Saranac Irish Red Ale | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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Saranac Irish Red AleSaranac Irish Red Ale

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

Style: Irish Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-19-2008

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Reviews: 169 | Ratings: 316
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.36/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Best by 6/30/16.

Pours a clear dark reddish-orange with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, nut, and caramel aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, nut, caramel, and fruit flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is an above average beer that is drinkable, but the smell on this one is slightly better to me.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured out with a nice looking red color with a light cream colored head on top that fizzled away quickly. The smell of the beer was malty, had some light grainy aromas and some hops also. The taste of the beer had a pretty good balance of sweet and bitter to it. The mouthfeel was drinkable and went down pretty easily. Overall this brew wasn't too bad. I wouldn't say I'd buy a case but if it was offered to me I'd drink it again for sure.

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Photo of metter98
3.43/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: The beer is clear reddish amber in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a thin but dense off white head that died down but never completely faded away, leaving a coating of bubbles down the sides of the glass.
S: There are light aromas of caramel and toasted malts in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of toasted malts with notes of black tea leaves along with the slightest hint of bitterness.
M: It feels light-bodied and somewhat smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very easy to drink and an average representation of the style.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.58/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Got try this as a part of the new "What Ales you?" mixed 12 pack.

Pours a nice mahogany color with a good amount of head and tons of effervescence. Smell is nutty with a touch of caramel notes in there. Taste is very smooth and has a creamy mouthfeel to it. Has a nice body, some nice bready and caramel tastes in there. Finishes clean and is very drinkable. While not spectactular, this Irish Red is well above average.. another solid addition to the Saranac line up.

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Photo of zeff80
3.45/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a clear, reddish burgundy color with a small, tan head of foam. It left minimal trails of lace.

S - It smelled malty and sweet with floral notes.

T - It tasted malty and fairly spicy with a sweet caramel backbone.

M - It was crisp and fairly smooth. A light bodied ale with a somewhat dry finish.

O - This is a pretty nice Irish-style red ale. It would make a nice session ale.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.92/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear, crimson-chestnut body beneath a creamy head of bone white. Average retention and lacing.
Aroma: Clean and fresh. Yeasty fruitiness combines with caramelish malt that has a slightly roasty edge.
Taste: A moderate bitterness lets the maltiness shine. It's caramelish (medium to medium-dark) with a hint of brown sugar and a dollop of berry & apple-like juicy fruitiness. Some minor, leafy and subtly grassy (and almost mint-accented) hops add a bit of character. The finish is fairly short and dry.
Mouthfeel: Basic. Medium to medium-light in body with a standard carbonation level of around 2.5 volumes CO2/liter.
Drinkability: Pretty damned good. It's mainstream, but it still has some nice malt and hop character; and it's really nicely rounded and balanced. It's not the best Irish amber I've ever had, but it certainly hits the mark for the style. Surprisingly good. A great backyard BBQ beer!

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Photo of chinchill
3.75/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served in a snifter

Pours a clear, reddish mahogany, with a skimpy and short-lived off-white head.

Has a pleasant if rather light and unremarkable aroma of medium roasted malts. The flavor is much better and richer than this nose leads one to expect. There's an above average strength and quality of malt flavor, with a nice touch of spicy hops and hints of toffee and caramel. Fairly even sweet/bitter balance.

M: a bit light; even a touch watery, but with some crispness from the carbonation (and hops?) and a really nice dryness that starts even before the finish.

O: A pleasant surprise. Easy to recommend, particularly as a rather inexpensive brew.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a bright coppery color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, tea and touches of fruit and hops.

T: The taste is malty with mildly sweet flavors of caramel and some fruit. The hops presence is decent for the style and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, might not be the best Irish Red out there but it's a solid beer that is worth drinking for an evening.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.98/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Irish flag orange, which is a much more common red ale color than red. Nearly two fingers of toasted tan foam looks pretty good at first and melts in fine fashion. Glass coverage isn't outstanding, but it's serviceable.

The nose isn't powerful enough. Just a bit of earthy malt with meager caramel character. Unfortunately, head descent and warming don't add power or personality.

Irish Red Ale is pretty much as expected given most of my previous experiences with The Matt Brewing Company. In other words, it's a dumbed-down version of the style. On the other hand, an ABV of only 4.5% doesn't lend itself to massively malty mouthfilling magnificence.

Flavors include watery caramel, mushy apples, tea leaves, and a mild spiciness that must be coming from the Vanguard hops (developed from Hallertau). Maybe it's my big beer bias talking, but IRAs need to be at least 6.0% (and packed with malt) to deliver the goods.

