Oct. 07, 2009 - Issue #729: The Secretaries
Two Scottish brewers say thank you to Canada
Innis & Gunn, Edinburgh, Scotland
$5.99 for 330 ml bottle
Ten years ago Dougal Gunn Sharp and his brother Neil Innis Sharp didn't think about Canada much at all. The driving forces behind the unusual and original Scottish brewery Innis & Gunn were too busy in the Scottish brewing scene to even consider what Canada might mean for them. What a difference a few years can make. They now love Canada and our beer drinkers.
The two brothers, as most of you have figured out, are the faces behind one of the most audacious attempts at beer marketing in the last few years. In 2001 they accidentally stumbled across the discovery that if you age beer in oak casks for a couple of months, the flavour transforms completely. Their original ale has been sold in Canada only since 2005 but has already become the biggest selling British import brand in the country.
Which is the main reason why the Sharp boys love Canada so much. Canadian beer drinkers have taken to Innis & Gunn at a level unmatched by any other nation. So to honour that reception Innis & Gunn has released a one-time beer exclusively for the Canadian market. They only made 150 barrels (about 24 000 litres) of the stuff, which isn't much in the beer world, and released it in time for Canada Day 2009.
Innis & Gunn beer is normally aged in American Bourbon oak casks. This, of course, would not suffice for a beer honouring Canadians. So they selected Canadian Rye Whiskey casks for this limited edition version.
The beer tumbles into the glass a deep copper, almost red, colour. It is notably darker and richer than their original beer. The aroma is a blend of rich malt sweetness and some woody notes. It also has that distinct Innis & Gunn buttery, butterscotch nose, which also follows through to the mouthfeel. I have always been mixed about that particular characteristic in their beer, not being sure if it is intentional or a flaw.
The flavour is sweet and fruity. I detect banana, apple, caramel and some vanilla. The oaky wood notes hang out only in the background but are present. Across the roof of my mouth I pick up butter and a bit of whiskey. The beer finishes sweet with an oak linger.
I think this is my favourite Innis & Gunn beer. To be honest I have been a bit underwhelmed by their Limited Edition beers to date. But this one offers a fmouthful of flavour and characteristics that deviate from their regular beer. They have upped their game for Canada—for which we should be thankful.
The only thing I should say about this beer is pick it up soon. It won't be around long. To find it check out alberta-liquor-guide.com. V
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