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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)
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Ratings: 192 | Reviews: 151 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of CharlieMurphy

New York

2.55/5  rDev -34.4%
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!

Serving type: bottle

09-02-2011 02:08:35 | More by CharlieMurphy
Photo of nhindian


3/5  rDev -22.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2011 05:52:04 | More by nhindian
Photo of CaptJackHarkness

New York

2.48/5  rDev -36.2%
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!

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2011 17:55:54 | More by CaptJackHarkness
Photo of harrymel


2.83/5  rDev -27.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2011 16:13:53 | More by harrymel
Photo of DmanGTR


3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A lazy, hot, humid Florida day... which calls for an imperial stout.

Poured deep, roasted chestnut brown, maybe even slightly hazy. Mahogany hues around the edges in the light, topped by a light tan head that left rings of lace in my pint glass.

The aroma is delicate but pleasant. Sweet caramel and grains are adorned by a touch of cocoa and coffee. A hint of deep ripe fruits is found too. The flavor is better than the aroma suggests. A more assertive version of the aroma, but with an added burnt toast/ashy finish. The finish is coffee and cocoa powder bitter with sweet undertones.

A little more carbonation than I'd like, which makes the beer seem somewhat thinner bodied than it really is. A few swirls of the glass takes care of that. Dryish finish. Medium bodied for imperial stouts these days. Similar, but a touch thicker in body to Sam Adams Imperial Stout.

Overall, a pretty enjoyable stout. I'm glad I brought a few of these down with me to school. I look forward to enjoying these throughout the year as an occasional post-exam treat.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2011 00:20:37 | More by DmanGTR
Photo of Brenden


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

This was the third and final beer I had at the 1888 Tavern after a great brewery tour on 7/3/11. This is one of two brewed so far for the High Peaks Series and thus not on tap.
This beer is pitch black and thick. The brown head that rises to about two fingers never completely fades. Sticky, clumpy lacing is left in a curtain most of the way down and barely lets up. This head has staying power and is nearly as well formed as I've ever seen. This is a beast.
Barley-like aromas from dark malts are huge, and the nose is both earthy and sweet, almost seeming to have a faint tinge of beeries and a whisper of citrus from hops. Alcohol really doesn't come through here. This is a nicely balanced malt bomb right from the get-go.
The taste, as evidenced in the aroma, is huge on malts; this one tastes on the offset like I'm eating barley bread. Chocolate malts are very well evidenced, and a light sweetness with a dark, bitter tinge complement well, and just barely noticeable citrus hops notes come through. There's a bit of coffee and, again, alcohol is well masked.
This beer is thick, rich and smooth, heavy but not filling. It even manages some crispness to it, and just little enough to keep it lively without taking away.
This is by far the best offering I've had from Saranac and proof they can make big beers with the best of them.

Serving type: bottle

07-07-2011 16:58:16 | More by Brenden
Photo of cbutova


3.1/5  rDev -20.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-16-2011 01:28:56 | More by cbutova
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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

Really quite nicely colored, I could not even pick out the slightest bit of light peaking through on this one at all. Ni head at all, well maybe a slight rise of tan for a few moments, but this quickly faded and left the top bare. Some nice notes of dark molasses type aromas, with hints of licorice and other slightly dark fruits as well. A nice subtle hint of vanilla and chocolate as well. First wave to hit the tongue was that of chocolate and burnt, and toasted malts. Blending in seamlessly was a nice bit of vanilla and burnt coffee. Very sweet in the middle, with some dark raisin and licorice like notes, and a slightly hopped finish that really helped to being it all together and dry out the palate enough to let the soothing and sweet malt profile settle in.

A touch thin here, as this was definitely not one of the big boys. Not a real lack of carbonation, which I was afraid of, but it just needed a little bit more of a pop, and a little fuller body to really push it on through. I really could not pick up much of the alcohol and the body was not full enough to really be super filling. I was monumentally impressed by how smooth and quickly this one went down.

Though admittedly not my favorite of the big stouts, I have had far worse and this one does a fairly good job at holding its own.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2011 00:55:40 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of AnPiobaire

New York

3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I poured the Saranac Imperial Stout into a snifter at about 53 degrees. It a rich opaque with a nice 1/4 inch caramel colored head that lingered a little while before dissipating.

The nose is malty with molasses and licorice dominating with subtle coffee and cocoa notes.

The taste is not as sweet as one would think given the very strong nose. Malt and coffee are the initial tastes on the palate which fades to a bitter hoppy finish.

