Saranac Caramel Porter | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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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: 451 | Ratings: 801
Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.01/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

On tap at Marshall Street Bar and Grill. Have heard bad things about this one, but it was on special for 2.50 a pint, so figured it was now or never.

Pours a dark brown, almost black. No real head to speak of. No lacing, either.

Tastes palatable for about 3-4 oz, then gets weird and bad. Tastes like some sort of caramel extract you'd put into coffee. Overly sugary and cloying, making it a chore to get this one down.

The mouthfeel was boring. The body was thin, with low carbonation.

Not suggested unless you can get it for super cheap.

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Photo of undeadozzy
3.51/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured vigorously into a pint glass, huge head retention. Deep brown color with solid white head. So far, so good.

S - Caramel. I could smell the caramel the second I opened this bottle, it's overwhelming. I can pick up on some saltine cracker and toffee, but the caramel is too dominant.

T - First I get some maltiness, a twang of some hop bitterness, and then a wall of gooey sweetness. It's overly sweet, by no means bad tasting. Tastes like a caramel-flavored baked good, like a cake. Very heavy and whole. Huge tones of pound cake and some maybe a hint of honey or molasses, but the big thing here is the caramel, and there's almost too much of it.

M - The thickness in the flavor adds a certain heaviness to the actual feel of the beer, a little too syrupy and thick for my tastes, but at least it's not watery.

O - All in all, not a bad beer, just proves too much is bad. Definitely a dessert or after-dinner drink, way too much for session drinking. I imagine it would be enjoyable on a cold fall evening with a piece of warm pie or some cobbler. Good dessert beer, bad session beer, but overall a good porter, albeit a little too sweet.

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Photo of illpass78
3.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown with some ruby reddish notes. Held to the light, it's clear and a deep reddish brown with heavy carbonation. On the light end of the color spectrum for a porter.

Aroma: Lots of caramel and burnt sugar in the nose. Also some toast, toffee and barley. It has kind of a wheat cracker note as well. Caramel and sugar dominate, though.

Taste: Unsurprisingly, it's very sweet. Caramel and sugar dominate on the palate. Dark malts are also very noticeable. It's very dessert-like; it would be pretty weird to pair with a meal. It's right on the cusp of being too sweet and having a cloying character, but it's just on the right side of that line. Non-fans of sweet beer would not be into this, but then again, why would someone who doesn't like sweet beer drink a caramel porter?

Mouthfeel: It's kind of watery for a porter. Lacks body. I've been trying a lot of sweet/dessert-style porters lately and this is definitely one of the most watery. That said, it's an easy beer to drink. You could session this, if you wanted, but that would be a lot of sweetness. I wouldn't.

Overall: A solid effort from Saranac, one of the grand old men of the NY beer scene. It's a decent dessert porter that has enough depth and complexity to avoid being just a sugar-bomb. Would probably drink this again if it were the sole craft porter/stout on draft; otherwise, I'm happy to have had it once.

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Photo of Stranger5582
3.55/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Color is dark, dark brown. I nearly confused it for black.

Smell: Sweet.

Taste: I taste grain and caramel, but both feel understated.

Mouthfeel: Medium body . The finish is pleasant, but reminds me more of an ale than a porter.

Overall: I may have this beer again, perhaps in a float. Maybe not, on second thought, it tasted like a caramel-flavored ale. However, it was nice to have a Saranac that was missing the characteristic hop-laden flavoring that makes many of their beers taste like an IPA.

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Photo of hosehead83
3.38/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.
Dark brown with some ruby highlights-big head of off-white foam.
Aroma-Toasted malt, caramel
Taste-Faint roasted barley, caramel, toasted malt, nutty. A bit light-bodied and the flavors don't blow your doors off, but overall a decent, innofensive, affordable brew.

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Photo of sommersb
2.61/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Tasted On: 12-15-2013
Freshness: Not indicated
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Shaker pint
Purchased: 6-pack from Frugal MacDoogal, Nashville

Appearance: Color is dark brown and looks like a cola. The head is a good size, off-white in color, with good lacing and retention.

Smell: Candy-like and sweet, with vanilla, caramel and raisins.

Taste: Malty and sweet, with no hop bitterness. I get some type of vegetable-like off flavors. The vanilla tastes fake as well, so overall not a great taste experience.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with average carbonation. The finish has roasted grains for some bitterness, plus sweetness from the malts and additives.

Overall: This beer was not a hit with me -- there were some off-flavors in the taste and the additives just made it taste like imitation flavors.

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.38/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

12 oz.

Pours a deep clear nut brown, light yellowish film for a head.

Smells of biscuits and caramel with a light vanilla element.

Biscuit malts with a light brown sugar and caramel flavor, some vanilla and cocoa.

Medium body with coarse tingly carbonation on the roof of the mouth.

A fairly average porter, decent flavor but disappointing body. Worth trying but probably not worth going out of your way to find. There are plenty of better porters.

