Saranac Belgian Ale
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Saranac Belgian AleSaranac Belgian Ale
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Belgian Pale Ale
Ranked #454
Ranked #45,851
3.36 | pDev: 14.29%
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
New York, United States
Saranac Belgian AleSaranac Belgian Ale
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Reviews: 237 | Ratings: 290
Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.31/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

It pours a bright clear golden color leaving a very clear body and a half inch white foamy head in my chalice. Small inner valleys appear within the head and light rapidly moving carbonation is seen rising. The smell was the banana and clove up front with light fruitiness in the background. The taste was sweet and kinda grainy with the fruitiness coming back more so in a citrusy sort of way. It leaves a dry aftertaste and a sticky finish. The palate is light with nothing harsh on the tongue, a really nice smoothness is felt all around, kinda creamy. Overall, this is adequate for me and for the style.

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Photo of ujsplace
3.05/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3


Not as good as back in 2009. Still a good brew.

Poured into a over sized wine glass.

A: Deep copper that borders on brown. Whitish head that is thick and puffy. Lacing is descent.

S: Mild herbal hops, yeast, ripe fruit and malts.

T: Nice hop malt balance with a hint of overripened cherries.

M: Medium/light creamy with good caronation level.

D: A good Belgian ale. Swirl the bottle because there is some yeasty sediment on the bottom of this brew, which was a definite suprise to me. This is unbeatable for the price. I would absolutely pick up a case of this...

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Photo of chinchill
3.25/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle served in a snifter. A bit annoyed at the outset that Saranac simply describes this as a "Belgian style ale" on the label (although there's a more info. in the fine print on the neck label) -- Belgian ales are so varied that this is virtually useless.

A: pours a cloudy orange-amber with a short-lived off-white head. Vestiges of the head remain for a while and some thin lacing is left o n the glass.

The aroma is fruity, bready and appealing, but too faint.
The flavor is fruity, bready and spicy, with what I would describe as a Belgian style spice component. It has a slight earthiness and yeastiness yet is quite drinkable. [3.25]

M: Medium-light body with near medium carbonation. A little watery.

O: well, a decent and economical departure from your typical American beer, but a not a strong rendition of a "Belgian ale"

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Photo of drtth
3.24/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

The clear amber beer pours out into a nonic pint glass with a thin white head that did leave a bit of lacing when sipping.

The aromas include the yeast, a bit of spice and some fruit, with the grassy hops in the background.

The flavors include the spice, the fruits and the and a bit of bitterness from the grassy hops.

The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium bodied and slightly prickly with the persistent finely bubbled carbonation.

On the whole the drinkability is good and I would have another if I was thirsty. Another Saranac beer that hits a sweet spot for flavor at the price. That all said I'll probably not be revisiting this beer.

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Photo of airheadmtrcycle
3.58/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Another beer from the winter sampler, a Belgian ale. A really good looking pour. A deep amber to mahogany brew with a gorgeous thick foamy head with lacing in a New Belgium chalice.

Bananas and spice aromas smell like authentic Trappist yeast has been used. Tastes malty and medium on the palate. If I have any complaints with the flavor it could use more of an alcohol zing, but overall a pretty tasty ale. Not unlike some authentic Belgian ales. The lack of alcohol gives it just a tad of a watery mouth feel, but perhaps increases the drinkability. It went down awfully quick and easy, but I wouldn't want another right away.

It's a pleasant surprise to get a decent Belgian style ale from a seasonal mix of beer. I wasn't expecting anything this good.

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Photo of armock
3.2/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Poured a hazed brown color with a tan head that leases some lacing behind

S - Is of spices fruity and Belgian yeast

T - Follows the nose lots of spice upfront fruit and finishes yeasty

M - This beer has a medium body with higher carbonation to it

D - This is a fairly average version of the style not the best one out there but its still drinkable worth checking out sometime if you like the style

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.63/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Sloeber tulip glass.

A Belgian-style beer from New York? Will wonders never cease? Tee-hee. This one pours a somewhat hazy tawny amber with over a finger of white frothy head. An average bit of lacing is eventually formed. The smell is rich in cloves, bananas, Belgian yeast, and nutmeg. The flavor profile is similar, with some spices (clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper) balanced out by some banana, Belgian notes, and a tiny bit of diluted bitterness. It's all generally good, but somewhat watered-down or something. I dunno. The body is a light medium, with moderate carbonation and a watery, slightly oily feel. Overall, an average Belgian-style brew, but drinkable nonetheless.

