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Imperial Brown Stout London 1856 - The Kernel Brewery

Not Rated.
Imperial Brown Stout London 1856Imperial Brown Stout London 1856

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

67 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 67
Reviews: 21
rAvg: 4.27
pDev: 8.2%
Wants: 27
Gots: 8 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
The Kernel Brewery visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.80% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: thepeter on 05-07-2011

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 67 | Reviews: 21
Reviews by Zimbo:
Photo of Zimbo
4.38/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brewed on 15 02 11

Initial waves of an intense liquorice and chocolate nose dilutes in time. Glossy frothy brown head which also thins over time but is always lurking there. Small groups of bubbles and super lacing.
Very dense and intense tight dark chocolate earthiness. Wickedly dry. Absorbs any moisture your mouth might have had. Big but not grotesque and that booze is so so well hidden.
Quality.
If only the nose kept up with this beer's other elements.
Another success from the Kernel. Tongue lickin good.

More User Reviews:
Photo of jazzyjeff13
4.52/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A 330ml bottle with a BB of May 2016 (bottled May 2012). ABV is stated as 10%. Picked up a little while back from Trembling Madness in York.

Poured into a Duvel tulip. A dark brown hue that appears as an impenetrable black in the glass. Produces a large head of creamy light-brown foam that lasts for a few minutes before reducing to a surface layer. Aroma of rich, fruity dark malt with notes of chocolate, vanilla, caramel, molasses, dried fruit, mild coffee and a warming hint of booze. Mildly sweet. Complex and delicious.

Tastes of rich, dark malt with a complex, fruity character and a bitter finish. Notes of roasted malt, coffee, cocoa, burnt grain, molasses, caramel, dried fruit, vanilla and stewed hops. Possesses a spicy quality and a significant boozy whiff in the background. A balanced but distinct bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is superb - velvety smooth; bordering on unctuous. Coats the palate and saturates the tastebuds. Mildly spicy and tingly from the low carbonation, while also on the dry side. Incredible. Rather astringent, with an aftertaste of bitter roasted malt/coffee.

Simply amazing - a top tier brew. Tons of complex dark aromas and flavours. The coffee notes have an intensity like freshly ground beans, while the fruity character is thick and sweet. I imagine this would age very well, and I might grab one or two for that purpose. What more needs to be said? A fantastic imperial stout - don't pass it up if you come across it.

Photo of kscaldef
3.75/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours nearly still, just a slight suggestion of head, no bubbles visible. Dark cola color, with moderately thick legs.

S: Nutty chocolate. Even as it warms up, pretty minimal, perhaps hindered by lack of carbonation.

T: Certainly not an American Imperial Stout. This keeps the classic london stout characteristics, but dials everything up a bit, without getting sweet or cloying or harsh. Dark chocolate, a hint of coffee and dried dark fruit

M: A delicate balance. Slight sweetness lingers on the corners of the mouth, but generally finishes dry, but not overly bitter. No carbonation to speak of, but despite that it isn't heavy.

Photo of Ruds
4.7/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased a 330ml bottle in Jan'12 - BB - 11.11.18 tempted to get a few more and age them !

ABV has dropped to a mere 9.8% since original review!

Pours a very dark rich borwn colour with a creamy off white/beige/light brown head

The head soon reduces to a rim around the glass and a small pond with bubbles floating off centre!

Chocolate dominates the malty aroma of this beer, perhaps a little liquourice and coffee also and a vague wood smell

Taste is dominated once more by chocolate then roasted malts, slightly burnt sugar, background coffee and caramel. The chocolate is sweet but bitter.

Excellent mouthfeel to this beer, full bodied but silky smooth and caresses the throat leaving it wanting more and more (and more!)

Overall an excellent imperial stout, doesn't feel like you are drinking one at around the 10% mark at all, they don't come much better than this!!!

Need to get back, buy half a dozen or so and age them methinks!

Photo of papat444
4.56/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Ruds for this one.

Poured from a 330ml. bottle, BB 11.11.18. ABV is 9.8%.

