Saranac Belgian Ale | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

290 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 290 |  Reviews: 236
Photo of bditty187
3.85/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy, peachy bronze in hue with a smattering of amber with a beige head; I like the murkiness of the liquid. The foam grew one finger high before fading to a slim soapy cap. In other words, head retention was fair and substandard for a Belgian-inspired ale. A thin collar hung around while I drank the beer. The subsequent lacing was spotty and irrelevant. Still, I like how this beer looks.

The nose reminds me of a muddle Wit, so I guess Saranac did land a “Belgian Ale.” I smell gram crackers, some coriander-like spiciness, medicinal notes, plus some cloves. Moderate potency; I like the relative intricacy of the nose, so to speak. Sure, it is fairly straightforward (did I just contradict myself?) but it is inviting. I am optimistic about taking a sip.

The palate is interesting. I didn’t smell any of this fruit, there are big blasts of oranges and lemon candy. The malt is thin; it tastes like gram crackers, which is very agreeable. The sweetness is a bit much at times, the spiciness is too restrained; I found some peppery notes, cloves, and faint medicinal qualities and coriander-like flavors. Juicy at the finish… overall this beer is somewhat clean but dirty enough for me to care. I like my Belgians dirty. I really like this beer!

Medium in body, the carbonation is low but natural; the mouthfeel is refreshing and relaxing at the same time. I have no complaints.

I’d say this Belgian Pale Ale is comparable with second tier beers of the style. I found it plenty drinkable; it has enough flavors to keep me interested. No bad really, I think the food pairings could be quite wide. Flying solo it works too. This offering was part of a 12-beer sampler that I purchased in Lawrence, KS. Very good stuff; try one.

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Photo of clemtig76
2.65/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Another train wreck in the Saranac 12 beers of winter 12 pack. This is my first Belgian Ale and boy was I disapointed. Pours a hazy orange with thick, dense head that quickly dissipated. Fruity, cutrusy aroma. Taste was like Tang, sour and artificial. Maybe someday I will be able to try a true Belgian Ale in SC.

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Photo of kmo1030
3.72/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

hazy orangey amber colored with almost no head.
the aroma contains a good amount of fruity clove aromas along with some yeast, grainy and floral qualities. a little brown sugary.
the taste is fairly sweet and fruity witha little doughy yeast thrown in for good measure. some bubblegum shows up as it warms. a little spicy at the finish and aftertaste.
the mouthfeel is medium with a pleasant coating quality.
drinkability is not too bad, reasonably complex with no off flavors to take away. one of saranac's better offerings.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
1.72/5  rDev -48.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

A - Pours with a decent one finger head. In typical Saranac fashion, it dissipated in under a minute. It is a slightly hazy orange. As in a Tang, or other orange drink, orange.

S - There is a bit of good and bad. I can get faint cloves and bananas, but mostly a stale grain odor dominates.

T - Faint bananas accompanied by a strange musky bitterness. The aftertaste is entirely a really gross stale grain flavor. It makes me think of stale Cherrios. Not good at all. It doesn't really go away either.

M - Thin, drying, the lining of my mouth started feeling odd. It starts to feel like I've been eating chalk after a bit, and with that aftertaste it is an entirely conceivable scenario.

D - Ugh. I'll pass in the future. I can't think that this would go well with anything. It is easily the worst Belgian I have had to date. Maybe I'd go for it again if I ever have a craving for Cherrios, chalk and bananas, but I'd probably just bust out the blender. 1.5 here because I could actually finish it.

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Photo of PBRstreetgang
3.26/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very hazy golden copper; due to yeast sediment. Dense two finger head, off-white in color settles over streaming carbonation. Lace is spotty and scarce. The belgian phenolics that the Matt brewing company loves to showcase are very apparent in the nose with some pale malt and ripe fruit aromas just pulling through. Pilsener malt sweet and crisp in the beggining, with an almost lambic taste of sour and tart berry flavor in the aftertaste. Hops are barely present and muted by the sweet and sour flavors that surround it, but it manages a decent balance despite phenols that seem a bit strong for a belgian pale ale. Light bodied and medium carbonation pair with the tart aftertaste for a slightly puckering, yet interesting mouthfeel. The drinkability however suffers from the use of strong phenolics.

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Photo of ski271
2.8/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a slightly hazy, dark brownish-amber with a small, off-white, quickly diminishing head. It smells of mild malt and Belgian yeast with a little fruit. The taste is rather bland with some nice flavors in there but nothing really standing out. It has a medium body, watery texture and low carbonation. I feel that Saranac is good at making solid, consistently decent (but not great) beers, but this one falls short.

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Photo of LPorter33
3/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

From the holiday 12 pack.

Appearance = Good looking foggy orange brown.

Smell = Fruity and spicy as expected from a Belgian. Smells decent.

Taste = Saranac beers really lack a strong foundation. This one follows the trend without much of an after taste, bland and boring, just a hint of flavor initially. I've been so disappointed with their beers.

Overall = Not the worst in their pack. The taste was average and this is simply an average beer.

