Saranac Imperial Stout | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

very good
152 Reviews
Saranac Imperial StoutSaranac Imperial Stout

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

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by AlHam on 10-22-2007

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Reviews: 152 | Ratings: 198
Photo of charlesw
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hey! Whoa! This is the best Saranac I've ever had! They're probably doing these big beer things to show us that they really can brew... I'd be happier with the brewery if the lower-end stuff had more to it - more flavor, more body...

Anyway, cool. Nice. Stout? Nah. It's a nice porter - very even all around. Not overwhelmed with a dry coffee or chocolate like so many. Smooth and gently sweet. Nice.

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Photo of SirSaranac
4.16/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 6 pack at Marcy Discount Beverage... Waited for the first snowfall to give it a try.

A- BLACK... Hold it up to the light and this is that Mariana Trench black... 1 finger head.... above average lacing; very limited carbonation.

S- Complex scent...however rather subdued... Light chocolate... faint coffee... delicious, yet nothing overpowering

T- At 9% the first thing I was expecting was a more distinct alcohol overtone... The Saranac IPA sticks out in my head as having a rather strong alcohol flavor... But this Stout has an even higher ABV yet doesn't really have that alcohol kick unless you reeeally try and unravel it on your tastebuds. Mild coffee... slightly bitter ... mild chocolate... complex malt yet nothing too overpowering.

M- A thick medium body... not overlly carbonated. Nice.

D- This is a double edged sword... perhaps at the expense of a lasting aftertaste, this beer became high in drinkability... for a couple of reasons: the lack of a strong alcohol overtone was pleasantly misleading. There's nothing better than a delicious brew that's high in ABV yet doesn't taste the part. You'll FEEL it, but you won't taste it.

Overall?- Another great effort by Saranac with the high peaks series... I hope they continue the trend of trying to please people who actually TASTE their beer. I do wish that this stout had a longer lasting aftertaste, but like perhaps it's offset by it's drinkability.

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Photo of blackie
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a: Poured into a snifter, gives a low mocha head with light retention. The beer is practically black in color.

s: Soft espresso infused chocolates filled with caramel liquor, balanced by a subtly spicy evergreen hop aroma. Delicate hazelnut.

m: The carbonation is just under medium, and the body quite full but not overbearing.

t: Good blend of roasted malts and dusty cocoa on the tongue. Moderately hopped. Generally speaking this is a pretty weak IS flavor, but it's certainly enjoyable.

d: Pretty good...a decent stab at the American Imperial Stout style. I did get pretty bored halfway through.

single bottle from Whole Foods Raleigh

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, served in a pint glass.

A - black color with a fluffy dark tan/light brown head that settled to a layer, leaving good lacing on the glass.

S - sweet molases and a touch of alcohol in the aroma.

T - very good, sweet molases flavor upfront, a coffee bitterness kicks in with a slight alcohol taste and warming on the back end.

M - medium/full bodied, carbonation is mild but it makes itself known.

D - a very drinkable stout and overall, for the price, this one just can't be beat.

Final Note: I enjoyed this Imperial Stout and it is very reasonably priced (at least here in NY). I will buy more of this while it's available.
Side Note: this is listed as a 'one time' brew, but I bought this last year (Nov. '06, before joining BA) and I just got the Winter '07 batch.

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Photo of atsprings
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep opaque black with a decent tan head that diminishes to nothing. Aroma is dominated by roasted malts. The taste is roasted malts with nice espresso and slight bitter cocoa notes. The beer is very dry and smooth with very well hidden alcohol, the dryness almost reminds me of an Irish stout. This one is quite enjoyable.

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Photo of bboven
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep tarry black with khaki head with huge amounts of sticky lacing.

Smells like burnt chocolate. No alcohol detected, which is great for the ABV.

Tastes pretty good but it's a little sweet, like lactose was added. No alcohol detected again, which is great. That hits you when it gets to your stomach. Very sweet for the style at the beginning with big roast flavor halfway through. Finishes a little too bitter to the point of an unpleasant film at the back of your throat. Was expecting more.

Almost feels like it's bottle-conditioned, but pretty good. Could be a little mellower, but it doesn't detract any.

Pretty good, but I would probably pick a different brand over this one as I prefer my stouts more roasty and evenly bitter. This one went the other way, which is fine, but a little too sweet for me.

