1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Saranac Imperial Stout - Matt Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Saranac Imperial StoutSaranac Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

192 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 192
Reviews: 151
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 13.37%
Wants: 20
Gots: 5 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company visit their website
New York, United States

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

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: AlHam on 10-22-2007)
View: Beers (88) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Saranac Imperial Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 192 | Reviews: 151 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jamie2dope


4.28/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is one of those breweries that I tend to pass up for others, but I was curious to see what their interpretation of an Imperial Stout was like. Pours a black color, with minimal heading. Nose has dark bitter chocolate, coffee, and some soft berry notes. Taste reveals many things. Milk chocolate, dark roasted coffee, a bit of hop, and a chalky roasted taste. Mouthfeel is medium. By far this is one of the most drinkable Imperial Stouts I have ever had. Saranac really stepped up to the plate with this brew. I wonder what some aging will do to this beer. Cheers.

Serving type: bottle

05-18-2008 06:14:40 | More by jamie2dope
Photo of animal69


3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours a deep, inpenatrable, almost jet black with a stiff brown head that settles after a few minutes leaving a good lacing in my snifter ; a strong woody/smoked smell, some sweet dark malts and lighter fruits such as apples & pears poss. from floral hops midway, almost has a burnt tequila-ish smell overall, alcoholic in the end ; a robust, moderately hopped, smokey, almost "meaty" flavor more accentuated on a darker roasted and a def. smoked malty quality more than other IS's, a bit more fruity as well w/ a coffee and brandy-like note with dark fruits in the finish ; a med-full bodied brew w/ barely enough co2 to support that giant head, could be a tad thicker ; an drinkable and enjoyable brew for sure, i've got to get more of this one...

Serving type: bottle

05-13-2008 22:09:32 | More by animal69
Photo of DarkerTheBetter


3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours an ultra dark brown with little flashes of raisin around the edges when held to the light. the head is a sandy tan that suck around for some time leaving some strips of lace.

Smells a little on the porter side with a emphasis on smokey malts backed by oatmeal raisin cookies, green grapes and molasses.

The flavor is quite dynamic with a little touch of smoke on the tip of the tongue that gives way to some melon and grape but is then subsumed by a harsh smokey streak down the middle of my tongue. When it comes together it lends a touch of roasted marshmallow.

Feels just a tad on the over-carbonated side as the bubbles become almost airy imparting an over-emphasis on the smoke.

I keep wanting to say that this tastes almost classic in the sense that it's nearly archetypal in its take on the style, but I'm not enjoying it as much as I should. A good take, easy to drink and priced right.

Serving type: bottle

05-13-2008 02:31:07 | More by DarkerTheBetter
Photo of ATLbeerDog


3.25/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2008 02:09:58 | More by ATLbeerDog
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

3.6/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On-tap 5/9/08, at Track 84 in Warwick, RI, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a short dense light brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is kind of faint but contains chocolate, roasted malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste is very malty as you would expect from this type of beer, with flavors of chocolate and dark fruit. There's a very mild hops presence, which is normal as well, but it keeps a decent balance. The after-taste is bitter sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, heavy body, light carbonation, finish is sticky and dry.

D: A little tasty, goes down ok, kind of filling, good kick, decent representation of style, it's decent beer but it's definitely not the first big stout that I would pick.

Serving type: on-tap

05-11-2008 01:28:29 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of dustinjkline


4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into pint glass

A - Syrupy black with dark tan head
S - Typical coffee, roasted malt smell. Not incredibly strong smell.
M - Medium carbonation. Fairly smooth
T - Taste similar to smell. Roasted malt, slight coffee. Just a little too much noticeable alcohol taste

Overall a pretty nice Imperial Stout
Worth the price paid.

Serving type: bottle

05-10-2008 02:10:57 | More by dustinjkline
Photo of Metalmonk

North Carolina

3.58/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Opaque, fudgy black with a toasted marshmallow head. Lace is ready to stick even though the head has hardly minimized within the first moments. Tilt leaves a thick brown trail of lace on the side. Head thins after a couple minutes, as expected of the style.

Aroma is a sweet, caramel/chocolate-dipped marshmallow, hint of graham cracker, a strong berry-like presence without seeming obvious, and traces of milk/cream in the background. One of those big stouts that smells like a s'more.

