Saranac Caramel Porter | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

803 Ratings
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Saranac Caramel PorterSaranac Caramel Porter

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

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-05-2001

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Reviews: 452 | Ratings: 803
Photo of udfan07
4.84/5  rDev +54.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I am surprised that people don't like this beer. This is one of my favorite beers from Saranac. I love the caramel taste and the bitterness that comes with the beer. It's like drinking a caramel candy in a beer and I enjoy drinking it each time I have it.

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Photo of hophugger
3.02/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Smelled like caramel hard candy, very excited !.Color is deep and head was light and no where what I was expecting. Taste was a touch offputting and artificial and the sweetness overpowered what should have been a better balanced beer. Sugary candy was too much and malt, hops and other significant flavors were subdued and lost

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Photo of q33jeff
1.78/5  rDev -43.3%
look: 2.25 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 1.75


Where’s the Caramel? Where’s the porter for that matter. This seems to be a medium brown ale with a little extra coloring to disguise it as a porter. Aroma is vegetable. Dark brown color, small white head. Taste is grass, veggie. Something like raisin in the finish. Low carb.

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Photo of gutterpunktarzan
4.23/5  rDev +34.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Really good offering from saranac. I purchase at least a 6 pack every year. I'm not sure why some reviewers would buy this if they don't like the caramel flavor.

It has a nice light roast flavor with some sweet caramel after taste. Lots of caramel flavor as others have stated. More of a desert beer for me, one and done. But I still go back to it every year!

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Photo of jlindros
3.03/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a light fizzy head that fades semi quickly, super dark molasses brown color.

Nose biscuity toffee, big fake caramel, syrupy sugar, molasses like, little dark toasty malt, imitation vanilla.
Taste brings more fake caramel and imitation vanilla, cola syrup a Mr Pib like cola, sweet syrup and little biscuit malt, toasted brown malt. Sticky syrupy finish, more imitation caramel and cola syrup.

Mouth is med bod, lighter carb.

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Photo of Brew_42
3.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Dark brown with a tan head

Smells good. Caramel and malts. A little butterscotch.

Taste follows the nose but not with as much intensity as one might hope. Also a hint of Apple that I didn't pick up on the nose.

Medium body.

Not a great beer.

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Photo of josansbury6
3.86/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pilsner glass.
Good dark brown to blackish color. Formed a nice brown head.
Don't remember much in terms of a distinctive smell.
Tasted malty and sweet.
Went down smooth.
Overall not a stand out beer but a good Porter none the less.

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Photo of utopiajane
3.22/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Pours brown with honey and amber hues in it. A ruby glint will show you good clarity but as the beer drinks you will notice this pale malt color bleeding through. Amiable tan head of foam that fell well and left lace. Strong scent of caramel like you just unwrapped a carmel. Roasty malt notes fall to the background but do creep froward as the beer warms. Taste is strong caramel. Earthy hop with plenty of herbal and spice. The hops are more pungent than you realize but it's a ton of caramel. Crisp carbonation and a medium dry robust finish. There is some residual sweetness and it's a quite a bit but not gross.

I do not prefer this beer. I think that allowing the caramel to dominate the flavor is just too much for me personally. It's well made but I dislike the flavor. The porter has the roasty darker flavor forward and usually the caramel is a secondary flavor. it clashes with the beer all that strong caramel and even the colors appear to clash in the glass. Finishes overly sweet with no roast to linger , no fruity esters.

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Photo of CNoj012
3.39/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a brown color with ruby highlights and a nice khaki head. There is nice retention and spotted lacing. Smell is very strong caramel and sweet malts. Taste is the same, way too sweet. Feel is very light for the style and almost creamy. Overall too sweet and not a fan.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.57/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

The beer pours a nice tan head that dissipates very quickly. The beer itself is an opaque brown. The overall look isn't bad and is actually kind of nice to look at. Although, it definitely resembles more of a brown ale than any porter I've seen before.

The smell is pretty nice if not overly simple. There is a very, very strong caramel note that dominates the aroma but is offset a bit with a nice hop bitterness that easily gets lost in the smell.

