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Saranac Helles | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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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

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Reviews: 78 | Ratings: 112
Photo of asabreed
3.5/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

 765 characters

Photo of AgentZero
3.3/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A - Very light golden, straw yellow color. One finger white head that left the sides of the glass clean. Pretty clear, with bubbles coming up from the top.

S - Malty grains, little bit of citrus, a little pilsnerish.

T - Not bad, very malty, somewhat lagerish with a sour finish. Slight bit of hops that gets buried by the malts.

M - Light bodied and crisp. Very carbonated.

D - Well, I slammed this one down very easily. It's not great, but for a session beer if it were cheap I'd drink this over the BMC's any day.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.59/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

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Photo of Duhast500
3.35/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass.

The color is a slightly hazy light gold with a slight white head and some slight lacing.

The smell is of lager yeast with a slight bit of malt. A little apple skin flavor as well.

The taster is sweet with some light fruity flavor and some hops in the way back end. Some slight bready flavor keeps this from going south.

The feel of this beer is quite easy drinking. It goes down well and has a good amount of carbonation. Not a bad summer beer.

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Photo of animalchin
3.35/5  rDev -5.6%
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 -9.3%
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 160Shillings
3.65/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Aroma: Lager yeast and very faint noble hops.

Appearance: Medium yellow, bright and crystal clear, very good white head that falls away not too quickly.

Flavor: Soft malt up front with a mild bitterness in the middle, finishing dry

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, medium carbonation

Overall Impression: The dry finish keeps this beer from being too filling. The malt flavor adds interest to keep an experienced lager drinker happy.

Comments: A good session beer for people who are bored with light beers. This beer fall short of the Munich Helles standard, but I prefer my Helles to be more like a Maibock than a standard American lager.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.82/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Post-long run porch beer #1.

Gold with an audible bubbling white head. Head is quick to break apart and dissipate entirely, but not as quick as many lagers. Green apple, dry mead, and sweet, light malt aroma. Wafts of fruity esters as it warms.

I'm first swept away by a smooth, messaging mouthfeel. It's much more relaxed than most helles. There is some ornery carbonation in back but crisp doesn't even cross my mind.

My primary criticism of this beer is that it's almost too sweet. I'd like a little more of a light graininess to shine through I understand and accept the trade-off between decocting and single infusion. Helles may not be as sweet as it appears however, because it doesn't possess any hop presence to balance it out. I can't find the professed Tettnanger anywhere.

One of the better Saranacs I've had. In retrospect, all of my preferred Saranacs are lagers--go figure.

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Photo of generallee
4.03/5  rDev +13.5%
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 kegger22
3.2/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Looked like a lager, smelled like a lager, tasted like a lager. Yep, it's a lager. Poured a clear yellow with a moderate head that quickly faded to a collar. The aroma was freshly scythed hay. The taste was sweet and undistinguished (i.e. lager). The feel was light bodied with sufficient carbonation. Drinkability was very good. Pretty decent example of style.

 361 characters

Photo of Onenote81
3.18/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my pilsner glass. Pours a clear bubbly light gold with a big white capper on top. Great retention; leaves some spotty lacing. Smells of grassy hops, sour lemon zest, and some grains. The mouth is crisp and bubbly, but still smooth. Flavors of mild bitter hops, fresh greens, and tart fruits on the finish. This is decent. A great refresher that went very well with my pizza. "Saranac" has done it again. I have yet to find one of their brews that I wouldn't have again.

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Photo of greengorilla
3.05/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I poured this from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass. It is a pale golden yellow with a white head that disipated quickly.

The smell was mostly of grains and I was not that impressed with the taste.

The mouthfeel was decent. It was drinkable but I wouldn't really recommend it. I was a little disappointed by this one.

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Photo of skinny0ne
3.34/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The color is a good medium golden. The aroma has some malt and honey. It's got a good carbonation level to it giving it a crisp mouth feel. There's a bit of malt sweetness upfront. Under it is some good earth flavors of straw. The hops in the end have a bit of a copper flavor to it. Some lemon left on the tongue. For a Helles, I'd say it's not sweet enough. It's more bitter than sweet. But forgetting that, a pretty good brew.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.85/5  rDev +8.5%
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 Gavage
3.56/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

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Photo of Berthold
3.04/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured out clear and brite. Color yellow (SRM4) with a full white head supported by high carbonation. Aroma has a moderate amount of DMS that dissipated but came back slightly when roused. Though DMS is to style, it was a bit too much (especially as sample warms) .Low hop aroma. Moderate spiciness to flavor with a clean malty finish that dries out at the end.