The mouthfeel is a little thinner then one would anticipate given the boldness first encountered when nosing it. It is a little more carbonmated then expected as well, but overall a nice flavorful imperial stout. I would reccomend this to stout fans. Enjoy!!!

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2011 21:43:20 | More by AnPiobaire
Photo of weller1js

West Virginia

4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

appearance: pours a dark black, light carbonation, with slight tan bubbly foam and a slight ring of lacing; appears to be slightly thicker than water when swilled.

smell: dynamic roasted malts with hit of coffee, caramel, and toffee; sweet and bitter notes are well-complemented.

taste: begins clean yet bold, the malts remain consistent throughout, from the middle to the finish the sensations from both the bitters of the hops and the strength of the alcohol come forth, enhancing the heavy body; the taste of the alcohol does detract from some of the notes one would expect from the scent, but its not necessarily a bad thing.

drinkability: bold, strong, and with character, the elements of the imperial stout are there, would be a 5 if the elements noted in the scent were slightly more manifested in the taste.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2011 22:46:23 | More by weller1js
Photo of josefnewsong

New York

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

This is possibly the best brew I've had from saranac. Dark raisin/prune flavors dominate with typical roasty chocolatey notes behind followed by a touch of alcohol. More sweet than bitter but hops are certainly there to balance it all out. A very yummy beer that's easy to drink and unique.

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2011 04:23:41 | More by josefnewsong
Photo of tbrown4


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

12 oz. -> Giant snifter. Bought a single at Shawann Liquors. Used to drink all varieties of Saranac in the late 90's in college. I remember getting 6 packs for $2 at Well's in Towson. First time I've had a Saranac brew in quite some time. Intrigued by their imperial series.

A - Pitch black,thick tan head. Thin lacing and thinning head as it settles.

S - Tart, roasty, coffee, lightly earthy musk

T - Tastes very developed. Not sure of the age on this bottle, but it tastes of a 1+ year cellared imperial stout. Flavors are identical to the aroma with the addition of a clean hop finish.

M - Feels thin to medium-thin bodied. Surprisingly no alcohol warmth.

D - I'd buy/order again without question. It's a good representation of the style. A bit heavy on the palate but the lack of alcohol presence makes this an easy one to sip.

Fairly impressed with this brew.

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2011 20:52:20 | More by tbrown4
Photo of wcintula

New York

4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle stamped: 0980 0854

Impressive from the get-go, pouring with an impenetrable black body with a massive, puffy, sticky, well-retained head that leaves behind a web of lacing on its slow descent. The smell contains big chocolate, some coffee, and caramel notes while the flavor contains these along with charred notes and a nice balancing of hops in this well balanced beauty. Creates a pleasant warmth as it sits in the stomach, this beer has a gravity you can feel when it touches your lips. An excellent value at $10 per sixer.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2011 05:29:09 | More by wcintula
Photo of iRoy

New York

2.85/5  rDev -26.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2011 04:57:50 | More by iRoy
Photo of Gavage

New Jersey

3.28/5  rDev -15.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2011 22:02:09 | More by Gavage
Photo of gabedivision

New York

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

Poured from a 12 oz'er to a Sam Adams Imperial snifter.

A- Nice dark black with a fluffy well carbonated head. Cant see in, cant see out.

S- Faint alcohol, roasted malts, sweet chocolate and caramel and a light smokey scent.

T- Smokey roasted flavors, the chocolate and caramel that was so good in the smell tend to get lost every other sip, high alcohol on the finish.

M- Well bodied and hearty with sweetness that stays on the tongue.

D- Highly drinkable, and very inexpensive. Great choice will absolutely have again.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2011 04:18:44 | More by gabedivision
Photo of Chickenhawk9932


4.35/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a thick coffee colored head that hangs around.

Smells of caramel, malt, coffee, chocolate, and bitter spice.

Slightly sweet up front with caramel notes, followed by a full coffee taste, then bitterness pounds the back of the mouth - finishing dry with bitter chocolate notes; An excellent Imperial Stout.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2011 23:08:00 | More by Chickenhawk9932
Photo of grover37

District of Columbia

3.38/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance (4): Dark black with dark brown around the edges. A finger of light brown head reduces to a thin layer with some bigger bubbles. Sporadic spots of lacing.

Smell (4.5): Dark chocolate, char, and heavily roasted barley. Some booziness is apparent.

Taste (3.5): A bit watery up front with strong flavors of dark chocolate and roasted barley. Then a bit of sweet chocolate and tobacco and pine in the finish. Although it's a bit thin at first, the flavors are good but the charred flavor is a bit too strong in my opinion.

