2013 is a pretty special year for Innis & Gunn: it’s been ten years since we set up and one hell of a ride.
In 2003 there wasn’t much to write home about when it came to brewing innovation, although Dougal’s still chuffed that his own-recipe Deuchars IPA won Champion Beer of Britain in 2002. So, when we turned up, heads turned. We caused quite a stir with our oak-aged beers. We also created a bit of consternation – controversy might be the operative ‘c’ word – among those who shared a more conservative view on how brewers should behave.
It’s not a logic we share. For us it’s always been about the beer, not the brewery. We don’t have a brewery but we make incredible beer that people love. We’ve innovated with oak in ways that no other brewer has done, trying to draw out as many different flavours from the barrel – and oak generally – as we can. We make complex, bold and characterful beers using carefully sourced ingredients and pioneering processes. In our books, that’s how a craft brewer should behave.
Ten years on and we’re using 2013 to show how inventive we can be, and not just with oak. Our NPD programme is stronger than ever, with some seriously adventurous brews coming off the production line. For the first time ever, we’ll be making a craft lager, which will be released first in keg in the Spring and then in packaged. Our new Seasonal programme will see the return of some familiar brews, and our Limited Edition calendar will welcome three newcomers. And, well we really had to do something to celebrate a decade in business, and it’s not just any old thing.
Our NPD Programme (UK dates)
· Irish Whiskey Cask (March release) – sold out in record time in 2012 and won us a gold in the International Beer Challenge
· Scottish Pale Ale (May release) – a rich golden beer with a distinctive aroma of vibrant hop (from the Goldings and Styrian Goldings hops) and banana. Caramel sweetness is balanced with a light, creamy texture and some bitterness
· Spiced Rum Finish (August release, online only) – matured using toasted oak chips that have been infused with a variety of rums from all over the Caribbean region; uses Crystal and Aromatic Barley malts and Whitbread Golding Variety hops
· Treacle Porter (November release) – adapted from an historic Scottish beer recipe that mixes treacle for depth and richness. Roasted wheat, Crystal and Chocolate malt lend aromas of biscuit malt, sweet caramel and fresh banana, with toasted flavours from the roasted wheat and sweetness from the treacle, finishing with a liquorice aftertaste.
With the exception of Irish Whiskey Cask, our Seasonals will be packaged in single bottle boxes. In the off-trade, we have a listing with Tesco, with all Seasonals priced £2.25 per bottle (330ml). Seasonals will also be available to buy in limited quantities in select on-trade outlets.
Limited Editions (all boxed)
· Canadian Cherrywood Finish, 8.3% (June release) – a Scotch ale made using roasted malt, pale ale malt and wheat. Matured over lightly toasted black cherrywood chips that add resinous, spicy, woody notes – no vanilla notes typical of oak-ageing. Maple syrup is added post maturation when the beer is in cold conditioning. This will be kegged for Canada and the US.
· Bartenders’ Choice (August release in the on-trade only) – yet to be judged. Finalists from Canada, Sweden and the UK are all flying up to Edinburgh on the 18th March and the winner will be announced on the 22nd.
· Oloroso Finish, 7.4% (October release, online only) – A golden beer brewed with Innis & Gunn ale and crystal malts, and wheat. English Fuggle hops will give a balanced bittersweet flavour and an earthy, spicy, floral hop aroma.
· Bourbon Stout, 7.4% (October release and Sainsbury’s exclusive) – A red stout brewed with I&G ale malt, rye crystal, roast barley and wheat. A full-bodied amber stout with distinct nutty, biscuit aroma combined with rich fruity aromas. Think fruit and nut chocolate with a kick. Whitbread Golding variety hops will give a clean bitterness and fruity hop tang. Matured with bourbon whisky.
· People’s Choice (November release, Sweden ONLY) – a special brew for some of our biggest fans and a 10th birthday collaboration with Sweden’s leading drinks title, Allt Om Whisky.
All of our Limited Editions and Seasonals will be available for UK consumers to buy online at our e-shop: www.innisandgunn.com
Innis & Gunn Lager, 4.6% (April release in keg, June in bottle)
This recipe uses Golden Naked Oats for a subtle nuttiness and rich mouthfeel, lager malt and large quantities of Super Styrian and Styrian Goldings hops for bitterness and aroma. We will also be using our own yeast and a specially designed programme of liquor treatments to enhance the characteristics we get from the malt and oats.
The beer will be fermented at a very low temperature, with far less yeast per batch than normal. And then we will be lagering the beer for 10 days.
Vintage Beer (August release)
Our tenth birthday bottling, this is one we are keeping up our sleeve, for now!
Toasted Oak IPA, 5.6% (June release)
A new addition to our core portfolio, Toasted Oak IPA will be a modern take on a classic IPA. A light golden ale with balanced hop bitterness and a gentle aroma of toasted oak, combined with an intense zesty aroma of British and American hop varieties.
Melville’s Ginger Beer, 4.1% (May launch in Canada and the US)
Joining our craft-brewed lager range in May is a ginger beer that will have you dreaming of ginger nut biscuits.
How We Do It
We mainly brew Innis & Gunn at The Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow but we also brew at Belhaven from time to time and our Melville’s range is made at Marston’s. We switched production to Wellpark in 2011 because of capacity restrictions at Belhaven – we couldn’t afford to build our own brewery and Wellpark is unquestionably the best brewery in the country.
Their strength is lager brewing, so they’re having to get used to our quirky ingredients and production techniques. But they are doing a great job and embracing these challenges.
We brew with our own yeast, IG1, which is held at the NCYC and is re-propped every 20 generations. We also brew with very soft water and then add our own unique blend of minerals to the water to maximise flavour.
I deal directly with our hop and malt suppliers and, in 1998, set up a hugely successful Golden Promise Malt grower’s scheme with our malt supplier, Simpsons, to deliver malted barley with a very specific set of characteristics and distinctive flavour. We contracted individual growers in Scotland to grow this difficult (but extremely flavoursome) variety exclusively for us, Macallan and Timothy Taylors.
We buy hops from the fields in East Kent and in Slovenia annually, from individual growers based on their aroma qualities.
The impressively high quality of the brewing equipment afforded us by brewing at Wellpark Brewery allows us to get the absolute best from our raw materials, as you will taste in any of our beers.
In 2010 we developed a proprietary method of oak maturation, which faithfully replicates the barrel-ageing process. We did this to pre-empt a barrel shortage at Grant’s Distillers and because a lot of beer went to waste in warm warehouses. The Oakerator effectively puts the barrel into the beer and uses 24-month air-dried toasted American Oak chips, which are then cured with spirit to release the natural flavours from within. It took two years and a significant investment to get this to the point we could scale up to brewery size and we now use a combination of this process and barrel-ageing to mature our beers. It’s a costlier process as oak barrels can be re-sold to whisky distillers.
The Innis & Gunn Brewing Company Ltd
6 Randolph Crescent
Mobile: +44 (0)751 573 8605
Telephone: +44 (0)131 220 7230
Fax: +44 (0)131 226 6333