Saranac Imperial Stout
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Saranac Imperial StoutSaranac Imperial Stout
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American Imperial Stout
Ranked #1,948
Ranked #11,589
3.93 | pDev: 12.98%
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
New York, United States
Very Good
Saranac Imperial StoutSaranac Imperial Stout
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Reviews: 152 | Ratings: 198
Photo of Treyliff
3.61/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2013 vintage, poured into a snifter

A- pours a thick and viscous motor-oil black color with a one-finger creamy khaki colored head that retains nicely, decent lacing left behind

S- dark chocolate and cocoa powder up front with some herbal bitterness, a hint of smoke, followed by a strange artificial phenolic aroma

T- milk chocolate with some coffee, caramel and heavy cream, formal hop bitterness followed by an awkward tangy finish, medicinal lingers

M- medium-heavy body with low carbonation leads to a creamy mouthfeel and a smooth warming finish

O- this ones a little rough around the edges, the 11 malts cover most of the harshness up but the strange tanginess adds an interesting element. Not bad, but won't purchase again

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Photo of sajaffe1
3.74/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This beer was poured from the bottle into a pint glass.
This stout is black with no light penetration. There is a short lived head that dissapates quickly.
On the nose there are bits of dark fruits, chocolate, coffee as well as some hops. Good smelling ale.
The taste was more bitter than expected with fairly assertive hops and alcohol. Still notice the dark fruit.
This stout was pretty smooth with light carbonation.

Not the best imperial stout I ever had, but not bad. I am glad I gave it a go, but do not plan on buying again anytime soon.

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Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured as dark as night from a 12 oz bottle, with a freshness code on the bottle. Absolutely no light penetrates through this stout.
One finger tan colored head that dissipated very slowly.
Aroma is all chocolate, with hints of some sweet malt, licorice and dark fruits coming through.
Taste surprisingly is more on the bitter side. Right upfront there is a distinct bitterness on the tongue which slowly subsides towards the finish ending with a gentle lingering bitterness.
This is quite a robust and full-bodied stout.
Easy to drink with very nice mouthfeel.
Perhaps the second best beer from Saranac after their Black Forest. I was pleasantly surprised by this one and will even go on to say that it can hold it's own against any good imperial stout.
Overall, this is a very good imperial stout and is definitely worth a try.

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Photo of tiltedglass
4.68/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

For me this is the best stout made. I've tasted only 20 or so, not including flavored stouts, and this, like the Guinness Export, is powerful but with a balanced punch. Terrific full taste that is somehow both sharp and round. Great stuff. Getting harder to find for some reason, so get yours if you see it. Try a blind taste against another stout or two and you'll see what I mean.

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Photo of comfortablynumb1
3.6/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Bruery snifter...

A - Pours black with a one finger brown head that dissipates at a decent pace. Lacing is minimal...

S - Roasted malts, dark fruits, chocolate, some sweet malt, and a touch of alcohol...

T - Molasses and roasted malts up front followed by chocolate. Finishes with roast and some lingering bitter chocolate. Alcohol is present, but comes across pretty clean...

M - A little thin for my liking. Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation...

O - Glad I got a chance to try this one, but not something I would go out of my way to obtain in the future. Think this one would taste better with a little age on it...


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Photo of iceburger97
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a- black
smell- mild licorice type smell, faint smokey liquor
taste- tasted good, could not detect much of that familiar saranac flavor that seems to make their other beers taste all the same , it was mostly covered up
mouthfeel nothing extraordinary but better than average
overall a sweet and robust imperial stout with a good character and body, drinkable with good rich flavor

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Photo of DirtyPenny
2.2/5  rDev -44%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Black with a half-inch of cocoa brown head. Wide rings of lacing are left behind on the glass with every gulp.

S: Mostly getting chocolate and molasses on the nose.

T: Bitter chocolate malts and smoky cigarette ash give way to toffee and coffee, with a strongly bitter finish. Sadly, the ashy taste in the middle completely ruins this one. Tastes like someone tipped an ash tray into the mix. No booziness despite the 9% abv, which is just a comment, not a criticism.

M: Medium with light, foamy carbonation. Surprisingly light for an imperial stout, which you'd think would be kind of syrupy. And yet it's gritty and unpleasantly chalky on the tongue.

O: Saranac's Imperial Stout is the Kyle Boller of its class. You'd only put it into the game if you don't have any better options. They make a few decent brews. This one is a perpetual bench warmer.

