Innis & Gunn Canadian Cherrywood Finish – The Review

Howdy beer lovers, good to see you again. I’d gotten a couple of these Innis & Gunn beers for Christmas and have been waiting for the right time to open ’em up. Well, one night not too long ago the air had a chill so I wanted something warming. As well as that, though, I wanted something that made me think of a more exciting place than Morecambe, my hometown. The time seemed right for this Innis & Gunn Canadian Cherrywood Finish beer, though I had no idea whether they’d pull off such an ambitious match or not.

Of course, Innis & Gunn is renowned by many a beer drinker as the brewery who brought ambitious beer-making projects to the masses. Their distinctive style and interesting products have led many to trust them as one of the world’s best breweries, and with such a reputation I was keen to try this exotic sounding offering. The brewing methods might not set the world on fire, but the aging (over Canadian Black Cherrywood infused with Bourbon and a touch of Maple Syrup) sure makes this an intriguing prospect.

Vital Statistics

  • 8.3% ABV
  • Comes in 330ml bottle
  • Brewed in Scotland
  • Pairs well with fresh figs and soft goats’ cheese of smoky pulled pork
  • Grains: Optic, Crystal, Aromatic Barley Malt, Roasted Barley & Wheat
  • Hops: Goldings and Super Styrian

Look In the glass it’s a vibrant, chestnutty brown with nice, clear visibility. Not really much head to speak of, but it didn’t bother me too much.

Comes in a lovely presentation box full of tasting notes, the brewing process and artwork by Tatianna O’Donnell. The bottle itself is standard Innis & Gunn, with the three barrel logo and old-style raised lettering. I know it makes me seem like a geek (and what’s wrong with that?) but the way this is presented, mainly with the box, added greatly to my appreciation of the experience of drinking the beer.                                                                      8/10

Aroma Smells quite nutty, in particular I get walnut. It’s somehow reminiscent of Newcastle Brown Ale… But then you get the cherry smell which takes it away from anything you’ve had before. It’s quite a ‘straight’ smell, but disappears easily in the sniff, you have to keep sniffing to keep it in your nostrils. There’s a tanginess too, but nothing too sweet, even though you may expect it with such a name.                         8/10

Taste In the first mouthful, I still get certain references to Newcastle Brown Ale. It’s like that, but surrounded by a light cherriness, much like the aftertaste from Cherry Coke – but then a nice light nuttiness on the finish. The more you sip, the more complex it is. There seems to be a touch of spice, perhaps cinnamon? Also perhaps nutmeg… It’s almost too sweet for my taste, but avoids stepping over that line.

I wouldn’t say it was particularly refreshing, but it’s still surprisingly light even though it’s 8.3%. It is described as “very full bodied” but I’ve had much fuller bodies at that strength. Simply put, it’s hardly a Trappist beer. This may not totally blow me away, but I have to respect how well-balanced it is – its bitterness works well with the maltiness and its aging hasn’t swamped all this. Complex and certainly one to savour.                                   9/10

Value It was a present, but apparently it was £1.49 for a 330ml bottle. That’s not bad for anything that tastes ok. This, however, was 8.3% and tasted much better than ok! Fantastic value for money, can’t help but give it full marks on that.                         10/10

The Session I could certainly have a couple of these before the taste became too much. At the price I could have ten of them before I was over a reasonable budget. At the alcoholic content, I’d start feeling it after six. It’s a tough one to judge on that level…    8/10

It was better than I expected. In short, I worried it might be too sweet, but it wasn’t. The complexity alone will impress many beers fans, but I think people should take to heart it’s Newcy Brownness – give it a go and you’ll be surprised. Certainly at beer festivals I’ve worked at, anything with fruit in the name/taste sells out quicker than you can say “Can I have a pint of…” Plus, if you can get it at this price, it’s simply a no-brainer.

Final score: 86%

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