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Saranac Vanilla Stout | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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171 Reviews
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Saranac Vanilla StoutSaranac Vanilla Stout

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

Style: American Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.80%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Brad007 on 10-18-2008

For Trade:
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Reviews: 171 | Ratings: 277
Photo of rawhydes1
1.17/5  rDev -65.6%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

This is the second time I have tried this beer. Both times, I made an attempt to drink this, to be polite to the host(s).

Last night, the host says "Is that beer OK? It doesn't look like you are enjoying it."

I couldn't control myself, and said "This is the worst beer I have ever had!" He then laughs, and says, "I hated it too, but I know you like stouts, so I thought maybe I was missing something."

This acrid, cloying, vanilla extract-tasting drool is HORRIBLE. It smells medicinal and fake, and tastes like a rancid Dr. Pepper.

I hate this beer.

Sorry Saranac, you make some decent beers, but I don't know how you let this one make it out of the brewery. You can do way better.

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Photo of DSmith24
1.77/5  rDev -47.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

"...tastes like burning."

~Ralph Wiggum

It tastes to me like what burnt tires and a dash of vanilla extract would taste like. I'm dissapointed because it looked really nice when pouring. Mouthfeel is very, very thin and just doesnt seem right for the style This one is destined to be pored down the drain unfortunately.

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Photo of righthereisay
2.01/5  rDev -40.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Was very dissastisfied with this beer. Very bitter. Not full flavored at all. No different than cheap imitations. Horrible purchase.

I purchased this because it was in a variety pack, and wanted to have some variety Christmas beers. I was going between some variety and Penn Dark. This was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

Will never buy Saranac again.

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Photo of ZeroSignal
2.22/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle

A - Pours a heavy dark brown with ruby hues. Good sized light tan head with decent retention and sticky lacing

S - This smells like pure vanilla extract. I can barely pick up scents of chocolate malt through it.

T&M - Medium to fuller bodied. Artificial, sickly sweet, artificial vanilla extract flavor. Combining the vanilla with the alcohol characters further takes me down the extract road. I took a sip of vanilla extract on a dare once...it was an awful experience. This is giving me flashbacks. Background flavors of chocolate malt, a little caramel, and maybe some coffee.

D - Not a big fan...it's a sipper due to the heavier vanilla flavors, but the artificial nature really got to me. It's not horrible, just not terribly enjoyable. I'm not likely to revisit this one.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
2.24/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Dark brown body with ruby highlights, topped by a medium beige three finger dentable head. Ok lace.

Very tepid woody aroma. Sniff hard to get anything.

Burnt coffee hits the tongue first. Earthy hops slide in from the sides, and finally the vanilla emerges post-swallow in the aftertaste. Three flavors, but not well integrated.

Mouthfeel too thin for a stout or porter, flows like a brown ale.

Not really offensive, but not an interesting or deeply desirable brew.

A disappointment, with or without the vanilla portion.

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Photo of ppoitras
2.44/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle purchased as part of the Saranac winter mixed 12-pack at Yankee Spirits, Sturbridge, MA.

Poured into a nonic, formed a 1" light brown head over the clear chestnut brew. Pillowy head dwindles gradually, with sticky lasting lace. Aroma is sickly sweet vanilla.

Taste starts with dark maltiness, cold stale coffee and tart artificiality in the middle, and an acrid bitter close, with wisps of vanilla. Mouthfeel is alright, and drinkability is average at best. The clunker in the mix pack for me.

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Photo of wrycon
2.48/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pretty dark, but light on the edges. Looks like a super dark brown ale. Nose is, well, vanilla, but with some coffee and chocolate mixed in. Smells sufficiently malty. Thicker than I thought it would be from the start. Starts malty but then shifts in an odd sour/sweet direction. Carbonation increases on the back end, as do the vanilla notes. The vanilla seems like an afterthought, more than the defining character.

