Saranac Caramel Porter | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

451 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: 451 | Ratings: 801
Photo of Charthepirate
3.43/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First pours a dark red, thick head that fades slowly.

Smell is weak, almost nonexistant.

Flavor is pretty well labeled, caramel, butterscotch, generally malty sweetness. A little bit of dark malt bitterness balances it out, very few hops.

Nice round mouthfeel. Very nice.

A little too sweet, but not too sweet for me.


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Photo of masterbruewer
3.86/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured dark with about a half inch of brownish head that faded slowly.

The smell is caramel and butterscotch with a hint of malt.

I like this. It tastes like the candy my Uncle Lawrence used to give me mixed with a little Guinness. There's a little bitter aftertaste, mixed with a pleasant mineral aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is lighter than you'd expect from a porter, especially one with caramel.

This is a very drinkable beer. It's the first of my Saranac 12 beer sampler. I'm looking foward to the next one.

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Photo of WesWes
3.82/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark brown color with a thick tan head. The aroma is of sweet malts and butterscotch. It is quite creamy. The taste is rich with caramel and chocolate malts. There is a good caramel flavor to it. The mouthfeel is fair at best. For such a malty beer the carbonation is too high. This is a medium bodied beer and a good drinker; and excellent sessions ale.

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

This product was a very dark brown with some nice blood red highlites. The crown was tan, tight, short of a full finger and short lived leaving a thin glass ring.
The nose was as expected, heavy caramel with a slight smokiness as well.
Body full, carbonation extremely light.
Solid caramel taste to start and continues with an added mild hop end which cuts the syrupy sweetness nicely.
Burndt caramel linger without the initial sweetness.

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Photo of clvand0
3.82/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a dark brown color with a small head. The aroma is really strong with caramel and something really sweet. The flavor really surprised me because it had a really strong taste of sweet caramel. Possibly some butterscotch too. Very cool taste. I really enjoyed this beer.

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Photo of mschofield
2.06/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Very dark red with 2 finger tan head.
The aroma is a strong caramel corn smell (not a corn adjunct aroma, but caramel or kettle corn).
The taste is the kettle corn again, strongly flavored with caramel.
Very sweet, I felt more like I was drinking highly sugared popcorn than drinking a beer. I couldn't get past the initial impression and didn't enjoy this at all.

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Photo of ManekiNeko
1.75/5  rDev -44.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

12 oz bottle served at cellarish temperature in a pint glass.

Appearance: Dark brown, clear by the looks of it. Topped by a short-lived khaki head that leaves small amounts of lace. I generally expect my porters to be pitch black or thereabouts, thus the smackdown.

Smell: Caramel candy aroma dominates the nose and doesn't know the safety word. After a bit of hesitation, I took a closer whiff...well, some toasted malt can be sensed here.

Taste: The caramel syrup taste continues its assault on my person. Some bittersweet coffee and toasted malt undertones and mild hopping on the finish. Overall, I'm reminded of a caramel machiato from you know where. Unfortunately, I hate that concoction for both taste and nomenclature reasons.

Mouthfeel: Solid medium body, slightly creamy and very cloying.

Drinkability: I like caramel, but not in a beverage... well, a beer anyways. The caramel taste and mouthfeel is just way too dang strong and almost stomach turning. This came damn close to being tossed in the sink.

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Photo of jed
2.07/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance: light brown with some more reddish areas.

Smell: Bizarre smell that's hard to describe. The sweetness and caramel is almost overwhelming, such that it smells a bit like cider. Based on other reviews, I guess this a matter of personal preference, but I think this is a fairly awful aroma.

Taste: Overpowering caramel and malt sweetness, with burnt sugar/sticky sweet aftertaste. After a few sips, a hint of hops becomes discernable.

Mouthfeel: Nice mouthfeel, nothing special but very smooth.

Drinkability: I had a hard time finishing one of these — the beer is just too sweet. If you really like caramel, this would probably work as a dessert beer, but otherwise you'll need more hops to balance out the caramel flavors.

I picked this up as part of a Saranac 12 beer sampler pack, and I'm certainly glad I tried it. One of the most unique beers I've had … but unfortunately, not in a good way.

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Photo of merlin48
3.52/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

My first Saranac, from a 2003 "12 beer sampler" box. Pours a dark brown with some hints of red, not as opaque as most porters I've had. Head disappears quickly without significant lacing. Nose is of caramel(no surprise) and a hint of smokiness. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, but seems somewhat watered down. Taste is sweet malted caramel, not much else. This one is worth sampling for the caramel that dominates from the nose to the finish. Very interesting, certainly, and its faults make it more drinkable for my tastes. Only a slight hops aftertaste which makes for a smooth experience if you can deal with all the caramel. Not at all a bad choice, but definitely different.

