Tasting the Innis & Gunn Winter Beer, 2010

October 4, 2010

Its coming, and its just around the corner… This winter as the Christmas beers begin to flood the LCBO again; we will be getting back the Innis & Gunn Connoisseur’s pack, and in this years pack is the strongest Innis & Gunn ever made – the Winter Beer. My good friends at Innis have been chatting about this beer for a long time now. In the summer I had heard that Dougal (the founder and BrewMaster) was working on a spiced beer, one that he was more excited about than any other beer he has made. This definitely got me excited – I already love the sweet, creamy and caramel oaky flavors of the Innis Original – the idea of a spicier and stronger version for the winter sounded perfect!

We should expect the Connoisseur’s Pack to be made available late October to November for the Christmas Release; probably the best overall beer release at the LCBO. I was fortunate enough to get the Connoisseur’s pack ahead of time thanks to my good friends at Innis & Gunn, and I have been saving the Winter Beer since – until now. The time finally came. I had enjoyed the Original and the Rum Cask that came in the pack, but have been waiting for the right moment to test the Winter Beer on my palate. It was a calm Sunday afternoon, football filled my living room, but my Innis & Gunn glass was empty. Time to fill it! Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the Innis & Gunn 2010 Highland Cask

August 26, 2010

They are coming very soon to an LCBO near you – finally Canada is going to experience the Innis & Gunn Highland Cask. This 2010 Highland Cask is the 2nd that Innis & Gunn has brewed. In 2009 they made one for Sweden that I was lucky enough to try; that was aged in 18 year old Highland Whisky barrels. This, the 2010 edition brewed for the Canadian Market has been aged in 21 year old barrels from the Speyside region of Scotland. Innis would not say which distillery it was, and there are many. But to give you an idea, they include Aberlour, Belvenie, Cardhu, Glenfarclas, Glenrothes, Linkwood, Macallan, Strathisla, and more.

This Innis, like all special editions, comes in a signature box, this one an earthy green branded with “Highland Cask” on the front. It was aged in “extremely rare oak barrels” for 49 days. Innis & Gunn went to brewing a special beer for these special barrels, and watched it carefully as it matured in the oak until they felt it had reached its prime. This Highland Cask is brewed with pale and amber malts to create a smooth, creamy and biscuit like beer to best complement the light honey and floral notes of the oak. It finished at 7.1% abv. Read the rest of this entry »

Real Beer, with Stephen Rich: THE SHOW!

August 20, 2010

My love and passion for real beer… In video form.! Read the rest of this entry »

Looking Forward to What Innis & Gunn has in Store for Us

August 20, 2010

Since 2006 Innis & Gunn has brought us special edition beers every holiday season. And now it seems like Canada’s enthusiasm for this Scottish Oak Aged Beer is paying off! Now we get both a special edition beer that comes in individually sealed boxes, as well a a connoisseurs pack with three beers and an Innis & Gunn stemmed beer glass.

This year in the connoisseurs pack you will get the Original, the Rum Cask is back, and the new Winter Beer – which is 8.5%, and tremendously exciting! Innis & Gunn insiders have said to me that they have never seen Dougal (the founder) more excited about a beer. I am madly excited to try this special winter beer. I will post new reviews of each of these beers in the coming weeks, as well as full descriptions of them. Read the rest of this entry »

Comparing the 2009 to the 2010 Innis & Gunn Canadian Cask

July 1, 2010

How much of a difference can 1 year really make? Well, I just tested that, and it can make a big difference. But with the Innis & Gunn Canadian Casks the differences are more than just age; they are also organic. You see, Innis & Gunn changed the recipe for the 2010 version slightly; they brewed it with malted crystal rye rather than fresh rye, and more of it, to give it a deeper and richer flavor, it was aged in older, more refined Oak Rye Barrels, and it was matured for 54 days rather than 71 leaving it with a better oak characteristic as far as Innis & Gunn was concerned.

So now we have two rye beers created specifically for Canadians to Celebrate Canada Day; one is fresh, and the other is now 1 year old. This is my kind of beer tasting! Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the 2009 Innis & Gunn Canadian Cask

July 1, 2010

Why am I writing about last year’s Canadian Cask? Well, I was able to get a bottle of the 2010 ahead of time, and just couldn’t wait the 6 weeks to enjoy it. So I’ve already talked about the 2010 version. Besides, it was availbale at the LCBO 3 or 4 weeks ago anyways – so we’ve had had the chance. Plus, I specifically held on to one bottle of the 2009 last year so that I could embrace Canada Day with two version of its own beer and reflect on the year past, and dream for the year to come!

