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Saranac Caramel Porter - Matt Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Saranac Caramel PorterSaranac Caramel Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

731 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 731
Reviews: 448
rAvg: 3.13
pDev: 22.04%
Wants: 10
Gots: 48 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company 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.
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Ratings: 731 | Reviews: 448 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DesMoinesMike
3.41/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

There's plenty of caramel flavoring in this beer, although I found it a bit off-putting, a bit strong.

It's a very dark brown and thicker than a normal beer. The head is a half finger of foamy brown. I could smell the sweetness with a casual sniff. The caramel flavor is somewhat strong, not overbearing. You feel in all the way down the throat and the flavor stays on your tongue for a while. Not bad, but it won't make my favorites list.

Photo of mralphabet
4.19/5  rDev +33.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into Pint Glass

A: Mahogany with hints of red... Little to no head and very little lacing, just a little ring as it works its way down the glass.

S: Wow just what it is called wonderfully sweet caramel...maybe some chocolate cake... and a touch of coffee

T: Sweet caramel, like chocolate cake with caramel on it. The sweetness is not over bearing and there is a layer of maltyness underneath... very nice....

M: Creamy yet has a crispness to the carbonation... ends a little thin with a smokiness. Not as creamy as most Porters.

D: Wow low ABV and fantastic tasting... should be a good session beer.

Next time I see this one I'll pick more up.

Photo of cnjohn19
3.01/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

whew...a little too sweet for my occasion tonight...

great pour of brown and slight red in color...awesome foam and just enough retention to look inviting...no complaints here...smells of strong butterscotch and sweet malts...and yes, of course, a dark caramel shines through...

it tastes like you'd expect from the smell...very sweet and buttery taste from the malt characteristics...tastes like dark candy...not getting any hops to the point that i'm not sure they're there...

the mouthfeel of this drink will bring my review down...not at all impressed here...but is smooth to the point where you could drink another, but probably only after dinner as a dessert...

Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.15/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A 12 ounce bottle taken from a variety pack and poured into a standard shaker glass. Appears a clear medium chestnut color with about a finger of quickly dissipating light ecru foam. Smells and tastes of sweet caramelized malts and grains, bread, butterscotch candies. A bit thin bodied with medium carbonation. Worth at least one try if you happen upon a bottle.

Photo of katan
2.91/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle into a pint

A- Pours a brown to mostly amber hue. Not as black/opaque as most porter. Head formation is strong and very well retained with little lacing. Mocha in color. Not much carbonation visible.

S - Certainly has a caramel scent to it. Very aggressive. Reminds me of a caramel candy I've had in the past.

T - Starts off not with caramel or sweetness, but a very strong bitter bite. Surprising to me considering how the beer was presented. Rather than becoming more bitter, the mid-stream reflects a greater sweetness. Finishes with the caramel in a quick return, but is very much tied to a bitter backdrop.

M - A conundrum of mouthfeel, as the carbonation present here does give it some bite, but the beer itself feels thin and watery. The higher than expected IBUs leave behind a film.

D - My main knock of the drinkability of this beer is that it outright just doesn't taste right. I do have to say that the carbonation intensity of the beer does give it some fillingness.

An odd beer all the way around.

Photo of ffejherb
3.28/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle into shaker pint on 3/31/09.

A - Hard pour revealed a clear, deep reddish copper body with burgundy hues and thick, one-and-a-half finger beige head that settled to a thin ring of patchy retention but left quite a bit of sticky lace around the glass.

S - Caramel candy and butterscotch comprise the aroma of this porter, almost to the point of domination. Nose is malty and sweet, as expected.

T - Sweet flavor with the obvious caramel and butterscotch character that carries over from the aroma. Slight toasted malt aspect in the back helps to give a bit more character to the flavor. Hops are scant at best and offer perhaps a slight earthy tinge in the finish. Ultimately a bit too sweet overall.

M - Medium bodied with a syrupy texture and lively carbonation that rendered the mouthfeel somewhat thin and watery rather than thick and chewy. Finish is sweet with mild bitterness on the palate.

D - Not the best porter in the world, but certainly not a drain pour either. If you like caramel candy, you will likely enjoy this beer.

Photo of theboozecruise
3.12/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A friend brought me some of these from Alabama... I was certainly excited to give it a try. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass... dark brown color, light creamy head, but nothing special.

The smell was dominated by caramel and butter... quite sweet. The taste was more of the same.

Not a bad beer, but not great either, just very mediocre, to be honest.