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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 shippos
3.48/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

dark brown color with a tan head that sttled to a thin skim on the top of the glass. whoa, i've had this before but never came upon a bottle as strong as this years (from the 2003 12 pack). buttery, butterscotch and caramel aromas abound. that pretty much sums up all I can smell, can't get past the butterscotch. all this caramel and butterscotch and what a big let down by rather thin mouthfeel/body, but the butterscotch comes back in the aftertaste.

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Photo of HappyHourHero
2.73/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured a nice tan head that left a decent amount of thin lace. It smells like caramel popcorn. Very dark brown in color, just a little light makes it's way in through the bottom of the glass. Liquid caramel corn flavor fades is cut half way through by a bit of hop bitterness, but it's still there. If you like caramel corn you'll love this beer. It tastes really fake, and it's incredibly sweet.

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Photo of Beastdog75
3.32/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

(Saranac "12 Beers" sampler, 2002 edition)

If I wanted to make this a very short review, I would just say: good if you like caramel, bad if you don't. As trite as that sounds, it is true. The label says to "look for hints of caramel" in this one. Understatement of the year. Period.

This beer pours a medium-dark amber color with some reddish hints to it. A one finger light tan head forms and lasts for around 30 seconds. The smell is of buttery caramel, with some actual hop aroma present too. The mouthfeel is thin with some light carbonation. As mentioned, the caramel dominates here. It has somewhat of a butterscotch quality to it as well. There is a surprisingly decent amount of hop bitterness in the finish. The aftertaste has some continuing caramel and some dryness, and finishes off with very little alcoholic warmth.

This seems like a novelty beer to me. I happen to like caramel, hence the decent score I gave it, but it isn't hard to imagine strongly disliking this beer. This probably would go well with a desert, maybe even ice cream. All in all, this is probably one of the sweetest beers I've ever had.

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Photo of Gavage
3.35/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Marks all over the board on this one. It pours a brown / burgandy color with a reasonable off-white head. Some lacing developed on the glass during the drink. The aroma blows your doors off - strong sweet caramel with some light roasted coffee tones. The flavor is as loud as the aroma, but less enjoyable as it sports a very sweet mouthfeel with tons of caramel flavor. This is definitely one of the more flavorful Saranac beers I have sampled. Drinkability is way down below average as every time a took swallow, my sense of smell and taste were overpowered by caramel. The first quarter glass was interesting, the remainder seemed to get old quickly. This would be great in a 4 oz bottle.

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Photo of BigSipper
2.1/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

The package of Saranac Caramel Porter I picked up read "limited edition". I wonder if the brewer realized after the fact that he had made a grave mistake and has solemnly promised not to make another batch.

The beer pours beautiful dark brown with a hint of redness, and produces a nice head. The smell is very sweet with hints of a chemical solvent. The flavor is excessively sweet with some maltiness and a touch of unpleasant astringency. Neither hop bitterness nor alcohol content is sufficient to counter the unappropriate sweetness which lingers as a sticky aftertaste.

Next time, less "caramel" and more "porter", please.

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Photo of UnionMade
2.93/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer pours a transparent coffee brown, topped with a thin, broken beige mist of head. The head pretty much disappears about halfway through, maintaining a couple thin islands of mist clinging weakly to the side of the glass.
The aroma is dominated by a sweet, sugary caramel. Moderate butterscotch diacetyl, with a vague, distant herbal hopping, and a touch of toasted malt. A light suggestion of fig or date esteriness.
The flavor starts with a bit of roasted malt up front, quickly consumed by a sweet, cloying caramel sweetness. Some butterscotchy diacetyl in the middle, riding through into the finish. Some light estery date flavor in the middle, barely penetrating the caramel. No apparent hops in the finish, with little to no bitterness or balance. The flavor is a bit thin in the middle, riding on some diacetyl flavor, with the caramel kicking back in in the finish. An overly sweet caramel/butterscotch aftertaste. Medium bodied, with smooth, small bubbled carbonation.
Not terrible, or even bad, just kind of dumbed down, with little complexity. The caramel sweetness got overbearing about halfway through. Some more robust, bittersweet maltiness would have helped, or perhaps something in the way of hops, to even the brew out somewhat.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
1.76/5  rDev -43.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Didn't know what to expect out of this one, the beers from this Saranac sampler pack being so up and down in my esteem. But if you're doing a porter, do it right, that's all I ask. Seems like they went into the project with a bad understanding of what a porter actually is, and screwed it up every which way from then on in.
Clear, reddish brown color, brief, nothing of a head.
Aroma: OOF! POW! BAM! Butterscotch all up in y'all! Nothing but butterscotch, and far away from caramel. Hints of vanilla, and over- carbonated.
Taste: sickly sweet to the point of offensiveness, candyish, cloying, coca-cola-like.
Extra-ordinarily thin body, no texture, no finish.
I give up, it's just bad, and lacks just about everything a good beer should have.
No sir, I do not like it.
I am so very itching to get my hands around a good porter after this!
(And were do they get the cojones to call it "robust"? )

