Pause For Beer: Innis & Gunn


Innis & Gunn BarrelPausing in my whisky coverage for some unique oak aged beer. What does this beer have in common with scotch whisky? This beer is aged in the same type of ex-bourbon barrels that single malt whisky is aged in. Innis & Gunn beer was discovered by accident and happenstance. ¬†Originally the beer was used to season whisky barrels for Grant’s Cask Ale Reserve whisky. Once the barrel was seasoned, the beer would be thrown out as a by-product of the production cycle. Distillery workers, being the good Scots that they are, decided to store the beer in containers to drink rather than waste precious booze. Since the beer had been transformed by the oak it was surprisingly good and the industry soon began to take notice. Dougal Sharp founded the company in 2002 and launched their first beer, the Original in 2003.

Innis & Gunn eventually got their beer maturation process down to a science. The beer spends between five to ten days in an oak barrel then spends ten additional days in a product tank. After bottling the beer needs to thirty days before tasting for maximum flavor. As the beer gained popularity and the brewery grew they soon began to outgrow their oak barrel allocation from William Grant & Sons. They devised a clever invention called an Oakerator which is essentially an overgrown coffee percolator. Oak chips are placed within the vessel and beer is pumped through them so that the spirit can absorb the flavor from the oak. It’s quite an ingenious way to deal with the current oak barrel shortage plaguing the whisky industry.

Tasting Notes

Innis & Gunn Core RangeOriginal – 6.6% ABV, blend of oakerator aged beer and oak barrel aged beer. This has hints of vanilla and toffee to accompany a zingy hoppy fruitiness.

Toasted Oak IPA – 5.6% ABV, this one is exclusively aged in an oakerator. It’s crisp, bursting with zesty oranges, bright and has hint of vanilla. This was my favorite one of the core range.

Rum Aged – 6.8% ABV, mature in an oakerator with oak infused with rum. This has a strange sugary aftertaste that is very reminiscent of rum, also has some nice spice

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