Paddock Wood craft brewery a rising star

Paddock Wood brewery (loosenyourbelt.blogspot.com)

Paddock Wood brewery (loosenyourbelt.blogspot.com)

Jordan St. John, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:44 PM ET

When I think of beer in Canada, I think of British Columbia, Ontario or Quebec. As laws change to make it a little easier for small brewers across the country, that mode of thinking is slowly becoming less useful. Alberta has a few up-and-coming small brewers and the Maritimes are developing as well. I was so shocked to see two breweries from Swift Current, Saskatchewan pop up on twitter that I assumed the feed was broken.

There are breweries in Saskatchewan. Of course there’s Great Western, which produces some solid quality lager for the six pack drinker. There’s Bushwakker’s in Regina which enjoys a reputation as one of Canada’s best brewpubs. In terms of craft breweries there has until recently been only one: Paddock Wood.

Steve Cavan, the brewmaster at Paddock Wood started out by creating a mail order, homebrew shop that supplied brewing ingredients to enthusiasts. He would create brewing kits for his customers that replicated beers from around the world, going so far as to research the ingredients for them and then source those ingredients. The brewery has been growing steadily for a decade and Paddock Wood’s beer is available in Alberta and Ontario.

I’ve always thought the best way to get a sense of a brewery is to work through their core lineup. In this case, the standout is probably the Black Cat Lager. It’s a German Schwarzbier, essentially a dark lager with some roasted malt character. Black Cat has a very dry finish with some light notes of coffee and pumpernickel. There’s a tendency at the moment in Canada to give a Schwarzbier a sweeter finish, but this is spot on as an example of the style. At 5.4%, it’s quite refreshing and might go well with beef ribs or London broil.

The homebrew shop knowledge of ingredients is their strength. Red Hammer, which feels like a cross between an Oktoberfest beer and a Dusseldorf Alt, uses Polish hop varieties I have not tasted previously. It’s a small distinction, but it betrays an eye for detail. The London Porter seems to replicate mid 19th century versions with notes of smoke and a sour tang at the finish to accompany chocolate accents. The 606 IPA and Loki Double IPA are clever enough that you’d never guess they came from Saskatchewan; maybe Washington state.

Perhaps most impressively, Paddock Wood has opened its own alehouse in Saskatoon called The Woods. The menu emulates American brewery taps, eschewing fried foods and over-complication for well made sandwiches. The Woods doesn’t just serve their own beer, but has guest taps smaller breweries fighting to make a name for themselves , like Prairie Sun.

I guess I know where I’m going if I ever get to Saskatoon.

Jordan St.John writes about beer at saintjohnswort.ca. He’s going to have that Guess Who song stuck in his head for a week.


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