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Saranac Chocolate Amber Lager | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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185 Reviews
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Saranac Chocolate Amber LagerSaranac Chocolate Amber Lager

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

Style: Euro Dark Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-22-2002

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Reviews: 185 | Ratings: 227
Photo of Sammy
3.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Jason for sharing. An average beer with chocolate aroma, a little soapy head and some lace on a clear chocolate body. A below average mouthfeel, ike a chocolate Hershey drink, lagerish with chocolate an some sourness in the finish.Not getting roast, if so its very faint.

 278 characters

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.06/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Had this as a part of the Saranac 12 Beers of Winter ($11.99/12 Pack)

Only a slight hint of chocolate in the smell and in the taste of this one. I thought it had way too thin of a body and the carbonation was not apparent enough. It was a little too hard to enjoy with it being so 'flat'. On the plus side, it was a style I really never had too much before, wasn't too bad price-wise, and was somewhat tasty and was very smooth.

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Photo of oberon
3.63/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a brownish amber color with light to medium head,the aroma is a little nutty and malty sweet.I like the mildness to this beer had some burnt notes as well as some caramel notes.It is pretty watery on the mouthfeel dept though.A decent beer but a little thin but the flavor was nice.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.61/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, reddish-mahogany body; topped by a full and frothy ivory head that holds quite well and leaves some very nice lace; always maintaining a thin, creamy surface covering. The aroma is limited to some mild, fairly non-descript malt. The body is medium and it's fine and moderate carbonation leaves it lightly crisp and smooth on the tongue. It's not at all creamy, however, and I kind of wish there was something going on to give the beer some more character. The flavor delivers exactly what might be expected from the name with some caramel maltiness that's enhanced by a soft roastiness. There's a mild chocolatey note and some berry-like fruitiness that add to it's character. It's well-balanced with the hop bitterness supporting the darkish malt. It's roastiness add to the dryness of its short-lived finish with some residual caramel notes as well. Fairly interesting and well done, but nothing spectacular.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Chestnut with bright orange highlights... that becomes dark crimson when backlit. Up top is a golden beige, whipped creamy cap that is laying down quite a bit of lace in shredded sheets. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the appearance is along the lines of a light porter. This is one of the better looking Matt Brewing Company beers that I've seen.

The nose is too weak. Repeated sniffs allow me to (barely) appreciate heavily toasted/lightly roasted malt that has no cocoa notes whatsoever. Vanguard, a Hallertau variant, is the single hop in use. That's a good choice for a Munich dunkel lager, but it doesn't contribute much to the aroma.

Prior to seeing the style listed above, I wondered what in the world a 'chocolate amber' might taste like. I thought it might be some sort of black and tan. After tasting Saranac Chocolate Amber, I think I'm at least as correct as BA (Munich dunkel lager) or the brewery's website (European style dark lager).

In my experience, neither one of those styles is this roasted malty, this chocolate-like or this full in the mouth. Black and tan (or even porter) fits the beer much better. Having said that, it isn't an outstanding version of any one of those styles. It's too grainy to be considered much better than above average. I do like the Vanguard hops though. Their bitterness and their spicy noble flavor is just what the beer needs.

The brewery describes the mouthfeel as 'heavy'. I guess that depends on what style one chooses to compare it too. For a relatively low ABV lager, I'd say they have a point. I like the beer's girth, but it could stand to have some of its rough edges smoothed out. In that sense, it isn't very lager-like.

Saranac Chocolate Amber is a strange beast that, in my opinion, is best thought of as a black and tan. In looking back at my review of the brewery's actual Black & Tan, which I consider to be one of their best offerings, I don't see a whole lot of difference between that beer and this one. SCA is a little too unrefined to be a star, but is a reasonably pleasant brew all the same.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.84/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

i have been assembling full lineups from breweries and randomly doin these horizontal tastings with my family. The saranac one from a couple weeks ago was more then epic as it took months to gather all of these, but it was a hell of a fun night! Big thanks to Alex for pulling through on the bulk of these

very dark and nearly completely black in color with the exception of some touches of red around the sides and the bottom of the glass. Nice tan head came up and over the top and settled down after a few minutes, dropping a nice amount odd side glass lace in the process. Aroma was light, lots of caramel malts and bready notes dominate. Warming it brings out light notes of grain as well. Smooth taste here with a medium body that was well carbonated. Nice feel across the tongue with very sweet notes that seem to get stronger as it rolls forward. Almost a peat like touch to it as well at times. Very drinkable as the flavor was not over powering and the light ABV made it go down quite nicely.

really shocked by how nice this one was, really a stellar example of the style and one of the better beers of the night.

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Photo of Jason
2.83/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

A: Dim and dark leather brown, somewhat impressive head that holds together quite well.

