The Scottish brewery Innis & Gunn is known far beyond the borders of Great Britain for its barrel aged beer. But the brewers at Innis & Gunn can do a lot more than that, their lager is Scotland's most popular craft lager and their Blood Red Sky is just stunning. And the beers not only taste good, we are also enthusiastic about the creations from the Innis & Gunn Brewery! There is also such a curious story behind the brewery's beer that you just have to like it.
Knight in hoppy armor
It was a lucky coincidence that Innis & Gunn are now the front runners among barrel-aged beers. In 2002 a well-known whiskey distiller needed help: in order to develop an innovative type of whiskey, the whiskey distiller needed flavored oak barrels. These should get the full-bodied malt character of a beer in order to then pass it on to the whiskey, which matures in it over several years. All previous attempts to get the beer flavor into the whiskey failed. Expert Dougal Gunn Sharp decided to actively support the desperate whiskey maker and with combined expertise a recipe was developed, beer was brewed and finally filled into the appropriate barrels. The kegs had 30 days to take on the characteristic beer aroma before the beer was drained again and the whiskey poured in. This time the experiment was successful and the efforts of the whiskey distiller were rewarded with an excellent whiskey.
So far so good.
Cheers to your curiosity!
The actually astonishing part of the story is only now coming. Around ten months after the cooperation with the whiskey distillery, I received an unexpected call. The workers at the distillery did not throw away the beer after it had been stored in the oak barrels, but instead took a sip or two of it. And they loved it! In an almost symbiotic process, not only had the oak barrels acquired the taste of beer, the beer had also acquired the characteristic aroma of the oak barrels. The end result was an incredibly tasty beer with a very special taste that Dougal Gunn Sharp did not want to withhold from the world. That was the hour of birth of Innis & Gunn and one of the greatest coincidences in the history of beer.
Who knows what would have happened if the distillery workers hadn't been so curious? We drink an original to the shock and are glad that coincidence meant it well!