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 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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Photo of RonfromJersey
3.35/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From the 12 Beers of Christmas pack

Brown body with red highlights, topped by a three-finger foamy beige head. Good lacing. Aroma: they did not lie. Hugh amounts of caramel, with a bit of toffee, and way in the back, a smidgen of coffee. However, all that caramel became strangely muted when first tasted. Some roasted malts at the beginning, joined by a light comforting blanket of hops, and at the end, a hefty dose of caramel, which carries thru the aftertaste. Creamy smooth mouthfeel. Drinkability? I might not want to throw back a sixer all at once, but I would drink this again. Fine for dessert or late night.

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

The smell is sweet, caramel and more sweetness. Pours very dark brown with a nice 1/4 inch head. The taste is overwelmingly sweet. The beginning is malt and roasted malt but the middle and ending are completely caramel. Maybe better as a desert beer? One that I don't think I will go back for. They call this a robut porter but I don't taste that.

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Photo of jtw5877
3.72/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a decent brown color with a white head, Caramel smells and flavors. A lighter bodied porter, but a decent one none the less. Nice taste with hint of caramel. Purchased in a 12 Beer sampler, a decent collection. I'd recommend it as a cheap way to sample entry level versions of 12 styles of beers.

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

Dark garnet-brown but clear, decent tan head.

Smell is of caramel and roasted malt, a bit rough though.

Well balanced taste...starts sweet and malty, strong caramel tones throughout, ends with just enough bitterness.

One of the better offerings in the christmas pack.

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

Ruby color, with a light brown head that lasts. The aroma is of caramel, with a roast aroma as well. The caramel is evident in the flavor, along with a sweetness, and slight roasty flavor. The level of bitterness is pretty high as well. It goes into a dry bitter finish. It is a medium bodied brew, which is overall a tasty treat.

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Photo of frank4sail
3.26/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not much nose except for a smidge of sweetness. Deep purple color with a light brown 1/2 inch sticky laced head. Sweet chewy caramel taste. The brew is quite sweet with a bitterness to the finish that helps to round the sweetness. It does not completely do the job though.. and the beer is still left on the sweet side. This is a caramel chew for you! Drink it after a meal as a treat.

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Photo of Scooter77
2.68/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appears a dark brown with red highlights. Pours a thick tan head, which fades away slowly, leaving a sticky lace that clings to the glass. Smell of strong caramel is overpowering with very faint malt and hops undertones. Taste is incredibly sweet. Caramel dominates all other flavors. No other notable flavors where noted besides an extremely mild hint of hops. This was an o.k. novelty beer, but I don't look forward to trying it again.

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Photo of Kwak
3.59/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I like the head on this one great tan head very thick and sweet, hangs around for a while with nice syrupy flavor.

Body was clean but dark brown with an orange tint to it.

The aroma was outstanding sweet malt and caramel.

The taste was a different story. It had nice hints of caramel but no reel flavor, was looking foreword to this one but I was let down.
Not relay that bad but the overpowering aroma and the lackluster flavor should meet some where in the middle!

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Photo of kunzbrew
3.63/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper color with a tan creamy head that stays around for a little while. The coffee malt is not over bearing with little hints of caramel. I would like to have a stronger taste of caramel, but maybe next year. Over all not to bad, and it finishes nice.

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Photo of ElGuapo
3.74/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

an agressive pour gave me a good light brown head floating atop a dark beer. the beer looks to be a dark brown until you hold it to the light and find it to have some red in it.

i smelled caramel before i even put my nose near the glass. as you take a closer smell, you get malts and some hops. i love the aroma of this beer.

taste is full of caramel, so much that a lot of the usual roastiness of the porter is toned down. this is not bad, because the roastiness kicks in a little more at the end to round it out. also, a bit of bittering hops add to the flavoring of this beer.

the body is pretty good. it is thin for a porter.

in the end, it is an interesting brew. the initial aroma is excellent, and it is a different beer to drink. it is not great, but as far as the experience of a unique beer, i liked it.

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Photo of IrishRedRock
3.67/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep brown with nearly no head atop, smells strongly of caramel and butterscotch. I heard that this beer was extremely sweet, and from the aroma, I continued thinking this. However, I was surprised, and pleasantly at that, that the taste was not as sugary as I expected.

