Tag Archives: Spice

Innis & Gunn Canada Day (2012)

Back again is the Innis & Gunn Canada Day, a special oak aged seasonal. Several differences have been made since the 2011 edition. Still using ex-bourbon barrels, the 2012 is aged for 49 days rather than 54, utilizes Goldings hops rather than Fuggles, and boasts a 7.7% rather than 8.3. Of course, these elements may seem like minor differences, but based on the marked change in overall taste, they are certainly not worth overlooking.

We did a vertical, concomitant tasting of both editions — 2011 and 2012 — and this review will hold some notes about the 2011 edition as well. Tristan and I came to a consensus that the Innis & Gunn 2011 got better with age, and both of us scored it higher this time around. After noticing a pleasant dichotomy between the two beers, sipping one after the other, we decided to mix some of it together. The result was great, and certainly worth trying if you happen to have a bottle of each.

– Kamran

*****

First off, I was highly disappointed with the 2012 release. While the Canada Day is up there with my favourite beers, the 2012 is not nearly as enjoyable. The malt overtones denounce the flavours of the original; it barely even tastes like an Innis & Gunn beer.

On the nose, the malt overpowers and subdues any trace amounts of oak-infused toffee, caramel, vanilla, or butterscotch — all of which are present in the 2011. The body is silky rather than creamy like the other Innis & Gunn beers, and, instead of the sweet, savoury notes on the palate, are notes of tropical fruit, citrus, a bit of hops, and a lot of malt. Initially, the beer is quite spicy, with notes of peppers, cumin, and nutmeg. This weirdly dissipates rather quickly — Tristan, tasting it a mere few minutes later, missed out on it completely. There is a lingering malt sweetness, but a relatively crisp finish, where the Goldings hops finally come through.

This quickly became my least favourite Innis & Gunn beer, and, though I will probably buy a couple more — one to drink and one to age — I’d rather spend my money on the original. Both Tristan and I found the 2011 edition to have gotten better with age. After a year, the character changed quite drastically. It’s no longer citrusy or hoppy, and lends more of a Belgian flavour. I believe that, after a year, the beer may have gone through a spontaneous re-fermentation. There is coagulated yeast floating in the bottle and it is somewhat heavier than it was before. Both of us enjoyed it. I gave it a rating of 90 pts, 3 marks higher than previously.

Nose: 18
Body: 19.5
Taste: 19
Finish: 20

Kamran: 76.5 pts.

*****

The 2011 Canada Day release wasn’t earth shaking in my books, so I was feeling rather reserved going into this tasting. Frankly I am surprised by this release and how underwhelming it was. Yes, it was bound to happen… …Innis & Gunn released a beer that neither Kamran or I fell in love with. It was a strange mix of sweet and a lack of complexity that I picked up on. While the recipe was very different, I felt that this was a step backwards. The nose was malt heavy and a little overpowering. The hops were very faint under it all with the oak and toffee. The body was velvety, medium thickness, slightly bitter. The taste had hints of spice that Kamran more successfully tasted and identified. It lacked a wow factor, with no oak taste. The finish was malty sweet, some light fruit and vanilla with the hops only on the very end of the finish.

Contrast that with the aged 2011 Canada Day and there is a big difference. The aging process to the 2011 release was very kind in its final result, becoming a more balanced and even keeled beer.  the nose was tamed and fairly mono, the body felt thicker and less bitter. The taste was mild, fruity, floral and genuinely quite pleasant. Finally the finish was flat due too a lack of carbonation, but a solid minute of flavour after swallowing. The final mark increased by 1.5 pts to a total of 82 pts. when aged.

Overall, if you purchased or plan to purchase what’s left of the 2012 stock, consider aging it for a year and it should improve. But honestly this is one I would pass up.

Nose: 20.5
Body: 19.5
Taste: 19.5
Finish: 18.5

Tristan: 78 pts.

*****

Final Average: 77.25 pts.

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Innis & Gunn Spiced Rum Finish

With the success of the Rum Cask and refined Rum Finish, Innis & Gunn had produced a limited release of this Spiced Rum Finish, with Caribbean rum meeting Scottish ale for likely the first time ever in a beer. What results is a complex mixing of spice and sweet in the palate that either entices the drinker or confuses them as to the nature of the beer. Aged 47 days and at 6.9% this beer was a talking point at our tasting so I hope those who’ve had it before jump in to give their opinions too!