Like it? Not So Much

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Photo of HappyHophead420
2.56/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

This is the second beer I've reviewed from this Saranac 12 Beers of Winter variety pack. I found this one far less impressive. Granted, this may be the first beer of this style that I can remember having, but I kind of expected more based on the quality of the rest of the offerings in the pack. This was actually my least favorite.

appearance: Probably Vanilla Stout's best feature, and that's not really a good thing. It looks like an attractive stout. A nice fluffy amber head gives way to a chocolate-y amber hue that just screams, "drink me!" Good lacing retention throughout.

smell: Overdose of vanilla and chocolate. Pretty intriguing at first, but it gets very old.

Taste: Much like the smell. I was ready to LOVE this beer after the first sip. Unfortunately, a cloying sweetness develops over time. It messes up the malty/hoppy balance I was craving and expecting after trying the other beers in this 12-pack.

Mouthfeel: Once again, this was pretty good at first. It kind of reminded me of Brooklyn Brewery's Chocolate Stout. It just felt like the more complex flavors became washed out after a while. Better than average but not great.

Drinkability: My least favorite feature of this beer is the incredible amount of stuff it feels like you're drinking for not that much flavor or alcohol content. I could handle maybe two of these, tops... and you're buying.

Overall, not a terrible beer but not one I'd buy a sixer of. Maybe I'm just not into vanilla stouts, or maybe this beer's just not that great, but it's definitely not one of my favorites. Still, worth a try, especially as part of the variety pack.

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Photo of sleazo
2.64/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A_Pours a very very dark brown bordering on black with a nice big foamy tan head. Decent retention with lots of bubbles throughout and nice lacing. Looking good.

S_Mild aroma, hints of chocolate malt and not much else.

T_Kind of like drinking a cola with some coffee flavour. Then at the end you get a blast of artificial vanilla. Not much more than that. Not awful but not good.

M_Fairly thin with an aggressive tight bubbled carbonation.

D_The artificial vanilla taste really screws things up. This is not a good beer.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
2.7/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Poured into a tulip (at home so my glassware is very limited).

4.0 A: Used motor oil color. Tan head with really wonderful lacing.

4.0 S: Dark chocolate foremost, surprisingly. Roasted malts, some coffee, and a hint of vanilla.

2.0 T: It sure is a weird brew. The vanilla doesn't work well, especially with the burnt taste that is so prevalent. A bit astringent to boot. Nice and bitter, but doesn't work well with the rest of the brew.

4.0 M: Really smooth, ultra creamy, very nice overall.

1.5 D: Since the taste is weird/sucks, this beer is not very drinkable even though the rest of it's attributes are pretty damn good.

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Photo of BigMike
2.71/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours an almost black color with a thin tan head. Not quite a finger.

S: Smells a lot like Guinness. It's light and toasty. The vanilla is way in the back. More chocolate then vanilla.

T: Very Guinness like. A very light stout with chocolate notes and an artificial vanilla flavor.

M: Watery. I guess at a light 4.8% it's to be expected. Carbonation is good. No creaminess and just below medium bodied.


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Photo of bsend
2.73/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Pouring this beer into the glass, you immediately notice this beer is dark. Pitch black stout. Definitely not a bad look at all. Bubble cling to the glass providing a break from the darkness. The head pours out a moderate consistency.

The beer smells of roasted malt and vanilla. The vanilla reminds me more of Vanillin (a pharmaceutical compunding product) rather than extract. A little too strong on vanilla smell.

The taste was less than adequate. We get roasted malt with a faint taste of vanilla that works against the beer rather than with it. Bitter, and unappealing at times, Saranac let me down here.

The mouthfeel was average for this style of beer. Slightly creamy, slightly watery, it provides adequate consistency.

Due to the overall average flavor, this beer does not have a strong drinkability. Though you could put multiples of these down, I am not sure why you would want to.

Final Thoughts - I got this beer in the winter mix pack. Definitely fine when there are only two of them in there. Other than the ability to try it, I would generally find better alternatives.

