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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: Munich Helles Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.80%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 03-18-2009

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 112 |  Reviews: 78
Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev +13%

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.9/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice golden color.. moderate head to it and a good amount of lacing. Nice crisp, hoppy smell to it.. definitely a German sort of smell. Taste has a medium body and nice mouthfeel, again Saaz like hops sort of taste to it. Quite refreshing I must say, one of the better in their mixed 12 pack. Highly drinkable and pretty solid taste along with being very smooth.. good in my book.

 388 characters

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...

 657 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.9/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Part of the Saranac Beers of Summer Box - $13.48 at Sherlock's in Marietta, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a pale golden-hued body with a fine, white head that settles soon.

Smell: Lightly sweet-scented note of grainy, very faintly bready pils malt, with modest notes of lemon, dried grasses, and, yes, a bit of sulphur.

Taste: A grainy, slightly tangy taste of Pilsner malts, a fluttering of powdered sugar, and then some light sulphery hints follow. A drop of lemon provides a hint of citrus. Grassy, herbaceous Continental hop character with a slight, supporting bitterness. Drying, tangy, relatively crisp finish.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied. Medium-light carbonation.

Drinkability: Actually, it's one of the better brews oughta the 2010 Summer Box. Light, easy-drinking refreshment. When Saranac tends to take on somewhat bolder styles, the effort usually ends up a too-light, kinda-bland version of the style, but, when they aim for something light, they tend to hit the mark.

 979 characters

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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Photo of TMoney2591
3.51/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Budweiser pokal.

Just another stop in the Leaving Falls Church uber-bender. It pours a clear pale straw topped by nearly two fingers of white froth. The nose comprises wheat, corn syrup, and flowers. The taste is similar, but sweeter and with a tinge of orange-y citrus in the background. The body is rather light, with a light carbonation and a fairly crisp finish. Wow, that was pretty short, but that's what I took away from this brew. It's good for a quick quaff, but nothing to sit and savor very much.

 520 characters

Photo of stakem
3.58/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown bottle with no indication of freshness poured into a SA perfect pint glass. The saranac helles appears a clear straw yellow color with about a finger of white head composed of some relatively large bubbles that pop and fade away relatively fast. Before even taking a sip there is a formation of lace about the glassware in small patches. A constant stream of bubbles rises from the etching in the bottom of the glass in support of the head.

Aroma of this beer includes a light fresh grain scent that is somewhat bready. Also in the background are some slight sulfuric notes and a faint touch of hops. Taste encompasses the flavor counterparts as highlighted by the nose. Upfront a fresh grainy flavor that is a bit biscuity and slightly sweet but met with a low level of hop bitterness. Finishes crisp with a lingering flavor of light grainy flavor left in the mouth. Light bodied brew with a moderate level of carbonation.

Overall a pretty fair example of the style. It is relatively easy to drink but not something I would normally or regularly choose.

 1,068 characters

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.

 676 characters

Photo of rab53
3/5  rDev -15.3%

Photo of jwc215
3.97/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From summer '09 variety pack:

Pours golden yellow with a thin creamy white cover. Some trailing lace sticks.

The smell is of sweet grain, slightly bready with a spicy, herbal, slightly fruity noble hop aroma.

The taste is of grainy malt with slicy, slightly tart fruity, dry herbal hop finish. Tasty and truly refreshing.

It has a crisp, clean light body. Nice carbonation - on-spot for what I would expect in the style.

This is a nicely balanced, dry, easy-drinking lager.

 478 characters

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.

 269 characters

Photo of Gavage
3.56/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pale yellow in color with a one inch head that slowly falls. Some moderate lacing develops.

Smell: some soft grassy tones are all that can be pulled from the glass.

Taste: decent malt level with some golden apples, pears, grass, and a mellow bitterness.

Mouthfeel: light in body. Crisp throughout. Clean aftertaste.

Drinkability: nice crisp refreshing beer that hits the spot on a warm summer day. Easy to quaff a few of these.

