Saranac Caramel Porter | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

802 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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 802 |  Reviews: 453
Photo of fitzy84
4.67/5  rDev +48.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured with an amber-brown color but settled with a pretty dark appearance with some hints of amber in the light. The smell was out of this world: real caramel flavors at their purest literally permeated from the drink. The taste reflected that with the wicked sweet caramel flavor wrapped around every sip. The carbonation was pretty good, giving this beer a fascinating crispness that might loose some with its off-centered structure but might gain others with its uniqueness. Overall, this might not be for everyone but this is one of the best from Saranac and one of the best I have had.

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Photo of L4t3rg4t3r
3.4/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Thin white head that fades quickly, pours a dark brown/amber.

Smell: loads of caramel and sugar, can't really detect much beyond those. Perhaps a touch of vanilla bean.

Taste: Definitely Caramel and a tiny bit of vanilla, although the flavor is somewhat artificial.

Mouthfeel: Medium, but the strong caramel sweetness makes it feel heavier.

Drinkability: Caramel flavor dominates, I have not often had such a strongly flavored beer. The flavor is a bit unbalanced and I don't think that I could have more than one.

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Photo of Lupin
2.64/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

12 oz, from winter mix pack. Gotta say I was pretty curious about this one. Second serving, after the oatmeal stout.

Chilled in the winter air. Pours clear, but very dark, into a Klaster stage.

1" head dies quickly. Aroma is 99% caramel and if there was an olfactory equivalent to nutrasweet, I've found it. Smells kinda gross.

Up front, pretty tasty. Sweet with not too much complexity, but I can't really describe what happens to this beer when it gets to the back of my throat. It's just too sweet and covers too much of the palate with that sweetness at once. It's like the first time drinking a diet soda. The hops only add the slightest bit of bitterness to balance this out.

I can't finish it.

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Photo of JamesS
3.4/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a decent brown color, not as dark as many porters, but not bad. It had a bit of head and a bit of lacing. Not a very deep scent, very little in the way of a nice burnt grain or coffee or any other porter like scent, but a little was there and the tiny hint of caramel kept it from going below average. Nice taste, although not as deep as it could have been. A bit of a weak porter flavor, but the caramel helped out, making it a sweet porter that was pretty good. Goes down very smooth! Even if it's not the best porter, I'll have no trouble drinking all of the ones I have.

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Photo of davidt
3.44/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Part of the 12 Beer of Winter pack. Pours a weak cola-brown color with a thin head. The immediate impression from the aroma is that of sherry. Also a good bit of caramel on the nose. The flavor is caramel, coffee and very sweet. There’s plenty of carbonation to tingle the tongue, perhaps a bit too much. This one seems a little thin for a porter. The sweet caramel flavor is different, if not a bit sweet.

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Photo of animal69
3.72/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

i felt festive so i got the 12 beers of x-mas sampler ; this one pours a dark garnet color w/ a slight head which dissapates quickly leaving little lacing in my nonic ; smells like dark roasted malts, butterscotch, and faint nuts ; caramel galore, has nice balance w/ the malts and hop bitterness, the artificial-type sweet taste throughout was slightly distracting, takes away from the dry, nutty, caramely taste ; nice rich mouthfeel a little too carbonated for me, though ; a nice brew, great one for the season, love the 5.5 ABV too !!!...

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
2.93/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Out of the 12 Beers of Winter mix-pack, into a SA pint glass.

A: Poured a dark brown with an impressive head of tan foam that built high and stuck around for a while.

S: Smells like a fire-roasted Caramello. Caramel malts and chocolate.

T: Sweet is an understatement. This brew was all malt to me, I couldn't find a single hop. The bitterness in the brew was coming from a dark chocolate flavor, and then the caramel was all over the place, especially in the finish.

M: Medium-bodied and oily. The slick sweetness turned me off a little.

D: Great to have one, ONE I say, as a dessert beer, but that's about it. You probably wouldn't be able to stomach a few, and nothing else would taste right after this one.

