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Saranac Belgian Ale - Matt Brewing Company

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 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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 289 | Reviews: 235 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of scarletfire79
3.12/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

out of the seasonal sampler. pours amber with tons of bubbles. thin head that doesn't last. i've found myself recently getting into beligians so i tried this one pretty early in the pack. to be honest, i was kind of dissapointed. it looks good, it tastes like a belgian. but it lacks that something else, maybe it's slightly watery ? it tastes like a middle of the road micro with the flavor of a decent belgian. strange but okay.

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 AudioGilz
1.96/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Pours a pale amber hue with little visible carbonation and a weak head. The aroma is a definitely of a Belgian style; earthy, medicinal, crispy hops.
Mouthfeel is a bit thin for my preference, sweet maltiness hangs in there strongly, followed by a bitter finish and lingering sour bitterness. This definitely doesn't have the smoothness of a genuine Belgian ale, something's lacking for sure, not enough complexity is what I am concluding to, with a very annoying aftertaste. The aftertaste alone is turning me off very much; definitely not a preferred Belgian ale for me here.

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 akorsak
3.2/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

From the 2006 Winter Seasonal Pack.

A: The ale is a copper red color with highlights that border on orange. The head is a wispy white ring.

S: The ale has a subtly sweet aroma of honey and cherry.

T: The ale has a pleasant yeasty flavor. The first tastes are a honey sweetness with some cherry hints. That is followed by a tangy yeast flavor that has medicinal qualities. The finish is more of the medicine, leaving a somewhat harsh ending to the beer.

M: The mouthfeel starts out with a nice sweetness but soon takes an astringent rough flavor.

D: This is a complete change of pace for Saranac, so they get credit for mixing things up. Despite that, the flavors are a little harsh and not ideal for having a few.

Photo of sraimondi
4.27/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this one from this year's Winter sampler 12 pack, which has just become available in NW CT (Thanks to the Cork in Torrington). So far this is the best of the seasonal offerings of that pack. Given that I have been disappointed in the sampler so far overall (about halfway through it), this is a very pleasant surprise, especially on Turkey Day (Go Cowboys!!). While the color is a bit darker (light brown) than a traditional Belgian, the smell and taste are very good and within the style. Not much lacing, but the initial head is pretty good with some more intense aroma (as it should be) and hangs on for a bit. The aroma is classic banana/clove with some fruity notes. As far as the flavor, it is very good and on style. In fact, it is a bit more subtle than other Belgians I have had made in the USA, which makes it more enjoyable for me. Some peach/fruit with definite malt backbone and just a hint of hop bite on the back of my tongue. Mouthfeel is also good, as the flavors are subtle as noted above. My fave thing is the drinkability--ABV while not listed seems "controlled" and the yeast bite is alot more restrained than from other US versions of Belgian ale I have had. A really good Belgian from a NY brewery other than Ommegang--who would have thunk it?? Good job Saranac. Happy T'Day.

Photo of BBM
3.63/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Part of the Winter sampler. The beer pours a burnt orange color with a small white head. Not much lacing to speak of. The aroma is of light fruits and mild spices. There's also a buscuity quality in there.

The taste I found to be enjoyable. There's a pear flavor on the front end, almost like a white ale, and then the spices hit toward the finish. There is a slight hop bitterness as well. Mouthfeel is a bit fizzy. The beer isn't too thick or overpowering, making it fairly drinkable. Overall a solid example of the style, although nothing extra special.

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

I bought this as a Winter 12 pack...Pours an orangish-brown color with a small head, retention, or lacing (poured from a bottle into a snifter). Has a fairly sweet smell to it. Has a very sweet, fruity taste to it..hint of banana. Fairly mild. Malty. Has a sweet and light feel in the mouth. Overall, a decent beer...if it had better head it would be a pretty good example of the style.

Photo of sacfly
4.1/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Part of the winter seasonal pack
Pours a clear amber/orange color with a thick head of huge tan bubbles. Spicy aroma. Strong and unmistakably Belgian. Taste is lightly musty with a dominant pear flavor. The hops make an appearance in the aftertaste along with a bready, yeast bite; nice for the style. A solid Belgian pale ale. Nothing fancy, just easy drinking and to style.

Photo of tugdriver7
4.45/5  rDev +33.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer was another surprise from my 12 Beers of Winter variety pack. Being a bit of a German when it comes to malt beverages, I am not a real fan of Belgian beers. Something about the adjuncts and sugar that often create flavors that I don't associate with beer; though I know many BA'ers consider the Belgians as the best brewers in the world. I guess I was thinking "Abbey de Leffe" when I saw this bottle; but I was surprised at how much better (IMHO) it seemed to be. Better color, richer taste, but a more balanced (and heavier mouthfeel) beverage. Absolutely loved it. Rich, clear medium-gold color with massive, foamy head that lasted and lasted (and then laced the glass all the way down). The spicy clove/banana hops is present in the smell, but oh so subtle in the taste. Went very well with spicy food. In fact, it would have been great with anything. Smooth, just a bit bubbly gold and not too sweet. Extremly drinkable and one of the few I've enjoyed right down to the last swallow. Exceptional. I think I'll have to make trying Belgians my next big beer tasting adventure.

Photo of phisig137
2.85/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light copper almost straw color with a 1/2 finger head. No retention, and no lacing.

Aroma is a bit grainy, and has a slight hint of corn adjunct. Very mild caramel aroma, but only a bit on the finish. Also smells slightly yeasty, but not esters, just like a package of yeast.

Flavor is a bit of a disappointment. Slight malt character and caramel flavors, but not much else. no yeasty goodness, no hop on the finish (or anywhere for that matter), and only the slightest hint of fruit on the end. Mouthfeel is thin. Drinkability is decent.

