From what I can tell, The Kernel Brewery out of London is a small brewery with a huge following and a plethora of rave reviews online would seem to indicate they're making great beers. This is an American-style IPA brewed with coffee from Ethiopia. I've sometimes found a coffee-like flavor in IPAs, but I've never had an IPA actually brewed or infused with coffee before. I had high hopes for this one.
4.1AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
I received a 12oz bottle from British beer writer Zak Avery in a trade. I poured it into a tulip glass.
Appearance: Dark, hazy, almost dirty orange flame color. No visible carbonation. Forms a small, bright white frothy head which retains and laces quite well.
Smell: Similar to an East Coast style American IPA with a rich, sticky, pine resin aroma, combined with some tropical fruits and a light coffee scent as well.
Taste: I’m always impressed by beers with separate flavors at different stages of the palate that still blend well together overall. The Kernel Brewery’s coffee IPA does just that with distinct flavors of dry pine bitterness, sweet tropical fruits and bitter coffee on the finish. On paper it would seem that these component would clash, but in the mouth they synergize quite well.
The pine begins with a strong resiny, almost sap or syrup-like stickiness at the beginning of the palate. The middle turns lighter and sweeter, almost refreshing actually with mango, papaya, and other tropical fruit flavors (but isn’t citrusy per se). Right as the beer finishes it delivers a pleasant coffee flavor of medium roast and a dash of semi-sweet dark chocolate as well. All these flavors add up to form a very tasty, delectable, unique and impressive palate.
Mouthfeel: Tepid, soft, and medium. Not quite thick, but far from thin.
Drinkability: For such a robust and bitter beer, The Kernel’s coffee IPA is surprisingly drinkable. The soft, tepid mouthfeel enables it to go down very smoothly, almost as if it were a porter or stout. The 6.5% ABV is the perfect weight for a beer of this caliber - stronger than the smaller beers, but still has the robustness of a bigger beer without the bulky density.
Overall, a very impressive and fun beer to drink. It would probably pair well with certain ethnic foods, but drinking it on its own is pleasurable enough. I’m glad I got to try it.