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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 droomyster
3.56/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours an almost black body with dark brown edges, topped by a sticky tan head with good retention. Aromas are very literal on the vanilla, smelling like a bottle of extract waved right under the nose, with just a hint of something roasty. Taste is considerably roastier and closer to approximating the typical stout profile, with a considerably strong vanilla character throughout and lot of toffee notes on the finish. The body is disappointingly thin, but this is a not a bad beer overall.

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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 rodney45
3.27/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark hazy crimson.

S: Vanilla aroma, backed up with a roasted barley thickness. Crystal and chocolate malts also break through.

T: Vanilla is an overwhelming first note that carries through and obscures some ofthe more subtle flavors like plum and walnut. Slightly bitter for a stout which hides its more subtle malt character, but caramel and chocolate notes come through.

M: Light carbonation, low abv, and very drinkable. Sessionable even.

O: Good example of the flavored stout style.

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Photo of thebrood1987
3.4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I smell vanilla beans maybe with a hint of chocolate malt. It smells pretty sweet really. Its just a cloying sweet vanilla bean with a bitterness that isnt too pleasant. The vanilla tastes kind of fake as well. An extract if you wil

Vanilla is a bit weird in a beer and it tries hard to be a good beer because the hops and bitter chocolate seem to try and balance it out. Its kinda hard just to drink the whole thing nevermind more than one.

It definitely doesn't lack in taste it might be a bit watery but the flavors of chocolate and vanilla dominate enough to let you know this is a stout of some sort. I love vanilla but it doesn't seem to work in this beer...too cloying and seems artificial.

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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 Tschnab
3.82/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- the color is not quite black more of a very dark brown, topped by a light brown head.

S- light vanilla, wood, roasted quality, coffee grounds, char.

T- pretty much the same as the nose. the vanilla barely creeps through, I would like more, although the level of sweetness is just right. A little bit of chocolate can be found here. The coffee really is a coffee ground type aroma/flavor.

O- A really solid stout good for the winter as the label portrays. More vanilla would be nice, still I enjoyed it quite a bit.

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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 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 GreenJetta912
3.83/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Oringinally, I thought this beer was black, but I was mistaken! I have seen some beers that were blacker but they looked like motor oil. This beer is in fact, dark brown. I'm really starting to appreciate stouts much more than I used to and this one is pretty damn good.

The smell is typical of a stout. If the bottle didn't say vanilla, you might not notice it in the smell. It's barely there.

As you sip this beer a few times the flavor really sets in. Up front is the vanilla and the dry character of roasted malts is felt in the back of your mouth and leaves your throat slightly dry.

Great roastyness and good balance between roastyness and vanilla. It's a stout, and its good they didn't go overboard with vanilla because a stout is not supposed to taste sweet like a cappacino. This still tastes like a good old dark roasty beer. My reveiw may be bias because this beer was free and therefore probably tastes better. This beer comes in a variety case that's pretty cheap and full of decent brews.

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

This stout pours well and has a dark brown attractive appearance.

The aroma has hints of malt and chocolate. The vanilla doesn't show itself as much as expected.

The taste begins with midly intense carbonation and transitions to mild vanilla and smoky undertones. Only the undertones linger. The transition to and statement from the vanilla could be more prominent.

The mouthfeel starts vividly due to the carbonation and finishes smoothly albeit a little thinly.

Overall this is a drinkable stout with an interesting transition and character to explore. Subsequently tried it with some jalapeno smokehouse almonds and it stood up well to the task.

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Photo of JayQue
3.58/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This one didn't get much love from reviewers. I thought it was pretty good. The best part was that the vanilla is understated. I had a home brew vanilla stout and the overuse of vanilla made it too sweet and kind of annoying over the long haul.

This beer looks good. Pours a dense brown with some highlights t the edges of the glass when held to a light. Good spotty lacing and a big light tan head with good retention.

Smell was pretty good as well, milk chocolate, vanilla and roasted malt. Taste was similar. Mild...not that complex with roasted malt and chocolate predominant and a hint of vanilla.

Mouthfeel is rich enough for the style. Drinkability (oops!!) Overall ...this was a pretty good and light enough to be called a session beer. A bit more vanilla, and the drinkability would be affected negatively

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

In a pint glass the beer was a very dark brown color. It had a thick cocoa-colored head that was quite sticky.
Mostly a chocolate aroma. Vanilla also quite noticeable. A little bit of roasted malt.
Chocolate taste. A little coffee. Whiff of vanilla. The flavors don't quite work together.
Full-bodied, a little bitter.
Would drink it again if offered to me.

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Photo of jsprain1
3.9/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Pours a near black with a one finger tannish head. Good retention. Mediocre lacing.
S- Vanilla is actually a nice touch. Smells sweet, with just a touch of coffee.
T- It tastes a bit like a starbucks drink. A little bit of coffee and a good kick of vanilla. It's a good vanilla flavor though.
M- At first it's just a touch astringent but then the wave of sweet vanilla kicks in. Finishes a bit dry. Too light bodied for the style though.
D- Well I just reviewed Lake Effect Lager and thought it was the best Saranac beer I had up to this point. This one edges it out slightly. It's a good beer that doesn't let its vanilla get in the way and instead lets it accent the beer.

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

Pours near pure black with deep ruby highlights. The head is thicker and creamy with chunky walls of lacing left behind.

Lush heavy cream and vanilla beans. Kind of a raw dairy aroma with very fragrant, sticky vanilla. A definite lactose presence. Mild sweet roast and semi-sweet chocolate. Lots of caramel and sweet, dark brittle. Sweet and dessert-like to be sure.

