Saranac Holiday Ale
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Saranac Holiday AleSaranac Holiday Ale
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Herb and Spice Beer
Ranked #95
Ranked #27,655
3.79 | pDev: 8.97%
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
New York, United States
Saranac Holiday AleSaranac Holiday Ale
Reviews: 7 | Ratings: 19
Photo of woodychandler
4.58/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

I was on a beer trip to The Beer Store in Malvern, PA when I came across this little jug & I was immediately enthralled by it! I have only ever seen something like it used for Mississippi Mud & since I generally like Saranac beers & it was a bit of an oddball curiosity, I decided to snag it.

From the jug (bottle): "In Our Third Century of Brewing"; "Winter Ale Brewed with Spices".

As it turns out, the jug holds a quart of beer. I haven't drank a quart bottle since my former neighbors, with whom I would gather in the alley during the summers, moved away. No Pop! of the top or Crack! & Glug, either, since it had a screw-top opening. Man, I feel like some kind of bootlegger. My initial pour of a pint resulted in two fingers of dense, rocky, deep-tan/light-brown head with good retention. Color was Dark Brown to Very Dark brown (SRM = > 27, < 34) with NE-quality clarity & garnet highlights. Very pretty. Nose smelled like a liquefied Christmas cookie, bready with loads of cinnamon & nutmeg! Mmmm. I used to love to cook when I was in high school & baking was my forte. I made some killer Christmas cookies one semester, right before the holiday break & I got to take them home (as did each person) for my family. The nose on this beer was very evocative of those cookies. Mouthfeel was thin-to-medium, not watery, but thin for a Holiday Ale/Winter Beer. The taste was less spicy than the nose had led me to expect, but that was okay by me. I have had some in this style which were saturated with the spices and almost undrinkable by extension. This was accompanied by an anise & chocolate flavor to go with the nutmeg & cinnamon as well as a biscuity flavor, less than bready as I initially thought. It suddenly hit me as to the flavor - Pfeffernusse cookies! Add cloves to the flavors, which I had not thought of until just now, and there you are. Fantastic! Finish was dry, as is usually the case with spiced beers. This was a really nice beer & I am glad that I did not wait forever to drink it. To allude to a previous reviewer, it is perfect on a slightly chilly winter's day, but it would not suit in the middle of summer.

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Photo of BeerPournTV
3.19/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours dark and woody with some head, decent lacing. A lot of up front holiday spice, remnants of dancing elves. Like spilling eggnog on your ugly sweater at the office Christmas party. Great in the moment, but not that appealing beyond December's end.

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Photo of NiceTaps
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

32oz "mini moonshine jug" I'll call it; with an appealing Holiday Season label wrapping. It pours dark chestnut brown color with a solid taupe colored 1F head that fades quickly but maintains some good film. It's effervescence is evident when held to light, as is some reddish color. Light spot and ring lacing.

Spicy malt aroma, not quite baked bread but there's evidence of spice. I find spice aromas difficult to identify at times but I'll go with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. extract. Some toasted malt and brown sugar.

Spiced roasted malt flavor. A little dark fruit. Gingerbread-like.

Well carbonated and smooth. Light body with a dry finish. Long malt finish with a slightly sour note.

The 6.2% abv is not boozy nor light. It makes for a drinkable spice winter brew that I'd actually drink again. Not bad.

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Photo of jzlyo
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Aroma is malts, spices and a good amount of nuttiness. The flavor is nutty malts, cinnamon, spices, mild vegetables, toffee and a mix of citrus, slight sourness and tangy in the finish.

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Photo of wattoclone
4.35/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Dark walnut-brown ale with a foamy head. Aroma is not huge, but inviting with subtle vanilla and chocolate. It has a perfectly moderate mouthfeel with a pleasant malty taste and a spicy hop finish.

I'm a big fan of the Saranac seasonal beers since they are moderate in taste and ABV, not overly crafted to destroy your palate, pocketbook or waistline, but very refreshing and enjoyable. Taste is reminiscent of their dark oktoberfest lager, aptly named "Dark-toberfest", but with a spicier hop finish. My New Year's wish is that Matt Brewing keeps the DARK beers like these flowing.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky crimson-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. A foamy lattice of lace coats the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, molasses, cocoa powder, earth, and Christmas spice aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, earth, cocoa powder, and slight Christmas spice flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a nice mix of toast, cocoa, and spice that is a bit subtle but well balanced for what it is.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Matt Brewing Co. "Saranac Holiday Ale"
32. oz brown glass jug, production coded but without freshness dating
$4.99 @ Total Wine & More, Cherry Hill, NJ

I saw this cute little jug of "Holiday Ale" with a Christmas tree on the label and just couldn't pass it up, especially given the price. I bought one to sample, and one to take to a party, and I'd have been disappointed if it wasn't any good (although I'd still have taken it to the party). As it turns out, it's actually pretty nice.

It's a very dark mahogany brown that almost looks black in the glass. Held to the light you can see that it's crystal clear with lighter mahogany brown highlights. Its short creamy tan cap fades rather quickly, and as you might imagine the lacing is quite limited, leaving just a few spots and streaks here and there.

It's a spiced ale, and you get a bit of that in the aroma, but it's not overdone. It's kind of a gingerbread spicing (ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg), and that works really well with the gently chocolatey, cocoa-powder-like malt that's behind it. Beyond that I find it nutty, and caramelish, and perhaps even a touch roasty.

In the mouth it's fairly light in body, and delicately crisp. There's not a lot of carbonation to it, and it gives just a slight bristle to the palate. As a spiced beer, however, it's probably best to keep it soft so that the carbonic gas "bite" doesn't accentuate the spiciness.

The flavor is as the aroma suggests, and it's softly chocolatey and cocoa-ish with an edge of roastiness and a delicate spiciness that's nicely threaded-through. It's light, and accessible, whereas many winter/spiced ales take things a bit further... I'm not saying too far... but this is a beer that your Yuengling Traditional Lager drinking uncle might actually find palatable. As to the ale side of it, there's a clear yeasty fruitiness, and it's clearly not a lager. Without the spicing I'd see it as a nice English-style mild - except that it's 6.2%!!! Fortunately, the alcohol is kept in check and never appears, although you will certainly feel it after a pint.

American beer aficionados will most likely find it lacking on every count except for perhaps the color of the body, but I find it's quite nice in that it puts forth so much with so little, and displays an almost impeccable balance. As I'm a fan of English ales I guess that makes sense, and I would certainly suggest that if you try this beer you should let it warm up a bit as it will present itself best at cellar temperature.

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Saranac Holiday Ale from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 19 ratings