Saranac Belgian Ale | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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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

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Reviews: 235 | Ratings: 289
Photo of oriolesfan4
2.66/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Had this as a part of the Saranac 12 Beers of Winter ($11.99/12 Pack)

This was certainly a weird one. I'm not too sure what was Belgian about this one. Had a very hoppy aroma but not a very hoppy taste. Tastes of some mixed fruit flavors with some other flavor I can't my finger (tongue) on. Just a little too out of balance for me, would pass on this in the future.

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Photo of brentk56
3.8/5  rDev +13.8%
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 zeff80
3.84/5  rDev +15%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a bubbly, orange color with a golden tint. It had a small, white, foamy head with some big bubbles.

S - It smelled very fruity. Also some good yeast and candy sugar aromas.

T - It tasted sweet and fruity. Nice sugary quality with some caramel and yeast flavors.

M - It was crisp and fairly sharp. A fairly light bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good tasting Belgian style ale. It really surprised me as one of the best beers from Saranac.

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Photo of mothman
3.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to jdmek9 for this one!

Poured into one of my goblets.

Pours about a finger of creamy white head that fades down fairly quickly. Leaves some splattered lace. Color is a hazy grapefruit pink hued orange.

Aroma: Grassy hops, a decent portion of yeast, some spice notes, and a nice amount of fruit. I get some bananas, cloves, oranges, lemons, and even some sweet coconuts.

Taste: Very zesty. A lot of spices here. Grassy hops are present towards the end. Always has the yeast to it. Bananas, oranges, and lemons again. Very fruity. Not to bad, just very very zesty.

Mouthfeel: Very crisp and spiced. A decent amount of carbonation. Light to medium bodied. Ends with a dry fruity/spiced flavored aftertaste.

Overall, when I read the bottle I thought it was going to be a darker Belgium style, so when it poured light I was surprised. Not a bad beer at all. Glad I got to try this one. Thanks Jason!

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

Poured a nice rich copper with a tight formed 1/2 finger head that left a trace amount of lace as it settled quickly,peachy and phenolic spiced aromas maybe a hint of green apple skin as well, not to bad.Eh pretty lackluster flavors dominated by phenolic cloviness honestly not much more going on the fruity quality is lacking.A little boring but really not that bad not one to seek out but its in the 12 beers of Xmas pack,a no brainer really.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.8/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

F.X. Matt's Saranac Belgian Ale delivers a caramelish and nutty character that's not really expected for the style, but also some peppery yeast phenolics that lend it credibility.

It pours a mostly clear deep-amber body beneath a decent-sized head of white that holds fairly well and leaves some nice rings and splashes of lace in its wake.

The nose suggests sweet malt with a candyish and lightly toasty side, and some gently fruity and peppery yeastiness.

It's smooth across the palate with a gentle caress of its lightly zesty carbonation against the medium body.

The flavor is not as sweet as the nose suggests, and the yeasty phenolics come on strong (seems like Chimay yeast), helping to balance it quite nicely. It would be nice if it were a bit more candyish, but the malt that's there is nice and gently toasty/straw-like (if a bit caramelish). Some delicate fruitiness offers a combination of red skinned fruit and dark skinned fruit (soft berries, apples, very subtle prune, green raisins). The bitterness lays just below the surface, offering a perfect balance; and it finishes dry and peppery with the pepper lingering on the palate, and some residual herbal and leafy hops appearing in the background here and there along with a gentle nuttiness.

Overall... not bad. As a standard Belgian pale ale (think De Koninck) this has a lot of character! But it's not a dubbel, which seems to be where it's trying to get to. Accept it for what it is and enjoy it with some mussels and frites!

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Photo of chinchill
3.25/5  rDev -2.7%
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 TheManiacalOne
3.65/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light brown color with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of Belgian yeast, bananas, light malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste is bready up front with flavors of bananas, spices, citrus and a decent Belgian yeast background. There's a hearty but not too heavy malt character and a mild hops presence that contribute to a decent balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet and slightly bready.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, clean and dry finish.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, mild kick, good representation of style, I wasn't expecting much out of this beer but was pleasantly surprised to find that this is a beer that is worth drinking for a while.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.15/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear, mahogany body with a full, fizzy, ivory-colored head.