The taste resembles the smell but is much more balanced than the smell. The caramel sweetness is still pretty strong though. The hop bitterness is much stronger and does a better job of balancing out the sweetness. Although,it's probably a little hard to drink anything else directly after this.

The feel is nice if a tiny bit syrupy. The beer has a very dry finish and very little carbonation.

Overall, I think that this is a very decent beer and worth trying. At the very least, it's a very nice beer to finish off an evening with.

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Photo of MECove
4.62/5  rDev +47.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Wow, this one surprised me! It sounded enticing as a seasonal flavor, and I've appreciated several other Saranacs, but it was still better than my expectations. It's got a decently thick head that lingers (1/3 of an inch). It's only 5.4% but so delicious that you can drink plenty of them. It can be a dessert or an evening delight. It's got a calm roasted after-taste, a sweet aroma, and a slight hint of sparkle as it goes down. It's almost like drinking a cold, carbonated caramel coffee!

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Photo of AngryDutchman
4.73/5  rDev +50.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

After reading the scores and reviews, I wonder if I was even drinking the same beer.

I thought it was delicious, smooth, malty and sweet and found it very easy to drink one after another after another...I'd been a huge Saranac fan but last year's Chai brown ale really turned me off. I'm glad they brought this out. I'm inclined to run back to the distributor to get the other case they had on the floor.

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Photo of momof8fay
4.86/5  rDev +54.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This is by far my favorite beer. Despite what is said elsewhere, this is a seasonal beer and was sold out throughout my area (Syracuse) by the time I went back to attempt to buy more of it last spring. It was also sold out at Saranac (I would have driven 45 minutes to buy them out ).
Some flavored beers are over-flavored; this one is not. Just the right amount of caramel flavor in my opinion.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
2.97/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.25

12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with a finger of off-white-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Nice aromas of slightly bready, roasted malt, caramel and brown sugar. Not much in the way of any other aromas though. Smells quite a bit on the sweet-side, almost cloyingly.

Taste: Only ok. Lots of roasted malt up front, followed by strong, sweet, flavors of caramel. However, the caramel tastes fake, like it’s from a syrup or extract, rather than real caramel. It’s not a bad beer, but not a real good one either. It is however, disappointing.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and very, very smooth as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 5.4%, there is no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is only an ok porter. Good idea, great idea, actually, but poorly executed. The caramel comes off as fake and chemical, rather than natural and delicious. I’d pass on this beer if offered again. Saranc needs to take this back to the drawing board and come up with a better recipe.

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Photo of TappaKeggaBrew
2.35/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Fairly dark brown, although a bit lighter than a typical porter. There's a finger of golden-brown head that hangs around for a few minutes.

S: Reminiscent of a typical brown ale, with lots of toasted malt, and a little bit of hops. There's also a hint of cola, which surprised me.

T: Not good! I'd thought this would be at least decent based on the look and a smell, but this tastes really bad. Sure, there's the Bready malt I expected, but there's also a cloying sweetness and a chemical taste that's really off-putting (artificial caramel flavor?) and ruins the whole experience.

M: I didn't even notice -- the taste has my full attention.

O: A drain pour, after 2 sips (I don't know why I didn't stop at one).

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Photo of Mrbseward
3.7/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured a dark brown with a cream colored head. Has the typical warm smell of a porter with notes of caramel. Taste is good, not strong like some porters and goes down easy. Overall very good beer.

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Photo of Antc2382
3.43/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

It's actually pretty well balanced. I don't get a ton of caramel in it. To be honest, it's too carbonated in the mouthfeel for the style. It has a rich taste, but the problem is the mouthfeel is not smooth enough. Decent beer though, it's drinkable

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Photo of pjkelley82
3.1/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nothing horrible and there are a lot worse examples of beer than this one. One member said it should be a brown ale, couldn't agree more. It's okay, not something the craft aficionados would go Gaga over but something to bring to a party and others will enjoy.

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Photo of Beejay
2.59/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a rich brown, in the glass it is near black with a deep tan colored head.

S: Caramel.. sure is a lot of it. Smells a little on the fake side.

T: Meh. Could be a decent porter, but tastes like a bunch of sugar substitute caramel flavor was added.

M: Medium light in body, but with a syrup like feel. Carbonation is medium , and there is a certain amount of cling to the body.