 444 characters

Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev +13%

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.

 567 characters

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

The beer pours a pale gold color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is average. It has a dry pilsner malt scent with low hops and just a touch of Munich malt. The taste is decent. It has a smooth, pilsner/Munich malt flavor along with a nice selection of hops. It has a bolder taste than the Czech variety. The mouthfeel is decent as well. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This is an above average brew, but nothing I'd have again.

 483 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
4.2/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Let's close out the night with a beer style that's uncommonly made in the US; Munich-style lager. On to the beer:

A little darker than straw color as it resides in my stange glass. There's a little show of bubbles in the body, the head on top crackels slowly to form a creamy white collar. There's a little fresh grass in the aroma, a little nuttiness, and raw grain. We're looking pretty solid.

They're on to something. Tasted blind, I would have thought I was tasting a German brand. It's clean for the most part, crisp, and very refreshing. I'm getting a melon-like flavor I can't put my finger on, but I'm liking it. The flavors are very well balanced, and that's the key to this style. Light flavors of wood, hay, and more intense grapey hops dance around. Some hop bitterness sits around in the aftertaste.

I pulled a rabbit out of my hat with this surprise of a beer from my Saranac variety pack. My curiousity is instantly rewarded; can it happen again with another style?

 983 characters

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.

 836 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
2.5/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pale yellow pour, wheat could be evident from the cloudiness, but that ain't this style of beer, its just, eh, got problems. 1/3" white head. Tiny bubbles. The yellow was really faint, like a dilute urine test or light beer.

Aroma hit corny sweet notes. Something I get in AAL, not usually this style.

Taste didn't give me any reason to think it was a legit Munich Helles. Maybe slightly more toasted pale malt than most lagers. I dunno, maybe if you want to drink something that tastes like not much. Otherwise, below average in every way.

 553 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
3.59/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A couple 12 oz. bottles into a Paulaner Helles mug, the last of the Saranac Summer Pack,

A: Pours a briliant gold with a firm white head, leaving some nice lace.

S: Cracked grain and a weird note of tangerine.

T: Flavorful pale grain, very bready, with some citrus fruits and an grassy/earthy Noble hop bite at the finish.

M: Slightly overcarbonated, very crisp, moderately clean, light-bodied.

D: While none of the Saranac beers have had me raving, the German-style lagers are where they shine. This is a well made, tasty fresh Hellesbier, a style rarely made on this side of the pond.

 591 characters

Photo of RBorsato
4.25/5  rDev +20.1%

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.

 1,010 characters

Photo of DrDemento456
3.43/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Another beer in the summer variety pack. Not a real fan of lagers but I will give it a go.

A - Pours bright yellow in color with an inch of white head that dies down quick. Very carbonated.

S - Grain malts and grass smell with slight lemon zest. Really boring.

T - Mostly grainy and dry basic pilsner taste with mild bitter lemon zest bit. Finishes a bit dry and bitter.

M - Light bodied and bitter. Pretty OK Helles

D - Well like I stated before I really don't like lagers only amber lagers and this one was OK. I still have 3 left and they are not bad enough to drain but may be perfect on a hot summer day.

 614 characters

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.

 980 characters

Photo of jzlyo
3.25/5  rDev -8.2%

Photo of Brad007
4.35/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice golden color with a one-finger head into my glass. Looks about right for this style.

Aroma is full of sweet, grainy, bready malt in the nose. Definitely fits this style. Only a touch of hops as well.

Taste is nice and hoppy upfront with sweet, grainy malt in the middle. Easy to drink. Inoffensive.

Mouthfeel is only a tad bit watery but otherwise, spot-on for the style. Hops and malt stick around.

A nice example of the style. Anyone who says that Saranac only makes crappy examples of styles is dead wrong. This is spot-on and worth a shot. If you can't enjoy a good munich helles lager, I feel sorry for you.

 630 characters

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