Craft beer has exploded in popularity in the United States and now it is spreading throughout other regions of the world. The United Kingdom has long relied on a select set of breweries for its ales, but things are changing. Thanks to companies like Innis & Gunn, craft beer is now taking hold of beer drinkers around the UK.

The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) has kicked off for 2016 and We Write Things is out in full force. What’s most exciting about the festival is learning about the breweries you wouldn’t normally hear about without GABF. Innis & Gunn is certainly an intriguing company, one, because of how they’ve championed the movement of craft beer in the UK, and two, because of the barrel-aged beer they brew that redefines perception.

For those who are barrel-aged beer fans, you’ve probably come to expect high alcohol by volume (ABV) and even high International Bitter Units (IBUs). The folks are Innis & Gunn have broken the ABV and IBU norms you’ve come to expect, and instead, are brewing craft beers that are extremely drinkable and flavorful.

I had the opportunity to sample their flagship ale, Innis & Gunn Original. Many barrel-aged beers can check in with a 12 or even 13 percent ABV, however, Innis & Gunn Original rings in at a reasonable 6.6 percent ABV.

Filled with a friendly balance and flavorful palate, the Innis & Gunn Original defies the crowd and delivers a presentation you’ll go out of your way to experience again. I was surprised by the high level of drinkability in this beer simply because it is a barrel-aged ale. It’s not unheard of for this type of beer to ring in with a low ABV, but it is very uncommon.

Some of these might try and shake off the ABV, but as a result, taste can be sacrificed. I’m happy to say the Innis & Gunn Original does not feel absent of taste whatsoever. Quite the contrary, the Original presents a nose with toffee scents filling the air, and this sets up a dynamic, yet balanced palate.

A sample of the Original will showcase notes of vanilla and oak, while toffee remains a strong part of the palate. The oak taste never once approached the slippery slope of hitting you over the head with its heftiness. Innis & Gunn has established fine balance between all segments of its nose and palate. It is a complete experience.

A bottle of Innis & Gunn's flagship ale, the Original (Courtesy of Innis & Gunn).
A bottle of Innis & Gunn’s flagship ale, the Original (Courtesy of Innis & Gunn).

For those who can appreciate the meaning of a drinkable barrel-aged beer, the Innis & Gunn Original is one worth going out of your way for. Switching ales, I also had the opportunity to sample a new IPA that the brewery is in the process of releasing. While it technically hasn’t been released, the beer will debut sometime next year.

The brewery does indeed have the Toasted Oak IPA, but this new IPA is meant to satisfy the tastes of those who prefer American IPAs. Innis & Gunn recognizes the craft beer trends in the US and thus they’ve created an IPA that honors Scottish beer, while still being one that places a welcoming arm around the tastes of American beer drinkers.

The IPA uses several American hops, like Cascade, which we typically find in IPAs stateside. I still sensed a bit of a toffee note during the beer’s palate, however, the palate was mostly dominated by a refreshing hoppy, citrus presentation. If you’ve tried tangerine IPAs before, then you will absolutely love the IPA that Innis & Gunn is crafting.

Its color and overall presentation reminded me of New Belgium’s recently released Citradelic Tangerine IPA. These two share quite a few traits, though Innis & Gunn’s IPA does stand apart with its toffee hints.

While you may not be able to pick-up Innis & Gunn anywhere you go, the brewery has begun distributing in the United States. Coloradoans will be happy to hear it is one of the states where you can pick-up Innis & Gunn in bottles at select liquor stores and bars.

I highly recommend trying the Original as well as their IPA, once the latter releases next year. Innis & Gunn has taken the reigns of heightening craft beer’s influence in the UK and the beer I experienced is certainly worthy of such a cause. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Innis & Gunn and GABF 2016.

About Steve Ruygrok

Gaming, Spirits, and Craft Beer enthusiast. If you say you don't like beer, then you just haven't had the right type yet. Great spirits keep away the bad ones. Video games are kind of amazing, just do it...or something like that.