Saranac Belgian Ale - Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Not Rated.
Saranac Belgian AleSaranac Belgian Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

289 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 289
Reviews: 235
rAvg: 3.34
pDev: 14.67%
Wants: 3
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Pale Ale |  5.90% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: kbnooshay on 10-27-2005

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 289 | Reviews: 235
Reviews by chinchill:
Photo of chinchill
3.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle served in a snifter. A bit annoyed at the outset that Saranac simply describes this as a "Belgian style ale" on the label (although there's a more info. in the fine print on the neck label) -- Belgian ales are so varied that this is virtually useless.

A: pours a cloudy orange-amber with a short-lived off-white head. Vestiges of the head remain for a while and some thin lacing is left o n the glass.

The aroma is fruity, bready and appealing, but too faint.
The flavor is fruity, bready and spicy, with what I would describe as a Belgian style spice component. It has a slight earthiness and yeastiness yet is quite drinkable. [3.25]

M: Medium-light body with near medium carbonation. A little watery.

O: well, a decent and economical departure from your typical American beer, but a not a strong rendition of a "Belgian ale"

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.33/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a nice rich copper with a tight formed 1/2 finger head that left a trace amount of lace as it settled quickly,peachy and phenolic spiced aromas maybe a hint of green apple skin as well, not to bad.Eh pretty lackluster flavors dominated by phenolic cloviness honestly not much more going on the fruity quality is lacking.A little boring but really not that bad not one to seek out but its in the 12 beers of Xmas pack,a no brainer really.

Photo of generallee
3.69/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It has a thin off white head over an amber color brew that looks to have to have been filtered. The aroma has a definite Belgian malt and yeast character that I like. Its flavor is very malty and sweet with some classic Belgian yeast and fair amount of hops that give it some citrus and bitter notes. The palate is medium bodied with a nice smooth texture and carbonation. Overall it's not as complex as other Belgians but it is still a decent brew.

Photo of Jason
3.42/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

A- Deep straw amber hue, clarity is fine ... decent yet thin lacing.

S- Medicinal, hay-like and herbal-sweet.

T & M- Earthy palate with a caramelish back. Bitter herbal and medicinal quality in the middle, nothing too funky but certainly noticeable. Solid crispness, medium bodied. There is an odd but very faint barnyard flavor here ... goat-like. Finishes with a bitter bite and a slight sweetness.

D- Not a bad stab @ a Belgian style brew ... after one that is about enough for be though. Glad I tried it but there are far better Belgian and Belgian Style ales out there.

Photo of Billolick
3.83/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ouncer sampled, no freshness indication on the label. Pours cloudy dark peach flesh, off white head dissolving to a clumpy thin film. Some moderate tubular lacing left behind. Nose is of some cloves and what seems to be a Belgian yeasty wiff. Notes of light cloves, perhaps anise. Fairly fruity and warming. One of the better Saranacs in MHO, Drinkable, starter Belgian style brew.

Photo of tigg924
3.12/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear amber with constant carbonation and no head

Smell: yeast, sweet spice, and candied fruits

Taste: It has the Belgian spices, I taste a little malt and some faint citrus

Mouthfeel: tart and smooth with a slightly sweet finish

Drinkability: I think that this is OK for the style. I could drink three or four but not a six. I think Saranac does produce better beers than this offering.

Photo of Kraken
3.1/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.
3rd of the Winter Variety Pack.
Firm pour into a standard pint glass yields a one finger head that diminishes very quickly. Minor lace color is a coppery amber.

Nose- Some caramel, and a slight nuttiness with hints of clove.

Palate- Caramel, slight notes of banana and clove. Hints of butter scotch finishes a little dry. Not a fantastic interpretation.

Mouthfeel- slightly soapy

Drinkability- Good.

Photo of dogfishandi
3.66/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

got this in a saranac winter seasonal 12- pack for 7$ (buy one get one free). poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. it pours a cloudy dark amber copper color. some creamy looking off white head that has pretty decent retention. crazy bubbles rushing vigorously fast to the top. some nice lacing on the glass as well. the smell is of some nice belgian yeast, bannana, clove, some phenolics, some bubblegum, fruitiness, some candied sugar, some nice malts as well. a little earthy grainy smell as well. the taste is grains, malts, earthiness up front with some nice fruitiness in the middle, finishing with a nice belgian yeast flavor, bannana, clove, phenolics. a slight hop bitterness and sugary in the overall taste as well. a little bit of a dry mouthfeel in the finiash as well. medium bodied, moderate to light carbonation. pretty good drinkability factor with this one, has some of the good tastes of the great belgians out there, just maybe lacking some of the complex flavors, but definately not a bad showing from saranac. most of their beers ive had were just ok to bad, this one i could prolly see myself drinking again, however, i dont think they sell this in 6 packs, you can only get it in the winter sampler 12 pack, and you only get 2 of them. great breakfast beer too, had this one about an hour after i woke up, made me feel great.

