Draft Notes

One beer at a time…

Archive for the category “Europe”

Innis & Gunn Original

A good friend of mine has spent a little time in England and highly recommended a Scottish brewery named Innis & Gunn. I looked into the brand and saw that many people had spoken highly of the “Original” which is their oak aged beer.  The problem was it is not sold in my area, so I took note and figured I may run across it one day. Over this last weekend this particular friend, our wives, and others made the trek from Arlington, VA out to Dayton, Ohio for a wedding.  I hate driving 1 hour, let alone 8.5 hours so there was no way I was coming home empty handed and not flying meant no 3 oz liquid max. I hit the chat boards for advice on what to purchase while in Ohio (locals/regional, etc) and was informed of a quality beer shop (Belmont Party Supply). My expert foreshadowing may have given it away, but we rock up to Belmont and there was Innis & Gunn sitting on the shelf. Now I will admit it was not supposed to be the feature buy, as I had a list of Ohio breweries I wanted to try. Therefore, I grabbed one four pack and a nice haul of other Ohio beers (Hoppin Frog, Riverfront, and Buckeye Brewing). My buddy took two and we left one on the shelf.

Innis & Gunn Original is classed by Beer Advocate as a Scottish Ale and the ABV is 6.6%. I believe I paid about $11 for a 4 pack of 11.2 oz beers. The beer is aged for 77 days in oak barrels and there is actually a great story behind the origination of Innis & Gunn beers. A whisky distiller in Scotland wanted to produce an ale-finished whisky, so he created an ale to fill oak barrels. He would throw the beer away and use the beer soaked barrels to age the whisky which is obviously more important in Scotland.  After throwing thousands of gallons away, some of the workers sampled the beer and said it was “absolutely delicious”. The employees were right, a beer company was formed, and now I sit here in Virginia about to give my opinion of this accidental success story.

The beer is from an 11.2 oz bottle and I have poured it into my tulip glass. This beer is a bronze color (if there was no head, it could pass as bourbon) with a fluffy white head which recedes quickly. The expected oak aroma from the 77 day aging is very nice and I also pick up rum and vanilla. It reminds me of being on a tour of Woodford Reserve Bourbon when they took us through the barrel aging warehouse.  When I taste this beer I am happy to not be overwhelmed by oak. I taste the rum and vanilla I could smell, along with a toffee sweet finish from the malts.  The oak is in play from start to finish, but definitely balanced with all the other flavors. The mouth feel is light to medium and very smooth with minimal carbonation. Overall I am very impressed with this beer and would recommend this for everyone to try. It could even see whisky/bourbon/rum or chardonnay drinkers enjoying this beer as the oak aromas and taste may be appealing. I will give Innis & Gunn Original 4 mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes scale. I should not have left that last 4-pack on the shelf back in Ohio.

For the full story on Innis & Gunn’s accidental beer, check out their website: http://www.innisandgunn.com/~/media/InnisGunn/IGstory.ashx


Brewdog Old World India Pale Ale

BrewDog is a post Punk apocalyptic mother fu*ker of a craft brewery. Well, at least that is how this Scottish brewery describes themselves. I have seen their beers here and there, but to this point have not tried one. Based on their self-praise, I am excited to taste the limited release Old World India Pale Ale and it better be good. This IPA is categorized as an English IPA which generally doesn’t pack as much punch, errr… hops, as the American IPA. This style of beer was developed, as I believe is fairly common knowledge, using a higher amount of hops than the traditional ales of the time in order to ship to British troops stationed in India. The hops are a natural preservative and therefore created a beer that did not spoil on the long boat ride half way across the world. English IPAs of today tend to have lower alcohol content and less hop character than those of the past. I have read it is related to avoiding higher taxes on the higher alcohol content, but I think it is because boat rides to India are faster these days. This particular beer is a throwback to the “Old World” version with 7.5% ABV. Brewdog made this to be sold exclusively in the United States, so maybe the higher ABV (and hopefully hoppiness) is an attempt to compete with their American counterparts. What ever the goals, I am excited to try my first Brewdog.

Brewdog Old World IPA

Beer me! I pour from the 22 ounce bottle into my glass to reveal a cloudy copper beer. The head is a caramel color and minimal. The smell is nowhere close to the hoppy American version where you can pick up the fragrance without sticking your face in the glass. I detect slight hops, bread, and citrus; however, none seem to jump out at me as a dominant scent. My first taste reveals so much more than I expected based on the smell. Hops are much more present in the taste along with toffee/candy, a nice amount of malt, and bitter finish. I actually expected it to be overly malty for my taste, but it really is quite balanced though slightly sweet. The mouth feel jumps out at me as silky smooth and very light with little carbonation. Overall I like this beer and would buy again, especially at a reasonable $5.99 (Total, Wine & Beverage) per 22 ounce bottle. Unfortunately this is a limited release, so you will have to snatch it up fairly quickly. Final grade on the Old World IPA is a 3.75 out of 5 mugs on the Draft Notes scale. I definitely look forward to trying a few more of the Brewdog offerings as this “Punk apocalyptic mother fu*ker of a craft brewery” are on to something.

For more information on Brewdog, you can visit their website: http://www.brewdog.com/. One last note, as you can see on the picture I have included the art work on the bottle is pretty cool. A little back ground and other work by the artist can be found here: http://www.johannabasford.com/blog-article/239

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