Saranac Imperial Stout | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Saranac Imperial StoutSaranac Imperial Stout
Very Good
198 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 198 |  Reviews: 152
Photo of KGarrett
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of e234ff
5/5  rDev +28.2%

Photo of DirtyPenny
2.2/5  rDev -43.6%
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.

 885 characters

Photo of rlee1390
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

 600 characters

Photo of cavedave
3.55/5  rDev -9%
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.

 1,107 characters

Photo of argock
3.27/5  rDev -16.2%
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.

 755 characters

Photo of CharlieMurphy
2.62/5  rDev -32.8%
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!

 629 characters

Photo of nhindian
3.03/5  rDev -22.3%
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.

 1,511 characters

Photo of CaptJackHarkness
2.57/5  rDev -34.1%
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!

 280 characters

Photo of harrymel
2.82/5  rDev -27.7%
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.

 465 characters

Photo of DmanGTR
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

 1,055 characters

Photo of Brenden
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%
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.

 1,341 characters

Photo of cbutova
3.11/5  rDev -20.3%
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.

 726 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

 1,619 characters

Photo of AnPiobaire
3.82/5  rDev -2.1%
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!!!

 698 characters

Photo of weller1js
4.22/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

 818 characters

Photo of josefnewsong
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

 290 characters

Photo of tbrown4
4.32/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

 873 characters

Photo of wcintula
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

 535 characters

Photo of iRoy
2.95/5  rDev -24.4%
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.

 362 characters

Photo of Gavage
3.31/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

 511 characters

Photo of gabedivision
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz'er to a Sam Adams Imperial snifter.

A- Nice dark black with a fluffy well carbonated head. Cant see in, cant see out.

S- Faint alcohol, roasted malts, sweet chocolate and caramel and a light smokey scent.

T- Smokey roasted flavors, the chocolate and caramel that was so good in the smell tend to get lost every other sip, high alcohol on the finish.

M- Well bodied and hearty with sweetness that stays on the tongue.

D- Highly drinkable, and very inexpensive. Great choice will absolutely have again.

 525 characters

Photo of Chickenhawk9932
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a thick coffee colored head that hangs around.

Smells of caramel, malt, coffee, chocolate, and bitter spice.

Slightly sweet up front with caramel notes, followed by a full coffee taste, then bitterness pounds the back of the mouth - finishing dry with bitter chocolate notes; An excellent Imperial Stout.

 323 characters

Photo of grover37
3.42/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance (4): Dark black with dark brown around the edges. A finger of light brown head reduces to a thin layer with some bigger bubbles. Sporadic spots of lacing.

Smell (4.5): Dark chocolate, char, and heavily roasted barley. Some booziness is apparent.

Taste (3.5): A bit watery up front with strong flavors of dark chocolate and roasted barley. Then a bit of sweet chocolate and tobacco and pine in the finish. Although it's a bit thin at first, the flavors are good but the charred flavor is a bit too strong in my opinion.

Mouthfeel (3): Medium to full bodied with medium carbonation which is a bit high. Creamy and coating with chocolate, charred malt, and pine.

Drinkability (2): The flavors are really big - almost too big - for 9% ABV. It's got some solid flavors for an RIS but it seems like something is off - I think it's just the overly strong char flavor. This would probably be a lot better with 6-12 months once that char character mellows.

 966 characters

Photo of mmmbeer
3.36/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, brewed to 23 Plato with eleven malts, including two-row, chocolate and roast; hopped to 50 IBUs with Columbus and Summit, and dry-hopped afterward. Pours thick black, with a dark khaki collar that leaves a just a trace of lacing. Aroma consists of roasty coffee, vinous malts and a bit of hops. On the palate, the malts contribute dark fruits, coffee, roast, char and a hint of acidity, while the green hops lend a mild, bitter linger. The body is medium and coarse, a bit bubbly, and eventually smooths out. Fairly easy to drink despite the higher ABV, but it could benefit from some age to even out the rough edges.

 632 characters

Saranac Imperial Stout from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 3.9 out of 5 with 198 ratings