Tag Archives: Innis & Gunn

Innis & Gunn get fruity

10 Sep

Fruit beer is one of those things that I’m just never sure about.

The first time I tried one of the better known brands – Früli – a few years ago, it was after continuous recommendations from some work colleagues that it was the best thing since our office had decided to let us drink at our desks after 3:30pm on a Friday (this is Europe after all!). But when I tried it at Dutch pub De Hems, I found its sweetness to be too overwhelming. I promptly purchased my favourite, heavier-duty Trappistes Rochefort 8 and continued on my merry drinking way.

So when I recently learned that craft brewery and bastions of cask-aged beer Innis & Gunn had decided to release its own fruit beer under the brand name Melville’s Craft Lager, I was intrigued though slightly skeptical.

Melville’s Raspberry Craft Lager

The lager is made from a standard base (British malt, hops, yeast and water) that is infused with cold pressed berry juice from juice producer Ella Drinks. The company has released a strawberry and raspberry flavour, both of which I have sampled, and both of which will now be permanently available in Tesco and in Scottish Sainsbury’s branches for around the £1.70 mark.

My preferred choice was the raspberry version. It’s a heady, thickly sweet drink but with elements of an almost treacle-like flavour and an instant rush of sharp raspberry to counter the sugary side. It’s quite a punchy drink for a fruit beer – it’s not watered down or too sickly, though it is definitely going to be too much for those that like their lagers drier. The flavour of Swedish Berries (a North American candy) was also present. I wanted to be sat on a lawn chair in the sun drinking this one.

Stawberry delight anyone?

The strawberry version took the sugar level further and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who would choose a starter over a sweet at dinner – those with a greater love of their savoury taste buds might revolt. It saves itself, however, from falling into the sugar syrup, tweenie drinks (WKD anyone?) by having a lovely, bitter twang right at the end which balances things out a bit better. Strawberry foams from pick n mix, or Haribo strawberry sours dominate.

Both are quality craft lagers, which one can tell have been flavoured with real fruit and not any sugar additives. While they’re sweet, they’re enjoyable.

It’s an interesting move for Innis & Gunn – with its following by lager aficionados (especially in Canada where it seems to be immensely popular) it seems somewhat strange to move into this other market. Equally, it will give the company a wider remit by targeting a very different demographic. And, as the bottle does not say ‘Innis & Gunn’ anywhere on the label many may not even realise the tie-in.

And although I won’t reach for them as a staple beer, I enjoyed the raspberry enough to keep a bottle or two around for when I’m looking for something a bit sweeter than my normal bitters and ales. Which, given my normal dislike of fruit beer, says a lot.

European Beers

21 Jan

As mentioned in my previous post, I was lucky enough recently to be sent some very interesting beers from R&R Teamwork to try out. In the last edition, I tried out the beers from the U.S. and now I shall wax lyrical on those from this side of the ocean (namely, Belgium and Scotland).

If you’ve tried any of these, then drop me a line and let me know – I’d be curious to hear your thoughts!

Fruity beer? Well, why not...

Liefmans Fruitesse: 4.2% – Liefmans Brewery, Belgium:

Sometimes fruit beer can be too sickly sweet for my liking. I’m almost always after a bitter, punchy, yeasty beer or stout to sit by my side while I cook dinner or watch a film. So, I was a bit hesitant with this one. Liefmans Fruitesse is a fruit beer (duh!), combining flavours of cherry, bilberry, elderberry, strawberry and raspberry. What makes it slightly more interesting than a run-of-the-mill fruit beer is that it has been matured for 18-months on cherries. And you can definitely taste that. This beer manages to hold its own by focusing on more tart, bitter flavours – cherry, bilberry – rather than overdoing the candy shop strawberry taste that I find too sweet. It’s a bit biting and – although I’d only have one – I found it to be a refreshing, rather than a sugary, beer; great for summer picnics. It retails for £1.60 at Waitrose & Selfridges.

A smoking gunn?

Innis & Gunn Highland Cask 18: 7.1% – Innis & Gunn Brewery, Scotland:

Opening up the box to find this beer was a real treat – a 7.1% beer that I hoped could really set my taste buds alight. Innis & Gunn is very popular back in Canada, but until my latest trip there, I hadn’t heard of it – odd, I thought, given I live in England and this is from Scotland. But, Innis & Gunn do a lot of promoting in North America – it’s a bigger market and people’s beer drinking tastes are evolving rapidly there. This bottling was a limited edition, matured in casks previously containing 18-year-old scotch whisky. And, I could really pick it up – there were hints, not unlike a whisky, of toffee and oak, and it was rich and warming. It didn’t get me quite as excited as I thought it would but I have a feeling that – given I love whisky so much – I was expecting more of a whisky hit. It was well balanced, though, and an interesting one to try. Though, at 7.1%, maybe just stick to one or two. It’s available for £2.50 at Sainsbury’s.

Duvel, how you set my heart on fire!

Duvel: 8.5% – Duvel Brewery, Belgium:

To top things off, I finished with a Duvel – I held off on this one because it has been a long-time favourite. I discovered it for the first time at the fabulous De Hems pub on Macclesfield Street in London a few years back and I’ve been drinking it ever since. This Belgian beer is really one for beer lovers, in my opinion. It comes in at a hefty 8.5% but still manages to be refreshing – always dangerous! The blond beer is fermented a second time in the bottle (fermentable sugars and yeast are added at the bottling stage). It is then matured for another 60 days in warm and cool temperatures to achieve its characteristic biting, yeasty flavour. It’s slightly sweet but has a drying bitterness on the finish which keeps the sugars down. I could drink it all night long. Definitely a favourite. It retails at most supermarkets for £1.67 upwards.

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