Smell: Bready, lightly sweet-smelling malts with a big whiff of fruity bubblegum and white pepper.

Taste: Toasted breadcrusts with a bit of caramel sweetness. Slight graininess. Pinch of clove and pepper. Fruit flavors of plum and berries, all delivered in chewing gum form. Slight yeastiness. Finishes crisp, dry, and leaves you with a slight herbal taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Medium-plus carbonation.

Drinkability: Sure, you know to dial down the expectations when considering a Matt Brewing Co. brew, but even still, this ale comes up way short. Downhill from the nose, it lacked any substantial character or grace to even sorta quasi-count as an almost Belgian ale.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.48/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Transparent tangelo with a standard amount of carbonation creating a standard looking head. I really didn't expect Belgian Ale to look like a Belgian ale, but it would have been nice. The cap is pastel caramel in color and looks pretty decent... as does a respectable amount of feathery lace.

The aroma isn't very Belgian pale ale-like. I hate to keep comparing this brew to the real thing, but The Matt set themselves up by claiming to have brewed a BPA 'in the Trappist Style'. There's nothing more than a faint earthiness and a musky fruitiness.

The flavor profile is reminiscent of well-toasted bread, steely caramel, wood and assorted dried herbs. Hallertauer Hersbrucker and Tettnang hops provide slightly more bitterness than flavor, though both contribute and both are welcome.

With warming... the beer has some redeeming qualities after all and actually tastes like what it's supposed to be. It's really more of a Belgian amber ale since it's darker than a pale. A bona fide Belgian yeast strain might be the key to the whole deal.

Even though the mouthfeel is light years away from the best Belgian-brewed Belgian ales, it's better than average in a general sense. It's at least medium, with a firmness, a quasi-creaminess and a generous amount of bubbles that don't cross the line into fizzy.

Saranac Belgian Ale is not a good Belgian ale, but it is pretty good beer and is one of the few TMBC products that I would consider drinking a second time. The brewers seem to have put a little more thought into this one. And it shows.

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Photo of russpowell
3.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber/copper with a pinky of sand colored head. Nice viscous look, above average head retention average head retention

S: Green appleskins, white pepper & coriander

T: Green appleskins, a bit of booze, & dryness up front. Lemons, grapefruit, more apple skin & a dirty phenolic taste as this warms. Finishes with green bananas, a bit of white pepper, & a touch of candy sugar. Reminds more of a saison

MF: Medium bodied, medium carbonation, not so great balance, thins out as this warms

Drinks alright, not really impressed with this, more ABV & maltyness is in order IMO or more pronounced hop profile, plus just very disjointed. Never really pulls together

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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.

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Photo of Jason
3.42/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

A- Deep straw amber hue, clarity is fine ... decent yet thin lacing.

S- Medicinal, hay-like and herbal-sweet.

T & M- Earthy palate with a caramelish back. Bitter herbal and medicinal quality in the middle, nothing too funky but certainly noticeable. Solid crispness, medium bodied. There is an odd but very faint barnyard flavor here ... goat-like. Finishes with a bitter bite and a slight sweetness.

D- Not a bad stab @ a Belgian style brew ... after one that is about enough for be though. Glad I tried it but there are far better Belgian and Belgian Style ales out there.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.63/5  rDev +8.7%
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 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.

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Photo of stakem
3.08/5  rDev -7.8%
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 WVbeergeek
3/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 beers of christmas...except I went and hand picked these from a twelve pack at a mix and match so it's more like sixer for the season of Saranacs that weren't regulars from them. Appears a bright clear amber tone with a large off white biscuit beige head leaves behind nice even lace after the head slowly dwindles away. Aroma has a piney herbal hop heavy iness with cloves and sweet Belgain candi sugar and other notable spiced bready christmas tones. Taste is heavy on the clove iwth bitter tree bark notes kinda tea like with mild caramle seet malts and herbal hop flavors. Mouthfeel is medium bodied wtih slightly rough feel to the palate although carbonation is fine. Drinkability...definitely not a "trappist" ale for the record but it was decently complex just lacking some crucial qualities I would expect in any Belgian brew.

