Saranac ESB | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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Saranac ESBSaranac ESB
138 Ratings
Saranac ESBSaranac ESB

Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
New York, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-10-2001

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 138 |  Reviews: 102
Photo of jaydoc
3/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of djrn2
3/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of nmann08
2/5  rDev -39.8%

Photo of oriolesfan4
2.93/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Bought as part of the new Winter seasonal mixed 12 pack

I've had a lot of Saranac's brews and this one is definitely near the bottom of the list. Appearance is a lackluster light brown color with a tiny little head to it. Not much for lacing either. Smell is biscuity and one of the better traits of this beer. Taste is very bland and uneventful. Mouthfeel is decent which helps the drinkability score. Just way too watery and not enough of the malty flavors I expect from the ESB.. hopefully the other 4 beers I haven't tried yet in the sampler fare better.

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Photo of zeff80
3.6/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, bubbly, copper color with a small, tan, foamy head. It left sticky patches of lace.

S - It smelled of roasted caramel malt and some nutty aromas.

T - It tasted of sweet caramel with a nice roasted quality. It had an earthy/grassy taste, too.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A light to medium bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good ESB. I really enjoyed this.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
2.61/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a bright reddish amber color with a medium foamy off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of pungent caramelized malts, nuts, some spice and some hops.

T: The taste is malty up front with flavors of caramel, spices and nuts, but bland overall. There's a decent hops presence that tries to balance things out. The after-taste is slightly bready.

M: Crisp but not very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, clean finish.

D: Not very tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, mild kick, not the best representation of style, yet another lacking beer from Matt Brewing, there are definitely several other ESB's that I'd prefer to drink over this one.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.03/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear, deep, dark, mahogany-hued body with an airy, off-white head.

Smell: Toasty, breadycrust-laden nose with notes of dark caramel and a distant floral hop character.

Taste: Toasty, lightly grainy malts with a light dark caramel sweetness present. Floral hops, though a bit light on the actual bitterness. Finishes clean and dry with a lingering toasted grain taste.

Mouthfeel: Just hardly making it to medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Really, only an ESB in name, as it comes up a bit short in nearly all its particular components. Tis the way with Matt Brewing.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.18/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bright tangerine-amber with a small number of particulates. The light caramel head appears to have some substance to it and persists nicely. Nothing more than scraggly lace appears on the glass initially, but as the beer falls with drinking, a chunky ring is deposited at midglass.

There isn't much going on in the nose; at least nothing the least bit impressive. I smell lightly toasted grain with some measure of earthy hops struggling to be noticed. It isn't off-putting exactly, but neither does it encourage me to tip the glass up.

ESB doesn't taste much like an ESB. There's too much toasted maltiness and not enough hops, not by a long shot. The flavor profile starts out slightly sour, morphs into sweet and finishes significantly dry with a surprising bitterness; although it's a bitterness thoroughly divorced from (good) hop flavor. The clean, grain-like finish reminds me of unbuttered toast.

The Matt Brewing Company brews average beer (if I'm allowed to say that after sampling three of their offerings). If there's a hidden gem in there somewhere I'll probably never find it since I'm not that enthused about trying the rest of their lineup. ESB will do in a pinch, but a much better version shouldn't be that hard to find.

 1,247 characters

Photo of Jason
2.51/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Presentation: 12 oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

Appearance: Quick to foam but not a gusher, bright and clear copper color. Fluffy lace with decent retention.

Smell: Wet citric hop, very little malt in the nose. Hops are almost perfumy … extract?

Taste & Mouth Feel: Astringent bitterness kills the taste buds right away, soapy hop flavor … weird hop character all around. Faint malt … but the pungent hops just smash it away.

Drinkability & Notes: I even let this beer warm up to cellar temperature to get the full effect. I like hoppy beers, very hoppy at that … this one lost me at the first sip.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.25/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of mikesgroove
2.94/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i have been assembling full lineups from breweries and randomly doin these horizontal tastings with my family. The saranac one from a couple weeks ago was more then epic as it took months to gather all of these, but it was a hell of a fun night! Big thanks to Alex for pulling through on the bulk of these

There was alot of carbonation visible streaming up from the bottom of the glass to replenish what little head there was. Decent side glass lace as well.

I really had to search for this one to be able to find any hint of anything really. It just came off way to light. When I was able to find an aroma it was most very light grain and wheat with a slight hint of earthy grass. This was your average ESB. And I mean average. The flavor was rather bland and non descript with really no defining characteristic to it. Some light cereal grain, and a touch of earthy grass again, but nothing really sticking out in any way. Almost forgotten as soon as it was sipped. It had a very nice amount of carbonation which was the only thing really keeping my intrest at that point

Overall this will be easily forgotten and I would not seek it out again. It was just way too average for me with nothing really sticking out or being different in any way.

