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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 superdedooperboy
3.78/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. brown longneck into a goblet.

A beautiful pour shows off a mostly clear, deep amber hue verging on copper with bright orange highlighting around the edges. A full two fingers of off-white froth settles slowly to a thin-yet-creamy cap that hugs the walls of the glass, leavingfat rings of lacing.

A peppery, spicy nose gives away the Belgian yeast used in this brew, with white pepper, lemon zest, and mild clove melding with grassy hop notes and faint toffeeish malt.

Medium-bodied and bearing moderate carbonation; vaguely breadlike and sweet caramel malt flavors layer underneath spices, herbs, and fruits, with pepper, ginger, apple skins, fresh earth and tea leaves, along with the slightest hint of barnyard funk. Moves into a malty sweet, herbal hop fade that is slightly dry and lingers a long while.

A rather good example of a Belgian-style ale, with quite a bit of that Belgian character. The finish is a bit cloying, though, and things could use a bigger hit of alcohol and better attenuation to give a dryer close, but overall not bad at all, and a nice addition to the winter sampler.

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

12oz bottle poured into a goblet.

A: Fairly hazy medium-to-dark orange. The head is rather anemic for a Belgian.

S: A pretty good mix of fruitiness and spicy yeast.

T: Banana esters with some bready malt and just a hint of tartness. Basically a Belgian ale reduced to its most basic components. But it's pretty well-balanced so none of the flavors become cloying.

M: Medium-bodied. Fair carbonation.

D: I wasn't expecting a whole lot out of this beer, but I'm actually fairly impressed. It's not an exemplar of the style by a long shot, but it's a good training-wheels beer for someone new to Belgians.

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Photo of CrellMoset
3.35/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle courtesy of dkachur, poured into a traditional American pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a surprisingly dark - orange hued, copper almost - bodied brew, capped by a fizzy, bubbly, and fast-fading light tan head. Gone in an instant, really, leaving nothing but an erratic dusting and a thin, ethereal collar. Eh.

Aroma: What is immediately evident is that a Belgian yeast strain was used in the creation of this beer - the most obvious notes are those of nearly ripe bananas, spicy cloves, and a few other faint, phenolic spices. The backing beer, however, is faint, dull, and uninspired - nothing but doughy, caramelly, roasted malts. Average.

Taste: Light, faint notes, green apple, banana overtones, clove, faint white pepper, all over a honey-like, roasted backbone. It's simple, and is precisely what you'd expect if someone said "well, what does a stereotypically 'Belgian ale' taste like?" Taking that into account means that it's pretty boring, stereotypical, and not very bright, enjoyable, or interesting.

Mouthfeel: Like all Saranac beers, really, this one is well-carbonated, relatively thin, fluffy and crisp, but also creamy and smooth. The carbonation works a little better in this style than it does in many of the others in which its evident. Decent.

Drinkability: Eh, I continue to be not blown away by Saranac, and this one's no different. 5.9% is low for a Belgian Pale, perhaps, but that only goes so far in making up for the fact that the beer is just pretty average. There are many Belgian Pales I'd prefer - just ask.

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Photo of Hoagie1973
3.89/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought a six of this at Beers of the World as a blowout sale item for $4.53.

Slightly hazy and golden-amber in color. Medium white head (small for a "Belgian") reduces fast and leaves some light lace.

Smells like a Belgian; malty with clove and spiced fruit.

Tastes pretty damn good. Caramel malt and Fruit. Spicy (clove) and bittering in the finish. Not the most robust, but all the proper flavors are there in all the right balances, there could just be a bit more...

Mouthfeel is crisp. Pretty spot on.

Props to Saranac (who I consider a "Jack-of-All-Trades, Master-of-None" kind of brewery) for a pretty decent effort. Enjoyable and certainly worth every penny I paid and then some.

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

Poured bottle into an Ommegang chalice.

Nice appearance - copper amber color, small head with minimal lacing.

Smells of yeasts, bananas, sweet & malty.

Tastes crisp and has a caramel, banana and and yeast. Crip mouth feel and a nice creamy (yeasty) mouthfeel as you swirl it around.

This beer is one of the best that I have had from Saranac. Nothing new or incredible for the style, but still a great beer. I could get a case of just this.

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Photo of matty
3.35/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber colored beer with a slowly fading head.Aroma is mainly banana.Taste is cloves ,banana and a slight bit of caramel.Overall a decent beer that is refreshing and smooth.This is probably something that should be tried at least once.I most likely would try again!!

