WE begin this post with a greeting to my growing list of readers and respondents. Recommendations of your own, information and advice (especially if you’ve got the authority of actually being from a brewer (thank you Alex from Viru Beer)) are strongly encouraged. If you haven’t left a comment yet, then what are you waiting for! Be part of the phenomenon that is my Bloggy Woggy right after you’ve finished reading this post.
Now onto today’s post. And it is, surprise surprise, a review of a bottle of beer. This time however, it’s the most difficult bottle yet. How can a bottle of beer be difficult to sum up? By being a bottle of Innis & Gun Oak Aged Beer. Let me explain… This is a beer that thinks it’s a Scotch Whisky. Or a Scotch Whisky that thinks it’s a beer. You need only look at the bottle to see what I mean.
The bottle shape, the Innis & Gunn label and the colour of the contents within are all Scotch Whisky-esque.
Let me make something clear at this point. I am not a drinker of Scotch, Whiske, Bourbon or whatever you care to call it. That stuff makes me wretch. But in the interests of beer drinking, I’m prepared to approach this with an open mind and enjoy it for what it is. Even if I will probably never get as much from it as a Scotch Whisky drinker would.
If you are not one for label reading, then make this the exception to your rule. To understand what this brew is all about you don’t just need to read it, but study it. Brewed and bonded (what does bonded mean?) in Edinburgh, this drink was the 2004 International Beer Competition Supreme Champion. I’ve not heard of it either, but it’s the sort of accolade I would want on a beer. So what makes it so special? A process apparently discovered by accident. The drink spends all of 77 days including time maturing in an oak barrel (a la whiskey) and in a marrying tun, whatever that is. It is this that makes this the most complicated smelling and tasting beer I’ve ever tasted.
Poured into a glass, this has a good beer-like head. That’s one beer trait I’m glad they kept. Here is also where the description on the bottle label comes into its own; in helping you to make sense of that incredibly complicated smell. The label describes aromas of vanilla, toffee and “hints of citrus”. I can’t disagree with that, but without the explanation, I wouldn’t have had a clue what it all was.
It’s a similar story with the taste. That is to say, complicated. But once again, the label is there to help you decipher it’s complicated, whisky-ish taste. The label goes with “malty, lightly oaked” and “warming”. There’s no way to expand on that, really. It truly smells and taste like whisky in beer form. Or vice-versa.
At 6.6% volume, it’s also gratifyingly strong. And modestly priced too, at least from my local Tesco.
To sum up then, Innis & Gunn have produced something apparently unique in the beer world with their Oak Aged Beer. Everything about the smell and taste is complicated in a whisky-like way. Even though I’m not a whisky fan, I’m going to try this one again. Even if it’s only to try and make more sense out of this complex brew. A lot like those films that you have to watch more than once to fully understand who did what, and why.
Rating: 4 (or thereabouts)