Saranac Vanilla Stout | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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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

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Reviews: 171 | Ratings: 277
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.1/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Best by 3/31/12.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a 1/2 inch foamy tan head that settles to a film on the top of the beer. Foamy rings and dots of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, bread, and vanilla. Taste is of toasted/roasted malt, cocoa powder, and vanilla beans. There is a slightly bitter and acidic roast flavor that lingers on the palate after each sip. Not very good in this regard. This beer has a high level of carbonation with a very crisp and bubbly mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty average stout that suffers from the acidic aspect and too much carbonation.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.57/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured out as a dark looking blackish brown color with a tan colored head on top. The smell of the beer had a pretty big nose of vanilla with the dark roasted malts in the background. The taste of the beer was a little on the muted side, there was a decent amount of vanilla in there but it tasted a little bit artificial to me. The roasted malts weren't too bad and they helps balance the sweetness. The mouthfeel wasn't anything too crazy, it was rather generic if you ask me. Overall the nose of this beer is a really nice, the rest of it kind of leave the drinker hanging and waiting for more...

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.74/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The last one from the Saranac Winter sampler.

I loved this beer. This stout is scary drinkable with just a touch of vanilla so you know it's there but it isn't enough to drink like a vanilla soda. Is super smooth and the body is great. Low in ABV so it doesn't knock you down and could use more in smell but other than that it's a terrific beer.

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Photo of zeff80
3.83/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A - Poured out a jet black hue with hints of ruby. It had a foamy, bubbly, tan, one finger head that left thick sheets of sticky lace.

S - It smelled of strong vanilla aromas with a oaky quality. It had a roasted malt notes, too.

T - It really had a solid vanilla taste with roasted caramel malt. It had a nice bitter hop kick, too.

M - It was fairly crisp and sharp. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good stout. One of the better vanilla stouts around.

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Photo of chinchill
3.4/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a Unibroue snifter

A: pours clear, dark red-brown in color but ends up opaque and nearly black in the glass. The short off-white head had moderate retention and leaves little lacing on the glass.

S: The sweet aroma is of roasted malts, natural vanilla, toffee, and caramel. Some alcohol appears after warming.

T: The taste is malty with a pronounced vanilla flavor: A bit overdone IMO, but certainly not unpleasant. The result is a vanilla flavored milk stout. Hops are detectable, but too low to make this seem like a typical American stout. A bit too sweet and syrupy.

M: Smooth and creamy, with a near-medium body that is not as full as it ought to be. Low-medium carbonation. Finish is slightly dry and sticky.

O: If you like dark beers with a good bit of vanilla, this one's for you.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.63/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color with a short off-white head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of roasted malts, milk chocolate, caramel, vanilla and some hops.

T: The taste is malty and a little creamy with mildly sweet flavors of vanilla, caramel and milk chocolate. It's not intensely sweet like a lot of stouts and actually leans toward the side of not being quite sweet enough. The after-taste is slightly creamy.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, very mild kick, good representation of style, this is a decent beer that is worth drinking for a while if you're in the mood for the style.

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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 BuckeyeNation
3.58/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Reddish umber that appears opaque until bright sunlight is allowed entry. After a spirited pour, the upper half of the glass is filled with an attractive crown of pale caramel colored foam. Fine lace sticks to all available surfaces. A solid start.

As far as the aroma is concerned, the added vanilla strikes just the right chord. It doesn't smell artificial and it accents rather than dominates. A better smelling base stout would've helped.

Vanilla Stout is one of the better The Matt Brewing Company beers (why don't they change their name to Saranac Brewing Company and be done with it?). This limited release tastes like what it is: a low ABV dry stout with a shot of vanilla extract. Simple, but effective.

On second sip, it's roughly midway between a sweet stout and a dry one. The Willamette hops provide a surprising amount of flavor and a nice bitter nip on the finish. The contrast between malt sweetness and hop bitterness is the beer's best feature. Again, the vanilla is juuust right. At the risk of being overly generous, I've just given the drinkability score an upward nudge.

In spite of the brewery's claim of a 'full body', it isn't. It's no more than light-medium and has a flash of noticeable carbonation that could stand to be more completely buried. In the end, the mouthfeel is neither a positive nor a negative. It's merely average.

I've given up hope of ever being impressed when I crack open a TMBC brew. That said, this isn't a bad little vanilla stout. In fact, it's much more deserving of year-round status than most of Matt's year-round releases.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.8/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | 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

Poured a nice thick black with you nice nitro layering of the creamy caramel colored head. Lots of settling carbonation and great head retention made this one a keeper from the start. Smell was nice, caramel sugars, hints of roasted chocolate and a nice nutty presence filtered through. Very well rounded and fresh scent. The taste was right on board. Very creamy, and full flavored. Very nice smooth feel going down, awesome. Even better as it warmed! Main flavors were choclate and a nice caramel sweetness, but as it warmed, a tremendous hoopiness started to come though. Very nice dry bitter finish was wonderful. Piney aftertaste was the icing.