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Photo of eporter66
2.27/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12oz bottle into a pint glass

A - Copper colors, 1/2 finger head.

S - Yeast is upfront, and a sour bitter aroma accompanies the yeast

T - Yeasty flavor upfront, a mix of malt and fruit flavor comes through, but not enough to take away the yeast/sour flavor.

M - Average mouthfeel with a lot of carbonation tingle, surprising since it did not produce much head

D- Just not a big fan of that upfront yeast/sour flavor. I would not drink this again, does not seem to have as well balanced a flavor as the description of the style states it shoud.

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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 dogfishandi
3.66/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

got this in a saranac winter seasonal 12- pack for 7$ (buy one get one free). poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. it pours a cloudy dark amber copper color. some creamy looking off white head that has pretty decent retention. crazy bubbles rushing vigorously fast to the top. some nice lacing on the glass as well. the smell is of some nice belgian yeast, bannana, clove, some phenolics, some bubblegum, fruitiness, some candied sugar, some nice malts as well. a little earthy grainy smell as well. the taste is grains, malts, earthiness up front with some nice fruitiness in the middle, finishing with a nice belgian yeast flavor, bannana, clove, phenolics. a slight hop bitterness and sugary in the overall taste as well. a little bit of a dry mouthfeel in the finiash as well. medium bodied, moderate to light carbonation. pretty good drinkability factor with this one, has some of the good tastes of the great belgians out there, just maybe lacking some of the complex flavors, but definately not a bad showing from saranac. most of their beers ive had were just ok to bad, this one i could prolly see myself drinking again, however, i dont think they sell this in 6 packs, you can only get it in the winter sampler 12 pack, and you only get 2 of them. great breakfast beer too, had this one about an hour after i woke up, made me feel great.

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

A: A somewhat hazy orange-copper color with a large, foamy, off-white head. Retention is pretty good, and there are nice rings of lace left on the glass.

S: Some refined sugary sweetness. Spicy notes of clove, pepper, and dusty yeast. Vague herbal and earthy hops. Some fruity aromas as well, mostly of banana.

T: Sweet, sugary malts up front. A bit of caramel as well. Herbal hops provide some decent flavor. Yeasty and a bit musty. Spices like clove and pepper perk it up a little. Slightly tangy fruit flavors. A bit more bitterness into the finish.

M: Medium bodied with average carbonation. Rather sticky mouthfeel.

D: This is an alright take on a Belgian style. Certainly drinkable. It's solid, but honestly somewhat forgettable. I'm glad I picked this up on sale in the mixed winter pack.

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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.

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Photo of Nascartailgatefa
3.78/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a pint glass from a sampler pack. Pours a pale red color. Little head, no lacing. Faint aroma of sweetness and malt. Taste is also sweet and malty. Nothing special. Medium body, smooth finish. Pretty drinkable for a Belgian Ale but nothing to write home about.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.65/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From a 12 fl. oz. bottle marked no. 2688-1011 and sampled on Super Bowl Sunday 2009.

Appearance - Copper bronze tone with almost no head or lacing. Good clarity. Not sure if it looks like your standard Beligan Pale though. No sedimentation.

Smell - Sweet and malty. There's a hint of caramel but no distinctive hoppy aroma.

Mouthfeel - I'd call it a medium body and maybe a little chewy.

Taste - The taste is an adequate variation on the Belgian recipe with a bold, sweetness and malty mix. A decent balance. Probably the best thing about this beer was the taste, which, of course, is the most important.

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Photo of Drew966
3.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Saranac Belgian Ale pours a copper color with an off white head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. The aroma is similar to a Belgian ale, a bit fruity, some funk and a bit phenolic. The flavor is similar, the fruit reminds me a bit of apricot, there are some caramel flavors that would be out of place in a traditional Belgian, but they don't adversely effect the flavor. Definitely decent, but not necessarily to style.

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

I've had Belgian ales and this ain't bad. The price is much better than the $11 per 750 bottle of the real stuff.

The smell is quite nice... Bit spicy with that faint "barnyard" sent that the Belgians are known for. Wee carmel scent.

Flavor was so damn close to the Belgians that, for the price, I can't say no. Mild roasted flavors are overpowered by brewing spices and carmel with some mild hopping on the end. The liquid fills the mouth with it's medium-heavy body and leaves a lingering roasted sweetness.

