saison and Pressure Drop Pale Fire, as well as two 750ml specials, Burning Sky Cuvee 2015, and Gueuze Tilquin. All great beers made by brewers they call friends.

The beers enjoyed on the night are listed below - you can find the Kernel's 6-beer selection in store and on our online shop if you'd like a taste of the action.

Kernel beer list:

1. Kernel Table Beer Mosaic & Simcoe
2. Partizan Lemongrass Saison
3. Pressure Drop Pale Fire
4. Burning Sky Cuvee 2015
5. Kernel Export Stout London 1890
6. Gueuze Tilquin

Bottle share beers (names noted where remembered!):

  • Kernel Imperial Brown Stout 1856 (Ben)
  • Lost Abbey Angel's Share 2009 (Toby)
  • Deschutes The Abyss Reserve 2011 (Toby)
  • Burning Sky Cuvee Reserve 2015 (Simon)
  • Simon's homebrew
  • Adam's homebrew
  • Prairie Limo Tint
  • Moa Sour Blanc 2012
  • Yeastie Boys Her Majesty 2015
  • Roaring Four Rakau and Roaring Five DIPA
  • Magic Rock Unhuman Cannonball
  • Alvinne Omega
  • Wild Beer Sleeping Lemons Export
  • Wild Beer Ninkasi
  • Wild Beer Squashed Grape

Golden Pints 2015

The annual Golden Pints awards are the UK beer blogging community's version of the Oscars and are gaining steam every year. We've been lucky enough to win eight Golden Pints awards so far this year (thanks Beer O'Clock Show, Brew GeekeryAndy Parker, Beer Is The Answer, Jonny Garrett, Kat Sewell, Beer Revere and Yeastie Boys UK), so thought we should do our own in return.

We don't get out much (which is why, for example, we haven't named a favourite pub below) so a lot of our opinions have, by necessity, come from our daily life running a beer shop. And for us, great beer is about the whole experience of drinking it - where, when, who with, what's going on around us - not just the technical expertise used to brew it. That's why we've adjusted the category names slightly, replacing 'Best' with 'Favourite' - they reflect our own personal and highly subjective journey through an awesome year of beer.

Likewise, we've steered clear of naming a Best Blogger or Tweeter - so many of the UK's greatest bloggers and tweeters are customers, and in some cases, they even write for us, so we wouldn't want to play favourites... You all know who you are. xx
 

Favourite UK Cask Beer

Jen: Moor B Moor Porter at the Crown & Anchor in Brixton. Enjoyed alongside a well-matched dessert and in the company of the two Justins from Moor - the pleasure, the privilege was ours.

Glenn: Arbor Beech Blonde at the Old Nun's Head during one of our more riotous Hop Burns & Boogie excursions. We love pretty much everything these Bristol superstars do.

Favourite UK Keg Beer

Jen: Magic Rock/Stillwater Pina Collision Pineapple Sour Saison. This juicy delight was the beery soundtrack to our summer, enjoyed with many a BBQ. Miraculously we even had enough left over to sell to customers.
Honourable mention: Cloudwater's magnificent DIPA.

Glenn: Wild Beer Tom Yum Gose. Andrew from Wild Beer was kind enough to meet with us before we opened the shop, taking us through the brewery with a full range tasting afterwards. We love the way they blur the boundaries and this crazy concoction was one of the favourites of our summer.

Favourite UK Bottled Beer

Jen: Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour. Yoghurt, mint and cucumber just shouldn't work in a beer. But they do, and it's amazing. And I hate cucumber!
Honourable mention: Siren's Bones Of A Sailor Part III.

Glenn: My bottled beer of the year is an English bitter - a possibly unexpected result. Moor Ready Made 2, brewed with Birrifico Dada, is rich, caramel, malty, hoppy perfection. A beautifully balanced beer.
Honourable mention: Wild Beer Squashed Grape.

