Saranac Caramel Porter | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

452 Reviews
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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 Sammy
2.95/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

well malted and carmel to make go down A melange of porter and burnt rubber and maybe burnt wood. Highly roasted aftertaste. Nice colour. Medium mouthfeel. Sweet but not cloying. In any case, I will save the rest for tenderizing meat in the slow cooker.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.4/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

it sounds so tempting but the execution of this brew is off a little to me. pours dark and enticing, but smells like an artificial caramel than the real butter and burnt sugar authentic article. taste is the same, like a nice porter meets a sugardaddy. lousy caramel on a stick... the texture of the porter is really smooth and the mouthfeel of this beer is quite good. overall it is a nice winter beer from time to time, defnitely too weird to be sessionable. i would love to try a different caramel porter, but this is the only one i have ever seen, so bonus points for originality.

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Photo of metter98
2.96/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: The beer is very dark amber (close to near black) in color and poured with a thin tan head that quickly died down.
S: Aromas of caramel--the sugary kind, not caramel malts--prominently stand out in the nose.
T: As in the smell, sweet caramel flavors dominate the overall taste, which has notes of roasted malts. No bitterness from the hops is perceptible.
M: It feels light-bodied and a bit watery on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation.
D: The high amount of sweetness in this beer doesn't make it one that goes down very easily. There's no way I could drink more than one of these at a time.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.84/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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

I see this beer has taken a bit of a beating but I was pleasantly surprised. It is sweet, but in a good way in my opinion. Smells and tastes like a pure caramel, almost like eating a sugar daddy.. man I love those things. The appearance and mouthfeel weren't too great but I couldn't get over the great taste. Maybe I'm just a sucker for caramel but I loved this beer.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.18/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Unique in its dedicated focus to the taste of Mrs. Butterworth's caramel flavor, the insane taste throws the traditional porter flavor to the side and favors the sweet tooth above that of fans of the standard dark toasty ales.

Very dark brown in appearance, the beer shows solid clarity with it's onyx-like mirror depths. Capped with a sandy-tan head the beer rises with a stern medium-dense head but lightens to a thin sheet before holding firm. Light isolated pockets of foam lace the glass timidly.

Caramel, butterscotch, and popcorn govern the nose while a light backdrop of chocolate, toast, and cola offer weak support. Milky malt aromas are evident and give the beer a slight yogurt-like aroma. Hops never make their way into the aroma conversation.

The lighter taste of coffee, chocolate and toast recede immediately and invite the stronger and sweeter taste of butterscotch, caramel, and buttered popcorn to completely dominate the taste. Although the sweetness is pleasant and dessert-like, the beer severely lacks the support needed to become a proper porter. Mild woodish bitterness closes the session with a light hop balance that never really balances the sweetness.

The beer's mouthfeel may its largest determent. Medium-sweet to start, the beer doesn't allow the creamy textures of carbonation and malt to emerge, instead relying on sheer caramel and grain sweetness to coat the tongue for a texture that's best reserved for cream soda- not bad, but not what I want in a porter. It's tacky warmth and residual sweetness is all that extends in finish.

Because I'm a bit of a sucker for these sweeter and more succulent tastes, I have a tendency to exercise a kinder hand in review. But the lack of true porter-like character makes the base beer seeming like a very nondescript dark ale of America or Europe- except with the deceiving succulence of artificial caramel sweetness. The beer may make for a nice ice cream float.

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Photo of largadeer
1.42/5  rDev -54.8%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Appearance: Clear brown, looks more like a brown ale than a porter. The head dissipates pretty quickly, leaving the thinnest of films on top.

Smell: Smells like... caramel. Not caramel malt, but intensely sugary caramel candy. I'm not the biggest fan of candy, so I can't say that this appeals to me at all.

Taste & mouthfeel: Thankfully not as disgustingly sweet as the aroma, the taste nevertheless still has that ultra-refined caramel candy flavor. There's a bit of roastiness as well, but it's fighting a losing battle against the sickly sweet caramel. The finish is sweet and a bit thin, again, more like a brown ale. Just with really excessive caramel flavor. This is kinda gross.

Notes: One-dimensional and honestly pretty bad. I guess this might appeal to someone with a serious sweet tooth, as it really is like drinking alcoholic caramel.

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Photo of zeff80
3.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out black/dark brown with a pillowy, tan, one-finger head. Left just a touch of lace.

