Woohoo! First new Innis & Gunn since September!
Innis & Gunn Rare Oak Pale Ale is a weird one for sure. I’m not usually a fan of pale ales due to their typically high hops content – it’s just not a flavour palate I dig. Sort of like my ish with Highlands scotches – I get what they’re going for, it’s just not my jam.
This one was different, thought. It had the fully hopped nose that initially gave me pause, but on first taste it was quite something else. Looking at the product site, it points to a few reasons. Oh note, they’ve used Scottish gale as well as hops – gale is a similar plant native to Scotland that gets used in something called gruit, the main flavouring in northern European beers in the middle of the last millennium.
The eponymous “Rare Oak” is Scottish Oak which is placed in their Oakerator® (seriously, every time it’s mentioned) which is basically an inside-out cask – chips of oak are surrounded by beer in a larger vessel. As mentioned previously, Innis & Gunn has taken this step for production reasons. I’m skeptical, but I don’t know when then introduced it and I can’t say as I’ve noticed the central product change, so maybe it’s working properly. The scientist in me wants to believe that oak + beer = good in any arrangement, dependent on pressure and surface area, but I’m still hesitant to buy in fully. I would need a side-by-side taste-test to really figure it out, and even then, that’s only good for me, YMMV.
I’m down with continuing to assume these good people know what they’re doing. Here’s what we thought:
Davey – slightly reddish
Simon – not very pale
Davey – light, citrus
Simon – hoppy, crisp, citrus, melons
Davey – subtle pale ale taste. not too hoppy
Simon – hop is present but doesn’t bite. fresh
Davey – light, little aftertaste, refreshing
Simon – clean to slight caramel note
Try? Yes! Buy? Yes!