Favourite UK Canned Beer

Jen: Moor Return of the Empire English IPA. When we heard Moor were launching in cans, we knew Justin 1's fastidiousness would ensure they launched with the best cans the UK had ever seen. This IPA is a showcase for the new UK Jester hop and it's glorious. Moor's Hoppiness IPA usually gets all the love (and deservedly so), but my heart belongs to the Empire.

Glenn: Could have been any of the Vocation range so went for the one in the middle, Pride & Joy APA. Yet to have a bad beer from these guys - every can we've had in has been exceptional. Have my eye on a 750ml bottle of Naughty & Nice chocolate stout for Christmas Day too.

Favourite Overseas Draught

Jen: Yeastie Boys PKB Remix Dark Matta - one of the only two kegs in the UK, launched at the Beer O'Clock Show's live podcast in November. (Disclaimer: we invested in the Yeasties' crowdfunding campaign earlier this year, but this isn't the only reason this beer won. Though we do want a good return on our investment, right?) 
Honourable mention: Renaissance Fresh Hop Black The RIPA. We put this on at our NZ Fresh Hopped celebration event and people haven't stopped talking about it since. Tastes great in the bottle too.

Glenn: Unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell Tankovna at Duck & Rice in Soho. Almost as fresh as drinking it at the brewery door. The perfect accompaniment for a plate so loaded with sichuan peppers and chilli that it made the back of my head sweat. 
Honourable mention: Tuatara Sauvinova. Lush.

Favourite Overseas Bottled Beer

Jen: Alvinne/Stillwater Wild West, enjoyed at Nuetnigenough during our 36-hour beerathon in Brussels back in February. The staff at this restaurant really know their shit, and recommended us the most incredible beers to go with our food. Go there! 
Honourable mention: Tuatara Conehead, an "air-hopped" IPA (i.e. made with fresh hops that they flew over from Nelson to Wellington) from New Zealand. Dank and resinous, this blows the mind of everyone I push it on. Makes me feel a bit like Timothy Leary.

Glenn: Bruery Rueuze. Everything I look for in a gueuze - funky, fruity, tart, thirst-quenching... Exquisite. Next time I won't drink it at 3am.
Honourable mention: New Belgium Lips of Faith Le Terroir 2015. Cheers Matt Curtis.

Favourite Overseas Canned Beer

Jen: Westbrook Gose. Salty sour goodness has never tasted so good. Could drink this by the bucketload and would, given half a chance.

Glenn: Founders Centennial IPA. For all the reasons Matt Curtis details here.

Favourite Collaboration Brew

Jen: Hawkshead/Crooked Stave Key Lime Tau was the hands-down stand-out at this year's Rainbow Day. I ran across town to beat the crowds at Beavertown and had to cram as much sampling as possible into two hours before heading back to work, which sadly meant a lot of pouring away of great beers. Drinking this - a kettle-soured, lactose-infused golden ale brewed with fresh lime zest and lemongrass - in the blazing sunshine with good people was pretty much beer heaven.

Glenn: Moor/Birrificio Dada Ready Made 2, as detailed above.

Favourite Overall Beer

Jen: Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour.

Glenn: Wild Beer Tom Yum Gose.

Favourite Branding

Jen: Brick Brewery. When you stand behind a counter and look at 300+ beers all day long, you quickly work out what works and doesn't work on a beer bottle. I love Brick's branding because of its beautiful simplicity. Its clean design is reminiscent of Penguin Books' classic design.
Honourable mention: Wiper & True and Beavertown's clever 'starry night' initiative for limited edition can runs.

Glenn: Naming no names, but a lot of cans from mobile canning units look terrible. Vocation's labels instantly attract attention and make you forget they're just stickers on a plain metal can. On closer inspection, the intricate designs, different on every can, tell their own stories. 

Favourite UK Brewery

Jen: Moor, but Vocation and Arbor are close contenders indeed. And you should never overlook the Kernel - every time a coconut. It's impossible for them to make a bad beer.

