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Saranac Helles - Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Not Rated.
Saranac HellesSaranac Helles

Educational use only; do not reuse.

77 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 77
Hads: 110
Avg: 3.56
pDev: 11.8%
Wants: 1
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
Munich Helles Lager |  4.80% ABV

Availability: Summer

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 03-18-2009

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 77 | Hads: 110
Photo of FatSean
4.8/5  rDev +34.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow. Saranac was always a 'second choice' when it came to breweries. I loved them in the early 1990s, but lately their brews seemed to be a bit low on flavor. Not bad or out of balance mind you, just a bit mild. I think they've found their niche with this Summer mix pack. Porters and stouts, not so much...but easy drinking summer beers? Awesome.

This is an excellent example of Helles Lager. The nose is a bit off, and it's a little over-carbonated for my tastes, but the biscuit/bread malts come shining through and the hops are there in proper proportion.

Saranac, by me, is one of the more affordable beers...usually a buck less per six pack. I'll have to see if I can order 12-packs of this brew.

If you like helles lagers, you must try this one.

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Photo of Brad007
4.35/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice golden color with a one-finger head into my glass. Looks about right for this style.

Aroma is full of sweet, grainy, bready malt in the nose. Definitely fits this style. Only a touch of hops as well.

Taste is nice and hoppy upfront with sweet, grainy malt in the middle. Easy to drink. Inoffensive.

Mouthfeel is only a tad bit watery but otherwise, spot-on for the style. Hops and malt stick around.

A nice example of the style. Anyone who says that Saranac only makes crappy examples of styles is dead wrong. This is spot-on and worth a shot. If you can't enjoy a good munich helles lager, I feel sorry for you.

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Photo of Dodt
4.28/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I thought I would finally review something for this years Saranac summer set.
Poured from a chilled bottle into a pint glass.
Appearance : light white lacing , with clear golden color.
Smell: couldn't smell much my nose is a bit congested.
Taste : crisp, smooth smei dry finish
Drinkability: light body very drinkable
for my first foray into this style i enjoyed it , wouldn't mind trying other beer of this style.

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Photo of Troy518
4.28/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Part of the Saranac 12 Beers of Summer:

A: Light blonde with yellow hue, brilliantly clear, moderate head.

S: Light grains, lemon, hay, fennel seed.

T: Creamy, orange-lemon fruit, malty, honey-dew melon.

M: Bubbly, smooth, dry finish.

D: Easy to drink, slightly watery but creamy at the same time.

Definitely a worthwhile beverage and something that could stand alone in a 6 pack.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.25/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle served in a pilsner glass.

Clear golden yellow color with a white head that left a few here and there spots of lacing. The aroma is strong noble hops, grassy and earthy. The taste is filled with malty sweetness leading up to a dry, bitter-sweet finish. Light/Medium bodied with a crisp, refreshing feel that is highly drinkable for those of us who love a good Barvarian-style beer.

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Photo of Deus1138
4.2/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got the summer sampler pack from my parents. Can't seem to find it here in GA, ever.

Poured into a pint glass. Color is golden, straw like. Very clear. 1/2" of head. Nice looking. Good amount of carbonation rising. Smell is grainy, bready with just a hint of hops. Taste is excellent. Good amount of flavor to satisfy the palate. Bready malts dominate with a grassy hop finish.

Mouthfeel is light and smooth.

Drinkability is very good. Light, crisp, flavorful, refreshing. A great beer for the summer! Also, a great beer to ease your friends off of macro/adjunct lagers.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.2/5  rDev +18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Let's close out the night with a beer style that's uncommonly made in the US; Munich-style lager. On to the beer:

A little darker than straw color as it resides in my stange glass. There's a little show of bubbles in the body, the head on top crackels slowly to form a creamy white collar. There's a little fresh grass in the aroma, a little nuttiness, and raw grain. We're looking pretty solid.

They're on to something. Tasted blind, I would have thought I was tasting a German brand. It's clean for the most part, crisp, and very refreshing. I'm getting a melon-like flavor I can't put my finger on, but I'm liking it. The flavors are very well balanced, and that's the key to this style. Light flavors of wood, hay, and more intense grapey hops dance around. Some hop bitterness sits around in the aftertaste.

I pulled a rabbit out of my hat with this surprise of a beer from my Saranac variety pack. My curiousity is instantly rewarded; can it happen again with another style?

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Photo of smerkinb
4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes on 5/11/09.

That's what a nice lager should look like--pale, clear gold with a 1.2 inch white, white head that quickly fizzes away to a loose collar.

Sweet malty goodness on the nose. Some light spicy citrus hiding in the background. There's also some applewood aroma for me mixed with more clean malt.

Malts come through first, followed by clean and not really sweet fruity hints. Then the hops clean up-dry lightly fruity--no American hops here!

The mouth on this is engaging--poppy, sparky, lively, snappy all come to mind. This fizzes and bubbles over the tongue and all the way through the swallow. Thin but not watery.