Appearance: Pours an oily brown body that is unaffected by light and has a decent milky coffee head but not a lot of legs on it.

Smell: Fantastic. Want more? Macadamia nuts, milk chocolate, robust coffee (think grinds) and pistachios. The coffee and chocolate keep popping up one after the other seamlessly.

Taste: My, this is good. Mix of nuts, robust coffee with a healthy dose of cream & sugar, semi-sweet chocolate and cocoa. Has a nice milky taste with some sweetness that is well balanced. My only knock is it loses a little as it goes on.

Mouthfeel: Real low carbonation coupled with a smooth feel that has some bite but is never harsh. Coast the mouth all over.

Overall: This beer is phenomenal. Sublime yet assertive. Wish i had a case of these. While you could age it, this is real good right now. One of my best in recent memory.

Photo of beerdrifter
4.6/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

An aggressive pour yielded a dark brown, nearly black pour with a one finger beige head with minimal retention but nice lacing. Nice roasty nose with hints of fresh coffee, cocoa, molasses, and toffee. For what the nose lacked, the taste more than makes up for it. Rich, earthy, and complex with hints of fresh brewed coffee, caramel, cocoa, leather, tobacco, milk chocolate, and an amazing subtle touch of sweet nuttiness (almost like peanut butter) on the finish. The mouthfeel is amazing. Thick, chewy, creamy and smooth as silk. The finish is slightly bitter with just enough sweetness to balance it out perfectly. Overall, another amazing beer from The Kernel. This is my first stout from these guys and they really made it a unique experience. It was like my favorite Brown Ale meeting my favorite Imperial Stout! Definitely a memorable standout.

Photo of ghostwalker
3.91/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Found a bottle of this stuff at Oddbins just outside London Bridge Station.

A: Huge, thick, dark brown body. Small to middlin head.

S: Smell is super dark and dense. Spice cake? Not as apparent as the Export Stout, however.

T: Strong, rich, smooth, coating. A velvet glove with the mail well concealed for a 10% brew. Mmm, raisins, dates!

M: Slick, coating, but somewhat thin.

O: Nice, unique stuff. I love the historical connotations of their recipes. They taste great too!

Photo of mdagnew
4.3/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

330ml bottle bought from The Vineyard, Belfast

Poured pitch black... Burnt mocha tan head poured very big thick and foamy with a pock marked meringue like topping which faded slowly to good thick covering with lots of thick sticky lacing...

Aroma - Lots of roasted / charred chocolate malts, tar, sooty smoke, charred bread, molasses / treacle sweetness, dark fruits (black cherries and grapes, dates, raisins), roasted nut brittle, some balsamic vinegar notes, some soy, very earthy, burnt coffee beans...

Taste -Toasted chocolate malts to the fore followed by light treacle and molasses sweetness, sooty notes, strong espresso coffee, toasted / charred bread, stewed prunes, black cherries, grassy hops, light oakiness, fresh vanilla, quite peppery, nice warming booze...

Feel - Sharp initially then and smooths out nicely... full bodied... incredibly drinkable for 9.9% although you can certainly feel the effects of the booze after a while...

Overall - A complex stout which takes a few sips before all the flavours emerge. Highly recommended...

Photo of mmapes
3.89/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Big thanks to Craig (or was it Ben?) for the trade. It's been a year since we brought it home. Bottled in 5/2012, opened in 10/2013. Poured into snifters. Probably served too cold. Not much head - practically none.

What is a "brown stout" anyway?

Smells like a grainy malt beer, just a hint of molasses. First sip: strong grain taste. Rich. Just a hint of sweetness at the end. Just a hint of smoke. It's like a brown ale, rather than a full-on stout, but thicker on the tongue -- a little syrupy. Mild and mellow as far as toast and hops go, but strongly alcoholic. In later sips, it seems a bit more smoky/toasty. 12 oz bottle would be too intense for one person - definitely a sharer.

Would buy again if we could get it.

Photo of bark
3.73/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The colour is black (100 EBC), the two finger head is brown and compact, It sinks slowly leaving some lacing on the glass.

