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Saranac Caramel Porter - Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Not Rated.
Saranac Caramel PorterSaranac Caramel Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

441 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 441
Hads: 755
Avg: 3.13
pDev: 29.07%
Wants: 12
Gots: 71 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  5.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 07-05-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Saranac Caramel Porter Alström Bros
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Reviews: 441 | Hads: 755
Photo of momof8fay
4.86/5  rDev +55.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This is by far my favorite beer. Despite what is said elsewhere, this is a seasonal beer and was sold out throughout my area (Syracuse) by the time I went back to attempt to buy more of it last spring. It was also sold out at Saranac (I would have driven 45 minutes to buy them out ).
Some flavored beers are over-flavored; this one is not. Just the right amount of caramel flavor in my opinion.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
2.97/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.25

12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with a finger of off-white-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Nice aromas of slightly bready, roasted malt, caramel and brown sugar. Not much in the way of any other aromas though. Smells quite a bit on the sweet-side, almost cloyingly.

Taste: Only ok. Lots of roasted malt up front, followed by strong, sweet, flavors of caramel. However, the caramel tastes fake, like it’s from a syrup or extract, rather than real caramel. It’s not a bad beer, but not a real good one either. It is however, disappointing.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and very, very smooth as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 5.4%, there is no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is only an ok porter. Good idea, great idea, actually, but poorly executed. The caramel comes off as fake and chemical, rather than natural and delicious. I’d pass on this beer if offered again. Saranc needs to take this back to the drawing board and come up with a better recipe.

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Photo of TappaKeggaBrew
2.35/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Fairly dark brown, although a bit lighter than a typical porter. There's a finger of golden-brown head that hangs around for a few minutes.

S: Reminiscent of a typical brown ale, with lots of toasted malt, and a little bit of hops. There's also a hint of cola, which surprised me.

T: Not good! I'd thought this would be at least decent based on the look and a smell, but this tastes really bad. Sure, there's the Bready malt I expected, but there's also a cloying sweetness and a chemical taste that's really off-putting (artificial caramel flavor?) and ruins the whole experience.

M: I didn't even notice -- the taste has my full attention.

O: A drain pour, after 2 sips (I don't know why I didn't stop at one).

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Photo of Mrbseward
3.7/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured a dark brown with a cream colored head. Has the typical warm smell of a porter with notes of caramel. Taste is good, not strong like some porters and goes down easy. Overall very good beer.

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Photo of Antc2382
3.43/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

It's actually pretty well balanced. I don't get a ton of caramel in it. To be honest, it's too carbonated in the mouthfeel for the style. It has a rich taste, but the problem is the mouthfeel is not smooth enough. Decent beer though, it's drinkable

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Photo of pjkelley82
3.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nothing horrible and there are a lot worse examples of beer than this one. One member said it should be a brown ale, couldn't agree more. It's okay, not something the craft aficionados would go Gaga over but something to bring to a party and others will enjoy.

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Photo of Beejay
2.59/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a rich brown, in the glass it is near black with a deep tan colored head.

S: Caramel.. sure is a lot of it. Smells a little on the fake side.

T: Meh. Could be a decent porter, but tastes like a bunch of sugar substitute caramel flavor was added.

M: Medium light in body, but with a syrup like feel. Carbonation is medium , and there is a certain amount of cling to the body.

O: I could see this appeasing the masses, but for me it misses the mark. Seems artificially sweet, and cloying. I simply don't think I can finish this.

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Photo of A_Frayed_Knot
2.9/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3

My first Saranac in a long time, there's been too many others to enjoy! From the bottle poured a cola-color with very light lace skimming the surface. The caramel has nowhere to hide, I might have confused myself with procuring candy for Halloween not porter as a mix sixer for New Year's. Complements the malt but risks overwhelming it too. Not really in disagreement with my palate but not likely a repeat purchase. Will be interesting to compare to another in the mix-six I selected purely by accident, Shiner's "Birthday Beer" a chocolate stout. Luckily accident though since I'll be spending 12/31/14 at a party hosted by a New Year's baby, hope his sweet tooth is in gear for that as mine was for the Saranac.

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Photo of Gajo74
3.74/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a brown color with a nice thick head that showed good retention throughout; a nice frothy lace. Aroma was malty sweet and heavy on caramel and sugars. A very sweet taste that is balanced by a slight dry finish. Not much hops but just enough to counterbalance the sweetness. Decent feel; perhaps not as robust as other porters. In fact, this one was kind of light for the style. Light carbonation that does however sting the tongue a bit.
In an effort not to be influenced by other BA reviews, I either take notes or make a mental rating before posting here. Thus far, I find that my ratings are consistent with the general consensus. However, in this case I'm surprised by the negative rating and reviews for this one and find that it is one of the few cases that I massively overrated a brew as compared to the average. I'm really not sure what so many people are turned off by here. I could maybe understand how the sweetness is a turn off but not on such a massive scale. Granted this is not the best porter I have had by a long shot, however, I find it to be a pleasant brew that I would have no problem drinking again.