This was impressive to me--I'm not really familiar with the style, but a delicious offering here. I only wish it were 90F outside instead of 60F! Refreshing, balanced, great!

Saranac 12 beers of summer pack is at 3/3.

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Photo of OneDropSoup
4.07/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light, transparent gold with a thin, loose head & plenty of big, fast-rising bubbles. Some lacing sticks & then falls.

Smells crisp, dry, with some biscuity malt there in the background. Maybe it's just sense memory being triggered, but I smell "rain on stone" in this beer. A good smell overall (as opposed to "wet basement").

Clean grain flavor, maybe a little heavy on the hop side, but not too out of balance. Finishes dry, just enough of a snap to leave you wanting more.

Mouthfeel is cleansing, well carbonated, & stimulates toward the back sides of the mouth. I like it.

Overall a very drinkable & enjoyable beer. Enough flavor & character to be worth your while without overwhelming. They did right by releasing this in the summer, great for picnics or just sipping on your porch.

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Photo of generallee
4.03/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a Pilsener Glass. There appears to be no freshness date or abv% on the bottle. This was part of the Saranac Summer 12 pack and I sampled many of these throughout the summer and into fall as they went on sale.

Appearance: The body has a bright golden color with very good clarity and lots of beautiful carbonation. It produces a nice two finger tall head which slowly settles down to a thin cap that make some slick spotty lace on the glass.

Smell: Its aroma is light and manages a slight straw or dry hay like aroma with just the lightest kiss of hops.

Taste/Palate: The flavor has a simple and fairly clean white bready malt with light sweetness and a slight fruitiness off in the distance. Hop flavor adds just enough bitterness and grassy/leafy notes for balance. Its palate is light bodied and very refreshing with nice bubblely carbonation which is in good balance.

Notes: Overall it was a nice easy drinking and refreshing beer.

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Photo of akorsak
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Part of the 12 Beers of Summer; picked up at the Mechanicsburg Wegmans.

A: The lagerbier is a pale yellow color that has a bright golden tinge throughout. Three fingers of billowy head sat atop the glass like meringue. It dissolved over 5 minutes and left much lace.

S: The nose is grainy, full of sweet cereal and bread. The nose also has a mild sugary sweetness, not corn, that rarely gets in the way. The aroma is rather crisp and clean otherwise.

T: The lager doesn't wow you but it delivers a solid flavor. That seems par for the course for Saranac, a comfort beer of sorts. Pale grains drive the flavor with a bready dryness that has some concentrated sweet elements. Some earthy hops add a very nice finish, just enough bite to cut through the grains.

M: The helles lager is very refreshing. The pale grains and clean hops work well together to create a pleasant sipper.

D: One of Saranac's best offerings. It's too bad that there were only two bottles in the package.

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Photo of tempest
3.98/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pulled out of the summer variety case. I think it's pretty cool that Saranac took on this classic lager style when so many craft brewers might just do a straight up pilsner. Like most Saranac beers, this lager doesn't have a great depth of flavor like a World-Class brew. But that said, they nailed the style and I really enjoy this beer. It has the trademark Helles toasty bread with a nice hint of spicy orange peel hops. I might say this is even on the hoppy end of the style. I wish more breweries made a good helles like Saranac has. This is a great summer beer.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.97/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pale clear golden yellow with a vibrant white head, forms tight with nice lacing following suit, sporadic chunky bits stuck to my glass. Aroma has herbal lemon peel mild citrus efforts with pale biscuit malt sweetness. Flavor is crisp assertive American brewed helles way better than your average corn and rice ridden macro any day. Flavor has some nice balanced hop bitterness and flavor to go with the moderate malt sweetness. Mouthfeel light bodied classic light beer, carbonation is spritzy and the finish is dry. Drinkability is quality a sipping beer I could quaff on after mowing the grass and never look back and drink through a sixer without blinking my eyes.

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Photo of bcm119
3.97/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear straw color with a small white lacing. Faint honey-like malt aroma with hints of grass. Honey undertones continue in the flavor, with doughy malt. Hops are light and lemony, and adequately clean up the finish. Creamy body, medium carbonation. Smooth, nice body, good condition. Clean enough for a helles. Actually quite authentic and tasty-- impressively so. I would drink this often if it were available here without the rest of their summer pack.

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Photo of jwc215
3.97/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From summer '09 variety pack:

Pours golden yellow with a thin creamy white cover. Some trailing lace sticks.

The smell is of sweet grain, slightly bready with a spicy, herbal, slightly fruity noble hop aroma.

The taste is of grainy malt with slicy, slightly tart fruity, dry herbal hop finish. Tasty and truly refreshing.

It has a crisp, clean light body. Nice carbonation - on-spot for what I would expect in the style.

This is a nicely balanced, dry, easy-drinking lager.

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Photo of jsprain1
3.97/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Somewhat bright golden. Head disappates down to a ring. No lacing.
S- Sweet grain, and I am really picking up some apple cide type aromas. A bit spicy, noble hop type spicyness.
T- There is just a touch of tartness up front, but in a good green apple kind of way. A bit spicy in there, and finishes somewhat sweet.
M- Crisp and light, per the style.
O- A decent helles lager, and one of Saranac's better beers. Easy to drink a few in a night.

