I seem to kicked open a can of worms over at Beer Pages with my comments that Innis and Gunn are a fake brewery. I stand by that assessment, not because I see contract brewers as the Devil, but that I am deeply suspicious of contract breers not divulging the plant where their stuff comes from.
It seems a common understanding that I&G's beers are brewed at Belhaven although I am not sure I have ever seen that actually quoted from the source. Certainly there is no confirmation of this on their website, and Roger Protz has questioned whether the Greene King takeover of Belhaven may have changed that. One is for certain: the bottles say brewed in Scotland, so if it transpires that that is not the case then there is a serious amount of misleading going on.
Having said all this, their stuff is actually pretty decent. In line with other Scottish brewers BrewDog and Williams Bros they are producing innovative interesting beers. Their website states "Using oak to age beer is unheard of. But, the flavours imparted by the oak barrels (previously used to mature bourbon) lend an incredible depth of
taste. Think vanilla, toffee and orange aromas, with a malty,
lightly oaked palate; soothing and warm in the finish.".
Of course oak aged beers is not a new thing across the Atlantic Ocean, but it is pretty rare in the UK. The barrel character comes through very strongly in all of their beers with real whiskey notes together with an oaky vanilla. The beers can withstand this character as well as they all have a decent kick of strength.
This year's new product though is a little different. Rum Cask Finish Oak Aged Beer is first matured in oak barrels for thirty days before then spending a further 30 days in selected navy rum barrels. I cannot claim to be a rum fan and am certainly not an afficianado, but what I do know is this beer is bloody lovely. The rum is stronger in the aroma than taste, but what does get into the taste is unbeliveably mellow and smooth. It's a truly silky beer and at 7.4% ABV has just the right amount of alcohol kick. I would have to say that this is a quality product and comfortably my favourite I&G beer.
So, to reiterate, these are good beers. They are great recipes and the maturation is spot on, but just be honest guys and reveal where it comes from. I hope that's not too much to ask.