Halfway into my recent trip to London, I was feeling somewhat disconcerted by my failure to ferret out a variety of beer experiences. Sure, I’d wandered down to the pub for a pint and a pie, and althought there was plenty of local color (the man sitting next to me was singing “Got to Pick a Pocket or Two” and no, I am not making that up), the pint in question was a pretty forgettable. I’d also had a plate of fish and chips and a London Pride in a cowboy-themed restaurant. Sure. Why not? Still, I had yet to find a really transformative experience.
I wandered the neighborhood, beer radar pinging away. At last, I saw it–a small chalkboard advertising London-brewed craft beer. I inquired within the establishment, and was rewarded with a porter from The Kernel. And it was probably the best porter I have ever had–rich, smooth, and wonderfully warming against the damp, chilly London spring. After further research, I discovered that The Kernel brewery was open for tastings every Saturday, which happened to be the next day. It was ON.
In the grand tradition of craft breweries everywhere, The Kernel, while conveniently located five minutes from a tube station, is wedged into two railway arches in an industrial park that looks more like somewhere an illegal bare-knuckle boxing match would take place, or where Bob Hoskins, Jason Statham, and/or Ben Kingsley might hide a body, than where someone might go to try a variety of award-winning beers. But what they lack in amenities, they make up for in seriously delicious beverages.
In addition to offering a variety of solid stouts, porters, and IPAs, both on tap and in bottles, they also brew a series of generously-hopped pale ales (I tried the Mosaic Simcoe, and it was lovely), and had a refreshing London sour on tap (a first of the style for me). They seem to be very committed not just to producing solid examples of traditional English styles, and but branching out to incorporate the lessons of other brewing traditions (without going all Dogfish Head, of course). The staff were very personable and knowledgeable, and the prices were really reasonable as well. There aren’t many places where a woman can feel comfortable going alone to drink under a railroad bridge (even if she is a felon), but this is definitely one I’d recommend to anyone.