Saranac Winter Wassail
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Saranac Winter WassailSaranac Winter Wassail
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Winter Warmer
Ranked #280
Ranked #46,927
3.15 | pDev: 17.46%
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
New York, United States
Saranac Winter WassailSaranac Winter Wassail
Notes: "In the spirit of the ancient winter festivities Saranac Wassail (pronounced 'Woss-el' it means 'be well') is a very special beer to toast the holiday season. At the heart of this beer is a classic English Ale brewed with English malts and Fuggles hops. Reminiscent of your favorite holiday traditions. Look for hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, orange and allspice. Wassail!"
Reviews: 102 | Ratings: 122 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Knapp85
2.95/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This beer poured out with a similar red color to what the Anchor Special Ale looks like. The head is minimal along with the lacing. The smell of the beer had some nice spices in there and some pretty good malt aromas too. The taste was a bit watered down in my opinion. Rather disappointing with how light the flavor aspect of this beer was. The mouthfeel was also thin, not overly impressed with what this brew had going for it. Overall I had this once a while back and I don't miss it.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i have been assembling full lineups from breweries and randomly doin these horizontal tasings with my family. The saranac one from a couple weeks ago was more then epic as it took months to gather all of these, but it was a hell of a fun night!

clear amber with a good two finger head of white foam on top. Nice side glass presentation after a somewhat slow fade. Decent amount of carbonation coming up from the bottom.

A good amount of nutmeg, maybe a touch of cinnamon and a nice piney aroma rising up through it,The flavor was very nice, goo strong ale with a nice roundd spiceness and a hop fueled finish. Touch of almost a wood like smoked flavor lying deep within and a nice rounded profile. A touch on the sweet side as it warmed, Lighter then I would have thought this was like a nice session ale. Nice smooth feel with a good lingering tastes finished as it was just that good. Light ABV and body made this one you could sip on all night.

Now overall this one was very nice.

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Photo of mgbickel
3.05/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass...amber-brown in color, 1 finger head...little lacing.

Toasted Nutmeg, Allspice and Orange
Peel tickles the nose.

Nutmeg and fermented fruit are the prevailing tastes...undertones of cinnamon.

Light to medium Mouth feel.

Not a bad seasonal brew...goes down pretty smooth, but nothing special.

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Photo of TheFightfan1
3.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pours a crystal clear brown with an off white heading. Decent lacing throughout.

Smell is of clove very subtle hops and sweet malts but a yeasty aroma pulls through.

Taste is of burnt caramel and burnt malts topped with a bittering hops.Gives you a sugary kiss that sticks on the lips.

Mouth has a slight sting on the tongue.Medium bodied and a slight sugary overcarbonation.

Drink is drinkable but nothing really standing out about this beer to try it again decent but nothing stellar.

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Photo of Derek
2.56/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I'm review this with the style in mind...

A: Bubbly, amber-brown, light tan head, slight leg/lace.

S: Light spicing, cloves, nutmeg, toffee and a little vegetal/cabbage aroma.

T: Grainy & spicy with a slight astringency.

M: Light to moderate body, very dry.

D: Definitely below average.

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Photo of Sammy
3.05/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks Jason for sharing. A winter warmer, or a vegetable beer, I think the latter. Spicey. Advertises the spice, they are faint of cinammon, nutmeg, orange and allspice. Above-average carbonation, a bit of yeast, sourish finish. Lacey and a head. A marginal passable beer.

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Photo of MTNboy
3.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It has a dark amber body with just a little bit of head. The lacing is tight all the way to the bottom of the glass. The dark amber body is hazy from all the little carbonation bubbles in it. This beer has a yeasty spice aroma. The taste is that of dark roasted malt. It is very rich in flavor complimented by a bit of spicy flavors. There is also a little bit of burnt bread like flavor. The mouthfeel is quite a bit fizzy with a medium body.