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

Copper in color. The head on this beer was kinda small compared to other Belgians I've had. The biggest scent I'm getting is of that Belgian yeast. It's a pretty good beer. It has some malt and hop flavor but the main aspect is the drier flavor produced by the yeast.

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Photo of biggred1
3.33/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Hazed, honey copper with a finger of creamy tan foam. Not much in the nose here, light toasted grain and spice. Caramel and green apple with some Belgian spice and a nice hop bitterness. Medium light bodied with high carbonation. A good ale, just not a good example of the style.

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Photo of brentk56
3.8/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a crystal clear amber color; the head was disappointing for a Belgian though it did manage to create a bit of lace

Smell: Toffee malts are clearly discernable, along with spicy barnyard phenols

Taste: Atop the toffee is a stone fruit and spicy yeast character that maintains its balance both before and after the swallow

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: I would characterize this as a dumbed-down Trappist, but it still is rather enjoyable; in fact, I was surprised at how good it is

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Photo of Fnerk
3.74/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I would rate this brew as Saranac's version of Orval. And a fairly successful one at that, too!

Appearance - pours a dark orange with a short-lasting head that settles into a fine cap. A bit murky, looks really enticing.

Smell - A well-balanced aroma comes through, combining a pale and caramel malt bill with (maybe?) some of candy sugar to thin the beer out a bit.

Taste -the flavor follows the aroma nicely. As with all successful Abbey beers, this one has its viscocity balanced by the thinning effect of candy sugar. It's hard to tell how closely the Orval recipe is recreated here, but something tells me that the dry-hopping technique was omitted and all the bittering/flavoring hops were gotten in the boil.

The yeast used is obviously somewhere in line with that used in the original; the flavor profile is very close. Is it fermented a second time with a different yeast? I can't tell.

Mouthfeel - here again, the beer differs from the original: not as effervescent, but quite pleasant in its own right.

Drinkability - As with an original Orval, the relatively low alcohol and mellow blending of flavor components make this an eminently drinkable brew.Two, maybe even three!

A fine effort by Saranac with this one... :)

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Photo of mjaskula
3.71/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass. It's a nice almost clear copper color with a thick off-white head. The head thins to a film and leaves some thick lacing.

The aroma is as expected from the style, but a bit thin most notably belgian yeast, banana and clove. Flavor continues the aroma, and is still a bit thin, the belgian character is more asserted, bitterness is low but there is some hop character in the finish.

Mouthfeel is clean and dry and carbonation is lively. Not bad for a brewery that doesn't do many belgian styles.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The third in the box that I pulled out, I was actually pretty excited to try this one to be honest. Served cold and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 02/21/2010.

The pour was really nicely done for the style, nice light golden color with a good bit of haze balanced in throughout. Nice and small head of white then crept up the top of the glass and settled down lightly leaving some good side glass lacing. Well carbonated and it could be seen streaming up through the bottom of the glass. Light aroma of breads, light pears, hints of clove and fresh grass along with a light peppery spice that seemed to give it that little bit of an extra push. Crisp and clean with a very refreshing taste and texture. Light peach and pear flavors along with a delicate hint of grass and rich, even flavor that I could have easily enjoyed for the rest of the day.

Overall this was very, very solid indeed. One of the finest little Belgian ales I have had in a long time. Seems to have had just the right amount of hops for me and the delicate kick in the end was just what I needed. Very, very well done.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.29/5  rDev +27.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Now, I am starting to feel like I am back on active duty in the navy. The heavy weather has closed school both yesterday (Wednesday) and today (Thursday), although it is 0300 (Local, EST) and betwixt and between my being at odd ends and not having anywhere to go and my Old Lady living in CO, I am sleeping at odd hours, awake at odd hours, listening to odd music, thinking about my late Pops, whose middle name was "Odd". How odd. Is this what it is like in the midwest? I'm gettin' out of the house on Friday!