S - I smelled of caramel and almost a little like a red wine.

T - It tasted of caramel and a fruity sweet quality. The taste also reminded me of the tannin-like flavors in a red wine.

M - The mouthfeel was soft and creamy. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a very interesting porter. It is not very porter-like. There is a fruity/tannin quality reminds me of a red wine, like a merlot or a cabernet. Very interesting.

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Photo of Thorpe429
2.84/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a moderate caramel-copper color and really doesn't have any sort of head at all. It's a bit murky and there isn't any real lacing. The nose is actually quite nice with some very mild chocolate plus a good dose of toffee and caramel, leaning toward the former. The taste is a mess with the toffee really taking over and it tastes just like liquid candies. Feel is a bit too sweet and moderately cloying. Does not drink well and is just a bit too much of a novelty.

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

Got this in the holiday variety 12-pack,thought it would be alot better than it was.Poured a dark/amber color with with a medium tan colored head.True to the name caramel was the dominant smell I got almost overpowering,the taste like the smell was very caramelly with a little chocolate/earthy tone but I would have liked more balance there.A good try but not one of the best porters I have had.

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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 NeroFiddled
3.53/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, very deep mahogany body with crimson highlights. The creamy, light-tan head holds well; and it even leaves some spotty lace. But it's not the appearance that gets your attention so much as the sweet caramel and cake-icing nose! It really smells like a dollop of rich vanilla/butter/sugar icing! It's clearly from an extract; and it's a bit odd, perhaps, but not off-putting. The body is medium; and it's smooth and creamy in the mouth due to a very fine and moderate carbonation - anything else would work against the sweet maltiness that's present in the flavor. The caramel that's promised is certainly delivered, although I wonder where the porter side of things went? There are some toasty notes, and a mild chocolate character; but its more of a sweet, winter dessert beer than anything else. Hop bitterness is present but minimal, and it finishes with a lingering maltiness. Quite unusual and interesting, but very one-sided. Still, I can certainly imagine lingering over one following a large Thanksgiving dinner.

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Photo of chinchill
3.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle left out to warm for about 15 minutes, then served in a snifter.

A: pours a deep mahogany with a slight haze. The head is tan and short-lived, excepting a nice ring and some 'islands'.

Nothing subtle about the caramel in either the aroma or the flavor: it dominates both. The caramel seems a bit artificial in the aroma (3.25) but more natural in the flavor. There is a solid medium-roast malt background, but this is not as dark or robust as it should be in a porter, especially one with this much additional flavor. A bit sweet, but in keeping with the strong caramel presence.

M: Medium body with a semi-dry finish. Ideally, this should be smoother.

O: uniquely flavored beer with a pronounced caramel aspect. I really enjoy this one from time to time, although it is one of those "one is enough" beers.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.57/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is heavy with a sugary candy-like caramel sweetness. Beyond that it was tough to pick up much else, some vanilla, a little bit of roasted malt and a touch of hops was about it.

T: The same intense candy caramel sweetness that you get in the smell dominates the taste. There are some background flavors of spice, vanilla & chocolate. The malt character is strong but not too heavy and the hops presence is a little bit stronger than the smell would lead you to believe. The after-taste is very sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, the finish is very sticky.

D: This beer has intrigued me since I heard about it and it was darn close to what I was expecting. If you can handle the extreme sweetness it’s a little tasty and can go down easily enough. It’s not very filling and is a decent representation of style apart from the caramel twist. This beer would probably go perfectly with many desserts, but I’m not sure I could sit and drink more than one or two these in a sitting without getting sugar overload in my taste buds.

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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.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.13/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Darkest caramel with brilliant scarlet and orange highlights... that becomes dark crimson with backlighting. The khaki colored cap is three fingers to start and required a small slurp after a vigorous pour. This is pretty much how I'd expect a caramel porter to look.

If you're going to give your beer this name, then you'd better make sure it smells like caramel. Caramel malt probably isn't enough, which is why the brewery added natural caramel flavor. Although it isn't an amazing nose by any means, mission accomplished. Sweet caramel is mixed with what smells like a garden variety porter.

I'm less impressed when it comes to the actual drinking. Something doesn't seem quite right and I can't decide if it's the caramel or the porter talking. I guess it could be both. There isn't much malt on hand, which is never a good thing when it comes to beer of this style. Maybe it's the artificial sweetness. It tastes as if saccharine is present rather than malt sugars.

