Monday, September 20, 2010

Cannery Brewing: Blackberry Porter

Beer: Blackberry Porter
Brewery: Cannery Brewing (Penticton, BC)
Type: Porter (flavored)
ABV: 6.5%

Just got back from my most successful LCBO trip in months.  About five new brews, including this tempting jem from the West Coast.  Finally, another (good) BC beer makes it out to Ontario.  By gar, it's been awhile; the last one of any consequence was Whistler Premium lager, released in time for the Olympics.  Except it was boring and skunky.

Couldn't have asked for a better find in this blackberry brew.  Now, I loves me some porters - but throw some fruit in there (especially raspberry or blackberry) and you'll have me bashing down your door to get some. And by bashing down your door, I mean driving to the LCBO and buying one.  The English language can be so restrictive sometimes...

Extra big bottle for increased drinkability.  As I've mentioned before, I love when breweries release their brews in such tall bottles. One pint is rarely enough to gauge the beer sufficiently; bigger bottles mean greater opportunity to compare the brew at different temperatures and air exposure.

Poured into a tapered ale glass.  An inky black brew, with only the faintest hint of amber around the edges. Good inch of foamy mocha lacing, producing some great lacing patterns.   Only gets better as I added more from the bottle after it warmed up a little.  Looks great.

The nose is most certainly blackberries, but with some notes of caramel, malt and coffee, which keeps the fruit character from getting away with things.    Unfortunately, the bottle lists the ingredient as being "blackberry flavour", which is not a good sign, but according to the brewery website, the beer boasts "all natural pure blackberry."  Indeed, I certainly hope that considering their fruit production-heavy location, these are real blackberries.  Fortunately, the flavour seems real, not artificial, although it smells more like a blackberry syrup or blackberry jam than of fresh blackberries.  Not sure how the tartness of fresh blackberries would have done with the porter base, so I'll give the brewer the benefit of the doubt.
Surprisingly complex taste here.

Although the blackberry-grape flavor has a strong, bold showing (again, sweet rather than tart), pale malts and dark chocolate are permitted to enter into the fore. Hops are leafy and juicy, leaving a tart, somewhat dry finish.  Pretty damned good, I'd say: not overly sweet; fruit flavour is present but not dominant; porter qualities are allowed a strong voice.  Why can't more breweries balance fruit this well?   Great stuff.

Mouthfeel and carbonation are a bit on the low side, even for a porter. Could have been a bit heartier, but for a sipper, it's quite enjoyable.  Still creamy from the lingering head.

Fruit porters are a tough style to nail, but Cannery has done well here. Blackberries are of course the star, but enough of a porter character is allowed to enter to provide adequate balance. Quite enjoyable, worth the pickup. A big bottle would probably be enough - would be a good dessert beer to share with guests, I'd reckon.
No idea how long this beer will be available as part of the LCBO's fall release.  It's a great season for fruit beer and hearty ale pickups, so make sure to grab a bottle of this while you can.  At about $5 for the tall bottle, it's not cheap, but it's certainly reasonable for what you get.  And, considering how rarely good BC brews make it out here, it's definitely worth trying.   (Grade: B+)

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