Meet the Maker: Dougal Sharp, Founder and Master Brewer, Innis & Gunn

Q: Where do you work?

A: Innis & Gunn Brewery in Perth and HQ base in Edinburgh.

Q: How long have you worked with Innis & Gunn and how did you start?

A: I’ve been in the industry for thirty years and at Innis & Gunn for fifteen of those. My brewing roots are anchored in Edinburgh where I was working as a master brewer, and my interest in science and flavour came together when I started to experiment with ageing beer in bourbon barrels. Discovering the rich flavour this imparted in the beer resulted in our flagship Original barrel-aged beer, which tasted like nothing else in the market at a time when craft beer was seen as very niche, but I knew I was onto something and I started Innis & Gunn back in 2003 with a mission to open up the world of craft beer and flavour to more people.

Q: Describe the production process.

A: For Innis & Gunn Lager beer, we use Naked Golden Oats in our brew which creates a smooth finish to balance the zesty refreshment from the Styrian Golding hops. We also barrel-age some of our beers and we do this in two ways, using the traditional method of putting beer into barrels, and we’ve created a unique new process which essentially allows us to do the reverse – putting barrels into our beer. By doing this we’ve managed to unlock the maximum amount of flavour possible from the barrels.

Q: What’s a typical working day like?

A: As master brewer, I am responsible for creating our beer recipes and invest time testing and experimenting with flavours and techniques. I am also at the helm of the Innis & Gunn Beer Kitchens, testing new recipes for our beer and food pairing menu, and developing plans to expand our retail business. We export to over 28 countries, and I spend a lot of time in Canada, Sweden, France and the US. I love the opportunity to meet partners and customers in our markets and seeing how craft beer is attracting more and more drinkers all over the world.

Q: Describe Innis & Gunn’s beers.

A: Innis & Gunn Lager has been carefully crafted to be refreshing and full-flavoured by adding zesty aromatic hops and Naked Golden Oats to the brew.

Q: What would you say sets Innis & Gunn’s beers apart?

A: We’ve never followed the crowd and set our own path, from pioneering new barrel-ageing techniques to new flavour combinations.

Q: What one fact should bartenders know about Innis & Gunn’s beers?

A: Innis & Gunn Lager is unique because we use Naked Golden Oats to create a smooth finish.

Q: What’s your favourite part of the job?

A: Seeing the brand grow and reach its potential, and getting to work every day with passionate and talented people.

Q: What’s your favourite way to drink Innis & Gunn’s beers?

A: A pint of Innis & Gunn Lager, served direct from the tank, fresh from the brewery.

Q: What’s your career highlight so far?

A: It’s quite an enduring one, but it inspires me every time I see the reaction from drinkers to our beer. Our team give 100% commitment every single day to make amazing beers for people all over the world to enjoy and I love to see drinkers discover something new.

Q: Who do you admire in the industry and why?

A: The industry has always pushed boundaries. I’ve got an admiration for anyone with an entrepreneurial outlook embracing the pioneering spirit of craft beer – from my Dad who is also a brewer and sparked my passion for beer, to the growing number of breweries in Scotland.

Q: How do you relax outside of work?

A: I play guitar and I love spending time on the west coast of Scotland, preferably at sunset with a pint of Innis & Gunn, a huge seafood platter and good friends.

Q: If you could invite anyone for a drink who would you ask, where would you go and what would you drink?

A: It’s our 15th anniversary this year and if I could I’d invite all our fans to a big party in Edinburgh to raise a glass together.