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