The smell is smooth with notes of brandy-like alcohol, roasted nuts and chocolate/cocoa. Hints of toffee and condensed milk. It is milder than expected.

The taste is very sweet (although a smooth sweetness) and roasted/burned. Passing clean strong bitterness and some malt sourness. Notes of molasses, dried flowers, orange peel and coconut candy. Medium body. The aftertaste got growing clean bitterness, green tomatoes and unripe bananas. Hints of charcoal and chocolate brown malt. The finish is rather short and dry with clean bitterness and burned malts.

The carbonation is smooth with lots of small foaming bubbles. The liquid is thick and creamy.

A very interesting and tasty beer; it would have been too sweat and heavy if it hadn’t been for the passing powerful bitterness.

Photo of interzen
4.64/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

330ml bottle served in a tulip glass - ABV on the bottle is 10%.

Look: Opaque black - this beer is bottle-conditioned so there's likely some sediment. Thick, two-finger tan head with good retention.

Smell: Lots of coffee, roasted malts and a hint of dark chocolate right of the bottle. Hints of spice and just the faintest tang of alcohol once it has had time to 'breathe'

Taste: Big coffee flavours, with a slightly chalky, dark chocolate and roasted malt following, not to mention the merest hint of dark fruits (plums, stewed raisins etc.). The alcohol is a bit more noticeable too, giving a nice, warming feeling to complement the predominantly dark flavours.

Feel: Not surprisingly rather rich, albeit with a fairly dry aftertaste - smoky flavours predominate, and the hint of alcohol in the taste serves to give it a bit more of a backbone. Even so, it doesn't taste at all boozy.

Overall: Kernel have a big reputation and on the strength of this it isn't difficult to see why - this is a fairly heavy hitter in terms of ABV, but disguises it well with a superb balance of flavours. As Imperial stouts go, this one is up there with Sam Smiths, in my opinion.

Photo of Jeffo
3.97/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this one at De Molen in Bodegraven.

From a bottle into a snifter.
ABV: 9.2%
Best Before 22.07.2013

APPEARANCE: Gushed a little upon opening, but a careful pour yielded a 2 finger, medium-thinner looking, tan head with good retention. Poured out black and sat black in the glass with only a touch of carbonation evident. Head fades to a full wisp and clings to the sides of the glass. A wisp remains but leaves only touches of lacing.

SMELL: Roasted malts, cocoa powder and a touch of dark chocolate. Slightly mild, but opens a bit as it sits in the glass.

TASTE: Roasted malts, dark chocolate and sweet dark cherries or grapes. Moves into a bitter, charred and burnt aftertaste with dark chocolate and espresso notes. Bold and lingering aftertaste lingers nicely, with plenty of roasted malt and bitter chocolate and coffee. Flavors are much more forthcoming that the aroma, and work really nicely.

PALATE: Medium body and slightly higher levels of carbonation. Semi-creamy on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes slightly dry on the palate. Good feel.

OVERALL: Pretty good beer, but not as impressive as their Export stout. Flavors were great, very bold and interesting, but the nose needs to follow suit there. One worth checking out, but if you can only buy one, chose the Export stout over this one.

Photo of spdyfire83
4.5/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

305th Review
33cl bottle poured into Westy 12 chalice
Bottled: 29.05.12
BB: 29.05.16

A: Deep chocolate brown. Single (mocha) fingernail head on medium pour.

S: Notes of dark chocolate, roasted (almost burnt) malt, espresso, brownie sweetness, nuttiness, and touch of caramel.

T: Rich. Bold. Very enjoyable. A robust stout with loads of flavour – chocolate, molasses, espresso, caramel sweetness, and finishes with a soft touch of vanilla.

M: Full bodied with appropriate (even) carbonation.

O: A quality stout that is very easy to drink. I look forward to sampling a few of their other offerings soon!

Photo of xnicknj
3.77/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into taster - thanks rob

Pours a viscous blackness with a faint, bubbled dark head on top. Fades out completely into a thin collar of lacing.