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Photo of bubseymour
2.76/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This is not one of the better Saranac's. My Vanilla Stout poured into a pint glass with a 1 finger lightly brown head. Decent appearance but a 2 finger head was what I was hoping for. The head retention was good though as the 1 finger stayed most of the way down. Nice lacing on the glass.
Smell - no real hop presence but a chocolately and malty smell like a porter.

The taste and drinkability were disappointing. It first sip it tastes like it smells...kind of malty and chocolaty. They out of no where comes a hoppy bitterness that lingers and lingers...and lingers. Very strange and the drastic contrast through each drink I don't care for at all. With the lingering bitterness, its hard to keep going back for more. I'm a huge supporter and fan of Saranac's but this one seemed to miss the boat for me.

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Photo of Arithmeticus
2.78/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured chilled in flared glass

A: purplish black; thin head; good carb action; good lacing
S: sweet vanilla, inviting
T: relatively plane, nondescript vanilla stout; not complex; light on the booze

Overall, not that great a version of the genre, but it's not offensive, either. (I consider this better than Breckenridge, because the flavor profile is more subtle.)

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Photo of jonB
2.83/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This one pours with a huge foam head and smells good and toasty with a hint of vanilla. The vanilla is more noticable in the taste, however it is an unwelcome addition to a stout. The body is surprisingly lacks density, but does have a good dry finish.

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Photo of johnnnniee
2.83/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The last variety from the winter 12 pack.
Pours a solid dark brown with garnet highlights when held to light, fluffy almost tan head displays moderate retention and leave lots of sticky lace in its wake. Slightly roasty with caramel and dark sugar in the aroma. Vanilla and a hint of butterscotch with little to no hop presence. Taste is heavy on the vanilla, but light on the stout. There's lots of caramel and butterscotch, but only a hint of roast. Little to no hop flavor. Medium body and carbonation with a sweet creamy mouthfeel. It looks like I saved the worst for last. Too much vanilla, too sweet, not enough roast, diacytl, one and done for this guy.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.86/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, near black body with a medium-sized, lightly frothy, khaki-colored head.

Smell: Roasted malt nose with notes of both sweet-scented caramel and baker's chocolate. Only a faint whiff of vanilla in the background.

Taste: Goes beyond roasted maltiness to deliver a charred, burnt taste. Watered down caramel and chocolate flavors with a brief sweetness. Earthy hops, along with all this unchecked roastiness impart a fair amount of overall bitterness. I gotta be honest, I never detect more than a teeny hint of vanilla. Char and ash in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Well, they certainly skimped on the vanilla and during the holidays, too. Pity. Another lackluster Saranac brew.

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Photo of PatrickJR
2.88/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from 12 oz bottle into nonic pint glass.

A - Very dark, borderline opaque black. Mocha-colored 2-finger head rises with decent retention and some lacing.

S - Initially there's a beautiful aroma of vanilla, but there's some strange stuff hiding in the background that doesn't quite mix well including anise, roasted barley, butter, and sour fruit. Though not particularly offensive on their own, everything combines with a strange metallic flavor to make for a somewhat off-balance aroma.

T - Dry burnt and chalky flavors are the first to hit, followed by a simple and brief whipser of vanilla. Mild bitterness accompanied by a dull metallic flavor finishes things off, with char and metal carrying into the aftertaste.

M - Medium bodied with moderate to high carbonation. I'm sure this almost inappropriate mouthfeel has something to do with the flavors being very strange and muted. After getting a lot of aromas in the nose, the thinness and abundance of carbonation muted a lot of this beer's potential.

D - This brew is teetering on the line of average and below-average. It hasn't been a chore to drink, but it isn't nearly as enjoyable as I'd hoped. With a little tweaking though, it could be one of Saranac's better beers.

It's also worth noting that I've been letting this beer warm a little as I've been tasting it...I think it's actually better cold. This brew has gotten drier and less vanilla-like as it warmed.

