See this post for the history of Innis & Gunn. My favorite Scottish brewery, Innis & Gunn, has just released two new beers to the US market for the summer. The Rare Oak Pale Ale is a seasonal release and the Highland Ale is a limited edition. The Edinburgh based brewery is known for their oak aged beers. They use an innovative device called an Oakerator to age the majority of their beers. The Oakerator is essentially a giant coffee percolator in which they add oak wood chips and the fermented beer. The result is an unique oak matured beer that is steadily gaining notoriety in the US.
In 2002, Innis & Gunn founder Dougal Sharp was asked by scotch whisky giant Grant’s Distillers to create a distinctive beer that would season whisky barrels for a special whisky they wanted to produce. The beer was initially developed to fill the barrels then be thrown out. But, then the distillery workers realized that the beer in the casks was too delicious to throw down the drain. Dougal Sharp recognized the potential of this beer and eventually launched Innis & Gunn in 2003.
Rare Oak Pale Ale – 5.8% ABV. This is a seasonal summer release which is made from a mixture of Innis & Gunn ale malt, Golden Promise malt, Crystal malt and wheat. They use two strains of hops for this beer: Super Styrian and Whitbread Golding. The beer is matured in Oakerators filled with Scottish oak chips. The nose is fragrant with hints of pine, caramel and nuts. The flavor is perfect for a warm summer day – it’s crisp, light and refreshing. There’s definitely some natural citrus flavors imparted on the beer, but I’d imagine you could add a lime to this as well.
Highland Ale – 7.4% ABV. This beer gets it’s name from the 18 Year Highland Park oak chips that were used to mature this beer. The malt is Innis & Gunn ale malt, Crystal malt and Wheat. They only used Super Styrian hops in this beer. The nose has rich treacle, honey and raisins. On the mouth, there’s a nice vanilla sweetness, caramel and maple syrup. It’s so smooth that it’s hard to tell that strong for a beer at 7.4% ABV. You can really taste the vanilla sweetness from the Highland Park whisky. This is a lovely beer that is suited for a nice evening at home accompanied by an epic novel. It’s hard not to love the beer that Innis & Gunn is brewing – they make a quality product.