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Photo of tempest
3.05/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Right after the pour the aroma starts with rich espresso followed by fruity, floral hops. The first aftertaste, however, is a bit chalky. What's up with that? The aroma is interesting to say the least, with biscuit (and almost cracker-like) malts with smooth chocolate. The flavor, however, is harsh like there's too much black grains, without much substantial flavor. The bitterness is unmatched by any tasty malts, leaving it unbalanced.

In summary, aroma=good, taste=not good.

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Photo of erosier
3.4/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This is a bold beer if ever there was one. It pours black out of the bottle with a deep caramel colored head. It smells very earthy - deep rich malts and some hops mixed in with an almost chocolatey aroma. It has a strong earthy taste - very malty and some hints of hops, chocolate, and coffee flavor. A very bitter roasty aftertaste but alot of alcohol flavor. Good mouthfeel but very bitter. Due to the bitterness and the strong alcohol flavoring, it is not very drinkable, but it is really an interesting beer.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into my Chimay chalice

A: Black, black, black with a tan head that thins out. Mild carbonation.

S:Sweet chocolate, hazelnuts, molasses.

T: Chocolate that's thankfully not as sweet as the nose with a definite coffee presence. There's hints of burnt malts, figs and dates too. The finish is warming alcohol. Tasty!

M: Thick with the carbonation doing great things to the palate.

D: Yes, please. At 9%, this can creep up on you.

A beer that surprised me - their Imperial IPA was a bit of a let down but this one holds its own.

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Photo of Stimack
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Was able to try this brew on tap the other day while at Mahar’s. Very impressive looking brew, dark black color with a good sized, heavy head that was dark brown in color and had very good retention. It left heavy amount of lacing down the side of the glass. The aroma is a nice and has a number of things that are noticeable. Mix of roasted and slightly burnt malts with a slight chocolate scent. Also present and noticeable is a slight hop scent that IMO is in a nice balance with everything. Also an alcohol scent that come out more as the brew warms. The flavors are nice as well. Coffee comes out first, then a noticeable burnt charcoal flavor comes out which gives it a nice feel as it seems to give the brew a dryness. Chocolate flavors are there as well but to me they are in the background. At the tail end I do notice a nice hop flavor that brings things together nicely, I liked it because it was not over the top like some IS's. Also as this brew warms there is a nice alcohol feel to it that is nice and warming. Over all, and especially with the price, I feel that this is a excellent brew, a very good offering from Saranac, one that has character and is not just a basic brew in a specific beer style, like may of their beers.

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Photo of PBoegel
3.29/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Second in the High Peaks series, poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip pint glass.

Poured with a big frothy brown head, rich and thick on top of truly black body. Some slight hints of light but overall a dark brew.

Aroma was very roasty, some dark chocolate notes, very nice and reminiscent of a solid Extra Stout. Some notes of higher alcohols but not overbearing or unpleasant. Could use a little more hop in the nose.

Taste was much the same. Not unpleasant for an Imperial Stout but whereas many American versions lean toward either high ABV, extreme hoppiness, or some mixture of both that is built on a near cream body and a very high finishing gravity, this beer finished more like a traditional stout, dry and roasty. Although the alcohol flavor does poke through (interested to see how it subsides over time)

Nice big mouthfeel some grainy oat feel which is certainly appropriate and frankly welcome, too many American Imperial Stouts are either sweet and cloying or watery with a huge fusel alcohol kick.

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Photo of Minkybut
3.17/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I poured this beer into ny tumbler at 50 degrees. The beer was black as tar and I thought yummy. It was not even though the head was a nice brown color and pretty. It fell about halfway thhrough. Coffee to toffee taste was good but the aftertaste was like mtallic or something. Harsh aftertaste and to much alcohol burn. lacing was decent but overall I thought the beer was flayt and not very good. Not going to buy again.

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Photo of Kendo
4.07/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on October 2, 2007. Consumed on November 11, 2007.

A: Poured into a Spirit Haus pint glass. Body is dark brown/black with a chocolatey-brown big-bubbled but small (half-finger) head. Left decent lacing behind.

S: Roasted coffee mixed with sweet milk chocolate, and a waft of ethanol. I wrote "smells good."

