Ah, the Original, what many see as the mother of all cask and aged beers. Now it is true that despite their rightful claim to fame, they are not exactly the first ones to do this, they certainly are amongst the first ones to take it to such high level. Just so to give you a quick history reference as to whom did it before, way back in 1992, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout was aged in barrels and there was a time when Lambic beer producers also aged their beer in barrels. Innis and Gunn “re”discovered this sexy tasting beer by accident almost 10 years ago when trying to do the complete opposite, that is making a Scotch Whiskey with ale flavours. The idea was to infuse barrels (which had already contained whiskey) with ale. Upon emptying the ale to replace it with whiskey, they found that the reverse effect -ale now tasting like whiskey- was much more intriguing and worthy of sharing with the world. How the whiskey turned out is unknown to me.
So this is it. This is the one; the chairman of the board of Innis and Gunn. The one thing that I&G does right is understand the value in aging (77 days) like that of fine wine or whiskey. The only difference of course seems to be that a month in beer life is somewhat similar to a year in wine.
On Innis & Gunn’s web site, they suggest that it be paired with grilled fish or curries and I agree. I dare to make another suggestion which has become a beer night ritual for me, enjoy a chocolate stout or Coffee Porter, then chase it down with an Innis & Gunn Original. You’ll adopt this combo as a desert substitute in no time.
Look: Orange with gold hues and a good frothy head.
Smell: You never forget the smell of an Innis and Gunn. It’s vanilla, toffee, whiskey and oak aroma will stay with you for a long time. Not so much hops however but quite forgiven, if you like a good IPA, stay away.
Taste: The first thing you appreciate in I&G’s Original is it’s fine taste of vanilla and toffee followed by the smoothness of oak, fruit and more vanilla. There is something to be said about aging it in an oak barrel which somehow tones down the attack of the alcohol level. What I mean is that although it is 6.6% alcohol, it goes down smooth and nice..
Finish: Finishes sweeter with an alcohol kick.
Feel: Creamy with good carbonation.
Context: Spot on.
Repeater: Hell Yeah!
Pairing: Goes well with grilled meats and salmon, pepper steak and hearthy cheeses.
Availability: All year round.
Beer type: Pale ale
Brewery: Innis and Gunn
Country / Region: Scotland.