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Photo of rlee1390
3.85/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Black with a one finger creamy brown head but it doesn't leave behind any lacing.

S-Chocolate, coffee, roasted malt and possibly some alcohol.

T-Sweet, with chocolate and coffee as the main flavors. Balanced but not the full flavor experience your looking for from an Imperial Stout.

M-Thick, but for the style thin, and creamy

O-Although a great tasting beer it doesn't live up to what one would expect from an Imperial Stout. Still it ranks as one of Saranac's best. I'd say if you are having a basic stout tasting with nothing too epic, include this beer as a nice lower bound to compare to.

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Photo of cavedave
3.55/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Live Review

An easy pour puts plenty of light brown foam atop a darkest brown, shiningly opaque stout. The head takes its time getting down to a thick cap and some serious legs lap elastically the glass.

Chocolate, coffee, molasses, just a hint of yeasty tart, dark roast malt, a hint of licorice, in a very alluring mix. Best nose on any Saranac beer I have ever tried, by far.

Taste wise this is not bad, but you wouldn't mistake it for Abyss despite having a similar take on basic flavor mix. Some of the darker malts in this have a bit of that ripe cherry almost coughsyrupy thing. Even despite this, the taste isn't bad, it's typical for big stouts nowadays, which says a great many good things about "nowadays" for beer lovers. It has all the great flavors in the nose, but not as deliciously presented nor balanced.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin compared to many other IS. Carbonation is good. Cling is not clean. Finish could be cleaner for optimum.

Not a great beer, but pretty darn good for what it is, which is to say a Saranac beer, the reliable ground ball singles hitter of American breweries.

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Photo of argock
3.27/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz brown bottle into a clear glass snifter. No freshness date. Single purchased at Ancona's Wine and Spirits (Ridgefield, CT) for $1.89.

A: very dark brown with chestnut highlights and solid 2-finger German chocolate cake batter beige head with good retention with spotty trails of lace.

S: It has an interesting sweet caramel note which is usually drowned out by the roasted character. There still is a nice roasted aroma with tobacco, earthy hops.

T: The flavor is unfortunately very ashy and doesn't allow the caramel notes to come through. The tobacco notes are way too strong and the maltiness is lost.

M: Thin for the style with pretty dry finish.

O: Not terrible, but the ashy nature of the flavor is off-putting and dominates.

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Photo of CharlieMurphy
2.62/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A: Translucent black (just a red beam of light through the center up to a light). Thin tan flat head that stays as it poured. Looks thin

B: Brown malts, a little chocolate, smells more like a porter. a touch of sweetness, a touch of roastiness

T: Not a whole lot going on. The carbonation masks most flavors for most of the taste then it emerges into a bitter chocolate finish that kind of reminds me of burnt hot dog char. I remember this being better in previous tastes. Prolly not one to age in that case. This is almost a year old.

M: Thin feel but higher than average carbonation. Burnt taste ruins this

O: Drink Fresh!

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Photo of nhindian
3.03/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottle generously provided as an extra by CharlieMurphy, thanks man!

A - Pours a midnight black with dark red highlights interspersed throughout. About 1.5-fingers of dark tan head with decent retention. A silky cap floats gingerly above the liquid when it finally dissipates. Lacing is pretty good as well!

S - The rather unassuming appearance gives way to a dangerously bold aroma. Char, ash, and soy dance precariously below coffee roast and chocolate. Definitely smells bigger than 9%, for better or for worse. The char and soy really weighs heavily as it warms.

T - This feels like a toned-down version of Avery's Mephistopheles with a bit of a balance issue. Rather than having a predominant anise flavor, the ash and soy take center stage, making it tough for the roast and chocolate to burst through. At times they do, but most of the time it's tough for them to get through the burnt sweetness. Finish is sweet and alcoholic with a lot of char.

M - Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with ample carbonation. Actually feels a little thin for what the flavors are bringing and the style, which I guess hurts it a bit. Finishes pretty sweet.

D/O - Drinkability is moderately low. The website says that this is meant to be sipped and given the flavors, it's kind of hard not to sip it. Much to roasty for me, considering it plays on the wrong side of charred. The anise comes through slightly but in a way that actually seems to accentuate the soy. A miss for me personally.

