Tuesday, 7 August 2012
No, not that Artois rubbish...
Stella 7.5% single hopped IPA from Kernel Brewery:
Stella is one of the hops I really enjoy. It's drying like Centennial, but juicy like Citra, it's a great flavourful hop but at the same time, it doesn't shout about it. Kernel Stella has a wonderful aroma of dry pine and grapefruit. It's very floral and smells quite sweet with some hints of candy sugar and honey. There's almost a very slight tang of Belgian yeast in there too.
It's a perfect beer. Faultless. It starts big on the flavour with juicy sweet fruits, fleshy and ripe. This moves to a puckering bitter body and finish which makes you drink more instead of putting it down.
It's a fantastic beer, but that's not really what I want to talk about tonight.
You see there's been a bit of talk and murmuring about Kernel as of late around some of the regular Kernel lovers in Beer Ritz. Kernel brewery has just gone through relocating to a new bigger brewery (although I've heard it's still under a railway line...) and one or two of our Kernel fanatics seem to think the quality has suffered because of this. I can only say to these few people that, during the time that Kernel wasn't around in the shop, you hyped up these beers so much while you couldn't get your hands on them, that when they came back in they couldn't live up to your over-expectations. It's a real shame, because the beer hasn't changed. Brewers aren't stupid. They're smart passionate 'business' men/women, and if they move location you can believe they put a lot of money into making sure that the beer quality and taste does NOT change.
That being said, Kernel have had a couple of teething issues. Yes there has been the one bottle without a label here, and another without an abv stamp there, but this is to be expected! Brewers are people too, and aren't perfect, but still get it right 99.9% of the time. I can't see any change with the new brewery beers from Kernel, and I also think the new way they produce the labels looks a lot better - much more professional.
Brewers must be warned though! I've worked at Beer Ritz for quite a few years now, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's this; when posed with such a choice like ours, customer choices can be very fickle. I don't want to count the amount of times I've heard a customer say: "Oh, I had a bad bottle from them a while back, I've moved onto **** now..." I'm not trying to have a pop at Kernel here, I've had many a box come to the shop with the odd label or two missing from the bottle. From well know breweries too like Nogne O and Durham recently...
In most cases it only takes one bad bottle for people to avoid a whole range a brewery produces. This is why I think regular quality control is such an important thing. If you have a bad brew or infected batch, for heaven's sake Don't Send It Out and hope for the best... you'll only end up seriously damaging your reputation. And in this time of such great choice, the consumers will leave you for someone else.