Archive for the 'Saranac' category
It seems like I’m always waiting for dark beer season to end so I can get back to my tasty witbiers and hefeweizens. However, this year, I’m really psyched to get to the Octoberfest beers. I’ve had the opportunity to taste a few out at bars, and it has piqued my interest for what all the brewers put out this season. For this particular review, I was just looking for an inexpensive and tasty way to feed the Octoberfest monkey, and Saranac is almost always good for providing a pretty decent and well-priced beer…
This beer pours a clear and deep, deep golden color. I wouldn’t quite call this brown, but it’s pretty darn close. In the nose, there are a ton of those autumny Octoberfest spices. Seems like some nutmeg and cinnamon are involved, and they gently burn the nose in a good way. In the mouth, this is a rather generic, but very tasty, Octoberfest. It is well carbonated, which provides a nice tingle on the tongue. Initially, there is a great dark malt sweetness with some chocolatey tints. On through the mouth, the nutmeg and spice perk up along with just a slight bit of hop earthiness. Down the throat, the beer washes rather clean leaving around some of that spice and making me anxious for the next drink. Basically, this beer does what I wanted it to do. It isn’t experimental or too bodacious – it’s just a good ol’ plain Octoberfest. I highly recommend it if you’re trying to get all seasonal on a budget…
Ok, last one, finally, damn! At this point I’m over this variety pack thing. I’m totally Saranac-ed out. All in all it has been a pvery good experience but after having to focus on one brewery for an extended period of time I think might be my last variety pack review ever. Both Sam Adams and Saranac got the best of me, although I do find solice in the fact I saw it through. So, you guys won the war, handedly, but I fought mightly in a couple of battles.
No surprise this is the biggest, rishest, and fullest beer of the bunch. It is black as night and smells great. Dark chocolate and coffee dominate the aroma, dig it! Just as with the Nut Brown Lager, the taste is quite different from the smell but this time I’m liking it. As the name would suggest, vanilla flavors play a prominent role in the taste and they are mixing well with the deeper, chocolate notes. As a matter of fact the taste has an uncanny likeness to chocalte-vanilla swirl ice cream. Hard to believe I know but trust me on this one. This beer’s richness is only hampered by a little too much carbonation. Well that and the fact that the flavor doesn’t carry all the way to the back of the mouth. It tapers at the 2/3 mark of the tongue but the size of the flavor at the front of the mouth makes up for it. Saranac claims, “Vanilla Stout will surpass your expectations,” and it certainly did.
This is Saranac’s seasonal beer brewed especially for the holidays. We haven’t quite crested that particular time frame just yet but in my quest complete winter variety pack, BEFORE I DIE, I’m going to go ahead and polish this one off. It’s a nut brown lager, sounds perfect for sitting around the yule log and enjoying the companionship of friends and family.
This beer has a deeply burnt amber-orangish hue to it and bubbly off-white head. It smells deliciously malty, with a touch of that freshly brewed coffee aroma that smells so good in the morning. There is a noticeable hop presence as soon as this beer hits your tongue. It’s a little offsetting given the strikingly different smell. There are toasted almond and buttery flavors that hide in the background, and I wish this wasn’t the case. I think this beer has balance issues, as I doubt the floral notes are supposed to overshadow the rich fullness of the malt. This beer has glimpses of promise but in the end the taste seems more sporadic than not. It also has a thinner mouthfeel than I expected. Safe to say that, as far as I’m concerned, this beer is consistently inconsistent and so far this is my least favorite of the variety pack.
So I’ve really been dragging my feet with these Saranac beers. It’s not because they are bad, just because I’ve grown past drinking a variety of beer styles in one sitting and furthermore I don’t have the motivation to write more than one or two reviews a night. But here we are again with another selection from the Saranac winter mixed pack. Tonight’s offering is the India Brown Ale, supposedly an IPA/brown ale combo. Initial thought…it has both promise and the the potential to suck, let’s hope for the former.
