Its now Fall, one of the best beer seasons that there is. I know it may seem counter intuitive; most people consider the summer to be beer season. But when the fall comes breweries begin to produce more richly flavored, robust beers with a wide range of ingredients. Spices, pumpkin, berries and more get added into the brew and the beers become unique and warming. I love it.
It is also when the LCBO brings in the best selection of new beers. In this year’s Autumn release came the Cannery Brewing Blackberry Porter, a 6.5% traditional style porter with blackberry flavor added for a hint of sweet complexity. The Cannery has been brewing since 2000 in Penticton BC, and is one of many west coast breweries which I have been excited to try for a long time. The 650ml bottle plainly depicts blackberries front and center on the purple label, so I was expecting at very least a reasonable rush of blackberry in this beer.
This is always an interesting one for me… If the beer says Blackberry right on it, and has a picture of blackberries, it better smell and taste like blackberries. If the beer has hints, or slight traces of blackberry, then whats the point in calling it a blackberry beer? But I am getting ahead of myself, I haven’t even poured the beer yet – so lets find out.
I opened the Porter cool around 8C (45F) and poured it into a stemmed tulip glass. The Pour was smooth and creamy producing a richly dark brown beer that faded closer to black as it filled the glass. A fairly dense and creamy light brown, khaki colored head build easily two inches above the beer. The beer’s overall appearance was rich and full – held into the light you can see dark amber reds, deep browns, shades of mahogany and bronze also peering though. A touch of ruby and burgundy is also shinning in the beer leaning on the Blackberry name that this beer bears.
The nose is very delightful, and to my enjoyment was filled with soft and lush blackberries. Leaning in for a good smell brings smooth roasted malts, bits of cocoa, fresh earthy hops, and then back to a warm juicy berry aroma. It is pretty lush, but not overpowering – a solid balance. What happens to often is sweet fruit overpowers, or barely noticeable fruit is very medicinal. The Cannery’s Blackberry though is very natural and well suited to the beers overall character – a great fit.
Drinking the Porter is a nice treat, because it is actually a porter, not just a dark beer with fruit flavors. Quickly, roasted malts glide over your tongue and crash into your cheeks with big rushes of flavor. Gently pale malts bring some sweet cereal flavors, but cocoa, brown sugar, dark malt and roast are most apparent here showing the blackberry where to follow. And it does.
Right on the back there is a soft trace of blackberry sweetness. It is not quite as prominent as it is in the nose, but it is actually quite fitting. Much stronger and it could have been too much. It is a subtle seasoning that you don’t need to search for – but it apparent and obvious when it hits you. The touch of fruity sweetness brings added life to the dark malts and shows complexity to your tongue and palate.
Hops are soft but earthy and lightly balancing – the beer’s bitter comes mostly from roast, but herbal and clean hop freshness also picks up this beer. As it warms bits of chocolate become more flavorful touching bittersweet bakers chocolate and dried cocoa. Coffee beans are light, but add considerable roast, as I have mentioned before. The Blackberries really round it out nicely and have been constructed well into this beer.
I would have enjoyed it more if the body was thicker and creamier, as is it was a bit thin, but all the flavors were there. As a Blackberry Porter this was a nice treat, but it didn’t blow me away. As a porter, it was still nice, but just nice. I am willing to bet though that it is fantastic with cheesecake!