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Photo of charlesw
2.81/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Saranac? Belgian? What???

Anyway, pours a beautifully clear light amber. Dinged for the HUGE white head that was gone momentarily. Lots and lots and lots of bubbles keep coming up from the bottom - it must be awfully overcarbonated.

It smells really good - a very crisp and clean caramel malt nose. Mmmm!

It doesn't taste that good. Oh well. Can't win 'em all. Caramel malt, raisin, smoke? Ah, but, hmm. Well, there's a taste and an aftertaste, right? And then in between? What do you can that? Well, the taste in between is weird. Hits both of the sides of the back of the tongue with a tang... Not pleasant. Maybe a bit on the citrus side.

Mouth is, as noted from the head, very fizzy. Bleh.

Yeah, well, I'm happy enough that I didn't pay for this and I see why it was left over after the xmas party...

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Photo of nlmartin
2.61/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

The beer was poured into a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a clear amber coloration. The head was two fingers off white. The head quickly resolved to foamyness on the top ot the beer.

Smell: The beer smelled medicinal. Small amount of citrusy sweetness covered in medicinal smell.

Taste: The beer actually doesnt taste bad. There is a nice malty fruityness mostly bitter orange juice. There is also an astringent taste that prevents this from being a better beer.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The beer is light bodied. The beer has an unfortunate medicinal smell and a astringent after taste. There are better stabs at the belgian style available.

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Photo of LucaBrasi
2.4/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured a hazy orange with virtually no head, the head that did appear disappeared quickly. Little to no lacing.
Smell is fruity i thought i smelled cherries.
Tasteing the beer was not the case. The taste was orange citrus and cinnamon. Finished up with a slight bitterness
Mouthfeel decent, the carbonation is good.
Drinkability is low because of the flavor that I wasn’t all crazy about

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Photo of baldmasterflex
2.9/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured into a chalice at a moderate rate and left about 1/4 of head that dropped to a ring around the glass. Has a dark yellow, amber, light brown coloration, much darker than i expected. Smells like citrous with some sharper notes. Has the same slight taste of citrous, like a low rent hoegarden or other belgian wit. Tastes similar to smell but without much depth of taste. i would almost describe it as fake or artificial.
All in all its not BAD, its just a very average attempt. Better than any macro, but not on par with any of the originals or many of the micros creating this style.

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Photo of Stubbie1
2.25/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Light brown/orange color, thin tan head, no lace. Aroma of yeast, touch of fruit and mild tone of alcohol. Taste is bland, bit musty from the yeast and a mild watery feel. Lacking anything that stands out or worth talking about. This beer never really took of. There are way way better Amercian versions of this style out there.

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Photo of Frozensoul327
3.29/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Not a standout beer in the Saranac line. Pours out to a amber / burnt orange color with a small white foam head. No lacing. Medium low level of carbonation. Aromas of yeast and some malt was simple, yet pleasureable. Taste was boring; flavors of yeast, malt, and a metallic character dominated the palate. Mouthfeel was light, but had an element of substance to it. Drinkability is fair. Not really worth seeking out, but worth a try if you come across it. Thanks to conneticutpoet for the sample.

THE BLOODHOUND FACTOR: Benji enjoyed his sample. No issues at all, and a clean, dry beer bowl is a sign of a happy dog.

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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.

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Photo of daliandragon
3.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Wow..this is an impressive color, bright amber orange, almost glowingly bright..topped with a creamy head and leaving thick drippy lacing. The nose is likewise very genuine, a fruity spice odor with hints of yeast and alcohol. In both look and smell this has the feel of a true Belgian ale...whether or not Saranac can complete the trick with the taste is the rub.
Unfortunately, the answer is again no. Like most of their other "Winter 12", the taste is where the Belgian ale is decidedly ordinary. I like the spicy aftertaste but the metallic finish and the clunky, average body betray this beer as something less than Belgian.
Maybe its the water up there but something is holding back these outwardly good, inwardly mediocre beers back. Like the Oatmeal Stout, Caramel Porter, and Chocolate Amber, this beer starts strong but can't seal the deal. Not bad but frustrating and a bit disappointing.

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Photo of Suds
3.82/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This one is a hazy orange amber color with a puffy head. The aroma is quite phenolic, with a candy and spice character. There’s no question that they’re after a Belgian style ale. The spice smell is framed with an orange/lemon smell and plenty of peppery-ness. There’s also bubblegum and banana thrown in the mix. The taste is sweet and alcoholic. Relatively high carbonation gives the beer a prickly sprtiziness. The whole thing seems a little jumbled, but it’s a pretty good beer. There are plenty of flavors to keep you interested, and the beer is quite drinkable.

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Photo of redwolf1
3/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a 12 ounce bottle from Saranac's 12 Beers of Winter (or Christmas). Came out a honey brown color with very little head to speak of, which actually then disspated very fast after the initial pour. Rather cloudy and murky throughout, but this may be from allowing too much yeast to escape from the bottle into the glass. Made it look like a wheat beer; my bad! Even still you could sense the floral character of the hops present, and taste the sweetness of the malts used. Overall though, it's an okay beer, but I wouldn't grab a Saranac if I wanted to drink a Belgian. Good thing it's not sold individually. There are plenty of better beers in this style out there on the market.