Overall this was a very nice stout and a great effort

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Photo of Jason
3.31/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz brown bottle no freshness date though it was part of their winter 12-pack 10'-11'.

Big sudsy topping, the head is a little lighter than anticipated. Dark brown color ... this beer is not black. Light aroma of vanilla beans, not much is the roasted or even malt department other than faint cocoa powder. Well rounded smoothness off of a dry-ish faintly roasted malt backbone. Very modest hopping here, vanilla flavor is not overwhelming and seems to compliment everywhere. Dry baker's chocolate finish.

A pretty good stout, I was hoping for a bit more body, roasted sweetness and perhaps even an elevated vanilla character though this beer stays a safer level which is fine.

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Photo of stakem
3.03/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a pub glass. Credit goes to Eric for talking me into splitting this variety case with him "because it was on sale." The brown bottle has no indication of freshness. As it is poured into my pub glass, it appears a streaming clear, light brown color. As it rests in my glass, it appears more of a dark brown with clarity around the edges. More than 2 fingers worth of dark brown head swells up composed of rather large bubbles. The head recedes leaving some froth and a webbing of lace all around the glassware.

The aroma of this brew is dark and roasty with a scent that primarily smells like black licorice coupled with tangy alcohol, leather and tobacco. There is a sweetness to the smell reminiscent of vanilla coupled with caramel or toffee. While the nose of this brew has quite a bit going on, it is disjointed and doesn't really blend together all that well.

The taste of this brew initially has a sweetness of vanilla that has quite a clinging power in the way it coats and stays inside the mouth. It quickly gives way to some tangy notes coupled with roasty grain bitterness, licorice, and citrus hops. There is a musty aspect and a flavor of stale cigarettes that lingers in the mouth long after each sip. Honestly, this beer is all over the place. As it warms, it picks up a mineral taste that is almost chlorinated coupled with a bit of a fruity sweet aspect. I just can't get into this brew no matter how hard I try to just roll with it.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. The alcohol is hidden quite well but I cant say that this experience was all that enjoyable or easy drinking. I probably wouldn't have this again if I was given a choice but it was worthy trying it once just to say I did.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.77/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appears an opaque black with ruby highlights around the edges when held up to the light. Head forms thick with a rising biscuit appearance, lacing is fine but even all around my imperial pint. Aroma has some pleasant vanilla extract it's not overpowering or alcholic in nature with coffee and dark chocolate tones as well. A dry powdered doughnut sweetness is there with a touch of herbal hop tones. Flavor is okay too much dry dark chocolate bitterness flowing around with watery coffee mix and semi burnt sugar glazed with vanilla extract, light on alcohol and herbal hops. Fuller bodied for a Saranac offering but for a stout it's a bit thin, carbonation is on and drinkability due to the nice abv brings on a level of sessionability. A solid offering that will keep stout fans excited it's still nice to see these big breweries pulling of craft styles especially beloved regionals like FX Matt and High Falls.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.87/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep cola brown color with a pale khaki head that sits low but hangs around.

S - Sweet mocha latte, toffee. Particularly nice as it warms.

T - Toffee, milky latte. Dark malts later in the profile. Roast, coal, coffee. Almost no hop character.

M - Smooth and round. Touch of dryness in the finish.

D - I found it fairly drinkable, I didn't think the deep roasted flavors were too overpowering.

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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 tdm168
3.29/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep black with a half inch of dense, brownish, foamy head that has great retention. The nose has notes of faint vanilla extract and mild roasted malts. Heavy vanilla dominates the flavor. It's creamy and has faint diacetylic notes. There are some roasted malts and coffee flavors as well that can be picked up in the finish. Overall, the flavor is very sweet and one dimensional. This is medium bodied, smooth beer.

This is an alright beer, but needs a little more balance. The vanilla is too intense and the roasted malts offer little balance. The sweetness takes away from the overall drinkability.

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Photo of jwc215
3.33/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Part of winter variety pack:

Pours black with ruby highlights. It has a light brown head that leaves frothy lacing.

The smell is of vanilla (extract) with chocolate (in an ice cream way) with some roasty notes. Further sniffs reveal some powder (cocoa-ish) and slight sourness.

The taste is coffee - roasty, but more towards burnt with a touch of sour. It is a bit acidic with a hint of vanilla. Sweetish turns to a dryish finish.

It is pretty light-bodied for a stout, more towards a thinner porter, but creamy - adding to drinkability.

This drinks well enough despite little detractors (slightly burnt, minor sour). There is a chocolate/coffee thing going on with a hint of vanilla. A nice enough effort, though just short of being "something better".

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Photo of ShanePB
3.7/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Winter 2011 bottle from a gifted "beer of the month" club. I was hoping for some sort of stout, and this was the one included. Poured into a snifter.

A: Dark brown, looks black in low light but certainly is not. A slightly off-white bubbly and creamy head sits atop. Very minor lace clings to the glass and the retention is okay; it dissipates somewhat quickly and leaves a thin ring around the edges.