Flavor is frothed milk, deep-roast coffee, dark baking chocolate, with alcohol providing merely a base of warmth. Bigger stouts can be rich, gooey indulgences, and are usually better that way. Here the rougher elements of a stout are a bit too prominent (bitter coffee, baking chocolate), but the lactic sweetness that attempts to peek through is nice. Sourness in the finish is interesting, and at this point the alcohol comes through a bit stronger.

Like so much Saranac stuff, it's over-carbonated. There's a creamy, even light frothy body in here somewhere, but it's covered up by too much tingle.

I've learned to keep expectations on the lower side for this brewery. However, this is one of Matt Brewing's better beers, with enough good elements to recommended at least a one-time try. I like it, but my enthusiasm is muted.

Serving type: bottle

05-08-2008 22:39:47 | More by Metalmonk
Photo of SIRIUS2

North Carolina

4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Dark brown, near black, with a very sparse light brown head that faded quickly to a ring of bubbles. Light lacing.

S: Dark malts, light coffee, toffee, a little bit of the alcohol comes through, prunes, and something interesting that smells a little like black licorice.

T&M: Initial wash over the tongue is sweet, malt mixed with molasses, and then a bitter rush of coffee. Heavy in body but still delicate and even a little creamy. Carbonation is very light. Finishes a touch sweet at first and then drops off quickly, sort of passing the baton to a nice light alcohol warming.

D: Very enjoyable, easy to drink, and rather well balanced for an impy stout. For some reason, the ABV caught up with me very quickly. Very good! Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

05-07-2008 23:15:13 | More by SIRIUS2
Photo of daliandragon

North Carolina

4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've long considered Saranac to be the great pretender of large regional micros. They have a great range of styles, but by and large the qualtity isn't quite there. Still, they're usually affordable, and like the Met fan that I am, I keep trying and hoping... If they make a good Imperial Stout, that will heal a lot of disappointment.

So far, so good. Unrepentantly black color with solid brown head and impressive lace. The nose is balanced and complex, with toasted malt, coffee, and a slight burned note and has the pleasant stench of alcohol dripping all over it.

This is legit. Coffee and dry toasted malt with the obvious but not problematic alcohol haze. Very smooth and drinkable. Easily the equal of several of the bigger, more expensive names. Saranac finally shoot and scores! Now if they can just fix that Winter Wassail and Mountain Ale...

Serving type: bottle

04-28-2008 05:08:35 | More by daliandragon
Photo of NeroFiddled


3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The very dark tan color of the head suggests the richness of the brown-black beer below. A quick whiff reveals an assertive, dark-coffee roastiness and some vibrant hops in the background - and that's carried through in the flavor. I was pleasantly surprised to lively notes of floral, leafy, and spicy hops in the finish once the bulk of the dark roasted malt had passed. (The spiciness may actually have been from the alcohol, but it was minor, and quite pleasant). Quite enjoyable.

Serving type: on-tap

04-25-2008 15:58:00 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of philbe311


4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Jet Black,thin but lush brown head... As expected from a stout...

S - Coffee... Chocolate... malt... Very tempting...

T - Roasted coffe beans... Roasted Malt... Chocolate... Wheat / grain undertones...

M - Excellent texture... Taste is complex as develops at a good pace... Medium to heavy body... Coats well...

D - Exceptional offering... Tasty and harty...

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2008 02:07:16 | More by philbe311
Photo of RonfromJersey

New Jersey

4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Jet black body, not a highlight to be found. Dark tan four finger level dentable head of micor-micro bubbles.

Rich aroma of roased coffee, chocolate, and dark fruits.

Tongue follow nose. Roasty coffee, dark chocolate, soaking plums. Alcohol is well hidden. No real hop assault. Everythings okay, nothing is extreme.

Mouthfeel is smooth, but not quite as rich and slick as many in the style. Easier drinkability than some of the big boys.

No Stone IRS or Victory Storm King, but Saranac makes a nice little IS that could here. Worth a try but not a case.

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2008 04:30:19 | More by RonfromJersey
Photo of plaid75

New York

4.22/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep black hue with a one finger foamy tan head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a burnt grain with a touch of sweetness.

The taste featured a robust burnt grain with undertones of coffee and dark chocolate.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness for the style.

Overall a very approachable and tasty RIS. Kudos to Saranac.

