Saranac Imperial Stout - Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Not Rated.
Saranac Imperial StoutSaranac Imperial Stout

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BA SCORE
88
very good

152 Reviews
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 152
Hads: 198
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 10.74%
Wants: 22
Gots: 5 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: AlHam on 10-22-2007

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 152 | Hads: 198
Photo of DirtyPenny
2.2/5  rDev -43.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Black with a half-inch of cocoa brown head. Wide rings of lacing are left behind on the glass with every gulp.

S: Mostly getting chocolate and molasses on the nose.

T: Bitter chocolate malts and smoky cigarette ash give way to toffee and coffee, with a strongly bitter finish. Sadly, the ashy taste in the middle completely ruins this one. Tastes like someone tipped an ash tray into the mix. No booziness despite the 9% abv, which is just a comment, not a criticism.

M: Medium with light, foamy carbonation. Surprisingly light for an imperial stout, which you'd think would be kind of syrupy. And yet it's gritty and unpleasantly chalky on the tongue.

O: Saranac's Imperial Stout is the Kyle Boller of its class. You'd only put it into the game if you don't have any better options. They make a few decent brews. This one is a perpetual bench warmer. (885 characters)

Photo of CaptJackHarkness
2.57/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

No head to speak of ,no lacing of the glass- flat appearance. a burnt bitter coffee anise taste that lingers cloyingly on the palate and throat! The only thing in it's favor is ,like all Imperials, it has a healthy (or unhealthy from that point of view!) amount of alchohol in it! (280 characters)

Photo of CharlieMurphy
2.62/5  rDev -33%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A: Translucent black (just a red beam of light through the center up to a light). Thin tan flat head that stays as it poured. Looks thin

B: Brown malts, a little chocolate, smells more like a porter. a touch of sweetness, a touch of roastiness

T: Not a whole lot going on. The carbonation masks most flavors for most of the taste then it emerges into a bitter chocolate finish that kind of reminds me of burnt hot dog char. I remember this being better in previous tastes. Prolly not one to age in that case. This is almost a year old.

M: Thin feel but higher than average carbonation. Burnt taste ruins this

O: Drink Fresh! (629 characters)

Photo of connecticutpoet
2.75/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This beer was clear, very dark brown, and had a thin layer of head upon the pour.

Aroma was of strong roasted malts, dark fruits, and bitter chocolate. Interesting and promising.

Taste was a letdown. Although the strong roasted flavor promised came through, there was a big medicinal/alcohol taste that followed immediately. That faded, and the finish was a long smooth roasted malt flavor. I really did not care for the medicinal aspect of this one at all.

Mouthfeel was OK, somewhat smooth as mentioned above.

Drinkability... not one I will seek after again. A letdown after their Imperial IPA. (600 characters)

Photo of harrymel
2.82/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle date: unk

A: pour a dark soily black ale with no head formation and a mirror surface. No lace.

S: prunes and malts. Faint, but pleasant.

T: Bitter and oxidized malts are not very pleasant. Have a burnt coffee flavor and small hints of licorice and honey.

M: Medium bodied (a bit low for the style) and moderate carb. Dry finish.

O: A little too burnt in profile for me. May have potential to develop over time, but not enough to justify the investment. (465 characters)

Photo of iRoy
2.95/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a straight up pitch black with a nice toasted smell. Nice big fluffy head that sticks around. Goes down really bitter and smokey, with the toasted aftertaste sticking around. ABV is hidden really well because of the strong smoked taste. I can't see myself drinking more than 1 of these but it's pretty decent. I don't know, for some reason I expected more. (362 characters)

Photo of bubseymour
3/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I've only had 2 other Imperial Stouts to date so this Saranac was my 3rd. The appearance was so/so. The head, like all other Saranacs, had large/fizzy carbonation. Not as nice as I would hope from a I.S. The smell was sweet and the taste was strong, sweet and boozy. It was very heavy and a little hard to drink. Little to no hop bitterness at all. For those fond of R.I.S brews, I would guess there are much better options out there for this style of beer. There are better Saranac's as well. (493 characters)

Photo of nhindian
3.03/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottle generously provided as an extra by CharlieMurphy, thanks man!