Glenn: Wild Beer, for all the reasons given above and more. They've always blown my mind.

Favourite Overseas Brewery

Jen: 8 Wired Brewing. Saison Sauvin and Tall Poppy were two of my standout beers of the year, and there's nothing like Superconductor when you need a wake-up call. (On a side note, it's weird how New Zealand-centric many of my choices have been for this exercise given how much I couldn't wait to leave the place. But there's no denying the colonies are making great beers. And we're looking forward to trying all of them in January.)

Glenn: New Belgium. I've never been there but read Matt Curtis's blog and tell me it's not one of the most fascinating beer destinations on the planet. We were lucky enough to enjoy a muled bottle of Lips of Faith Le Terroir 2015 that Matt muled back from Colorado at our No More Heroes event in November... no words.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 5: Kernel IPA, 6-7% (SE London)

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

The Kernel says: Not much. They prefer to let their beers do the talking...

We say: The Kernel releases a different batch of IPA every week, and we turn over their beers so quickly that we’ve used two different Kernel IPAs in our advent calendars. You might have the IPA hopped with Citra and Ella, full of grapefruit and tropical flavours, or the much vaunted new Aussie hop, Vic Secret, for a big passionfruit and pineapple hit. Either way, it’s going to be sublime because the Kernel simply don’t make anything less than exceptional beers.

New stuff in store - 24 September

  • Jen had a fantastic day at Beavertown Brewery for Rainbow Day last weekend - seven UK breweries collaborating with seven US breweries to create some incredible brews. We've been lucky enough to get our hands on three of the Rainbow beers this week - Siren & Surly Brewing's Blue Sky Blue Sea seaweed & cloudberry gose, Partizan & Prairie's Real Time Saison and - arriving Friday - the beer that won the day for Jen, Hawkshead & Crooked Stave's stunning Key Lime Tau. Be really, really quick to get your hands on these beers (three-beer selection packs available from Friday). They won't last long.
  • We've also brought in a bunch of Omnipollo beers which were the hit of the recent London Craft Beer Festival. HOW good do these sound - Noa Pecan Mud Pie Imperial Stout, Bianca Mango Lassi Gose and Smoothie 411 IPA brewed with wild strawberries. rhubarb, vanilla and lactose?! Best believe they taste as good as they sound.
  • Hail to two new local heroes on the pale/session front - Brick Brewery's Peckham Pale Ale and Gipsy Hill's Hepcat Session IPA. Hepcat has been going gangbusters in both bottle and on flagon-fill so you'll be pleased to hear we've stocked up on another keg to keep you going over the next few days. The Brick pale has just turned up while writing this - looking fly in jaunty orange...
  • From Bermondsey way, Kernel's London Brick Red Rye Ale was so popular on flagon-fill last week that we've brought in 330ml bottles. You're going to love this beer.
  • Oh yeah, and Gunnamatta's back!

New stuff in store: 10 September

All of this week's beer deliveries are now in and new hot sauces are on their way... We'll save the sauces for a separate post - here's what's new and exciting in the HB&B world of beer:

  • Howling Hops! It's always exciting when we introduce a new brewery to our London shelves but we've been especially looking forward to stocking East London's Howling Hops Brewery. In lieu of making it to their amazing tank bar, take home their bottled range. We've picked four varieties to start with and by jove, they're good - the clean and crisp Pale XX, the delightfully light and fragrant Running Beer American brown ale, the bold, flavour-packed IPA and their tasty dark Black XX. Collect the set.
  • A slew of new Brew By Numbers goodies, including their White IPA Citra & Mosaic in bottle and on flagon-fill and a new porter, Bramling Cross. Yes, it's officially porter season, people.
  • On the US front, we welcome back Alesmith X and IPA. We've also got a new addition from The Bruery. Regular readers of our Twitter feed will have observed the occasional ode to Rueuze, The Bruery's superlative sour. Joining it on the Big Beers shelves is Cuivre, The Bruery's one-off 7th anniversary Old Ale. We won't lie, it's the most expensive beer in the shop. That's why we've only got six of them. Splash the cash and make one yours.
  • And as always we've got a stunning line-up on flagon-fill. The Kernel brings together the big Cs for their IPA Citra Columbus Chinook Centennial, there's a great collab session pale, North by South East, from Manchester's Marble Brewery and our new South London neighbours Bullfinch Brewery, and Gipsy Hill's Yuzu returns, tasting better than ever, to name just a few.