Nose with dark chocolate, molasses, booze and vanilla. Hints of dark fruit with roasty malts and sweetness.

Full, robust chocolate and molasses sweetness up front. Touches of raisin and date with a heavy, almost earthy backbone. A bit sweet, but fairly balanced with the malt and chocolate. Finishes boozy with cocoa and dark warmth.

Full body, decent carbonation, creamy and smooth on the tongue. This was my first experience with The Kernel Brewery and I'm definitely excited to try more.

Photo of TallSaint
4.45/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

May 1st, 2013

In the nose this beer is assertive and pungent. Fresh roasted coffee, melted dark chocolate, molasses, and brown sugar dominate the nose with a touch of vanilla as well. A dark fruity sweetness underpins these smells.

It tastes fantastic. It's smooth and chocolatey upfront with hints of vanilla and a touch of licorice. In the mid-palate a touch of sweet fruitiness comes through but quickly gives way to dry, dark malt and the faintest touch of earthy hops. It finishes extremely dry with a touch of balancing alcohol heat.

The mouthfeel is awesome. It's silky, round, and super creamy. It's full and chewy without being overly heavy. It goes down easy.

Overall this is a great beer. Definitely a sipper, it opens up a bit more with some time out of the bottle and the dark fruit characteristics in the nose and front mid-palate become a bit more visible. A wholesome RIS with fantastic depth and complexity; sweetness upfront is balanced by a nice earthy mid-palate interlude and a long dry back that offsets the dark sweetness upfront. Awesome stuff - good job Kernel.

Photo of FinalFantasyBrewing
4.88/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Thick viscus dark chocolate Heavily roasted coffee with a hint of vinilla! Do i really need to drone on any further to you that this just might be the best imperial stout in the UK?

Take you're time to immerse yourself in this rich Full bodied liquid artistry. There is a reason this beer is exceptional. You will not find better

Photo of thepeter
4.38/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful pour with a dark body and a golden brown head that lasts and cascades down the glass. Smells of cocoa and coffee and citrus and dark malt, Peat, and dark fruit and goodness. tastes much of the same, very complex and delicate not at all living up to the sturdy 10.1% in terms of character. smooth and oh so drinkable, like a 6% beer at the most, Dangerous! Overall this is a fantastic beer which I would drink over an over! Loved it!

Photo of dcmchew
4.28/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown, borderline black, with a dark mocha head, small, but sticky.
Coffee liqueur and raisin, smokey roasted malts, anise, sherry (really boozy-prickly on the nostrils), dark chocolate, light earthiness. A lot going on here.
Rich dark chocolate-covered raisin and dried cherry up front, with a drop of strong brandy and some plum juice. A rich spiciness, with cinnamon and anise, faint nutmeg even, hinting at Port wine, kinda. The roasted malts are dense, coating, a bit smokey, finishing with burnt cereal and roasted coffee bean, a bit dry.
Aftertaste lacks the dark fruity note, but compensates with rich cocoa powder, roast and coffee. Medium body, very low carbonation, really palate-coating, but not sticky. Alcohol simply strengthens the flavors, it isn't boozy at all.
A really awesome big beer that retains a really authentic feel. Balanced and complex at the same time.

Photo of woosterbill
4.48/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, packaged 15 February 2011, into a goblet in the alley behind the brewery.

A: Black body with bright brown glimmers; two fingers of rich, creamy brown head. Strong retention (especially for its strength!) and lovely lace. Strikingly beautiful stout.

S: Huge, sweet aroma of coffee, graham crackers, dark chocolate, spicy alcohol, and light smoke. Each component is powerful, distinct, and well-matched with the others. Amazing.

T: Caramel + coffee are up front, followed by chocolate, smoke, treacle, alcohol, and a long, coffee-tinged finish. Delicious.

M: Fairly thick, smooth body; light, soft carbonation.

O: Wow. THIS is a beer. Sipping this beast of a stout in a grimy alley next to some train tracks is truly, if unorthodoxically, heavenly. I think this would stand up well next to any number of highly hyped American versions of the style, and I hope to have it again someday.