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Photo of yesyouam
2.88/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Saranac Winter Wassail is a very clear and sparkling amber ale with a big frothy off-white head that leaves excellent lacing. The aroma is of sweet, bready malt with a good dose of nutmeg and a little cinnamon. It's fresh, but muted. The hops suggest a Christmas tree. It's quite light-bodied and fluffy. It's a little tannic on the roof of the mouth and the finish is gritty. It's a bit sweet and a bit bitter. There is an odd, rather metallic flavor in there. The bitterness hangs in my mouth like mistletoe. It's a very 'green' flavor. The nutmeg is detectable. Meh. I guess I'm always down for a spiced ale.
(rated Dec 14, 2007)

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Photo of WVbeergeek
2.7/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Appears a ruby brown tone with a light beige head dwindling quickly after the initial vigorous pour. Light scattered lacing surrounds the sides of my glass. Aroma has evident citrus peels and holiday spices according to the label cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice. A real upfront burst of caramel sweetness and fruity accents noted as well, a bit muted overall. Flavors get consumed by spicing and orange peel bitterness, not much balance to write about, just a ride of citrus and spice that consumes the palate. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with assertive carbonation flowing, nothing really overpowers but the spice lacquer it leaves on my tongue. Drinkability is pretty weak I don't believe I will be reaching for the next Winter Wassail ale, nice beer to pass onto guests during the holidays.

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Photo of engisch
2.98/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This beer poured a clear bronze amber. It looks like a good beer with good color and a little bit of head. Its aroma is of malt and heavy holiday spices. The flavor is holiday spices and sweetness. Not my favorite brew, but it is interesting. Reminds me of pumpkin ales, but with a different taste. You definitely have to be in the mood for this kind of beer. Not bad, but not gonna be one of my top picks for beer.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.06/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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

Another oddball from the Matt Brewery. This beer just has too much going on it seems. You can definitely taste the nutmeg and cinnamon 'holiday spices' but the rest of it is kind of a muddled mess. My first try at a Wassail and I'll have to try another to honestly judge this style.

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Photo of changeup45
2.68/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a copper-brown color with a thick tan head. Spicy with strong cinnamon and nutmeg notes. Somewhat woody with a sour malty taste, especially in the finish and aftertaste. It lingers a little too much for me but isn't a bad beer. Not something I want to try again though. Medium-bodied and somewhat warming.

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Photo of generallee
3.35/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

It pours a clear bronze color with reddish highlights and a small light tan head. The aroma is malty and heavily spiced with a big shot of orange as well. Likewise the flavor is heavily spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and orange zest over sweet doughy and bready malts. There is a hint of hops at the end that fades into the finish along with some of the spiciness. Its light to medium bodied with mild carbonation. Overall it's a very tasty brew but the spices are a bit heavy and out of balance with the rest of beer. Still not bad.

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Photo of Durge
3.36/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It's a dark iced tea color with a whispy white head and an even sheet of fine lace. The aroma is disappointingly mundane and nondescript. The taste gives me some light malt and allspice, crisp and easy drinking. There's also ome bitter citrus hops. It's nicely carbonated. This is a clean understated "Holiday" brew, a nice, pleasant offering.

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Photo of Risser09
3.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a white wine glass - 2007 bottling - Cellar temp

Appearance: Pours a transparent rust color with nice orange and red highlights. The head comes to 1.5" high and leaves lots of stick lace behind. It's a pretty spongy lace.

Smell: Spices of coriander, cinnamon, allspice and some flowers. Tulip and hyacinth. Malt sweetness. Lavendar.

Taste: I get a lot of allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg but not much orange in the flavor. Floral hops provide a fruitier side to this beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a malt presence. Smooth and floral. Alcohol is not very present.

Drinkabilty: Pretty good as a session beer for winter. Worth a try.

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Photo of BeerCon5
2.85/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Clear, orangish-brown color with little head.

S: Smells of various spices, cinnamon and nutmeg mostly, bits of clove.

T: A little too much spice, otherwise no too bad.

M: Thin and smooth with adequate carbonation.

D: Not a bad beer if you want to change things up, otherwise nothing that really stands out.

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Photo of shirfan
2.71/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Orange-reddish with an average head.

Aroma of light caramel malt, very mild cinnamon, perhaps nutmeg, slight biscuit.

Taste: Ouch. Too much nutmeg and too little malt. Very faint earthy tones with perhaps a touch of leafy hops in the finish. Drinkability suffers for being too thin and heavily spiced...the amount of spice might work in a heavier brew, but it's overpowering here.

Not truly bad, but not especially enjoyable.

