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Saranac Belgian Ale | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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235 Reviews
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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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 235 | Ratings: 289
Photo of Gosox8787
3.6/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

Appearance is dark orange to medium brown. Almost not head or retention. Smell is light fruit flavors, apple and pear, paired with a good amount of hop bitterness. Taste is notes of apple and pear, with a nice note of bananna caramel from the malt. Strong hop bitterness that is slighty overwhelming for a Belgian ale. A bit watery. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a fair amount of carbonation. Drinkability is good thanks to low ABV and unoffensive flavors. The hop bitterness keeps it from being more drinkable.

Overall, a decent interpretation of a Belgian ale. Could use some more alcohol to really let the flavors develop. Also the hop bitterness is too strong for the style IMO.

 758 characters

3.78/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark Orange-ish with a little under an inch of off-white head that stuck around nicely. Left A LOT of lacing

S- A mix of spices and mild fruit smells. Not very strong, but pleasant.

T- Wasn't expecting much after the smell, but it has a nice complex flavor. Wheaty flavor hits you first, followed by some nice sweet malts and faint fruit and spices that were hinted at in the nose. A good amount of nice clean hop flavor on the finish.

M- Fine. Smooth and clean.

D- Alright, but this is a beer to have one or two of at a time. No more.

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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 tlinner
3.61/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber appearance with decent lace. Smell is weak, but of spices typical of Belgian beers. The taste is better than most reviews give it credit for. It tastes wheaty and spicy, with fruit undertones; a bit more witte or weisen than Balgian Ale, but still good.

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Photo of KenC411
3.21/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Orange-brown hue with a 1 finger head, leaving lacing on the side.

Smell: Buttery and metallic.

Taste: Orangey and sweet, very light flavor.

Mouthfeel: Clings to the tongue, medium thickness, low carbonation.

Drinkability: I think this one is a dud. Not as exciting as the other beers in the box.

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Photo of bob3701
3.45/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pilsner style glass. Dark hazy amber color with a nice head and great lacing. Can smell some of the spices. Thought the taste was a little lacking, not as flavorful as I had hopped. Very bitter aftertaste to it. Overall it was drinkable but in the Saranac Winter sampler pack thought this the weakest of the 6 offered.

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Photo of dsa7783
2.5/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A confusing cross between a Belgian Pale and a watered-down, bland American depiction... Nothing special about this European wannabe... Flavor complexity was non-apparent... Slights hints of honey were present but struggled to be noticed... I was not particularly impressed...

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Photo of deruiz10
3.53/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12-oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A - 2-finger head with good retention and web-like lacing. Pour is a cloudy orange-red.

S - Yeasty with banana and mild bright hops.

T - Yeasty with mild malt and slightly bitter hops. Finish is clean with little aftertaste. Not as tasty as the smell implied.

M - Moderately carbonated, light and refreshing.

D - Refreshing and clean, but a little simple overall.

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Photo of mwa423
3.56/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a beautifully clear copper that I can actually read my monitor through. There is a finger of white head that quickly dies down from the top of the beer but the lacing stays.

S - Lots of light sweet maltiness but other then that's left is a bit of Belgian yeast and a hint of spice.

T - Taste has a lot more to it then the smell would suggest. The same light and sweet maltiness hits the tongue first, but the Belgian spice and some slight fruitiness finishes out the taste. I would hand this to a macro drinker in a heartbeat to show them something close to what they know, but far better.

M/D - Mouthfeel is a bit weak for my tastes, but it certainly doesn't have any bad qualities to it. This really shines in drinkability, this is a very easy drinker, goes down smooth and quickly with a decent taste. Considering I bought the 12 beers of winter specifically to try this and the Rye IPA, I don't feel too bad for the purchase.

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

I had out of a 12 ounce bottle.
A- Gold color to it, semi-opaque, and it has great head that leaves a great lacing behind.
S- Can't really pick anything up.
T- Has a pearish, fruity taste to it. It's definitely sweet, but not overly. It's definitely a fall/winter brew. Different. Solid.

 287 characters

Photo of mnrider
3.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz. Brown Bottle. Oversized Wine Glass.

A: Pours a clear amber. Plenty of carbonation bubbles. One finger white head. Quickly disappears leaving little to no head or lacing.

S: Yeast is strong. As is the fruity aroma.

T/M: Yeasty and crisp. Light hop spices can be noted. Finishes a bit bitter. Carbonation is ample.

D: Nice and refreshing. Taste is O.K. Not sure i'd purchase again. A good middle of the road brew. Much better brews of this style are out there. But still good.


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Photo of porterwoobie
3.54/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, poured into a standard pint glass.

A: orangish amber color, clear, slim white head, no lacing.

S: spicy phenolic character. some low fruitiness, no hop aroma noted.

T: moderate spiciness, no hop flavor, slight fruitiness to go over the malt backbone. has a medicinal aftertaste.

MF: medium bodied, medium carbonation.

Drinkability: next!

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Photo of tpd975
3.2/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to BeerTruth for the extra.

A: Pours a nice caramelish hue with amber tones showing through. The head is nice and tall, white, pillowlike. Wonderful retention with nice sheet lace.

S: Wonderful Belgian aromas. Yeasty for sure with notes of bubblegum and banana. Subtle notes of apple and pear as well.

T: Aroma was better than the taste, but this is still pretty good for Saranac. Yeasty for sure with strong spice notes. Hints of apples and citrus round things out.

M: Medium in body, no carbonation issues. As you drink there is a bit of an off flavor in the finish.

D: Okay. Not a great version of the style, but one of the better Saranc beers.