New stuff in store: 27 August

The final Bank Holiday of the summer is upon us and we've stocked up to ensure you can celebrate it in style. As well as restocking all your favourites, here's what's new in this week:

  • Five Points Pale and IPA - now in CANS! (Due in Friday.)
  • Also new in cans (pint-sized - literally), Evil Twin's Citra Sunshine Slacker, a glorious session IPA fresh off the boat. 
  • From Evil Twin's evil twin, we've got Mikkeller's Hop On Drinkin' Berliner - perfect if the sun makes an appearance this long weekend.
  • If it doesn't, and you fancy something darker, we welcome back Harbour's delectable Chocolate & Vanilla Imperial Stout. We loved this beer so much last time we had it in - be quick to ensure we don't drink it all...
  • On the D/IPA front, Kernel launches its brand new Double IPA, Double Mosaic (9.3% and jammed full of citrus, you know you want it) and Pressure Drop's mighty Bosko IPA is back.

Don't forget to check the flagon-fill page too - some beautiful beers await, including a Magic Rock session and London Beer Lab's exceptional Black IPA. As with all Bank Holiday weekends, we'll be open on Monday to ensure you can get the beers in for one last hurrah before returning to the grindstone. See you soon and have a great one.

Sweet and lowdown

We were chatting with one of our customers on Twitter yesterday about his need to find great lower-ABV (<4%) beers, and the sheer range of great-tasting low or no-alcohol beers out there made us think it would be a great topic for a blog post. Voila!.

We started getting a lot of requests for low/no alcohol beers from people in the final days of 2014 as they prepared to put down the pint glass for Dry January. (The fact most of them were back on to the 8% DIPAs by mid-Jan is naturally of no consequence here.) We duly expanded our range, assuming it'd be a January thing but we continue to see huge demand.

For some, such as our Twitter friend,  it's medical reasons; others are expectant mums after a refreshing drop, runners in training for a marathon, or folk who want to sink a few and still remember how to get home. But you don't need a reason to go low. Here are some of our favourite beers from the smaller end of the scale. 

 

  • The Kernel Table Beer, 3.2% - The ABV of this classic varies slightly according to the recipe but always hovers around the 3% mark. It's a much-lauded, truly outstanding beer that almost beggars belief as to how they continuously pack so much flavour into such a small beer. One of our best-selling beers and deservedly so.
  • Wiper & True Small Beer #10, 2.6% - We love this great Bristol brewery, and try to ensure we always have one of their Small Beers on shelf. Currently we're showcasing #10 - a hop-packed pale ale with citrus, papaya and floral notes.
  • Siren Craft Brew Half Mast Quarter IPA, 2.8% - Last summer, before we had a shop, when we still had a social life, we drank this glorious seasonal from the moment we discovered it until the day we drank it dry. Our "I can't believe it's not 6%" beer. It is possibly the perfect summer drink - lashings of grapefruit and mango in a beer so refreshing you could drink it all day, and at just 2.8% you probably could. (In moderation, natch.)
  • Gipsy Hill Beatnik Pale Ale, 3.8% - We couldn't not mention Beatnik in this line-up. This "iconoclastically fruity" drop is our best-selling beer on flagon-fill and a fantastic proof point of Gipsy Hill's mission to create sessionable beers that don't skimp on flavour.
  • Weird Beard Black Perle Coffee Milk Stout, 3.8% - Another great beer proudly belying its <4% status. Massive amounts of flavour in this extremely drinkable light stout. A beer to be enjoyed with breakfast, lunch, dessert or any time really.
  • & Union Der Graf Von Bavaria, 0.4% - OK, so this probably won't be the best beer you've ever drunk, but we'll wager it's one of the best alcohol-free beers you'll try. The makers of this Bavarian wheat beer claim that its isotonic properties also make it the perfect sports drink, something we can't corroborate as we don't do any sports. Regardless, it's an extremely worthy contender for what should go in your basket "when you care but you can't drink beer". 

