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Saranac Caramel Porter - Matt Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Saranac Caramel PorterSaranac Caramel Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

739 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 739
Reviews: 451
rAvg: 3.14
pDev: 21.97%
Wants: 10
Gots: 55 | 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: 739 | Reviews: 451 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of redwolf1
2.73/5  rDev -13.1%
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.

Photo of JISurfer
2.53/5  rDev -19.4%
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.

Photo of lackenhauser
3.54/5  rDev +12.7%
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.

Photo of tempest
1.71/5  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.

Photo of cooter
3.55/5  rDev +13.1%
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.

Photo of jmz62565
2.4/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This pours a dark reddish brown with a small head that disappears quickly.The aroma is all carmel and maybe cola,not much else.The carmel taste dominates this beer.There is a coffee aftertaste,but not much else.This is a bit watery,so I would give it a light m/f,not what a porter should be.All in all, I don't think I'll be buying this again when there are so many better porters out there.

Photo of Zoh
3.77/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep red color without much of a head, crystal clear. Smell was intensely of caramel with a little bit of malt, almost overly sweet. Taste was great. I know a lot of the other reviews are saying that it was too sweet, but I disagree. The caramel did overpower any other flavors but I still enjoyed it. Anyone drinking this beer should know that caramel will be the main flavor they get out of it. There was a little bit of malt flavor and no hops to speak of. Light mouthfeel. This would be a great after-dinner beer.

Photo of mattcrill
2.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Part of the winter sampler pack.

Appearance: Pours a shoe leather brown and crystal clear. As the beer settles it fades to a ruby color due to the amount of light that's able to get through it. Looks more like a brown ale than an American Porter to me. A wispy ivory head that quickly fades.

Smell: Carmel corn, carmel apples, and brown sugar. The smell is sickeningly sweet. They claimed to have used carmel malts but they must have added a boat load of them or they had to use some kind of sugar adjunct. It is WAY overpowering.

Taste: Carmel, oak, vanilla, a touch of yeast, with some rye bread on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied and crispy. A touch overcarbonated but not bad.

Drinkability: It doesn't taste as sweet as it smells...which is a good thing. Still, I think this would be better served as an after dinner drink or an apertif. I can't imagine pairing this with anything in a meal. Maybe some pork loin. A pretty average beer and an interesting twist on the style. I wouldn't go so far as to say "not recommended" but that's just my opinion...

Photo of BEERchitect
3.18/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Unique in its dedicated focus to the taste of Mrs. Butterworth's caramel flavor, the insane taste throws the traditional porter flavor to the side and favors the sweet tooth above that of fans of the standard dark toasty ales.

Very dark brown in appearance, the beer shows solid clarity with it's onyx-like mirror depths. Capped with a sandy-tan head the beer rises with a stern medium-dense head but lightens to a thin sheet before holding firm. Light isolated pockets of foam lace the glass timidly.

Caramel, butterscotch, and popcorn govern the nose while a light backdrop of chocolate, toast, and cola offer weak support. Milky malt aromas are evident and give the beer a slight yogurt-like aroma. Hops never make their way into the aroma conversation.

The lighter taste of coffee, chocolate and toast recede immediately and invite the stronger and sweeter taste of butterscotch, caramel, and buttered popcorn to completely dominate the taste. Although the sweetness is pleasant and dessert-like, the beer severely lacks the support needed to become a proper porter. Mild woodish bitterness closes the session with a light hop balance that never really balances the sweetness.

The beer's mouthfeel may its largest determent. Medium-sweet to start, the beer doesn't allow the creamy textures of carbonation and malt to emerge, instead relying on sheer caramel and grain sweetness to coat the tongue for a texture that's best reserved for cream soda- not bad, but not what I want in a porter. It's tacky warmth and residual sweetness is all that extends in finish.

Because I'm a bit of a sucker for these sweeter and more succulent tastes, I have a tendency to exercise a kinder hand in review. But the lack of true porter-like character makes the base beer seeming like a very nondescript dark ale of America or Europe- except with the deceiving succulence of artificial caramel sweetness. The beer may make for a nice ice cream float.

Photo of tgbljb
3.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

purchased as part of sampler pack. Poured a deep reddish color with slight tannish head that persisted as a fine ring. Smell is of sweet caramel with onle a bit of roasted notes. Taste is a bit sweet for me, with the caramel overpowering any porter aspects. Finish is also too sweet. Just an OK beer.

