Living in Florida, it can be tricky to find new up-and-coming regional beers. Since most of the state is a peninsula, beer trucks can’t just drop off in Orlando and continue on to Missouri or Virginia without a big u-turn. Don’t get me wrong. Florida is not a beer wasteland, but some smaller distributors just don’t find it cost efficient to drive the same roads in and back out.
Orlando does have at least one advantage for beer fans though – Brew Hub in Lakeland. Brew Hub partners with smaller regional breweries who have more demand than supply – or brands wanting to see if their stuff will sell along the east coast. Canebrake is a good example. It’s a wheat ale, sweetened and flavored with cane syrup, created ten years ago by Parish Brewing in Broussard, LA. It’s now Parish’s biggest brand, so while bottles are still brewed in Louisiana, the same recipe is canned in Florida.
Because Canebrake cans are packaged about 45 minutes away, it’s easy to find in Orlando shops – and at a decent price. It pours just a little hazy, about the color of honey, with the tight and quickly-fading head you’d see on a Budweiser or Miller. The aroma is mild, but there’s a hint of fruity yeast and a bit of straw/honey I would guess is the cane syrup.
Canebrake is light in flavor for a wheat ale. There’s some grain and straw, but not so much that it’ll turn off folks who like a supermarket pilsner. It’s in that pocket, just a bit more complex. The cane syrup doesn’t make Canebrake like a soda, but it’s definitely sweeter than average. A little bit of hops bite cuts through the syrup, but as it warms up, Canebrake gets both more cloying and more bitter – and that’s not great. I would suggest you drink Canebrake very cold, but it’s already on the can – “Best if kept cool or refrigerated.” Canebrake is 5% ABV.