Saranac Belgian Ale | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

290 Ratings
Read the review
Saranac Belgian AleSaranac Belgian Ale

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

Style: Belgian Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.90%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbnooshay on 10-27-2005

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 290 |  Reviews: 236
Photo of HugoGrim
4.49/5  rDev +34.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint. Purchased as part of the 12 Beers of Winter sampler case.

A cloudy look to this brew. A light amber color with a hint of orange.

Had the sweet & spicy scent of a Hefe. Cloves, banana, and even a hint of lemon... but unlike a Hefe... hops.

The flavor blew me away. Now I'm going to say right up front that this is one of the first 'Belgian Pale Ales' I've tried, so as I try more of this style I could find that this is just an average example of the style, but until then... The flavor was like a good Hefe plus hops. It started out with the dry, sweet/spicy banana and clove flavor but all the while was backed by an excellent subtly bold hop bite.

I love my Hefe and I love hops... if I find that all Belgian Pale Ales support this same combination there is no doubt in my mind I've found a new favorite style. What I've had from the style thus far though is nothing like this. More research is needed.

 965 characters

Photo of thespaceman
4.47/5  rDev +33.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased from 12pack Seasonal

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass:

Appearance: Deep amber in color, minimal size head with decent lacing and retention. Seems to be a good amount of carbonation at first glance.

Smell: Rich, fruity, estery. Bready malts and fruit spice can be smelled on approach. A hint of banana pie is really nice in the nose, never had that scent in a Ale style before.

Taste: What an outstanding Belgian beer! A malt character like none other. Again, the banana in the nose pops out, but I also get a gooey marshmallow bite in the back, beautiful citrus notes, cream-sicle like profile. Delectible isn't the word!

Mouthfeel: Slightly carbonated, nice thickness for an ale, doesn't get too wet, dry, bitter hop finish.

Drinkability: This beer is a real treat! I can now see why this is included in the Winter Pack, it's like liquid banana taffy, with perfect maltiness and a nice hoppy aroma. An excellent twist on the style for sure!

 966 characters

Photo of tugdriver7
4.45/5  rDev +33.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer was another surprise from my 12 Beers of Winter variety pack. Being a bit of a German when it comes to malt beverages, I am not a real fan of Belgian beers. Something about the adjuncts and sugar that often create flavors that I don't associate with beer; though I know many BA'ers consider the Belgians as the best brewers in the world. I guess I was thinking "Abbey de Leffe" when I saw this bottle; but I was surprised at how much better (IMHO) it seemed to be. Better color, richer taste, but a more balanced (and heavier mouthfeel) beverage. Absolutely loved it. Rich, clear medium-gold color with massive, foamy head that lasted and lasted (and then laced the glass all the way down). The spicy clove/banana hops is present in the smell, but oh so subtle in the taste. Went very well with spicy food. In fact, it would have been great with anything. Smooth, just a bit bubbly gold and not too sweet. Extremly drinkable and one of the few I've enjoyed right down to the last swallow. Exceptional. I think I'll have to make trying Belgians my next big beer tasting adventure.

 1,089 characters

Photo of rohrbachsfan
4.45/5  rDev +33.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this in the Saranac 12 Beers of Winter Sampler. This was another beer that I was initially afraid of after my experience tasting (and pouring down the drain) Blue MoonÂ’s Belgian White last year. The Saranac Belgian Ale poured deep amber and had a nice lasting head to it. Had a fruity smell. I was hit with the taste of clove and spice when it first hit the mouth (but the spices were not overwhelming) and a medium hops bitterness. I was very pleased with this one.

 471 characters

Photo of woodychandler
4.29/5  rDev +28.4%
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.