The hue has a shiny, brown quality capped off with a delicious looking creamy head. The color isn’t as deep as some brown ales I’ve had which is neither good nor bad, just an observation. The aroma seems to be an excellent interpretation of what a combo IPA-brown ale should smell like. The malt is bold and full and serves a base for the hop profile. This give-and-take characteristic carries over into the taste, resulting in a very enjoyable experience. The malt backbone cuts the bitterness of the hops creating a thick, but crisp and clean flavor that covers the tastebuds. Chocolate and toffee flavors dance with the hops across the tongue before allowing the metallic characteristics to finish in the back of the mouth. While both the aroma and flavors are very apparent and at certain times “big” I’m missing a bit of “richness” in the overall taste. That being said i really have no other qualms with this beer and quite frankly am pretty impressed. It’s difficult to balance the malt and the hops, especially when combining styles from different ends of the spectrum, but Saranac has hit the nail on the head with this one.
Moving on from the citrus and spice of the Belgian ale to straight up earthiness. Now I love a hoppy beer, but I’ve never really gotten into the E.S.B. beers, probably due to the different hops used to make them. Plus they seem to be sweeter and have less of those sharp, piney, grapefruit flavors of an IPA. in general I can tolerate 1 or 2 but after that I’m ready to change types. This beer is dark amber in color and creates a very frothy, creamy looking head. The smell is fairly clean with just a touch of roasted malt and very few floral notes. The bitterness of this beer is fairly mild and not nearly as noticeable as in others I’ve had. It has a smokey, toffee-like flavor that takes center stage. The hop characteristic is crisp, clean, and quick. It comes and goes in the middle of the tongue while the malt flavors last throughout the mouth. There is a sweet fruitiness that keeps me coming back for more, although I’m disappointed that I’m not tasting a lot of hops. The overall taste is pretty simple and pretty good. Again I don’t particularly care for the E.S.B. style but in this case it’s not bad, but again I could used some more floralness. It won’t make me run out and buy E.S.B.’s on a consistent basis but it has renewed my interest a little so it might make me think twice about picking one up every now and then, plus it’s a good addition to this variety pack.
Next up in the Saranac variety pack is this Belgian style/”trappist” ale. It pours a deep, cloudy golden color with fluffy white head. It has a substantial aroma, heavy with coriander, lemon peel and spice. There is also a bit of licorice that seems to coat this smell. The citrus flavors travel down the center of the tongue while the spice dances all around the mouth. The carbonation and spice are strong enough to open the nostrils while the citrusy notes blend with maltiness to create a thick, calmer mouthfeel in the back of the mouth. There is very little aftertaste, just a clean crispness. Let’s be honest, I expected this beer to fall flat on its face but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. It doesn’t compare to any of the true trappist ales I’ve had but the fact that it didn’t suck and had characteristics of the genre was impressive. It was flavorful, very tolerable and if a trappist ale could ever be a session beer it would be this one. Saranac just gained a little more respect from me.
Saranac is one of those breweries that always puts together a good variety pack. I bought their summer version a few years ago and if memory serves me correctly I really enjoyed what it had to offer. I’m going to try to run through the winter pack over the next few days and in doing so will attempt to review from light to dark. First out of the gate is this Chechz-style “pilsener”, hence Bohemian in the name. I just assumed all pilsners, regular not imperial, mimicked the Chech-style but I guess not since Saranac felt it had to clarify.
Yep, looks like a pilsner; golden, clear and medium white head. There’s a lot of effervescent activity going on in my pint glass, it’s kinda cool. This has a grassy-like aroma with some lemon zest. The taste has way more personality than its macrobrew counter parts. Yes I’m biased, but no one can deny macro pilsners just taste kinda blah. This has a more robust body and the floral bitterness expands in the mouth resulting in a refreshing crispness. There is a twinge that accompanies the carbonation that attacks the back half of the mouth. The malt flavor cleans the mouth but doesn’t mask the metallic aftertaste. Again, this is a very refreshing beer that doesn’t leave you feeling full or bloated. If you’re looking to graduate from the frat party scene and class it up a little give this real “pilsener” a try.