Photo of dogfishandi
2.2/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

i knew this beer wasnt going to be great, but i had a lot higher expectations for it. as soon as i opened the bottle it filled the room with an aroma of buttery caramel. it pours a dark clear brown color, that reminds me more of a brown ale than a porter. it had an off white head that faded almost instantly to absolutlely nothing. the aroma was borderline offensive. it had a very fake smelling caramel. and there was a strong buttery smell as well. thats about it. the taste was pretty similar with the strong fake caramel and the butter going on. maybe a hint of roasted malts but not much going on. this beer reminded me nothing of a porter and it was flavored with very artificial caramel that even a non beer enthusiast could easily notice. this was a really pour showing from saranac. i tried tons of their other beers and most of them were ok, but this one really sucked, i had a hard time finishing the six pack. definately do not buy this.

Photo of Hoagie1973
2.9/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Color and clartiy remind me more of a Brown Ale than a Porter. Too light. Head is nice though. About 1 & 1/2 fingers of rocky foam that retains well and leaves good lacing behind.

Aroma whacks you in the nose with a bag of brown sugar. Crazy sweet caramel/vanilla that you can smell before even lifting the glass to your schnozz. A little malt comes through; no hops; a hint of alcohol.

Flavor is dominated by caramel and brown sugar. Some malt and light grain, even a smallish hop presence, but mostly candy sweetness. Reminds me of vanilla creme soda. The label says "look for hints of caramel." I'm here to tell you that there's no need to look. The caramel pretty much will not be denied your full attention. The finish has a hint of roasted bitterness and slight alcohol warmth.

Body/feel is medium with crisp carbonation (a little too much).

This is definitely a dessert beer. It doesn't actually taste bad, but if you can drink more than one, you have way more of a sweet tooth than me.

Photo of nhudson
1.99/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

I hate these types of beers on the market. I call them fake beers due to their artificial taste and smell. The beer looks great though, but thats the only thing good about it. The smell is of heavy caramel extract that over takes your nose to the point you want to gag. Taste is of caramel, again I say fake caramel its so obviously fake I don't even see how they sell it. Mouthfeel is what I would call thin but with a heavy carbonation feel too it. Overall like I said before the only good thing about this is the way it looks, other than that I wouldn't waste my money or time drinking this beer.

Photo of tpd975
3.75/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to matta

A: Pours a light hue of brown with a nice creamy head. Okay retention with some spotty lace noted.

S: Bold gooey caramel aroma up front, there was an additive used to get this aroma. Hints of light roasted malt as well.

T: Nice malty sweetness with subdued caramel flavors when compared to the nose. A touch of nuts round things out.

M: Medium in body smooth with good carbonation.

D: Not bad overall. I would drink another.

Photo of DmanGTR
4.04/5  rDev +29.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - poured a garnet brown with 1" off-white head that left a ring

S - chocolate, maltiness, caramel, and slightly hoppy

T - floral, fruity and sweet with chocolate malt and bitter finish. Notes of caramel, bread and roasted malts are present as well

M - light bodied, medium carbonation. Holds together well

D - very drinkable

Overall - This is a well rounded beer fit for many occasions and meals. I would recommend this to accompany a meaty meal.

Photo of BretSikkink
3.41/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Mahogany brown with a darkly tanned head that is beautifully whipped and long lasting. Great looking porter.

The aroma is very sweet, with tons of caramel notes beyond what can be accomplished by malt alone. Caramel extract mixed with the roast notes of a porter.

The flavor is too sweet for me to enjoy a lot. The caramel notes are definitely quite strong, and an interesting twist to the porter style. I should have known I wouldn't really like it.

Pretty thin, with evident carbonation. More ingredients would have been a good start.

Photo of TheMistler
2.49/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured a dark caramel color. Ah, there's that added caramel color noted on the bottle. Light tan head, above average retention and pretty good lacing. Creamy cap with some big CO2 sprinkled on top.

Okay, Saranac - "hints of caramel"?!? The nose is an overly sweet wallop of caramel, reminiscent of a caramel cream chew candies, sharpened too slightly with a bit of coffee. Seems artificial, and one-note.

The taste is not as overwhelming as the nose. Caramel. Hint of raisin. Indistinct, slight bittering.

Solid carbonation, prickliness giving way to creaminess. Very light, thin.

This just is not for me. Too sweet. This beer is all about caramel, with the "porter" part seemingly being an afterthought.

Photo of TMB0424
2.49/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass.

Pours a nice amber brown body with a ruby-ish tint to it. Off-white, loose head rapidly reduces into fine ring leaving a fair amount of lacing. Some bubbles rising up to meet the head.

Smell is complete caramel. 100%. Lives up to it's name. Well, maybe 99% because I'm starting to get a little bit of butterscotch now. Very sweet smelling... perhaps too sweet. We shall see.

Taste is extremely weak when considering it's very strong aroma. While there is a very sweet sense of caramel, it's bland for the most part. The caramel isn't overpowering at all. A hint of butterscotch and toffee as well... but barely. Extremely disappointing, lacking in flavor tremendously.