The mouthfeel is thin and the bubbles are lightly tongue tingly. The first was a foregone conclusion and the second is more tolerable in the bottom half of the bottle than the top half.

Saranac Irish Red Ale fits into the TMBC lineup pretty much where I though it would. For those upstate New Yorkers looking to drink locally and save a few bucks, have at it. For anyone looking for an enjoyable Irish red... keep looking.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.77/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | 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

This was a nice little session red that I enjoyed tremendously. Nice light amber pours with a huge head of white that came up a full three fingers in height. Smooth settling left a good bit of side glass lace and a nice and even coating across the top of the glass. Interesting aroma as it started out with a nice and well rounded bready malt that seemed to slowly evolve into a grassy, herbal hop profile with a bit of a kick from the caramel. Did not seem to have a clear direction, but the taste made up for it nicely. Very smooth, nice caramel and malty tones that won me over with ease. Smooth even flavor, crisp, clean and well balanced. Smooth notes of grassy bittering hops coming in at the finish gave it a nice little drying effect and warmed it up. Very drinkable as it went down smooth and left me looking for more right away.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.75/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Pours a clear bright burnt umber with a half-finger of ecru head that diminishes quickly and leaves a miniscule amount of transitory lacing behind. The smell is of figs, dark malts, molasses, brown sugar, and citrus. The taste emphasizes the sweet malts and adds a bite of spice and a healthy but not overwhelming dose of hoppy pine and bitterness. The body is a solid moderate and runs smoothly over the tongue, but the high carbonation detracts slightly. Overall, a tasty and drinkable brew indeed.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.99/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another nice hook-up from local trader, tone 77, who keeps me in bottles so that I don't get CANQuested (TM) away.

From the bottle: "Did you know that Irish Reds get their deep garnet color from generous amounts of Crystal Malts? Carefully selected batches of 2-row malts are specially kilned to develop their sugars and then roasted to produce the wonderful caramel and toffee notes that accompany the rich color. You'll find the complexity and drinkability of Saranac Irish Red Ale to be second to none. Enjoy!"

My pour left me with two dense fingers of tawny head with decent retention. Color was a deep coppery-red (with NE-quality clarity) that makes me think of former G/Fs and women with that natural hair color that speaks to the reptilian/neanderthal part of my brain. Goo. Bup. Nose was much hoppier than I anticipated and now I cannot tell you whether that is good or bad. I like hops, sure, but necessarily in my IPAs. Mouthfeel was full and creamy and I got hops initially on the tongue, but quickly followed by a biscuit maltiness. Finish was more malty than hoppy, so it all worked out in the end.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.35/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Kinda like training wheels in craft brew, Saranac is great for getting beer drinkers ready for more complex and diverse beer styles. However they tend to keep it pretty safe, which isn't a bad thing. Appears a traditional deep caramel red hue with light beige head forming nicely above the rim of the glass. The head retention is decent and comes complete with minimal scattered lacing. Smell of this brew carries mild metallic qualities witha mineral water like quality. The cereal grains amongst the party carries caramel and biscuity wheaties notes with a touch of herbal hop in the finish. Flavor is mild slightly tart and metallic with a touch of acidity amongs a sweet rolling malt profile. Mouthfeel is light bodied a tad heavier than most michelob "craft" styles. Drinkability overall is solid something I would buy due to affordability and quaffabillity definitely falls in the session beer category all adorned with an Irish flag on the six pack holder.

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Photo of tdm168
3.58/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pale amber with a reddish hue. There's a 1/4" of foamy head. Good retention. The nose has notes of caramel malt and a diacetylic creaminess. The taste is much the same; creamy, caramel, smooth. The mouthfeel is smooth, light, and mildly carbonated.

Not bad. Overall, well rounded and smooth. Not a bad take on the style.

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Photo of jwc215
3.1/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours reddish copper with a head that soon disappears. Virtually no lacing sticks.

The smell is of light caramel, some grainy notes and a hint of toast.

The taste is of light caramel - a hint towards light toffee, with an earthy, slightly toasty, thin finish.


Easy enough to drink. Sweet touch, but not too sweet. A thin, mild interpretation of the style.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.15/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer is a clear, light, copper-auburn coloring with a filmy coating of off-white head clinging to the surface. Aromas of roasty caramel and toffee malts that are rich, but balanced. Flavors are smokey and roasted initially, with a sweet, rich caramel backbone that is both tangy and slightly bitter. Sweet, buttery and caramel tangy aftertaste that leads to a slick, sweet, and slightly cloying finish. Not bad for the style, but overly sweet for my tastes. A bit more balance would make this one a great go-to for an Irish Red.

