VOTE FOR CANADA'S NEXT GREAT BEER FLAVOUR
DOUGAL CHATS TO THE MAN BEHIND OUR LATEST BREW - SMOKIN’ GUNN
David Ashton-Hyde took part in our Bartenders Choice Programme, seeing off competition from 300 other bartenders from the UK, Sweden and Canada. David is the Head Bartender at the Hinds Head in Bray, which is owned by experimental chef Heston Blumenthal. David and Dougal chat about the inspiration behind David's beer - Smokin' Gunn.
Dougal : Hi David! Well, here we are – almost a year since you and the other Bartender’s Choice finalists joined us in Edinburgh for a week of intense beer chat! We’re delighted to see ‘Smokin’Gunn’ in its final packaging, ready to drink. Were you nervous tasting it for the first time?
David : It’s been a great year of anticipation and looking forward to the final product, and the experience of those 4 days with everyone is now one of my fondest memories. So much was learnt. The journey since has left me in such wonder that when I saw the ‘Smokin Gunn’ box, I stared at the packaging for so long I forgot there was something to drink inside.
I had one chilled and one at room temperature, 2 half pints and 2 brandy glasses, sent everyone out of the room (including the dog) and put it to the test. So yeah, I was a little nervous!
Dougal : Your initial idea for the beer was (quote!) Sour mash beer with northern brewer hops, rauch smoked malt & maple syrup aged in Jack Daniels whisky casks - a rich beer with a strong fragrant hop, smoky & minty with a Jack Daniels finish …now that you’ve tasted it, how close are we to the flavour and finish you had in mind all that time back?
David : If I’m honest at first sip, it wasn’t what I’d expected. The sweet smokey tones were there as I had hoped, but with the slightly higher ABV than I envisaged, I expected a more viscous mouth feel. After a few more ‘sips’ though it became much more inviting, sumptuous and moreish. The sweetness wasn’t sickly and the smokey bourbon and slight rich maple notes made for a very enjoyable drink!
Definitely one for the armchair and fireplace, maybe some cheese too! Scott (our sous chef at the Hinds Head) has already tried it in a sauce for a pigeon dish at home.
Dougal : What has been your favourite part of the development process with our team at Innis & Gunn?
David : I couldn’t put my finger on one particular part, but the enthusiasm and knowledge from ALL of your team over the initial 4 days was great! Going out and looking for inspiration was a great idea too. Being taken to the small bottle shop and basically left to find our way home, gave us time to capture the mood of the city and believe in the competition so much more. Waiting has been rubbish, but having the final product now is just amazing!
Dougal : You had submitted a few different recipe ideas for the Bartender’s Choice competition. The idea of producing a smoked beer appealed to us during the initial judging process, but playing devil’s advocate here for a minute…was there one of the other recipes you’d have rather seen put into development?
David : I’ve a million ideas a day about flavours and recipes, pages of flavour maps I think ‘might’ work. I wanted a stand-out product, and to have an historic beer style resurrected for the masses was definitely the best choice.
The only other recipe that caught my attention wasn’t one of my own but Geoff’s (Whittal, one of the other finalists) who was inspired by nature and using the countryside to flavour his brew, as would have been the case many years ago. I use foragers here at the Hinds Head, so I know the flavours out there are vast. I reckon that would have been an interesting brew, and has a great story to it too.
Dougal : What’s your favourite part of working within the pub and hospitality industry?
David : Hospitality itself. It’s a word too often forgotten in an industry that relies upon it. Anyone can go anywhere and spend their money, and then they’re left with a choice of where to spend it again next time. So, when we see guests visit us again and again, it gives me huge satisfaction in knowing we are doing a great job of being hospitable.
My dad (who’s spent 30+ years working in the trade) told me that great hospitality can make up for bad food, but great food can’t make up for bad hospitality! I love what I do, and it’s about the response I get from guests, and building an environment they can be comfy in, whatever walk of life they are from.
Dougal : Any tips for anyone thinking of taking part in one of our future Bartender’s Choice programmes?
David : Be adventures, be bold and use history as a tool to develop your ideas.
Smokin' Gunn is only availble in the UK through our Online Shop. It will also be availble in select retailers in Canada and Sweden.
3 - KURT”S ALRIGHT BEER IDEA
Let your imagination run wild. Submit your dream beer idea below and our Founder and Master Brewer Dougal Gunn Sharp and his brewing team will choose the best suggestions to be put to a national vote to select the winning flavour innovation.
Vote for Canada's new limited edition Innis & Gunn beer
SELECT YOUR FAVORITE BEER IDEA FROM ABOVE AND SUBMIT YOUR VOTE BELOW