The Kernel - Vatted Stout Porter - 7.8% (750ml)


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"This one has taken a long, long time to come to fruition. We have been brewing beers, and mostly dark beers, to old recipes since the inception of the brewery. Some recipes we have tweaked and modernised (eg our Export India Porter is and old recipe with a contemporary hopping regime), while others we have tried to keep tight to the original recipes and intentions, as far as we can. But while the recipes may have been close to the originals, we have thus far always fermented in stainless steel (which is the material that pretty much all modern fermentation vessels are made of). However in the mid 19th century, fermentation would have been carried out in large wooden vessels (‘vats’ or ‘tuns’ (English), foeders (Flemish) or foudres (French)). For this beer we wanted to take the essence of the historical recipes we make back to a more appropriate-for-the-time fermentation in wood. Fascinating what a difference this makes

We’ve called this our ‘Vatted Porter’ to emphasise the fermentation in wood. We fermented this in one of our foudres (5000 litre oak vessel, ex Bordeaux red wine) to an 1864 Bass porter recipe. It was brewed in Feb 2021, packed in November 2021, so 9 months in wood. And this fermentation changes everything about the beer. It's simultaneously light and fruity and dark and intense, an interesting tussle between the heft of the malt and the intentions of the denizens of our foudres (the foudres would have previously fermented our bieres de saisons / foeder beers&lagers / etc). The aroma is deep dark chocolate and a touch of spice, wheresas the body is fresh, and fruity with a raspberry like acidity, which balances with the malt backbone and roast malt bitterness.

We then took this beer and blended with some fresh Export Stout. Blending young and old beers, mild and stale, was pretty universal amongst the Victorian breweries of London, to achieve the balance between the characteristics brought by each – on the one hand the tart, vinous, complex yet mellowed traits of aged beer and on the other the sweetness, vibrancy, potential of fresh beer. This blend, our Vatted Stout Porter, has that balance, its bitterness mellowed out, a bridge of wild yeast character between the old and young beers.