Eden Brewery’s announcement today that they intend to double production at their Guardbridge microbrewery near St Andrews is only the latest success for wood-aged beers. Innis & Gunn is obviously one of the biggest; though it wasn’t introduced to my naïve self until a film festival party last year, it has commanded an international audience since it was first put on sale ten years ago, and it continues to smash sales records.
Eden hopes to recreate that success by forging inroads into Scandinavia and North America this Summer, according to today’s Herald, and that challenge seems less than daunting when you consider the constant expansion of the wood-aged beer market over the past few years. This is rapidly becoming a significant and distinctive element of Scotland’s drinks sector.
Contributory to that expansion is the potential diversity within the niche. The boss of the Eden microbrewery says his portfolio is “quite different” to that of Innis & Gunn, and this is undeniably true. Both Eden and Innis & Gunn flavour their beers with barrels that have previously held certain malts, whiskeys, and rums, but the subtle differences between these spirits is exacerbated in the beer, meaning there are thousands of different flavours for enterprising breweries to deliver.
All in all, Eden’s announcement is not just good news for economists, but for beer-lovers too – and hopefully a sign that even better things are coming. Wood-aged beer is a great natural complement to the whisky we already produce in droves. We’ll undoubtedly see more of it in the years to come.