Monthly Archives: January 2012

Saturdays at The Kernel Brewery in London

The Kernel Brewery is a very good brewery in London. I first tasted their beer at the Euston Tap, where I had their delightful Centennial/Citra Pale Ale. It’s hard to find particularly inventive brewers in London, but Kernel makes fantastic strong IPAs and dark beers. I like them a lot.

Recently, The Kernel started having open houses on Saturday at their Maltby Street location in Bermondsey, London. Their brewery is conveniently located along the Maltby Street market. Be warned, it’s incredibly hipstery at this market, so much so there’s a shop selling only vintage fixie bikes. If that bothers you, steer clear. If you can look past the ironically dressed clientele, visiting The Kernel on a Saturday is very nice.

Kernel Brewery at Tanner Street market

Kernel Brewery at Maltby Street market

They have a table setup where you can order a pint or buy some of their beer in bottles. We had the basic stout and one of their IPAs at the market and I took home bottles of the Centennial/Citra pale ale, 2010 Centennial IPA, Export India Porter, and Imperial Brown Stout. I haven’t had them yet, but, from what I’ve tasted so far, I can’t imagine they’ll disappoint.

The beer menu, some good stuff on there

The beer menu, some good stuff on there

Me buying some Kernel beers

Me buying some Kernel beers

The Kernel bottles I took home

The Kernel bottles I took home

Vancouver, take note. The Kernel served and sold beer out of the back of their brewery right onto the street! There were no fights, car accidents, underage drinkers, or even drunk people! Why can’t we do this in Vancouver?



Coal Harbour Brewing starting up in Vancouver?

I heard about Coal Harbour Brewing a few years ago and was very curious as to what they might become.  Turns out they’ve been working away at starting up a new craft brewery in Vancouver and they are now up and running.  I got this email from their brewer  Kevin Emms:

After an excruciating and lengthy setup period, Coal Harbour Brewing is now open for business! We are ready to debut our first round of beers, all ready to be packaged and sold in 58.7 L kegs.

We want to be a craft brewery that serves our tastes rather than replicating the styles being brewed by others. With that in mind, we will not be exclusively brewing hop bombs. We like lagers, as do our friends, and it is important to enjoy beer with friends! Also, we take great pride in brewing intriguing, satisfying and unique ales:

“three-11” helles lager – A genuine, Munich style pale lager. Brewed with care and aged appropriately to provide a mellow and refreshing drinking experience that pairs well with any occasion. Priced very competitively, this beer is your best choice to satisfy diverse groups of people.

“Vancouver” Vienna Lager – A painstakingly brewed authentic golden coloured European lager. The 3-step mash ensures excellent body and maximum conversion of sugars.  The massive amounts of German malts contribute to the continental flavour. This is a fine lager for a more upscale market.

“Triumph” Rye Ale – A true Pacific Northwest style craft ale, not quite like what you have tasted before. High portions of rye malts combine with northwest hops to give this copper coloured ale a complicated and intriguing, yet smooth and surprisingly drinkable flavour.

Our plans for the future include introducing some unique new ales into our catalogue, and producing seasonal and ‘one off’ batches of very special beers.

Sounds promising, I look forward to trying their beer and I wish them all the best!



Ensemble Tap

I’ll admit it, I am a bona fide Food Network geek.  I was quite excited to see local chef Dale Mackay take home the coveted Top Chef Canada award earlier this year, ousting Calgary’s Connie DeSousa and Toronto’s Rob Rossi.  Just prior to claiming victory to one of our nation’s top culinary prizes, Dale opened Ensemble, his first restaurant.  I was eager to visit Ensemble to see for myself how legitimate the judging of this television competition really is.

At Ensemble, Dale has created a unique dinning experience – semi-traditional French cooking meets modern Westcoast dinning.   The menu does not flow from first to final course, instead diners are encouraged to order freely from the menu and construct their own meal.  Of course the serving staff are more than happy to make recomndations on what might be an appropriate appetizer or main, but in the end the decision remains in the eater’s hands.  The food is tasty, well priced and foodie friendly.

