Saranac Winter Wassail | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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Saranac Winter WassailSaranac Winter Wassail
122 Ratings
Saranac Winter WassailSaranac Winter Wassail

Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
New York, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
"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!"

Added by kbnooshay on 10-27-2005

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 122 |  Reviews: 102
Reviews by engisch:
Photo of engisch
2.98/5  rDev -4.8%
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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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep reddish brown with a creamy-like off white head that stays quite nicely,aroma is quite fruity with a touch of cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg.Quite spicey and sweet flavors cinnamon and clove dominate with an underlying fruity malt base,this was quite sweet and I was looking for the Fuggles in the finish to give it a mor herbal dry finish but I never found them.Not a horrible brew but there are many other winter beers to look forward to over this one for sure.

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Photo of generallee
3.35/5  rDev +7%
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 Jason
3.05/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle with no freshness date.

A- Reddish amber hued brew, the clarity is fine but the lacing just ok.

S- Clove, musty cinnamon with some mineral and earthiness in the back.

T&M- Ale twang tangles with the spice character. Medium bodied with a slick smoothness on the palate. Mild hopping, bitterness seems a bit muted against the semi-sweet caramel like maltiness. Spicing is modest but present. Faint roasted grain undertone in the finish.

D- The spice, hop and malt mix just don't mesh right for me ... everything seems a tad out of balance. Not bad but I have certainly have had better.

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Photo of BadBadger
2.55/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This spiced beer was a bit of a let down. It pours a dark amber color. The head was nearly nonexistent. The smell was of spices (but which ones?): at first whiff this could have been their very fine pumpkin ale (but alas it is not). The taste was bland, the spices unpleasant and confusing. The mouthfeel was thin, feeling "wet". I can't recommend this beer.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
2.7/5  rDev -13.7%
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 dacrza1
2.46/5  rDev -21.4%
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 GratefulBeerGuy
3.25/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours out clear rusty amber, big-ass bubbles supports an off-white, bubbly sticky head that eventually becomes only a thin layer.

Very herbal nose, spicey, earthy malt charred wheat and sour grainy yeast.

This is a mildly sweet and very herbal malt with a sour but earthy hop and yeast with currents of spices. Very crisp and clean feel, the aftertaste is a bit sour and bitter.

Nothing to get excited about, but not too hard to drink.

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Photo of Dewey0603
3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A dark amber look with a two finger head,but the head is gone very fast.This has a very spiced smell,it's Ok,but it's very strong.It's like they dumped a bunch of cinnamon and nutmeg in the beer to make it smell like Christmas.This tastes like it smells.It's not bad ,but average.The m/f is very weak and watery.I probably wouldn't buy this again when you consider all the good holiday beers on the market.

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Photo of asabreed
3.08/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Head dissipates rather quickly, even though the pour was vigorous. Good amount of bubbles floating toward the middle of the top of the glass. Amber / brown body in color. Slight lacing left around the glass as I drink.

Smell: The spices come through initially: rough cinnamon, nutmeg, slight ginger. Some sweetness from the malt. Not bad initially, but as it warms it becomes less balanced, more amorphous, and less pleasant overall.

Taste: Finishes dry with some slight hop bitterness. I say this at first because it seems most evident to me upon tasting the brew. At first there's some up front spices -- again, harsh cinnamon mostly, with some slight nutmeg and even lesser ginger -- that goes into a bit of vanilla. I discerned this much, but once again, as it warms it just becomes a mess of not-so-quality flavor.

Mouthfeel: A little watery, moderate carbonation, thin to medium body. Could be better but overall not too bad.

Drinkability: The thing maybe with Saranac beers especially is that they're much better when cold, mostly with the speciality brews. At first I would've probably given this higher ratings, but as it warmed it became something that was much different from the initial sips and aromas it was giving off. Not too bad for a spiced beer I suppose, as I know it's not an easy style to make stellar, but I know I wouldn't seek this out again.

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Photo of Sammy
3.05/5  rDev -2.6%
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 tempest
3.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Out of the '05 Saranac 12 Beers of Winter.

Pours a nice cider color with a very short head that disappears rather quickly leaving only a touch of lacing.

Smells nice, mixture of fruit and spices. Tastes good, but not great. No hops and very little malt profile, but the spices are pleasant nevertheless.

Mouthfeel is fine, but I think its a little under-carbonated. Goes down very easy, but dont let it warm up too much - off-flavors tend to come out.

Overall, a nice beer but fairly average. Went nicely with dinner and was a good change of pace from my usual drink. Good for craft beer newbies.

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Photo of cliff1066
3.25/5  rDev +3.8%

Photo of chrishiker1409
3.25/5  rDev +3.8%

Photo of bditty187
2.73/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Clear, tea-copper in hue with some dull amber influences; the liquid is drab. Off-white head, at the apex, sadly, the foam was only a half finger tall. The bubbles quickly faded to a thin, soapy cap. Unimpressive. Plus there was no subsequent lacing. The appearance does little for me.