My pour erupted in just over a finger of explosive ecru head that sank like Atlantis. Color was a slightly hazy orangish-amber. Oooh, I liked the nose - very clove, definitely a product of their yeast. Also, some ginger. Say, I just went down this road recently with Thirsty Dog's Twelve Dogs of Christmas Ale. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full with a nice spiciness, like cinnamon, ginger, clove, and orange zest on the tongue. It was like potpourri in a bottle! The finish was pleasantly dry and I even got the bottle to give up a little bit of sediment. Tasty, but not necessarily my bag, unless with somebody who digs this sort of thing - the aforementioned Old Lady.

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Photo of kegger22
4.1/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Saranac Belgian Ale was a light copper in color with a one inch, beige head displaying modest retention.

The aroma was sweet and banana-like fruit.

The taste was the tart of somewhat unripe apples and caramel malt sweetness, with a dryness to the after taste.

The mouth feel was medium bodied with ample carbonation.

Flavor, ABV and reasonable price combine to make Saranac's Belgian highly drinkable. I wish it came in sixers around here, instead of part of the winter sampler.

This was easily the best beer produced by Matt Brewing of the 13 varieties I have sampled. Granted, it's not some exotic, nearly impossible to obtain, trappist monk's brew; but I think the brewers have done a nice job with the beer and accomplished it inexpensively.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.33/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured into a pint glass to a half in of off white head. It is a clear amber color. I get a sweet clove smell with a hint of banana. It has an initial sweet taste, caramel, followed by some spice, clove. It is a decent beer, but that's about it, nothing really impressive nor bad.


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Photo of drperm
3.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From the Saranac Winter Sampler pack...
One of the better ones, I think.

A: Nice, light copper-tan glow, mostly translucent, frothy head dissipates after a while.

S: Biscuity Belgian goodness: hints of saison (but not at all funky). Very floral, some wet grass, sweet biscuit, brown sugar.

T: Not bad! Not as sweet as it smells. A bit thin (call this a "Singel"?) but it holds up. Floral and mild fruit, with a small hop finish.

M: Mildly sticky and oily, but it satisfies.

D: It's a do I say...*clean* for my Belgian-style tastes. But, I'm glad that American brewers like FX Matt are experimenting with this style. This makes a good session ale in a Belgian vein, for when one wants those two worlds to combine. And, with that Belgian yeast and mellow hopping, it's a great companion for mealtime.

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Photo of Tilley4
3.53/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From the Saranac Winter Sampler...

Pours a surprisingly clear golden with a very thick rich head... Its a nice beer to behold for sure...

Faint Belgian aromas here... Some candy-like aromas and malt with a big dose of Belgian yeast...

Not bad at all really... Fairly straightforward taste of yeast, candy, and malts with a kiss of hops on the finish... Fairly drinkable and not offensive at all..

While this isn't an elite brew, its not bad either... Simple and easy... Fairly tasty... One of the better from the Sampler pack in my opinion...

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Photo of MaxBrews
3.15/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12oz bottle poured into a snifter glass.

A note about style this seems to fall somewhere slightly in between a BPA and BDA. So its really neither just a Belgian inspired ale.

Pours with a one finger head that dissipates quickly into soapy ring of lacing that clings to the glass. For this being listed as a Belgian pale ale the color is quite dark. The color is a reddish amber, which puts the beer on the border of being Brown. I won't count off for this because it may be in the wrong category. For a Belgian ale this is incredibly clean and filtered. Even the bottle is free of yeast.

Aroma: The first smell and most obvious one is the use of Belgian yeast, mixing with the malt to create spicy, caramel and floral notes. Nothing really outstanding but a proper Belgian ale aroma though a bit faint.

Taste: While the aromas proper Belgian ale the tastes a bit light in the pants. The malt has a serious grain taste at times like that of some American ales. The taste of Belgian yeast is faint and underlines the cereal grain of the malt occasionally combining to provide dark fruit and slight green apple. Plenty of tastes that are common to this style, however very little can make up for the obvious watery mouth feel. For the complex flavors you have to go looking.

Mouthfeel: Watery with low bitterness. Ends a bit dry.

Drinkability: Fun to find in a mixpack and great as one off brew for brewer experimenting with a Belgian style however there's really high standards to compete with. This being the end of the mixpack and my final brew. I have to say I'm probably not returning to Saranac's brews anytime soon. All that I've tried including this one fit the style but just barely. Still though glad I tried them.