2009 was the very first year for Innis & Gunn’s Special Edition Canadian Cask. It came in a 300ml bottle housed in a red box bearing Canada Day 2009 on the front. Only 150 barrels of this beer were produced, and they were of course only sent to Canada. Innis & Gunn brewed the beer with rye grains, and aged it in Canadian Whiskey Barrels, then matured it for a total of 71 days; brining it to 7.1% abv. What was produced was music to my palate then, but is now a magical symphony. Read the rest of this entry »

Quick Tastes of the 2010 Innis & Gunn Canadian Cask

June 30, 2010

This is the second year that Innis & Gunn has graced us with a special beer designed just for Canadians in order to celebrate Canada Day. The Canadian Cask is brewed with malted rye and is aged in Canadian Club Rye Whiskey Barrels, as opposed to the Original Innis & Gunn which is aged in Bourbon barrels.

Rye beers are an interesting creature. They are not terribly different from a regular beer brewed with malted barley, and most rye beers are brewed still with a portion of malted barley. But rye produces 2 new characteristics in beer – it creates a smoother and more creamy body and mouthfeel, and it adds a distinct sweetness that can only be found in rye beers. It is different from the wide variety of flavors you get from malted barley – it tends to be more of the toffee candy side of things, and can also show a deep mellow sweetness that it blatantly obvious, but somehow subtle and relaxing on your palate.   Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the Innis & Gunn Triple Matured

June 29, 2010

Every year close to Christmas Innis & Gunn gives us a new limited edition bottling of their Oak Aged Beer. In 2008 we got the Rum Cask, an Innis aged in rum barrels rather than bourbon, and in 2009 we got the Triple Matured. This beer is still aged in White Oak Bourbon barrels, but rather than being aged for a total of 77 days (30 in oak, and the remainder in a marrying tun), the Triple Matured has been aged for 99 days.

When you look at the beer, it is immediately obvious of the color difference between the Original and the Triple Matured. This is a much darker, and richer colored beer showing rich dark browns and caramel like mahogany in the bottle. Its is up to 7.2% abv from the Original’s 6.6%. But the added weight in malt is not what primarily contributed this color; it is the oak. Through a longer maturation process the oak continues to penetrate the beer with its deep, rich flavors and thus imparts a new level of complexity and maturity.

The Triple Matured was from a limited batch of 150 barrels, and was released in November 2009 – this bottle I opened has be resting in my cellar since then, so this tasting is approximately 8 months old.   Read the rest of this entry »

The Innis & Gunn Highland Cask and Dieu du Ciel Charbonniere with a Perdomo and CAO

June 23, 2010

Its hard to beat a nice rich beer and aromatic cigar for me. A few weeks ago I was visiting my brother in Ottawa, and on a warm summer evening we sat down on the patio and enjoyed two very unique beers and two very delicious cigars. I paired the Innis & Gunn Highland Cask with a Perdomo Reserve 10 Year Anniversary Maduro Churchill, and my brother enjoyed the Dieu du Ciel Charbonniere with a CAO La Traviata Radiante. Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the Innis & Gunn Highland Cask 2009

June 15, 2010

I feel very privileged having been able to enjoy a few bottles of this very special Innis & Gunn. The geniuses at Innis & Gunn are becoming known for brewing specialty beers for some of their most loyal customers – only last week I wrote about the Canadian Cask Innis & Gunn which was specifically designed for Canadians to celebrate Canada day. Now though, I feel privileged because I had the opportunity to enjoy the 2009 Innis & Gunn Highland Cask, a beer specially brewed for Sweeden that was aged in 18 year old scotch barrels. Thank you very much to my friends at Innis & Gunn for making this happen!

