Since we’re nearing the end of Flagship February, I thought it would be a good idea to get into the spirit of things and crack open a classic this week.
What’s Flagship February, you ask? Basically, the idea is that for one month, we, the beer drinking public, try to focus on perennial flagship beers instead of the latest hype can of the moment. Experimental one-off beers that you’ve never tried before are nice, but you know what’s nicer? A beer that’s taken years to refine and perfect.
Look at Belgium. The classic Belgian breweries don’t release dozens of new beers every month. They have two, maybe three different beers, and that’s it. And those beers are perfect. They’ve been refined over the course of decades, even centuries in some cases. Of course they’re going to be amazing.
But with sales of flagship beers flagging, if we don’t support them, we could lose them.
The idea started out as a tweet by Canadian beer writer Stephen Beaumont and soon led to a global campaign.
“A lot of beer drinkers have developed a sort of ADD with respect to the beers they drink, so going for a glass of beer at the bar or pub becomes less a pleasant distraction and more a relentless search for what’s new and exciting,” Beaumont told Forbes.com last month. “In this mad rush towards the unusual and unknown, we tend to forget the great, familiar and still-wonderful beers that guided us all along the path to the craft beer renaissance.”
So with that in mind, I thought I’d revisit one of my all-time favourite go-to beers: Cannery Brewing’s Naramata Nut Brown Ale.
Naramata Nut Brown has been around since shortly after Cannery opened 18 years ago in Penticton. And after all that time, it should come as no surprise that they have this beer absolutely dialed in. Almost two decades later, it’s still one of a few beers I will always instinctively order should I see it on a menu.
The beer itself is wonderfully rich and nutty (there’s no actual nuts in it, by the way), with notes of toast and jam, dried fruit and burnt sugar. The malt character is complex and flavourful, and the body silky smooth. It would be perfectly at home in some country pub in Northern England.
But far from being a mere clone of an English brown ale, Cannery has put their own characteristically West Coast spin on it. Firstly, at 5.5% ABV, it’s higher in alcohol than you’d expect to find in Ol’ Blighty. Secondly, the hop character is also slightly more pronounced than traditional examples, and here it does a wonderful job of balancing the sweetness and drying out the finish, enticing you to take another sip. The end result is as “moreish” a pint as has ever been brewed in this province.
But please don’t drink this beer straight out of the fridge: let it warm up for 15 minutes or so first. If you serve it ice cold you will miss out on all the lovely malt complexity
So don’t forget the classics. These are the beers that got us here, and it would be a shame to lose them.
Naramata Nut Brown by Cannery Brewing
5.5% ABV • 25 IBUS • 650 mL bottles and 6 X 355 mL cans
Appearance: Brilliant deep, dark brown with a persistent, sturdy tan head.
Aroma: Molasses, caramel, nuts, toast, dried fruit.
Flavour: Nutty, smooth, caramel, molasses, toast, dried fruit, roasted barley, mild hop bitterness.
Body/Finish: Silky, creamy, medium bodied with a semi-dry finish.
Pairs with: Toast and jam, Cornish pasty, ploughman’s lunch and a solid eight hours spent sidled up to the bar at your favourite pub (which the English refer to as “Tuesday”).