Saranac Summer Ale | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

195 Reviews
Read the review
Saranac Summer AleSaranac Summer Ale

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

Style: American Pale Wheat Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.70%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
Available in the 12 Beers of Summer sampler. Not to be confused with Saranac Summer Brew (a German Radler).

Added by WesWes on 04-14-2005

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 195 | Ratings: 306
Photo of tone77
3.72/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to woodychandler for yet another canned beer. Poured from a 12 oz. can. Has a golden color with a 1 inch head. Smell is sweet, malts and grains. Taste is crisp, some citrus and grains, a bit on the sweet side. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is an easy drinking summer beer.

 294 characters

Photo of aranheaney
2.58/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Got in a sampler, poured into a DFH snifter:

A-light straw with a finger of head that is quickly gone and no lacing

S-non-offensive, fruity with some lemon

T-meh, lemon, weak, not so great

M-there's not alot going on here

O-wouldn't recommend, there's just not much positive, it's lightish, has a funky aftertaste and I don't think I'll revisit it again

 358 characters

Photo of woodychandler
3.18/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I saw a 12-pack at The Foodery (N. Liberties) and being a CAN regular, I asked if they had singles available, so they broke one open for me and I bought three. It's a CANQuest (TM) thing ...

I am a retired sailor and I am doing three knots with this beer: 1) It's knot summer yet; 2) It's knot Noon yet and 3) I'm knot worried about the first two. There's an old joke about a salt on his 80th birthday and the young woman he procures to help him celebrate. She tells him: 1) You're knot in; 2) You're knot even erect; and 3) You're knot getting your money back! Brings a tear to my eye ...

From the CAN: "Beer brewed with natural flavors" (unlike Minhas, which is as unnatural as they come).

The Crack & Glug was yet another reminder as to why it is important to deCANt: not only did I get two fluffy fingers of bone-white head, but it looked like summer in a glass. Color was a beautiful sunshine yellow with NE-quality clarity. Couple that with the cloud-like head and you have a summer's day. I am a visual beer guy, I suppose. Nose had a metallic aspect to it. Uh oh. Fortunately, the smell did not translate to the taste. Mouthfeel was on the thin side and the flavor was big on lemon, which were probably the natural flavors alluded to earlier. It was a pretty mellow drink, as wheat beers are wont to be, finishing with a light zestiness, making it quite refreshing. I probably would not want more than one, but if I were accompanied by someone who really likes this sort of thing, it would be in my cooler.

 1,517 characters

Photo of Jimmys
2.8/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

reviewed on 5/31/11 - from notes:

A: orange/gold hued body. steady carbonation leads to a very fluffy head. reasonable retention.

S: a noticeably tart lemon aroma. orange peel citrus also working its way in there. struggling to find a distinct malt or hop presence in there, however still a unique aroma.

T: pretty thin body. very similar to the nose, tart lemon flesh as well as the citrus of orange peel. a touch of breadiness boasts evidence of malt. 99% sure the citrus is from a citrus source and not hops, but I could be wrong.

M: substantial carbonation doesn’t detract from anything here.

D: a miss for me. the citrus and fruit seems too forced to be enjoyable and I am not finding this a ‘refreshing’ summer beer as I thought I would.

 754 characters

Photo of muttyd
2.78/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured aggressively into a pint glass. Near clear yellow body with a soapy white head that fades into a slight ring.

Aroma is filled with iced tea with lemon, honey, and some pale malts. Somewhat musty and grass like in the nose too. Flavor is citrusy sweet up front, follows with a grainy/bready body, and finishes with a slight bitterness. Lemon sticks around after the beer is gone. As the beer warms up, the lemon becomes more reminiscent of drinking an artificially sweetened lemonade. Carbonation is spot on; bubbly on the tongue, light body and drinkable.

Really wanted to like this beer more. The lemon flavor is just too strong. Decent base beer, but wanted more.

 676 characters

Photo of UDbeernut
2.93/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into a cheater pint

A: clear straw yellow, slight 1/4" head with very low retention. Gobs of bubbling carbonation.

S: neutral nose, slight citrus and malt

T: not a lot of flavor. Hint of malt and citrus. Slightly soapy.

