Saranac ESB - Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Not Rated.
Saranac ESBSaranac ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.

137 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 137
Reviews: 103
rAvg: 3.32
pDev: 15.06%
Wants: 0
Gots: 2 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-10-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 137 | Reviews: 103
Reviews by the Alström Bros:
Photo of Jason
2.51/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Presentation: 12 oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

Appearance: Quick to foam but not a gusher, bright and clear copper color. Fluffy lace with decent retention.

Smell: Wet citric hop, very little malt in the nose. Hops are almost perfumy … extract?

Taste & Mouth Feel: Astringent bitterness kills the taste buds right away, soapy hop flavor … weird hop character all around. Faint malt … but the pungent hops just smash it away.

Drinkability & Notes: I even let this beer warm up to cellar temperature to get the full effect. I like hoppy beers, very hoppy at that … this one lost me at the first sip.

More User Reviews:
Photo of blitz134
3.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured caramel in color with only a little head on top which didn’t want to go away. Aroma is mostly of piney resin hops with some sweet malt showing through in the back ground, a touch of straw as well. A bit one sided without much complexity. Smells nice but not overly strong. Taste is of resin with a balance of malts. This one is not bitter at all but has the appropriate resin flavor that I like in this style. Nicely balanced in my opinion and very drinkable due to this. Mouthfeel is a little heavier than “thin” with a slight touch of oil from the hops making the flavor stick around.

Overall, nothing mind-blowing but I’d have a couple more of these without complaint if I was forced too. Decent session brew for sure.

Photo of generallee
3.9/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: The head builds up tall, thick and foamy. It is light tan in color and has good retention. As it slowly fades down to thin covering, which lasts until the end, it makes some slick spotty lacing on the glass. Under the head is a nice amber colored liquid with very good clarity.

Smell: The aroma has a simple sweet floral hop bouquet.

Taste/Mouth feel: Its flavor has a mildly sweet malty body with nice floral and citrus hops that produce a soft mellow bitterness that balances the malt flavor well. The texture has a soft easy drinking feel with good carbonation and a medium body.

Notes: It had an enjoyable flavor and an easy drinking body. Overall solid.

Photo of Billolick
4/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Still working on finishing that holiday box, hmmm think I'll give this one a try. Pours redish amber, clear, white medium head, leaves decent, sticky lacing. Nose is malty, and spicy. this is decent stuff., nice malty backbone, citrusy hops midway and more spice, snap and crackle in the finish. This beer has a distinctive taste, a pleasant mouthfeel and that elusive characteristic, complexity. My favorite out of that box yet.

Photo of Kraken
3/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Second of the winter sampler pack.

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Firm pour evokes 1 finger of bone white head that fades rapidly to a scant skim. No lace, color is a very dark amber.

Nose- Caramel, is very prevalent, some toffee, a bit of restrained hop. Caramel and toffee really dominate the nose.

Palate- Sweet roasted caramel, nuttiness. Mild hop bite in the finish. Hints of citrus if you search for it. No hints of alcohol. Tasty but a bit on sweet side. Hopping becomes a bit more apparent as it warms.

Mouthfeel- Bit dry syrupy, active carbonation.

Drinkability- Good

Haven't rated many ESBs. This one was very drinkable, albeit not very complex all in all a good value.

Photo of dogfishandi
2.74/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours a clear dark copper color with little head that faded immediately to a ring of foam. decent lacing. the aroma is that of grassy, musty, earthy smell. a little bit of hops as well. not a lot of malt. the taste is kind of ruined by the high carbonation which really bites your tongue. really earthy, citrusy hop flavor. some grains. finishs with a noticeable hop taste. medium to light bodied. i would drink this again if given to me, but i would definately not buy this one again. to me its not even a real ESB. an ESB is supposed to get the bitterness from the malts, not the hops. this one is the other way around and is not very true to the style at all. but still somewhat of a drinkable beer.

Photo of Thrasher
3.83/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is pretty good but not outstanding. A mellow, easy-drinking bitter, perhaps not "extra special" enough to be deemed an ESB but do any US brewers sell their beer as just plain bitter? Coming out of the bottle it lacks the creamy mouthfeel that a bitter deserves. As such it is similar to an American pale ale without the severe hoppage. Nice amber color, small head, fruity flavors, certainly drinkable enough. Eh, I am nitpicking; this is enjoyable, and just fine, if not exciting.

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.2/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Always nice to sample new beers with this sampler pack, pours beautifully a ruby caramel body and a large light off white head forms thick and rises like bread with yeast working it's magic. Lacing is even and fine with good detail, a nice looking brew for sure. Aroma has light caramel and mild floral and tame citrus tones with the moderate hop nose. Light but quaffable mix of hops and semi sweet malts. Nice bready touch of spiced caramel edge forms and then prickly but light bittering hop blend flows with more floral and citrus with a touch of earthiness. Mouthfeel is in the light to medium body range with sturdy but not overbearing carbonation. Overall drinkability is solid as a part of the mixed 12 packs but it's really nothing I'd ever search out on it's own.