The mouthfeel is decent, somewhat watery. Seems to be a trend in the Saranac line. Medium-light bodied. Carbonation provides a nice crispness, but it's still lacking. It goes down somewhat easily but the watered down body is getting tiresome. Overall, despite it's good aroma, it's not an impressive brew at all. When taking into consideration the fact that this is a porter... it's even worse.

Photo of PatrickJR
3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into pint glass.

A - Clear brown, with a finger of off whie head. Retention is decent and a thin cap remains. Decent lacing as well.

S - Butterscotch, butterscotch, butterscotch. It's a great aroma, but little else needs to be said.

T - Sadly this brew is bordering on flavorless. Butterscotch hits mid palate with moderate to high sweetness followed by minimal roasted flavors. The finish is composed of a mild earthy bitterness. Strangely enough I detect some pepper in the aftertaste. Decent stuff going on, but not enough of it and certainly not very porter-like.

M - On the high end of light bodied with moderate carbonation. Carbonation levels are acceptable but for the sake of the caramel flavor and it's classification as a porter, the mouthfeel is far too thin.

D - After all is said and done, this is a pretty drinkable sweet beer. While at times it can seem a watery mess and marginally artificial, overall I actually liked the beer. However it is a poor representation of a porter and moreso lacking in the taste and mouthfeel departments.

Photo of number1bum
2.14/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Probably about 7-8 years ago, before I got into craft beer, I recall getting a Saranac 12 days of Christmas (or something like that) mixed pack. Let's just say I do not have fond memories of the Caramel Porter or Chocolate Lager. But I figured what the hell, I'll give this one another go now that I actually know what it is I'm drinking. Here goes...

Pours a medium brown, clear color with two fingers of light beige head. Keeps a pretty good lace and even leaves some rings of stick.

Smell is a rather unappetizing grainy and toffee/caramel aroma. The caramel seems more like a candy caramel than caramel malt, though. Bleh.

Where the smell was sort of candy caramel-like, the taste is worse. It's definitely candy like, and it's not pretty. It's very buttery and seems sort of like the gooey-caramel flavor you'd get in a Caramello or something like that. It's just not very good. I'm not enjoying...

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and appropriately carbonated; I just can't keep it in my mouth for very long. Finishes sweet and cloying.

Well, years of drinking craft beer have not changed my opinion of this brew. This is still a major dud. I won't come back a third time. Yuck.

Photo of yesyouam
3.88/5  rDev +24%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

(from Wegmans in Perinton) Saranac Caramel Porter is a very clear and dark berry brown ale with a sandy, frothy head that dissipates to a fluffy ring. It leaves great lacing. The aroma is nutty, sweet and roasty. The hops come off as medicinal. The aroma is big and balanced. Very fresh and no "off" aromas. The body is lighter than medium. It's smooth, a little chewy, a little syrupy. The finish is pretty dry. The malt is at the forefront of the flavor: smooth, sweet, nutty and leaning toward burnt vanilla. The hops are modest, almost minty, and never get in the way. I agree with what I hear others say about this one: where is the body? It would be nice if this beer had some substance to go with it! That said, the flavor is unique and well-balanced and right up my alley. You can chug this or use it to make chili.
(rated Dec 10, 2007)

Photo of Traquairlover
2.32/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

12-oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A = Although when I first poured this I wasn't sure I liked the way it looked, after a short while it had really grown on me. The beer is a very clear, red amber color. A little loight for the style but pretty. Its more or less permanent state seems to be with a thin off white yellowish foam layer covering its entire surface lasting for the entire glass and it leaves light lacing on the glass. What I was unsure at first was the head. Before it had resolved into the thin foam layer (which I liked) it formed a fizzy almost white head of different sized bubbles that looked suspiciously like some type of soft drink. This would have counted off a bit had it not quickly resolved into something more pleasingly beer like.

S = I had a hard time with ranking the smell on this baby. On the one hand, it is EXACTLY as advertised - caramel, or perhaps butterscotch toffee. However, usually when I think of caramel and beer I think of light caramel notes blending with malty bread scents. Here the smell is of a caramel toffee. Really. Just like a caramel toffee. I feel more like I am smelling candy at a confectionary shop than a beer. It has only the one note and that is like a candy. I don't know. I'm not sold. If you are really crazy about caramel candies maybe you'd think this smells great. To me it is overpowering with candy and completely lacking with anything even remotely identifiable with a porter.