The nose is a fruit, spicy mix. I’ve smelled better Spiced Ales. I found muddled earthiness, cookie malt aromas, oranges, nutmeg and cinnamon. IMO, the spices are unbalanced and too heavy on the oranges. More malt would be nice too. Moderate potency, chatty but unpleasant to listen too; it is a garbled fowl mouth drivel… not inviting.

The palate is blander then the nose led on. In this case that isn’t a bad thing because I don’t think I could handle this mess full on. Lots of orange candy with some Christmas cookie spices but the end result is dull and lifeless. Apples are in the background. Of course the palate is thin on malt. Hops offer some earthiness but little bitterness. The finish is sweet and lightly spicy, same aftertaste. Blah, not matter how I cut it. Why drink this when OSA is so much better?

Watery, medium-light in body with low carbonation; the mouthfeel was empty and tiresome. Yet again, more malt is needed; this has become a trend with Saranac beers it seems.

I’ve been on a roll with dud Saranac beers. This is yet another. Why willingly drink something so second rate? It is yawn inducing. This offering was part of a 12-beer sampler that I purchased in Lawrence, KS. It’s a bore, I say skip it.

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Photo of Backer2004
3.55/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A mediocre beer but a nice style nonetheless. Therefore, it's drinkable, but the choices of other "herbed" winter warmer's are just too plentiful this time of the year. Got this from a 12 beers of Christmas mix pack and one of the better ones from Matt brewing, but nothing exciting.

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Photo of edchicma
3.65/5  rDev +16.6%
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 Stubbie1
2.59/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

WTF? Man this beer pours nice but that is all. Nice red color, light tan head, thin lace. Aroma is way overdone. Too much going on for me to signal out anything. Spiced it is but a bit too much. Flavor has a small hint of sweetness up front then the train wreck happens. Again, way too much going on here. Once down the pipes a bitter dry finish was left n the mouth. Not good at all.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.18/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle, part of the Saranac 12 beers of winter pack. Served in a Sam Adams BL glass, the beer pours a clear dark amber color with an inch frothy tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. Aroma is spicy, it smells like cinnamon, orange, and nutmeg. Taste is spicy too (but a little on the weak side), and there's also some bitter earthy hops in the finish. Taste seems to get a bit worse as it warms. Medium bodied, it leaves a slight coating in the mouth. Drinkability is decent, but would be better if the carbonation was lowered a little bit. Overall I think it's an OK beer, but not something I could drink all the time.

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Photo of fitzy84
2.84/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The appearance of this drink was dark amber that looked rather syrupy looking, with of course a watery, thin structure. The smell was faint with the spices a little thin for my tastes. The taste also seemed a little waterdowned as well. However, the carbonation saved this from being less than impressive with a wonderful body that lasted until the last sip. Overall, a bit thin and not as spicy as hoped but still pretty good.

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Photo of BeerSox
2.73/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle into nonic.

Crystal clear deep amber color with a one finger light tan head that slowly settles to a thin cap, leaving behind a solid wall of lacing.

The aroma is some sweet caramel malt with some light spices.

The flavor is very faint, with most of the flavor being the spices. The feel is smooth and medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Very little hop flavor to speak of.

This is such a broad style category that it's really hard to say if this beer is a good example or not. I can only go by how much I enjoyed it, which isn't much. It is certainly a herbed / spiced beer, but all I can taste are the spices, lending very little complexity (more caramel malts maybe?). Not recommended.

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Photo of charlesw
1.89/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

Beautiful deep but very clear amber. Sadly, the head mounts high and fast and dies pretty quickly as well.

Smell? Like, uh, like nothing... Strange. Very light hint of... maybe artificial berry flavoring and a hint of caramel malts...

Taste: oof! Thanks goodness it doesn't taste like artificial berry flavor! It's weird. Huge on the medicinal flavor right in the middle of the taste and the middle of the tongue. Lingering medicinal flavor. Bleh. Ah well...

Mouthfeel is fine - it's not as heavily carbonated as originally thought (from the head). Smooth and even.

But I wouldn't drink another...

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Photo of MmmIPA
3.53/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Agressive pour produces a thick three finger head that looks nice and is white in color.The body with brown with some ruby to it.Lacing is left on my tulip.

Christmas spices are smelled,cinnimon for one.Some peppery notes(faint).The notes smell sweet.

Not much of anything but cinnimon taste in this beer.Sweet taste.

Nice mouthful,slightly overcarboated.

Not a bad beer,taste just as good as a regional winter warmer Ive had recently.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.18/5  rDev +1.6%
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 tclapper
3/5  rDev -4.2%

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Saranac Winter Wassail from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 3.13 out of 5 with 122 ratings