M: light bodied

O: an ok session beer, nothing that really standsout in my mind.


 331 characters

Photo of therica
3.5/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A= clear light amber to golden, with big lacing.

S= big lemon, some malts.

T= big lemon, some malts. A bit trendy and novel, mostly a fairly decent (rather, non-offensive) big lemon tasting brewed beverage. For a wheat ale it's a bit light on the wheat ale traits but huge on lemon. Pretty much as the bottle states, a great summer beer.

M= lemon and lemon, like I just bit into a fresh lemon. But better.

O= well, it's not much in the wheat beer category but it's made with wheat as a background to huge fresh-lemon flavor, probably great with most seafoods or for some exciting alternative to otherwise mediocre lawn-mowing summer beer.

If kids still had lemonade stands and sold this, the world would be a better place.

 727 characters

Photo of hosehead83
3.45/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.
Clear, yellow/gold in color, with a two-inch "airy" head of foam.
Aroma-Faint lemon peel, Pilsener malt
Taste-Wheat, faint lemon peel,spice, orange pel note. Light-bodied, crisp and refreshing, but lacking any great depth of character. A decent "no-brainer" brew to be had on a hot summer day.

 348 characters

Photo of micmillon18
2.85/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Best before Sept 30, 2011. My first foray into Saranac...

A - Pours a clear straw yellow with a very thin, fizzy head that dissipates quickly.

S - Somewhat wheaty and yeasty; maybe some light citrusy scents. Its pretty faint on the nose.

T - Upfront sweetness, like that of orange and citrus, gives way to some grainy flavors. It ends poorly, with some odd tangy flavors (possibly from the hops) and a bit yeasty, all of which are kind of off putting. There's not a ton of flavor but what's there is decent.

M - Light body, good carbonation.

O - This was in the summer 12 pack I purchased so I'll have another one to mull over. It's very average and there are better choices out there within a similar price range.

 768 characters

Photo of rlee1390
3.5/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Part of the Saranac Summer Mix pack

A-Clear yellow , carbonated as well.

S-Some lemon and a little wheat.

T-Lemon, a little wheat, with a little bit of bitterness.

M-Light and some carbonation as well.

O-Not a bad example of a summer beer but the wheat profile could have been better.

 289 characters

Photo of NODAK
3.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma is decidedly ruled by citrus, with a wheat undercurrent present.

Taste comes across as citric in the front, but not really in a strong way. It's actually kind of weird, because it's lemony in a way but really seems pretty watery. There's a small, funky tartness in the back with a little wheat. It's just unremarkable. I don't know how to explain it further. The label says there are spices in this. Good look finding those.

Pretty average stuff. Just wish it would have kept up the taste throughout the beer.

 517 characters

Photo of jsprain1
2.36/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A- Pours a slightly hazed apricot, with a foamy head that actually doesn't look to bad. Fizzed down to a ring though.
S- Some decent wheat characteristics, and some artificial lemon, that is not particularly enjoyable.
T- A tale of two halves here. Initially it is a pretty good beer, with some grainy wheat characteristics, but then the artificial lemon character comes in and hits it on the head. Minimal hop character. Really dug it until the lemon came in.
M- Fizzy carbonation in the mouth wasn't appreciated. Decent body though.
O- This seems like a decent beer ruined by the lemon addition. I think the trend in my taste is to like Saranac's base beers, but any time they add fruit, it doesn't mesh well. Generally would advise against this one, though it is refreshing enough.

 784 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Part of the Saranac Beers of Summer Box - $13.48 at Sherlock's in Marietta, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a hazed, bronze-esque body with a thin, scant, whitish head.

Smell: Malted wheat with a vague, ill-defined spiciness and a bit of honey and perhaps less than a bit of light caramel (though I may be unduly influenced by reading 'caramel coloring' on the label). Then, there's the lemon, which, sadly, has an artificial bent to it.