Apologies to the other wonderful low-ABV beers out there we didn't have room to mention. We've got many more in store - ask us to point them out to you next time you're in.

New stuff in store: 20 May

Somebody say MOTHERLODE? Hold on to your hats, beer lovers - this week is a veritable gold rush of new and exciting brews. (They're being delivered today and tomorrow, so all should be on shelf by end of play Thursday unless something goes horribly wrong.) 

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin. 

  • On the South-East side of things, we've re-upped in time for the Bank Holiday on all your favourites, as well as recent additions from Brew By Numbers (their White IPA has all the beer geeks talking), Kernel (their Black IPA = likewise), a brand new Single Hop Citra from Hop Stuff, Orbit's ever-popular Nico Koln-style lager in cans, Weird Beard's Little Things That Kill, plus the entire One Mile End range is back on shelf, spanking fresh from the brewery.

  • Looking further afield to the rest of the UK, good tings agarwn here too:

    • Three new barrel-aged beauties from Siren Craft Brew - BA Day Dream, Siren's Mikkeller collab, an imperial white stout aged in bourbon barrels; BA Shattered Dream, an imperial stout brewed with coffee, vanilla and cocoa nibs aged in banyuls and bourbon barrels; and Long Forgotten Journey, a golden barley wine aged in Grand Marnier barrels for more than two years with added orange peel. Never say we're not good to you. Never. 

    • You loved the beers from new Manchester brewery Cloudwater so much that we simply had to get more. We've got their IPA in bottles, with their Session IPA set to hit flagon-fill soon. (See what else we've got coming up on flagon-fill here.)

    • Our love for Tom Oliver's miraculous way with cider knows no bounds - we've been gorging ourselves on samples of his Fine Dry Perry over the past couple of weeks and now we're finally sharing it with you. Think you don't like pear cider? Think again. We'd pick this 750ml beauty over most champagnes any day of the week.

  • And, arguably saving the best for last, looking even further afield to Europe and across the pond it's time to get very excited indeed:

    • From the US, we've nabbed a case each of Founders' Blushing Monk, brewed with a ridiculous amount of raspberries and Belgian yeast, and the infamous KBS, an imperial breakfast stout brewed with massive amounts of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for an entire year. Are you visibly salivating in an embarrassing fashion yet? We are. 

    • We also welcome new beers from Prairie (their Funky Gold Amarillo, a mix of tropical fruit and sour Prairie funk); canned heaven from Ska (just how cool are the Rudie Session IPA cans?), the exotically hopped Two Roads Li'l Heaven, made with Azacca, Calypso, Mosaic and Equinox, and Evil Twin's gloriously tart Nomader Weisse; plus Yankee classics in the form of Laguitas IPA and Brooklyn Sorachi Ace in 355ml bottles!

    • From Denmark, we've got three newbies from To Ol - F*** Art, The Heathens are Coming saison, Friends With Benefits APA and another impressive addition to our already-impressive gluten free range, Reparationsbajer GF Pale Ale. That GF shelf will surely be groaning under its own weight soon... Plus we've loaded up on more Mikkeller cans and added the Spontandryhop Citra to the top shelf.

    • Finally, last but not least etc, from Belgium, we say goededag to Rodenbachs in big bottles - the Vintage and Caractère Rouge - and the much-vaunted Straffe Hendrik Wild.

Is that enough for you? If you can't see any of these on shelf, just ask - we too are wondering where the hell we're going to put all of it. See you soon.