T: Coffee-type flavors are most dominant: slightly burnt charcoal, roasted barley and coffee bitterness at the end of the sip, lingering well into the aftertaste. I think there's a good amount of hops in this beer balancing the malt. There's also a hint of dark chocolate and alcohol heat is noticed at the end of the sip.

M: Carbonation is lively -- perhaps a tad bit too much so. Body weight is medium, lighter than expected from appearances and the nose.

D: Good, especially if you're a coffee fan.

Notes: Paired well with a Nestle Dark Chocolate Truffle candy bar (50% cacao). I thought at times this was porter-like because of the presence of burnt charcoal. I'm interested in seeing how this ages; it seems a tad bit raw right now and may soften and become more chocolatey with some time in the cellar. Good buzz from one bottle.

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Photo of BeerSox
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into snifter

Perfectly black with a tin light brown head. The size of the snifter (8oz) doesn't allow a large head to build, though this is still somewhat thin.

Deep bitter malt aromas with a little bit of hoppiness in the background. A little bit of chocolate is found in the middle.

Plenty of burnt grain flavor to satisfy any fan of malty beers. Some bitter hops come in toward the end with almost a fruity taste. Full bodied with good carbonation. The finish is lingering bitter malts.

Not a bad "American Stout", although one could argue that this one is an Imperial Stout, or at least an American Double Stout. It's a little too malty, hoppy, and the %ABV is beyond the normal AS territory. Maybe it's a little below a RIS. Either way, it's an enjoyable stout. Recommended.

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Photo of WesWes
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a thick frothy brown head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich and warm malt scent that boasts of chocolate, patent, and roasted malts. It dry and roasted smelling with a decent hop presence and a bit of chocolate malt sweetness. The taste is good. It has a really smooth, malty flavor that's rich in pale and black malts. It goes down sweet and finishes dry and warm with loads of coffee like patent malt flavor. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is probably the best beer Saranac has ever made. It's not a cheap effort to capture the style. It's bold and flavorful; a damn fine imperial stout. Nice work guys!

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Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.43/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle

Pours an oil black with a dark cocoa head that thins. Decent lacing on the glass.

Aroma is sweet with roasted malt and burnt coffee smells. A light hint of cocoa and some herbal hops are also present. Boozy as it warms.

Sweet upfront, plenty of roasted malt and burnt coffee flavors. A big wave of IBUs set in with an herbal hop flavor to boot. Finishes sweet with a lingering bitterness. Becomes boozy as it warms.

Thick, stciky body. Solid carbonation.

A pretty big beer from Saranac, and it falls a little short for me. The rich body and sweet taste hinder the drinkability as does the ABV. Overall, a decent sipper and a decent choice for the price.

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Photo of caminiti
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Once again, Saranac has hit it right on with the second offering in the High Peaks series. Following one of the best IPAs, especially for the price, the Imperial Stout is again an outstanding offering.
Pours rich, with a slightly orange head, and an aroma of coffee and chocolate, as advertised, with a hint of hops that mirrors the taste, a chocolate stout with a hops aftertaste, a nice combo.
This is an exceptional offering, and Im sure that it will be even more impressive with age, and heres to looking forward to what Saranac comes out with next in this series.

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Photo of oberon
4.23/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

To me this is easily the best offering from Saranac my hat off to them for making this.Poured into a standard pint glass an opaque black no light showing through at all a 1/2 finger deep mocha colored head atop.Heavily roasted aromas with some rum sweetness and bitter chocolate some leafy hop is there as well wich is nice to find in an imperial stout.Complex would be a word I would use for this beer it has a true ;eafy/herbal hop presence to go along with big roasted and vanilla tinged rum qualites the alcohol as well as the leafy hop flavors become more pronounced as the beer warms.Wow a really nice impy stout to be had a great night capper and I love the hop profile!

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Photo of smcolw
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Impressive, lasting beige head that leaves a generous amount of lace. Too dark to allow light to penetrate--near black.

Surprising hop aromas--more bitterness than chocolatey smell.

Potent flavors of dark chocolate and strong hoppiness. Powerful mocha tastes. Near perfect body.

This is a very special beer. Delicious in every way.

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Photo of BBM
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured jet black into a flute glass, with a chunky brown head and sticky sweet lacing. The aroma was citrus hops, floral and earthy, with a bit of bitter chocolate. Very nice in both categories.

