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Saranac Caramel Porter - Matt Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Saranac Caramel PorterSaranac Caramel Porter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

684 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 684
Reviews: 433
rAvg: 3.12
pDev: 22.76%
Wants: 8
Gots: 24 | FT: 0
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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 07-05-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 684 | Reviews: 433 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ski271
2.9/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very dark reddish brown with a medium sized, light tan, creamy, quickly diminishing head. It’s a well named beer with as much caramel as there is in the nose. Actually, it’s a little more like butterscotch, and has a light hop presence. The taste follow with a hefty wallop of caramel that’s VERY candy-like with just a little bitterness on the finish. It has a medium body, lightly syrupy texture, and low carbonation. It’s rather weak on the finish and a bit too sweet (though I know that’s what they were going for). I found it to be an enjoyable beer once you got over the shock of the added caramel and wicked sweetness, but being classified as an American porter, I have to knock major points off this beer for being in no way a good representation of the style.

ski271, Jan 04, 2006
Photo of mynie
1.8/5  rDev -42.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Pours limp, very red and see-thru with a wee bitty brown head.

Smells like a sun-melted caramel candy and soap. Not a good blend, but it smells like an actual caramel candy so I guess that's worth something.

Tastes. Umm... not good.

That caramel hits you right away, which is actually decent, but then all this sour chemcial soap nonsense comes rushing in and takes over. It's sour and icky. The finish is nice, roasted malt, but the freaky middle makes this taste pretty bad.

Yet another mediocre beer from the Matt Brewing Company.

mynie, Jan 04, 2006
Photo of charlesw
2.65/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

You know, it's with this beer that I come to realize that Saranac beers are light. No, it's not my first Saranac - not by far. But it's a porter. And I can see through it. And, you know, thinking back on it I could see through every beer I've had from them as well. And body? Well, yeah. No. Never had one with a lot of body... Anyway, enough editorializing, eh? On to the rest!

Pours a deep and dark amber. That's awfully clear. Very small head that's gone in a heartbeat.

Smells like caramel. Not caramel malts, no, but caramel. Sweet, sticky caramel. Weird. What? Why? Weird...

Ok, well, hmm. Light coffee. Smoke. Caramel (dry - like malts - and not sweet - like the smell). Dry chocolate... Maybe a bit medicinal in the middle. Interesting. Different. Hmm. Definitely worth a try - this might be just the combination that you're looking for... Lingering watery mouth - not really pleasant...

Fine body but, well, not drinking another, you know?

charlesw, Dec 30, 2005
Photo of BadBadger
3.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This caramel porter is a nice dark amber color. The head is minimal but lasts. The smell is strong, all that comes through is the caramel. At first taste the caramel is all that the palate can discern. However, the flavor grows, as the brew warms up, and the hops and malts become a bit more discernable. A porter worth giving a try. But be sure to drink this on the warm side. Enjoy.

BadBadger, Dec 22, 2005
Photo of andjusticeforale
3.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From the 12 beers of winter pack; I really didn’t have too much hope for this one, but it did pour black with brown tinges into a pint glass.

The smell was pure caramel; some chocolate.

At first taste you are fishing around looking for the source of the caramel; buttery? There are some hops but pretty faint at best, not enough bitterness to balance out the sweetness. But, it really is a beautiful sweetness; and the drinkability is through the roof; the mouthfeel is perfect, just bold enough to make it taste full bodied, and carbonated enough to break through the sweetness at the end and make it free from cloyingness.

Altogether, its really not that bad a beer, but it will be way too sweet for some, lets just call it a couple of pints of dessert.

andjusticeforale, Dec 20, 2005
Photo of jdhilt
3.63/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a two-fingered light tan head that slowly fades leaving a good lace. Nice clear, deep amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Strong sweet caramel nose. Starts sweet, smooth caramel flavor, clean finish. Nice porter. 12 oz bottle from their winter sampler 12-pak $9.99, Market Basket Concord, NH.

jdhilt, Dec 19, 2005
Photo of cooncat
2.5/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Serving was 55 deg. from a bottle into a pint glass.

On the pour, there was a very nice beige/tan head, which, disappointingly, disappeared almost immediately. The nose is predominantly a sweet caramel smell, which hides all else, and is anything but subtle.

First sip is full of that caramel sweetness; almost overpoweringly so. There is no hint of hops, and any hope for a taste of some "biscuit like" maltiness is quite overmatched by the caramel sweetness. Mouthfeel is surprisingly thin; I would have expected more body from a 'flavored' porter.