-Tristan

*****

At the time, this was my least favourite Innis & Gunn beer.  I did enjoy it, but it came as a bit of a shock how little I liked it in comparison to the others.

While somewhat heavily spiced, the flavours are rather subtle. The beer is not nearly as vibrant, fresh, or punctual as I’d like it to be. There is some nutmeg and caramel, but other than that, the spices are barely noticeable. On top of this, the oak-infused flavours, such as toffee, vanilla, and butterscotch, are all but lost, depleted by the muddled spices. This is what puts me off the most. Furthermore, the lingering spice and malt is not a taste I enjoy sitting on my palate for too long. That said, it’s still Innis & Gunn; it’s still rather smooth and crisp; it’s still better than most beers out there.

Nose: 19.5
Body: 20.5
Taste: 19
Finish: 18

Kamran: 78 pts.

*****

This beer was my favourite from the Winter pack for 2011. This fact even surprises me to be honest, as I kind of stood alone from the other three at the tasting. Perhaps this beer has a “love it or hate it”  quality about it, but personally I found it fresh and an intriguing mix of ingredients that Innis & Gunn brought to the table.

The nose was light/mellow spice with  vanilla, toffee, and a fruity tone that remained underlying throughout. The body was bitter from citrus hops and a medium level of thickness. Texture was a big part of enjoying this beer for me. The taste was complex compared to other beers from this brewery with biscuit like malt, spices, oak, and rum. The finish was spices and oak, which was smooth and drinkable.

I found thisto be very nice since it was drinkable, reasonably complex on the palate without working too hard to determine what was what. Overall a relaxing beer to drink and worth it if you’ve had the Rum Finish.

Nose: 23
Body: 24.5
Taste: 24
Finish: 24.5

Tristan: 96 pts.

*****

Final Average: 87 pts.

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Innis & Gunn Rum Finish

The Rum Finish by Innis & Gunn is more than a re-branding of the Rum Cask, it is a change in the recipe and that’s why we are writing two separate reviews after performing a vertical taste test between the two. Be sure to read up on the Rum Cask article for our comparisons.

-Tristan

*****

Innis & Gunn’s replacement to the rum cask, I find, is slightly more enjoyable than its predecessor. I believe it retains more of the original flavours, which might come as a problem to those rum drinking lovers of the cask. Slightly darker and slightly maltier, the spices, though still there, are quite subtle, allowing the flavours of toffee and vanilla, infused from the oak, to come out more. With the malt comes a slight heaviness when compared to the rum cask, but it remains creamy; the full body is quite a delight. On the finish, the spices, particularly caramel, leaves the palate in wanting. It is consistent, fresh, and rather delectable.

Nose: 21.5
Body: 20
Taste: 20.5
Finish: 21

Kamran: 83 pts.

*****

As Kamran noted, this beer is a darker and more balanced/refined beer than the Rum Cask. Still aged for 57 days and maintaining a strength of 7.4%, this beer seems to better incorporate the different ingredients to make them more cohesive and play on one another in the palate.

The aroma is richer with a stronger smell of vanilla, rum, oak and spice. The body is less watery and more like a medium bodied porter – yet certainly not heavy! The taste is more sweet (possibly syrupy sweet is the way to define it best), a more pronounced rum taste than the Rum Cask is evident and very much appreciated. The finish sees the vanilla linger with the toffee, as per usual with Innis & Gunn I find, with very little rum as was delivered in the taste. Similar to the cask version, only this seems to last slightly longer before fading away.

While I do like this beer and find it improve over the Rum Cask, the lack of rum in the finish has been a detractor for both beers as the vanilla and toffee are very dominant. That said, this beer is great and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a unique beer that isn’t hoppy or bitter.

Nose: 24
Body: 21
Taste: 22
Finish: 19

Tristan: 86 pts.

*****
Final Average: 84.5 pts.

Side by side comparison.