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Photo of Hagbard
2.88/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A Belgian beer for people who haven't ever had a "true" Belgian (true in the style sense, not necessarily geography). For what it is, it works reasonably well. It is a hazy dark orange amber that looks unfiltered. A tiny white head forms after a very careful pour. There isn't much to the aroma. A bit of sweetness with a belgian spiciness in the background. The taste is a bit sweet and fruity with a spiciness lurking in the background. I also pick up some lemon zest as it finishes. The carbonation level is very high, prickling the tongue and enhancing the spiciness. As I mentioned in the beginneing, this beer is sort of a Belgian-light. It has the beginning of the famous "Belgian Beer Taste," but ultimately it is rather boring. Not bad, just boring. It would be a good inoffensive beer to try on noobs to see if you could take it further and let them try a Duvel or Ommegang or something else with a little more kick.

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Photo of asabreed
3.77/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into my Corsendonk tulip.

Appearance: The color's right, the hazy golden yellow (and I didn't even swirl the yeast that was definitely hanging out at the bottom of the bottle) but there's not the fantastic amount of bubbles that I expected, nor the great lacing, nor the great head. I mean, hey, it's supposed to be a Belgian, so I can want a lot I guess.

Smell: Smells like a Belgian alright: candy sugar, heavy malt, some slight vanilla, lots of nice banana. Not as aromatic as it could be, but I'm pretty impressed with this, especially for Saranac's attempt.

Taste: Doesn't come through as well as the aroma. It's decent, but tastes a bit watered down, and unfortunately most of the Saranac special offerings seem to be in the same ballpark. Some banana, slightly heavy yeasty nature, some candi sugar and some malt. I'd like to see them work on this more, and it could be damn good.

Mouthfeel: Spritzy at first, but at the end it becomes pretty creamy, with a light to medium (though the more on the medium side) body.

Drinkability: One of the best offerings from Saranac in my opinion. They should maybe try some other Belgian styles, as this is very well done, and from the other 12 beers of Winter, this certainly is in the top 3 if not the best of the box. Considering the price of what a 6-pack would be, and the tasty nature of the brew, I'd definitely buy one of it were to soon exist.

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Photo of sabrills70
2.64/5  rDev -21%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a medium amber with a less than 1 finger head and almost no lace. Smells of a mild wheat but with a touch of fruityness added in. A decent wheat tartness and a decent hop flavor and bitterness but in between its a bit metallic. Some mild fruit also detected. Based on some of the other reviews I may have gotten a bad bottle - it is possible, but not likely. Not the worst beer I have ever had, just not very tasty.

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Photo of Backer2004
3.8/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one is probably my favorite Saranac beer so far just because this one was unexpected. If it wasn't from the Matt brewing company, I bet it's reviews would be slightly higher. This one had all the good qualitities of a Belgian Ale (I didn't say great, but I didn't say terrible either). Much cheaper than it's other stylisitic counterparts. Came as a new option in Saranac's 12 Beers of Winter mix pack. The best one of those I've tried so far.

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

Got this in the Saranac "Beers of Winter" 12-pack. Served from a 12-oz. bottle in a Duvel tulip at cellar temperature.

A - Pours a nice, hazy medium burnt orange color with a decent fluffy light-tan head. The head diminishes after about a minute to an even mat. Lacing is spotty at best. Good to see the bottle conditioning here!

S - Light and fruity malty sweetness balanced with a nice, hoppy spiciness and a shot of tart yeastiness. Very nice.

T - Begins with a mildly sweet maltiness crowned with a fruity, floral hoppiness. The middle reveals more malt complexities and a hint of tart yeastiness. The finish brings forth an excellent hop bitterness, evoking light citrus tones. The finish is dry and warming, with hints of fresh hay. Well rounded and satisfying.

M - Round and full of presence on the way in, lightly rising to a tingly, tiny bubbled foam. The finish is easy and full of body.

D - This is easily the best Saranac offering I've had to date. Not only was I happily surprised to find that it was bottle-conditioned, but moreso that it was crafted with a quality that dwarfs most of the other more pedestrian Saranac offerings.

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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.

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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 Pete9094
3.43/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Not bad. Purchased 12 Beers of Winter case and was the most skeptical of this one. I was pleasantly surprised and am in the process of knocking back the second, and final, of the case.

Nice, hazy orange appearance with the aroma that is almost like a hefe. Taste is good and is a decent representaion of the style. Mouthfeel is nice.

This is a refreshing brew that I could see myself picking up on a regular basis. Too bad it's only available in the 12 Beers of Winter case(I think...) Matt's interpretation of this style is admirable. Keep up the good work!

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Saranac Belgian Ale from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.34 out of 5 based on 290 ratings.
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