The finish is caramel sweet to the end, and in that respect, it is very consistent. I don't think this would make a good session beer myself; a bit too sweet for my tastes. However, as a part of a sampler, it might provide a novel tasting experience. Not one of Saranac's best, in my opinion.

cooncat, Dec 18, 2005
Photo of nlmartin
2.7/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from the bottle into a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer poured an almost perfect coffee coloration. The head was almost an inch high almost perfect retention.

Smell: The beer smelled of coffee and caramel in very strong way. The beer really smells sweet.

Taste: Very thick syrupy sweetness. Caramel and coffee vie for supremacy in the taste. No real hoppyness to the beer.

Mouthfeel: The beer is very creamy meduim bodied beer.

Drinkability: One bottle is enough of this its almost to dam sweet.

nlmartin, Dec 18, 2005
Photo of mrasskicktastic
2.4/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Coffee colored beer that pours a tiny head that dissipates leaving spoty bubbles behind on the suface.

S - Strong diacetyl and caramel malt. It actually smells like butterscotch. Not what I'd expect from beer, but it's nice.

T - An upfront burnt malt flavor that rounds off to a hop bitter that doesn't mesh with the other taste. Not much depth here.

M - Thin, a little high on carbonation, not very smooth. Leaves a bit of a film in my mouth. Not refreshing.

D - It would go okay with beef or lamb dishes, but there are better options. I am not sure if I am going to finish this. I've had worse. The smell is interesting, but the rest of the beer just comes up short. This isn't an unbearable experience, but it isn't one that I will soon repeat.

mrasskicktastic, Dec 16, 2005
Photo of EPseja
3.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got this in the Saranac "Beers of Winter" 12-pack. Served from a 12-oz. bottle in a Duvel tulip at cellar temperature.

A - Pours a deep crimson-mahogany color, pushing up a dense, finely-bubbled capuccino foam colored head. Great head retention and clingy lacing. Very nice!

S - Huge buttery caramel nose that unfortunately masks the other characteristics that lurk in the background; some wet cardboard, slight metallic maltiness.

T - Starts out rather nondescript but develops a surprisingly mild bodied malt profile after a few moments, laced with hints of the same buttery caramel found in the nose. The finish brings in a bitterness that is more like what you'd expect from strong coffee rather than hops. The aftertaste is slightly metallic, but not unpleasant. Average.

M - Watery and tiny-bubbled effervescence coming in. Rises to a small and quick froth before returning to the same watery state it started at. Finish is not creamy at all, as the smell would have you wish it could be.

D - This is a slightly above average one-off cold-weather drinking beer that's a good addition to the Saranac Winter pack. Unfortunately, this beer is stuck in the same neighborhood of mediocrity as many of the other Saranac beers.

EPseja, Dec 13, 2005
Photo of cubedbee
2.45/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a dark mahogany with crimson highlights, two fingers of beige head, actually some decent retention and lacing as well. Smell was pure caramel, pretty strong, candy store strong, nothing else though. Taste is more of that single note, a sweet cloying caramel, overwhelming any roasted malt, that's present and just a slight hop note on the end that's really hard to detect. There is nothing porter-like about this beer. The mouthfeel is also on the thin side like most Saranac beers, and combined with the one-note sweetness this is really more like drinking a soda than a beer. This is the first new one I've tried out of the winter pack, and this is a real dud. I'm not even sure if I can finish this one--definitely won't be trying another.

cubedbee, Dec 13, 2005
Photo of daliandragon
3.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Wow, I just opened this sucker and I'm already shocked by the crazy strong caramel stench coming from the bottle. I know this is a beer and should smell like one but this smells really good to me, reminds me of candy apples when I was a tyke. I guess I've still got a sweet tooth after all because I love it. I also like the dark brownie color. I'm not as crazy about the temporary head that lasts about fifteen second but you can't win 'em all. Now if the taste is anything at all...
Yeah, it is maybe a little too sweet but its not repulsive and I can detect upstanding notes of malt and hops among the overcarbonation and caramel syrup. The aftertaste is mellow and the finish is reasonably clean.
This is a totally unique beer, and not (at least for me) in a Crazy Ed's Cave Creek Chili beer way. Saranac thought outside the box with this one and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Not my favorite, not sessionable, and not for everyone, but I'll heap the kudos..thumbs up.

daliandragon, Dec 12, 2005
Photo of arguemaniac
3.6/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours deep, almost opaque copper color with a creamy brown-tinged head that leaves a generous lace (for a while). Appetizing caramel in the nose along with an overall malty sweetness. Smooth, creamy caramel flavor with dry grain and some roastiness as well (particularly in the finish). A fairly smooth mouthfeel with moderate carbonation.

