Saranac Vanilla Stout | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

BA SCORE
78
okay
277 Ratings
THE BROS
76
okay
Read the review
Saranac Vanilla StoutSaranac Vanilla Stout
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
277
Reviews:
171
Avg:
3.4
pDev:
15%
 
 
Wants:
12
Gots:
11
For Trade:
0
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 277 |  Reviews: 171
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.

 474 characters

Photo of yelterdow
3.14/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Suzin and Dave for contributing a mixed twelve pack of Saranac beers for the par-tay. I'll drink this from a tasting tulip at cellar temperature and report back shortly...

Appearance- Great pour... a four finger light tan head rockets to the top of my glass, resting comfortably over the medium brown liquid below. The lacing is completely solid and clingy, it's outstanding!

Smell- Mellow, sweet roasted malt along with a suggestion of vanilla beans. Dark chocolate and coffee is buried in there as well... laid back.

Taste- A reserved, easy integration of roasted malts that defer to mellow vanilla tones, then finally a lingering yet enjoyable hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Active and quick, the carbonation is right for a stout... the flavors are brought out, albeit not very complex. It's an easy beer without question, it just doesn't have that edge that would ever make me want to revisit this.

 926 characters

Photo of tpd975
3.53/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BeerTruth for adding this one as an extra.

A: Pours a deep dark matte black hue with a tall soapy head. The retention is great with huge chunky sheets of lace left in its wake.

S: Bold roasted malt aromas with hints of chocolate, coffee, and imitation vanilla.

T: Wow this is different. Very harsh charred malt right from the start. Lite bitter chocolate can be detected along with a fake vanilla like flavor. Hints of green hops can be picked up in the finish. The bitter of the charred malt really lingers between the sips.

M: On the thin side, but carbonation is spot on.

D: Not too bad. To be honest I would like the beer quite a bit without the vanilla. The vanilla is very fake tasting. I like the bold bitter base stout though. Overall not bad at the price point that Saranac puts their beers out at.

 822 characters

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.

 629 characters

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.

 815 characters

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.

 361 characters

Photo of smedley
3.85/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured black with a mocha colored head, larger-sized bubbles. Nice lacing.

S - Coffee, chocolate, malts, a touch of vanilla

T - Roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee. Was really hoping to taste that vanilla, but I'm not sure that I do.

M - I prefer my stouts to be a bit thicker. This is a little thin for my taste, given the style. Medium carbonation.

D - Not bad. The thinness probably makes this a little easier to drink. Not a bad brew.

 448 characters

Photo of scoobybrew
3.46/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This was poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

A - dark, nearly opaque with amber highlights and a thick tan head that is well retained

S - vanilla-like scent noticed with a touch of dark roasted grain

T - dark roasted grains with a slightly burnt character usually found in porters, some vanilla comes through, but very strong; some hops are noticed but very faint in comparison to the roasted malt

M - medium body, moderate carbonation

D - This is a decent vanilla porter. I don't think I'd want another one though. Some of the burnt malt character makes it a bit astringent. FX Matt makes so many other beers that are superior. I must say though, the appearance on this one was quite good.

 701 characters

Photo of Gambrinus1184
3.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into an Otter Creek pint glass.

A: Pours nearly opaque black with slight ruby highlights when light is shone through it. A slightly sticky yet disappointing head of foam leaves a little lacing.

S: Smells sweet and malty, but the aromas are faint. Some artifical cocoa and vanilla extract can be detected.

T: Taste is smooth and a little bittersweet with a sturdy roasted malt backbone, but the rest leaves a bit to be desired. There's a little flash of hop spiciness among the roasted cocoa and charred flavor of the stout, but the finish reflects the only remote flavor of vanilla, and it's fairly weak at that.

M: A medium bodied brew with bold flavors and a decent roasted bitter finish. Fake vanilla adds a little funky aftertaste.

D: A pretty average stout which was attempting to be more interesting with the promise of vanilla than it actually was. Sessionable ABV, decent flavors, but a bit of a letdown overall.

I don't know why I was expecting more from this Saranac stout; maybe it was the Christmas cheer in the air. Oh well, not a bad stout, but there are far better out there year round, let alone among winter varietals.

 1,171 characters

Photo of animal69
3.8/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours a dark reddish brown w/ a thin tan head which dissipates quickly leaving little lacing in my nonic ; a smoky, slightly vinous aroma laden w/ vanilla, not quite as strong as i had anticipated ; flavor is a dark toasted grain and more vanilla, a slightly bitter finish prob. attributed to the roasted barley, nice blend of flavors in this one ; a slightly dry, light bodied brew w/ average carbonation ; a very drinkable brew, i wish they had this in sixers...

 464 characters

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

Saranac Vanilla Stout
12 oz brown bottle
Served in a 20 oz tulip pint glass

* Christmas Day 2008 *

Pours a deep dark brown, almost black in appearance. A frothy and foamy head forms. The head leaves great trails of sticky lacings on the side of glassware. A good looking beer.

Pleasant aroma of milk chocolate, dairy and malts.

A nice roasted malt flavor provides the backbone with hints of caramel & chocolate malts. The mouthfeel somewhat thin for this style of beer. I like my stouts a little bit more chewy. A touch of dark chocolate with hints of vanilla round this beer out. There is also a nice hop snap on the finish. A tad sugary too, perhaps a sugar cookie dipped in espresso flavors.

Overall, a pretty solid stout offering from Saranac.

 754 characters

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.

