Saranac Vanilla Stout | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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

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Reviews: 171 | Ratings: 277
Photo of OWSLEY069
3.13/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a deep amber to black in color with a light tan head. In the aroma, sweet roasted malt, coffee notes, and a small vanilla hint. In the taste, coffee, chocolate, small roasted malts and just a hint of vanilla. A small bite and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry roasty coffee and vanilla in the aftertaste. A bit thin, a bit sweet for me, but good flavors.

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

A- Dark brown with slight ruby highlights and topped with a nice tan head. Head fades slowly and leaves some spotty lace on the glass.

S- Roasted malt, sweet molasses, caramel, vanilla, and bitter dark chocolate. The nose in a nice balance of aromas, I'm enjoying smelling this one quite a lot.

T- Taste follows the nose with the exception of a hop bite at the end, a little unexpected but not unpleasant.

M- Creamy and smooth in the mouth with decent carbonation. Could be a little better here, but it does have a nice mouthfeel.

D- Very drinkable, the 4.8% ABV could make this sessionable, and it's not too extreme in any one characteristic so it is very accessible.

Nice beer, well done and in balance.

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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 armock
3.11/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle from Wegmans

A - Poured a black color with a tan head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of roasted malt that gives off some chocolate scents with some vanilla as well

T - Follows the nose with roasted malt and chocolate flavors the vanilla is pretty strong and not all that complementing to the rest of the beer

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

D - While this beer isn't bad it just isn't working out too well for me the vanilla doesn't add to the beer it takes away from it Making it not all that easy to drink

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

I got this in the winter variety pack by Saranac

The beer is dark coal black with highlights of red and dark brown. A finger width tan head formed after pouring, but it was gone before I took my first sip. There is minimal lacing.

There are characteristics of the vanilla and stout's roasted malts. There is a dessert sweetness with notes of caramel. The smell is initially overpoweringly sweet, but becomes more temperate as my nose gets used to it. I am worried that when the beer warms it will be a cupcake in a glass.

There is something strange with this beer. It is a decent stout and very little of the vanilla scent translates into gross sweetness on the palate. However, something is out of balance. There is an off-putting burnt, bitter aftertaste that I can't readily associate with hops or the roasted malt, but still packs a punch in the back of my throat.
This beer fails to awaken in my mouth as i had hoped. Even after giving this beer a few good swishes around my mouth I am not able to decipher specific highlights, it's a generic stout that attempts at being a clever response to society's high demand for progressive chocolate and/or coffee stouts.

This beer is strange and in a way that takes away from the overall experience of drinking it. This is my first vanilla stout and I could see where there is potential for greatness, but this beer fails to impress. If you drink the beer fast and cold enough you can trick your senses that the vanilla is coming through strongly, but it's mainly just being picked up by your nose. A good pause and swish will have you wondering what you were thinking.

This beer, if had at the colder end of 45-55, is quite drinkable and can be easily chugged down (comparative to most stouts I've had and reviewed, which are not). I would not seek this beer out nor would I order it in a bar unless i was hit up for cash or the rest of the beer selection was terrible. It's still a decent porter, there are just better ones available.

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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 captaj
3.79/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

had in a 12oz bottle had a very good head but struggled to find that hint of vanilla. had a real nice floral smell. very fine cocoa taste with espresso still no vanilla. the fell was a lot lighter than a thought but very refreshing and yet warming. even though i was looking for that sweetness of vanilla that was hardly noticed this stout was very good and i would have another

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Photo of Justin23060
3.5/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pretty dark with some red at the edges. Smells great... nice and chocolatey. Tastes a bit watery and I can't find the vanilla at all. Some nice roasty chocolate and coffee. Finish is semi sweet leaning to the dry. Bottle recommends eating this with some winter sweets and they are right. Alone its just and average stout (my least favorite of the "Twelve Beers of Winter") but with some warm buttermilk cinnamon streusel cake its pretty darn good.

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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 FickleBeast
3.06/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Delerium Tremens snifter.

Pours near black with a finger of foam that coats the glass. Aroma is strong - sweet vanilla and some roasted barley and dark roasted malts in the background.

First sip is... sweet. Artificial vanilla flavor is dominating and not particularly pleasant. The sweet vanilla flavor hides any of the malt flavor, and there is a bit of a tinny aftertaste. I think Saranac went a little overboard on the vanilla extract here. This was part of the 12 beers of Christmas pack... hopefully it doesn't make the cut next year.

