Coming Out Of Your Shell

Brewery and Country of Origin: Innis & Gunn of PO Box 17246, Edinburgh, EH1 1YR, Scotland, UK

Date Reviewed: 9-07-12

Cask beers are essentially a way of life for the Brits, who continue to express their interest in owning the world by spreading their cultural and imperialistic influence (especially in the form of beer). Interestingly enough, it usually takes an Englishman to understand why English Cask beers are so special. Well for one, they don't have to be served at a near freezing temperature, allowing the tastebuds to fully experience the complete flavor profile of the brew. Pale Lagers and other light beers are recommended by their brewers to be enjoyed at a temperature as cold as The Rockies. Why? Because there isn't much of a flavor mix going on in a normal mass produced pale, so the brewers don't want to emphasize how much their beer tastes like diluted urine. Either way, cask beers are also special because of the way they're made. And despite the fact that they claim to have invented everything, they can cleanly and fairly say that they made cask conditioning an art. What makes this particular beer interesting (and the entire line-up for that matter) rather interesting is that these beers are sold and distributed internationally in clear glass bottles. Now, it doesn't take a beer sommelier to understand the potential issue going on here. Cask beers can be very delicate (more than other beers), and yet the brewery who makes this Oak Aged beer insists that the beer is best marketed in a bottle which shows the brew's true colors. Perhaps they feel as though this is a liberating moment for a beer whose style is often characterized by containing the leftover (now dead) yeast microorganisms who make the magic happen in the first place.
Date Sampled: 9-02-12 At: 7 Prescott Place, Allston, Boston, MA, 02134, USA
Beer Style: Scottish Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 6.60%
Serving Type: 330 mL Bottle, 14 oz Sam Adams Glass
Rating: 3.04


Innis & Gunn's Flagship brew pours fairly choppy with a dark bronze shine. There is a medium level of carbonation action which results in a thin, but dense and creamy foam head. Very little lacing does occur. This is a clear, filtered beer.


This is a slightly nutty aroma with a caramel malt presence overall. There is a certain level of smoked or aged oak wood with some darker roasted malty properties mixed in as well. There is no hops presence in the aroma. The aroma is fairly prominent, and helps to enhance the flavor.


The Original is a medium light bodied beer with a relatively light viscosity, and a low level of carbonation. The beer has a medium light weight with a very smooth and clean feel, with a lingering, dull finish. There is a very subtle warming effect towards the end of the beer.


Immediately noticeable is the sweet caramel malts mixed in with the aged oak flavors which can be quite overpowering. The flavors shift to a unique nutty and bread like presence, then finish mellow with a lingering light malt finish.

Our Take

Certainly, this is most likely going to be a much sweeter beer than you were anticipating. But at the very least, general knowledge of Scottish Ales, and a quick whiff of the brew's somewhat potent aroma can give you a couple of previews. Sure, if left out for extended periods of time, the bottle can give you undesirable results in terms of short term cellaring or being plain lazy. If you are looking for a very accentuated malty and slightly whiskey like character (with a very slight warming effect typical of whiskey barrel aged beers), then this may be a great candidate for you to give a whirl. Unfortunately, we can already say with confidence that not everyone is going to go for this particular beer. And it is usually sold in three packs (with two less forgiving beers and a gift pint glass sampler pack gift kind of thing), which means the committment needs to really be there. Obviously no one likes to waste good beer, so at the very least, you should give this a try and if you find that this whole aged Scottish ale thing doesn't work for you, put some random unopened bottle back in the box with the other two, and give it to a beer loving friend who doesn't ask questions often.