Cannery Squire Scotch Ale

cannery_scotchBrewer: Cannery Brewery, Penticton, BC
Style: Scotch Ale
ABV: 6%
IBU: 20

Description: This Scotch Ale, which is part of Cannery’s regular lineup, is named in honor of the Country Squire restaurant located in Naramata, BC. True to the tradition, this brew employs pale malt, a light hopping, and traces of scotch whiskey.

Tasting Notes: This is my first sampling of Cannery’s Scotch, and it was quite impressive. True to the name, this ale packs a lot of whiskey flavor, which includes notes of smokey peat moss flavor, but an otherwise smooth malt base. That being said, it was not my favorite, as the malt base was a bit light for my taste. Still, a fine example of a fine ale that is brewed in the Scotch tradition.

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, hint of smoke, peat moss, scotch whiskey
Taste: Smooth malt, notes of peat, smokey whiskey flavor
Aftertaste: Lingering smoke, whiskey esters, clean finish
Overall: 7.7/10

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Cannery Brewery Knucklehead Pumpkin Ale

Hello again and welcome back to the Fall Beer series! And in keeping with my ongoing efforts to give as many pumpkin ales their due, I have procured a bottle of Cannery Brewery’s Knucklehead Pumpkin Ale. As some might suspect, the name is a reference to the type of pumpkins used, but also makes for a delicious pun on the whole “pumpkin head” thing.

And I have to admit, I was somewhat surprised with this version of the fall beer classic. Whereas most breweries tend to make their beers along the same general lines, spicing them with cloves, cinnamon and/or nutmeg and allspice, Cannery seems to have taken the purist route. The label says Pumpkin Ale, and that appears to be what you get. Yes, the label also says they use spice in the mix, but that does not appear to be the case once you taste it. While they may have chosen to add some of the aforementioned spices to

Appearance: Dark ruby-brown, transparent, light foam
Nose: Very mild notes of pumpkin flesh and malts
Taste: Light, refreshing, slight notes of pumpkin, no discernible spice
Aftertaste: Lingering taste of pumpkin flesh, tangy malts
Overall: 7/10

Yes, this beer was a bit of a stumper for me. On the one hand, it was quite light and odd tasting for a pumpkin ale, a variety of beer which usually packs a good dose of rich, spicey flavor, reminiscent of pumpkin pie. However, at the same time, I can see both the honesty and the balls in them doing a beer in this way. While everyone else is doing a pumpkin pie ale that tastes predominantly of cloves and allspice, they are doing a straight pumpkin one that offers nothing but what the name suggests. Admittedly, not my favorite of the variety, but a good and honest beer nonetheless.

Of the Rise in Craft Brewing

A long time ago, I did an article for this site addressing what I saw as a criminal trend in the brewing industry. Not just any crime mind you, but a crime against nature itself, as far as I was concerned! I was referring to the expansion of major brand names and how it seemed to be leading to an overall dip in quality.

To illustrate, I referred to how some of my favorite craft brewers from over the years had been altering their recipes, mainly so they could achieve mass appeal and expand their sales. Others, also personal favorites of mine, had closed down instead, unable to compete in a mass market dominated by major names and low standards. Not a happy article. But if I’ve realized anything in the past two years, it is that this trend has swung sharply in the other direction.

Yes, craft brewing is becoming more and more popular, and may I say that it’s about bloody time! Whether its an upsurge in the number of micro-breweries or the adoption of a craft beer line by major breweries, the trend seems consistent. Granted this is all based on my own anecdotal experience, but when you notice it happening everywhere, you have to assume you’re onto something!

First, as I said, is the expansion in craft brewing. Of all the micro breweries that I’ve discovered since moving to BC, few seem to have opened their doors before the year 2000. For those that did, you’d be hard pressed to find one that’s been in operation since before the late 90’s. This is true of the Driftwood Brewery, the Cannery Brewery, Moon Under Water, Phillips, Old Yale, Hoyne, Dead Frog, Surgenor, Longwood, Swan’s, Spinnakers, and a host of others that I’ve sampled over the years. Back in Ontario, this is similarly true. It was only in the late 90’s and early millennium that the spectacular operations of McAuslan’s, Creemore, Scotch-Irish, Mill St., Heritage, Cameron’s, Muskoka, and a slew of others were established. And their ongoing success is a testament to fact that the popularity of craft brewing is on the rise.

As for the adoption of special, small-batch product lines adopted by larger operations, I am satisfied to say that this trend seems to be catching on, particularly with breweries that I noticed were watering down the wares. In recent years, the Vancouver Island Brewery, Granville Island Brewery, the Lighthouse Brewery have all began releasing signature or limited release beers that are not part of their regular lineups, and take advantage of the small batch production methods that ensure better quality.