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Photo of CaptJackHarkness
2.57/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

No head to speak of ,no lacing of the glass- flat appearance. a burnt bitter coffee anise taste that lingers cloyingly on the palate and throat! The only thing in it's favor is ,like all Imperials, it has a healthy (or unhealthy from that point of view!) amount of alchohol in it!

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Photo of harrymel
2.82/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle date: unk

A: pour a dark soily black ale with no head formation and a mirror surface. No lace.

S: prunes and malts. Faint, but pleasant.

T: Bitter and oxidized malts are not very pleasant. Have a burnt coffee flavor and small hints of licorice and honey.

M: Medium bodied (a bit low for the style) and moderate carb. Dry finish.

O: A little too burnt in profile for me. May have potential to develop over time, but not enough to justify the investment.

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Photo of DmanGTR
3.7/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A lazy, hot, humid Florida day... which calls for an imperial stout.

Poured deep, roasted chestnut brown, maybe even slightly hazy. Mahogany hues around the edges in the light, topped by a light tan head that left rings of lace in my pint glass.

The aroma is delicate but pleasant. Sweet caramel and grains are adorned by a touch of cocoa and coffee. A hint of deep ripe fruits is found too. The flavor is better than the aroma suggests. A more assertive version of the aroma, but with an added burnt toast/ashy finish. The finish is coffee and cocoa powder bitter with sweet undertones.

A little more carbonation than I'd like, which makes the beer seem somewhat thinner bodied than it really is. A few swirls of the glass takes care of that. Dryish finish. Medium bodied for imperial stouts these days. Similar, but a touch thicker in body to Sam Adams Imperial Stout.

Overall, a pretty enjoyable stout. I'm glad I brought a few of these down with me to school. I look forward to enjoying these throughout the year as an occasional post-exam treat.

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Photo of Brenden
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was the third and final beer I had at the 1888 Tavern after a great brewery tour on 7/3/11. This is one of two brewed so far for the High Peaks Series and thus not on tap.
This beer is pitch black and thick. The brown head that rises to about two fingers never completely fades. Sticky, clumpy lacing is left in a curtain most of the way down and barely lets up. This head has staying power and is nearly as well formed as I've ever seen. This is a beast.
Barley-like aromas from dark malts are huge, and the nose is both earthy and sweet, almost seeming to have a faint tinge of beeries and a whisper of citrus from hops. Alcohol really doesn't come through here. This is a nicely balanced malt bomb right from the get-go.
The taste, as evidenced in the aroma, is huge on malts; this one tastes on the offset like I'm eating barley bread. Chocolate malts are very well evidenced, and a light sweetness with a dark, bitter tinge complement well, and just barely noticeable citrus hops notes come through. There's a bit of coffee and, again, alcohol is well masked.
This beer is thick, rich and smooth, heavy but not filling. It even manages some crispness to it, and just little enough to keep it lively without taking away.
This is by far the best offering I've had from Saranac and proof they can make big beers with the best of them.

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Photo of cbutova
3.11/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Pitch black body with a big mocha tan head. Nice retention and a good creamy texture. Lace rings start at the top and fill up the glass.

S- Dark roast malt, big dark fruit, raisins, caramel and cocoa notes.

T- A huge roast malt (somewhat burnt) comes first with dark fruit/raisins, alcohol and cocoa as well. Oxidized cardboard notes come in.

MF- Moderately thick creamy body with a bitterness (feels like from roast malt) and warmth from alcohol.

Not bad for the price but nothing compared to so many other Imperial Stouts. The flavors aren't as balanced, rich or blended and after a few sips the alcohol starts to build and it tastes oxidized. Get Yeti, Founders or Stone if you want a treat for not a ton more money.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

i have been assembling full lineups from breweries and randomly doin these horizontal tastings 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! Big thanks to Alex for pulling through on the bulk of these

Really quite nicely colored, I could not even pick out the slightest bit of light peaking through on this one at all. Ni head at all, well maybe a slight rise of tan for a few moments, but this quickly faded and left the top bare. Some nice notes of dark molasses type aromas, with hints of licorice and other slightly dark fruits as well. A nice subtle hint of vanilla and chocolate as well. First wave to hit the tongue was that of chocolate and burnt, and toasted malts. Blending in seamlessly was a nice bit of vanilla and burnt coffee. Very sweet in the middle, with some dark raisin and licorice like notes, and a slightly hopped finish that really helped to being it all together and dry out the palate enough to let the soothing and sweet malt profile settle in.