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Innis & Gunn Rum Cask

Oh the Innis & Gunn Rum Cask, a darker amber/brown nectar aged for 57 days in the cask. While it draws on the same techniques for brewing and flavours of the original, this beer is less sweet as the original yet still packs in a vanilla and toffee treat with the malt, and keeps a similar consistency in body. While I’m not sure where the idea came from to use rum instead of whisky, the results are very enjoyable.

-Tristan

*****

While the rum cask, now rum finish, is a regular Innis & Gunn product, that is available all year long, I don’t drink it nearly as much as the original. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great beer, just not what I’m looking for when it comes to Innis & Gunn.

Aged in previously used rum casks, the beer is infused with Caribbean spices. Though a great fan of rum — likely my second favourite spirit — I’m not a huge fan of spicy beers, or wines for that matter. I like when a beer is spiced lightly with caramel, nutmeg, hops, etc. but if the spiciness is highly noticeable I take offense. That said, Innis & Gunn’s rum cask is not offensive, but it is certainly spiced to a level of slight distaste. I feel like it takes away from the effervescent oak-instilled flavours that I tend to love of Innis & Gunn.

Nose: 20.5
Body: 21
Taste: 19.5
Finish: 20

Kamran: 81 pts.

*****

The rum cask, while not my favourite of the series is quite a memorable beer. Like most all Innis & Gunns, it is typically very sweet as opposed to bitter. Aged 57 days and at 7.4% it also is stronger than your average beer.

On the nose I detected primarily a spiced scent, combined with a vanilla and mild toffee sweetness, as well as some evidence of a very faint rum and oak. The body is very smooth and velvety, while the taste is very little of the spiced nose elements but more a malty sweetness with the rum. The finish is a slow fade of sweetness that to me resembled a rum and coke fade.

While not the top in the collection, this beer certainly was a welcome addition to my fridge and while the Rum Cask has now been changed to a Rum Finish, I would highly recommend it to people who like beers on the malty side of the spectrum.

Nose: 23
Body: 22
Taste: 22
Finish: 19

Tristan: 85 pts.

*****

Final Average: 83 pts.

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Kross Golden Ale

Kross Brewing Company hails from Chile, and doesn’t even have an official website I can link you to. I guess the article will have to do. This golden ale came at a great price: 4 bottles for $8, and it’s well worth that cost. The end of a batch at Edgemont Fine Wines, Spirits, and Ales, I have yet to see the golden ale, or any other Kross beer for that matter, in any liquor store or bar since. I guess it was a bit of a one-off, but its unique taste and complexity makes it worthwhile, indeed.

– Kamran

*****

This is a fairly spicy beer. The nose shares notes of pepper, cumin, and a touch of nutmeg. There is a bit of malt, and a bit more hops that dance delicately on the palate, while bits and pieces of various spices may be perceived. The body is rich, smooth, and easy drinking, but has some “oomph”. It’s not a chugging beer, but not quite a sipper either — it’s highly well balanced in this regard. There is a subtle hop characteristic on the palate which relieves itself in a highly crisp finish. A true Chilean session beer!

Nose: 19
Body: 21.5
Taste: 20.5
Finish: 20.5

Kamran: 81.5 pts.

*****

Unlike Kamran I did not pick up the spiced notes of this beer to the extent I could name them, but still there was some zip in this Chilean sensation. Kross Golden Ale proved to be one of those beers that has potential to grow on a person, and I’m sure my marks would reflect that if I’d have had it over an expended period of time such as the summer months, but on a single tasting the score may seem to be a bit low in relation to what it could have gotten with more familiarity.

It was light and fruity/citric on the nose and the opaqueness of it seemed to remind me of a blond or wheat beer. While there was a sharpness in nose and body, the fruit and citrus presented themselves in the taste quite prominently on my palate. That may be where I lost the sense of spice Kamran referred too, since I focused on the fruity flavours of the brew. The aftertaste was a lingering sweetness that balanced out and faded away.

As I previously mentioned, it was a single tasting, but I feel this beer could have grown on me had it had more of a chance to sink in. While not an immediate favourite, I believe my scoring is honest to this brief encounter and I am open to reviewing it again should the opportunity present itself.

Nose: 18
Body: 18
Taste: 18
Finish: 18

Tristan: 72 pts.

*****

Final Average: 76.75 pts.

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