EdTweetup at Innis & Gunn

For those not familiar with #EdTweetup it’s a Twitter “Meet Up” organized by @btocher every couple of months (or actually when Baxter decides to organize one), it takes place in different venues around Edinburgh and is basically for Twitter users to meet each other in person and have a few beers together.

Innis & Gunn are an independent brewing company based in Edinburgh (their beer is actually brewed under contract by Belhaven in Dunbar) who produce a somewhat unique range of “Oak Aged” beers, in that their beers are matured in American white oak Bourbon barrels. Innis & Gunn at 32 Potterrow is a new venture (to my knowledge) for them, in that it is actually a bar (although the current plan is that this will only exist for the summer) and I believe the bar itself is actually run by 56 North.

As part of the evenings event there was to be a Innis & Gunn beer tasting, which I was looking forward to, I am familiar with their “Original” beer having enjoyed it on numerous occasions, normally by the bottle but occasional I’ve come across it on draught, I have also once tried their Rum Finish version.

We were each given a small “shot” style glass in which to sample the beer, our host “Martin” first introduced us to the Innis & Gunn “story” (I won’t repeat it, but for those that don’t know it, you can read it on their website here) and then introduced us to each beer in turn, giving a brief explanation which was backed up by printed tasting notes, handing bottles around the table, allowing us to help ourselves. I did feel that proceedings were a bit rushed, but with nine different beers to sample it had to be to get through all of them within the hour allotted for the sampling. Anyway on to the beers and my opinion :-

Original

A golden colour at 6.6% ABV and aged for 77 days. As I said I’ve enjoyed this beer before on a number of occasions, it’s, it does have a unique flavour which is slightly sweet and in my mind reminiscent of treacle, there is also a similarity to some whiskies, which is probably from the oak ageing (some whiskies are also aged in similar bourbon oak barrels).

Blonde

A light straw colour at 6 % ABV and aged for 37 days. My first taste of this beer and probably my last, my least favourite of the range I found it too sweet and almost fruity in flavour. I guess it might work as an after dinner drink, but not to my taste.

Highland Cask

A light brown colour at 7.1% ABV and aged for 60 days. This is a limited edition beer aged in Scottish Whisky barrels for 18 years (I don’t know which whisky/distillery the barrels came from), it’s fairly similar to the original but does have a deeper smoother flavour and hints of  whisky.

Canada Day 2012

A reddish-brown colour at 7.7% and aged for 49 days. A limited edition created for Canada Day 2012 (Innis & Gunn beer is particularly popular in Canada). I wasn’t too sure about this one, it is apparently made from a number of different malts to balance out sweetness and bitterness, I thought it tasted a bit too bitter and a bit spicy, it may well work with the a nutty cheese as suggested by the tasting notes.

Winter Beer 2011

A darkish brown colour at 7.4% and aged for 48 days. Another limited edition beer and probably more suitable for the winter than mid summer. Tastes heavier than the other beers, not dissimilar to a Scottish dark ale, quite smooth with a hint of sweetness reminiscent of honey but maltier.

Irish Whiskey Cask

A very dark mahogany/black colour at  7.4% and aged for 60 days. This is a stout which is matured in barrels from “a famous distillery in Ireland”, I do like a good stout, particularly if it has hints of chocolate or coffee (or both), although I’d probably rate this above Guinness but below a number of other stouts I’ve tried. It does have a certain flavour to it which probably comes from the Irish whiskey barrels, not a good thing in my opinion (I find most Irish Whiskey a bit sharp and harsh for my taste).

Scottish Pale Ale

A gold colour at 7% and aged for 41 days. Their version of an IPA, which are traditionally hoppy and more bitter than a regular ale. This beer is certainly “hoppier” than the others and a bit more bitter, but not enough to make it stand out from other similar IPA’s. There is a tendency for smaller “craft beer” breweries to in my opinion “over hop” their IPA’s, probably following the same tendency coming from American Pale Ales, but that’s probably an entire Blog posting on its own! This is NOT “over” hopped and would possibly be to some people’s tastes.

Independence Day 2012

A light gold colour at 7% and aged for 54 days. Almost half way between the “Original” and the “Blonde”, it’s a fairly light beer but with a fresher almost citrus finish, similar to a fruity orange flavour common from using American hops, not to my personal taste but may be more popular with those not keen on beer.

Rum Finish

A dark brown colour at 7.4% and aged for 54 days. Not dissimilar to the “Highland Cask” but a bit sweeter and sharper, I guess the difference between Rum and Scottish Whisky. I’m not a big fan of regular rum, but I do like spiced rums. There used to be a limited edition “Spiced Rum Finish” but unfortunately it is no longer available, I think I might have preferred it.

Summary

By the time we had tried the ninth beer in quick succession it was getting a little hard to judge each individual beer, not helped by using the same glass for all the beers. I’ve never been convinced that drinking a small sample gives a true impression of a specific beer, but I’ll probably be sticking with the “Original”  in future, unless of course they come out with another limited edition I haven’t tried. A fun experience and if you are organizing a group night out it might be worth asking about doing the beer tasting yourself.

After the beer tasting, we got down to the serious business of drinking and chatting, I did notice that very few (if any) people were actually drinking Innis & Gunn 🙂

Some of the bottles at the end of the tasting

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