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Photo of redzone3120
3.59/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Very dark color, almost black at first appearance. When held up to the light, the color is a heavy dull brown color. The head is a light creamy color that is very light. The head disappeared quickly after the pour.

S - Not very strong, at least not for what I was expecting. It has a slightly sweet malted aroma with a possibly hint of citrus.

T - I really don't taste much of the caramel over the strong porter flavor. It is also quite bitter to me. Also has notes of coffee and a slight taste a creme.

M - Very smooth and fine. Nice carbonation. All around a nice balance that works well with the heaviness of the flavor.

D - Its a unique porter beer though the novelty wore off for me about half way through. Good twist on the porter style.

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Photo of Mollys2ltl
4.79/5  rDev +52.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Beautiful head. Delicious beer, the label describes it as having a caramel taste but it's more buttery than sweet. It has a molasses flavor but not too strong. The flavor is maintained throughout the glass as it warmed, we served it at about 45 degrees initially. We drank it with a spicy chili and thought it was delicious, and then had sweets afterward and it was still great.

We were lucky to get a case, apparently a regular shopper at one of our local PA beer distributors buys every case they get in their shipments. Two couples shared the case and everyone thoroughly enjoyed Caramel Porter.

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

Looks nearly black with some bone white suds. The aroma coming off of this is ridiculous. 3.5

Milk caramel and roasted grains. Creme Brulee, raisin, and toffee. Smells a bit artificial, but nice. 4.0

Tangy caramel, torched pastry cream, malty roast, and earthy flavors. Some coffee. Like artificially flavored creamed coffee, like dulce de leche. Attenuated after all, but it's not bad. 3.5

Medium carbonation and a near-medium body. Some booze pushes through. Okay in mouthfeel. 3.0

Not totally encompassing the porter aspects, but it's an average flavored beer with a nice aroma. 3.5

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Photo of fischerking
3.64/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Saranac Caramel Porter from Utica, NY.

This beer had a very strong, enjoyable caramel (artificial) smell. Good caramel, rich flavor. Very different from anything I've had.

I drank it on-tap in a 6-beer sampler at The Casual Pint in Knoxville, TN on 12/14/2012.


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Photo of KTCamm
3.18/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a twelve ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Pours very dark brown with a touch of white foam. Clear top after it settles. Sweet caramel nose. Taste is a light caramel sweetness without much of a hop backup. There is an extra sweetness in there that is muted by the porter. An odd blend, not quite right. Too sweet.

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Photo of Jimmys
3.41/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. there is some kind of coding printed on the bottle but it is impossible to read.

A: dark brown, silky looking body. head is a brownish white and is not too big nor lasts too long.

S: nose is entirely what you would want from a beer with the word "caramel" in the title. caramel and vanilla has a strong presence.

T: sweet, almost oily, sugars start off the body. the sweetness doesnt go anywhere as both vanilla and caramel flavors linger. the flavor has a slightly medicinal/manufactured flavor at the finish. perhaps they used extract for the caramel flavor.

M: carb is lively. body is a bit too thin imo.

D: if you like caramel you will probably enjoy this brew. if not, avoid this brew. myself, being a fan of beers that are able to mimic other flavors, really could only drink one of these. good, but not great.

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Photo of CloudStrife
3.62/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled October 15th 2012.

A: Pours a caramel ruby brown with a full 1 finger off white head. A fair amount of light gets through this brew, some visible carbonation. Leaves some lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: Holy caramel is right, explodes with carmel malts right off the bat. Sweetness permeates the aroma. Some hops do make it through though. Sort of a dark fruity malt in there, almost a buttery aroma too.

T: As with the aroma, the flavor is dominated with carmel. Fairly sweet taste, not a beer you could chug down, but with the flavor it has not sure why you'd wanna. A hint of bittering at the end, but finishes with a lingering caramel.

M: Average body for most porters, a little watery, on the low end of carbonation.

Overall one of the Saranac beers I always look forward to. Even better on tap as even more of the caramel comes out.

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Photo of PatriotsRule
4.16/5  rDev +32.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Wow, the caramel is so real! Really though!
A: Caramely not all that dark brown with little head and light lacing
S: The best caramel beverage ever, really. Just caramel with a bit of hops
T: The caramel, if I haven't already said so. So sweet.
M: Sticky syrupy sweet, but well crafted and an overall nice balance
O: This is not the porter I would regularly choose, but has a nose that is beyond intriguing!

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Photo of GarthDanielson
2.67/5  rDev -15%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer is a dark, vibrant, ruby coloring with a thin, even, foamy coating of off-white head that is a fraction of an inch high. Aromas of sugary sweet caramel, just like a Werther's Original. Overpowering and very candy-like. Flavors are extremely rich and sweet. There is a slight roasting that gets lost in the backbone, extremely overpowered by the buttery and sugary caramel components. The body is smooth to start, which helps to support the body, but it becomes thin and filmy. Rich, sweet, and cloying finish. This is a tough one...good for someone wiith a wicked sweettooth.