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.83/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Saranac E.S.B

out of the 2004 holiday 12 pack.

Appearance- caramel brown with a decent head.
Smell- caramel and malt.
Taste- delicious malt with a hint of sugery caramel.
Mouthfeel- a slight crisp bitterness and slighty watered down.

Overall- a very good extra special bitter. I would definitely purchase a 6er of this.

Photo of ElGordo
3.67/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an orange/copper color with a small, rich, foamy head. Nice aroma of sweet roasted malt, brown sugar, a touch of hops, and a hint of maple. Taste is reminiscent of Fuller's ESB at first, but more abrasive. Begins nice and smooth, with a rich roasted malt character and a mellow sweetness. Hop character comes out later, with a good amount of bitterness and astringency. Mouthfeel is nice, smooth and creamy. One of the better beers from Saranac, I'm pleased to say.

Photo of Southernbrew
3.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a medium brown/chestnut with a respecatble head that dissapates quickly.

Aroma is a pleasant balance of malt and somewhat spicy hoppiness. Some earthy flavors, I get that a lot from Saranac beers.

Taste is mostly dominated by hops, but not in a big way. Their is some malt balance here but not much. Some bitterness in the aftertaste.

Not an especially good beer. Easy drinking and better than most Saranac's I've had, but nothing that special.

Photo of Backer2004
3.68/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The last beer i triewd out of the 12 beers of Christmas mix from the Matt Brewing Company. May have forgot this one at first but half way through I wanted to save this for last. Probably the best ESB i've tried from the short lists of this style. Great mouthfeel and nice blend of hops and fruits, just not as bitter as I expected or compared to their Pale Ale or IPA. One of the better Saranac's I've tried, however, I am retiring from this brewey for a while--Sam Adams' Christmas mix just arrived this week.

Photo of puboflyons
2.94/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sampled on Super Bowl Sunday 2009 from the 12 fl. oz. bottle no. 2678-U801. No expiration date listed. Got a good deal on an end of season Saranac mixed 12-pack for $8.99.

Appearance - The pour is kind of a copper-orange and not what I expect from an ESB. There is absolutely no head or lacing. It looked flat.

Smell - Malts and grains and mildly spiced. It was nothing outstanding but reasonably inviting.

Mouthfeel - Pretty average, Not watered down but not very bold.

Taste - It starts out malty and ends weakly with bitter hops. The finish is kind of dry. It was drinkable but a somewhat dull experience.

Photo of bluejacket74
3.63/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, part of Saranac's "12 Beers of Winter" sample pack. Served in a Sam Adams BL glass, the beer pours a dark amber color with an inch off-white head. Lacing and head retention are both good. The aroma is bready malt, nuts, and some butterscotch. It tastes like bready/biscuity malt, nuts, caramel, and a bit of fruit, and spicy and floral hops. There's also a slight bitter finish. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a little bit creamy and slick with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's smooth and easy to drink. Not a bad choice as a session brew. I like this beer, it's enjoyable to drink and I would buy this again. It's not the best ESB I've had, but it's good enough for me.

Photo of philbe311
3.33/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Rusty copper colored ale... Two fingers of batter-like white foam... Appealing lace... Moderate carbonation... Fully translucent...

S - Malt... Butter... Toffee... Slightly musky... Oddly, the scent seems to fade as the beer warms...

T - Saltine crackers... Weak malts... Grassiness... A faint spiciness... English hops...

M - Medium bodied... Slightly creamy texture... Bitter follow through... A little rough around the ages (in a good way)...

D - A respectable ESB, but far from best in class... Easy drinking, but not one I would seek out in the future...

Photo of Murph
3.33/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light copper with a decent head that fades pretty quickly. The smell is sweet malt and extremely light hops. The brew has a well balanced taste but it is a bit thin. The malt hits the tongue first and is followed by a very light hop character that is just enough to balance the brew out. It has a somewhat sticky and cloying mouthfeel but remains fairly drinkable. Not a great beer, just slightly better than average. This brew is about middle of the road for this brewery as well. Worth a try in the 12 bottle mixer I got but not really good enough to merit purchasing a sixer of it.

Photo of wingman14
3.63/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brownish red with an off white head and doesn't leave much lacing. The smell is nice, hops and citrus up front with some sweet notes. The taste isn't very bitter, starts hoppy at first with a full flavor and a somewhat bitter aftertaste. The mouthfeel is nice, good carbonation, a medium body. This one is an easy drinker, even though not a usual ESB, still enjoyable.

