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 lccrunchy
4/5  rDev +20.5%

Photo of dowen44
3/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of JohneHoodlum
3/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of rab53
3/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of djrn2
3/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of nmann08
2/5  rDev -39.8%

Photo of jmdrpi
3.25/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of cgise22
4/5  rDev +20.5%

Photo of tclapper
3/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of blackened1339
4/5  rDev +20.5%

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 jmbranum
4.25/5  rDev +28%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is aged for about a year, brought back from a trip to the Northeast.

Rich malty aroma. Taste is very malty yet dry, with lots of citrusy hops. Reminds me a lot of an ipa with more malt. Fair amount of balance.

I think the hoppyness was more pronounced when I had it before. The aging mellowed it out just right.

I like this beer. Would love to have it aged again.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
3.46/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Medium-plus copper body with exceptional clarity. Two fingers of level slightly off-white foam.

Mild hay/grass aroma, pleasant and unassertive. A bit of bakery in the background.

Taste begins with semi-weet malt down the tongue with real depth to it. Toasty, earthy hops emerge from the sides. Small chocolate note at the swallow. The malt holds its ground throughout.

Smooth medium mouthfeel. Nicely rounded.

Sessionable drinkability.

Not quite as special as Fullers, but a nice take on the style.

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

A - Poured a copper color with a tan head that fades pretty quickly

S - Is mostly of caramel malt

T - Not very bitter for an esb theres more malt than bitter not really much bitter anything going on

M - This beer kinda has a thin body with lighter carbonation to it

D - This beer fell short of what I like in an ESB it wasn't horrible it just wasn't any better than most

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Photo of goblue3509
3.7/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of my favorite Saranacs. Pours a copper color that is very clear. The mouthfeel is dry not a lot of carbination. The taste was dry i didn't think it was overly bitter and not hoppy but citriusy. The beer had a very smooth taste. It is a beer that you can drink over and over, it is not heavy. Would be good for someone not looking for something as hoppy as an ipa.

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Photo of superdedooperboy
3.68/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A moderately gentle pour raises a gorgeous two fingers of cream-tinged creamy-yet-rocky foam that recedes slowly to a nice, sticky cap that hugs the walls of the glass and leaves behind thick bands of lacing. Color is a deep copper with a rather striking clarity.

Slightly herbal and floral hop notes appear in the nose, with a touch of orange-like citrus; malt aroma is underplayed and difficult to pinpoint. Some slight fruity esters are also apparent.

A medium, moderately-carbonated body shows mildly bitter, herbal and resinous hops in the foreground, with a smooth caramel-and-faintly nutty malt and mildly estery underbody that really shines just before the dry, herbal hop flourish that draws things to a close.

Nicely drinkable, yet the esters on the palate serve to make the malt character border on cloying as the beer warms. Overall, though, a good interpretation of the style.

 892 characters

Photo of CrellMoset
3.26/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of dkachur, poured into a traditional American pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a transparent and pleasantly-hued - sort of a deep reddish amber brown, full of very fine-bubbled, average speed effervescence - body, capped by one-finger of relatively sticky, slightly off white head.

Aroma: Faint glassy, toasty malts, dry, without much character, yet ever so grainy dominate. Faint yeasty fruit esters bring up the rear, accompanied by an equally faint grassy, leafy hop notes. A very "far away" and on the whole not too pleasant aroma.

Taste: See aroma. Highlight, ctrl-c, ctrl-v. Seriously though, this is one is toasty malts, faintly sweet but relatively dry and crisp, a handful of stray yeast esters, and a very faint backing hop bitterness and accompanying hop notes. It's ESB-like, but like many things Saranac, it only comes close to approximating what a good ____ should taste like.

Mouthfeel: Big bubbles in a thin body, though again still very even. It would work - better - if the flavors were a little more authentic, so I can't knock it too much for not working with the flavor profile, as it would work with a more appropriate flavor profile.

Drinkability: 5.5%? Sure. That enjoyable a beer? Not really. It's not bad, but it's not great - a solid, decently drinkable effort, though not a go-to beer for me, neither as an exemplar of the style nor generally.

 1,391 characters

Photo of dogfishandi
2.74/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours a clear dark copper color with little head that faded immediately to a ring of foam. decent lacing. the aroma is that of grassy, musty, earthy smell. a little bit of hops as well. not a lot of malt. the taste is kind of ruined by the high carbonation which really bites your tongue. really earthy, citrusy hop flavor. some grains. finishs with a noticeable hop taste. medium to light bodied. i would drink this again if given to me, but i would definately not buy this one again. to me its not even a real ESB. an ESB is supposed to get the bitterness from the malts, not the hops. this one is the other way around and is not very true to the style at all. but still somewhat of a drinkable beer.

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Photo of philbe311
3.33/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Rusty copper colored ale... Two fingers of batter-like white foam... Appealing lace... Moderate carbonation... Fully translucent...

S - Malt... Butter... Toffee... Slightly musky... Oddly, the scent seems to fade as the beer warms...

T - Saltine crackers... Weak malts... Grassiness... A faint spiciness... English hops...

M - Medium bodied... Slightly creamy texture... Bitter follow through... A little rough around the ages (in a good way)...

D - A respectable ESB, but far from best in class... Easy drinking, but not one I would seek out in the future...

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Photo of eporter66
3.68/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass

If the description of a ESB on this site is what we should go by, then Saranac has made a fine ESB - balance is the key. Never having an ESB before, my expectation (from the name alone) was it would be a very hop heavy bitter beer - this is a nice malty rich flavor

A - Copper, brown, 1 finger head and average lacing

S - A heavy Malt aroma with roasted scents

T - A good balance of malt, with some backend hops. There is a little burn in the back of the throat, warming the area - good on a cold winters night

M - Dryness on the tongue and mouth, but the malt gives it a richer upfront feel

D - I really enjoyed this beer, it was well balanced, nothing that stands out as an overpowering flavor, but that seems to be the name of the game. Maybe it should be an Extra Special Balance instead of bitter.

 839 characters

Photo of Clydesdale
3.33/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a copper-amber color with some fine carbonation visible. A fairly large, dense and frothy off-white head bubbles up with solid retention and some attractive lacing.

S: Some toasted grain and faint caramel maltiness up front. Hop aroma is leafy and floral. Some slight earthy and metallic notes at times also.

T: Toasty graininess up front. Very subdued caramel flavor. Hops suggest some leafy and floral flavor, but mostly they just add a dash of bitterness. Some touches of bland fruitiness are available. Again, an earthy and metallic twang into the finish.

M: Medium bodied with average carbonation. A drying, astringent and puckering feel at the finish that lingers into the aftertaste.

D: Most of the way through the Saranac winter pack, I'm detecting a trend. The beers look nice and drink pretty easily, but in terms of taste, they're rather average. This is no different - a solid but forgettable ESB.

 926 characters

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 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 JamesS
2.31/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Nice dark copper color, with almost no head, but a tiny bit of lacing. Almost no scent at all, very little malt and almost no hop aroma. There is some nice hoppiness in the taste, although the hops seem to compete, rather than compliment each other; hints of both American and English hops, bits of floral citrus and beef jerky both; hints of a peppery spice as well. Goes down fine, if not great, just a little roughness in the back of the throat. Not Saranac's best.

 468 characters

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