Mouthfeel (3): Medium to full bodied with medium carbonation which is a bit high. Creamy and coating with chocolate, charred malt, and pine.

Drinkability (2): The flavors are really big - almost too big - for 9% ABV. It's got some solid flavors for an RIS but it seems like something is off - I think it's just the overly strong char flavor. This would probably be a lot better with 6-12 months once that char character mellows.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2011 03:31:42 | More by grover37
Photo of mmmbeer


3.38/5  rDev -13.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2011 18:16:17 | More by mmmbeer
Photo of TheSevenDuffs

Ontario (Canada)

3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasting notes from 1/9/11
Poured in to Duvel tulip

A - Dark black, small amount of light brown head.

S - Chocolate, coffee, hazelnut, slight bitterness.

T - Coffee, licorice, light chocolate notes. Somewhat hot.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2011 02:25:02 | More by TheSevenDuffs
Photo of bubseymour


3/5  rDev -22.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2010 20:33:56 | More by bubseymour
Photo of allergictomacros

Ontario (Canada)

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

A - Pitch black with a cream tan foam.

S - Nose is rich cocoa, coffee and fruit. Hints of booze and something anise-like come through as well.

T - Wow, bitter burntness. Dark, caramelized sugar and molasses. Pumpernickel, raisins and other dark fruit. Sweet, but barely enough for balance against the other big flavours.

M - Soft, creamy body.

D - Pretty good impy stout. Lots of flavour, but heavy. Very heavy.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2010 21:45:10 | More by allergictomacros
Photo of HotHands


3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into my pimp, err, Chimay chalice.

A - pours jet-black with a finger of tan head. Great lacing.

S - coffee, toffee, roasty char, and bittersweet chocolate.

T - Roasty malts predominate. Coffee and chocolate are present, but this stout is not too sweet. Only a slight booziness. Nicely balanced by the bitterness at the end. I wasn't blown away by any of the flavors, but there's nothing to complain about. Everything is peachy.

M - Nice slick, full-bodied feel. Carbonation level is appropriate for the style (lower than the average beer).

D - Quite drinkable for the ABV. Goes down smooth.

A solid offering from Saranac. They get a bad rap because many of their beers are mediocre, which is true. My favorite Saranac is probably their Irish Stout, and this is a pretty similar beer with a higher ABV, so I like the Imperial. Plus, it was pretty cheap ($9.50 for six).

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2010 01:15:28 | More by HotHands
Photo of TMoney2591


4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

I know I owe someone a thanks for this bottle, and I think I know, but I'm not entirely sure. (Whoever you are, let me know...the thanks must be given!)

Finally unpacked my snifter, just in time to enjoy this tasty-looking brew. It pours a dense Charlie Murphy-style darkness (well, before Wesley Snipes hit the scene, anyway (thanks for that one, VDubb!)) topped by nearly a finger of light tan foam. The nose is the epitome of roast, with some chocolate, molasses, coffee, and a strip of leather racing among the roasted ruins. A touch of booze singes the hairs in my 'strils, but not so much as to cause a recoil. The roast seems to take a back seat to some chocolate-laden coffee when things move toward the 'buds, but make no mistake, the roast remains strong and in control of the situation. Leather, light maple syrup, brown sugar, and a hint of vanilla bean round out the flavor profile. The body is pretty hefty, with a light moderate carbonation and a somewhat lightly watery feel. Overall, a very solid stout, a bit high in roast, but not lacking in complexity or enjoyment.

Serving type: bottle

09-09-2010 05:53:59 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of BeerAdvocate


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

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II, Issue IV:

Coal-black, color so dark, no light can penetrate it. Massive head from a hard pour, the head retention is simply amazing as the lace covers nearly all of the glass. Big aromas of dark milk chocolate, toasted cocoa nibs and mild coffee. Dark berries, slight char, ghost-like smokiness and a sweet malt tone in the nose. Creamy, slick full body with enough carbonation to bring out the smoothness. Burnt and acrid flavors are kept to a bare minimum. Sweetness comes in with burnt raisin, toffee and dark bread flavors. Dark chocolate and coffee throw a deep mocha character at the taste buds. Hop bitterness is mild but helps to balance with a bit of flavor from the middle to end. Alcohol is warming with a mild but quick pucker of dark fruit. Toasted bread crust and lingering mocha run deep in the semi-sweet finish.

Right on target for the style. Flavors seem to be meshed together well and the balance really shines. A great example of what an Imperial Stout is.

Serving type: bottle

08-01-2010 14:47:35 | More by BeerAdvocate
Saranac Imperial Stout from Matt Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 192 ratings.