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Photo of garymuchow
3.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Malty aroma of slight roast, a little sweet, like brown sugar. Eventually the caramel presents itself and dominates. Head is small, then leaves quickly. Dark brown with reddish hues and clear. Caramel is pretty strong in flavor, espeically middle to end. Maybe a little too strong with not quite enough blending for my taste. Mild hop bitterness. Average mouthfeel, but appropriate for style. ' Appreciate the attempt for something different, but this is just not a great combination for my tastes.

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Photo of RBorsato
3.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Dark brown (auburn/ruby red to light) with a nice light brown head that leaves nice lace. Big "real" true Kraft caramel aroma; candy-like. Sweet caramel flavor like candy -- A bit too sweet (I could only drink one). Medium-full bodied (leans Medium) and smooth.

Label states: "Robust Porter" & "Dark Caramel malt" & "Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops" & "HInts of real caramel used in brewing"

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Photo of Scoats
3.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

The first thing you notice from this beer is the smell of caramel. There definitely is a very strong caramal taste which brought back childhood memories of those Kraft Caramel squares.

Drinkabilitywise, this beer seems more gimmicky than good. It took me the whole bottle (drank from a glass of course) to decide if I liked it or not. At the end of 12 ounces, I decided "not really". What starts off as a semi-interesting curiosity becomes a bit tedious. One bottle is enough for me for this lifetime.

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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 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 GreatPondBrewer
3.95/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I definitely liked this beer and I am not one who is big into exceptionaly sweet beers. It poured very dark, but had some red showing through at various points. The head was rather light and about 2 fingers thick that receded into a kind of slick on top of the beer with some lace around the edges. There was a very obvious caramel smell with hints of a sweet malted taste. It tasted much like it smelled with caramel being the overbearing taste, but it also had some sweet notes of chocolate and mocha. My only complaint(and this is true of most saranacs) is the odd carbonated mouthfeel I seem to experience. Perhaps it is personal taste, but regardless, this is an interesting brew to try.

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Photo of nomad
3.52/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A supposedly “limited edition” beer (whatever that means) that is very dark brown color, with a frothy but fastly dissipating head and negligible lace. Extremely pungent dark caramel nose with highly saccharine scent and tiny spice tint. Taste-wise a roasted nut at core, softly bitter on roof of mouth at first, residing in glands over time. A perfect balance of hops (Fuggles and E. Kent Goldings) and malt (Dark Caramel), so that the roasted malt entices your nose and the hops salivate your tongue without drying it out or destroy the flavor.

Still mainly a nutty, dark porter in its old English roots, but thinner in taste and density than expected yet easy to drink a bunch in a row. Not the greatest in all categories, but I had a great night drinking a bunch of these while I played pond hockey in the middle of the night. The thinness was (for once) an asset in its refreshing-ness, as well as the sugar sweet made me feel all nice in between periods. But not one I'd drink when I want to relax and enjoy "a good pint."

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Photo of DarthMalt
3.55/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I'll be damned if they didn't pour maple syrup or something in the bottles right before capping this one.

Sweet! Or, shoud I say, sweeeeeeeeeeEEEEET. Not a cloying sweetness, just dextrinous as all getout! Saranac doesn't purport itself to be a Reiney-heiney-stag-ee-bot suspicions rise. But, if you take their bottle blurb to heart about "caramel malt" then you can dismiss the later blurb about, "look for hints of real caramel used in brewing this delicious brew."

So, did they use little Hershey caramels or not? My vote is: YEA.

Still a pretty slick beer--not to mention that "hangover-free" Saranac yeast (always a winner).

Truth told, it's got more balls than your average Saranac.

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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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