S: Vague roasted aroma, smells of coffee dust with an odd dextrin and powdered carob backing.

T & M: Moderate carbonation with a slick and creamy medium body, lacking in crispness a bit. More unsweetened baker’s chocolate in the roasted character than anything else.The roasted twang nearly strips the lager characteristics away as it adds a twang of fruitiness and faint acrid porter like flavors. Hops are a bit small in stature as to let the malt come though, a touch of bitterness. Very malty but flavors seem mismatched especially when the beer dries up in the finish.

Drinkability & Notes: A little hard to put down due to the husky and mildly acrid flavors. There are many other dark lagers that are worthy of my palate as this one does not make the cut as far as my taste goes.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.51/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Right off the bat, I could only get it to prduce a very thin, off-white head that had little retention. The color was a deep, dark brown with ruby highlights. The nose was sweet, especially with a cocoa scent. Mouthfeel was medium-to-thick with a light chocolate presence in the mouth. The finish had a full, effervescent feel to it with the same light chocolatiness continuing.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.22/5  rDev +29.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appears a deep ruby brown with highlights coming through head forms a milky coffee tone with a biscuit texture to it and good retention. Aroma has a dark chocolate roasts with herbal hops coming through very nice roasts come off with a cofee and dark chocolate presence. Flavor has creamy mild cofee with bitter dark chocolate notes big herbal hop flavor with mild bitterness nice but kinda porterish to me, also has a clean roasty mild fruity note it's just solid. Mouthfeel is medium bodied even carbonation silky feel to it on the palate. Drinkability is outstanding stuff more like a porter than a chocolate amber although I haven't had many to compare it to...I wouldn't mind seeing this one year round.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep copper color with a stingy white head minimal retention and lace. Smells of caramel, butterscotch, Hershey's chocolate syrup, light bit of roasted grains with little to no hop presence. Taste is sweet with chocolate, vanilla, caramel, hints of coffee. There's barely any lupulin to be found in this brew and the sweetness builds because of it. Medium body and carbonation level with a creamy syrupy mouthfeel. Sweetness aside this is not a bad brew. The label claims they use cacao nibs in this, I was thinking it taste more like chocolate extract myself. I'll bet this would be good over ice cream.

 612 characters

Photo of smakawhat
2.91/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from the bottle into a tall pilsner glass.

Light orange copper body, mostly clear, but a little difficult to see through. Good mix of slow and fast rising carbonation. Head is off white, a faint tan, very light creamy retention, and settles slowly. Not a bad looking brew.

Very faint malts, and a very close bouquet. There's not much going on here, however some powdered cacao and dryness sneaks out just a little hint of what might be coming. Virtually no malt presence at all.

Palate on first sip is really not that great. A good crisp lager like feel, but there's not malt backbone to this. A strange taste in the mid palate of bile. Aftertaste brings a little bit of dried and roasted cocoa powder. More like instant Quik, but without any depth. Clean but mostly a light yeast sensing finish if anything.

Overall the thing that I find odd on this is there is not even a hint of sweetness from the malts or anything else. I am not into sweet, but couldn't there somehow be some sweetness here and particularly malt depth to this beer? I'll pass.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.38/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: thick brown color, nearly opaque, with a generous, frothing, creamy tan head.
Aroma: light, wispy, tiny hints at nuts & cocoa.
Some hops show breifly at the front, followed by a faint chocolatey feel that's just barely there. Texture's nice, quite grabbable.
Malt does it's job well enough.
Quite drinkable, although this fails to deliver on the "chocolate" promise.
Still, an interesting approach for a lager, not a bad beer at all.

 450 characters

Photo of Billolick
3.16/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

This 12 oz. bottle was from a 2006 "Beers of Winter" variety pack.None of the Saranac beers in this box has any freshness dating. Pours clear ruby almond with a nice looking tiny bubble head, film and then wispy lacing. Nose is of dark chocolate and sweet malts. This is a sugary sweet ale, chocolate and cocoa quite present in the flavor profile. Perhaps with dessert? Not my cup of tea...

 390 characters

Photo of tempest
3.26/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

First beer sampled out of the 12 Beers of Winter.

Impressive head over a golden brown body. Not much lacing, but good head retention.

Smells a little sweet with some malt. A tasty beer that isn't anything out of the ordinary for the style but is nevertheless satisfying. Rich malty flavor and a little crispness from the carbonation.

Wouldn't really seek this out if I was at the brewery, but its a nice change of pace and goes well with my dinner.

 457 characters

Photo of Gavage
2.99/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Part of the winter seasonal mixed 12 pack.

Appearance: pours a nice clear burgandy brown color with a thin 1" head that falls quickly.

