So the story goes…William Grant & Sons wanted a beer to season its whisky barrels that would then be imparted on the taste of the final spirit. The subsequent ale, produced at the Caledonian Brewery in Glasgow, was originally thrown away but the workers at the distillery found it rather palatable as it took on an appealing character from the barrels , buy cheap xenical Advantages of Buying Xenical Online online Xenical deal can bring the costs way down. It won´t be cheap..
Dougal Sharp, master brewer at Caledonian Brewery, realised there was a business opportunity here and began selling the beer under the brand name Innis & Gunn – a joint-venture with William Grant. It is now wholly owned by Sharp following a management buyout in 2008.
Originally bourbon barrels were used for the brewery’s first beer but on wanting to experiment beyond this one flavour Sharp realised he needed a new way of imparting oaky flavours on the beer. Working with Heriot Watt he developed the ‘Oakerator’ that acts like a percolator whereby the beer passes through the relevant oak chips that are suspended in the brewing vessels.
This has enabled Innis & Gunn to now produce myriad beers – some are in its core range, seasonals, or limited edition one-off runs. These had been mainly available in bottles until July when the company opened its first bar – The Beer & Kitchen by Innis & Gunn – in Edinburgh.
A Beer Insider visit to this initial outpost enabled a tasting of 10 of its beers – a mix of bottle, draught, and in the case of its lager, straight from the tank a la Pilsner Urquell. This was a real opportunity to experience the full range of its beers and get a handle on what the brewery is all about through its growing portfolio and its first bar.
Despite its undoubted commercial success Innis & Gunn has to some extent experienced a bit of a bad rap among some commentators in the beer world. Firstly, the dissenters can point to the fact it doesn’t actually brew its own beer – it uses Wellpark Brewery for its base ales. Secondly, it uses the Oakerator process rather than imparting flavour through the more traditional route of ageing in actual barrels. Thirdly, It emerged at inception with fully-formed rather slick looking branding. Fourthly, there has been the view that a heavy sweetness runs through its beers.
My own response would be. To the first point – who cares. To the second – it’s a clever innovation that enables rapid experimentation and quicker routes to production. To the third point – surely this is a good thing and indicates serious intent. And to the fourth point – I agree, but on my Edinburgh tasting found the newer brews (to my palate at least) showed a broadening flavour profile was emerging at Innis & Gunn.
Yes, there are those at the sweeter end of the scale – notably Original (6.6%), Rum Aged (6.8%) and Irish Whiskey Finish (7.4%). But there is also some bitterness appearing via Toasted Oak IPA (5.6%) and Bourbon Pale Ale (6%) with the former a Scottish take on IPA using Goldings and Styrian Goldings and the latter bringing in some new world bitterness through Cascade hops.
There is also a more outlandish edge creeping in with Espresso Barley Wine (8.4%) that has a lovely coffee bean clarity at the front end but it disappointingly then gets a bit muddy through over sweetness. White Oak Wheat Beer (6.4%) also pushes the boundaries with a refreshing citric component through the addition of bergamot and blood orange.
The pick of the crop on my visit was a limited edition draught-only Rare Oak Pale Ale (5.8%) that was among the most balanced of the beers tasted, which almost encompassed Original and Toasted Oak IPA to give a wide spectrum of flavour.
Needless to say, despite the wide options available in the bar, the big seller is the Innis & Gunn unpasteurised lager straight from the tank. Part of its appeal – as well as it tasting decent – is that it is only available in the Edinburgh bar.
At least for now that is, because a Dundee outpost is due to open very soon and this will be followed by a Glasgow unit later in the year. There is also a brewery on the way – with two sites in Scotland currently being investigated before a decision is made. With its ever broadening offer it’s now maybe a good time to consider a revisit of the Innis & Gunn proposition.