DOUGAL SHARP – THE BREWER
We are curious about Inns & Gunn who has taken Sweden by storm with their new and exciting launches of limited edition beer several times a year, the competition Imagine & Gunn and the new brewery that soon will be inaugurated. When the Scottish craft brewery Innis & Gunn for the second time commissioned the country’s most creative beer lovers to contribute their ideas for a limited edition beer, Food Inc had the opportunity to an exclusive interview with Innis & Gunn’s founder and master brewer Dougal Sharp.
In 2002 a famous whisky distiller approached Innis & Gunn for help. They were seeking to season some of their oak casks with the sweet, malty character of a full-flavored beer. All the previous attempts had failed. Eager to assist, Innis & Gunn created a custom-made recipe and the resulting brew was put to bed in their barrels Thirty days on, Innis and Gunn’s beer was thrown out and the whisky went in. During its maturation, the Scotch acquired extra qualities from the beer-infused wood, resulting in a greatly admired dram and many repeats of the successful experiment.
A few months later Dougal was told that the employees at the brewery filled bottles of the beer that earlier was thrown away. They had discovered what no one else knew – the beer from the oak barrels was fantastic. In August 2003, launched Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer. 2006, David Ask from Tomp was appointed for the distribution in Sweden. Today Innis & Gunn is available at Systembolaget and in selected pubs and restaurants around the country.
Q: In which countries are Innis & Gunn sold?
A: Our beers are sold in over 25 countries around the world. We are No.2 craft beer brand in the UK off-trade, 2nd biggest imported craft beer in Sweden. We are also the No.1 imported craft beer in Canada.
Q: What are the characteristics of your beer?
A: That will depend on which of our beers you’re drinking of course. But across the board, we use the highest quality ingredients to create full flavored beer, whether that’s an oak aged beer like Original or a classic style like IPA or Lager. We love putting a unique stamp on our beers by adding our twist on expectations. For example, we add Naked Golden Oats to our Lager to impart an even more satisfying smoothness to the finish.
Q: You release several new beers and limited editions each year. Where do you find inspiration and ideas for the new beers?
A: Whether it’s friends, family, or colleagues I’m always inspired by the people around me. I’ve been very open to finding inspiration from unexpected places. Sometimes it’s from a beer or whisky I’m drinking, other times it’s from an aroma, or food and even just a memory of something I tasted a long time ago. What really excites me at our Brewery in Scotland is the ability we have there to experiment and innovate. I’m also very inspired by the beautiful Scottish landscape around us, in fact one of our last beers was brewed using water taken directly from clouds above the hills in Moffat, Scotland.
Sweden is the only country where the brewery has held the competition Imagine & Gunn towards the public to create a beer. In 2013, Nicholas Karlsson from Färjestaden won the competition and 40,000 bottles of his beer, Karlsson’s Choice, sold out fast and is now considered a collector’s item.
Q: Tell me more about the ongoing competition Imagine & Gunn.
A: We love the Swedes because you are very passionate about great beer. With Imagine & Gunn we wanted to find out what kind of amazing ideas could come about if you let a country of passionate beer drinkers create their own beer.
I’ve been blown away by the creativity and unorthodoxy of some of the entries. We has over 150 entries from all over Sweden and it was difficult to boil this down to a shortlist of seven. I would have loved to brew them all! We’re in the middle of the second phase where the public votes for the winner and I’m truly excited to bring them over to Scotland in the new year and make their dream a reality.
On Monday November 28th the winner of the Imagine & Gunn competition is announced and will be invited to newly built brewery in Scotland. Together with master brewer Dougal Sharp and his team the winner will produce his/hers beer which will also be named after the winner. The limited edition of 40,000 bottles will be sold at Systembolaget during the spring 2017 and expected to sell out immediately.
On December 2nd, Innis & Gunn Spiced Rum will be released at Systembolaget. We at Food Inc has been given the opportunity to taste the beer and find it delightfully Christmassy and recall many of our traditional Christmas flavors. It will be a wonderful alternative to the Christmas beer we are usually familiar with!