Give it a shot if you like the sweet stuff, but I can't really recommend it. Tons of other American Porters out there, and flavored ones as well, that don;t kill the brew with caramel.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4/5  rDev +27%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, part of the Saranac 12 beers of winter pack. Served in a Sam Adams BL glass, the beer pours dark brown with an inch tan head. Lacing and head retention are both good. The aroma is very sweet, it smells like caramel and butterscotch. Caramel is the strongest taste in the beer, but there's also butterscotch and a bit of hops in the finish. It's a mostly sweet tasting beer, but the sweetness isn't overpowering. Mouthfeel is medium, with moderate carbonation and it leaves a slight coating on the tongue. Drinkability is good, it's smooth but could be better if the carbonation was cut down just a little bit. I like this beer, but then I like sweet tasting beers. If you don't care for sweet beers, then this might not be the choice for you.

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Photo of DavidSeanNJ
3.27/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle- part of a mixed "brewers choice" 6 pack purchased at the local store...

A- Very dark chocolate brown- light tan head- no lacing at all, lots of carbonation bubbles.

S- Smell was of melted caramel- think candy.

T- Taste was very average- the immitation caramel flavor totally overpowered anything in this beer- typical robust porter flavors as well, but thats it.

M- Got light and watery towards the end.

D- One or two and thats it.

Cool idea, but falls very short of being a good beer. Average beer.

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Photo of burnstar
3.07/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours very dark brown with a medium sized off-white head. Aroma is very interesting- caramelly and sweet. And there's a really strong buttery smell upfront. Like sweet buttery caramel. The taste is similar to the smell. Sadly it doesn't work as well as a flavor. Strong sweet caramel with that butter note again. Medium to full bodied. Not one I'd want to have a lot of- the flavors are just too different. I can't decide whether I like this or not. It is at least unique though.

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Photo of pitweasel
2.78/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

This is the only beer from the 2007 winter pack that I wasn't too fond of. The beer poured with a nice two finger head, which lasted for only a few minutes before reducing to a thin lace. Everything about this brew screams caramel, with the porter part apparently missing in action. The aroma is heavy with the scent of the chewy little candies, and it's about the only thing that hits your tongue as well. For a porter, this seemed to be much more carbonated than most.

This is pretty much candy in a bottle. If you love caramel, this is the beer for you. If you love porters, you might be better off looking elsewhere.

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Photo of Brad007
4.05/5  rDev +28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color with a one-finger head. Aroma is nice and buttery, smooth like caramel usually smells. The caramel aroma in this beer has always been strong. I remember drinking it 3 or 4 years ago. Taste is strong and caramel-ish upfront with a sweetness that lingers at the back of the throat. The caramel flavor to me is not overdone because it's a beer that I could actually see myself enjoying. There's even a very mild butter toffee flavor at the back of the throat.

I can see why this wouldn't get consistently good reviews. It's obviously not for everyone but I cannot fault Saranac for taking a solid porter and adding caramel to it. It's just different for one thing and similar to how some people enjoy pumpkin or spiced beers.

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Photo of GFSchwab
4.26/5  rDev +35.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very very unique beer, the nose right off the bat informs you of it.
Rich aroma of the carmel malts used, very heavy scent, but goes along nicely with the character of the porter.

The taste is more subtle with th carmel floavor, where its balanced out by additional malts, with the alcohol barley making itself known.

The aftertaste was the only trace of hops and alcohol I got, and were sufficent for me, with the bulk of the beer's character in the nose and initial taste.

Really good on a cold day in warm house kind of beer.

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Photo of aerozeppl
3.27/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A Deep reddish amber hue.
S Sweet sweet candy. You can definitely smell this one coming. Slight smell of roasted barley.
T My gf loves this beer because of it's sweet taste. She does not like any other Saranac offering due to the "Saranac funk". This is true. While most of the Saranac's have something in the finish to tie them all together this one is different. You really taste the caramel but it really can be overwhelming at times.
M I agree with some of the other users. For a beer of this style the mouth feel really is thin. A slight thickening would do this beer wonders.
D I enjoy this beer when I have it but it is definitely not a session beer. I remember I had 4 of these one night and I was spitting caramel secretions all night. Not a bad beer at all and definitely worth a shot at the price.