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Photo of dmamiano
2.88/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

dark brown on the pour, black almost with a nice, tan head. lacing abounds.
nose is a mix of chocolate and vanilla.Roasted malts also in the mix.
Taste is smoooth on the mouth. Nice feel, but the vanilla isnt working for me completely.
Seems a bit too artificial. Maybe I am just not fond of vanilla in a beer, but its missed something on me.

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Photo of BrewCrew2010
2.88/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a blackish-brown body with a creamy, moderately small, off-white head; no lacing.

S: Faint aroma of roasted chocolate malts with some notes of vanilla extract.

T: Flavors are very weak and absent in this American stout. Some upfront flavors are roasted malts with notes of coffee. It's followed by some cream and vanilla notes, but very deficient. Although not completely off, it has very forgettable characteristics.

M: Thin body; medium carbonation; lean texture although there is some creaminess to it.

O: Vanilla stouts can either be awesome or a dud. This isn't a bad beer, but it was definitely missing oomph. You can taste the effort, but it's definitely lacking. Very drinkable, but that's because it's sort of bland. I don't think I would rush out and get more only because there are better American stouts out there.

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Photo of Huffs
2.91/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured into a Sam Adams glass, nice full creamy head developed which lasted and had tremendous lacing which lasted through the beer. Appearance was dark deep brown. Aroma was caramel with a malty background and taste was malty with hints of vanilla, almost reminded me of a cream soda. Mouthfeel was more soda like, nothing like you would expect from a stout and aftertaste was dry and sweet.

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Photo of goblue3509
2.93/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a black color that is thick and not see through with a slight head that is slightly off white. The smell is of vanilla and chocolate malts, the smell is sweet and inviting. The taste is of vanilla and a slight chocolate malt, the taste is faint and slightly watery. The mouthfeel is very thin and slightly carbonated. The drinkability is good, nothing offensive about the beer, but the taste leaves a little to be desired, it is slightly watery and not thick enough for a stout.

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Photo of ATPete
2.93/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle

Pours a transparent deep red brown color with a monster light brown head that leaves some sticking. Mild nose of bitter chocolate malt and creamy vanilla extract. Wow, bitter stout, but not good bitter, off-bitter. The false vanilla flavor packs a wicked bitter blast initially, the roasted malts dont even have the opportunity to counter balance the assault. Grainy and light in body, i'll be a trooper through this glass but i wont have another any time soon.

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Photo of jsdunlop
2.93/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Jet black, 2 finger tan head that recedes to a thick layering on top. Vanilla, musty tobacco, chocolate and sweet and condensed milk make up the aroma. Taste consists of vanilla to start, followed by a nice roasted malt profile w/ hints of caramel and some coffee like bitterness, a decent hop presence as well with an overwhelmingly sweet aftertaste. Mouthfeel is thick, creamy like with perfect carbonation. Overall drinkability is average, definitely a solid stout profile, but a bit too much vanilla character for my taste buds and the sweetness seems to throw off the balance IMO.

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Photo of dogfishandi
2.98/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

drank this after bottling my homebrew IPA, and drinking a lot of IPA, so my palate was definately not in the right place, but i was pretty sure this wasnt going to be the best beer in the world, so i didnt really care. appearence is nice, completely opaque black with an abundant creamy tan head that stuck around for awhile. some nice lacing. the aroma was mostly of coffee and roasted malts, with some chocolate and not as much vanilla as expected, but i considered this a good thing because all the flavored saranac beers ive had were very artificial tasting. very light mouthfeel for a stout. too much carbonation. the taste was coffee, some raosted malts and hints of vanilla and chocolate in the finish. as this one warmed up, the vanilla was definately way more present both in the taste and aroma. it was a rather fake artificial tasting vanilla. i couldnt see myself drinking this again unless given too me, just lacks real flavor for a stout. i wouldnt reccomend this one, the light body and high carbonation really ruined it for me, also pretty watery.

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Saranac Vanilla Stout from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.4 out of 5 based on 277 ratings.
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