Evin O’Riordain opened The Kernel in 2009 after moving to London from Waterford a decade earlier. He found a job selling artisan cheese at Neal’s Yard Dairy and was sent to New York in 2007 to help open a cheese shop in Manhattan. It was there he discovered the beers that would shape his future and arguably ours as beer drinkers. The brewer behind Kernel beer doesn’t do many ‘meet the brewer’ evenings so we decided to make him feel at home with a cheese pairing menu courtesy of 64 Degrees. Eat, drink and ask questions was the agenda for Evin’s visit to Bison Beer, and we’re pleased to share some insightful answers from the occasion here..
Table Beer, 3.2% – Roasted cauliflower with zesty mature cheddar foam.
Bière De Saison (Burgundy Barrel Aged), 5.0% – Ricotta with lime rye
Amber (citra), 4.9% – Celeriac with cured egg yolk and zatar.
Export India Porter, 6.2% – Tiramisu style spiced ginger cake with mascarpone
Q. What do you think of the term ‘craft beer’.
A. It’s a commercial term used to define something that shouldn’t be defined.
Q. Tell us about your beer
A. Table beer is a technically difficult beer to make that you wouldn’t know by tasting it. Brewed to be enjoyed any time of the day or night, it’s the kind of beer you can get on with life after drinking. With saisons we reduce things to their simplest principles. The less you control it the better the outcome & how you relate to it. The wood becomes where yeast and bacteria live as they age and constantly change the beer. Now have 60 barrels to artfully blend in. I still don’t fully understand it – an endless surprise
Q. Why did you decide to open The Kernel?
A. I was cheesemonger who used to work for Neal’s Yard whilst doing PhD in philosophy. I was sent over to America (NY) 2007 to set up a shop for a customer. After cheese lessons I used to go for beer and learn about beer like cheese – it blew my mind. I grew up on Guinness in Ireland and the clean, crisp beers were a revelation. I came back to London in 2009 and started brewing for The Kernel. Ignorance teaches you as does trial & error. Keep it simple I loves brewing that’s where I like to be. It’s a process of learning but the most important thing is tasting, like it is with cheese.
Q. How do you go about developing the taste?
A. We all have tastebuds but it’s just tasting and learning and the beers change, they are never the same. The most important thing is quality. Using the same equipment & process no matter how they do it each brewer always produces a different beer, but that’s what the kernel is about. It keeps our beers fresh. As you get bigger it’s hard to not repeat yourself but we try and do it differently and that’s what keeps us excited about brewing.
Q what is an IPA?
A. There is no one that makes an IPA like it traditionally was. It comes down to how a brewery interprets it. We brew an IPA at 7% and pale at 5% because that’s the way we like it. It’s very much down to how each individual brewery likes it. When the style first came in to existence (travelled to India) they were very dry, heavily hopped and not strong. They were more like session IPAs.
Q. Are you affected by a hops shortage?
A. We use a lot of hops but have good relationships which hopefully means we will always have supply but hey if they run out of hops we will make more sours! But it happens in Austria & Germany for example. I’m more concerned with global warming. There are a couple of breweries, Adnams for example, who have tried to measure their carbon footprint and they’ve looked in to it and made changes to their business from it.