You know how you listen to some early recording from an indie band and it’s rough and ready, dirty and grainy, but utterly compelling, an accomplishment of rude health, a two-fingered swagger — but then you hear the same band when they’ve been signed up to some major label, got models for girlfriends (even the drummer) and they’re polished and perfected, produced, revolution in a sweater, undoubtedly popular but not the same? I feel the same way about some indie beers — drinking Kernel’s IPA at the moment, it’s dirty and buzzy, peachy and pungent, oily and sexy, resiny, resonating and uttery compelling. I love it. Then I think of other IPAs, cleaned up, presentable, Phil Collins or Robbie Williams, ok, popular but just not the same. This cuts to the heart of all the dilemmas of anything that we aspire to like — beer, books, music, clothes, cheese, TV shows, all change as they become popular; however that doesn’t mean that I want to drink dirty all the time, but it does mean that I want that option, to drink deeply of a dirty, pungent, swaggering, roistering IPA that the majority of beer drinkers would turn their noses at. Gateways are all very well, but I would argue that beer needs the bad boys, the truculent types, the beers that challenge, the beers that hit the spot even though your palate’s saying ‘hold on I don’t get this’. That’s because it might then say: ‘chill out, I get it’.