Christopher recently visited Innis & Gunn to taste Smokin’ Gunn, their very special, slightly smoky beer. We were delighted to be invited back to Innis & Gunn HQ recently to check out their premises and learn about the events they put on. We were lucky enough to have a beer tasting with Dougal Sharp. Here’s what we learned.
Innis & Gunn HQ
Innis & Gunn HQ is the company’s new home and one they want to share with the world. On the ground floor is the drawing room, a large living room with comfortable seating and a bar. It’s a bright, tall-ceilinged room with Innis & Gunn wallpaper. There’s also a dining room that can seat 24 for dinner or fit up to 60 for a drinks reception. Example menus include seared scallops with Jerusalem artichoke pure, pork fillet and glazed cheek, and Earl Grey panna cotta.
On the ground floor is the beer kitchen where up to 24 people can have a night in in comfort. There’s also a board room, where we did a beer tasting, that sits 12 people.
Innis & Gunn HQ offer a range of events, from tutored beer tastings, to beer and cheese matching. You can find out what they offer in their calendar. If you have an event in mind, you can also rend rooms and host dinners or tastings (or both!).
The Art of Tasting Beer
First, get a glass with a large cup, something that will hold the beer aromas. Good tasting glasses, regardless what they are for tasting, has a wider bottom and a narrower top.
Then, pour in the beer. Pour freely and don’t be afraid of building a head. A big head is good.
Now, to the sniffing. To get the full effect, tip the glass to 45 degrees angle and then smell it at three points:
- The top of the glass, with your nose against the top rim of the glass. This gives you light armoas, fermentation esters.
- The middle of the glass. Here, you get heavier, sweeter aromas.
- The bottom. Be careful not to inhale the beer, only the scent. Here, you get the aromas of heavier scents and alcohol.
Finally, take a good mouthful of bear and swallow. (Beer tasters don’t spit. Apparently there are taste receptors at the back of the throat that are particularly good at bitter.) Instead, they try to breathe out through their nose immedately after swallowing to get the full flavour. (This is called ‘retronasal tasting’. I love a good new term.)
What We Tasted
- Innis & Gunn Original – sweet and rich, I like the Original because it has more sweetness than bitterness. The top notes gave banana, the middle oak and the bottom toffee. It’s a satisfying mouthfl.
- Toasted Oak IPA – the IPA is a very different beer from the Original. The nose offers sherbet lemons, yogurt, even strawberries. The bottom scents are more chemical with notes of oak and linseed. The taste is brisk, bitter but refreshing, and flinty.
- Rum Finish – I got julmust from the top, sherry, brown fruits and caramel from the middle, spice and burnt sugar from the bottom. The flavour was of sweet licorice, coffee and rum.
- Whisky Trail – this one was very exciting. It’s not yet on the market and is one of the most difficult beers Innis & Gunn have put together. As the name suggests, it brings together beers matured in casks from the five different Scottish whisky regions. Retronasal tasting teases out delightful notes of Islay smokes.
I learned a lot during this beer tasting. Not only how to taste beer properly, but also how the beer was made and where the ingredients come from. It was educational and entertaining, facts liberally peppered with amusing anecdotes. Try it yourself!
6 Randolph Crescent
Edinburgh, EH3 7TH
Phone: 0131 220 7230