June 3rd, 2011

Independent specialty beer company Innis & Gunn is aiming to show a fruitier side with the launch of Melville’s Strawberry and Melville’s Raspberry beer (4.1% abv, 275ml).

Brewed using 100% Scottish cold-pressed fruit, both beers have been unveiled in Tesco Stores nationwide as part of the supermarket’s three-week Beer Festival.

They will retail at £1.59 for a 275ml bottle.

Innis & Gunn turned the beer world on its head when it launched the world’s first oak-aged beer in 2003 and has since strived to continue to innovate in this style.

The Scottish brewer has now pioneered the use of cold-pressed fruit juice in its Melville’s range to create a new style of fruit beer in which the fruit flavours are key.

The new product is brewed using 100% Scottish cold-pressed fruit

Dougal Sharp, managing director of Innis & Gunn, said:

“Oak aged beer remains Innis & Gunn’s speciality and our brands are enjoying another very successful year, but our obsession with flavour always drives us to think about which other beer styles we might like to brew.

“We grow some of the world’s best strawberries and raspberries right here in Perthshire, Fife and Angus in East Central Scotland. Our unique combination of soil, climate and long summer days leads to a wider array of delicious aromas and flavours than for berries from warmer climes.

“Having loved the flavours of these berries for years I wondered what they would taste like if we used them to make a beer.

“So we partnered up with another Scottish company, Ella Drinks, who pioneered a technique for cold pressing berries to extract their juice that perfectly
preserves the sweet, vibrant flavours of freshly picked berries.”

Anne Thomson, managing director of award-winning Ella Drinks, the Alloa-based company that supplies the fruit juice, commented:

“When it comes to pressing berries, lightness of touch is essential.

“We use a gentle cold pressing technique to release the juice without damaging the seeds, which can add bitter off-flavours.

“Cold pressing best preserves the delicious flavours, aromas and colour of the berries and makes a natural juice that tastes as close to the fresh fruit as possible.

“Other techniques have unfortunate side effects on the flavour of the juice making it taste quite different to the fresh flavour of the original berries. Using heat creates a cooked flavour, while pureeing and high pressures release bitter off-flavours.”

To achieve the balance of flavour Melville’s is based on a brewed lager made of 100% malted barley, hops, yeast and water which is then blended with cold pressed juice.

Other fruit beers use as their base traditional brown ales, sour-lambic or wheat beers.

In another step for the brewing industry, Melville’s Fruit Beer is brewed to be ‘served over ice’, making it marketable as a summer drink.

Explaining the decision to move into fruit beer, Dougal added: “Once we started to taste these special berry juices combined with our beers we knew we had a brewing technique that could make extraordinary fruit beer.

“We then looked at the fruit beer category and didn’t like what we saw: confusing language, old fashioned packaging, ‘traditional ale’ base beers, challenging flavours and inaccessible pricing are common, as are the use of juice concentrates and purees in their production.

“Worse still they are almost all imported from Belgium, which I think is a great pity when we grow such great fruit and make such great beer in Britain.

“Many fruit beer producers seem complacent and have not invested in growing the category, which could be worth millions.

“We believe there’s huge potential for our delicious, British-made fruit beer to shake-up this sleeping category and help bring it up to date for modern drinkers.”