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Photo of magine
3.38/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

Pours a dark brown root beer color. Slightly hazed with a nice dense light tan head. Lots of clingy lace sticks and a nice patchy lace layer makes up the head. Good looks.

Brew smells of light toffee and caramel. Some hops are noticed as well. Light nose. Decent nose.

Brew is creamy smooth upfront; some light caramel and minimal roasted flavors. Some hop bitters in the finish. Almost a sour darker fruit is noticed as you drink. Nice mouthfeel and good flavors here. Could really stand more roasted notes though, as the flavors tend to lean lighter and a bit sweet as opposed to roasted. Good.

This is a nice porter. Good mouthfeel, good flavors and it looks good. Highly sessionable brew that isnt a big beer by any means but is approachable and does the job. Just isnt a roasted malt porter. Good.

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Photo of StaveHooks
2.4/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12oz served in a Great Divide Pint glass.

A - Pours a clear chestnut red with a bumpy tan head that sinks quickly.

S - Caramel candies jump right out, syrupy malt, not much else.

T - Candy caramel mixed with an undesirable malt, slightly roasted some soured fruit rides underneath, a roasty bitterness on the finish.

M - Medium body, slick feel, semi dry finish.

This taste like an underwhelming homebrew with added candy caramel. Super sweet, slick, and kinda makes you shiver as it goes down.

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Photo of JOaikido
3.68/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Good beige head. Dark brown colour (no cloudiness). Leaves some lacing.

S- Caramel, notes of cinnamon.

T- Caramel sweetness up front but balanced by a nice little bitter finish. A little too sweet overall.

MF- Medium-thick body. Sticky sugariness.

O- Good as a sweet, end of day "dessert" beer.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.44/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- pours a deep brown with a dark copper hue, small cream colored head that quickly dissipates, no lacing.

S- caramel, and lots of it! It literally smells like butterscotch syrup. I can get a faint smell of hops but not much. Just a bit of coffee as well. It smelled exactly what you would expect it to judging by the label.

T- the caramel smell is represented in the taste as well. Very sweet caramel malts, tastes much like some kind of dessert. Finishes slightly bitter, that's about the only way you can detect any hops. A little lighter in flavor than I would expect from a porter. The sweetness stays on your palate long after sipping.

M- medium body, creamy, moderate carbonation. Sweetness dominates the palate.

O- this would make a good dessert beer because it's so sweet, it does however take away from its drinkability. Not as bold as most porters but it is as advertised, so you can't knock them for that.

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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 Darkmagus82
3.44/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into pint glass

Appearance – Pours a deep brown color with a large tan head. The head had a moderate amount of persistent but eventually faded giving a medium level of lacing.

Smell – Carmel is quite potent in the nose. There is a butteriness as well giving a mix of toffee in with the caramel. Some vanilla notes are also present with an ever so light roasted malt aroma as well. Overall the nose is quite sweet and nice.

Taste – While the nose was very heavy in caramel, the initial taste was not. It was largely of more roasted malt. As the taste advance however, a caramel taste became more and more prevalent; intensifying throughout the taste experience. Toward the end, the caramel is quite strong and mixes with some vanilla.

Mouthfeel – The beer is quite weak in body for the style with a bit of a higher then average level of carbonation. These two characteristics really hurt this brew. The weak body does not meld well with experiencing some of the more roasty flavors that complement the caramel sweet well. Also the carbonation level is a bit too high for this style and pulls away from some of the flavors even more.

Overall – The smell of the beer is fantastic, the taste good, but the mouthfeel was a hit to the overall quality of the beer. While the mouthfeel is not the greatest, for the price you pay it is not a bad beer and one that is well worth a try.

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Photo of C20Percent
3.52/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

*Review taken from notes*

A: Dark black-brown with nice tan head.

S: Strong caramel aroma with chocolate notes. Very pleasing smell, IMO.

T: For me, the flavor started out pleasing. A smooth caramel flavor. Unfortunately, as I continued to drink the sweet flavor became a bit too much, artificial and made it difficult to enjoy.

M: Medium to heavy body

O: There are better porters out there. I recommend people try this beer at least once. If you are crazy about caramel, then you might really enjoy this. A little bit too much caramel for me -- this is something I can imagine putting on ice cream or something.

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Photo of OneDropSoup
2.92/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Had this on tap at Elwood's Pub in Rural Ridge, PA.

Poured into a shaker pint: Transparent purple-ish brown under a finger of tan head that drops stays intact.

Smell is clear caramel & lightly burnt sugar, buttery, like caramel corn. There's the tiniest bit of fruity hop, like sweet fig. Close to Southern Tier's Creme Brulee in its evocative power, pretty good stuff.

Oy, the taste is a different story. Immediately watery, dry, a little bready malt with a kind of caramel "flavoring" at the back that doesn't do enough to make this drinkable or enjoyable.

Thin, dry, not doing much texturally at all.

Man, this started off promising & I really dug the smell - what happened? Weak sauce, indeed.

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Saranac Caramel Porter from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.14 out of 5 based on 801 ratings.
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