Innis & Gunn, the popular “oak aged” beer brand, has signaled a return to the brewing method that made them so popular in the first place.
You may not know it, but due to Innis & Gunn’s success, they were forced to transition away from true barrel aging (due to lack of barrel supply) in 2010 to what they referred to as an ‘Oakerator’ tank – a new method that gave the same flavour results but didn’t rely 100% on filling barrels with beer. Between 2010 and 2017, their oak-aged beer was matured in the Oakerator over oak chips.
As of today, Innis & Gunn Original is once again 100% barrel-aged, using an innovative method developed by Innis & Gunn which enables the brewer to ‘put the barrel into the beer’.
Through this new method, barrels (which could include bourbon, rum or Irish whiskey) are broken down and the staves then broken into pieces. The pieces are toasted to open up the wood, unlocking layers of incredible flavours and aromas. The barrel pieces are then placed into the ‘amplifier’ – an updated iteration of the ‘oakerator’ – and the beer is circulated through it to achieve the rich depth of flavour that the barrel brings to the beer. To-date, the brewing team has discovered five different ‘toast’ levels, each of which brings a unique flavour to the finished brew.
Innis & Gunn Original and the brand’s new rum barrel red beer, Blood Red Sky (coming to Canada in 2018) are both now brewed using the ‘barrel into beer’ method. Other limited-edition beers (which often require lengthy maturations, or have fruits or hops added to develop maximum flavour) will still be brewed using the traditional ‘beer into barrel’ technique, matured in Innis & Gunn’s bespoke, temperature controlled barrel store at their brewery in Perth, Scotland.
The change is also reflected in a new branding for the core lineup. All beers in the core Innis & Gunn line-up in Canada – including IPA, Session IPA and Innis & Gunn Lager – will transition to the new branding in the coming weeks.