Cheers!

Photo of wl0307
4.18/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Purchased at the Kernel Brewery in London, bottle-conditioned in a 330ml brown bottle, bottled on 02/01/13, BB 02/01/17, served cool in Gulden Draak’s branded short-stemmed tulip-shaped sniffer. Note: This is the second Russian Imperial Stout I’ve tried from this microbrewery, the first one being the no-longer-available “Imperial Stout”, clocked at 12.5%abv. It was good, but very heavy indeed. Let’s see how this slightly lighter version fares…

A: the colour comes pitch black, topped with a creamy but not tight frothy dark-tan head with okay retention, while the carbonation level is unknown.
S: the smell is that of a modern take on the style, that it’s dominated by gristy black malts, roasted barley, bitter chocolates, vanilla-ish cocoa, smoked beans, and creamy cold coffee, underlined by a light tinge of hop aroma from perhaps a more traditional hop variety. A very good swirl brings up the warming alc. sandwiched b/w winey fruitiness and decent salted-sourness as of black date preserve and preserved hawthorn fruits. Potent, with a decent degree of complexity at play.
T: medium-bodied on the initial swallow, the flavour is immediately chewy burned- and brown- malty with light hints of estery banana oil, while the warming alc. is well hidden behind the ensuing wave of roast coffee beans, highly bitter chocolates, crushed burned walnuts, (faint) treacle, and (even lighter) hints of jammy dark fruits, then giving way to a solid profile of highly bitter earthy hoppiness; as the bitterness settles, the taste leads onto a lengthy, chewy-woody, aromatic nutty and burned aftertaste. From the start to the end, in each sip I simply fail to pick up overly warming alc., a sign that the beer is very well composed and the ageing potential truly can be very good from the outset of this batch (considering it’s only 2.5 months old upon consumption).
M&O: the mouthfeel remains smooth, fairly rounded, not quite heavy-bodied yet befitting the overall flavour profile just well. As said above, this one definitely tastes more like a modern RIS, despite a suspicion that the subtitle “London 1856” on the label might suggest the recipe dates back to that age(?). For, a level of staleness typical of a robust, aged dark/pale ale back then is not shown enough in this bottle; not like Harvey’s interpretation of the olden style, for instance. But all in all this is a very successful take on the style; the hop profile is not so much “in the face” like many American counterparts, but the bitterness level is substantial enough to effect a good balance vis-à-vis the heavy roast malts and render a satisfying finish in each every sip I’ve taken. Will grab a few more bottles this weekend and age them for consumption over the next five years!

Photo of mick303
4.47/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass, an opaque brown-black colour with a creamy whispy tan coffee coloured foam film, not much initial head but good lacing retention. 4

S – thick roasty malts, chocolate, apricot, dried fruits, really full earthy notes. Cocoa powder, a hint of chewy lemon yeasty character. Subtle toffee, a bit of a candy aspect, barn, bitter coffee, quite impressive really, good balance. 4.5

T – an initial thick malty taste, bittersweet chocolate, mild coffee note, a dry nuttiness and mild dry lemon, with an upfront dry earthy character, some dry bitterness on the finish. A bit of molasses caramel, sticky, then some slight cigar tobacco note. Very nice all-round, a bit of a pleasant bitter earthy character. Lots of nice complexity though subtle. 4.5

M – thick and rich, with an appetizing carbonation, a hint of alcohol spice prickle on the finish, altogether very satisfying stout mouthfeel, drying and a bit bitter on finish. It hides the alcohol content behind an incredible balanced smoothness on the palate. 4.5

Would be interesting to see where this goes in a couple years. A rather pleasant balanced bitter imperial stout. Not overly aggressive and with enough sweetness to hold together all the interacting flavors. Shows some good depth. Very pleasing and an interesting historical example, shows a different interpretation than some of the super-hopped imp. stouts. This has an amazing feel and great balanced complexity. 4.5

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Imperial Brown Stout London 1856 from The Kernel Brewery
94 out of 100 based on 67 ratings.