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Photo of BigBry
3.25/5  rDev +3.8%

Standard pint at Buffalo's Tap House.
Pours a brownish copper color, thin floating cap of foam, no lace or retention.
The smell is unexpectedly nice, mild chocolate and lots of caramel cream sweetness.
The taste had lots of caramel and toffee, sweet and a touch cloying, but not over the top.
Creamy and smooth, nice malty porter base. Medium body and mouth feel.
I liked it, but one was probably enough.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.05/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours an opaque yet clear very dark brownish amber (almost black) in color with moderate amount of active visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and hints of garnet red highlights. The beer has a finger tall foamy beige head that reduces to a large patch of mottled thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer with a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of caramel candies and toffee with a light aroma of roasted malts. Maybe the lightest hint of butterscotch.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of caramel malts with a light hint of roasted malts way underneath (int he background). That is followed by moderate flavors of caramel candies, toffee, and butterscotch. Light amounts of sweetness which lingers but is not cloying. No perceptible hop flavors.

M: Light bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Slightly thin/watery.

O: Too sweet and too thin to be a beer that I would want to have more than one of in a single session. Not bad but not one I will be picking up again anytime soon.

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Photo of WhiteHillsStore
3.73/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

I seem to like this beer a lot more than other people. The appearance is a nice dark hazel or brown with a nice head. The smell is sweet with a lot of the caramel as well as toasted scents from the malt. The taste is delicious with a full beginning with the toasted malt flavor and then ends on the sweet caramel. The only problem I had was it is a little thin for a porter. I might have nostalgia glasses on, but I still love this beer.

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Photo of Foyle
2.52/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance: Pours a fluffy 2” off white head recedes slowly leaving faint lacing. Color is deep ruby red but mostly opaque, moderate carbonation bubbles visible.
Aroma: if you like caramel you should love the smell of this beer. Aroma is exactly like Brach’s caramel cubes with some toasted barley malt and earthy hop in the background.
Mouthfeel: Fairly light and watery, especially for the style. Finish is dry.
Flavor: caramel dominates along with licorice, toasted bread, mild hop presence
Overall: This is a good beer. Not outstanding but nothing here really excites me. Most memorable aspect is the caramel which I have never found more intense in any other beer. I love caramel, but in this beer it could use a little balance.

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Photo of kbuldier
4.62/5  rDev +47.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Loved this beer! It has an amazing taste, look and feel to it. The malty caramel combo was perfect, especially during the winter. Plus the buzz I got from it was pretty nice. Definitely would have this again. It isn't available all year around so I plan on stocking up once it comes back.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.01/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

On tap at Marshall Street Bar and Grill. Have heard bad things about this one, but it was on special for 2.50 a pint, so figured it was now or never.

Pours a dark brown, almost black. No real head to speak of. No lacing, either.

Tastes palatable for about 3-4 oz, then gets weird and bad. Tastes like some sort of caramel extract you'd put into coffee. Overly sugary and cloying, making it a chore to get this one down.

The mouthfeel was boring. The body was thin, with low carbonation.

Not suggested unless you can get it for super cheap.

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Photo of undeadozzy
3.51/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured vigorously into a pint glass, huge head retention. Deep brown color with solid white head. So far, so good.

S - Caramel. I could smell the caramel the second I opened this bottle, it's overwhelming. I can pick up on some saltine cracker and toffee, but the caramel is too dominant.

T - First I get some maltiness, a twang of some hop bitterness, and then a wall of gooey sweetness. It's overly sweet, by no means bad tasting. Tastes like a caramel-flavored baked good, like a cake. Very heavy and whole. Huge tones of pound cake and some maybe a hint of honey or molasses, but the big thing here is the caramel, and there's almost too much of it.

M - The thickness in the flavor adds a certain heaviness to the actual feel of the beer, a little too syrupy and thick for my tastes, but at least it's not watery.

O - All in all, not a bad beer, just proves too much is bad. Definitely a dessert or after-dinner drink, way too much for session drinking. I imagine it would be enjoyable on a cold fall evening with a piece of warm pie or some cobbler. Good dessert beer, bad session beer, but overall a good porter, albeit a little too sweet.

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Photo of illpass78
3.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown with some ruby reddish notes. Held to the light, it's clear and a deep reddish brown with heavy carbonation. On the light end of the color spectrum for a porter.

Aroma: Lots of caramel and burnt sugar in the nose. Also some toast, toffee and barley. It has kind of a wheat cracker note as well. Caramel and sugar dominate, though.

Taste: Unsurprisingly, it's very sweet. Caramel and sugar dominate on the palate. Dark malts are also very noticeable. It's very dessert-like; it would be pretty weird to pair with a meal. It's right on the cusp of being too sweet and having a cloying character, but it's just on the right side of that line. Non-fans of sweet beer would not be into this, but then again, why would someone who doesn't like sweet beer drink a caramel porter?

Mouthfeel: It's kind of watery for a porter. Lacks body. I've been trying a lot of sweet/dessert-style porters lately and this is definitely one of the most watery. That said, it's an easy beer to drink. You could session this, if you wanted, but that would be a lot of sweetness. I wouldn't.

