Endless Beers: Innis and Gunn Original


We had our engagement party last weekend and were showered with gifts from our family and friends. Included in these gifts was a basket of beers from around the world, thanks to my future sister-in-law. I placed the selection in the fridge and they are officially “on reserve.” Earlier this week, during out FIRST snow storm of the week (we are on our second today), I tapped into the reserve. First stop on my trip around the world: Scotland. I cracked open an Innis & Gunn Oak Barrel Aged Original.

Crafted in Edinburgh, Scotland, the Innis & Gunn Original is what “started it all” for the brewery…and by accident. A whiskey distillery near the brewery was looking to infuse their barrels with a malty beer flavor. Innis & Gunn whipped something up and sent it to the distillery. After fermenting in the oak barrels, the distillery dumped it out for the Scotch goodness. However, later, Innis & Gunn received another call from the distillery—this time asking about the kick-ass beer left in the barrels. Thus we have Innis & Gunn Original.

The clear bottle highlights the golden, caramel color of the liquid and emphasizes the purity of the beer. As always, I poured into a fancy glass and began my tasting. First, the nose comes through with butterscotch and vanilla. A very sweet smell makes you wonder if this is an accurate preview for the flavor of the beer. The taste follows suit and does not dissapoint. A few times throughout my drinking journey, I was brought back to my grandfather’s house, stealing a few werthers from the candy dish. The suds begin with the sweetness of toffee, with undertones of caramel and vanilla throughout. I could not taste the oak per se, but I think the oak complements the overall flavor in a way that highlights the vanilla. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, leaving a buttery coating of the mouth.

I’ve begun categorizing my beers in five ways:

(a) day drinking (light and sweet)
(b) pre-dinner (distinct flavor and strong bitterness)
(c) dinner (beers that complement the flavors of the dish served
(d) post-dinner (dessert-like in flavor or warming brews)
(e) anytime beers— suds that will taste delicious at any time and still stand out.

This brew is an anytime beer. I had it after dinner as a nightcap, but I could also imagine myself drinking this around lunchtime, as a snack before dinner, or even with dinner.

Overall, the beer delivers a pleasant sweetness without feeling syrupy or overwhelming the palate. Many times, the nose of a brew does not match the flavor —in this case, the flavor and nose matched up very well. Further, every sip was the same from beginning to end. Finally, the creamy texture and mouthfeel of the beer is a pleasant finish…just pleasant enough to drive you towards the fridge for your next one.

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