Saranac Helles | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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Saranac HellesSaranac Helles
112 Ratings
Saranac HellesSaranac Helles

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

Style: German Helles

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.80%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 03-18-2009

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 112 |  Reviews: 78
Reviews by asabreed:
Photo of asabreed
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Very light golden yellow color, bright white fizzy head, nice bubbles to the top. Little lacing or drops sticking to the sides.

Smell: Almost a wheat-like sweetness going on, with a hint of pilsner malt and some noble hops bright citrus.

Taste: Clean and crisp, with some grassy notes, a bit of pilsner herbal sweetness, some grass, mild caramel, and finishes with slightly bitter noble hops.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thin for the body, but the carbonation does a nice job not being overdone, and adds a nice spritz with each sip that doesn't seem overly-effervescent.

Drinkability: Easy-drinking with enough flavor to hold one's interest, and like the Pale Pale, I could see this being a good barbecue beer for sure.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of generallee
4.03/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a Pilsener Glass. There appears to be no freshness date or abv% on the bottle. This was part of the Saranac Summer 12 pack and I sampled many of these throughout the summer and into fall as they went on sale.

Appearance: The body has a bright golden color with very good clarity and lots of beautiful carbonation. It produces a nice two finger tall head which slowly settles down to a thin cap that make some slick spotty lace on the glass.

Smell: Its aroma is light and manages a slight straw or dry hay like aroma with just the lightest kiss of hops.

Taste/Palate: The flavor has a simple and fairly clean white bready malt with light sweetness and a slight fruitiness off in the distance. Hop flavor adds just enough bitterness and grassy/leafy notes for balance. Its palate is light bodied and very refreshing with nice bubblely carbonation which is in good balance.

Notes: Overall it was a nice easy drinking and refreshing beer.

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Photo of Janeinma
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
2.42/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

Would you believe this was one of the better beers in the sample pack?

Had Saranac back in the 90s, wasn't a fan then, not a fan now. Pale yellow pour, tiny bubbles. Like, really pale. Bud 55 pale. Aroma is less than pleasant. Corn syrup.

Taste was just blase BMC likeish. Doesn't really taste like they put more than $2 worth of ingredients in a barrel size batch. The kind of beer for hydration ya know? No hops or malt to get in the way. Sure, its not my fave style, but there are examples I like. Not this one. Too expensive to be too drinkable.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.97/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pale clear golden yellow with a vibrant white head, forms tight with nice lacing following suit, sporadic chunky bits stuck to my glass. Aroma has herbal lemon peel mild citrus efforts with pale biscuit malt sweetness. Flavor is crisp assertive American brewed helles way better than your average corn and rice ridden macro any day. Flavor has some nice balanced hop bitterness and flavor to go with the moderate malt sweetness. Mouthfeel light bodied classic light beer, carbonation is spritzy and the finish is dry. Drinkability is quality a sipping beer I could quaff on after mowing the grass and never look back and drink through a sixer without blinking my eyes.

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Photo of dacrza1
3.36/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Situation: Relaxing after celebrating the in-laws' 39th anniversary--cheers to marriage!
Glassware: Celebrator doppelbock pokel...
Appearance: tawny, pilsner body with busy effervesence unfortunately props a head that is thin and inconsistent...
Aroma: light flowery accents with an undercurrent of sweet maltiness--fresh and balanced...
Palate: crisp, clean lager--medium-bodied and easy drinking with mild bubble to retard to sipping...
Taste: subtle hops ping with a mellow malt profile--a light aftertaste makes this a pleasant drink from start to finish...
Overall: a fitting piece in this year's summer sampler... light yet flavorful enough to deserve a second thought, and good enough to be consumed with our without a hot dog...

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Photo of NJpadreFan
3.35/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Saranac- Helles

A- Light bright clear yellow with a big frotyh head. Light lacing.
S- Sweet sugary corn syrup, lemon, and grass.
T- Sweet with a touch of lemon and grass. Light grain malt with earthy hops.
M- Starts of with a light sweet maltiness and switches over to a creamy malt and finishes off with a dry hoppiness.

Overall- Very light but easily drinkable and eventually perks up.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.85/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

golden color, amber hues, swirrling carboantion and a full 2" white head with moderate dissipation.

The nose a sour lager yeast, deep earthy notes, dried corn, slightly spicey with gentle herbs.

This is a really crispy corn-flavored malt, gentle pepper with laid-back malty backbone. the yeast adds a unique earthy and sour flavor, dry and clean feel. Light, simple but effective. The malt is slightly cloying and pretty sweet, but not bad. almost fruity in the back. a clean, but tangy flavor in the finish.