Photo of mikesgroove
2.94/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i have been assembling full lineups from breweries and randomly doin these horizontal tastings with my family. The saranac one from a couple weeks ago was more then epic as it took months to gather all of these, but it was a hell of a fun night! Big thanks to Alex for pulling through on the bulk of these

There was alot of carbonation visible streaming up from the bottom of the glass to replenish what little head there was. Decent side glass lace as well.

I really had to search for this one to be able to find any hint of anything really. It just came off way to light. When I was able to find an aroma it was most very light grain and wheat with a slight hint of earthy grass. This was your average ESB. And I mean average. The flavor was rather bland and non descript with really no defining characteristic to it. Some light cereal grain, and a touch of earthy grass again, but nothing really sticking out in any way. Almost forgotten as soon as it was sipped. It had a very nice amount of carbonation which was the only thing really keeping my intrest at that point

Overall this will be easily forgotten and I would not seek it out again. It was just way too average for me with nothing really sticking out or being different in any way.

Photo of plaid75
4.1/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a medium amber hue with a one finger frothy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a spicy caramel malt, a robust nuttiness and an earthy hop.

The taste consisted of a moderate caramel sweetness, an earthy nuttiness and a touch of smokiness. A good spicy hop as well.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness for the style.

Overall a delicious and seemingly authentic ESB. Very well done.

Photo of DavoleBomb
2.44/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured into a pint glass. I have no doubt that this beer is going to suck, as just about everything Saranac makes does, but let's see.

4.5 A: Looks great. Nearly three fingers of thick frothy head. Great retention and plenty of lacing.

3.0 S: Barely anything at all. A bit of floral hops, but that's about it.

2.0 T: Where the hell is everything? There's barely any taste at all. Worst of all is that the hop characteristics barely show up....and IN AN ESB!

2.5 M: Light body. Smooth because nothing's going on. Terrible.

2.0 D: I'd drink this over BMC, but that's about it.

This beer is neither extra special or bitter. Once again Saranac has produced a great looking shitty beer.

Photo of saradad
4/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a glass and formed a 1" very light tan head over a dark amber body the scent is bread and hints of fruit (raisins, pears, avacados? what the F*&% do I know I don't run the produce counter!!!) The taste is sweet and bread-y with a touch of caramel and a bitter hops aftertaste that seems to be mostly nutty and earthy and some citrus --am assuming that would be the result of using English rather than American hops -- decent balance of flavors without a lot of fanfare, nicely carbonated and hell it feels like a brew to me. I hereby declare this beer to be pretty darned good on the drinkability scale. Hell, Yeah

Photo of superdedooperboy
3.68/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A moderately gentle pour raises a gorgeous two fingers of cream-tinged creamy-yet-rocky foam that recedes slowly to a nice, sticky cap that hugs the walls of the glass and leaves behind thick bands of lacing. Color is a deep copper with a rather striking clarity.

Slightly herbal and floral hop notes appear in the nose, with a touch of orange-like citrus; malt aroma is underplayed and difficult to pinpoint. Some slight fruity esters are also apparent.

A medium, moderately-carbonated body shows mildly bitter, herbal and resinous hops in the foreground, with a smooth caramel-and-faintly nutty malt and mildly estery underbody that really shines just before the dry, herbal hop flourish that draws things to a close.

Nicely drinkable, yet the esters on the palate serve to make the malt character border on cloying as the beer warms. Overall, though, a good interpretation of the style.

Photo of Vendetta
2.47/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Pours dark copper with some red. Apparent carbonation. Thin, quickly dissipating head. Subtle lacing.

Smells highly malty with some hop presence as well. Not to big of a nose on this one.

Taste is bitter, a bit of hops, malt. Somewhat balanced.

Mouth feel is utterly destroyed by overcarbonation. This hampers drinkability as well. At least it's not too watery.

This isn't a bad beer overall but it's not something I'd ever get into considering that I don't really like ESBs in the first place. The fact that it suffers from macro style overcarbonation leaves this beer toward the bottom of my list. Not a drainpour but not very enjoyable either.

Photo of TheFightfan1
3.83/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured from a bottle to a pint glass.Pours an amber color with a decent heading that disapates very quickly.Hardly any carbonation with no lacing left behind.A nice dry hop smell.Goes down very smooth and is very light and crisp.Seems like a decent blend but again for the price just not as I would expect.

Photo of daliandragon
3.63/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a new entry this year in the Saranac 12 beers of Winter mixed pack. Color is a rusty orange brown with a puffy white head that gives a few good minutes before deflating completely. The noose shows some light roasted caramel but isn't very powerful.

Plenty of medium brown malt, with some earthy, buttery tones that mellow out the the back end of the taste a bit. Herbal and floral hops are present in the aftertaste but really just serve as backing vocals. The texture is nice throughout but a touch gritty in the aftertaste. This is a serviceable ESB that goes down real easy.

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Saranac ESB from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
77 out of 100 based on 137 ratings.