Taste: Wheat malt, along with some simple pale malted barley joins a medium sweetness and small hint of graham cracker crumbs. A small hint of honey as it warms. Then, in comes a lemony flavor akin to adding a spoonful of Crystal Light to the brew. A subtle spiciness and a hint of bitterness tries to cut through the lemon additive to no avail. Finishes crisp, the tongue popping with crackling carbonation. A bit more of the lemon flavoring lingers in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Medium-high, soda-like carbonation.

Drinkability: SSA reminds me a bit of Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat (minus the Fruity Pebbles kick, natch). One to pound after mowing the lawn, or pound while out at the lake with friends, or not drink at all. I think I know which option I'll go for. I see a few notations of people wanting to call this a witbier, but, come on, let's not be hasty. At the very best, it's like a weird, creepy distant cousin the rest of the proud Witbier Family never calls, doesn't accept FB friend requests from, or responds to requests to "borrow" money.

 1,510 characters

Photo of bourbonbock
3.7/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 oz bottle into my mug.

A. Clear and golden body with about a finger of white fluffy head which is receding pretty slowly.

S. Light aroma of pale malt and perhaps some lemons.

T. Light body with a lemony and spicy flavor. Not much aftertaste but the spiciness fades slowly.

M. Light and carbonated like a refreshing summer beer should be.

D. I like this better that the sam adams or brooklyn summer ale and would definitely buy a 12 pack when the weather turns around.

 489 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
3.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a Chicago Bears shaker pint glass.

Finally almost done with the Saranac Summer pack. Jesus, it's taking me way the hell too long... Anyway, this one pours a clear pale golden straw topped by a half-finger of white foam. The nose comprises coriander, orange and lemon zests, and a good amount of wheat. The taste runs along a very similar course, but with more wheat and some sharp flowers thrown in. The fruitier notes are decidedly toned down, mere shadows of their nasal selves. The body is quite light, with a light moderate carbonation and a crisp, clean finish. Overall, an okay brew, but one that really doesn't endear itself to me. As mild as it is, I still can't see myself wanting to drink much more of this. Maybe it's too mild, I dunno.

 758 characters

Photo of Offa
2.65/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This is a decent, light but thin, rather sharp, bland beer and overall seems a but crude.

Deep gold, it has a medium off-white head soon thinning and leaving no real lace.

Aroma is light, vaguely caramelly toasty barley apple, hints of metal. It is rather like a lighter American dark lager-type.

Taste is grain, simple but pleasant enough, very faintly caramelly with faint leafy hop and light but sharp pepperiness and light mineral. I note an odd, fleeting hint of cherry right at the finish. Light sweetness is up front before light, brief peppery-bitter finish and then a long, faint, vague caramelly-sweet aftertaste with nothing else.

This is ok, but thin of character, simple, and crude. It offers so little that it quickly becomes tiresome.

 753 characters

Photo of scottbrew4u
2.9/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Golden yellow to light orange with half inch of bubbly white head.

S: Lightly toasted malt, husky grains, lemon zest and spicy hops.

T: Slightly sweet toasted malt, light breadiness, some tart lemon flavors and a hint of spice.

M: Light body and moderate carbonation.

D: Refreshing yet not quite there for a summer beer. Lemon flavors work well but it still seems a bit boring.

 385 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
3.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Figuring that I already had the amber wheat, maybe having the pale version as well would be interesting to compare. On to the beer:

Clean bodied pale orangish gold color, the body seems "still". The head retention is adequante, and it leaves a little lacing. The aroma is like being near a lemon tree; lemon peel and lemonheads in the nose, though it should be noted the intensity isn't very high. Call it decent for a beer.

Leinenkuegel's had say in making this beer, but that famous "fruity pebbles" note strikes in here, and is the leader of the flavors. Lemonheads come out secondary. I prefer this over being bland. Light and airy in the mouth, with a gentle snap of carbonation. The mouthfeel is identical to the one of the amber wheat, but if taste is what you're concerned about, go pale.

A somewhat decent summer ale. You can do better or worse.

 859 characters

Photo of bigfnjoe
2.08/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A- pours a pale, clear yellow with a 2 finger white head that begins to dissipate very quickly. No lacing to speak of at all. Crappy appearance.

S- mostly an aroma of lemon...a little soapy, almost. Then it totally dies and I'm left with nothing.

