I have been a little slack in the beer drinking department as of late so with Easter weekend approaching I plan to rectify that in short order. Nothing says Easter like Mini Eggs, Chocolate Bunnies, and hand-crafted Scottish beer. I have been eyeing up Innis & Gunn beers for the last several trips to my local beer haunt. I liked the look of the label and I have a few friends who swear by the beer…well, they swear at most everything, but they really like Innis & Gunn.
Innis & Gunn has some pretty interesting beginnings. A notable whisky distiller was looking to season oak barrels with the sweet and malty essence of a full flavoured beer. This proved to be an enticing offer and a beer was specially crafted for the task. Once brewed, the beer was put in the oak casks, set to rest for 30 days and then discarded while the casks were filled with whisky. Fast forward a few batches and someone FINALLY has the genius idea of sampling the beer after it sat in oak for 30 days. I am going out on a limb that this discovery was probably timed with the arrival of summer students as they would not let any liquor go to waste. Whomever made the discovery should get a high five as Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beers was born!
Now, what about the beer? The Rum Finish is brewed and left to mature for 57 days in Oakerators on Demerara Rum Infused Heartwood. Say what?! Dumbing it down for the average Joe, an Oakerator is like a big percolator with oak chips inside, then you chuck in some barrel wood from Demerara Rum for added flavour. What is Demerara Rum? Well, the interwebs say it originates from Guyana and is a rich, heavy aged rum…sounds good to me. Whatever the system, it works like a charm! Using my cutting edge sampling techniques (otherwise known as my 4 Rules of Beer Review…a.k.a rules I “borrowed” from some hoitey-toitey online beer snobs), I humbly offer you my thoughts on the Innis & Gunn Rum Finish…
1 – Make sure glassware is clean. No glassware was required…one of these days I may look into beer glasses that match my beverage for the full experience…but why spend money on glasses when I could buy beer instead?
2 – Cleanse the palate. I ate a bag of chocolate mini eggs…a big one…like family size…I have a problem…pallet was clean as a chocolatey whistle!
3 – Don’t review while intoxicated. I may have been drunk on mini eggs, but I don’t think that counts.
4 – Look for appearance, smell, taste, mouthfeel (could they make that sound any more disgusting), and overall.
Appearance – a dark, ruby red.
Smell – this beer has a very fragrant fruit forward aroma with notes of mulling spices. Given my inadequacies of articulating actual smell, I enlisted my 10 year old to give me his thoughts…
ME – Hey, come smell this Rum Finish beer and tell me what you smell.
HIM – Rum. I thought this was a beer? Don’t pirates drink rum? Is this rum beer?
ME – Yes, this is Pirate beer…now what do you smell?
HIM – It smells like one of Grandma’s candles…
Me – What?! How do you go from talking pirates to Grandmas candles?
I am not sure where Grandma gets her beer candles from but I am gonna find out next time I am at her house.
Taste – big flavours going on here but it all compliments each other so well. The sweetness of fruit, a deep malt flavour, and smooth hit of spice make for a balanced, full flavour.
Mouthfeel – smooth and ample bodied – a balanced mouthfeel.
Overall – I really didn’t know what to expect given everything that was going on with this beer, but I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the flavour of this beer. I give it a “If-it’s-not-Scottish-it’s-crap!” out of 10.