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Brew patriot love

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Just a quick post - the good news is that most Liquor Marts in Manitoba are open (cityplace and Steinbach being the exceptions), all keeping store hours of noon until 6 p.m. (except Dauphin, which is open from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. - Countryfest, dont'cha know). Most private wine stores, beer vendors and licensed establishments will be open, although I'd recommend calling ahead just to be sure - they may be on holiday hours.

Speaking of beer, I just checked out the most recent Innis & Gunn Limited Edition Canadian Cask Ale. This is the second year the Scottish brewers have released a beer aged in Canadian whisky barrels just before Canada Day. It's made in limited quantities (only 200 barrels' worth) and, like most Innis & Gunn limited-run beers, will likely sell out in no time. At $4.95 per 330ml bottle it ain't cheap, but it is absolutely delicious.

It just so happened that I also had a bottle of the 2009 edition of this beer kicking around, so I thought I'd put them through a little taste-off...

This year's bottling is deep copper in colour, and notably darker in colour than the 2009 version (despite being aged for 17 fewer days in casks than its predecessor - 54 versus 71). The whisky aromas are much more pronounced on the older beer - perhaps as a result of, well, being older. The 2010 bottling has lovely caramel and toffee aromas while the 2009 smells more of the whisky barrels as well as light orange peels and spice.

The 2009 version of this beer is quite creamy and rich on the palate, with slightly sweet malt, caramel and citrus flavours that complement the gorgeous texture, with a slight peppery note on the finish to boot. The 2010 delivers far more caramel and roasted/toasty malt flavours on the palate, yet retains some of that same slightly sweet toffee/caramel component. Both show distinct whisky-like flavours as well thanks to the Canadian casks in which they have been aged. The effervescence is fresher in the newer vintage, meaning less creaminess and more crispness in the 2010 bottling.

Both are 7.1 per cent alcohol (relatively high for a beer) but the alcohol is only really noticeable in the newer brew. They're both stellar - if the 2010 matures and gains complexity in the same way the 2009 did, it's definitely worth picking up numerous bottles and drinking them over the course of the next year. Very highly recommended.

Happy Canada Day - I'll be back with actual Canadian beer reviews in this space after our country's 143rd birthday. In the meantime, don't forget you can follow me on Twitter...

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About Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

When he wasn't bashing on a drum kit in local punk rock bands, Ben spent the mid '90s hucking cases of wine around to pay for two English degrees. Now he's the Winnipeg Free Press wine columnist and blogger.

The extent of Ben's wine experience in the mid-90s was memories of accidentally leaving a bottle of White Zinfandel in the freezer overnight, and the ensuing mess he was left with. Between 1996 and 2005 Ben absorbed all he could about wine while working at wine shops to pay for school. Meanwhile, he was churning out papers for his BA and MA in English (from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, respectively).

Ben became the Winnipeg Free Press' weekly wine columnist in 2005, and two years later joined Wine Access magazine as a contributor, a member of their national tasting panel and a judge at the Canadian Wine Awards and International Value Wine Awards until the magazine closed up shop in 2013.

In 2013 Ben joined the Winnipeg Free Press as a copy/web editor.

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