A few nights ago I reviewed Summtynoses’s version of the pumpkin ale style, tonight I look forward to comparing it Saranac’s interpretation. This Saranac varietal came in our latest BOMC package. It’s very easy to find in these parts during this time of the year…go figure. Both Ben and I have had this beer on multiple occasions as parts of variety packs so I was actually quite surprised it hadn’t been reviewed yet. Truth be told we do drink for pleasure sometimes and chose not to put our thoughts on paper and I guess that is what happened in this case.
This beer appears to have a distinct color variation between top and bottom. The bottom of the glass holds a clear copper liquid, while the top has a much darker, ominous looking tone. The smell is much the same of all pumpkin ales, cinnamon and nutmeg. It isn’t as pronounced as the Smuttynose and it also has a roasted characteristic to it. There doesn’t appear to be a stark contrast from the Smuttynose with respect to taste, just a difference in how the flavors present themselves. A vanilla-ish flavor carries itself throughout the mouth and the carbonation is a little more harsh. Again the spice is not noticed until the middle tongue region. If you’re a fan of pumpkin pie you’ll enjoy this flavor, if not you’ll probably think it is a bit excessive. For beer purist this makes it very difficult to appreciate these specialty/flavored brews. There is little hop presence if any to this beer; thus this pumpkin ale doesn’t finish with the same bitterness as the Smuttynose. If I had to point out a flaw I would say it has a watery characteristic at times but for the most part it is a good beer. This is certainly an appropriate, although a bit gimmicky, addition to this month’s BOMC offerings.
This is a light golden ale that was designed to delight the palate while lounging in the sun or working on any variety of household tasks. The flavor is tough to decipher but I detect a slight lemon peel taste on the top of the mouth. It also leaves a bitter taste as the “carbonation burn” travels to the stomach. It is a huge step up from the domestics I am accustomed to and a brew that I enjoy very much. If you are looking to upgrade from your usual grocery store brand I say give this beer a try.
This is by far the best summer ale I have had thus far. The refreshing lemon flavors are quite apparent and fantastic, AND the usual watered-down taste is replaced with a slight hoppy & spiciness that gives this beer some character. These tastes don’t disappear as much as most in this category and for that I am grateful. This was yet another pleasant surprise included in the 12-pack and I can now say with the utmost confidence that this amalgum of brews is an affordable and absolute must purchase for anyone that enjoys the taste of alcoholic beverages.
This another of the brews found in the 12-pack fof Summer Ales…This is a fruit flavored beer but not a lambic style. It pours a deep golden color, much like a pale ale, and in my opinion tastes wonderful. If you like the SweetWater Blue you will almost certainly like this brew. The flavor of blueberry sits on top of the tongue while rasberry and a slight metallic aftertaste cling to the back of the throat. I think it’s very easy to drink, with moderate carbonation, and at 5.0% abv one could eventually get hammered if he/she didn’t pace him/herself. I really enjoy this style of beer and thus will highly recommend it; however, if you don’t like fruit-flavored beers I dare say you will be disappointed.
I am a big fan of this brewery and am rather pleased with this beer. It came as part of the Saranac 12-pack of Summer Ales that I happened upon while scouring the Harris Teeter beer aisle. The brewers categorize the Kolsch as a blonde ale that was created in honor of the beers created in Cologne, Germany for the past 1,000 years. It pours a pale, golden color with excessive effervescence. It doesn’t taste like most of the blondes I have had, rather, it reminds me of a pilsner with a touch of extra maltiness to create a sense of complexity. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it, actually I have enjoyed it quite a bit and wouldn’t mind drinking a sixer or 12-pack whilst cooking on the grill.