While it’s a bit on the sweet side, it’s still pretty tasty and very drinkable. The finish is a little weak, but it’s got a great caramel maltiness. Recommended.

arguemaniac, Dec 08, 2005
Photo of pentathlete
2.4/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This is a rough one. Translucent reddish, purply brown. Dark tan head with some lacing, all falling to a firm table. Smell is hard candy sweet destroying most of the "beer" odors. A thin mouthfeel combined with an unpleasant sweetness make this a brew to forget. This is difficult to finish one bottle. The spouse was ok with it. I'm not. Not recommended.

pentathlete, Dec 06, 2005
Photo of Hagbard
2.2/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Sampled from the 12 Beers of Winter Variety pack, the Caramel Porter is the worst I've tried yet from the box. It looks nice enough, in fact it looks pretty great. It pours very dark with nice ruby highlights on the edges when held up to light. A medium sized tan head forms. This is where it stops being good though. The aroma is caramel. That's it. Caramel, caramel candy, caramel syrup, whatever you want to call it. The taste is the same, the caramel dominates everything. I like caramel, but I also like beer and this has nothing to suggest beer. The mouthfeel is fine I guess, but the drinkability is terrible; way to cloying and sweet. It gets worse as it warms and releases the caramel even more. I actually think I would like a caramel flavored porter, but I didn't like this caramel syrup drink mess.

Hagbard, Dec 05, 2005
Photo of HugoGrim
2.78/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint. Purchased as part of the 12 Beers of Winter sampler case.

Dark black body with no head and no lace.

Smell was straight up intense caramel. I was surprised by the lack of malt or hop or any type of grain smell... just caramel.

Flavor was about the same as the scent... caramel and not much else. If this had a nice porter flavor with the caramel added on it would be nice, but it doesn't. With the caramel is a creamy vanella flavor like ice cream. I can't see myself drinking much of this at all due to it's overpowering sweetness and lack of beer character.

HugoGrim, Dec 01, 2005
Photo of NClifestyle
2.75/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Got this one in the holiday 12-pack.
Pours up a dark amber, clear brown color, smallish head of tan foam, creamy. Looks nice. However, head drops to nearly nothing atop the beer. Very little lace.
Smell is a bit off. Somewhat sweet, tangy, with a faint hint of vinegar, but I have a bit of a cold, so I could be off. Almost cola like in the smell.
Taste is strong, a touch sour, cake-like, thick with sweet and sharp. Sweet in the back of the mouth, then a somewhat sour/bittersweet aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is quite thin, with some burn from the carbonation around the sides of the mouth. Not what a porter should feel like.
This could be an easy drinker, but not one I would buy a 6-pack of, or seek out.
Something is just not quite right with this beer. I can't put my finger on it, but it has some issues.


NClifestyle, Nov 30, 2005
Photo of asabreed
3.65/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Not as dark as I wanted it to be, but it's a nice, dark amber color, and I'm a sucker for those colors in a glass. Slight but spotty and intricate lacing around the top of the glass as I drink. Head fades fairly quickly from 1" to almost nada.

Smell: Lots of sweet caramel, which was pleasurable actually, as I've never really had a caramel porter before. I'm a fan of caramel so I find this very nice. It may be missing some of the hops and maybe toasted or burnt malts, but it's still very nice.

Taste: Starts sweet and, well, ends pretty sweet too. Still, by the end the hops seem to do enough to balance it out so it's not too terribly cloying. Finishes with a tad bit of hop bitterness, though there's still some caramel malt on the tongue.

Mouthfeel: Pretty creamy and medium-bodied. Slight and quick burst of carbonation at the end of the swallow makes everything meld together fairly well.

Drinkability: I probably couldn't have too many of these because of the sweetness (though I don't think it's extremely overpowering like some poorly made fruit beers can be), but damn I'd like to pair this with a piece of cheesecake or something of that nature, as I'm sure it'd go pretty well with it.

asabreed, Nov 28, 2005
Photo of sabrills70
3.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a semi dark brown, not quite the usual almost black color, with a two finger head, decent longevity and good lace. Huge amounts of caramel aroma, not much roastyness to speak of. A very odd beer, not bad, just odd. A very sweet caramel taste is present, but its not very porter like. Yes there are some roated flavors and coffe like bitterness, but not enough to call it a porter. I think a more appropriate name for this would be a caramel bitter, although it doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it. Again not a bad beer, just different. Give it a try for yourself and see what you think.

sabrills70, Nov 23, 2005
Photo of peterittenhouse
2.73/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I don't know what to make of this one. Initial smell is definately of caramel but where does the porter part come in?