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Photo of mklinger
3.37/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a hotel room clear plastic cup.

Beer is very hazy to the point of cloudiness. A decent head developed, maybe an inch. Color is a very pretty pale amber with lots of visible carbonation

Aroma is full of Belgian yeast character! Really nice spicy/fruity yeast. Bit of caramel malt, just a bit to balance. Very nice aroma -- makes me anticipate the taste.

Taste was a bit of a letdown after smelling the aroma. Not enough malt character to balance out the yeast and hop flavors. There are good things in this beer but they aren't combined into a compelling taste whole. Mouthfeel is nice -- a bit thin but lots of nice carbonation and this shouldn't really be a thick beer.

Overall, a decent beer. Some characteristics are really pretty nice. Others are not great.

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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 BeerPhan86
3.18/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Deep amber color with a one finger light tan head that quickly dissipates. Slightly hazy body.

S - In your face Belgian yeast and sweetness. Some raisins and dark fruit. Not much else.

T - Very sweet, with raisins, citrus, coriander, and a nice bitter hop balance. Sour and spicy (peppery) aftertaste. Decent, but not mindblowing. Reminds me more of a farmhouse ale than a Belgian pale ale.

M - Medium mouthfeel and a bit flat.

D - I really don't think I would session this as it is so sweet and yeasty tasting.

Overall, definitely tastes like a Belgian beer but it is just not a well done Belgian beer. Good effort, but a bit unbalanced. Refreshing if only having one or two beers for sure.

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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.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
3.09/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

from 12oz into pint. Out of a saranac mixer.

A- Darker than expected, a nice robust brown, not too dark, but several shades darker than I was picturing. Nice, thin, but lasting head. Very nice formation.

S- Yeasty, sweet, but overall mild. Not knocking down any doors, but not bad in any aspect.

T- Hmm.. Belgianesque... like a Duvel lite. Tastes like an approximation of a Belgian pale.. but is lacking soul. Not bad, certianly flavorful... but missing that 'oomph' that we as beer drinkers seek.

M- Moderate body, unoffensive, but not winning any awards.

D- One is enough. Not a bad beer, but a shadow of what its trying to be. Still, for Saranac, solid, and can't beat the price.

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Photo of Madmax99
3.5/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Saranacs representation of a Belgian style ale isn't as bad as I thought. Traditionally I am used to Belgian ales that have a lot more alcohol and more complexity than this beer. This is not a beer to be avoided though. It does have character and the coriander and orange peel flavors stand out to me. Beer had a good head that faded quickly but left behind a very thin head that left delicate lacing on the glass. One good benefit of this beer is that you get that Belgian ale taste without the abundance of alcohol, so you can actually enjoy more than one without feeling like going to sleep.


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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.

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Photo of katan
3.43/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz into a pint

A - Very clear, brown in color. Head formation is not vigorous, but well retained with a light white film. Light carbonation apparent.

S - Sweet malt note, with some raisins and dates notes in the background. Small bready yeast note associated with Belgians.

T - Starts off with a malt forward, sweet note. Is accentuated by a sour note, perhaps from raisins. Starts to turn bitter - balanced - midstream. Finishes with a more direct astringent, acidic bite. Aftertaste is noticeable - sour.

M - Moderate to light body - somewhat thin. Carbonation body is strong however, biting to the tongue. Little residue left behind.

D - Pretty easy drinking - abv is moderate, carbonation is hefty but doesn't seem to weigh me down. Flavors are not so overt that it is not sessionable.

I'd have to just put this one down in the "its just okay" category. Good beer in a pinch.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
2.44/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Shiny copper body, good clarity, with little carbonation streams. Two fingers of rocky uneven white foam. Light lacing.

Sweet aroma, heavy with fruit and a touch of candy, and a hint of bakery.

Mild sweet beginning, a momentary splash of fruit and candy, but then an odd sour note plays at the swallow and into the aftertaste.

Light-to-medium mouthfeel is fine.

Finish and aftertaste drags down drinkability.

A good start but doesn't finish the trip to Belgium. Pass on this one.

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Photo of Bockrules
3.96/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

poured from the bottle into a tulip glass

A - Pours a slightly hazy orangish amber with fluffy three finger off-white head. Steams of bubbles rise up from the bottom of the glass. Head is mostly gone halw way down the glass, leaves behind a few splotches of lacing.. not acceptable appearance for a Belgian....

S - Very strong yeast smell upon opening the bottle on a sweet malt background. A mixture of spice is brings to mind some combination of banana bread, pumpkin pie and apple. Very good.

T - Sweet malt and yeast up front. The body is well balanced with an overriding candied, fruity sweetness. The finish is a flash of the aromas I described earlier, but these flavors are quickly quelled by a dry yeast taste. However they return; crescendoing out a forte-piano to leave a haunting aftertaste on the back of the tongue. Could use a little more flavor in the body

M - This beer is light to medium bodied. It simply needs to be much thicker and creamier to fit the strong and bold flavor profile. Carbonation level is acceptable.

D - All and all a pretty damn drinkable and delicious beer, especially considering the price (like 10 bucks for the twelve pack of winter brews). A thicker body and a better head retention and this could be a solid Belgian. Saranac seems to make quite impressive season beers, why the hell aren't their year rounds as good?

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Photo of goblue3509
2.28/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a copper color. The smell is a little manufactured. It smells of fruit but almost in a cheap way. The taste is the same, hints of fruit and clove notes, but it taste a little cheap. The mouthfeel is a little harsh. Overall the beer is a little bit off, I can't really pinpoint it but just not quiet right. Not one of my favorite saranacs.

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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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