Other than a mild tightening on the finish, and an increasingly bitter linger, I can't appreciate much contribution from the Fuggles or East Kent Goldings hops. No matter, malt should be able to carry a porter if enough is utilized. The lack of it in this beer hits the mouthfeel pretty hard. I'm reminded of a dark lager more than a porter.

Caramel Porter is my twelfth Matt Brewing Company beer and I haven't given one of them a flavor score higher than 3.5. That has to be some sort of a personal record. This brewery seems to be constantly spinning its wheels, putting out style after style without gaining any sort of traction toward what I would consider good craft beer. Call me an optimist or call me an idiot, I still have hope that one will surprise me someday.

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

Pours an effervescent chestnut tinged brown with 2+ fingers of fluffy tan head. Good lacing & average head retention

S: Some toasty malt, plums, not a lot else

T: Caramel, toasty malt & dryness, plus leafy hops up front. Roasty malt & dryness are up front as this warms, the caramel tastes a bit less fake. Finishes pretty sweet & dry kind of reminds of some iced coffees I've had over in Asia or Hawaii.. Almost pulled a 3.5, just too sweet

MF: Light/medium bodied with somewhat biting carbonation

Drinks alright I could do a few prior to moving or getting sick of the caramel. If in the right mood I could do this with some doughnuts at breakfast

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.5/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i have been assembling full lineups from breweries and randomly doin these horizontal tasings 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!

Poured a dark brown with a small tan head which faded leaving behind a nice thin film of lace on the top and long sticky strands down the glass. Smell was a tad light, but came through more as it warmed. Roasted malts, caramel, perhaps a touch of coffee were present. Maybe even a hazelnut as it warmed. Taste was great. First off the feel was silky smooth, almost shake like with perfect carbonation that just floated in your mouth. Smooth feel gave way to a full taste, lots of roasted malts and caramel, slight burnt coffee in the back and a dry hop like finish.

overall not bad at all, it had all the parts and just needed a bot more to throw it over the edge to excellence

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Photo of Slatetank
3.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I had this on tap at Peachtree Lounge in Harrisburg -served chilled in a pint.

The color is deep cola brown with mild ruddy highlight with translucent clarity and quick to fall cream cap. The smell is sweet as in caramel aroma sweetness with subtle hint of malt and light yeast fruitiness. The feel is very highly carbonated with moderate sweetness and light sugary tinge with semi-dry finish.

The taste is more caramel than porter with a slight diacetyl type of buttery element with light brown sugar and mild vanilla extract creamy/sweet blend The malt has a mild toasted grain feel, but also seems kind of adjunct flavored like candy corn, not a great flavor but does have the caramel the label promises, just not caramel malt. Overall a pretty average beer, but not a very good porter -it seems like the gimmick of putting caramel in front of the style is more important than it tasting like a porter -seems like caramel extract dominates the flavor of this.

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Photo of smcolw
3.25/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Brown (dark, dark amber) with a touch of red; decent beige head; no appearance of cloudiness.

Aroma: caramel (surprise, surprise) and vanilla but little else. Lots of sugars. Reminds me of a tray of candy apples.

As expected, a very sweet beer. The caramel comes through strongest in the aftertaste although it is prevalent throughout the tasting. I find it a tad bit overwhelming. With effort, I can also detect some darker malts (chocolate and crystal). While the label notes some English hops (Fuggles & Kent Goldings), I had trouble picking them up until late in the aftertaste.

I like the uniqueness of this beer but not the overpowering sweetness. Not really a porter in my mind, but it could be an excellent and special dessert beer. I'm torn on the scoring: as a Porter, this is very different and not very accurate. As a sweet beer, I could see this with a fine cheese course or a tart dessert and would highly recommend it as a special treat. So I rated the taste as a Porter and the "drinkability" as a dessert beer.

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Photo of Jason
2.71/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12 oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

A: Nearly impressive head retention and lacing, pretty light in color for a porter with a brown hue with reddish highlights.

S: Smells like a piece of cake, not beer but cake. Very sweet, after a few more sniffs it smells like a thick cream soda and butterscotch. Oh yeah all of this is saturated by caramel and lots of it.