A touch thin here, as this was definitely not one of the big boys. Not a real lack of carbonation, which I was afraid of, but it just needed a little bit more of a pop, and a little fuller body to really push it on through. I really could not pick up much of the alcohol and the body was not full enough to really be super filling. I was monumentally impressed by how smooth and quickly this one went down.

Though admittedly not my favorite of the big stouts, I have had far worse and this one does a fairly good job at holding its own.

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Photo of AnPiobaire
3.82/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I poured the Saranac Imperial Stout into a snifter at about 53 degrees. It a rich opaque with a nice 1/4 inch caramel colored head that lingered a little while before dissipating.

The nose is malty with molasses and licorice dominating with subtle coffee and cocoa notes.

The taste is not as sweet as one would think given the very strong nose. Malt and coffee are the initial tastes on the palate which fades to a bitter hoppy finish.

The mouthfeel is a little thinner then one would anticipate given the boldness first encountered when nosing it. It is a little more carbonmated then expected as well, but overall a nice flavorful imperial stout. I would reccomend this to stout fans. Enjoy!!!

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Photo of weller1js
4.22/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

appearance: pours a dark black, light carbonation, with slight tan bubbly foam and a slight ring of lacing; appears to be slightly thicker than water when swilled.

smell: dynamic roasted malts with hit of coffee, caramel, and toffee; sweet and bitter notes are well-complemented.

taste: begins clean yet bold, the malts remain consistent throughout, from the middle to the finish the sensations from both the bitters of the hops and the strength of the alcohol come forth, enhancing the heavy body; the taste of the alcohol does detract from some of the notes one would expect from the scent, but its not necessarily a bad thing.

drinkability: bold, strong, and with character, the elements of the imperial stout are there, would be a 5 if the elements noted in the scent were slightly more manifested in the taste.

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Photo of josefnewsong
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is possibly the best brew I've had from saranac. Dark raisin/prune flavors dominate with typical roasty chocolatey notes behind followed by a touch of alcohol. More sweet than bitter but hops are certainly there to balance it all out. A very yummy beer that's easy to drink and unique.

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Photo of tbrown4
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. -> Giant snifter. Bought a single at Shawann Liquors. Used to drink all varieties of Saranac in the late 90's in college. I remember getting 6 packs for $2 at Well's in Towson. First time I've had a Saranac brew in quite some time. Intrigued by their imperial series.

A - Pitch black,thick tan head. Thin lacing and thinning head as it settles.

S - Tart, roasty, coffee, lightly earthy musk

T - Tastes very developed. Not sure of the age on this bottle, but it tastes of a 1+ year cellared imperial stout. Flavors are identical to the aroma with the addition of a clean hop finish.

M - Feels thin to medium-thin bodied. Surprisingly no alcohol warmth.

D - I'd buy/order again without question. It's a good representation of the style. A bit heavy on the palate but the lack of alcohol presence makes this an easy one to sip.

Fairly impressed with this brew.

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Photo of wcintula
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle stamped: 0980 0854

Impressive from the get-go, pouring with an impenetrable black body with a massive, puffy, sticky, well-retained head that leaves behind a web of lacing on its slow descent. The smell contains big chocolate, some coffee, and caramel notes while the flavor contains these along with charred notes and a nice balancing of hops in this well balanced beauty. Creates a pleasant warmth as it sits in the stomach, this beer has a gravity you can feel when it touches your lips. An excellent value at $10 per sixer.

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Photo of iRoy
2.95/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a straight up pitch black with a nice toasted smell. Nice big fluffy head that sticks around. Goes down really bitter and smokey, with the toasted aftertaste sticking around. ABV is hidden really well because of the strong smoked taste. I can't see myself drinking more than 1 of these but it's pretty decent. I don't know, for some reason I expected more.

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Photo of Gavage
3.31/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: pours a black color with a 1" tan colored head.

Smell: roasted malts, prunes, alcohol, and a hint of chocolate.

Taste: roasted malts, bitter chocolate, prunes, moderate alcohol tones, and a moderate bitterness.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Lightly crisp to start, smooth at the finish. Long lived aftertaste.

Drinkability: slow sipping beer. The alcohol is a bit overwhelming here. This is an imperial stout that is cheaper than most others, but doesn't really live up flavor wise either.

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Saranac Imperial Stout from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 198 ratings