 1,249 characters

Photo of rab53
3/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of Billolick
4/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Still working on finishing that holiday box, hmmm think I'll give this one a try. Pours redish amber, clear, white medium head, leaves decent, sticky lacing. Nose is malty, and spicy. this is decent stuff., nice malty backbone, citrusy hops midway and more spice, snap and crackle in the finish. This beer has a distinctive taste, a pleasant mouthfeel and that elusive characteristic, complexity. My favorite out of that box yet.

 429 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.2/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Always nice to sample new beers with this sampler pack, pours beautifully a ruby caramel body and a large light off white head forms thick and rises like bread with yeast working it's magic. Lacing is even and fine with good detail, a nice looking brew for sure. Aroma has light caramel and mild floral and tame citrus tones with the moderate hop nose. Light but quaffable mix of hops and semi sweet malts. Nice bready touch of spiced caramel edge forms and then prickly but light bittering hop blend flows with more floral and citrus with a touch of earthiness. Mouthfeel is in the light to medium body range with sturdy but not overbearing carbonation. Overall drinkability is solid as a part of the mixed 12 packs but it's really nothing I'd ever search out on it's own.

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Photo of jwc215
3.53/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Part of winter variety pack:

Pours copper amber with an off-white head that leaves lacing.

The smell is biscuity, caramelish and nutty. It has an "English"character to it, though more towards a standard "bitter" I would say.

The taste is malty - not complex, but toffee-ish. Malt is a bit light but holds together. Hops come through to give a bitter touch, though in a somewhat metallic way. It goes towards an ESB. It grows on me as it progresses. The metallic fades to a leafy bitterness, though it remains more malty sweet in character. I would like more balance, but this seems to work well enough as it progresses to stay on as a sweeter, maltier interpretation of the style.

The feel, while on the light side, does have a body that fits well enough (and not the lightest of the style that I've had).

Not a bad stab at the style. Pretty quaffable. First couple of sips didn't sell me on it, but improved quickly after that.

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Photo of plaid75
4.1/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a medium amber hue with a one finger frothy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a spicy caramel malt, a robust nuttiness and an earthy hop.

The taste consisted of a moderate caramel sweetness, an earthy nuttiness and a touch of smokiness. A good spicy hop as well.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness for the style.

Overall a delicious and seemingly authentic ESB. Very well done.

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Photo of puboflyons
2.94/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sampled on Super Bowl Sunday 2009 from the 12 fl. oz. bottle no. 2678-U801. No expiration date listed. Got a good deal on an end of season Saranac mixed 12-pack for $8.99.

Appearance - The pour is kind of a copper-orange and not what I expect from an ESB. There is absolutely no head or lacing. It looked flat.

Smell - Malts and grains and mildly spiced. It was nothing outstanding but reasonably inviting.

Mouthfeel - Pretty average, Not watered down but not very bold.

Taste - It starts out malty and ends weakly with bitter hops. The finish is kind of dry. It was drinkable but a somewhat dull experience.

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Photo of WesWes
3.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours an amber color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice malty scent that boasts of pale and crystal malts. It also has a very pleasant bitter hop aroma. The taste is decent. It has a very bitter hop flavor that is balanced with a weak malt bill. It goes down easy and finishes with a soapy aftertaste. The mouthfeel is decent. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is an above average ESB. It has decent flavor and aroma, but it's nothing to blow your hair back.

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Photo of RBorsato
3.2/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Light brown with golden edges... Sediment City ! Light brown head leaves decent lace. Caramel-ish malt aroma (characteristic of many Matt beers). Nice malty character (better than aroma). Light chocolate and caramel flavors dominate with little to no hop character. Medium bodied.

Available in the 2000 and 2001 Saranac Holiday Pack.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Tan brown with a white soapy head.

S. Some bready malt and trademark Saranac yeast.

T. Light malt with an ever so slight roasted edge. Mellow ghost hop with a lingering bitterness, even a bit soapy. As it warms the roasted malt flavor pulls through better. Still finishes a bit sweet and unbalanced. Hop character is lacking. Overall nothing astringent, but nothing great.

M. Medium bodied and fairly smooth. A bit heavy. Goes down easy enough, finishes semi-dry.

D. Not terribly memorable, but a good beer that went well with pizza. Fairly bland in flavor and a bit heavy, much better ESBs out there.

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Photo of WDJersey
3.25/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of jmdrpi
3.25/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of Kelp
3.5/5  rDev +5.4%

Photo of bluejacket74
3.63/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, part of Saranac's "12 Beers of Winter" sample pack. Served in a Sam Adams BL glass, the beer pours a dark amber color with an inch off-white head. Lacing and head retention are both good. The aroma is bready malt, nuts, and some butterscotch. It tastes like bready/biscuity malt, nuts, caramel, and a bit of fruit, and spicy and floral hops. There's also a slight bitter finish. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a little bit creamy and slick with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's smooth and easy to drink. Not a bad choice as a session brew. I like this beer, it's enjoyable to drink and I would buy this again. It's not the best ESB I've had, but it's good enough for me.

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Photo of jzlyo
3/5  rDev -9.6%

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Saranac ESB from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 3.32 out of 5 with 138 ratings