T & M: Smooth and creamy, I’d be real disappointed if it was not this way coming from a flavored beer as some don’t even try.Cloying sweet, malt sweetness is there but then there is the caramel flavoring that just breaks the palate with sweetness. Hops? They are there but do little and are hard to find. Faint roasted and toasted malt add a mild chocolate flavor that just help the cloying sweetness along. Finishes with a long, long sweet flavor.

Drinkability & Notes: This should be treated as a dessert beer and that is all, this is too damn sweet. I looked for the sweetness knowing what was on the label and it smacked my palate around, it was hard to drink another after this one let alone another beer all together as it ruined my palate with that cloying sweetness and caramel flavor.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.8/5  rDev +21%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Duvel tulip glass.

Thanks to Cuzco for this bottle!

Reviewed blind as part of Blind BIF #4:
The pour results in a pretty nice dark brown topped by a healthy tan foamy head. The nose comprises light roasted malts, caramel, light toasted toffee, brown sugar...honestly it smells like a really nice cookie, kinda like the base cookie that normally holds a Hershey Kiss. You know the one I mean. The taste brings the roast and caramel back, now joined by a hint of licorice, a sharp stab of mild blueberry (okay...), a wave of vanilla, some random pinpricks of raisins and figs, and it all wraps up together into an oatmeal raisin cookie-esque configuration. The body is a sleek medium, with a mild carbonation and a smooth, slightly grainy feel. Overall, a very nice beer, one I could see easily drinking an entire sixer of on a number of occasions (if 'twere possible, o' course).

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

This beer poured with a thin, light-tan head that quickly dissipated to nothingness. The color was a deep brown with ruby highlights. The nose was very sweet, carmelized, with a light smokiness. Mouthfeel was full with a smoky, sweet taste on the tongue. The finish was really caramel-like, with a taste not unlike sucking on a Sugar Pop. My fillings ached from the memory. I cannot say that it was an unpleasant experience, unlike some malt-driven beers in recent memory, but it still was not my cup of tea.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.9/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours deep ruby brown with a nice full tan head sorta chunky textured as well, lacing appears in full patches excellent appearance. Aroma: Robust tones of caramel blended with sweet but slightly harsh dark roasted malts, not too much chocolate but this is one of the best from the Matt Brewing Co. I've had tasted so far. Flavor: Doesn't kill me with over caramel tone but it complements the darker roasts and provides an excellent sweetness that gives it vanilla like tones. Mouthfeel: Not a thick bodied porter medium if that very smooth and silky, great. Drinkability: Couldn't fathom downing these brews in number but for the sheer flavor profile just excellent I would definitely sample again in the future.

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

Thanks to Eric for the bottle. Poured from a 12oz brown bottle with no indication of freshness into a SA sensory glass. This brew appear a dark brown color with pretty decent clarity and less than a finger of dark tan head that fades fairly quick. Some large bubbles rise to the surface from the etching on the bottom of the glass. The cap does not hold beyond a thin layering across the top. Sips and swirls reveal a bit of faint patch lacework on the glass. When held to the light, this brew displays quite a bit of dark brown clarity and ruby highlights.

The aroma of this brew is very sweet with a scent of caramel/toffee and a bit more sweetness that is somewhat reminiscent of vanilla. A touch of citrus hops impart a bit of a fruity aspect as well as some mineral/metallic scents through the later portion of the nose. Initially this brew smells very sweet and pleasing but never really comes together and seems a bit awkward.

The taste of this brew is a bit fruity and sweet. It has a flavor of caramel malt mixed with some vanilla sweetness and a touch of toffee. There is a fruity hop/alcohol presence that clashes a bit with the herbal/mineral quality of the hops. This brew finishes with a bit of an herbal hop bitterness that counters the would-be over sweetness of caramel and toffee.

This is a medium bodied brew with a moderate amount of carbonation. The abv crept up a bit for less than 6% and was slightly noticeable but overall this is fairly decent drinking. However, it is quite a contrasting amount of different tastes that dont particularly work well together. The whole idea of a caramel porter is an interesting concept but just didnt quite get it done for me. Worth a try but not something I would enjoy more than just one of.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.68/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown with a thick light tan head. Nose is super caramel, but it's almost like someone put an additive in it, and it's not natural. Flavor is pretty caramel heavy as well. It's nice and robust and flavorful, yes. The artificial edge is just a bit too prevalent. It doesn't make it a bad beer or anything like that though. Feel is good. It's drinkable and nice enough, but like I said before, the artificial edge just doesn't work right.

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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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