Good session.

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Photo of BamfBacon
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of mempath
3.83/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

my second favorite of the new variety pack.

nice golden color with a thin white head. little lacing. smell is not revealing much for me at the moment. maybe it's my allergies. taste takes off from the average beginning with a sour dough biscuit sense with malty sweetness held at bay by the crisp, high carbonation. which is good in that sense, but not great due to some hidden flavors the effervescence masks...makes this nonetheless very drinakable. fine alone, but would be a great beer with spicy foods.

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Photo of tempest
3.98/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pulled out of the summer variety case. I think it's pretty cool that Saranac took on this classic lager style when so many craft brewers might just do a straight up pilsner. Like most Saranac beers, this lager doesn't have a great depth of flavor like a World-Class brew. But that said, they nailed the style and I really enjoy this beer. It has the trademark Helles toasty bread with a nice hint of spicy orange peel hops. I might say this is even on the hoppy end of the style. I wish more breweries made a good helles like Saranac has. This is a great summer beer.

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Photo of chrishiker1409
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of russpowell
3.39/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Picked up the simmer mixed 12, here's the first review from the box...

Pour an effervescent light straw color with 2+ fingers off fluffed up eggshell colored head, Loads of bubble cling to the glass... Not much head retention & lacing

S: Grassyness & metallic hops, plus breadyness

T: Grassyness & breadyness up front, a touch of lemony hops as well. Soft bready sweetness as this warms, along with some more grassy & lemony hops. Finishes with a touch mineral hops, slight grainyness

MF: Light bodied, aggressive carbonation, starts to thin out as it warms

Drinks easy, a okay not inspired take on the style. I could do a few before moving on, next...

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Photo of HalfFull
3.37/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 12 oz. brown pry off bottle. A clear golden straw on the pour with a thin cap of foam. Appeared a bit light in carbonation upon cracking the bottle.

Nose is of grassy hops and straw and quite reminiscent of an Old
World Lager. Bit light overall but pleasant nonetheless.

Flavor follows with straw and a touch of lemon hop on the finish. Slightly grainy in texture but not overly sweet as are some of the style. Closer to a classic Pils in fact. Feel is full and bready yet offers a short finish which improves and thickens with a bit with warming. Nose expands with warming as well yet never truly takes charge.

A decent brew and a nice tribute to the style from an American brewer yet not offerings the structure I hoped for.

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Photo of Gmann
2.78/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear toasted straw color with a wispy white head that quickly settled into a light ring. The aroma is very faint, all I pick up is some slight sweet bready malt. Taste is similar to the aroma, just some slight bready malt. I can taste some of the munich malt but it is lost in the watery, grainy flavor. There is a slight grassy hop in the end. The feel is light and water with fizzy carbonation. This is merely a below average Helles lager. There is barely any munich malt presence and very little noble hops. The feel is too light as well.

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Photo of animalchin
3.35/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a pint glass.

A - Straw/golden color. No head at all really. Some minimal lacing apparent.

S - An unusual occurrence happened - the first thing that hit me was apples. To make sure my sense of smell wasn't messing with me, I sniffed coffee grinds (clears up your sense of smell actually)...but I keep smelling apples mixed with mostly malts. Very bizarre.

T - Mostly malty with slightest hop. Sensing cider and a little bit of bitterness in the aftertaste. A nice blend. There is a bit of tartness happening as well that lingers for a while. The hops struggle to fight through but get overshadowed by the high use of malts.

An easy working beer. I haven't had a helles from any other brewery - but I generally like what's happening here. It's a more fruity/tart lager that's manageable. Would I keep it around? It's doubtful. I'd like to try another of this style.

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Photo of tone77
3.22/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a pale yellow color with a small head. Smell is mostly of malts. Taste is crisp, malts, slightly sweet,with a touch of bitterness. Feels light in the mouth and has good drinkability. Overall this is a decent but unremarkable beer.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.38/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle 1129-1217. Sampled on May 21, 2009 when it was 90-degrees Farenheit in my back yard.

A - A golden yellow with excellent clarity and steady carbonation lifting up to a thin but consistent white head.

S - The aroma lends iteslf to something like grass with a feint background of malts. Maybe a tad of that mass-produced metallic thing you get with macros. But not quite as obnoxious.

T/M - I thought the texture of the beer was pretty good. About medium with a sort of honey-like consistency. The taste was sharp and dry and pounded on the back of my throat in an exhilarating fashion. This doesn't mean it was a tasty beer. It just had this stimulating effect on my tonsils. That in itself helped give a bit of a boost to the rating I planned. Or maybe it was the 90-degree weather.