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Photo of dacrza1
2.46/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This was one that sounded great--who doesn't like the word WASSAIL!? The beer, unfortunately, is probably the last beer you want to uncap in the winter mixer... orange-brown body with a thin, broken white head... spruce hints and spice aromas, but not nearly as complex as the veterans in this category (thinking Harpoon, Anchor, etc.)... effervescent, effective presence on the tongue; smooth, almost buttery mouthfeel-- odd for a holiday heavy hitter, unless I misjudged the sales pitch... mellow spices and a rather tame experience... not engaging in its diversity of character, this ale is subtle and soft, and those are words that a beer with spices should seldom be... still, if in the right spirits, this could be a gateway beer for those usually uncomfortable with something beyond a Coors light at the party...

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Photo of kevman527
3.12/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Let sit for 10 minutes and poured into a room temp pint glass.

Appearance: White foamy head, good lacing, ruby-brown color.

Smell: Dominated by winter spices, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.

Taste: The spices are prevalent in the taste as well, but it becomes more intense as the beer warms up. Before that it is brandy like with a winey finish. Left a somewhat bitter taste on the roof of the mouth.

Mouthfeel: Pretty smooth, low carbonation.

Drinkability: Not my favorite winter beer, but it wasn't bad. I wouldn't drink more than one in a sitting.

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Photo of HimerMan
3.47/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle from their 12 beers, 6 styles 2/per case that is really a great value.

Poured into a generic tulip.

Nice light copper color with a medium tanish head that sticks well to the glass.

Great aroma. The scent of nutmeg, perhaps cinnamon, and a touch of hops come through very easily.

Taste is very similar to a bock, but with a different blend of spices, and a the additions of some malt to balance it out. Very nice.

For its cost, and relative ease in finding, this is very attractive. However, due to its lackluster comparison to many others in its style that are available in the season - I would urge people to seek other beer as their winter warmers.

With that in mind, if you only buy one of these 12-packs a year from Saranac - you will not be disappointed (especially since a few of the others are great!).


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Photo of edchicma
3.65/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very light caramel with a large head that produces very good lacing. A smack of blended sweet spices...cloves, pine?, etc. Sweet malt with spices getting a bit lost. Mouthfeel is creamy..very little hop presence. Drinkability is ok, buit could be a tad crisper.

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Photo of drumrboy22
3.2/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass. Beer was copper in color with a small, foamy head that left minimal lacing around the glass.

Aroma was allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and caramel.

Taste was moderately sweet with gingerbread notes. Had a spicy, peppery finish.

Just kind of average. Not bad, not great.

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Photo of scottbrew4u
3.01/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Can't miss this beer in the fridge with it's bright purple label!
A nice one finger light tan head forms after a hard pour and it looks like it wants to stick around for some time. Came out a nice dark amber color. Smell this one and you can tell it is spiced with some cinnamon but it is not too overwhelming. Toffee and caramel notes come out nicely with a trace of vanilla and orange on the end. Some herbally hop aromas are just a hint but present.

Taste is somewhat sweet at first with a nutmeg flavor hitting my tongue a bit too sharply. Some smoothness comes from the moderate carbonation, medium body and the flavor of vanilla. The hops come into play nicely and this I enjoy. Just a bit over-the-top with some of the spices especially the nutmeg which is a strong spice. I can still enjoy this beer and I am but it could certainly improve and score a little higher.

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Photo of Ig0r
3.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

The pour gives a reasonable head with mostly very small bubbles which leave some lacing. The head thins out but stays around quite a long time. The color is a reddish dark straw.

The smell is sweet with a hint of spices. The feel is thin with a lot of carbonation flying around. The flavor is very bitter, again with a hint of spice. It's a bit intense with a quite hoppy finish but only a slight aftertaste.

Overall, it's a bit too bitter and unbalanced for my taste. I am glad I got it in a mixed pack rather than a whole pack of the Wassail.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, no date.

Reddish/Amber appearance.

Smells cinamony/spicey, caramel undertones.

Very little head, provides a decent amount of lacing.

Very caramel tasting, with slight spices/cinnamon. Not very bitter. Only a hint of grain. Not bad, not fantastic.

Easy to drink because it is not a distinctly strong-tasting beer. With that said, there are certainly other things I'd rather be drinking.

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Saranac Winter Wassail from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 75 out of 100 with 122 ratings