Photo of BadBadger
3.35/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a some what cloudy golden color. The smell is essential absent, there was nothing striking interms of olfaction. The head was minimal. The tatse was refreshing, but as mentioned others it was not far removed from their lager. The mouthfeel was watery. Not a bad beer to refresh youself with, but not worth searching out either.

Photo of WVbeergeek
3/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 beers of christmas...except I went and hand picked these from a twelve pack at a mix and match so it's more like sixer for the season of Saranacs that weren't regulars from them. Appears a bright clear amber tone with a large off white biscuit beige head leaves behind nice even lace after the head slowly dwindles away. Aroma has a piney herbal hop heavy iness with cloves and sweet Belgain candi sugar and other notable spiced bready christmas tones. Taste is heavy on the clove iwth bitter tree bark notes kinda tea like with mild caramle seet malts and herbal hop flavors. Mouthfeel is medium bodied wtih slightly rough feel to the palate although carbonation is fine. Drinkability...definitely not a "trappist" ale for the record but it was decently complex just lacking some crucial qualities I would expect in any Belgian brew.

Photo of Brenden
3.73/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had a couple Saranacs on Christmas with my wife's cousin's husband. I made thorough notes, as I intended to review when I could.

The color is a clear golden-amber. An off-white head pours small and fluffy, sticks around for just a little while, and leaves a decent quantity of spotty lacing.
I wouldn't say the smell is especially similar to what might be considered a Belgian pale ale. I don't really get the characters particular to it. I do, however, detect a light note of the famed Belgian yeast strain. There are notes of fruits (pear, banana, maybe apple), though not as strongly as the heavy hitters. There's also a sweet malt and a gentle spice, along with an earthy / mossy effect perhaps attributed to the yeast. Sweetness may be a bit much, especially couples with the light earthy funk.
The flavor doesn't differ a great deal from the aroma, except that it's not quite as sweet, which is good, and the earthy mossy thing going on isn't as prevalent here. The malt provides the backbone, though the yeast is nearly as strong. A light hops bitterness come out most strongly in the finish and adds a balance that wouldn't be there otherwise.
I do like the mouthfeel, though a better BPA is a bit of a spoiler with the richness, depth and complexity of it. This one's got those elements in lesser quantities. It's mostly smooth with a crisp bite, with contribution from a moderate carbonation, all in a light to medium body.
I won't take this over a Pranqster, but I rather liked it.

Photo of dacrza1
3.05/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Last of the winter sampler, and I saved this for a contemplative moment, as Saranac doesn't strike me as a brewery able to take on this complex a brew... medium golden-brown body with a frothy, swiftly-thinning off-white head...fruitiness apparent enough to counter-balance the yeast--so far, so Belgian...dry, yes-- oily, oh no! slides erroneously off tongue; effervescent and active body is too malty to be representative of the genre, I believe.... esthers and grapefruit tastes... not tart, however--remains grounded with malt again... in a way I find difficult to describe, the body is too small and the taste paradoxically is too big... light in alcohol and odd body equals a beer that's fun to sample but not up to the style's expectations...

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.47/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Saranac- Belgian Ale

A- Light copper brown clear with a moderate foamy head. Good ringed lacing.
S- Light sweet rock candy, sugar, orange rind, and coriander.
T- Sweet sugary orange rind, lemon, and coriander. Rock candy with a whiskey sour mix.
M- Sweet, tart, and, sour. Fruity and dry with a sour finish.

Overall- Light but a decent offering.

Re-reviewed on 11/12/09

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.35/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Part of the winter 12-pack.

Looks totally clear with almost zero bubbles, kinda strange. It's not a lively look but the carbonation seems adequate enough to support a thin, all-white bubbly but sticky head that actually has really good retention and leaves a decent foam covering.

Spicey wheat and herbal nutmeg malt scent with a sweet vanilla hint underneath with a big-time banana and lemmons effect. Smells very winter-warmer like.

This is surprisingly crispy and clean despite it's mild appearance. The Zesty fruitiness pops right out with banana, raspberry and more citric fruits like pineapple and lemmon. Decent complexity of fruit and herbal flavors, perhaps a bit light in flavor but the malt charechter is pretty high. but there is no warming-fuzzy alcohol feel so it's just like more malty hefeweizen.