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Photo of Gavage
3.47/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: pours a copper color with a 1/2" head that breaks down quickly.

Smell: a light malt aroma is all you can detect here.

Taste:light caramel flavor with some red apple sweetness and a mild bitterness.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer. Crisp to start, less crisp towards the finish. Short lasting aftertaste. Refreshing.

Overall: a mild flavored beer where several can be easily consumed in a session.

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Photo of tempest
3.72/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Clark's Ale House in Syracuse. Appears a clear orange in my pint glass with an off white head that quickly disappears. This beer is not big on aroma or flavor, but I could drink the hell out of it. All of a sudden I looked down and my glass was half empty. Now I wouldn't call it bland, the flavors are just more subtle than most craft beers. There's a mellow caramel and white bread taste with a hint of spicy hops at the end. I guess this is more a local competitor to Killians - I pick this every time.

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Photo of tone77
3.63/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a amberish brown color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is a bit on the malty side. Taste is malty, a touch of caramel, just a bit of hops are present. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a good quality beer.

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Photo of WesWes
3.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a nice amber color with a 1/4" offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a dry, roasted scent that boasts of pale and roasted malts. There is a mild hop bitterness as well. The taste is decent as well. It has a dry, crisp flavor that boasts of pale and roasted malts. It's pretty straight forward with a touch of hop bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is decent also. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This is an easy drinker that pretty close in style. That said, it's not a very interesting beer, but nothing Saranac brews is.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.65/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours an amber brown in color with nice clarity and decent head retention.

Aroma is of toffee like caramel malts. Taste follows suit with a rich nutty malt character with a slight caramel sweetness. Earthy hop balances everything out.

The Saranac Irish Red Ale has a semi-dry moreish finish.

A beer of ideal strength for sessions. Has enough flavor to keep it interesting and is certainly very forward in the malt dept.

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Photo of plaid75
3.33/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a medium amber hue with a one and a half finger foamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured some caramel malts, a touch of smokiness and some metal.

The taste consisted of an earthy malt with a slight smokiness and herbal hop.

The mouthfeel was typical of the style.

Overall a decent ale.

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Photo of biegaman
3.33/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Saranac Irish Red has very little red colour to it, and it's only present when you hold the beer right up into the light. 'Saranac Irish Orange with a Concentration of Amber' would have arguably been just as accurate, if the name referred to colour and not to style of course. Some head can be found on top but it's nothing close to substantial.

Metallic, artificial and cloying are not the words you want coming to mind when you drink any beer. This smell of corn syrup and cheap malt extract should not be appealing to anyone. I'll be keeping my nose out of the glass. Is this a welcome to adjunct central?

Apparently with the flavour we depart 'adjunct central', but we end up in 'cheap malt extract west', which I suppose is somewhere in the suburbs? The grainy taste of wet, unmalted barley can't stand up to the cloying taste of corn syrup and stale adjuncts; I don't really want to taste either anyhow. I might of said a hint of dark fruit but that's really reaching.

Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of the style but I can appreciate every and any kind of beer given a well crafted sample (which come to think of it, for this style I've had only one - Three Floyd's Brian Boru). Thing is, I could drink this - I just wouldn't really want to, but if offered I wouldn't necessarily decline. Let's make that distinction clear: some (I find a lot) of macro breweries produce beers I can't drink. This isn't anywhere near that bad.

I may have been a little overly harsh with my review, but the fact remains: there was nothing for me here. Most underwhelming micro breweries, including this one, make beers that are definitely drinkable, beers that I probably would have enjoyed a few years ago. As things stand now, however, I'll probably pass.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.15/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From a 12 fl. oz. bottle no. 4122274000716. Sampled on March 14, 2009.

The appearance is a translucent deep ruby red with virtually no head. Malts are the key aspet of the aroma followed by something sweet. Medium mouthfeel. The malts were not as evident in the flavor as that of an overripe fruit, weak hops and a dry finish. Adequate.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.41/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a four finger cream head that fades fairly quickly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Clear garnet color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Slight malty nose. Flavor is light caramel with the hops balancing. $1.55 for a 12oz bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

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Saranac Irish Red Ale from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.39 out of 5 based on 316 ratings.
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