Merry almost Christmas, friends. I’m Bangkok Seven, here with some beer-related holiday gift ideas for the beer lovers on your list. Today’s spotlight is on Kerel beers, and although you might not have heard of them, the brewery isn’t new. It’s had a recent reboot.
Before Kerel, they were known as VBD (then later VBDCK) but they shut down in 1966. The brewery apparently lay dormant, in hops hibernation, until 2015 when it splashed back onto the scene with their Kerel line. The website claims the recent rebirth was thanks to a single discovered bottle of original Kerel from the 1960s, intact and nestled in a pile of debris in the old warehouse. By tracing back the DNA of the yeast in this preserved sample, the new brewery has claimed to capture the essence of the old Kerel flavor that was thought to be lost.
Today, a Bangkok beer drinker can order 4 Kerel varietals from Belgian Beer Asia Co. Let’s break them down:
Kerel IPA. This cloudy, amber-colored ale is a departure from typical IPAs. The nose boasts peach, berries, and caramel, with a nice balance of bitter citrus. The front of the palate is bursting with fruit and some hops that mellows out to sweet-and-bitter mixed with an undercurrent of smooth malt. The finish fades as a grassy, citrusy afterglow. At 5%, this is an easy-drinking concoction that is positively fun to put in your belly. There’s a message printed just for the drinker at the top of the label that, when reading it midway through the bottle, causes one to ponder the importance of beer in the overall scheme of life.
Kerel Kaishaku. Now here’s is a wild one. The brewery’s website calls it a Belgian with a Japanese twist. With aromas of grass and citrus and the color of a golden blonde, you might be fooled into thinking it’s an easy-going brew. But at 15%, it is far from the normal fare. And it’s not for lightweights. Be sure you’re wearing your big-boy britches before pouring one of these baddies. The standout characteristic of this beer is the sake flavor that is mixed in with notes of sweet and sour fruit. Expect a lingering warmth from the alcohol, and if you’re lucky enough to have a plate of sashimi in front of you, dig in. I won’t give away the quip on the label, but after one sip, it’ll make perfect sense.
Kerel Stout. The seemingly flippant message on this label might seem redundant, right up until you’ve got a mouthful of this decadent wonder in your face. The first half says “Anything can happen to anyone…” and in the case of this stout, the anything that’s happening is pleasure, and the anyone it’s happening to is you. With a small head and jet-black color, even a Guinness lover might feel intimidated. The aromas—dark malt, coffee, and licorice—are intoxicating enough. The front end tastes are a mixture of coffee, semi-sweet cocoa, nuts, and bread, melting into smooth hops and sweet mocha. It’s 6% alcohol, so take it slow. Maybe with a slice of blackberry cheesecake or devil’s food.
Kerel Grapefruit. This lovely 5% brew is the real deal. According to their website, that means the wort is mixed with grapefruit puree, which allows the natural fruit sugar to ferment out, infusing the tropical aromas and unique tart-hops flavor combo. And with its big pink head and cloudy amber color, it looks as unusual as it tastes. A sweet and sour grapefruit nose previews a bold, bitter pucker of grapefruit on the front, waning to faint hops and a bubbly, refreshing tang. The beginning of the quip on the label reads “We all want change…” and if change is what you’re looking for, this wild, fruity beer tells a story all its own.
Kerel New England IPA. I won’t spoil the label message on this one, as it’s easily the punniest. And at 2.5%, you’ll be free to contemplate it through several of these breezy beauties. It is, in a word, tropical. The soft white head and bright yellow color set the mood. The hoppy nose will fool you into thinking you’re in for a typical beersperience. That’s a trick. This beer is a palm tree, a white sandy beach, crystal blue water, and a Calypso tune crammed into a bottle. Each sip is a soothing wave of mango, guava, papaya, and pineapple. If you can’t get to an island this winter, just don your grass skirt and coconut bra, and grab a case of this lush refresher.
If you’re like me when it comes to beer, you might have started to feel like you’ve drank all there is to drink, and there are no real surprises left in the stores, pubs, and bars of Bangkok. Allow me to introduce you to Kerel.
These amazing beverages will make you feel young again. They’re as different from each other as they are unique in their own genres. I can’t recommend one over the other—my best advice is just to try them all. If you can’t find them on the shelves of your favorite shop, simply order them for delivery via the belbev.asia
website. And until next time, may your Christmas stocking be stuffed with bottles of Kerel, and here’s to new ale encounters for old imbibers in the greatest country in the world: Thailand. Peace on Earth, good beer toward men.