Serving type: on-tap

03-29-2008 23:30:52 | More by plaid75
Photo of Pencible


4.47/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This poured pitch black (just like the 4 stouts in a row before it) with dark tan head. It smelled like milk chocolate, caramel malts and sweet coffee with a hint of almond. It tasted like rich and heavily creamed coffee with subtle caramel malt and chocolate flavors. It was watery with no carbonation and had a mild, smooth aftertaste. Overall this smelled exceptional, had great flavor, and was very easy to drink.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2008 21:43:09 | More by Pencible
Photo of bluejacket74


4.5/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, packaged on October 2, 2007 part of the "High Peaks Series". Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours dark brown/black with a huge tan head. Head retention and lacing are both pretty good. It smells like roasted malt, coffee, chocolate and a little bit of dark fruit (raisins, figs). It tastes like roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, brown sugar, and wood/oak. There's also a nice bitter hoppy finish which balances out the beer a bit. Mouthfeel is medium/full, it's creamy and rich with average carbonation. Drinkability is good too, it's smooth and silky which makes it easy to drink. The 9% ABV isn't very noticable although the alcohol warming does kick in after a while. I think this is a pretty good beer, Saranac did a great job with this one. I'd definitely buy this again. And for the price ($1.59 for a single bottle) it's an excellent deal.

Serving type: bottle

03-23-2008 01:54:37 | More by bluejacket74
Photo of KOPBeerDrinker

North Carolina

3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a jet black from the bottle. Large fluffy tan head formed, leaving nice lacing as it subsided. Smells of roasted malt, slight chocolate and fruit. Roasty, burnt malt taste ends with sweetness of fruit, maybe raisons. Mouthfeel is medium with little carbonation. 9% alcohol is not detectable and is easy to drink. One of my favorite Saranac brews.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2008 04:20:00 | More by KOPBeerDrinker
Photo of lackenhauser


4.33/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Amazing. Best Saranac beer. Period. That being said-great black color with a huge, fluffy, deep tan head. Nice roasted aroma with a mellow oakiness. Deep, roasted flavor. Terrific raiseny, burnt, port wine sort of thing going on. A whole schism of flavors going on. Solid mouthfeel. Killer beer all around. Very impressed. If the Saranac product line could rise to this level there might be a whole new ballgame for moderately priced craft beers.

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2008 02:51:16 | More by lackenhauser
Photo of akorsak


3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz bottle from a recent trade with ralflord.

A: The stout pours with a midnight black darkness. No light gets in and none gets out. A 2 finger mahogany head sat atop the glass, almost overflowing. Lacing is evident around the mouth of the glass.

S: The nose is deliciously dark, full of graham and chocolate. The burnt bread aromas almost scorch the nostrils.

T: The great nose falls a little short in the taste department. Burnt flavors are evident from the get go but they are not as focused as the nose would suggest. Some breadiness and darker malts manage to add more depth but ultimately the taste is a tad too thin.

M: The darker malts do create a good taste, quite possibly the best that Saranac has put out to date. This is nothing extraordinary but a nice step in the right direction.

D: The abv is hidden in the deep malt flavors. I don't think that I'd have more than one at a sitting.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2008 01:38:10 | More by akorsak
Photo of sacfly


4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, no date. "high peaks series"
pours a dark, almost opaque black with a sturdy brown head of small, tightly packed bubbles. Aroma is sweet. Malt and brown sugar. First sip is a nice balance of coffee and sweet malt- this quickly fades into a semi-intense burnt flavor. Not too heavy in the body. Impressed. Excellent Imp Stout. I'll bet if people didn't know it was Saranac, they would like it even more...

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2008 19:06:36 | More by sacfly
Photo of mattcrill


4.5/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma: Pleasant dark and burnt fruit aromas woft out of the glass. Figs, raisins, and black currants open up as the beer warms.

Appearance: Jet black with a batter-like sticky tan head.

Flavor: Cocoa powder, husky, underlying fruitiness that gets drowned out by the roastiness and chocolate profiles. Spicy hop bitterness is in the background but still noticeable. A little bit of maple and carmel sweetness helps balance some of the roasted and burnt profiles. Finish is clean, bitter, and dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied with medium carbonation. No alcohol heat detected and amazingly, no astringency.