Lush and sweet but with some more complexity than the nose would imply. Definitely a lot of the same dairy character. Heavy cream and of course tons of vanilla with hints of sweetened chocolate and a very subdued hint of char. Just a faint note of dark fruit and tart cherry. Sweet but with a little lactic tang. I think this one could probably pass for a milk/sweet stout in my book.

Creamy and slick with very low carbonation. Lush and somewhat fluffy on the palate. Mild overall feel and very matted tone accentuates the sweet, creamy notes.

First glance would suggest a very drinkable beer due to the nice flavor, moderate complexity and low ABV. But the vanilla and overt sweetness would become burdening for be relatively quickly, that's not to say it's not a moderately drinkable beer for the style.

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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 mjrod2142
3.18/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass

This beer is a deep, black coffee color and produced a thin, light brown head that dissipated quickly. I picked up a very distinct roasted coffee bean aroma.

The taste has a bit of a hoppy bite that's quickly smoothed out by the flavor of vanilla. The finish is sweet and the carbonation feels high. This actually tastes like the vanilla powder at Starbucks that you sprinkle into your coffee.

Coming from a bottle, this beer does not have a creamy enough mouthfeel for what I want from a stout. I have had some bottled stouts that were excellent, but this is too light and carbonated. The idea for the flavor isn't bad, but just a little too sweet.

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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 DrDemento456
3.7/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Put my money down on the winter variety pack. Beer one of six.

A - Pours a heavy dark brown almost black. Head and lacing are pretty sweet.

S - Heavy roasted malts and slight vanilla makes this beer smell very solid. Definitely a lot going on here.

T - The only kicker for me was the balance between the roasted malts and the vanilla come off as bitter but not in a typical roasted way more like a hoppy way. Needless to say it was mildly offensive.

M - Pretty medium so I was surprised to find it in the 4.8 ABV.

D - Well I do have three more and may save the for further on a drinking night or maybe after a really hoppy IPA. If your like me don't go in expecting it to taste like Creme Brulee more like a Dundee stout with extract added. Pass.

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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 BuxMontBeerLover
3.75/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was at a post-Christmas family gathering and was given several beers from a Saranac variety pack by the host, this being one of them..Thanks, T.J.

Poured and enjoyed in a DFH Signature Glass.

A - Pours with a one finger head that lingers for a minute or two. Color is really dark, totally opaque, deep black/brown color. A good amount of lacing lines the glass throughout the tasting.

S - Really nice vanilla smell mixed with a mild sweetness...chocolate? Chocolate and vanilla?

T - Yes, a stout that mixes a slight taste of vanilla in with a burnt chocolate taste as well. Not the best stout I've ever had but not bad at all. Little to no alcohol taste. Slight bitter taste lingers after each sip.

M - More on the thin side as opposed to a lot of stouts I've had that are very heavy. Decent amount of carbonation gives a slight tingle to the tongue.

D - A very drinkable stout. The low ABW lends itself to having a few but I'll be honest, one or two would be my limit.

Overall - Not a bad beer at all. It is a little on the watery side and doesn't have the great flavors of some other stouts I've had but very drinkable just the same. I wouldn't mind drinking this again. Give it a try...a nice low ABV stout that could be a session beer for those that dig the taste.


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Photo of GradyS1
3.2/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Dark blackish brown, but is very thin looking on the pour. decent amount of head forms and stays on top
S- This is basically malts up front, roast and then vinalla. The vinalla is Very noticeable. Sweet vanilla, frosting
T- Light stout with some chocolate up front but then is covered by the vinalla. Little bit of malts linger in the finish.
M- Light, especially for a stout, watery, dry finish

I like stouts and like vanilla. I did not really like this beer, I thought it was average. It was was to light of a bodied beer to have the vanilla thrown in, and that was the focus.

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Photo of AdamBear
3.59/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-dark brown, light tan head

S-some milk chocolate, a slight hint of vanilla and caramel. smells good but its a very light strength

T-hits with a good smooth taste of chocolate then some slight bitterness. there's a good vanilla after-taste thats unfortunately a weak strength

M-medium carbonation with a watery finish

D-this is a fun, easy drinking stout. the tastes stay. i could drink a lot of this, i hope to see this again!

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.1/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass adorned with a Coney Island Lager emblem. That clown sure looks like Jack Nicholson as "The Joker". Pours dark with magenta/ruby highlights. Topped with a fluffy and foamy tan colored head of about two fingers in size. Quite impressive. The lacing is nice and creates a mosqiuto net effect on the glass.

Aroma is mostly vanilla extract and roasted grains. It seems as though there is some oakiness too, but perhaps that is just the vanilla talking.

The flavor was okay, but the vanilla was just too fake and extract-like. The underlying stout shows its roasty characteristic but mostly everything is about the vanilla in this one.

The mouthfeel is extremely thin and finishes very dry. Not too pleasant in a stout filled with vanilla. Overall, this beer is okay, but I would certainly tire of the fake vanilla and its attributes. I might compare this to the Breckenridge beer of similar name (maybe its called 471 or something?)in that both are artificial and thin and quite unmemorable. I would pass on this in the future.

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Photo of happy4hoppybeer
4.42/5  rDev +30%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A=Dark black with a little amber/red showing through on the side.Thin head that fizzles rather quickly, leaving a moderate lacing.

S&T= Dark caramel roasted malt, with creamy vanilla, maybe some toffee coming through. Delicious.

M=Again,medium-bodied with maybe a little too much carbonation for a stout of any style.

D=Light on alky,smooth and quite tasty without any bitterness, makes this an excellent all-night session while still retaining good flavor and substance.

This is my first vanilla stout, so I can't compare to others of the style. However, this is good stuff, meeting the standards, and for the price, cannot be beat. Saranac I do like.

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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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