Clearly on a role, Dale opened a more casual beer focused eatery in December, Ensemble Tap (eTap).  Boasting an impressive bottle and tap selection, I was eager to visit this new creation.  The menu is a mix of burgers, sandwiches and hearty entrées. The food displays a level of refinement that  a non-traditional fine dinning chef brings to a modern gastropub, I get a sense this menu reflects the food that the chef likes to eat at home.

Although I was a bit disappointed that they chose to cook their burgers through, the food is delicious.  Dale is a gifted chef who can seamlessly incorporate spices and global flavours into food he prepares his way.  The popcorn prawns with tempura sea asparagus and Thai spice mayo was the highlight of the menu.  All of the food pairs well with the long list of local and international craft beer.

It is is exciting to see that eTap has recently announced a number of  beer pairing events and paired menus.  eTap is a unique contribution to Vancouver’s growing beer culture.



Brewdog has a pub in London now

In Camden to be exact, and it’s been there for about a month.  I was really excited when I found out Brewdog opened their first non-Scottish pub in London (4th pub overall) in December.  There are few epic beer bars in London, especially when you consider the scale of London and how much time people spend down the pub.  Brewdog Camden joins Craft and The Euston Tap as beer nerd destinations in Londontown.

Erik was around over the holidays, so naturally we hit up Brewdog Camden.  I was very impressed by the look of the place, which is very clean, modern, and on brand.  I was even more impressed by the beer on offer, there were twenty odd taps and hundreds of bottles.  The bottle selection was almost solely constituted of hardcore craft beer, mostly American (mostly Californian), some Danish (mostly Mikkeller), and Hitachino Nest of Japan.  The majority of the taps were of Brewdog’s own beer, but there were also a few guest kegs from the likes of Stone and Mikkeller.  Much of the Brewdog beer on tap I’d never seen in bottles before and I believe some were experimental.  I really enjoyed the Winter Porter and the Hops Kill Nazis (a hoppy imperial red).  I didn’t love the Wasabi Stout or the Dogma, but that’s just me.

At Brewdog Camden

Us guys at Brewdog Camden

What I really liked was that both Tactical Nuclear Penguin (32% ABV) and Sink the Bismarck (41% ABV) were on offer, £6 for a 25ml taste.  I’d only ever come across these beers in bottles in the UK and didn’t buy because they carry a hefty price tag, so this was my first taste.  We tried Tactical Nuclear Penguin (they were out of Bismarck) and it was a delight.  It’s very syrupy in the glass and it tastes very sweet, more like madeira than beer.  It also warms the throat in a good way, like a fine brandy or cognac might.  A bottle would be dangerous in my hands.

Tactical Nuclear Penguin Brewdog Camden

Tactical Nuclear Penguin in the glass (Hops kill Nazis in the background)

Tasting Tactical Nuclear Penguin at Brewdog Camden

Erik tasting TNP with an aristocratic air

London beer tourists, in this order, visit Craft, Brewdog Camden, and the Euston Tap.  My one criticism of Brewdog Camden is that  there aren’t many session beers to be had, which might turn off the casual beer fan.  I don’t think Brewdog cares though, beer for punks after all.



Old Yale Brewing is back

old yale brewing logoHappy New Year to BC beer geeks, Old Yale Brewing is coming back!  Old Yale was a pretty cool brewery, brewing out of a strip mall in Chilliwack of all places.  Their IPA and Pale Ale were both delightful and I was sad to hear of their demise a couple years ago.  Luckily, some passionate beer people purchased the brewery and are reopening it with the same brewmaster and recipes.  They are also going to be selling their beer in cans, signalling greater ambition this time around.  Here’s the blurb I received:

I wanted to let you know that Old yale Brewing co. is back open and brewing again! It has been purchased by a small group of beer lovers and we have the same brewmaster, Larry Caza. The recipes are the  same and the first few batches have come out excellent. Our new group is excited about getting our superb beer to more people.

We have just began shipping beer in large bottles to a few liquor stores in the Chilliwack and abbotsford area. We have a few establishments with our beer on tap again. We are in the very early stages and a lot will be happening over the next month or two.

We will be offering our Sergeant’s IPA and the Old Yale Pale Ale in cans soon.

old yale brewing beers

I’m wishing them a very successful 2012!