 1,179 characters

Photo of sraimondi
4.27/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this one from this year's Winter sampler 12 pack, which has just become available in NW CT (Thanks to the Cork in Torrington). So far this is the best of the seasonal offerings of that pack. Given that I have been disappointed in the sampler so far overall (about halfway through it), this is a very pleasant surprise, especially on Turkey Day (Go Cowboys!!). While the color is a bit darker (light brown) than a traditional Belgian, the smell and taste are very good and within the style. Not much lacing, but the initial head is pretty good with some more intense aroma (as it should be) and hangs on for a bit. The aroma is classic banana/clove with some fruity notes. As far as the flavor, it is very good and on style. In fact, it is a bit more subtle than other Belgians I have had made in the USA, which makes it more enjoyable for me. Some peach/fruit with definite malt backbone and just a hint of hop bite on the back of my tongue. Mouthfeel is also good, as the flavors are subtle as noted above. My fave thing is the drinkability--ABV while not listed seems "controlled" and the yeast bite is alot more restrained than from other US versions of Belgian ale I have had. A really good Belgian from a NY brewery other than Ommegang--who would have thunk it?? Good job Saranac. Happy T'Day.

 1,302 characters

Photo of Electros
4.25/5  rDev +27.2%

Photo of Risser09
4.23/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into a pilsner - 2007 bottling - Cellar temp.

Appearance: Pours a transparent brown and orange color, like a dark urine color. The head reaches 1.5" ad is off-white. Plenty of activity, the bubbles are streaming to the surface from the bottom of the glass. Lots of sticky lace. Good retention.

Smell: Belgian spice & yeast. Malt, pepper, banana, clove and dark fruit.

Taste: Belgian yeast is the main flavor. Pepper, clove, plum and other dark fruit fill out the flavor. Tannin and lots of esters.

Mouthfeel: Peppery bite and medium bodied. Pinchy. The sugar is slight. The alcohol is not noticeable.

Drinkability: Very nice. I think this beer is as good as many other Belgian Ales out there. Lots of great attributes across the board. I got this beer in a winter sampler, but it would be an awesome session beer if it was available in cases. Maybe it would cost below $20. Could be one of the best deals out there. Try it.

 950 characters

Photo of sliverX
4.22/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poored a light cloudy copper brown with a small white head that dissipated to a clingy white film around the edges of the glass
the smell is of malts and a light alcohol
taste is all malts with a bit of caramel and a bit of a root beer hint as well in the after taste
nice medium to light body
very drinkable very sessionable

 327 characters

Photo of smibroncos
4.15/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A. Poured a clear apricot, with a lasting one and a half finger off white head. Decent lacing on the glass.

S. Flowers, orangepeel, hops.

T. Decent sweetness, honey, orange blossom, bitter hops, corriander, nice balance.

M. Medium bodied, lightly carbonated with small bubbles, Crisp and refreshing.

D. A real good brew for the style, authentic taste. Nice balance, a very refreshing brew.

 393 characters

Photo of HappyHourHero
4.14/5  rDev +24%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Smells inviting, a bit of plums, some caramel, and a bit of dough. Poured a small light tan head that faded quickly to a film around the edge of the glass. Transparent, bright copper colored beer with a few bubbles rising slowly through the center. Flavors of mildly sweet malt mix with a good dose of fruit and yeast. A slight bitterness balances it all out in the end. Light bodied, and easy drinking. As with all Saranac beers it's not the biggest thing in town, but there is plenty going on and I'm pleasantly surprised.

 524 characters

Photo of mempath
4.13/5  rDev +23.7%
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...

 1,124 characters

Photo of MVotter
4.13/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - The Saranac Belgian Ale pours into a chalice a clear copper, sporting a cream-colored, half-inch head.

S - Spices and yeast on the nose.

T - I'm getting spices from the get-go. After the initial spice flavor, breads and a sweetish hop-tang enter, giving the brew a dry finish.

M - Very pleasant, plenty of carbonation, medium feel.

D - Very drinkable, very comfortable, smooth-drinking brew from the people at Saranac. Ahhh, the 12 Beers of Winter.

 456 characters

Photo of sacfly
4.1/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Part of the winter seasonal pack
Pours a clear amber/orange color with a thick head of huge tan bubbles. Spicy aroma. Strong and unmistakably Belgian. Taste is lightly musty with a dominant pear flavor. The hops make an appearance in the aftertaste along with a bready, yeast bite; nice for the style. A solid Belgian pale ale. Nothing fancy, just easy drinking and to style.

