Canny Man Wee Heavy — Radical Road Brewing Co.

Last year, I walked into Black Oak Brewery in Etobicoke, and was greeted by a mountain of whiskey barrels.  Seriously, like, 80, I think.  I knew that many breweries were jumping onto the barrel-aging wagon, but this seemed like a bit much.  So I asked Simon (Black Oak’s brewmaster) what the deal was. It turns out, this was the first big move for him and John Hodd, who also brews at Black Oak, to take a stab at contract brewing.    Having an intimate knowledge of Black Oak’s system, they coordinated a deal with Ken, Black Oak’s owner, and made a plan.  Contract brewers; their intentions are spend-thrifty, right?  Well, not quite.  You see, they decided to brew a Scottish Wee Heavy style of beer.  Heaps of malt and booze.  They also decided to age it in Highland scotch barrels.  Which they had to get shipped from the Highlands.  Then they had to get a fork-lift to stack the pallets of barrels. Then they decided to package it in one of the most elaborate, sexy, and totally decadent packages the LCBO has ever seen.  Think individually boxed or tubed bottles from the likes of Innis & Gunn or St Ambroise look fancy?  Try an opaque black Champagne bottle, corked and caged, wrapped in a branded paper, with a large shiny neck-hanger.  In terms of Scottish-style beer, Canny Man is Colin and Justin to Innis & Gunn’s Susan Boyle.  Glamorous, sexy, and more than a little brash, this ain’t your granda’s Scotch Ale.

Canny Man Wee Heavy — Radical Road Brewing Co.

Canny Man Wee Heavy — Radical Road Brewing Co.

From a hugely sexy black 750ml Champagne bottle, Canny Man Wee Heavy pours a slightly hazy mahogany brown with brilliant reds at the edges.  About 1.5″ of frothy head drops to a lovely dense 1/4″ of foam that lingers through about half the glass.  Aroma is immediately vanilla and smoke, roasty sweet malts, rum, and oak.  Surprisingly, at 9.1%abv, there is no heat from the booze.  Taste is sweet and complex, there’s more vanilla, big sweet malts, scotch, peat, rum, black pepper, some inky phenols, leather and a hint of coffee.  Wow.  There is also a notable booze presence now, it’s not quite hot, but has a very pleasing warming effect.  I think the mouthfeel is pretty heavy, but the beer is actually somewhat over-carbonated.  I suspect this is due to some amount of bottle-conditioning that took place in the LCBO’s less-than-climate-controlled warehouses.  As it is now, it’s a bit much.  By the end of my second glass, with some intentional swirling, it was somewhat lessened, and seemed more like what I would expect.  The sweet malty beer lingers, with little echos of scotch and peat, leather, and little pepper/spicy notes.  A really lovely beer, and definitely unlike any other at the LCBO.

Cheers, and congratulations to Simon and John! So what’s next, boys?

Buy Canny Man Wee Heavy

Currently available at the LCBO #311829, and smart beer bars around the city.

Drink it With

Hmmm, well, it isn’t really the classic time of year, but this would be a great accompaniment to a proper haggis supper, with neeps and tatties and a rich gravy.  It would also go really well with game fowl, nicely roasted.  For cheese, Drumlach cheddar would certainly work well with the whiskey in the beer, similarly, a medium weight and richness sheep’s milk cheese — maybe a manchego — would provide a great canvas for the beer to work on.

About The Brewery

Wow, despite the fact I know both these guys personally, I can’t find anything on the net for this section other than their twitter “about”:


Nano-Brewery creating handcrafted beers.

Toronto, Ontario

Canny Man is Colin and Justin to Innis & Gunn’s Susan Boyle.


  1. Posted May 18, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Nice! I’ll have to pick one up the next time I’m in the city.

  2. Terry Hart
    Posted July 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Right on the money, Chris! Definitely a beer like no other, and available right here in Ontario! It’s a perfect after dinner beer to mull over and meditate on over some good after dinner conversation.

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  • […] stained-glass motif box?  Just lovely.  But that time is past.  You see, I have had bottles of Radical Road Canny Man.  That’s an attractive, excessive all-round awesome packaging job.  Incidentally, when I […]

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