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Photo of jwc215
2.65/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours dark copper with a thin patch - almost no head, though a little bit of traces of lacing are there.

The smell is of caramel and clove. Herbal and medicinal.

The taste is herbal and medicinal. Too heavy with the clove. Some graininess. Yeast strain can't keep up leaving it malty and clove sticking way out. Rather abrupt, though dry, finish.

Rather watery. Slightly astringent.

Well, it may not be drain pour, but close. An attempt at a Belgian that just doesn't work, IMO.

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Photo of Billolick
3.83/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ouncer sampled, no freshness indication on the label. Pours cloudy dark peach flesh, off white head dissolving to a clumpy thin film. Some moderate tubular lacing left behind. Nose is of some cloves and what seems to be a Belgian yeasty wiff. Notes of light cloves, perhaps anise. Fairly fruity and warming. One of the better Saranacs in MHO, Drinkable, starter Belgian style brew.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.38/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BeerTruth (I think! So many extras that it's hard to keep track). Served in my Bell's tulip.

A - One finger of light caramel foam with moderate retention and not much in the way of lacing. Hazy orange-amber color with tons of tiny bubbles racing to the top. Solid looking brew.

S - Yeast, spice, some wheat beer scents (clove & banana), bubblegum, and a touch of caramel. Not a huge nose on this one, but otherwise pretty decent.

T - Similar to the smell with plenty of yeast, spice, and caramel. There's a somewhat unpleasant hint of sourness in the background that is kind of distracting.

M - Medium body, nice carbonation tingle, crisp, refreshing. The mouthfeel is one of the best things about this brew.

D - The strange sourness gets a little tiring, but otherwise this is a solid session brew. Reasonable ABV and carbonation make this easy to drink, and it'd be a decent option if there weren't many real Belgians available.

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Photo of Gavage
2.99/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: pours a clear dark orange color with a spotty surface head. No visible carbonation. Just looks questionable.

Smell: pleasant caramel and fruity sweetness along with some yeast tones.

Taste: overall this is a laid back and somewhat weak version of a Belgian Ale. Caramel, spicy yeast, plums, and a mild bitterness are wrapped in a thin malt layer.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Very crisp at the start, less crisp at the finish. Aftertaste was annoyingly long for the lack of up front flavors.

Drinkability: not too good. Not worth seeking out.

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Photo of tempest
3.56/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another bottle from the 2005 Saranac 12 Beers of Winter.

Poured a hazy amber with a one-finger head that lasted only a few minutes. No lacing.

Smells like a nice belgian wit. Tastes like an average wit. A little fruit and wheat flavor.

A nice drink, but finished with some bitter off-flavors. Under-carbonated like all the other bottles out of the 12 Beers.

Not bad overall. I'd drink it again in a variety pack, but there are a lot of better belgians available.

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Photo of WesWes
3.03/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer pours an amber color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is average. It has a mild Belgian malt scent that is slightly sweet with a fruity yeast aroma. The taste is average as well. It has a dry, yet semi-malty flavor that goes down slow despite the low body. It lacks "real" Belgian beer flavor. Instead, it has a clove aftertaste and a damn dry flavor; not very enticing. The mouthfeel is also average. It is a low/medium bodied beer with good carbonation. It lacks a decent body and in turn lacks the authenticity of the style. This is a deflated effort at a Belgian ale. This is one for the scrap heap.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.3/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Saranac Belgian Ale, poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. A bright copper in color with a bit of head.

Aroma of wheat, hints of malt sweetness and a light belgian note. Whiff of spice.

Light belgian ale characteristics with a noble hop adding a grassy bitterness. Suggestions of ripe green apple, orange zest and spices.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a high level of carbonation. Finish is semi-dry.

Not a bad attempt here by Saranac. A belgian style ale that is decent for the style. Rather impressive.

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Photo of plaid75
3.9/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a medium copper hue with a one finger creamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a strong earthy ale yeast aroma with a good fruity malt.

The taste as spicy and earthy with a yeasty body and good grain bill. Fruity candy sweetness as well.

The mouthfeel was above average with a nice mild chewiness.

Overall a pretty good Belgian Ale. Good yeast strain made this an above average beer.

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Saranac Belgian Ale from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.34 out of 5 based on 289 ratings.
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