Saturday, 23 February 2013

Kernel Saturday

Kernel Saturday has become a firm fixture in London. I haven’t been since they moved a few railway arches down the line into a much bigger brewery, so wanted to make a point of visiting. It feels just like the old one, but bigger, with room for many more people to mill about drinking beer. The queue to get served stretches out the door.

In front, as ever, the stacks of bottles and vertical drinking.
Drinking area
To the right, a long storage hall lined with picnic tables, which immediately give the place some of the atmosphere of a Bavarian beer garden – as does the notice saying it’s fine to bring along your own food.

At the end of the hall some wooden barrels have been set up. What have they been up to with those? They’ve been used to make a sour beer. I missed that one. While talking all the new beers, the sour one and the New Zealand-hopped pils, have been supped by thirsty hipsters. We stick to Table Beer and C.T.S. IPA.

But once we look behind the bar the improvement is jaw-dropping. The old brewkit was basically in a cramped cubbyhole right up alongside its little fermenters. In the spacious new hall a row of proper grown-up conical fermenters tower over us, facing the mash tun and copper. It’s still all manual opening of valves, but it’s less Heath Robinson than it used to be.
Beer Advocate area

“Nothing gets thrown away here,” says Evin; bits of equipment are still in use for super-small batch beers and experiments. The old brewing kit has gone to Partizan. There is now a bottling line, which must be a godsend, putting an end to the marathon hand-bottling sessions that used to take up so much time.

A brown plastic crate from Young’s of Wandsworth is in the corner, to be added to the National Inventory of Beer Crates From Defunct Breweries Lying About in Working Breweries. Every brewery I’ve ever been in has some of these, from Tryst to Tennents. I like it.

The only thing I don’t like about the new brewery is that it’s now a longer walk to the Royal Oak for a nice pint of mild afterwards. Nonetheless we still manage it.

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