The feel is light and pretty crispy clean despite the lack of bubbles!

this is a mediocre American effort of the style but the decent malt flavor and nicely balanced fruitiness makes this not exactly difficult to drink.

Photo of jmz62565
3.36/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a golden,amber with some orange with a nice two finger head.This has a floral smell,but with all Saranac's it also has a cooked veggie smell.The taste is very floral,with wheat,malt,and a little fruity.Not bad.The m/f is a little weak,but not to bad.This is probably Saranac's best beer,and I might pick this up again.

Photo of asabreed
3.77/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into my Corsendonk tulip.

Appearance: The color's right, the hazy golden yellow (and I didn't even swirl the yeast that was definitely hanging out at the bottom of the bottle) but there's not the fantastic amount of bubbles that I expected, nor the great lacing, nor the great head. I mean, hey, it's supposed to be a Belgian, so I can want a lot I guess.

Smell: Smells like a Belgian alright: candy sugar, heavy malt, some slight vanilla, lots of nice banana. Not as aromatic as it could be, but I'm pretty impressed with this, especially for Saranac's attempt.

Taste: Doesn't come through as well as the aroma. It's decent, but tastes a bit watered down, and unfortunately most of the Saranac special offerings seem to be in the same ballpark. Some banana, slightly heavy yeasty nature, some candi sugar and some malt. I'd like to see them work on this more, and it could be damn good.

Mouthfeel: Spritzy at first, but at the end it becomes pretty creamy, with a light to medium (though the more on the medium side) body.

Drinkability: One of the best offerings from Saranac in my opinion. They should maybe try some other Belgian styles, as this is very well done, and from the other 12 beers of Winter, this certainly is in the top 3 if not the best of the box. Considering the price of what a 6-pack would be, and the tasty nature of the brew, I'd definitely buy one of it were to soon exist.

Photo of Metalmonk
3.54/5  rDev +6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

No head retention, color is a dark, coppery amber...and no significant traces of lace.

Aromatic fruits and sweet spices excite the nose. Something somewhere between cinnamon and butterscotch approaches too...or maybe it's better described as a bubblegum aroma. Turns out this is the best aspect of the beer.

Flavors lean toward a mellow yeastiness meets sweet fruits (apple, plum, raisin, banana), caramel, and dessert spices. Flavor is wonderful at first, but it lacks staying power, the finish is somewhere between tart and plastic, and the carbonation is too high, the body too thin.

It's decent. Not great by any means. And definitely not worthy of being called "trappist style" as stated on the neck-ring. Wouldn't turn it down if offered, but probably won't actually pay for it again.

Photo of mempath
4.13/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a deep golden honey-brown with very nice lacing and an initial pancake-batter luscious head.

yes, maybe a fruit ester? that expected sweetness that i am slowly warming to...i love yeastiness, but never did like the smell. but a breadiness comes in making this one of the better 'belgian' noses (at least for a in-the-manner-of...). catching molasses, too.

thankfully, this doesn't have that citrus-y bite most seem to have (or how i characterize it for myself). used to love the abbey style ales, but grew away from them. perhaps they are too special and one to enjoy on occasion. actually, this is very good but definitely, for the belgie-fan, this is quite subdued. probably why i like this alot. the sweetness in the nose is cut in half on the tongue. thanks Saranac for your interpretation! if anything, as this warms, it doesn't get sweeter, but actually more lager like. strange. but delightful. also, nice carbonation and viscosity. good balance.

heck, i'd drink several of these....not quite session with it, but again, this whole winter pack is a session unto itself. so far, not a bad bottle in the box...

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.8/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

F.X. Matt's Saranac Belgian Ale delivers a caramelish and nutty character that's not really expected for the style, but also some peppery yeast phenolics that lend it credibility.

It pours a mostly clear deep-amber body beneath a decent-sized head of white that holds fairly well and leaves some nice rings and splashes of lace in its wake.

The nose suggests sweet malt with a candyish and lightly toasty side, and some gently fruity and peppery yeastiness.

It's smooth across the palate with a gentle caress of its lightly zesty carbonation against the medium body.

The flavor is not as sweet as the nose suggests, and the yeasty phenolics come on strong (seems like Chimay yeast), helping to balance it quite nicely. It would be nice if it were a bit more candyish, but the malt that's there is nice and gently toasty/straw-like (if a bit caramelish). Some delicate fruitiness offers a combination of red skinned fruit and dark skinned fruit (soft berries, apples, very subtle prune, green raisins). The bitterness lays just below the surface, offering a perfect balance; and it finishes dry and peppery with the pepper lingering on the palate, and some residual herbal and leafy hops appearing in the background here and there along with a gentle nuttiness.