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Photo of auxiliary
3.95/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

appearance - Nice fluffy head when poured but settled with blotches. Left some lace on the glass as i was drinking it. Color is clear golden color with a lot of bubbles.

smell - Sweet smells of grains, crisp and clean.

taste - Has a bready taste mixed ith grains, but then some earthy hops set in as it goes down.

mouthfeel - Medium-light.

drinkability - Easy drinking beer, worth a try, came in the 12 days of Summer pack.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.9/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice golden color.. moderate head to it and a good amount of lacing. Nice crisp, hoppy smell to it.. definitely a German sort of smell. Taste has a medium body and nice mouthfeel, again Saaz like hops sort of taste to it. Quite refreshing I must say, one of the better in their mixed 12 pack. Highly drinkable and pretty solid taste along with being very smooth.. good in my book.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.9/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Part of the Saranac Beers of Summer Box - $13.48 at Sherlock's in Marietta, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a pale golden-hued body with a fine, white head that settles soon.

Smell: Lightly sweet-scented note of grainy, very faintly bready pils malt, with modest notes of lemon, dried grasses, and, yes, a bit of sulphur.

Taste: A grainy, slightly tangy taste of Pilsner malts, a fluttering of powdered sugar, and then some light sulphery hints follow. A drop of lemon provides a hint of citrus. Grassy, herbaceous Continental hop character with a slight, supporting bitterness. Drying, tangy, relatively crisp finish.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied. Medium-light carbonation.

Drinkability: Actually, it's one of the better brews oughta the 2010 Summer Box. Light, easy-drinking refreshment. When Saranac tends to take on somewhat bolder styles, the effort usually ends up a too-light, kinda-bland version of the style, but, when they aim for something light, they tend to hit the mark.

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Photo of TheFightfan1
3.89/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pilsner glass. Poured a crystal clear yellow with a thick tiny bubbled white heading that seems to never settle. Lacing ring's all throughout the session.

Smell is sweet,kind of yeasty, slight aroma of hops,honey and some earthy aroma's

Taste has little bit of every thing not as sweet as the nose indicated. Some bitterness from the hops on the backend.

Mouth is crisp and bubbly, Decent carbonation-light bodied.

Drink is very good for a session maybe a tad on the sweeter side for some.

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Photo of confer
3.86/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the summer brews sampler.
Yellow/gold crisp color. Small one finger head leaves quickly with out a trace,
Faint slightly sweet aroma.
The taste is classic German lager. Very clean with a slight hoppyness in the after taste.
Very refreshing and dry, nice carbonation.
This is a wonderful drinking beer. Saranac did it right

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

golden color, amber hues, swirrling carboantion and a full 2" white head with moderate dissipation.

The nose a sour lager yeast, deep earthy notes, dried corn, slightly spicey with gentle herbs.

This is a really crispy corn-flavored malt, gentle pepper with laid-back malty backbone. the yeast adds a unique earthy and sour flavor, dry and clean feel. Light, simple but effective. The malt is slightly cloying and pretty sweet, but not bad. almost fruity in the back. a clean, but tangy flavor in the finish.

Good session.

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Photo of therica
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A= light golden with fair white head, and plenty of lacing down the sides.

S= nice gentle sweet malts, very traditional German hops scents and florals evident but not overwhelming (Noble hops were used, says the bottle).

T= very very clean, crisp, slightly dry; the sweet malts leave a slight slippery smoothness on the tongue; very pleasant and well-balanced hops. No negative problem with swishing it around in my mouth, which sometimes produces the more negative tastes of a beer.

M= clean, slightly sweet, pleasant, and lingering pleasantness.

D= very, and for most occasions or meals

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Photo of OtherShoe2
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear gold with a white bubbly head and some lacing that does not last.

Smells of light grain/malt, some bread and cracker notes, and some floral hop elements.

Nice balance of sweet and dry, with malt and bread balancing out the hop bitterness, some grain husk, and the dry finish. A clean crisp brew.

Lighter bodied and well carbonated. Again, clean.

Overall, this one went down easy, and was by far my favorite of the summer mix pack. Nothing earth shattering, but a nice clean refreshing summer beer for around the grill and such.

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Photo of thekevlarkid
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Off tap at the Ugly Duckling this beer was a pale golden color with one finger of off-white foam atop it. Lots of rising carbonation but the head retention was poor. The aroma was of crystal malt, some toasted malt, caramel malt and pilsner type hops. The flavors were above average for Saranac and, I thought, really quite good. I tasted grainy malts, mostly caramel and toasted with a slight note of corn followed by the crisp Czech hops. It was the use of the hops with finesse that impressed me with this one; it was a very refreshing beer and thus much more drinkable. The mouthfeel was creamy, the body medium and the carbonation average. For an inexpensive locally produced brew in central NY, look to this gem.

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Saranac Helles from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
81 out of 100 based on 77 ratings.