A - Pours a midnight black with dark red highlights interspersed throughout. About 1.5-fingers of dark tan head with decent retention. A silky cap floats gingerly above the liquid when it finally dissipates. Lacing is pretty good as well!

S - The rather unassuming appearance gives way to a dangerously bold aroma. Char, ash, and soy dance precariously below coffee roast and chocolate. Definitely smells bigger than 9%, for better or for worse. The char and soy really weighs heavily as it warms.

T - This feels like a toned-down version of Avery's Mephistopheles with a bit of a balance issue. Rather than having a predominant anise flavor, the ash and soy take center stage, making it tough for the roast and chocolate to burst through. At times they do, but most of the time it's tough for them to get through the burnt sweetness. Finish is sweet and alcoholic with a lot of char.

M - Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with ample carbonation. Actually feels a little thin for what the flavors are bringing and the style, which I guess hurts it a bit. Finishes pretty sweet.

D/O - Drinkability is moderately low. The website says that this is meant to be sipped and given the flavors, it's kind of hard not to sip it. Much to roasty for me, considering it plays on the wrong side of charred. The anise comes through slightly but in a way that actually seems to accentuate the soy. A miss for me personally. (1,511 characters)

Photo of tempest
3.05/5  rDev -22%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Right after the pour the aroma starts with rich espresso followed by fruity, floral hops. The first aftertaste, however, is a bit chalky. What's up with that? The aroma is interesting to say the least, with biscuit (and almost cracker-like) malts with smooth chocolate. The flavor, however, is harsh like there's too much black grains, without much substantial flavor. The bitterness is unmatched by any tasty malts, leaving it unbalanced.

In summary, aroma=good, taste=not good. (481 characters)

Photo of cbutova
3.11/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Pitch black body with a big mocha tan head. Nice retention and a good creamy texture. Lace rings start at the top and fill up the glass.

S- Dark roast malt, big dark fruit, raisins, caramel and cocoa notes.

T- A huge roast malt (somewhat burnt) comes first with dark fruit/raisins, alcohol and cocoa as well. Oxidized cardboard notes come in.

MF- Moderately thick creamy body with a bitterness (feels like from roast malt) and warmth from alcohol.

Not bad for the price but nothing compared to so many other Imperial Stouts. The flavors aren't as balanced, rich or blended and after a few sips the alcohol starts to build and it tastes oxidized. Get Yeti, Founders or Stone if you want a treat for not a ton more money. (726 characters)

Photo of Minkybut
3.17/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I poured this beer into ny tumbler at 50 degrees. The beer was black as tar and I thought yummy. It was not even though the head was a nice brown color and pretty. It fell about halfway thhrough. Coffee to toffee taste was good but the aftertaste was like mtallic or something. Harsh aftertaste and to much alcohol burn. lacing was decent but overall I thought the beer was flayt and not very good. Not going to buy again. (422 characters)

Photo of Jeffo
3.18/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Got this at De Bierkoning in Amsterdam.

From a bottle into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: Pours out dark brown and sits black in the glass. Pour yields a three finger medium-thick mocha colored head with great retention. Medium carbonation evident. Head fades to a thick foam cap and leaves some immediate clingy lacing. Ring and splotchy wisp remains and leaves some half decent lacing down the sides.

SMELL: Roasted malts and some charred and charcoal notes. Some alcohol notes and hints of chocolate and coffee aromas. Some smokiness to with the charred, burnt notes.

TASTE: roasted and burnt or charred malts with some alcohol in there as well. Notes of dark pure chocolate and bitter coffee, but more about the smoky burnt malts here. Long lasting and bold charred, burnt malt finish with some alcohol and bitterness bringing up the rear.

PALATE: Medium body, lighter and thinner than expected for the style. Semi-creamy, goes down fine with a little scratch at the back and finishes slightly dry on the palate. A little below par for the style.