This is also true of such giants as Keith’s, which has expanded its lineup by incorporating a white, an amber and a dark ale. This began in recent years, and represents a complete 180 from what they’ve been doing for the generations now – producing a single, watery ale that bears no resemblance to a real IPA. And Sleeman’s, a major operation in its own right, has even expanded its repertoire by introducing an IPA and a Porter to their lineup.

Granted, brewery ownership is still concentrated in the hands of a few major multinationals, and the vast majority of beer consumed today consists of mass produced, flat and flavorless numbers. Still, the trend towards authenticity and flavor seems to be clear. Consumers are demanding beer that is made locally, in small batches, and in accordance with traditional standards. And for beer snobs, who insist on authenticity over accessibility, this can only be seen as great news. Great news indeed!

So when you’re out next weekend, find yourself a local microbrew, a brewpub, and drink up! And be sure to tip your barmaid. Cheers!

Cannery Brewery

Here we have yet another brewery that’s been right under my nose for years. And wouldn’t you know it, I’ve sampled most of their beers over the years. Fortunately, I managed to procure some samples a few weeks ago and began resampling them, one by one, to discern their distinctive characteristics.

But first, a little background on this fine brewery. Located in Penticton, BC, the Cannery Brewery is named in honor of the Old Aylmer Fruit and Vegetable Cannery where it is located. Since it first opened in 2001, they’ve graduated from selling growlers and single liter bottles to exporting a regular lineup of cans and tall boys and their lineup has become quite respectable. Thus far, here’s what I’ve managed to sample:

Anarchist Amber:
One of Cannery’s first creations, this beer is a fitting example of a smooth and malty West Coast pale ale. Light, reddish and clear in hue, this amber boasts a subtle malty aroma. It comes on smooth and tawny with a slight syrupy feel and then finishes with a hop bite that is slightly bitter and lingering. 7.5/10

Blackberry Porter:
Well, this beer is about what one would expect from one bearing its description. But given what that is, this is a good thing! For starters, it combines the smooth, mellow and slightly bitter taste of a porter with a subtle, sweet tang of blackberries. These also linger on the tongue long after the hop bitterness and tawny malts have faded, leading to an all-around pleasurable drinking experience. 8.5/10

Cannery IPA:
One of two IPA’s to be produced by Cannery in recent years, this one is rather unique, blending the characteristics of a strong ale and and India Pale. For starters, it is a clear and amber in color, similar to an IPA, but has a sweet nose that is reminiscent of a barley wine. The flavor is rich and malty, boasting a heavy, syrupy and viscous profile that contains a touch of sweetness, again reminiscent of barley wine. This gives way to a bitter after taste, due to the combination of four Northwestern hop varieties, which help accentuate the malts and give it a floral, citrusy finish. 8.5/10

Lakeport Lager:
Brewed in tribute to the S.S. Sicamous, which was in operation from 1914 to 1935, this vessel is one of Penticton’s historical landmarks and the largest of four steam-driven stern wheeled lake vessels that have been restored in Canada. What’s more, it is a fitting example of a light golden lager, one that boasts some discernible Munich-style yeast and hops and some slight notes of apple. It manages to finish quite clean, with some lingering hop flavor. 7.5/10

Naramata Nut Brown:
Another one of Cannery’s original creations, this beer was also the silver medalist in the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards. It’s also one of the smoothest browns I’ve had to date, and was a personal favorite of my darling bride! Dark and almost stout like in color, this brown is very smooth, does the tawny dance on the tongue and rounds out the hop finish with some well-placed chocolate notes. And consistent with its name, it also has a slight nutty profile that calls to mind the taste of cashews. 9/10

Wildfire IPA:
And last, but certainly not least, we have the Wildfire IPA, a black India Pale that honors BC’s firefighters and which is fittingly black as night. Alongside Tree Brewery’s own Black IPA, this is fast becoming a trend with BC brewers, and I’m happy to be getting in on the ground floor! In short, this black IPA combines the characters of an IPA, being heavily hopped and stronger in alcohol content, with a dark ale’s smooth profile and rich, tawny flavor. The end result is a beer that comes on with smooth malts, has a good hop kick, then lingers between the sweet and tawny and bitter for some time to come. Definitely a worthy combination! 8/10

Well that’s one more BC brewery down. Who’s next? Well, I actually have that planned. In honor of the summer season which appears to be on us, I intend to dedicate the coming weeks and months to summer brews and hot weather appropriate beers. And if there’s time and I’m not too hungover, maybe I’ll cover Phillips, Dead Frog and a few others I’ve been meaning to cover. Happy Summer Season to all!