A decent enough brew.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.62/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: A crystal lemon color easily reveals a good sense of carbonation. An offwhite head, initially a finger high, displays a fair retention rate before lapsing to a patchwork covering. No visible lacing left to be appreciated.

S: Grainy, actually a bit surprised here, with fresh barley stalks and semi-dry lemony hops. A fairly good show strength-wise per style.

T: The flavor was a bit sweet, but still manageable, grainy, with some lemony hops. Smooth with a bit of buttered grains appear on the close. A helles is all about the grains, this is fairly true here, but not as crisp or clean as a german counterpart (Hacker-Pschorr Munich helles) which I think is the standard. This one comes off a bit buttery and sweet but does offer a good dose of hops with a spicy zing.

M: Nice lively crispness with a good texture and fullness per style. Smooth and flows around nicely on the tongue.

D: Drinkability is definitely the strong point here. While a bit sweet, a six pack is doable, on a hot summer day.

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Photo of akorsak
4/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Part of the 12 Beers of Summer; picked up at the Mechanicsburg Wegmans.

A: The lagerbier is a pale yellow color that has a bright golden tinge throughout. Three fingers of billowy head sat atop the glass like meringue. It dissolved over 5 minutes and left much lace.

S: The nose is grainy, full of sweet cereal and bread. The nose also has a mild sugary sweetness, not corn, that rarely gets in the way. The aroma is rather crisp and clean otherwise.

T: The lager doesn't wow you but it delivers a solid flavor. That seems par for the course for Saranac, a comfort beer of sorts. Pale grains drive the flavor with a bready dryness that has some concentrated sweet elements. Some earthy hops add a very nice finish, just enough bite to cut through the grains.

M: The helles lager is very refreshing. The pale grains and clean hops work well together to create a pleasant sipper.

D: One of Saranac's best offerings. It's too bad that there were only two bottles in the package.

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

Got this one with the summer selection box. Poured a 12 oz bottle into my mug.

A. Crystal clear golden body with very little head developing from an aggressive pour.

S. Slightly skunky bready and earthy aromas lead on this one.

T. Wow this is a pretty interesting beer. Tastes like a japanese rice lager with a very faint noble hops, saaz perhaps?

M. Light and buttery with a carbonated bite.

D. I would put a couple back in the sun on the beach but not very many at home in the winter.

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Photo of bcm119
3.97/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear straw color with a small white lacing. Faint honey-like malt aroma with hints of grass. Honey undertones continue in the flavor, with doughy malt. Hops are light and lemony, and adequately clean up the finish. Creamy body, medium carbonation. Smooth, nice body, good condition. Clean enough for a helles. Actually quite authentic and tasty-- impressively so. I would drink this often if it were available here without the rest of their summer pack.

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Photo of u2carew
3.53/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A) Pours with a two finger head. Settles nicely with sticky medium bubble lacing. Golden color. Visible carbonation.
S) Dry grainy aroma. Just a touch of malt sweetness, but not very prominent. A bit of citrus.
T) Dry and grainy. A bit of black pepper. Some earthiness. Hop bite lingering in the finish.
M) Fizzy. Crisp. Light bodied. Slight bit of tannin feel.
D) Not a standout. Decent beer. Good for a summer day.

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Photo of squirrelpirate
2.98/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The Saranac Helles poured a clean gold hue with a thick white head. No lacing leftover on the glass. The aroma has a touch of bready malt with a slight hop character that comes through with a faint flowery smell.

Right off the bat you get a balance of citrusy hop flavor and sweet bready notes, which trails off into a nice hop dryness on the back of my tongue.

It has a medium body, but is overcarbonated and somewhat abrasive. I can understand why Saranac packages these summer beers together. They are refreshing and very drinkable as a whole, but they fail to stand out individually.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.05/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

light straw colored lager was the first thing noticed. Very clear with a nice amount of carbonation. This converged into a decent sized head of white that faded nearly immediately upon forming.

The aroma was light, very light, to be honest almost non existent at times. After warming it came around a little showing some decent grain and bread like malt tones and a touch of some light earthy hops. The flavor was more of the same, with the key word here being very light in the profile especially. Decent body on top of a mostly grain profile, with more then adequate carbonation making up the bulk of this. Easy to drink I will have to admit, though the flavor was a bit too thin for me at times, it was still more then decent overall.

Overall not a bad little lager, though the subtleties were severely lacking it was still fairly decent

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Saranac Helles from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 3.54 out of 5 with 112 ratings