Yes, There Really is a Fifty Shades of Grey Beer
In 2011, the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey titillated women from Bangor to San Diego. It didn’t take long for Christian Grey and his sexual proclivities to hit the big screen. The movie version of E.L. James’ book is now in theaters and the folks at Scotland’s Innis & Gunn produced the perfect beer to pair with it.
Innis & Gunn’s 50 Shades of Green is 4.2% ABV and was created by blending fifty unique varieties of hops culled from all over the globe. It also contains a veritable cornucopia of amorous and libido inducing ingredients.
The beer contains a handful of aphrodisiacs including ginseng (known for it’s stimulating qualities designed to get your hormonal engine revving), ginkgo biloba (an herb known for helping blood flow if you know what I mean) and damiana (a nerve stimulant to heighten all of your senses).
Sadly, most of us will never get a chance to try this beer. It’s only available in the United Kingdom and Innis & Gunn only produced two-hundred bottles of this extremely limited edition beer. Also, due to the amount of highly priced hops, 50 Shades of Green has a price tag of £30 for a 330 ml bottle and can only be purchased on Innis & Gunn’s website.
“We had a lot of fun making this beer, doing things that have never been done before in brewing, much like couples all over Britain will be doing behind closed doors once they’ve seen the film,” says founder Dougal Sharp. “Seriously, who wants Grey when they can have a love affair with something far more lively…this is all about full-on flavour with a little bit of a kinky kick. Forget the British stiff upper lip, this is one you’ll want to stand to attention for.” This extremely limited edition brew is guaranteed to excite more than just your taste buds with its hoppy, floral, spicy aroma.
A little background on Innis & Gunn
In 2002, Dougal Sharp was tasked by a whisky maker to fill some oak barrels with malty, sweet beer in an effort to mature the beer, dump it out and then replace it with whisky. The assumption was that the scotch’s flavor and character would be impacted positively by the beer infused casks. The experiment worked and the resulting whisky was better than the distiller had even anticipated. To Sharp’s surprise, he received a phone call from the distiller saying that they had also sampled the aged beer instead of pouring it out. Everyone raved about the complex, rich flavors that cask aging had brought to the beer.
Sharp continues the process today at Innis & Gunn Brewing Company. Located in Edinburgh, Scotland, Innis & Gunn uses a combination of barrel aging and their proprietary Oakerator. Developed in 2010, the Oakerator was designed to cope with Innis & Gunn’s global demand. “It took two years and considerable investment to get to the stage where we could use it in full-scale production,” says Sharp.
Arguably one of the most innovative developments in brewing in recent years, the Oakerator puts the barrel into the beer and the end taste is identical to a beer matured in cask. “Commercially it means that we don’t need to rely on barrels to age our beers (and there is a real shortage globally), especially given the rate our volumes have increased.”
Most importantly, however, it means they don’t waste a single drop of beer. “Quality consistency is guaranteed unlike barrel ageing where, even in Scotland, the slightest temperature fluctuations in the warehouse can cause beer to go off.” Creatively, it means they can be far more experimental in the beer styles and woods that they use, thus continuing to ignite consumer interest in their brand. He notes the spiced rum finish and spiced rum barrels don’t actually exist. “Using both methods allows us to stay true to our heritage but also to go deeper into the world of wood maturation, which has become our calling card.”
Recently, Innis & Gunn Toasted Oak IPA beer won Silver for the Wood/Barrel Aged Pale Beer category and Innis & Gunn Rum Aged beer won Silver for Wood/Barrel Aged Dark Beer category in the 2014 U.S. Open Beer Championship competition. Sharp knows that winning such prestigious awards will bring new consumers to their brand. “From a drinker’s perspective, awards are a signpost for quality – that they can buy a beer for the first time with confidence.”
Scottish beers are traditionally quite malty as the climate is perfect for growing great malt, but terrible for cultivating hops. “Hops had to be imported and were expensive so Scottish brewers relied on their malt to give their beer great flavor.” At Innis & Gunn, they have their own spring barley malted to exact specifications. “We use more malt per liter to give our beer its distinctive malt backbone.”
Innis & Gunn’s core range includes Original, Rum-Aged and recently released Toasted Oak IPA. Their seasonal editions include Irish Whiskey Cask and the soon to be released Scottish Porter. Also, in the fall, a limited edition Bourbon Stout brewed exclusively for the US market will be released.
Lots of Hops
50 Shades of Green is a light, golden Pale Ale that is stacked with extreme hop character. The fifty different hops are:
Ahtanum, Amarillo, Belma, Boadicea, Bramling Cross, Cascade, Celeia, Centennial, Challenger, Chinook, Cluster, Columbus, East Kent Goldings, Ella,Falconers Flight, Fuggles, Galaxy, Glacier, Hallertau, Hallertauer Mittelfruh, Hersbruker, Hull Melon, Kazbek, Liberty, Magnum, Mosaic, Motueka, Mount Hood, Northern Brewer, Nugget, Pacific Jade, Palisade, Perle, Phoenix, Polaris, Progress, Saaz, Savinjski Goldings, Sorachi Ace, Spalt Select, Summer, Summit, Target, Tettnang, T’N’T, Vic Secret, Wai-iti, Warrior, WGV, Willamette. Hallertau is a fruity, floral hop from Germany, Sorachi Ace from Japan has a subtle flavor similar to lemongrass. They went all the way to New Zealand and Australia in order to add Pacific Jade and Motueka.