Overall impression: A big, bold, English-inspired RIS. Wow...what a treat from Saranac. Most of their beers I've found to be clean and safe but nothing extreme or over-the-top. This is the best and boldest beer of their portfolio. For the price, a classic RIS. Strongly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2008 20:41:59 | More by mattcrill
Photo of Lothar666

Rhode Island

3.6/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- A two finger, dark tan head that was creamy and foamy at the same time displayed excellent retention for an RIS, receeding slowly and remaining at least a full finger thick for at least a couple minutes after the initial pour. Body was dark brown to pitch black in color, and no light passed through it.

S- Coffee mixed with a bit of strong alcohol in the nose. Little else, but what is there is very inviting.

T- Fairly complex dark roasted malts, strong coffee and slight chocolate flavors backed by some strong alcohol in the finish. Based on the flavor profile, the differance between this beers representation of its style and that of the Oatmeal Stout from the same brewery was like night and day- this is definitely the much better of the two.

M- Oily, thick and pleasant. Coats the tongue and the mouth like an RIS should. Worse than a few but much better than most.

D- The drinkability is a bit low due to the slightly astringent alcohol in the finish, but otherwise this is a decent brew. It is still no Storm King or Siberian Night, but a decent beer nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2008 04:00:11 | More by Lothar666
Photo of david131


4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Absolutely pitch black with a wonderfully thick brown head. very impressive.

S- A lot of chocolate and coffee. A little earthy and smoky. A good amount of cocoa powder adds to the complexity.

T- Same as the aroma, but has a little bit of a sour aspect that I am not a huge fan of. Pretty impressive none-the-less.

M- A little too thin and over-carbonated for my tastes. Not bad by any means though.

D- This Imperial Stout was better than expected. It was sweet and complex and enjoyable. Nothing really blew me away, but it was damn good.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2008 04:35:12 | More by david131
Photo of msubulldog25


3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle from the 'High Peaks Series' to a standard pint. Several years ago (1996 to be exact) I recall picking up a mixed six-pack of Saranac brews after a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Why I recall that fact I do not know, but what I do know is that this is my first taste from this brewery in a very long time.

A: Pours very, very dark - virtually black but for a thin auburn trim at the head. Good tan-colored cream builds to nearly a finger-high, drops to a swirl of creamy film. Lace sticks nicely, in uneven webs.

S: Aroma is smoky malt, but a sort of unappealing 'stale ashtray' smokiness. A little sweet chocolate or maybe dry cocoa powder, and some citric roasted coffee. Improves and sweetens as it warms.

T: Yeesh, this one starts very strong on the roasted/burnt malt and even stronger on the alcohol (and I'm talking a bracing rubbing alcohol). Softens a little in the finish to more chocolate and coffee bean flavors, but with some powerfully astringent sourness. Weird: it's not a beer I'd call 'delicious' by any means, but still there is something oddly appealing about it's grain alcohol-like rawness. Like the aroma, finishes sweeter and more chocolate-y late...

M: Body is a bit bigger than 'medium', due to the robust nature of these dark roasted flavors. Carbonation sneaks up with some zeal, and finish is bitter and more than a little citric/sour. There is a coating warmth and light malt stickiness that are both agreeable.

D: Not a bad imperial stout at all, but it's a harsh one. There are likable bitter chocolate and coffee elements but the balance is a little off kilter and, hence, the drinkability seems to me just above 'average'. Thanks to tayner & jwale73 (in advance) for the try...

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2008 23:24:37 | More by msubulldog25
Photo of objectivemonkey


4.6/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Into a pint glass, pours a deep dark black, a whopper of a tan head, tons of lacing. The aroma has nice leafy and oil hop notes that stick through the swamp of malts, thick bushels of malt, a bit bitter, nice coffee and chocolate notes, reminds me a bit of Darkness. A lot actually.

The mouth is pretty thick, good carbonation, pretty smooth. The taste is hefty and delicious, very similar the the nose, liberal use of black patent and roasted malts, the hop load balancing in leafy, herbal ways. Kept getting better as I was going along. Honestly, in a blind tasting, I'd have a hard time picking this out from Darkness, the two are much alike. Which, coming from me, means I really, really liked this beer. Let it warm, and you'll warm to it. Thanks a bunch to drseamus for this extra!

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2008 02:21:17 | More by objectivemonkey
Photo of connecticutpoet


2.7/5  rDev -30.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2008 22:20:47 | More by connecticutpoet
Saranac Imperial Stout from Matt Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 192 ratings.