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Photo of Dodt
4.28/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I thought I would finally review something for this years Saranac summer set.
Poured from a chilled bottle into a pint glass.
Appearance : light white lacing , with clear golden color.
Smell: couldn't smell much my nose is a bit congested.
Taste : crisp, smooth smei dry finish
Drinkability: light body very drinkable
for my first foray into this style i enjoyed it , wouldn't mind trying other beer of this style.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
3.85/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear gold with a white bubbly head and some lacing that does not last.

Smells of light grain/malt, some bread and cracker notes, and some floral hop elements.

Nice balance of sweet and dry, with malt and bread balancing out the hop bitterness, some grain husk, and the dry finish. A clean crisp brew.

Lighter bodied and well carbonated. Again, clean.

Overall, this one went down easy, and was by far my favorite of the summer mix pack. Nothing earth shattering, but a nice clean refreshing summer beer for around the grill and such.

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Photo of squirrelpirate
2.98/5  rDev -16.1%
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 OneDropSoup
4.07/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light, transparent gold with a thin, loose head & plenty of big, fast-rising bubbles. Some lacing sticks & then falls.

Smells crisp, dry, with some biscuity malt there in the background. Maybe it's just sense memory being triggered, but I smell "rain on stone" in this beer. A good smell overall (as opposed to "wet basement").

Clean grain flavor, maybe a little heavy on the hop side, but not too out of balance. Finishes dry, just enough of a snap to leave you wanting more.

Mouthfeel is cleansing, well carbonated, & stimulates toward the back sides of the mouth. I like it.

Overall a very drinkable & enjoyable beer. Enough flavor & character to be worth your while without overwhelming. They did right by releasing this in the summer, great for picnics or just sipping on your porch.

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Photo of FatSean
4.8/5  rDev +35.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow. Saranac was always a 'second choice' when it came to breweries. I loved them in the early 1990s, but lately their brews seemed to be a bit low on flavor. Not bad or out of balance mind you, just a bit mild. I think they've found their niche with this Summer mix pack. Porters and stouts, not so much...but easy drinking summer beers? Awesome.

This is an excellent example of Helles Lager. The nose is a bit off, and it's a little over-carbonated for my tastes, but the biscuit/bread malts come shining through and the hops are there in proper proportion.

Saranac, by me, is one of the more affordable beers...usually a buck less per six pack. I'll have to see if I can order 12-packs of this brew.

If you like helles lagers, you must try this one.

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Photo of jwc215
3.97/5  rDev +11.8%
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.

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Photo of BeardedBoffin
3.77/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a very pale golden and clear liquid. A wispy cap of foam swirled about the glass, inviting the imbiber to enjoy.

A grainy aroma wafted above, causing visions of golden fields of barley and freshly baked loaves of white bread to appear in my head. The beer flowed across the palate with the deftest touch. Clean and refreshing graining flavors abound throughout. Toward the end a bitterness provided by the hops provides balance. The palate is left dry with residual grain and bitter flavors.

A nice beer for a hot day.

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Photo of Kendo
3.8/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a pilsner glass. Pale yellowish-golden body with a 1-finger whitish head. An absolute geyser of bubbles dances up the glass, leading me to wonder whether this glass was perfectly clean. Some splotches of lace left behind.

S: Good grainy pilsner-type scent. Takes me back to the adjunct lagers I used to sneak from my father as a kid. I also get a touch of sweetness and some florally hops.

T: First impression: bready/grainy malt finishes with a touch of grassy or earthy hops. Again, it seems pilsner-like. Slight soapiness and a touch of slightly slick sweetness. Lingering grassy dryness early, but halfway down the glass the sweetness becomes more noticeable on the aftertaste.

M: Definitely light-bodied. Carbonation is very active, leading to a spritzy feel.

D: Very good. I wouldn't mind having a sixer of these around for post-lawn mowing.

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Photo of albern
3.42/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Not a bad beer, not great either. It pours a palish golden color, very clear, not much head and no lacing. The nose at first had a bit of a sulfery whiff, but this disappeared soon after, and what is left is grassy lagery malts and some earthy tones.

The beer is fairly light bodied, very modestly carbonated, with a sweetish citrusy backbone, some herbal grassy notes, a bit of a spicey hop bite towards the finish, and a slight metallic taste in the mouth afterwards. The metallic flavors are not helping this beer, but it is offset a bit by the spice in the finish. This is a refreshing beer that goes down easy enough, but nothing to rave about either.

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Saranac Helles from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.55 out of 5 based on 112 ratings.
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