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Photo of irishking1977
3.92/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours an orange copper with a fairly large head that disappears quickly. Little to no lacing present.

S: Sweet candy sugar with Belgian yeast and some mild malt. Not bad.

T: Mighty tasty Belgian style ale that surprised me with it's simple complexity. Sweetness dominates this pale ale, but there are subtle hints of malt and bread along with that familar Belgian yeast.

M: Not a mouth full by any means, it's pretty soft and light with decent carbonation and very little else.

D: I was suprised how much I enjoyed this one, and even with it's slightly above average ABV, this could be a session brew, no problem. Light, good tasting, not too cloying make this simple, yet tasty brew a cheap alternative to the originals, which are superior, but certainly a major hit in the wallet.

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Photo of claytri
3.8/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a medium golden with a nice bit of white head that laced until the end. The aroma was pretty much malt, sugar, and a bit of alcohol burn. A very pleasant rich malt taste up front with some sugar to it, then a nice alcohol burn to the finish. The feel is heavy, smooth and a bit oily. A real pleasant try at the style, it's pretty straightforward, and could be one you'd drink several of.

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Photo of stakem
3.08/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours a clear orange color with an offwhite head more than 2 fingers strong. Lacing all over the glass as the head receeds. The usual belgian aromatics are present: clove, spice and the tail end of the nose includes some hop character. Taste of the beer has the clove and spice in the front, which was led on by the nose and finishes with some hop bitterness. I am dissapionted in the carbination as it is nearly flat with a medium/light feel.

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Photo of mtnbikerpa
3.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My final new beer from my Saranac Beers of winter. Poured from a 12 ounce bottle. Pours out a reddish, copper color. Very thin creamy head. Fruity, cherry almost cough syrup type smell. Fruit-like yeast flavors. Some malty flavor is evident. Mouthfeel is okay. Not a bad offering for a Belgian Pale Ale.

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Photo of mempath
4.13/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a deep golden honey-brown with very nice lacing and an initial pancake-batter luscious head.

yes, maybe a fruit ester? that expected sweetness that i am slowly warming to...i love yeastiness, but never did like the smell. but a breadiness comes in making this one of the better 'belgian' noses (at least for a in-the-manner-of...). catching molasses, too.

thankfully, this doesn't have that citrus-y bite most seem to have (or how i characterize it for myself). used to love the abbey style ales, but grew away from them. perhaps they are too special and one to enjoy on occasion. actually, this is very good but definitely, for the belgie-fan, this is quite subdued. probably why i like this alot. the sweetness in the nose is cut in half on the tongue. thanks Saranac for your interpretation! if anything, as this warms, it doesn't get sweeter, but actually more lager like. strange. but delightful. also, nice carbonation and viscosity. good balance.

heck, i'd drink several of these....not quite session with it, but again, this whole winter pack is a session unto itself. so far, not a bad bottle in the box...

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Photo of Brenden
3.73/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had a couple Saranacs on Christmas with my wife's cousin's husband. I made thorough notes, as I intended to review when I could.

The color is a clear golden-amber. An off-white head pours small and fluffy, sticks around for just a little while, and leaves a decent quantity of spotty lacing.
I wouldn't say the smell is especially similar to what might be considered a Belgian pale ale. I don't really get the characters particular to it. I do, however, detect a light note of the famed Belgian yeast strain. There are notes of fruits (pear, banana, maybe apple), though not as strongly as the heavy hitters. There's also a sweet malt and a gentle spice, along with an earthy / mossy effect perhaps attributed to the yeast. Sweetness may be a bit much, especially couples with the light earthy funk.
The flavor doesn't differ a great deal from the aroma, except that it's not quite as sweet, which is good, and the earthy mossy thing going on isn't as prevalent here. The malt provides the backbone, though the yeast is nearly as strong. A light hops bitterness come out most strongly in the finish and adds a balance that wouldn't be there otherwise.
I do like the mouthfeel, though a better BPA is a bit of a spoiler with the richness, depth and complexity of it. This one's got those elements in lesser quantities. It's mostly smooth with a crisp bite, with contribution from a moderate carbonation, all in a light to medium body.
I won't take this over a Pranqster, but I rather liked it.

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Saranac Belgian Ale from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 77 out of 100 with 290 ratings