 1,582 characters

Photo of dananabanana
3.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours dark brown, nearly black. Medium brown visible in the bottom, when held up to the light. Slight head, whitish tan. Strong, speckled lacing.

S: Very sweet, vanilla, cream, bready. Overall, a very pleasant smell.

T: First sip has a slight tang. Aftertaste is surprisingly burnt and bitter. Sort of a caramel chocolate flavor, but nothing spectacular. About halfway through, a very nice creaminess develops. The taste really improves the more you drink, although that burnt aftertaste never goes away.

M: Maybe over-carbonated? Nice and crisp.

D: A very solid beer. Definitely good for desserts. I wouldn't have more than one, though, due to the bitterness.

 667 characters

Photo of CloudStrife
3.68/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into glass. Very dark black color with foamy brownish head. Only a slight amount of light gets through the beer. Head turns rockier as it slowly dissipates. Cannot pick up much aroma besides the hints of vanilla. Also hints of malts. Good taste, strong chocolate malts present, caramel tastes also. Of course vanilla. Not much carbonation, full body. Overall a great new beer from Saranac, has some room to improve but still something to sit back in the winter and enjoy.

 490 characters

Photo of Vendetta
3.53/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice pour of thick black with a foamy head that accumulates quickly, a bit doughy. Strong malt lacing down the glass as the beer disappears into my gut.

Some roasted malt aroma emanating off of the beer.

Strong presence of vanilla bean in the beer. Not as much roasted character as the scent would indicate. Lots of vanilla punch in here. This is some quality stuff.

Mouth feel is superbly creamy vanilla, very thick, very full-bodied.

Despite being a stout, this is very drinkable without being watery. The lack of an astringent alcohol note is very nice as well. This is a must-try.

 588 characters

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.51/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle. Pours black with a thick, foamy tan head that leaves nice lacing on the glass. Aroma of sweet roasted malt. Flavor of roasted malt, slight coffee rinds, some sweet vanilla notes, wood, and bitterness in the finish. Not too bad actually.
Aroma: 6/10
Appearance: 4/5
Flavor: 7/10
Palate: 4/5
Overall: 14/20
3.5/5

 318 characters

Photo of yesyouam
4.16/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Saranac Vanilla Stout is a dark, reddish brown ale with a pink-beige head that's thick, lumpy, fluffy and rainbow bubbly. It has excellent retention and lacing. There is dark roast in the aroma and it's slightly sweet, like caramel. It's a little muted, but it smells like a candy bar. It has a medium body that's reasonably smooth with a clean finish. There is nice balance of flavor. It's milky, with a nice bitterness. It is slightly sweet with notes of vanilla, chocolate, caramel and toffee. Great joerb!
(rated Nov 28, 2008)

 530 characters

Photo of kkosmoski
4.03/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Longneck poured into a Harpoon Munich Dark glass. Big, tightly-packed light tan head atop a ruby-tinged black liquid. Large dimples form as the head settles down with excellent stick and retention. Roasty aroma with a touch of vanilla. Clean malt profile to start with a bit of vanilla sweetness. Hops join in just to balance, and the beer ends with a dry, almost acrid roasty malt character. Feel is medium-light and dry with lively carbonation. Coffee drinkers will find this beer pleasing and easy to drink. This beer came off as very Dry Irish in character to me with a hint of vanilla to it. I was expecting a much heavier feel and more pronounced vanilla flavor. Overall, a nice stout and welcome addition to the winter 12-pack.

 734 characters

Photo of daliandragon
3.95/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The last from the 12 Beers of Winter mixed pack, which this year includes 6 new styles, 2 bottles of each as opposed to the 12 established styles it has featured in the past. This vanilla stout pours almost completely black with a tiny sliver of brown underneath. The head is thick and dark and impressive and leaves sheets of lacing as the head retreats. The nose provides the promised vanilla along with caramel, coffee, and roasted malt.

The heavy roasted malt flavors rule the taste here from beginning to end, seeming very reminiscent of an Irish stout with hints of oatmeal. There is caramel and a touch of coffee in the aftertaste. The texture could stand some thickening. Overall, this is drinkable and fine but not quite a top notch stout.

 750 characters

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.

 467 characters

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

A - Pours a deep almost black color with a small tan head that ended with just being a layer of fine bubbles that left plenty of lacing.

S - aromas of some roasted barley and a hint of chocolate maybe

T - hints of chocolate and roasted barley, there is a bitter finish to it like baking chocolate

M/D - very creamy feel to it, and a bitter ending leaves me with not really liking this one a whole lot. I guess I was expecting more vanilla but I don't I would have liked it either if it did have it.

 501 characters

Photo of TheFightfan1
4.07/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured out of a bottle into a pint glass.A very thick creamy head with nice lacing. Deep black color non-translucent.Tastes of caramel hardly any vanilla as it suggests.A good mouthful and goes down very smooth. I would say good not a must try but definitely if your in the mood for a stout.

 291 characters

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.

 757 characters

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.

 342 characters

Photo of thespaceman
4.17/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had another bottle of this tonight after I forgot about it sitting in my cellar, and it appears this one got stronger? I definetley don't remember the dark roasty ester taste in the finish, but now that I'm having it again it is such an inviting, warming brew. This one is probably the favorite out of the Saranac Winter pack, a good blend of vanilla without going out of control, and now that it taste a tad stronger it's a bigger winner in my book. An excellent job from Matt Brewing.

 486 characters

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.