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SHINNICKED STOUT, MUSKOKA BREWERY

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As beer tastes become increasingly refined, and ingredients are better understood and described by brewers, discerning drinkers can have a blast dissecting the minutiae of whatever they’re tasting, and comparing tasting notes with buddies.

That’s not to take anything away from the occasional chug or guzzle.

But what a world of incredibly complex, entertaining recipes we’ve had laid in front of us by craft brewers.

In that light, one of my new favourites, being released in December, is a stout from Muskoka Brewery called Shinnicked. I’m partial to the quality Muskoka Brewery is renowned for. Shinnicked follows the long line of my other favourites, especially Muskoka’s Cream Ale and Detour.

Shinnicked (5.2%) takes its name from what the company says is the shivery, numbing feeling you get when you jump into the freezing lake in the winter or gasp for breath when -20C temperatures fill your lungs.

Those conditions are more likely to be found near the company’s HQ in Bracebridge, than they are in Guelph. But you get the idea – it’s a cold-weather beer, meant to warm you up when it’s freezing outside.

Some people may find Shinnicked a bit thin, for a stout. And I’d certainly describe it as more subtle than heavy. No spoon will stand up in this beer; neither will Shinnicked stand up to heavier stouts if that’s what the occasion calls for, or if you’re the kind of beer drinker who wants a more traditional stout.

Rather, it’s what I’d call a stout nouveau, a stout that has a fresh personality and leans to the lighter side. It’s great way to introduce fledgling or formerly reluctant stout drinkers to the variety…especially if they’re coffee fans.

Muskoka teamed up with a local coffee company there, Muskoka Roastery, for the coffee quotient in Shinnicked. I thought its presence was pleasing and inviting. It complements the brew’s chocolate tones, and while it doesn’t overwhelm them, it’s clear that coffee is the boss in this relationship.

I’m a softy for a craft brewery using imaginative ingredients from local suppliers. That said, the brew still has to taste good. And Shinnicked satisfies on both counts.

What the brewery says:

“Shinnicked Stout is a rich, velvety beer brewed in collaboration with local coffee company Muskoka Roastery using their signature Lumberjack coffee. Shinnicked is infused with flavours of dark chocolate and hints of coffee, toffee and dried fruit.”