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Photo of RunawayJim
3.75/5  rDev +19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I didn't know what to expect with this one as Saranac and I have a love/hate relationship. Luckily, however, this time it was love (sorta). The beer poured a dark ruby brown, almost black with a relatively small dark tan head (just smaller than a finger, perhaps because I didn't pour fast enough or it was too cold).

I could immediately smell the caramel sweetness, though that was mixed with a slight roasted coffee scent as well.

The taste is where this beer succeeds. The caramel sweetness hits you right away up front, but that subsides as the roasted coffee bitterness comes in. The caramel flavors die off about halfway through the glass, giving way to the roasted malt and coffee bitterness, mixed in with a slight hops bitterness to round it off.

The mouthfeel is the part where this beer could use some work. It's too thin, though not thin enough to make it undrinkable. This is a very drinkable beer and I could easily see myself drinking several of these in a night. It was very enjoyable. I had it right before dessert (which happened to be baked apples with which the beer paired nicely).

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Photo of Will46andbrew
2.19/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Dark amber, light brown with a decent head that reduced quickly.

S - Caramelly sweet, not enough Porter.

T - Caramel up front and on the swallow. No Porter to be tasted...kind of disappointed...

M - Light on the tongue, funny taste going down.

D - I can only drink one of these at a time...too sweet.

Overall I was not impressed with this beer. It's made well, just too sweet for me. Won't get it again.

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Photo of AlephNull
1.72/5  rDev -45.4%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Looking for something robust tonight, I went to the liquor store in search of a rich porter or stout. Almost picked up an imperial stout, but this caught my eye.

A- Poured a dark brown with decent clarity, very little head that disolved quickly.

S- I took a double take on this one. At first I thought the smell was just awful, but it's really just a very heavily sweet burned caramel cream scent with some butterscotch and syrup. Way too strong for me, this is ruining the beer for me. I can't get by it.

T- The scent overwhelms any subtlety behind the beer. It doesn't taste as bad as it smells, but it tastes like it smells- Fake, sweet butterscotch and burned caramel. an alcohol flavor takes over the end with some bad cherry cough syrup flavor.

M- Hard to concentrate on the mouthfeel, but I'd say it's kind of a syrupy cherry coke, but dry.

D- I think I may have to dump this guy... EDIT: I think I may have to learn to cook with this guy...

I hate to be so hard on a beer, especially when the brewers were being so adventurous, and for that, i'll give you kudos... but "hints of caramel"? This guy beats you in the face. I don't taste those fancy fuggles & kent hops in here -- it's almost a chemical tasting beer. Sorry guys, but I think you missed on the attempt here.

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
3.82/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pouer from a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass. The liquid is dark brown with good carbonation. The head is 2 fingers thick, tan in color and leave some lace.

The smell it pure toasted caramel. Really makes you thirsty quick.

The taste is good lots of caramel, this brew lives up to it's name. Kinda sweet and not too complex. could use more hops for better balance with the malt.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin but good carbonation.

The drinkability is ok but not a beer I would but more of. MK

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Photo of Derek
3.62/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark caramel, light tan head, very little retention, initial hints of lace.

S: Dark caramel, nut, earth, some dark fruit & slight orange.

T: Caramel, nut, earth, orange, figs, dark (burnt) toffee, residual sweetness with a balanced bitterness.

M: Moderate body & carbonation; slight prickly acidity.

D: Very approachable, a little too sweet to session.

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Photo of strattor
1.12/5  rDev -64.4%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Poured a deep brown from the bottle with a caramel-colored tan.

Oh good God, the smell is offensive. It has a harsh, artificial sweetness to it, and smells of butterscotch and sweaty feet.

It tastes just like it smells. I don't mean to be over the top, but this is a really awful tasting beer. I can't finish it.

I don't know why this beer tastes so bad, as the idea is a good one. It's just way too artificial and overpowering.

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Photo of beerphan
3.23/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle -> pint
no date, i think its left over from the 12 beers of winter 2006-2007

Pours a clear darker chestnut with a big tanned head that settles to a half inch blanket. Dotted lace. Carbonation appears steady and intense.

Nose: caramel, butterscotch

Flavor basically mimics the nose with caramel and butterscotch. A little annoying astrigency that just tastes bad. Way too sweet for me.

Nice mouthfeel, medium and drying.