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Photo of mjw06
4.01/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A truly beautiful thick and frothy off-white head that remained until the very last drop and left a consistent lacing on the glass from top to bottom. The color is a dark dark brown, though seemed just a tad bit lighter than most stouts that straddle the line between dark brown and black.

I've tried a number of vanilla stouts and so forth. Ironically, most are good stouts that trip up on the vanilla element. The vanilla taste is either overpowering, barely there, or completely displaced from the rest of the body. This stout packs a natural tasting vanilla flavor that fits in perfectly with the rest of the beer. The vanilla taste is reminiscent of the smell of warm vanilla sugar, a scent that I'm sure most have smelled on one or two females in their day. Together with the roasted full body taste and feel, you get the taste of a not-so-sweet smore. There were some sour notes, particularly on the finish, that were unpleasant and got in the way of this being a truly excellent tasting beer.

Definitely a vanilla stout to try if you're into them. Had this from a Saranac winter variety pack at a holiday gathering. I would've drank these all night if I didn't want to try some other selections and I didn't have to drive home. There's nothing particularly outstanding or unique about this beer, rather, its just very well done.

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

Pours very, very dark brown or black. some head that leaves nice lacing at first, but it doesn't last too long.

Smells like dark roasted malt, bit of nuttiness, some vanilla--but more bittersweet than sweet. The vanilla component is noticeable and a bit like white chocolate.

Tastes like burnt, somewhat acrid roasted barley, but it's not too excessive. No chocolate flavors here, and the vanilla is as it was in the nose--not very sweet and not too prominent. I was worried this would be like their Caramel Porter--sweet and syrupy--but that's not the case. A bit heavy on the burnt flavors, though; not sure if it's black malt or roasted barley, but it dominates the malt bill.

Mouthfeel is lighter than expected, not very creamy.

Pretty drinkable beer, like a lot of Saranac offerings.

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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 skenyon1811
3.76/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a pint.

A: Nice dark rich color. Half inch of head that falls to a thin film. Foam does not look as creamy and does not last as long as I would like from a stout.

S: Great aromas. It has a real nice sweet vanilla scent. It does not smell fake or artificial, which I find can be the case with a lot vanilla or caramel beers. There is also a nice roasted coffee scent to it as well. I would like a candle with this aroma.

T: This is a great surprise. You get this really nice roasted nut and coffee flavors with a touch of vanilla, but also a good bite of hops. Being a black coffee drinking, love this flavor but I could easily understand how someone might not like this bold flavors.

M: At first I thought it felt a little too "thin" for a stout, but the more I drank it the carbonation died down and it seems a bit heavier. It is not the heaviest or creamiest stout, but it is good.

D: This is a good beer to have while sitting around the house in the winter. I would drink one or two but probably not more than that at a time. It's not a beer you want to drink while going bar hopping.

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Photo of Wamesit
3.09/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Pours black with red highlights when held up to direct light. A thick tan head that gives way to solid lacing.

S- Roasted malts; coffe and chocolate. Vanilla isn't too present.

T- Classic stout. Roasted/burnt coffee and chocolate malts. A good hop finish. The vanilla flavor is subtle, perhaps too subtle for the strength of a stout.

M- Medium/heavy. Just the right amount (low) of carbonation.

D- If you enjoy stouts I could see having a few of these.

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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 ngeunit1
3.7/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark black color with a hint of brown and about a finger of off-white (brownish) head. The head had okay retention and leaves behind some lacing.

S - Roasted malts and some nice vanilla notes dominate the aroma. Some hints of bitterness from coffee or dark chocolate are also noticeable.

T - Starts with a building carmel malt flavor with some dull vanilla breaking through. The vanilla grows with the malt and eventually explodes a bit. There is just a bit of bitterness from chocolate/coffee elements that gives the taste some complex. The finish is a little flat compared to the rest, with only a bit of bitterness.

M - Medium bodied with a decent amount of fizzy carbonation. Given the flavors, the body could be a bit heavier. Overall very smooth and a bit creamy.

D - Extremely drinkable. The body is a bit lighter than I was expecting, but that makes it super smooth and crisp. The flavors are nice and sweet from the vanilla so it says very drinkable.

