Fiona Duff: Gunning for a great night out

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As one gets older spontaneity often falls by the wayside. There was a time when if a friend 
 phoned me at 4pm and suggested seeing a film that night I would toddle off and meet them.

These days I’d have to think about whether there was some food in the house that the children could make for supper without burning the house down, get in touch with the husband (just to let him know rather than seek his approval – I’m not THAT old) and then have a long think about whether I could really be bothered.

However, on Wednesday night I set off to do one thing and then something slightly unexpected happened. My friend Will was staying and we had arranged to meet friends at the fabulous Quattro Zero restaurant in Queensferry Street.

Not one to sit around, he suggested that we pop out a bit earlier and go for a drink. Walking down the street he saw a man he knew entering a door. We greeted this Kenny, who invited us in to the house which turned out to be the HQ of Innis & Gunn.

Suddenly, rather than nursing a glass of sauvignon blanc in a bar, I was sitting around a board table being told how to stick my nose into a beer with a rum finish and sniff out the flavours.

“Toffee,” someone suggested. “Burnt bananas,” said another. Sounds like a pudding round at mine, I thought. Dougal, who appeared to be hosting the event and indeed may also actually own Innis & Gunn, certainly knew his stuff when it came to beer. People were talking about specialist beers with names that JK Rowling could have made up as what was served to teachers at Hogwarts, and Dougal had not only tasted them but also had an opinion.

The two new “limited edition” beers that we were tasting are not going to be available for over a month, but if you know anyone who likes a drop of extremely good amber nectar you should track down a couple of bottles.

And then we went off for our pizza and life returned to normal.