A little thin for a porter, but the flavor more than makes up for it. Caramel is definitely the dominant flavor, but the English hops come through also, which is a nice surprise. Could definitely be a dessert beer, but it also could be had at any moment really. I think it would be a great breakfast beer.

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Photo of Suds
3.27/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I have friends who rave about this beer. It's different, interesting, and worth a try....but when I'm halfway through a glass, I think it's also excessively difficult to drink.
There is nothing special about the appearance. It's a dark, almost black beer with very little head. The aroma, however, is notable. It's got a serious sweet, caramel quality. Also, there's an almost oppressive buttery smell....think "overwhelmed by movie-house popcorn butter".
There are roasted and slightly burnt grains here, and the mouthfeel is full, rich, and creamy. It's got an over-the-top sweetness, however, and doesn't have the complexity of a great porter.

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Photo of aaronh
2.44/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A mahogany red beer with amber highlights that pours with a one-inch tan head. The head slowly fades to just a thin ring of foam. The aroma is pretty much all caramel, maybe a hint of hops underneath the overly strong caramel aroma that was apparent while pouring the beer. The taste has some chocolate notes, strong caramel notes, and a bit of peppery spice. Not much bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is a little on the light side, with the carbonation very noticable on the palate. This does not remind me of a typical porter stylistically, and I would not purchase this beer again.

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Photo of Bighuge
1.38/5  rDev -56.1%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Ruby red in color. A brown rimming is all this beer offers for a head. Huge butterscotch, caramel and toffee on the nose. Overwhelming. This beer smells cloying, if that is at all possible. This beer swishes around the mouth like that gross, viscous medicine that you really don't want to swallow. This beer is just disgusting. One of the worst beers I've had in a while. Medicine like taste. Cloying caramel flavor. Astringent bitterness. No carbonation whatsoever. No porter like qualities in sight. This is the type of beer I could see ending up in the toilet in less than an hour if I drink it all.

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Photo of Brent
2.7/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Freaky. That's what I kept thinking all the way through drinking this beer. I kept waiting for it to grow on me. It never did. I didn't really get much caramel flavor, either from the caramel malt or the real caramel used in the brewing, as noted on the bottle. What I did get was an odd, candy-ish background flavor that I just could not quite put my finger on. Cherry? Dr. Pepper? Not sure, but it did not work.

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Photo of ADR
2.11/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Clear dark brown, head is reserved and a skim after a minute. Jeez, I can smell caramel two feet away. Completely caramel flavor, overdone and heavy from beginning to end. Sweet, sweet, sweet. The English hops don't stand a chance in the bittering department. I take Porter style seriously and love some crazy experimentation -- but to me, this beer has a CARTOON of a flavor profile. Unbalanced and cloying, choking and gross, its like a swan dive into a cheap liquid candy bar, saccharine and unchanging.

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Photo of beerluvr
4.29/5  rDev +36.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a beige head over darkish red liquid. Intense caramel candy aromas in the nose. Taste is a wonderful mix of caramely burnt sugar, some light molasses and sweet malts. Finishes sweet and mellow. An offbeat but very enjoyable and drinkable brew...I wish this was a regular offering!

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Photo of Delirium
4/5  rDev +27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice bubbles. What a great head, not to thick or thin and levels off in a nice thin sheet of fizz that comes along for the entire ride. A good looking beer.
Sweet caramel smell almost scared me away, but the overly sweet tones are quickly put in check by bitter hops in this surprisingly delightful porter.

I rate this beer only against others I have had with real caramel added... which is none.

*quench your sweet tooth*

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Photo of Thrasher
4.32/5  rDev +37.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, the reviews for this are all over the place. Consider me in the "liked it" category. Liked it quite a bit, actually. FX Matt knows their malts and this brew is no exception. Dark amber/light brown translucent brew with light tan head that fluffed, then wisped away. First taste is malts, caramel. Some butter in the aroma, and in the near finish. Piney hops are very subtle and caramel sweetness brings this one home. To me, is reminiscent of a baltic porter without the licorice and currant hints. If you like sweet stouts or caramel malts this one is right up your alley. I can understand how others thought this was too sweet and candylike, but for me the lack of bitterness was no problem.

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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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