What I Drank Last Weekend: Cannery Brewing Squire Scotch Ale and Blackberry Porter

For all the complaints that people make about Ontario’s weird liquor laws, one of my big problems actually affects most of Canada – it is really hard to get craft beer to cross provincial lines. Every province is different, but most are still regulated in some way that doesn’t allow for a complete free-for-all unlike a lot of American states. It is an issue that goes beyond any one province, but luckily the LCBO has been doing a better job of bringing in wonderful craft beers from across Canada (ie. Garrison, Dieu du Ciel!, Charlevoix and more). Cannery Brewing from Penticton, British Columbia made their first appearance in the Autumn 2010 feature with the Blackberry Porter and last year had their Maple Stout in the same release. This year the LCBO decided to include two Cannery beers (the Squire Scotch Ale and the returning Blackberry Porter) in the fall release and Cannery were kind enough to get in touch and send a bottle of each for me to review.

The Squire Scotch Ale pours a beautiful auburn-copper with reddish tinges. A nice inch of white head quickly diminishes to a thin film that stays throughout the glass. The aroma has a big peaty smoke character, with toffee, almonds and an oddly musty grain character. A toffee sweetness hits the tongue first, followed by a burst of the smoked malts. It is not a big, beefy peat character, but the rest of the malt bill is tame enough that it definitely comes through. Unfortunately, the beer just falls flat after the smoke element. There is a grainy character leading to a little spiciness to the finish, but it is rather empty and leaves me unfulfilled. The flavours are fine, but the beer lacks the complexity in the malts of a truly excellent Scotch ale. An alright beer, but one bottle will be plenty for me.

The Blackberry Porter fairs a little better as long as you come in with the proper expectations. The body is a very dark brown with light coming through the edges. An inch of beige head that disappears much like the Scotch Ale. The smell of artificial blackberries dominates over chocolate and roasted malts. Roasted malts come through first on the tongue, along with licorice. Ends with a rush of the blackberry flavour, though not cloying like the aroma. The finish brings back the roasted character on top of the blackberry, bringing a nice mix of the main flavours. Light to medium bodied for a porter. The Blackberry Porter is best suited in the role of a dessert beer. It is a little too sweet just to drink on its own, but a complementing dessert would tame the sugars. Anyone expecting a nice robust porter with a dry, bitter finish will be disappointed – this isn’t a beer to open in the afternoon while watching baseball or football. Split it at the end of a nice meal with a couple of people and enjoy.

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