A virtual reality beer experience launched by Scottish brewer Innis and Gunn will spread to other bars throughout London giving punters the chance to visit the origins of their drink, without leaving the pub.
The craft brewery unveiled the concept to the London public for the first time last week, where ordering an Innis & Gunn’s Original or Lager was accompanied by a virtual reality journey through the Scottish heartland.
Initially only available in two bars – the Brewhouse and Kitchen in Islington and Highbury – the first Londoners to try the immersive experience praised the concept.
Innis and Gunn collaborated with neurologist Dr Jacob Jolij, assistant professor at the University of Groningen, to create the experience, exploring how virtual reality might enhance the flavours of the beer.
Mr Maughan said: “It will be personal. People will associate their own memories to what they see and get a different reaction from the images and the sound.”
With the help of Dr Jolij, Innis and Gunn built two distinct multisensory VR stories for the different beers.
In the Original beer experience, images of woodland and lapping waves are intended to enhance ‘oak-aged’ flavours while the wide water landscapes of the Lager experience focus the brain on the refreshment qualities of the beer, according to to Dr Jolij.
Dougal Gunn Sharp, Master Brewer and Founder at Innis & Gunn was positive about prospects of the product and sees VR as the next big innovation for the brewing industry.
He said: “By accessing the wilderness of Scotland we’re playing with the way people consume our beers, when we are no longer confined to the physical space we occupy, the possibilities for innovation are endless.”
Charity fund-raiser Jack Davies Knapp said: “The randomness of it is quite fun, I really enjoyed that.
“It’s a nice way to experience beer in a very different environment whilst we’re drinking in the middle of London.”
Despite enjoying the novelty, he and other customers questioned the compatibility of the experience with a bar environment.
Mr Davies Knapp said: “I think potentially it would work more at home than it would in a bar.
“Drinking at home, I would like to be transported somewhere else.”
Other bar-goers echoed these sentiments, copywriter Hayley Redman said: “As a cool gimmicky thing it’s good, I wouldn’t do that every time I wanted to drink a beer though.
“But you never know, there could be a little corner where you go and put on a VR headset and be transported to Croatia where it’s brewed – actually, that would be great!”
Aaron Maughan, a spokesperson for Innis and Gunn, said that the plan is to make VR beer a more common sight in London.
“The intention was never for it to be a gimmick – the intention was to try something new, see what we could do with technology to enhance the flavour profile of the beer,” he said.
“Hopefully we can get it into as many bars as possible.”
Development of the idea was an ‘ongoing conversation’ and the company hopes that the new product will build a place in the market.