One of the beers i'd hope Saranac would remove from the 12 beers of winter. I've just never really liked this offering, which is why this bottle lasted so long.

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Photo of Atlas1
2.84/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

An interesting beer, this Saranac Caramel Porter. Pours a deep dark brown color with a thick off-white head that holds some shape and leaves a nice lace. Crimson red hues shine through when the beer is held up to the light. I think this is a very pretty porter. Aroma is sweet; almost too sweet. Caramelish notes are oddly mixed in with burnt coffee smells and butterscotch. I'm strangely attracted to this smell and repulsed by it at the same time, hence the 2.5 grade for smell. Definitely rich and malty aroma, with no real sense of hops. The taste simply adds to this bizarre experience. I expected this beer to be sweet up front, but it's not. It's bitter up front, and the caramel/vanilla sweetness emerges in the middle, and is followed up again in the finish by a bitter-tart burnt coffee flavor. Weird stuff here. A thin mouthfeel, but not offensive. I'm not entirely sure I would call this a "drinkable" beer, but I'm glad I tried it. It might go well with dessert; maybe a creme brulee, or a rice pudding. But otherwise I wouldn't wholeheartedly recommend this beer unless you like strange sweet/bitter beers.

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Photo of Redwood21
2.56/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

its a dark dark beer with a decent head with poor retention.

ok i get this smell...its caramel. both my grandmothers make their homemade caramale cake....if you took the icing and squared it you have this beer. It doesnt smell like beer at all...just caramel syrup...makes it hard to try a sip.
HA, it tastes like grandmas caramel cake with a bit of coffee grounds spilled in the cake batter...that may not help you if your grandma doesnt make caramel cake....its not a beer.

its going to be hard to finish drinbking this candy....its not horrible but i wouldnt choose it again

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Photo of jbsteiny
2.73/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I feel bad being so hard on Matt & Saranac, but I really feel like this beer is misguided. The bottle sounds interesting: "dark caramel malts as well as Fuggles & East Kent Goldings hops for a smooth, yet slightly bitter, roasted flavor. Look for hints of caramel used in brewing this delicious beer!"

Looks impressive at first -- dark brown, with over an inch of billowing head, which did leave decent lace on the sides of my imperial pint glass. And the smell is inviting -- milk chocolate, latte, and of course, some buttery caramel. But on the tongue, all that this beer could have been is lost to a powerful butter caramel that tastes fairly artificial -- I think it's the butteriness that really does it for me. I enjoy breweries taking risks, and have been a longtime fan of Saranac, but I found this to be a slick, syrupy beer that I don't really want to drink much of. Sorry.

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Photo of BeerNinja007
3.73/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$6.29 for a 6er at Consumer Beverages on Elmwood Ave in Kenmore, NY.

A: Dark brown brew that reveals mahogany highlights when held to the light. 1 finger head of dense bubbles that refuses to dissipate. Leaves frothy lacing behind as the glass is swirled.

S: Smells exactly like a bag of microwavable caramel popcorn I had once upon a time. Nothing else discernable.

T: Neckband on the bottle states "Look for hints of caramel used in brewing this delicious brew!". Well, I think there's more than a hint. It's not something I had to search for or wouldn't notice if the bottle hadn't told me to look for it. The caramel flavor and aroma is quite prominent. Although it is strong, fortunately I don't think it's to the point of being overpowering. Caramel is present throughout with some maltiness up front and in the middle, bitter hops chiming in toward the end and lingering in the finish.

M: A tad bit of sugary slickness. Alcohol slightly apparent in the aftertaste. Carbonation level is appropriate.

D: I could easily toss a few of these back, though it is moderately hearty and filling.

I woudn't rate this as an excellent beer, but it is something I can picture myself drinking regularly. I guess what I mean is that I can understand, objectively, why others might not like it, but something about it appeals to me personally. Decent stuff overall.

I think what I don't like about it is the fakeness of the caramel. It's obviously something that's been intentionally added, not naturally occuring in the basic ingredients of beer (hops, malt, water, yeast). I typically do not like beer that has fake stuff added to it, but for some reason this seems alright to me.

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Saranac Caramel Porter from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.15 out of 5 based on 802 ratings.
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