If a true Belgian ale is The Mona Lisa, this was one of those really good lithos of the Mona Lisa you pick up for $5 at a print shop. Lacking the subtle complexities of the real deal but gives the general idea.

Can't pound them for hours, but that's kinda the point that the brewers were going for.

This is a buy in my book.

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Photo of tigg924
3.12/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear amber with constant carbonation and no head

Smell: yeast, sweet spice, and candied fruits

Taste: It has the Belgian spices, I taste a little malt and some faint citrus

Mouthfeel: tart and smooth with a slightly sweet finish

Drinkability: I think that this is OK for the style. I could drink three or four but not a six. I think Saranac does produce better beers than this offering.

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Photo of nick76
3/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Smells like band aids, spices, caramel malt, and herbal hops. The appearance is amber with a small but foamy head. The flavor is like the aroma but very much like a Belgian light. The palate is thin but smooth. Overall this is definitely a half hearted attempt at a Belgian ale but not a bad one at that.

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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 mikereaser
3.51/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - pours an amber color with 1/4 inch of foam that quickly disappears.

S - aroma of sweet malt with hints of apples

T - spicy yeasty flavor with toasted malts

M/D - fairly dry, and very easy drinking. Nothing outstanding, but a good tasting brew that I could easily drink a few of.

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Photo of yelterdow
2.28/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Served at a few degrees below cellar temperature in a Chimay chalice. Fresh from 2008's winter seasonal pack, I'm excited to try this.

Appearance- Aside from the hazy orange color of this beer, the first thing I notice is the lack of head that emerges from the pour. Most BPAs will create a large, rocky crown and this simply does not. After two minutes of the initial inch thick topper's birth, it reduces to just a ring with some activity coming from the etching at the bottom of the glass.

Smell- An unmistakable Belgian yeast character, and a good one at that, takes firm hold of the nostrils and delivers a fruity tartness that beckons the first sip. Malty and gripping, a very pleasant nose.

Taste- Wow, what the hell happened here... it's awful on so many levels. The taste is nothing like the aromas might suggest, it is a blast of hops that run completely head-on into an overcarbonated mess of I couldn't tell you what. There is no grace, no elegant display of ingredients that would want me to go for another sip. After the few seconds in the mouth where it all goes haywire, the swallow brings some malts and a final hop bitterness that lasts quite long.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- The texture is explosive right out of the gate... almost impossibly rugged... it pinches and attacks the tongue before the beer makes it across the palate. Soon it quiets, but it's just a jumbled circus with all of the conflict. I wanted to love this beer and was ready to sing its praises, but this is simply not a good representation of the style by any stretch.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.63/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip.

4.0 A: Amber color. Decent head with average retention and plenty of lacing.

3.5 S: Spicy, almost like a mix of pepper and cloves. Sweet malts and a touch of wheatiness. Not really much hop character.

3.5 T: This is my first Belgian pale ale, so I don't have much to compare it too. Tastes like a tripel blended with an American pale ale. A lot of malt character and somewhat sweet. No clove, but pepper is there. A bit of light fruit. Hoppy finish which brings balance.

3.5 M: Smooth, good carbonation. Medium body. Nothing special, but not lacking.

4.0 D: This is one of Saranac's better beers, though it's still nothing special.

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Photo of saradad
3.06/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sat this on the kitchen counter for half hour before pouring it into a 12 oz glass, formed a 2 or 3 inch fluffy white head over a dark straw colored, slightly hazy body. The scent has some apple fruitiness to it with almost no hop presence but there's a light sweet alcohol smell in the mix also. The taste is the same but has a little bit of a medicine bite to it. The mouthfeel is full possibly due to a good amount of carbonation. I'd say just average on the drinkability scale, of course I prefer lagers usually and an ale aficionado may rate it higher than I would. Not a bad choice in the mixed Winter pack yet not a great one.

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Photo of scoobybrew
3.74/5  rDev +12%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was poured from the bottle into a Chimay challis.

A - slightly hazy light amber/orange color with a fine lace of a head that is fairly well retained

S - strongly spicy yeast aroma with traces of hops and malt

T - like aroma, strong spicy yeast flavor followed by slightly toasted malts; finish is fairly dry, as a good Trappist version should be

M - medium to light body with moderate carbonation

D - I don't believe this one fits into the Belgian Pale Ale category very well, but it definitely resembles beers produced by the Trappist monasteries. It's a pretty good take for an American brewery. I was pleasantly surprised with this one.

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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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