The more I drink of this mixed 12 pack, the less I'm liking Saranac. A few of their seasonal beers(notable their Wit) are decent, but this twelve pack is not treating me very well.

Photo of plaid75
3.9/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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

The smell featured a strong earthy ale yeast aroma with a good fruity malt.

The taste as spicy and earthy with a yeasty body and good grain bill. Fruity candy sweetness as well.

The mouthfeel was above average with a nice mild chewiness.

Overall a pretty good Belgian Ale. Good yeast strain made this an above average beer.

Photo of treehugger02010
3.16/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I poured into a glass from a 12 ounze bottle. It was a decent beer, but it wasn't a great copy of a Belgian Ale. It was a bit too malty and sweet. I'm glad I got it in the 12 beers of winter case, because I don't think I could have gone through an entire case. Don't drink and review.

Photo of shirfan
3.59/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Copper with very little foam.

Aroma is estery, smells true-to-style at least. Some banana, caramel, clove, and pepper.

Taste follows the nose closely. Not an amazing world of Belgian complexity here, but it is passable and just a bit more. Some chewy malt and creamy carbonation mingle with nutmeg, banana, mild pear, and just a hint of spicy hops.

One of Saranac's better seasonal efforts.

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 rarevos
3.45/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into goblet.

A: No head at all, no lacing. Looks like soda. Color is a deep amber, reddish-orange. Very little carbonation. Would look like Ocean Spray cranapple if I had to guess.

S: Citrusy and spicy. Bit of black pepper. Very faint.

T: Very mild. Has some malty sweetness piggybacking a citrus flavor of indeterminate origin (orange? lemon? both?) so in a way, it's good that it doesn't dominate with obvious identifiable fruit. Peppery spiciness at the end. Very mellow flavor. Finish is dry rather than tart.

M: Light-bodied, and not terribly crisp.

D: Easy to drink. A good college try for the style. Nothing really remarkable about it, but nothing stands out as an obvious flaw, either. I could drink (and enjoy) several of these, but would reach for Ommegang's Rare Vos first. I'm also not rational about Rare Vos (hence the handle), so take that with a grain of salt.

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

Poured a coppery amber color with a minimal white, bubbly head that disappeared almost immediately and left no lacing whatsoever.

Smell was musky and floral with a scent of cloves or ripe bananas.

Taste: malty and yeasty, still that hint of cloves/bananas, but left a slight hop residue on the tongue. "Light" or "watered-down" also come to mind when describing the taste.

Mouthfeel: all in all this is a very light beer. Seemed to be a tad bit over-carbonated.

As a relatively light beer, it was moderately drinkable, but it lacks body and any real sustained flavor. Quaff one down when you're thirsty, but if you're looking to really savor a beer, you want to look elsewhere.

Photo of tgbljb
3.5/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a light copper color with modest white head that quickly dissapeared. No lacing to be found. Smell is slightly yeasty, with a touch of banana, but very light. Taste is pleasantly enjoyable with some spiciness and a little fruit. Hops also show there presence, a bit more than I prefer in this type of beer. Finish is dry, and bot overly nice. A fair try at a Belgian Pale Ale, but too middle of the road for me.

Photo of jdhilt
2.76/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a two-fingered off-white head that fades quickly leaving some lace. Cloudy amber color. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Nose is not there. Starts as a moderate malt/hop mix with a woody overtone. Hoppy after taste. 12 oz bottle from their winter sampler 12-pak $9.99, Market Basket Concord, NH.

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 JerzDevl2000
3/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The 2nd beer (alphabetically) of Saranac's "12 beers of Winter" pack that I've gone through, and it wasn't much different than the Adirondack Lager. Nothing terrible, but there wasn't much here that stood out and made a lasting impression on me.

Beer poured a deep bronze, with not a lot of head or lacing. Very malty, with just a hint of fruity tones and not much bitterness - even in the aftertaste. A bit too watered-down for me, this is just a very average beer that could be decent for session drinking, had the ABV been listed. Has a distinctive taste, but not in a memorable way. It would be nice to see the Belgian Yeast in it, or easier learn to recognize it's taste. Maybe this just isn't the brew for that...

I usually enjoy Saranac's offerings, but this brew seems like something they stuck in the holiday pack to finish filling it up - not unlike the way I'm filling up on it now. Only worth a try once...

Photo of Shiloh
2.71/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This is not a very pretty beverage, actually, it's kind of homely.
The colour is a lightly hazed thin orange, the head does not really exist, only a minor glass ring.
The carbonation is lively.
The aroma is very nice(personality) for something this unpleasing to the eye...fresh, crisp and smokey.
The taste is a little better than the appearance but not by much, the first thing you notice is its watery content then a meagre stab at respectability with its attempt at a smoked hickory flavour.

Photo of Sycodrummer
2.92/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from the 12oz. bottle into a wine glass the beer was a light red (alla cherry 7-Up) color. It had no head, and left no lacing. Streams of carbonation ran up the sides of the glass and continued to do so all throughout the sample.

The smell was grainy and thin. Some maltiness and softer fruits. A slight berry aroma.

A suprising tinge of alcohol in the taste greated the palate. The overall taste was exceedingly thin and grainy with faint traces of malt and soft fruits accenting a bland highly carbonated beer. Some berry and raison are present.

Light on the palate with a high degree of carbonation and crisp despite what seems to be a higher than normal alcohol content.

This beer was not bad, but with so many other wonderful examples of the style, it makes little sence to drink this unless you are in love with it. Average in all aspects and nothing to seek about. About what I expected from the beer: a middle of the road not too bad, but not too great offering.

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.

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