Innis & Gunn Brewing Company are a brewer based in Edinburgh, Scotland, though most of their beers are actually brewed at Tennent’s Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow. The company was founded in 2003 by Dougal Gunn Sharp, who was originally Master Brewer at Caledonian Brewery (now part of Heineken International) – a brewery at the time owned by his father Russell Sharp. As part of Sharp Jr’s workload he was called upon by a whisky distillery to supply beer to help season their oak casks. This was the first step in the ‘accidental discovery’ of the unique taste that oak aged beers acquire. Seeing a market for his new discovery, Dougal Sharp set up Innis & Gunn, and soon enough the first bottles of their Original brew were sold throughout Scotland. The company’s lager is the number one selling ‘craft’ lager in their native country, and also extremely popular as an export to other territories.
Whilst most of the brewer’s offerings are on the higher end of ABVs for beer (their Original brew being 6.6%), Innis & Gunn 0.0% is not the brewers first step into the alcohol-free market. Back in 2017 the company were keen to cash in on the hype around rival BrewDog’s Nanny State, and so the brewery brought out ‘Innis & None’ in time for Dry January of that year. A 0% pale ale imbued with vitamin C and ginseng, whilst I never had a chance to sample it, the name alone is a thing of beauty. The fact that they haven’t reused the moniker for their newer brew is a travesty.
Innis & Gunn 0.0% was released in October 2021 and uses a strain of yeast that does not produce alcohol during the fermentation process. The approach tends to lead to a fuller-flavoured brew, but as we’ve seen from fellow Scots Days Brewing it can bring in some overly bready and worty aromas and flavours. I was a fan of Innis & Gunn’s beers back when I lived in Edinburgh, so I’m looking forward to this one.
The beer pours a clear deep golden colour, producing a big frothy head as it settles in the glass. The head has great retention – you’ll be enjoying your froth moustache for at least the first half glass. Steady streams of bubbles in the liquid give the impression of high carbonation. On the nose we get bready malt and cereals – an aroma that reminds me of the smell at the top of the Royal Mile on brew day, or a bowl of Cheerio’s. There’s also a whiff of stone fruit in there which I’ve noticed before in brews that use strains of ‘lazy yeast’ in their production.
On tasting the beer is malt forward, with the same bready and cereal notes in the flavour that were present in the aroma. Scottish lagers tend to be on the malty side, and this sticks to the recipe. We get some hop bitterness giving a nice bite, but there is little actual hop flavour. There is also a slight background fruitiness, similar to dried apricot. The beer has a decent body, perhaps thanks to the oats used in the recipe, with a smooth mouthfeel. The carbonation is not as high as I was expecting from the initial fizz when poured. The finish is short and bitter.
Innis & Gunn 0.0% is a decent non-alcoholic lager in the Scottish style, with enough bitterness in there to not veer off into overly worty territory. It’s perhaps not the most accomplished nolo out there, but it’s a refreshing lager that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome in the taste department. And sometimes that’s all you really want in a beer.
Buy Innis & Gunn 0.0%
Innis & Gunn’s beers are available on tap all around Scotland, and their 0.0% may well be available on tap at their various taprooms. You can also buy online:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the can)|
|Water, Barley, Oats, Hops|
|Country of Production||Scotland|
|Brewer||Innis & Gunn Brewing – https://www.innisandgunn.com/|
Innis & Gunn 0.0% Alcohol-Free Lager Review
A decent Scottish-style non-alcoholic lager that does everything it needs to do.