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Photo of TheHopMonster
3.38/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured very dark, lets little to no light through. Decent amount a white head and excellent lacing

Smells of Vanilla and dark roasted malts. Very appealing

First taste was rich and creamy with a very noticeable amount of chocolate, and roasted malts leaving you with a toasty after taste.

Pretty rich but its medium bodied characteristic makes it a pretty drinkable stout. There are betters stouts out there but I am not disappointed with this one

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

12 oz. bottle into a 12 oz. Samuel Smith nonic.

Appearance: Not opaque, as there's some light shining through. Nice frothy off-white, mocha-colored head, and good lacing.

Smell: Light vanilla and dark roasted malts. Not a lot of nuance, but it's not bad either.

Taste: A good roasted malt character, complimented by some vanilla flavor, which is nice; this is not sugary at all, and even if it's extract, it works well.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with nice crisp, somehow, carbonation at the end.

Drinkability: For a more medium-bodied stout, this isn't too bad, and it's a good one for the 12 mix from Saranac this winter.

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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 carterbt
3.5/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Poured more of a dark brown than black. A finger, maybe finger and a half of head. Lace appears to cling fairly well.

S - Some roastiness, certainly some vanilla there. Smells more like extract than real vanilla bean.

T - First thing is the vanilla sweetness. The Roasted malts come in mid-palate. Finishes much more bitter than I would have guessed.

M - Decent. Definitely a bit lighter than I would have liked in this kind of beer.

D - Not bad. Enjoyed it, but I believe a better vanilla would have pushed this one higher.

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Photo of Gmann
3.43/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cola like brown color with a fairly dense head that left a wall of lacing on the side of the glass as it disipated.

The aroma is mainly of vanilla with some caramel, butterscotch and brown sugar notes.

The taste is of a slightly bitter roasted barley and caramel malt. There is a bit of a grain and rust flavor as well. Then there is the vanilla flavor which also brings a butterscotch note when mixed with the caramel malt. The vanilla is noticable but not overwhelming and its doesn't taste artifical, which is always a worry when I drink vanilla infused beers.

The feel is light and watery with fizzy carbonation, not what I am expecting from a stout. It is bitter on the palate and it is an odd bitterness, like sucking on a penny.

Overall an decent stout and one of the better Saranac brews. Definitely needs to be thicker but I appreciate the lower ABV.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My pal Justin gave this one to me from his variety pack. Thanks pal! Poured into a pint glass. The beer pours dark brown this just a thin layer of head and sparse lacing. The smell is just vanilla. I sat on this one for a while letting it warm up but it is just a boring sweet vanilla bomb of a beer. It's just very one dimensional. Same goes for the flavor. It's simply boring. It's vanilla and roasted malts. The vanilla is sweet and it's all that I can really notice. Kind of a lighter body on this guy and I'd prefer if the carbonation was toned down a bit but it's fair enough. Honestly, this went down pretty well but I didn't love it. All I could think was that I could be having a better beer. Nothing offensive in this one but it's just kind of lame.

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Photo of rlee1390
3.86/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass from the 2010 Winter Mix Pack

A-Dark, one inch foam head that lingers. Leaves behind an excellent lacing

S-Coffee and Vanilla

T-Taste of coffee, vanilla, chocolate and some caramel

M-Creamy, medium bodied.

D-Very drinkable. Great beer for a winter mix pack.

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Photo of cnjohn19
4.2/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Description from the bottle: "Few ingredients rival vanilla's ability to add richness and roundness to food. Made with traditional blend caramel and chocolate malts plus roasted barley and a hint of vanilla. Saranac vanilla stout will surpass your expectations. Enjoy the brew on itself or with a bite of dark chocolate for a real treat."

Notes below, but overall if you like vanilla bean ice cream you'll love this beer...if not, stay away...i've never actually paired beer and chocolate until this one, but works well...

A - then only thing keeping this from a perfect 5 is the fact the massive head dissolves to a thin layer after the pour...besides that, thick black with a beige head laced after each sip...

S - hint of vanilla my ass...this thing oozes vanilla bean with sweet dark chocolate and whole coffee beans...

T & M - imagine a vanilla/chocolate/stout milkshake...really well done, but i think it depends on the bottle as this is my second go-around with this one and the first one was nothing like this...very rich and roasted and thick...

D - you almost have to cut the thickness so a little tough to have more than one...

Song pairings: Chromeo - "Fancy Footwork," John Butler Trio - "Better Than," Bobby Darin - "The Wanderer"

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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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