Saranac Helles | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Saranac HellesSaranac Helles
Liked This Beer
3.54 w/ 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 112 |  Reviews: 78
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 biggred1
3.72/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Golden, with a pure white finger of foam that leaves fine sheets of lace on the glass. Fresh breadiness in the nose with hay and noble hops. A pretty trad take on the style, untoasted grain and soft fruity esters with a touch dry yeast and noble hops. Finishes squeaky clean. Light, crisp and ultimately easy drinking with no off flavors but no really great flavors either. A good thirst quencher.

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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.

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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 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.

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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 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 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 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 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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Photo of AgentZero
3.3/5  rDev -6.8%
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 +1.4%
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.

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Photo of Duhast500
3.35/5  rDev -5.4%
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 -5.4%
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 160Shillings
3.65/5  rDev +3.1%
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 +7.9%
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 +13.8%
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 kegger22
3.2/5  rDev -9.6%
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.

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Photo of Onenote81
3.18/5  rDev -10.2%
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 -13.8%
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 -5.6%
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 +8.8%
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 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.

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Photo of Berthold
3.04/5  rDev -14.1%
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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Saranac Helles from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 36.6% out of 100 with 112 ratings
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