Calling it a “special thanks to their loyal Canadian following,” Scottish brewers Innis & Gunn have recently released their fifth-annual, limited-edition brew: a scotch ale that has been aged over Canadian black cherrywood with maple syrup added.
Frankly, along with bacon infusion, I can’t think of a flavour that’s been more overdone as of late than maple syrup, so this definitely isn’t a beer I would have picked up at the LCBO if I just happened to stumble upon it; however, the folks at Innis & Gunn were nice enough to send me a bottle to sample–and I’m happy they did.
This is a pretty interesting beer.
Firstly, there’s the obvious Canadian gimmick factor. Indeed, the Can-Con continues past the cherrywood finish and maple syrup with a limited edition carton that features art by British Columbia artist Tatianna O’Donnell, who won a national competition to have her original oil painting, ‘Forest Spectrum’, featured on the packaging.
So it’s got that going for it, which is nice.
But how’s the beer?
From the bottle, it pours a very distinct amber, bordering on red. It has a thin, almost non-existent head but the smells coming off it are really appealing. There’s big malt and brown sugar-smells that are almost like pecans.
The taste is even bigger than I was expecting. It’s sweet, obviously, but it’s a sort of full bodied sweetness that’s like toffee, then there’s a big, welcoming booziness that for me sets this beer apart from other beers that try to do similar things. The label for this beer says malty backbone, but this is more like a candied malt exoskeleton. There’s caramelized malt all day in the flavor then just a touch of bitterness in the finish. While I assume a lot of the booziness here is imparted in the bourbon barrel-aging process, that actual bourbon flavour that the beer advertises as being infused isn’t really present at all, and though there is definite sweetness, the maple syrup isn’t all that obvious either.
So while I wouldn’t normally go crazy for a beer that advertises bourbon flavour and maple syrup, this beer really works for me–but mainly because I taste neither bourbon or maple syrup.
Anyway, it’s a good’un.
A search of the LCBO product finder doesn’t show Innis & Gunn Cherrywood on their inventory yet but I’m pretty sure you can pick one up yourself at the LCBO soon (I seem to have thrown the accompanying fact sheet in the garbage. Oops.)
The far more studious Greg Clow of Canadian Beer News notes that “Canadian Cherrywood will be available soon in BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, NB and NS, with price starting at $4.95 per 330ml bottle,” so have an eye out for a limited edition carton/bottle in your area and let me know if you taste the bourbon and maple syrup.