Friday, 20 April 2012

Innis & Gunn

When I set out on my mini-exploration of a few oak-influenced beers it was because I'd amassed a bit of a collection, more by accident than design, and so I thought it'd be a bit of fun. I may have been mistaken. I honestly do try and avoid negative reviews, so I am hoping that this is the last one I do for a while, it being rather self-imposed because of the oak exploration idea rather than wanting to openly criticise a beer or, as it turned out, three, Innis & Gunn beers.

There is a plus, although it probably comes across as a bit of a backhanded compliment. The beers look good, which is presumably a big selling point (hence the otherwise unjustifiable clear glass), particularly the Original.

Sorry, I forgot one!
Original: Banana, caramel, vanilla. Some toffee and brown paper notes on the palate. Medium bodied. Drying oak finish. For me too many of the flavours and aromas come from the American white oak, and not enough from the original beer. I wasn't overly complimentary about the Tullibardine for the same reason, but it's actually better than this.
Rum Finish: Pours darker, the banana flavours and aromas are still there, but riper this time, as if more time's been spent in the fruit bowl. More tropical fruit and spice on the palate but apart from a bit of sweetness the rum doesn't really come to the fore. I'd suggest that this wasn't a cask from a really full on dark rum like the excellent Doorly's XO. The finish is confected, cloying and a bit unpleasant.
Winter Beer 2011: The banana is back. It's boozy, with a bit of a pithy bite - think mixed peel. It tastes somewhat synthetic, kind of carrying on from the confected character of the rum finish. It has a similar finish to that too. I definitely needed more body, and more spice.

So how to put a positive spin on this little exercise? I'd still give their recently released whiskey stout a go. From trying superb beers like Ola Dubh and some of BrewDog's Paradox range I'm beginning to think a richer, more robust beer simply stands up to oak better. To use a wine comparison. Oak use in white wine production has become a lot more sophisticated, leading to oaked whites that allow the fruit to come through rather than being like biting a twig.  A lesson learnt in some brewing circles but not others?


  1. I too found this with the I&G range of beers, I think it's safe to say never trust a beer that is packaged in clear glass bottle.

    I too would like to give their whiskey stout a chance though, I had a pint of Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout while I was in the states and it was one of the most INCREDIBLE oak aged beers I have ever tasted, oak aging certainly works if the right kind of beer is involved!

    1. Exactly Matt, I agree entirely, which is kind of what I'm going to say in my summary. It's all about the beer in the end, not the barrel.