Smell: dull light roasted malts is all the nose picks up.

Taste: roasted malts are up front but thin. Some caramel, soft chocolate, and barely any bitterness makes this a dull beer.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp at the start and finish. Little aftertaste. Thinner in body than expected.

Drinkability: not that impressive as this is thin and just plain dull. Not one of the highlights of this mixed 2 pack. The best part of this beer is the way it looks.

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Photo of WesWes
3.95/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a translucent dark brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice malty scent that is slightly chocolatey and has a roasted barley aroma. The taste is good as well. It has a smooth, malty flavor that goes down easy and finishes chocolatey and slightly dry. The mouthfeel is decent. It is a medium/full bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a good brew. I've had better, but it drinks well; another quality beer from Saranac.

 500 characters

Photo of plaid75
3.68/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark amber hue with a one finger foamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a solid grainy malt with a mild caramel sweetness. Mild flowery hop aroma as well.

The taste cosisted of a soft caramel malt with a mild dry cocoa bitterness. Good toasted grain finish.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness.

Overall a very tasty lager. Easy to drink and rather robust.

 413 characters

Photo of Derek
3.62/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Brown-black with a ring of tan head, no retention, hint of leg/lace.

S: Chocolate & dark bread. Very nice malt profile.

T: Chocolate, grain, light spicing & bread.

M: Well-attenuated moderate body has an off-dry finish.

D: A decent drinker.

Thanks for sharing Jay!

 272 characters

Photo of clayrock81
3.11/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A darkish brown, almost black body with a tan, two finger head that stuck around for awhile. A light, roasted malt smell with maybe a hint of hops. A decent, dry roasted malt taste, medium=boided and creamy. Very light chocolate notes and a rather bland, syrupy beer. Not too bad, but not worth seeking out.

 307 characters

Photo of akorsak
3.33/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A bottle fromt he 2006 Winter Seasonal pack.

A: The beer is a deep brown, almost black color. When held to light, the beer has ruby red highlights. The head was thick on first pour but has little retention and no lace.

S: The lager has a crisp, sweet milk chocolate aroma that is paired with a grainy malt body.

T: The lager's malt body is the first flavor to register. It is grainy and cereal-like with just a hint of sweetness. The chocolate flavors emerge in the finish, where a roasted sweetness emerges and rounds out the taste. Hops are negligible.

M: The chocolate is not as intense as I would like and that lack of flavor really focuses the palate on the thinness of the grain body.

D: I see myself having a bottle or two before the flavors overwhelm my palate.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.71/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, part of the Saranac 12 beers of winter pack. Served in a Sam Adams BL glass, the beer pours very dark brown with an inch and a half frothy tan head. Head retention and lacing are both pretty good. It smells like chocolate and roasted malt, not much else to it. Taste is similar to the aroma, with a bit of bitter hops in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium, it's nice and smooth with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is good too. Overall I think this is a good beer, I could drink quite a few of these at a time. It could use a little more chocolate IMO, but it's still good. Not a bad choice at all!

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Photo of RBorsato
4.6/5  rDev +40.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I'm going to join the minority too - I think this is by far the best Saranac brew out there !

Dark Brown (Auburn to light) with a nice full beige head and decent lace. Nice dark malty aroma with light roastiness. Nice roasty and light chocolate flavors. Medium-Full bodied with a light roasty finish.

Per "Best American Beers" book: 5.8% ABV, "Robust Munich Style Dunkel", "Spring Seasonal" (actually think it may be brewed more often now..)

Saranac Holiday Pack: 2002

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Photo of Brad007
3.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a black color with an ample brown head. Aroma is smooth and malty with a hint of chocolate in the nose. Taste is much of the same. Kind of sweet on the tongue with the lager characteristics shining through a very thin layer of roastiness. Very drinkable and simple. A good start for the style. The chocolate part is subtle and could use a bit more "oomph".

 362 characters

Photo of Bighuge
2.75/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance is a clear deep ruby color. Creamy ivory white head is small and then gone. Lacing is adequate. This beer is barely average. A little bit of bitterness. A little bit of roastedness. No chocolate malt or plain chocolate appears on my palate. It's a pretty bland beer. Body is closer to light than to medium. This one doesn't do jackshit for me. Marketing ploy in my opinion. Chocolate Amber Lager?

 418 characters

Photo of Jwale73
3.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a standard pint glass. Color was dark brown, almost black. Head was off-white and dissipated almost immediately into little more than a thin skim. Scent of malt and chocolate. Taste similar to nose. Mouthfeel was on the watery side with a little effervescence on the tongue, but somewhat of a chalky finish. A more or less mediocre brew.

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Saranac Chocolate Amber Lager from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.27 out of 5 based on 227 ratings.
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