Like all Innis & Gunn beers, this one has been aged in oak barrels – but this time, in barrels that previously aged Single Malt 18 year old scotch. Single Malt Scotch Whiskey is a highly sought after prize among spirits aficionados (as well as myself), and it is yet another foam of oak which Innis can now add to their repertoire. This adds more very unique and exciting flavors and layers of complexity to the Innis & Gunn, and put this Highland cask up in the best I have ever enjoyed. Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the Innis & Gunn Canadian Cask, 2010

June 9, 2010

Canada is definitely one of the best places to be for great beer – and to prove it, I will introduce you to my good friend; the Innis & Gunn Canadian Cask Oak Aged Beer. I hope you know the Original Innis & Gunn by now; if not that do yourself a favor and go get acquainted. This Innis & Gunn Original is aged in Bourbon Barrels from Kentucky and blended for a total of 77 days. Innis however is known for playing with the formula and creating unique and innovative versions of this great beer.

The IPA and Rum Cask are 2 of my favorites, and deservingly so. They each share that Original Innis & Gunn rich character, but also possess their own unique qualities easily distinguished by the style. Now enter the second edition Canadian Cask; a beer designed specifically for Canada Day, and as such, has been brewed with loads of malted rye and is aged in fine Canadian Rye Whisky barrels. Enticed yet? Read the rest of this entry »

The 2010 Innis & Gunn Canadian Cask is Arriving!

June 8, 2010

Attention attention!!! Last year marked the first year for Innis & Gunn’s special Canadian Cask release. This is a beer specifically brewed with rye malts and aged in rye barrels rather than bourbon barrels to celebrate Canada Day. This could be because Canada is the second largest importer of Innis & Gunn in the world!

Last year Innis graced us with a unique and sweetly smooth Innis & Gunn with a touch of maple on the back. This new Canadian Cask has been brewed with more malted rye and is aged in better barrels for 54 days rather than 71 diving it a rich and deep caramel and toffee rye flavor with greater freshness and ripe aroma. I was lucky enough to get a bottle of this from my good friends at Innis & Gunn before it hit the shelves, so I can tell you with confidence that you need to go get some! My review will be coming shortly.

The LCBO is now distributing it across Ontario, so they are out there – but I would grab some fast; I don’t expect them to last very long!

Innis & Gunn Prepares to Enter the U.S.

June 6, 2010

Since 2005 Canadian’s have been treated to the delicious flavor and unique character that is the Innis & Gunn. Canada has become such a prominent buyer of the Oak Aged beer that Innis even began making a limited Edition version for Canada Day known as the Canadian Cask. Every time I introduce someone to real beer, the Innis & Gunn Original usually comes in as my first or second recommendation.

But when I venture to the U.S. I am always shocked that extremely few people have tried, or have even heard of the Innis. Until now, Innis & Gunn has been largely vacant from the U.S. Craft Beer scene.

After much work and dedicated effort though, Innis & Gunn has established a subsidiary company in New York to import their product from the UK.   Read the rest of this entry »

Innis & Gunn is, ummm.. Amazing!? Didn’t We Already Know That?

May 21, 2010

If you are fully immersed in the world of delicious beer then you already know how impeccable the Innis & Gunn truly is. If you are new to this world of real beer, or maybe don’t yet know what it is all about, go find an Innis & Gunn and you will soon be among the privileged ones.

I’ve boasted about the IPA, the Rum Cask and the Original Innis & Gunns already. But now you don’t have to take my word for it; just observe the list of recent awards that the Innis & Gunn has been raking up.

Pre-eminently, on April the 21st, Innis and Gunn was just awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2010, making it the first Scottish beer company in 22 years to be handed this prestigious honor. Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the 2009 Innis & Gunn IPA

May 4, 2010

One day in 2004 Innis & Gunn changed my life when I stepped into a bar and order a Scottish pale ale aged in whisky barrels. Then in 2006 Innis & Gunn teased me with a limited edition India Pale Ale which at the time may have been the best beer I had ever had. I say teased because it was only available for a short period of time, then, gone forever. Or so it seemed. Three years later during the Christmas of 2009 Innis & Gunn brought to the LCBO a gift pack with three beers and a glass. The pack contained the Original, Rum Cask, and yes, the IPA.

With the opportunity to score some Innis IPAs again I grabbed six gift packs and cherished the IPAs that were now back in my possession. I still have a few friends who hold the IPA as the best Innis & Gunn, and some who claim it to be the best beer that they have ever had. I still debate the the Triple Matured is my favorite Innis & Gunn, and also the Rum cask after being left to age for a few months has a beautiful bouquet of flavors.

In either case, I love the IPA, and this weekend I polished of the very last one in my collection; a proud but also sad moment. Read the rest of this entry »