Overall... not bad. As a standard Belgian pale ale (think De Koninck) this has a lot of character! But it's not a dubbel, which seems to be where it's trying to get to. Accept it for what it is and enjoy it with some mussels and frites!

Photo of tempest
3.56/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another bottle from the 2005 Saranac 12 Beers of Winter.

Poured a hazy amber with a one-finger head that lasted only a few minutes. No lacing.

Smells like a nice belgian wit. Tastes like an average wit. A little fruit and wheat flavor.

A nice drink, but finished with some bitter off-flavors. Under-carbonated like all the other bottles out of the 12 Beers.

Not bad overall. I'd drink it again in a variety pack, but there are a lot of better belgians available.

Photo of mjarosz
3.43/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass. This is supposedly a winter release, however, I bought this in mid-August...There was no date on the bottle.

Pour was cloudy reddish-orange with no head. Smells fruity with a slight bite. Tastes mild and sweet. Leaves very little aftertaste. Very drinkable. However, there is nothing too special about this. I wouldn't avoid this, but I wouldn't make any special effort to drink it again.

Photo of russpowell
3.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber/copper with a pinky of sand colored head. Nice viscous look, above average head retention average head retention

S: Green appleskins, white pepper & coriander

T: Green appleskins, a bit of booze, & dryness up front. Lemons, grapefruit, more apple skin & a dirty phenolic taste as this warms. Finishes with green bananas, a bit of white pepper, & a touch of candy sugar. Reminds more of a saison

MF: Medium bodied, medium carbonation, not so great balance, thins out as this warms

Drinks alright, not really impressed with this, more ABV & maltyness is in order IMO or more pronounced hop profile, plus just very disjointed. Never really pulls together

Photo of bditty187
3.85/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy, peachy bronze in hue with a smattering of amber with a beige head; I like the murkiness of the liquid. The foam grew one finger high before fading to a slim soapy cap. In other words, head retention was fair and substandard for a Belgian-inspired ale. A thin collar hung around while I drank the beer. The subsequent lacing was spotty and irrelevant. Still, I like how this beer looks.

The nose reminds me of a muddle Wit, so I guess Saranac did land a “Belgian Ale.” I smell gram crackers, some coriander-like spiciness, medicinal notes, plus some cloves. Moderate potency; I like the relative intricacy of the nose, so to speak. Sure, it is fairly straightforward (did I just contradict myself?) but it is inviting. I am optimistic about taking a sip.

The palate is interesting. I didn’t smell any of this fruit, there are big blasts of oranges and lemon candy. The malt is thin; it tastes like gram crackers, which is very agreeable. The sweetness is a bit much at times, the spiciness is too restrained; I found some peppery notes, cloves, and faint medicinal qualities and coriander-like flavors. Juicy at the finish… overall this beer is somewhat clean but dirty enough for me to care. I like my Belgians dirty. I really like this beer!

Medium in body, the carbonation is low but natural; the mouthfeel is refreshing and relaxing at the same time. I have no complaints.

I’d say this Belgian Pale Ale is comparable with second tier beers of the style. I found it plenty drinkable; it has enough flavors to keep me interested. No bad really, I think the food pairings could be quite wide. Flying solo it works too. This offering was part of a 12-beer sampler that I purchased in Lawrence, KS. Very good stuff; try one.

Photo of Backer2004
3.8/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one is probably my favorite Saranac beer so far just because this one was unexpected. If it wasn't from the Matt brewing company, I bet it's reviews would be slightly higher. This one had all the good qualitities of a Belgian Ale (I didn't say great, but I didn't say terrible either). Much cheaper than it's other stylisitic counterparts. Came as a new option in Saranac's 12 Beers of Winter mix pack. The best one of those I've tried so far.

Photo of Gmann
2.54/5  rDev -24%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Poured a golden brown color with a 1 finger head that disapated rather quickly for a Beligan ale, no lacing noticed. This ale smelled the part of a Beligan, sweet, sugary, spicy. Unfortunately that didn't transfer over to the taste. The taste was watery, a quick sweet spicy shot with a light hop aftertaste. I could drink a few of these but knowing what a true Beligan should taste like, I would stay away from this.

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Saranac Belgian Ale from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
77 out of 100 based on 289 ratings.