T&D = After the strong, straight candy smells I really expected this to taste like sucking on a sticky, gooey caramel candy. Frankly, I wouldn't have liked that but it would have at least matched perfectly to the smell. So if that were your thing, it would be right up your alley. However, even that was not to be with this odd beer. The taste is oddly thin for the smell. And that's not to say it tastes thin, only to say the smell was big and round while the taste has a watery, metallic quality to it. There is some caramel and toffee but there is also some hops bitterness. Unfortunately, rather than just providing balance to an otherwise sweet taste, the bitterness has a related sour edge to it that has the effect of making you wonder if you just ate a bad candy. "Oh dear, this isn't right, is it going to make me sick, I wonder?" There are at least some recognizable porter beer characteristics in the taste. If you can get to a third or fourth drink down it starts to become a beer you can approach on a more normal basis, you start to notice earthy hops and other things but THERE'S STILL THAT F***ING METALLIC AFTERTASTE! Goodness, did they use caramel candies wrapped in aluminium foil in the wort when they made this or what? Just not good enough to recommend, or even to have another. Drinkability is miserable on this one, I wonder how it is in vegetable soup?

M = Body is just a little lighter than I would like, but it is a medium-light, so okay for the style, mouthcoating is pretty decent, carbonation is at a light frothy level that is enjoyable. The metallic and bitter/sour notes in the taste though cause an unpleasantness on my tongue that just cannot be ignored. This beer is just not right. I give them credit for trying something different, but they need to go back to the drawing board on this one.

Photo of eagles22
2.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: not impressive at all..very light body and really no head

Smell: didnt pick up any kind of caramel smells at all...just hints of toffee and honey

Taste: lots of honey ..no caramel at all ...and overly sweet

Mouthfeel: very thin...nothing special going on

Drinkability: is high cause its not heavy at all

Photo of krisandajt
3.65/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This tasty brew came to me courtesy of the Beer of the Month club that I belong to. I have yet to be disappointed by the selection they offer...

Appearance: Nice caramel color. Did not have a glass to pour the beer in, so I can't comment on head/lacing.

Smell: You can definitely smell the caramel, and there are hints of chocolate and perhaps coffee? Very appealing. It reminds me of a caramel desert.

Taste: Very tasty. You can pick up the caramel and chocolate tones to the beer. Very sweet, virtually no bitter taste at all. I feel it could use more hops just to help balance it out...but for the style it is very good.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth. Could have used some more hops or heavier carbonation to make it tingle on the tongue a bit more.

Drinkability: As I mentioned before, this beer reminds me of something I would order for desert. Sweet, tasty, very drinkable. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, so I don't think I could pound down more than a couple of these in an evening...but very enjoyable.

Photo of philbe311
3.52/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Ever so slightly tan fluffy head... Nice lacing... Dark dark mahogony, teetering on black... Almost completely opaque except for a thin sliver of light that enters just below the head... Good lacing... Coats glass well with rings the entire way down...

S - Sweet... Caramel... Chocolate cake... Malt... Slight hints of coffee and roasted nuts...

T - Sweet, but not daunting... Chocolate cake batter... Bitter baker's chocolate... Caramel... Layer upon layer of malty goodness...

M - Creamy and silky smooth at start quickly turning quite thin and dry... Sweet but smoky at the finish...

D - Fantastic... Very underrated by the BA community at large... Not a gimmicky desert beer, but rather a very drinkable and solid porter... Quite sessionable...

Note - Never have I changed a review so many times... Continuity between bottles seems to vary greatly... I feel this "final" version of my review details the average of a recently finished six-pack.

Photo of Darkale
2.03/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

I was concerned about this beer as soon as I saw "natural flavor and caramel color" on the label. The pour was encouraging: brilliant and clear body, frothy tan head. But the taste was dispiriting: a silly and artificial burnt caramel taste, and a slick, over the top sweetness.

This is a gimick beer. Avoid it.

Photo of Reagan1984
2.68/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours dark amber/brown with a fingers worth of head. The head did fade rather quickly back into the beer. There was a touch of lacing left behind in the glass.

The aroma was sweet and of caramel candy. (blocks you melt to cover apples)

The taste was really artificial to me. I couldn't believe it and I was quite disappointed. It was like the Starbucks Caramel Machiatto of beers. They took a somewhat decent beer and squirted caramel flavoring into it. I'm not even really saying it tasted bad.. It just didn't taste authentic to me.

Mouth feel was fairly light bodied but sticky sweet.

The artificial flavor bothered me in terms of drinkability.

There are other REAL porters to drink out there

Photo of engisch
2.77/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This is definitely a disappointment. The idea, the look during pouring, the color, the great smell... then the mediocre flavor. I believe there isn't enough to this beer. It should have more robustness to it. It is a nice red amber with an acceptable head. The sweet smell of caramel and malts is very pleasing to the nose. Still not horrible, but it's not convincing me to go get more.

Saranac Caramel Porter from Matt Brewing Company
72 out of 100 based on 731 ratings.