He was approached by whisky maker Grant’s to produce a beer that would be used to flavour barrels to give the whisky a different taste.
The used beer didn’t get thrown away and was drunk by the workers, who reported that the oak barrels had completely transformed its flavour.
Grant’s and Sharp embarked on a joint venture in 2003 to produce and sell the beer, and Innis & Gunn was born. While the beer was discovered by accident, the business has grown to become Scotland’s largest independent brewer.
The company has now innovated with different spirits and styles as well as its first lager. “We’ve had great fun along the way,” said Sharp.
“Our industry does need to innovate but it always need to be done with the consumer in mind.”
Sharp said the sector should do more to talk beer up as a low-strength alcoholic drink. “It p****s me off when I see another newspaper article about the benefits of wine that is based on dubious evidence.
The biggest innovation we can deliver is to change the image of beer for ever and get rid of the negative stereotypes of the past.”