Good fruit beers can go in one of two directions. The special ingredient is either buried deep in the background, faintly whistling a quiet but distinctive tune, or the flavour is unmistakable and right at the front, like the horns section of an orchestra. Spearhead's Hawaiian Pale Ale, with its gentle hint of pineapple, is a good example of the former, while this week's beer, Cannery Brewing Company’s Blackberry Porter, is definitely the latter.
Porters are dark, often above-average-strength ales. Stouts (like Guiness) are a significant branch of the porter family tree. Traditionally, they were popular with outdoor labourers along London's stretch of the Thames River, so it makes sense that the drink has become a beer of choice for hat-and-scarf months today.
Like many in its class, this porter pours a very dark brown that, if given a wide enough glass and the right light, can look almost black. The blackberry aroma wafts up as soon as it leaves the bottle, making it easy to imagine that you're in the middle of a thorny patch in the peak of August.
With the first sip, the blackberry flavour hits at a pleasing volume, backed by malty sweetness. A second sip, swished around a bit, brings out a faint roasted-malt bitterness, like toasted pumpernickel bread, which matches well to the fruit jam flavours.
Cannery Brewing is a small-ish operation from Penticton, B.C. Given how difficult it is to get out-of-province beer in Ontario, it makes sense to grab a bottle of the Blackberry Porter while the LCBO supply lasts.
Cannery Brewing Blackberry Porter, $5.80 for a 650 ml bottle, LCBO #174581