OVERALL: Fine, but a little too one dimensional with the roasted, charred malt profile. Moreover, the palate could use a little more weight for the imperial stout category. If you like your big stouts burnt, this will do the trick. If you like a little more complexity, however, then there are others that fit that bill. (1,374 characters)

Photo of Soozy
3.21/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Jet-black with a tan head. Has a strong smell of alcohol and coffee. Taste has a strong chocolate taste and little bit of a burnt flavor. This beer tastes like it might have oxidized. It is a little bit too over-carbonated. The drinkability is good for 9%, which is masked well, but overall this isn't the best Imperial Stout...it is sold at a great price though. (363 characters)

Photo of gford217
3.25/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Kasper poured into a snifter.

A: Pours pitch black with a thin, dense tan head that recedes to a bit of foam around the edges pretty quickly leaving some decent lacing along the way.

S: Aroma is very sweet with roasted/burnt chocolate malts, molasses and a big dose of licorice. Slight hop presence in the background along with a subtle alcohol burn in the nostrils.

T: Taste disappoints a little bit after the good aroma and comes across a bit medicinal. The sweet malts, roasted/burnt coffee and chocolate are there but there is an overriding astringent bitterness that takes over and stays throughout the finish. Interesting tastes but too bitter for my liking.

M: Mouthfeel is a little light for the style but still creamy despite the astringency.

D: Well, this is definitely an interesting brew with a good mix of flavors, but the bitterness and burnt character keep it from being a great beer. (923 characters)

Photo of argock
3.27/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz brown bottle into a clear glass snifter. No freshness date. Single purchased at Ancona's Wine and Spirits (Ridgefield, CT) for $1.89.

A: very dark brown with chestnut highlights and solid 2-finger German chocolate cake batter beige head with good retention with spotty trails of lace.

S: It has an interesting sweet caramel note which is usually drowned out by the roasted character. There still is a nice roasted aroma with tobacco, earthy hops.

T: The flavor is unfortunately very ashy and doesn't allow the caramel notes to come through. The tobacco notes are way too strong and the maltiness is lost.

M: Thin for the style with pretty dry finish.

O: Not terrible, but the ashy nature of the flavor is off-putting and dominates. (755 characters)

Photo of MrDanno96
3.28/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pours black with about one finger of light tan head sitting on top. Some frothy lacing coats the sides of the glass.

S: Lots of smokiness and roasted malt. Maybe a little dark chocolate in there too.

T: Surprisingly hoppy, and not really in a good way. Flavors of roasted malt, smoke, and burnt coffee up front give way to a slightly sweet and piney hops finish. The finish is a little too sour as well and some citrus comes out as the brew warms. Not really what I'm looking for in an Imperial Stout.

M: Medium to full with a little alcoholic bite.

D: An O.K. Imperial Stout, but I don't really like the strong hoppy finish. The 9.0% abv doesn't aid in drinkability either. (684 characters)

Photo of brentk56
3.28/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown with some rusty highlights around the edges; initially, it produced a fairly decent head, but that faded quickly to a ringlet while dotting the chalice with lace

Smell: The aroma is a bit of a muddle, frankly, with a rich dark chocolate and molasses tone, on the one hand, and a phenolic, plastic, artificial scent, on the other

Taste: I'm afraid the taste profile follows the aroma, with a nice rich, roasty, dark chocolate character up front; by mid-palate, the flavor starts to taste like burnt caramel and, unfortunately, it only goes downhill after the swallow, with a slightly sour finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation; still, a bit thin for the style

Drinkability: Ultimately, the off flavors in the aroma and the taste make this one tough to finish (823 characters)

Photo of ATLbeerDog
3.28/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a beautiful brownish/black color that is extremely dark - not much head with average lacing and below average carbonation. The dominate smell is rich malts, coffee and chocolate. First taste is light, sweet, and bitter - not much body at all. Not very complex as other in this style. (289 characters)

Photo of PBoegel
3.29/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Second in the High Peaks series, poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip pint glass.

Poured with a big frothy brown head, rich and thick on top of truly black body. Some slight hints of light but overall a dark brew.

Aroma was very roasty, some dark chocolate notes, very nice and reminiscent of a solid Extra Stout. Some notes of higher alcohols but not overbearing or unpleasant. Could use a little more hop in the nose.