Photo of LarryV
3.68/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a deep dark brown with hints of red. The head was nice and frothy and dwindled to a 1/4 inch froth after a few minutes. Nose is pretty much all caramel with a subtle hint of malt in the background. The taste is sweet caramel with a bit of maltiness, the hops are there, but are really relegated to a bit role. Even though this is a sweet beer, I didn't find it to be cloyingly sweet as others have stated. For what it is, I think it's a nicely balanced beer and would best serve as a dessert beer as the caramel flavor is so assertive. I wouldn't drink more than one of these before moving on to something else, but it does make a nice nitecap beer. It's kind of like drinking a Sugar Daddy.

Photo of MuddyFeet
3.65/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Very dark brown after the pour. Not much of a head and no lace. Aroma is very sweet and malty. Strong caramel notes on the nose too. Which follow through into the flavor. Slight chocoalte, but the caramel is nice and strong. A buddy of mine has been talking about this beer for 2 years and I finally had the chance to try one. Not bad. I commend his comments. The malts are nicely balanced by a very subtle hop backdrop. But the caramel is omnipresent. Mouthfeel is almost full bodied and heavy on the palate. The only problem with this beer is that it is like eating a rich desert, after a bottle (maybe two) I think I woill have had my full for the day.

Photo of CherylM
1.98/5  rDev -36.9%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This beer looked interesting so I tried a bottle.

Color was dark brown with little carbonation and a disappearing head. There was a strong caramel smell and the taste of "artificial" caramel was too dominate. It was too sweet and heavy for my taste. Perhaps this would be better as a dessert/holiday beer. Would not have another.

There are better Saranac beers and Porters out there!

Photo of MrSeth
1.88/5  rDev -40.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Poured into a pint tumbler with an almost opaque dark brown color and a 1/2" tan head. I can smell the caramel from a mile away! [slight cringe] and I love caramel..
Smells like cream soda. Is there any malt aroma underneath all this candy? There is finally a dirty-earthy smell.. Taste? Let's just say this, I'm passionate about porters, and that's why this one bothers me. It tastes like a dingy ale with candy added to hide the problems. This just doesn't make a porter [period]. I won't go any further.. because.. I can't.

Photo of kbnooshay
3.18/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Woah. Pop open this one and take a whiff of the crazy caramel aroma. It had a nice half inch head that lasts for a minute of so. I taste the caramel right away but i guess this could also be taken as syrup, or anything insanely sweet. The mouthfeel is a very smooth and a little stickey. I probably won't be needing too many of these tonight but it is interesting. Not the best in terms of drinkability.

Photo of Litterbean
3.28/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

On tap @ The Ale House in Vestal. $2 special, so I gave it a try.

Dark brown, good head that sticks around and leaves some trace.

Stinks to high heaven of malts and caramel, with a slight hop "twang" somewhere in there. Pretty decent.

At first this beer tastes like a normal porter, with some spicy hops that bite in the beginning but once you get into it the caramel hits. Very sweet, a little too much which makes this a strange beer. It's light in body I feel, very easy to drink but so sweet I don't know why I'd want to. I enjoyed one, but I can't think of any reason why I'd decide to get another aside from the pint special. Saranac has better beers for the same price, so go with those.

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.18/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Standard clear yet dark mahogany pour with a tight dense frothy ½ “ tan cap leaving decent lace.

Sugary Maple syrup and pancake scents.

First swigs: Label truth. Caramel flavors over toasted malts. Some honey ish and metallic aftertaste lingers and feels like the brew is diluted.

Frothy foamy with a medium body and cloying to the tongue.

Last swigs: Cocoa caramel roasty porter. The Porter part of this equation is an easy Porter. I would not try this again. It just gets stuck on its name.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

Photo of hobbes2112
2.83/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle from the sample pack.

Pours a really deep brown with amber edges. Tiny head with almost zero retention. Aroma is all caramel, and then almost like german chocolate cake. Taste is caramel all the way around, very sweet and slightly burnt at the finish. Feel is creamy and smooth so the mouthfeel is quite pleasant.

Overall this beer can serve as a niche beer or dessert, but not much else. Glad I only have one from the sampler.

Photo of sprackops
1.59/5  rDev -49.4%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Presentation: 12oz brown bottle, no freshness date. Poured into a nonic pint glass.

Appearance: Dark brown to black with translucent copper edges. Medium head gives way to a thin film.

Smell: Sickeningly sweet caramel aroma and little else. Although, do I detect cream soda?

Taste: Buttery caramel malts, vanilla, and yes, cream soda. Hops are a non-player. No detectable roasted notes. This liquefied Werther's Original/A&W cocktail is far too sweet for my taste. It seems that the inclusion of real caramel as indicated on the label is what led to this failed experiment.

Mouthfeel: Rather thin yet sticky, like corn syrup-laden soda.

Drinkability/comments: I nearly poured this one down the drain, but at the last second reminded myself that it was in fact an alcoholic beverage and persevered. The least appealing flavored beer I've had to date.