S: Typical stout qualities, roasted dark malts, bitter bakers chocolate and ground coffee beans. Not overly roasted or bold, and the vanilla seems to be a bit of a stretch to find. If it wasn't labeled on the bottle, I could safely say you wouldn't be able to search it out. Extremely faint, but it's there if you look long enough.

T: More vanilla than the nose would let on. Not sweet or sugary but the vanilla is very nice, subtle and not overwhelming. Roasted chocolate malts, bitter coffee beans and a seemingly hop bitterness comes through in the linger. It's a nice flavor profile, very easy drinking and flavorful enough to not be boring.

M: Thin, quite active carbonation perhaps too much for a stout. Although, for a 4.8% ABV stout I can't see this being too detrimental to the beer. I would have preferred a fuller body but this makes this beer extremely easy to drink.

I have to be honest, this beer surprised me a lot. I normally don't really reach for any Saranac beers, and had I seen this one the shelf I would have probably passed, too. There's nothing wrong with this stout, it's flavorful and once again, very easy to drink. Personally, I would have preferred more vanilla flavor than there is, but this borders on the safer side without being overtly sweet or sickening.

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Photo of WesWes
3.65/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice roasted malt scent with subtle hints of vanilla and chocolate. The taste is decent. It has a very dry, roasted malt flavor with a stiff black malt backbone. It goes down easy and finishes slightly bitter with hints of vanilla. The mouthfeel is decent as well. It is a full bodied beer with good carbonation. This is an above average stout, but it's nothing to get excited about.

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Photo of tone77
3.31/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is mild, some vanilla. Taste is of roasted malts, some vanilla, finishing with bitterness. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and has average drinkability. Overall this is a pretty good beer.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark and semi-opaque brown. Off white head and some lace

Smells of vanilla and malty goodness

Tastes very hoppy at first, as it approaches serving temperature (cask would be ideal) the malt takes over and the vanilla taste comes out at the back end

Smooth and full bodied and smooth, with a mellow prickliness from the hop.

This is a very solid offering from Saranac.

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Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a black hue with a two finger creamy tan head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a moderate burnt grain with a clean dry vanilla aroma.

The taste consisted of clean roasted malts, some coffee and a subtle vanilla. Dry coffee and some sweet cream at the finish.

The mouthfeel was about average for the style.

Overall a tasty stout with a nice dryness.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.18/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

An opaque dark brown brew with more than a finger of fluffy off-white head. Retention is good and lacing is exceptional, very creamy and clinging in sheets to the sides of the glass.

Good but mild aroma; there's vanilla in there, mild roastiness, as well as a touch of coffee. Nothing too big but certainly smells appealing.

Flavor is...only okay, at best. There's a good dose of vanilla but it tastes very artificial, like a dose of vanilla extract dumped in the glass. Bitter roastiness and coffee flavors clash rather than hang together harmoniously. There's a funny aftertaste that's a little overly bitter, almost burnt, and faintly metallic. Some of the alcohol taste from the vanilla extract hangs around. Not terrible but not terribly tasty either.

The body is medium to thin, medium carbonation, feels a little too much like a soda. Not an awful beer but not one that I'd recommend.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.63/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a deep brown with a full creamy off white head leaving thick lace.

S: Lots of vanilla, creamed coffee, dark chocolate.

T: Vanilla and butterscotch upfront with some astringent coffee in the background. Bitter, but pleasing finish.

M: Light-bodied for the style, soft carbonation with a light crispness. Medium aftertaste.

O: On the nose it reminds me a lot of Breckenridge Vanilla Porter. Not as good as that beer, but a nice facsimile.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.41/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This was new to me. I have never had a vanilla stout before. This was sampled on Super Bowl Sunday 2009 from bottle no. 2698-1040.

Appearance - Very handsome. Dark brown, almost black, with about two inches of puffy beige head in the rounded pint glass. It settles after about 2 minutes.

Smell - Yup, there's vanilla in the scent along with chocolate and a note of hops.

Mouthfeel - Pretty average. Medium body. I was hoping for something creamier.

Taste - The flavor is overwhelmed by the vanilla bean but it's quickly followed by chocolate or cocoa and a hoppy finish. It is actually a rather interesting experience but nothing extraordinary.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.36/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle, part of Saranac's "12 Beers of Winter" sample pack. Served in a Sam Adams BL glass, the beer pours very dark brown/black with about an inch tan head. Lacing and head retention are both good. The aroma is roasted malt and chocolate with a little bit of vanilla. Aroma is on the weak side, but not bad. The taste is similar to the aroma, although there is some coffee I can taste and also a bit of a hoppy bitter finish. However, for a beer called a vanilla stout I expected more vanilla in both the aroma and taste. Mouthfeel/body is light/medium, seems a bit thin for a stout. Drinkability is OK, it's smooth and not hard to drink at all. Overall I think it's a decent enough beer, but as far as stouts go there are plenty I would choose before this one. However, it is worth a try as it's not bad.

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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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