Taste was much the same. Not unpleasant for an Imperial Stout but whereas many American versions lean toward either high ABV, extreme hoppiness, or some mixture of both that is built on a near cream body and a very high finishing gravity, this beer finished more like a traditional stout, dry and roasty. Although the alcohol flavor does poke through (interested to see how it subsides over time)

Nice big mouthfeel some grainy oat feel which is certainly appropriate and frankly welcome, too many American Imperial Stouts are either sweet and cloying or watery with a huge fusel alcohol kick. (1,021 characters)

Photo of Gavage
3.31/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: pours a black color with a 1" tan colored head.

Smell: roasted malts, prunes, alcohol, and a hint of chocolate.

Taste: roasted malts, bitter chocolate, prunes, moderate alcohol tones, and a moderate bitterness.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Lightly crisp to start, smooth at the finish. Long lived aftertaste.

Drinkability: slow sipping beer. The alcohol is a bit overwhelming here. This is an imperial stout that is cheaper than most others, but doesn't really live up flavor wise either. (511 characters)

Photo of khiasmus
3.32/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a finger of head. Head drops to a short layer quickly but lasts for the duration of the experience. Leaves slight moderate lacing.

Aroma is of chocolate, hints of roasted grain, a light hint of oak. Not a bad nose. It's actually quite good for the caliber beer this is.

Flavor also, not bad. Some chocolate and toffee notes, a finish of roasted grain and earthy hops, and a light sour tinge in the middle that seems to be due to the hops.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin for the style. Lightly creamy, but really underwhelming.

The problem with this beer is not that it's poorly crafted. The problem is how subpar it is compared to other beers in the style, and compared to the style guidelines. The alcohol is enough, but the flavor complexity simply isn't. The bourbon note is nice, and it's really a very good beer. The sourness is somewhat offputting, but the main thing is it's just subpar. An easy drinking Imperial stout. Just subpar. (956 characters)

Photo of Bung
3.33/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. Poured black, dark tannish head. Roasted aromas, not real heavy. Pretty carbonated in the mouth, mostly roasted malt. A hint of sweetness. Would have liked it better if there was more mocha, chocolate, molasses, anything. A bit of sour bitterness is the main negative though. Charred/bitter finish that isn't really complemented by anything either. Just O.K. (365 characters)

Photo of mmmbeer
3.36/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, brewed to 23 Plato with eleven malts, including two-row, chocolate and roast; hopped to 50 IBUs with Columbus and Summit, and dry-hopped afterward. Pours thick black, with a dark khaki collar that leaves a just a trace of lacing. Aroma consists of roasty coffee, vinous malts and a bit of hops. On the palate, the malts contribute dark fruits, coffee, roast, char and a hint of acidity, while the green hops lend a mild, bitter linger. The body is medium and coarse, a bit bubbly, and eventually smooths out. Fairly easy to drink despite the higher ABV, but it could benefit from some age to even out the rough edges. (632 characters)

Photo of erosier
3.4/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This is a bold beer if ever there was one. It pours black out of the bottle with a deep caramel colored head. It smells very earthy - deep rich malts and some hops mixed in with an almost chocolatey aroma. It has a strong earthy taste - very malty and some hints of hops, chocolate, and coffee flavor. A very bitter roasty aftertaste but alot of alcohol flavor. Good mouthfeel but very bitter. Due to the bitterness and the strong alcohol flavoring, it is not very drinkable, but it is really an interesting beer. (513 characters)

Photo of mike1290
3.4/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Being from NY I like trying as many NYS beers as possible. Unfortunately, this stout comes up a little short overall.

A - bottle poured into a pint glass comes out virtually black with a spare, tan head. The liquid seems a little thin for an Imperial stout. Lost its head pretty quickly

S - Roasted malts and chocolate along with a slightly bitter hoppiness. A little caramel comes through

T - From the front of the mouth you get a slight chocolatey malty taste but it is quickly taken over by a bitter cloying taste that overpowers the good qualities. From the back of the mouth more chocolate and roasted flavors

M - Goes down smooth at first due to low carbonation but does have a bit of a bite

D - only a couple and then your mouth feels like its coated with a bitter sheen like you get after chewing on raw hops (821 characters)

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Saranac Imperial Stout from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
88 out of 100 based on 152 ratings.