 376 characters

Photo of kegger22
4.1/5  rDev +22.8%
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.

 755 characters

Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.07/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle purchased as part of a seasonal 12-pack at Shaw's in Windham, NH. Pours a hazy amber-orange body with nearly two inches of off-white head that slowly dissipates leaving some lacing. Smells citrussy, pithy, with come toffee and butterscotch notes, some spice... Reminds me a lot of Brooklyn Local 1 in the aroma. Tastes pithy and citrussy with some nut, grain, caramel, with strong hints of pineapple. Tasty but slightly astringent (though only slightly), which hurts the drinkability slightly. Medium bodied with moderate to high carbonation, which is characteristic for the style. Not as drinkable as some examples of the style, but pretty drinkable nonetheless. A decent stab at a Belgian beer.

 708 characters

Photo of MichaelStoutBeard
4/5  rDev +19.8%

Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +19.8%
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.

 1,109 characters

Photo of tclapper
4/5  rDev +19.8%

Photo of oline73
4/5  rDev +19.8%

Photo of tburkhart
4/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice light copper with a thin layer of head that sticks around nicely throughout the entire glass. Lacing is pretty good.

Smells a bit sweet with a nice malt backbone.

Taste of sweet malts with a slight hint of hops.

A decent beer by Saranac. As usual they do a good job with a basic beer. Kudos to them for brewing so many different styles.

 357 characters

Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a standard pint glass. Poured a copper/amber color with a foamy white head that left a thin, consistent skim of foam and rings of lacing during the tasting. Scents of belgian yeast, malt, corriander and hops. Taste similar to nose. Lively mouthfeel and crisp, floral/hoppy finish. Not a bad tribute to the belgian pale ale style and the best brew in the 12 beers of Xmas sampler in my opinion. I think I'll have another.

 430 characters

Photo of kkosmoski
3.98/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Longneck from this year's winter 12 served into a goblet. Lightly hazed burnt orange in the glass with a severely lacking white "head" - expected alot more on a Belgian style. Smells of candi sugar, clove, pepper, banana, grassy hop, and toast. A phenolic yeast flavor kicks things off and then moves into some bisciuty/toasty malt, followed in the finish by clove, pepper and a touch of anise. I feel that this beer is lacking in the mouthfeel department. It is very dry and almost watery - almost seems to just slip right off the tonge. Some more dextrins would compliment the Belgian feel of this beer in my opinion. Overall this was a good drinker for me. The Belgian yeast kept things interesting and the very light feel made it go down easy.

The Belgian ale didn't capture me as much as some of the others in the winter 12 this year. I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy it - its really not a bad beer, I just think something with a heavier mouthfeel and a bit darker would be better for a winter Belgian offering.

 1,020 characters

Photo of bluejacket74
3.97/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, part of the Saranac 12 beers of winter pack. Served in a Sam Adams BL glass, the beer pours a clear copper color with a half-inch off-white head. Lacing and head retention is average. Aroma is nice, it smells spicy/earthy and sweet, like caramel malt, wheat, nutmeg and lemon. Taste is similar to the aroma, it does taste a bit earthier than it smells. Mouthfeel is light/medium, has some moderate zippy carbonation and it's not watery at all. Drinkability is good, it's nice and crisp and easy to drink. Overall I think it's a pretty decent brew, I'd definitely drink this again.

 597 characters

Photo of cubedbee
3.97/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice glowing amber with a finger of off-white head, little retention, a little spotty lacing. Smell is a nice heavy malt with a slight candi sugar note and a slight peppery spiciness. Taste is more of the big malty flavor with a slight sugary taste, a banana/pear fruitiness, and some good yeasty notes. Not terribly complex for a Belgian style ale, but for a typical lackluster Saranac beer, this one really has some great strong flavor. Mouthfeel is medium (as opposed to the thin body I was expecting) as is the carbonation. This is a nice little offering from Saranac, I feel it's the strongest in the holiday park, and I would buy this if they started offering it in 6 packs.

 688 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Saranac Belgian Ale from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.34 out of 5 based on 290 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

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