The flavor kind of surprised me, since I wasn't expecting such an influx of hop character in such a rich stout. There is a slight chocolate/coffee flavor up front, which is quickly overtaken by the noticeable hop presence. It was on the edge of being distracting, but thankfully it never got quite that far. As the beer warmed the flavors seemed to settle together better, creating a more complex experience. There is a slight alcohol warmth in the finish.

Overall this is probably the best Saranac brew I've had, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice hoppy stout. Those looking for a more classic RIS may want to look elsewhere though.

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Photo of Jp7010
4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Made a beer trade with a friend recently, whow as kind enough to throw in a bottle of this for free.

Poured thick, dark black into a nonic, with a half inch of milk chocolate head. I took a sniff and was greeted with a hefty aroma of rich roasted malts and chocolate. A slight hop aroma was also present. The brew itself tasted just like it smelled. Lots of roasted malts, with a chocolate undertone. There was a surprisingly strong hop bite at the end. It felt thick and heavy in my mouth, but still went down smooth. Perhaps a bit too smooth. Much like Saranac's Imperial IPA, when drinking this one, you have to keep in mind that it's at 9%, and will hurt if you try to turn it to a session beer. The High Peaks series has another hit, and I'm interested to see what the next one will be.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.4/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Nice jet black beer. Minimal toffee colored head which dissipates quickly.

S: Roasted coffee. Chocolate and some malt. Sine bu=nice earthy hop tones in the background.

T: Very well done. Nothing like getting a local brewery that gets something very right. Chocolate and malt dominate this one. Thee are some notes of hops at the end. No hint of the 9% which I shall pay for later.

M: Nice and rich. Creamy overall full bodies beer. Carbonation compliments the style.

D: Really good beer. Much better than their imperial IPA. At the price $7.99 for a six pack this is a tempting session beer but do not do it.. That 9% will crawl all over you. For the % however this is a very drinkable beer.

12-30-08 Update: Time has treated this beer extremely well. Everything just really mellowed out. Stellar.

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Photo of drseamus
4.11/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another beer in my continuing Imperial Stout kick. This one, just like many others, pours jet black with a thick mocha head. The head on this one fell slightly quicker than some others, but still looks great and never disappeared completely. The aroma is somewhat sweet with loads of roasted malt and coffee and some subtle caramel. The taste is very sweet caramelly and roasty, perhaps a bit too sweet for my taste but still damn good. I also don't taste any chocolate which is a bit of a let down. The mouthfeel is good and thick just like it should be. Over the past couple years Saranac had been a bit of a let down, but the new High Peak series are great beers that are bringing Saranac back to their A-game.

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Photo of jaxon53
3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served at about cellar temperature, in a pint glass, from a twelve ounce brown bottle. Poured a thick pitch black that no light could pass through. A somewhat vigorous pour yielded about a finger and a half of dense coffee brown head. Head faded rather quickly, but left behind some thick lace. A somewhat tame nose presented aromas of rich coffee, a touch of cocoa, and a little bit of wood. The smell had a bit of smoke in it as well. The taste was pretty interesting. Some coffee and chocolate stood out up front, with some nice hop and malt notes, with a bit of charred wood and some fruit. Finishes a bit bitter with a little booze. A bit too carbonated in my opinion. Mouthfeel seemed a bit thin and a little chalky. Decent drinkability. Not a bad beer at all, just a little dissapointing.

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Photo of BeerTruth
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a nonic.

Pours an onyx black with a huge three finger tan head that takes a while to die down. Stickiness remains on the sides all over the place, wow...go Saranac! First whiff of this one, big citrus hops which are then taken over by the chocolate and coffee malt odors. Other than Three Floyds Black Sun, this is by far the hoppiest smelling stout I've ever encountered, I love it. Taste starts off with a quick citrus bite but is soon taken over by a whole bunch of different malts and barley. Black chocolate, french roast coffee, espresso, roasted barley, and some wood flavors. A bit of alcohol is in the aftertaste, but it's not overpowering. This is by far the most flavorful Saranac brew to date. Mouthfeel is a bit rough and could be a bit smoother, but it's still damn impressive. Saranac does an amazing job hiding the 9% abv., I'm still blown away by this beer from Saranac. Easily the best beer that they offer. I can't wait for the third beer in the High Peaks Series. Keep up the good work!

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Saranac Imperial Stout from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.9 out of 5 based on 198 ratings.
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