T- a little lemon, a little banana. It is not a pleasant combination how they are combined. Actually pretty disgusting.

M- thin and watery. No body to speak of at all

D- I guess you could drink one pretty quickly on a really warm day. I do not want this near my lips at all with the superior variety of summer beers on the market.

 622 characters

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
2.7/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Well, its Saranac, so expectations are low. Pours a decent enough yellow with a degree of haze. Smells like lemon. More than anything.

Tastes like lemon more than anything. I guess relatively speaking, its a decent Saranac brew, it tastes like something that isn't offensive for once, and its actually assertive. Don't necessarily know that I want the flavor they decide to get assertive with be lemon, but its a start. There really isn't much else to talk about, lemon dominates. Too expensive to be drinkable, too sour and sweet one dimensional lemony as well.

 564 characters

Photo of FickleBeast
3.23/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Pour is straw yellow and quickly fizzes up to fill the glass. Dissipates quickly without lacing. Beer is remarkably transparent.

Smell is like lemon pledge. Very lemony.

And the taste is lemony also... interesting. Good amount of sweetness, and an artificial, Lemonhead like sweetness really dominates. I don't taste any barley or hops.

Very weird. It is not bad-tasting, but it is not beer. It is certainly not a Pale Wheat Ale as listed. I realize this is a "Shandy" - but not sure how to score this one. I feel like I'm drinking Gatorade.

This beer is getting low marks because it doesn't resemble a beer - more like an energy drink. That being said, it doesn't taste bad, and I wouldn't mind drinking one of these during an outdoor BBQ while playing volleyball

 809 characters

Photo of biggred1
3.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pale yellow (colored with caramel) with a fluffy white head that shrinks to a skim fairly quickly. Lemon peel and coriander stand out bigtime in the aroma with a fresh breadiness. Lemon and coriander with a mild wheat malt tang? Yup, this beer is just a filtered Wit beer with caramel coloring added, it's not really bad it's just misclassified. Light bodied with plenty of carbonation. A pretty run of the mill Wit unless you love lemon flavor because this brew delivers that.

 477 characters

Photo of stakem
3.05/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Brown bottle with no indication of freshness poured into a weizen glass. Appears a light yellow color with a bit of haze from a pour that included a few drips of sediment from the bottom of the bottle. Less than a finger of white head appears and doesn't hang around long. Light bready and caramel aroma with plenty of lemon zest and spice almost like cinnamon that carries over into the flavor. Taste includes caramel malt like sweetness blended with the seemingly fake lemony flavor and a slight touch of hop bitterness. There is an aftertaste of lemon and spice left lingering in the mouth that doesn't really blend all that well with the caramel like sweetness from the malt. Light feel with a modest level of carbonation. This is another offering that would best be enjoyed after sweating it up in the heat and just drinking without savoring any flavor. This isn't something I would try again.

 898 characters

Photo of HalfFull
3.22/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz. bottle pours a nearly clear golden pale into a pint glass. A thin cap settles out quickly and offers minimal lacing yet does easily regenerate a light cap if agitated.

Nose is light overall with a subdued sense of wheat grain and a faint lemon hop character. Smell is in character with Sam Adam's own summer ale to a large degree with a notable bread character. Hops are more notable with some agitation.

Flavor is rather simple and straightforward with a light lemony wheat flavor. Feel is only lightly coarse in texture yet not overly sweet either, making for a decent drink overall but with a subdued character.

 625 characters

Photo of DrDemento456
3.5/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Golden light amber with an inch of head that quickly dispatches into a thin layer of lacing.

S - Well lemon and wheat really. Doesn't seem to be too much more complex.

T - Searching for what they call on the label as "spice" all I could taste was lemon and wheat. Slight peppery keeps it kind of interesting.

M - Light but OK for what they accomplished a solid brew. Tons of carbonation it seemed like a soda pop.

D - Well it's kind of good I got 4 because this made Samuel Adams summer beer seem like it had more flavor which it did not. Pretty good if it's an alternative to BMC since it's in a case at a mere 24 dollars with tax. Pretty drinkable.

 658 characters

Saranac Summer Ale from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.13 out of 5 based on 306 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.