Photo of 99bottles
2.18/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Whew. I don't know if I can justify this with a full review. Pours a deep brown color, some light can shine through without much of a head at all. A thin lace soon dots the surface. One whiff and you'll know what this beer is about. Being fake. Loads and tons of carmel. Not carmel malt, but like boiled down sugar. Sickly sweet gooey carmel and not much else. The taste is much the same. A thin and soupy porter is steamrolled by syrupy tooth rotting sugar and carmel. I tried to find the acidic dark malts that ought to have balanced such a liberal dosing of carmel, but they were hiding in fear. Far too sweet and fake to be called a beer. Drinkable? That would imply this was a drink. Maybe you can put it on an ice cream sundae. Rather bad.

Photo of sponberg
2.96/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

And here, ladies and gentlemen, we have the Caramel Porter. Pleasantly dark ruby in color, with the patented Anti-Rapapoda Aroma of diacetyl and buttered caramel popcorn, guaranteed to have at least one resident of the five boroughs head go *POP*

Starts with a buttery, diacetyl hit far beyond anything Alan Pugsley's ever had in his wildest dreams. Once that passes, there are some roasty toast porter notes but they're swallowed up by the caramel mess. Thankfully there are hoppy ass beers in the fridge. If you love caramel sweet beers; we're taking Brach's Caramels sitting in fermented malted barley; this is the beer for you.

Does a fine job of keeping Rapapoda at bay, though. <g>

Photo of blitz134
2.19/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Starting with the usual. Very dark pour, although plenty of light coming through. Head disappeared so quickly I never got a chance to check the color out. It totally disappeared in about 30 seconds. Those two features brought the appearance numbers down.

The caramel smell is quite overwhelming. I was expecting hints of caramel, not a huge dousing of it. I might as well have a glass of caramel. I don’t pick up anything else in the smell, caramel covers all. I don’t know what to say about the taste except “bleh!” There is very little to this beer except for what seems like caramel flavoring added to an average dark lager. The caramel which is in here tastes overly sugary, not like a good toasty caramel. Mouthfeel is relatively thin, not like any other porter I’ve had. I’m having issues drinking any more than is necessary to write this review due to my stomach beginning to feel strange from all the sweetness. (shudder!!!)

I had high hopes for this. I was imaging a creamy full bodied porter with undertones of caramel coming into presence at the end. But there was none of that.

Photo of Southernbrew
2.55/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a fairly dark-brown with a miniscule head.

Aroma is nothing but hard-candy butterscotch and some caramel sweetness.

Thin-medium body with faint carbonation. Rich butterscotch and caramel sweetness dominate the flavor with a very faint roasted flavor. The concept of "Porter" must have been thrown out the window because nothing about this matches. Not a terrible beer, but not at all to style. I'm glad I only have one because it would take some time before I could drink another.

Photo of ElGordo
2.99/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a deep brown/ruby red color with a little tan head that subsides rather quickly. Very nice aroma that smells almost exactly like my girlfriend's favorite drink at Starbucks (caramel macchiato) - sweet caramel, a touch of roasted malt, and some mocha. Taste is more of the same. Overly sweet caramel dominates the palate, with roasted malt and a touch of mellow hops. Sticky sweetness lingers in the mouth. While pleasant for a few sips, it's difficult to finish the bottle.

Photo of VoodooBrew
3.58/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer is medium-to-dark brown with a generous initial off-white head that settles with some degree of lacing.

The aroma is very very sweet, with strong evidence of caramel. In fact, I was able to pick up on the aroma of this beer much sooner (i.e. farther from my nose) that with your average brew.

Now, about the flavor... There must be something about your first time, because I recall this beer being mind-blowingly good whereas now... not quite as much. Perhaps it's because when I first tried this beer it was unique in its caramel sweetness. Perhaps it's because my mind embellished the good memories while suppressing the not-as-good. Perhaps it's because I am now more adept at critical beer tasting than when I first tried this. Most likely it's a combination of these factors.

That all being said, I still regard this as a tasty beverage with an adventuresome side to it. Malty sweetness is evident right off the bat, but a toastiness takes the fore followed by that real caramel flavor. As the caramel fades a slight bitterness is noticeable and then finally a little roasted malt finish.

Mouthfeel is easy, mostly smooth, and perhaps a little light bodied for the style, especially given that this is advertised as a Robust Porter. This beer is a little too sweet to drink for an entire evening.

Overall this is a decent entry by the never-complacent folks at Saranac, like I said not out-of-this-world great but not bad either.

Saranac Caramel Porter from Matt Brewing Company
73 out of 100 based on 739 ratings.