Taste is clean and inoffensive but has no balls. I could down quite a few of these but I expect a lot more from a porter.

Mouthfeel is crisp but lacks the chewiness that comes with a good porter.
Not a bad beer but one that maybe should be classified as something else.

peterittenhouse, Nov 18, 2005
Photo of redwolf1
2.7/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured a 12 ounce bottle from Saranac's 12 Beers of Winter (or Christmas). A nice deep ruby color, with very little light penetrating except for around the edges of the glass. Good head retention with some minor lacing afterwards. A rather strong toffee/butterscotch/caramel aroma that clearly warns the drinker that the beer is going to be sweet. I expected sweetness; after all, it is a CARAMEL porter. Even though there is a slight hint of bitterness (good thing too!), the sweetness just overpowers the beer because over time, the bitterness can no longer be tasted. Not a good balance at all. I must say it is a full-bodied flavor with an undertone of chocolate, but it's really like drinking candy. I wouldn't expect anyone to drink more than one since your tastebuds are going to be thrown out of whack after one sip of this. Good thing I had this at the end of the meal.

redwolf1, Nov 15, 2005
Photo of JISurfer
2.48/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This was a rollarcoaster of a beer to say the least. The appearance was quite nice, with it's big, solid tan head and dark amber body. The smell was nothing too bad, just a little heavy on the caramel and a tinge of the hops. The taste was not too good. It was a little interesting, so I gave it a 2.5 instead of a 1.5. The caramel was little too much for me though. It made it more like a pudding or desert, something to that effect. It's kind of hard to put this one down, due to the super sweetness of the beer. Not something I would recommend to anyone, but it is another beer down in the reviews for me.

JISurfer, Nov 15, 2005
Photo of lackenhauser
3.53/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nice deep brown color-some great chestnut/mahogany hues but nowhere near a porter in color. Fantastic aroma-really screams caramel. Somewhat toffeeish flavor-definate malt backbone though the caramel/toffee flavor is the real standout here. No real roasted or chocolate flavors that would make this a porter. The flavor is not unpleasant-just different. Body is a tad thin-could use a boost. An enjoyable beer overall. Nice, somewhat lighter dessert beer. I dont find it overly sweet but it is definately an acquired taste.

lackenhauser, Nov 13, 2005
Photo of tempest
1.7/5  rDev -45.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Took this our of this year's 12 Beers of Winter not expecting much, but was still sorely disappointed.

Has a very short head that was gone in a minute and left no head. The body is a pretty brown, but light-looking for a porter.

Smells very very sweet, like cheap wine-jug wine at that.

Taste isn't much better, very sweet malt character. There's no hops flavor, yet there's a nasty lingering bitterness.

Carbonation is fine, but I'd want this stuff off my toungue ASAP.

Overall, this is just, flat-out, a bad beer in my opinion. The first beer that I've poured down the drain in a very long time. Reminds me of my first homebrew, and thats definately not a good thing. I recommend the 12 Beers of Winter, but give this one away.

tempest, Nov 09, 2005
Photo of cooter
3.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4.5

Smells of Starbucks and what I can usually recognize as distinctively Saranac hops--clean and light, not much fruitiness.

Taste is malty, of course, but a little underwhelmingly. Thin, and noticably lacking flavor toward the end of a swallow. Aftertaste is spicy and sugary. Front notes include good coffee, lukewarm cider, fake caramel, thin maple syrup, and flat beer. No alcohol notes whatsoever, which I happen to miss in porters. Caramel is subdued, coffee is nonplussing, and the charred flavors aren't complex enough. One-dimensional.

Looks like that goth girl in the corner at parties, the actually depressed one who never talks. Timid and reticent and lacking a proper head. No foam, no lacing, and almost entirely clad in black. Just a hint of indian red.

Mouthfeel is the most disappointing. Add an expectation of a porter's thick, pungent texture and biting carbonation to Saranac's refusal to make a heartily stout-bodied malt-based beer (their hop-based ales are better), and you get a letdown. The initial taste is fine--even a bit great!--but letting it linger in the mouth shows a lack of full-bodiedness in flavor and feel. Saccharine sweetness dominates a weak aftertaste.

Dammit, I want to like this beer, but I feel I've been truthful. Not impressive, just barely worth a try, and a damn shame too because I psychically know that Saranac brewers can do so much better. However, this is possibly the BEST option, especially in a mixer pack, for a transition beer or something to bring to a party. It's inoffensive and highly drinkable (when you don't have to focus overmuch) but just intriguing enough to try something more intense.

cooter, Nov 07, 2005
Saranac Caramel Porter from Matt Brewing Company
73 out of 100 based on 684 ratings.