O: I could see this appeasing the masses, but for me it misses the mark. Seems artificially sweet, and cloying. I simply don't think I can finish this.

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Photo of A_Frayed_Knot
2.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3

My first Saranac in a long time, there's been too many others to enjoy! From the bottle poured a cola-color with very light lace skimming the surface. The caramel has nowhere to hide, I might have confused myself with procuring candy for Halloween not porter as a mix sixer for New Year's. Complements the malt but risks overwhelming it too. Not really in disagreement with my palate but not likely a repeat purchase. Will be interesting to compare to another in the mix-six I selected purely by accident, Shiner's "Birthday Beer" a chocolate stout. Luckily accident though since I'll be spending 12/31/14 at a party hosted by a New Year's baby, hope his sweet tooth is in gear for that as mine was for the Saranac.

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Photo of Gajo74
3.74/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a brown color with a nice thick head that showed good retention throughout; a nice frothy lace. Aroma was malty sweet and heavy on caramel and sugars. A very sweet taste that is balanced by a slight dry finish. Not much hops but just enough to counterbalance the sweetness. Decent feel; perhaps not as robust as other porters. In fact, this one was kind of light for the style. Light carbonation that does however sting the tongue a bit.
In an effort not to be influenced by other BA reviews, I either take notes or make a mental rating before posting here. Thus far, I find that my ratings are consistent with the general consensus. However, in this case I'm surprised by the negative rating and reviews for this one and find that it is one of the few cases that I massively overrated a brew as compared to the average. I'm really not sure what so many people are turned off by here. I could maybe understand how the sweetness is a turn off but not on such a massive scale. Granted this is not the best porter I have had by a long shot, however, I find it to be a pleasant brew that I would have no problem drinking again.

 1,130 characters

Photo of BigBry
3.25/5  rDev +3.5%

Standard pint at Buffalo's Tap House.
Pours a brownish copper color, thin floating cap of foam, no lace or retention.
The smell is unexpectedly nice, mild chocolate and lots of caramel cream sweetness.
The taste had lots of caramel and toffee, sweet and a touch cloying, but not over the top.
Creamy and smooth, nice malty porter base. Medium body and mouth feel.
I liked it, but one was probably enough.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.05/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours an opaque yet clear very dark brownish amber (almost black) in color with moderate amount of active visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and hints of garnet red highlights. The beer has a finger tall foamy beige head that reduces to a large patch of mottled thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer with a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of caramel candies and toffee with a light aroma of roasted malts. Maybe the lightest hint of butterscotch.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of caramel malts with a light hint of roasted malts way underneath (int he background). That is followed by moderate flavors of caramel candies, toffee, and butterscotch. Light amounts of sweetness which lingers but is not cloying. No perceptible hop flavors.

M: Light bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Slightly thin/watery.

O: Too sweet and too thin to be a beer that I would want to have more than one of in a single session. Not bad but not one I will be picking up again anytime soon.

 1,108 characters

Photo of WhiteHillsStore
3.73/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

I seem to like this beer a lot more than other people. The appearance is a nice dark hazel or brown with a nice head. The smell is sweet with a lot of the caramel as well as toasted scents from the malt. The taste is delicious with a full beginning with the toasted malt flavor and then ends on the sweet caramel. The only problem I had was it is a little thin for a porter. I might have nostalgia glasses on, but I still love this beer.

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Photo of Foyle
2.52/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance: Pours a fluffy 2” off white head recedes slowly leaving faint lacing. Color is deep ruby red but mostly opaque, moderate carbonation bubbles visible.
Aroma: if you like caramel you should love the smell of this beer. Aroma is exactly like Brach’s caramel cubes with some toasted barley malt and earthy hop in the background.
Mouthfeel: Fairly light and watery, especially for the style. Finish is dry.
Flavor: caramel dominates along with licorice, toasted bread, mild hop presence
Overall: This is a good beer. Not outstanding but nothing here really excites me. Most memorable aspect is the caramel which I have never found more intense in any other beer. I love caramel, but in this beer it could use a little balance.

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Saranac Caramel Porter from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.14 out of 5 based on 803 ratings.
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