Overall: A solid effort from Saranac, one of the grand old men of the NY beer scene. It's a decent dessert porter that has enough depth and complexity to avoid being just a sugar-bomb. Would probably drink this again if it were the sole craft porter/stout on draft; otherwise, I'm happy to have had it once.

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Photo of Stranger5582
3.55/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Color is dark, dark brown. I nearly confused it for black.

Smell: Sweet.

Taste: I taste grain and caramel, but both feel understated.

Mouthfeel: Medium body . The finish is pleasant, but reminds me more of an ale than a porter.

Overall: I may have this beer again, perhaps in a float. Maybe not, on second thought, it tasted like a caramel-flavored ale. However, it was nice to have a Saranac that was missing the characteristic hop-laden flavoring that makes many of their beers taste like an IPA.

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Photo of hosehead83
3.38/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.
Dark brown with some ruby highlights-big head of off-white foam.
Aroma-Toasted malt, caramel
Taste-Faint roasted barley, caramel, toasted malt, nutty. A bit light-bodied and the flavors don't blow your doors off, but overall a decent, innofensive, affordable brew.

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Photo of sommersb
2.61/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Tasted On: 12-15-2013
Freshness: Not indicated
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Shaker pint
Purchased: 6-pack from Frugal MacDoogal, Nashville

Appearance: Color is dark brown and looks like a cola. The head is a good size, off-white in color, with good lacing and retention.

Smell: Candy-like and sweet, with vanilla, caramel and raisins.

Taste: Malty and sweet, with no hop bitterness. I get some type of vegetable-like off flavors. The vanilla tastes fake as well, so overall not a great taste experience.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with average carbonation. The finish has roasted grains for some bitterness, plus sweetness from the malts and additives.

Overall: This beer was not a hit with me -- there were some off-flavors in the taste and the additives just made it taste like imitation flavors.

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.38/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

12 oz.

Pours a deep clear nut brown, light yellowish film for a head.

Smells of biscuits and caramel with a light vanilla element.

Biscuit malts with a light brown sugar and caramel flavor, some vanilla and cocoa.

Medium body with coarse tingly carbonation on the roof of the mouth.

A fairly average porter, decent flavor but disappointing body. Worth trying but probably not worth going out of your way to find. There are plenty of better porters.

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Photo of redzone3120
3.59/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Very dark color, almost black at first appearance. When held up to the light, the color is a heavy dull brown color. The head is a light creamy color that is very light. The head disappeared quickly after the pour.

S - Not very strong, at least not for what I was expecting. It has a slightly sweet malted aroma with a possibly hint of citrus.

T - I really don't taste much of the caramel over the strong porter flavor. It is also quite bitter to me. Also has notes of coffee and a slight taste a creme.

M - Very smooth and fine. Nice carbonation. All around a nice balance that works well with the heaviness of the flavor.

D - Its a unique porter beer though the novelty wore off for me about half way through. Good twist on the porter style.

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Photo of Mollys2ltl
4.79/5  rDev +53%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Beautiful head. Delicious beer, the label describes it as having a caramel taste but it's more buttery than sweet. It has a molasses flavor but not too strong. The flavor is maintained throughout the glass as it warmed, we served it at about 45 degrees initially. We drank it with a spicy chili and thought it was delicious, and then had sweets afterward and it was still great.

We were lucky to get a case, apparently a regular shopper at one of our local PA beer distributors buys every case they get in their shipments. Two couples shared the case and everyone thoroughly enjoyed Caramel Porter.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.11/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I had this on tap at Peachtree Lounge in Harrisburg -served chilled in a pint.

The color is deep cola brown with mild ruddy highlight with translucent clarity and quick to fall cream cap. The smell is sweet as in caramel aroma sweetness with subtle hint of malt and light yeast fruitiness. The feel is very highly carbonated with moderate sweetness and light sugary tinge with semi-dry finish.

The taste is more caramel than porter with a slight diacetyl type of buttery element with light brown sugar and mild vanilla extract creamy/sweet blend The malt has a mild toasted grain feel, but also seems kind of adjunct flavored like candy corn, not a great flavor but does have the caramel the label promises, just not caramel malt. Overall a pretty average beer, but not a very good porter -it seems like the gimmick of putting caramel in front of the style is more important than it tasting like a porter -seems like caramel extract dominates the flavor of this.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.57/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Looks nearly black with some bone white suds. The aroma coming off of this is ridiculous. 3.5

Milk caramel and roasted grains. Creme Brulee, raisin, and toffee. Smells a bit artificial, but nice. 4.0

Tangy caramel, torched pastry cream, malty roast, and earthy flavors. Some coffee. Like artificially flavored creamed coffee, like dulce de leche. Attenuated after all, but it's not bad. 3.5

Medium carbonation and a near-medium body. Some booze pushes through. Okay in mouthfeel. 3.0

Not totally encompassing the porter aspects, but it's an average flavored beer with a nice aroma. 3.5

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Saranac Caramel Porter from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
72 out of 100 based on 441 ratings.