Dual Review: Innis & Gunn Winter Beer 2010 vs 2011

Dual Review: Innis & Gunn Winter Beer 2010 vs 2011 by Cody La Bière
This is the first time I'm doing a comparison review. For the last few years, Innis & Gunn has sold beer gift sets for the Christmas season. It would generally include 3 beers and a nice beer glass. Since I am a beer hoarder, I have trouble parting with beer (as in actually drinking them). Since Innis & Gunn did a Winter Beer two years in a row, I decided to do a comparison review. On the left, the Winter Beer from 2011, on the right: Winter Beer from 2010. Judging just by appearance, these are likely going to be two different beers. I will start off with the 2010 (right) edition.

2010 EDITION
About the Beer: The 2010 Winter beer is a warming scottish beer with natural hints of ripe fruit, vanilla and caramel. Was aged for 61 days before being released. Every ingredient we have used to brew this beer has been selected for its intensity of flavour. Large amounts of pale ale and crystal malts impart the caramel fruit character, strength and body. The WGV, Styrian and Goldings hops give the sherry like intensity and ripe fruit aroma. And the heavily toasted bourbon-oak mellows the beer and provides a deep, complex, oaky background. It's the perfect antidote to the cold dark nights of winter, a beer to be sipped, savoured and appreciated.

Serve at 4-6C. 8.5% ABV

Appearance: Pours a very rich caramel-coppy red, slightly clear but good luck looking through the beer. Very little carbonation, head is near non existent.. possibly as this beer expired two months ago, or just not a carbonated beer.

Aroma: Seems like the usual Innis & Gunn beer to me, sweet, butterscotch, very oaky.. very much like a very rich whisky. A bit of dark fruit & vanilla scent. A bit of a cinnamon note as well, that I'm slowly realizing. Omlicious.

Taste: Big of a strong butterscotch sweetness that immediately hits the tongue the second it touches you. Rich oak, and a bit of an alcohol taste to it. Bit of dark fruit, vanilla, and caramel. Kind of like a rich Canadian whisky (not Meaghers, of course)! Slight amount of bitterness from the alcohol. Like most Innis & Gunns, this is a very very sweet beer perfect for a sipping beer, by the fire place or as a dessert.


2011 EDITION
About the Beer: Mellow Scottish beer with natural notes of orange zest, vanilla and oak. Was aged for 48 days before release. Every ingredient we have used to brew this beer has been selected for its intensity of flavour. Amber and Cara malt have been added to give a rich, almost chewy, malt backbone, and body and we have used a classic blend of aroma hops, Fuggles, Goldings and Styrian Goldings to add their signature vibrant characters. Its the perfect antidote to the cold dark nights of winter, a beer to be sipped, savoured and appreciated. Serve at 4-6C. 7.4% ABV

Appearance: A rich/dark caramel reddish-brown with a slight red hue. Very carbonated, there's a lot of foam and fizzing going on. Foam sets and it's a light beige yellow, slowly going down.

Aroma: A very strong oaky smell, reminiscent of a rich scotch. Obviously there's some butterscotch in the aroma, and a hint of vanilla and jussst a hint of orange. Bit citrusy because of it.

Taste: Bit of a creamy mouthfeel for an Innis & Gunn beer, I notice a bit of a citrus (orange) zing, mixed with the vanilla and oak. For an Innis & Gunn, not as overpowering in ZING as usual. The caramel hits the back of my tongue quite quickly. To me, this is a bit of a fruitier flavoured beer than most. Not much oak, but once in a sip or two it lingers on your tongue.


DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO: They are very much two different beers. The 2010 edition has a slightly lighter hue than the 2011 edition. The ABV of the 2010 is 8.5% vs 7.4% of 2011. Overall, I think that the 2010 is a more.. delicate of a beer than the 2011 as the 2011 edition tastes more of a domesticated version of the beer. 2010 is oakier in flavour, very strong.. but 2011 is a nice subtler tasting beer.. better for those who want to try something new, but are too scared about overpowering flavours (especially oak). The aroma of the 2011 is actually much more noticeable than 2010, very oaky while the 2010 is more subtle.. which is weird because as said above.. the flavour of 2010 is more noticeable than 2011. I don't know which one I prefer more. I love the butterscotch & oak medley of 2010 but the 2011 has a nice fruitiness that would make me buy the beer again. What's the better beer? Tie, to be honest. They taste like completely different beers but are both delicious in their own ways. Aroma of 2010 beats 2011, but subtle taste of 2011 may be more enjoyable by myself. Either way.. it was a great taste testing and I hope to do another real soon!

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