Saranac Caramel Porter | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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Saranac Caramel PorterSaranac Caramel Porter
810 Ratings
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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Ratings: 810 |  Reviews: 458
Photo of Mit
2.74/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I just hate to have something bad to say about a beer. And I have really liked every Saranac I have had so far(about 4 styles so far).

I got this Caramel Porter in the Winter Lagers Mixer pack from Matt Brewing.

Initially I was very intrigued by the idea of a Caramel Porter. I had gotten away from Porters and Stouts and was excited to have some to try.

Firts appearance was very nice. A dark dark brown with a red hue when held up the the light. Very promising start.

Initial smell was quite sweet and more than hinted at the Caramel that was inside this beer at this point I had become a little turned off. I'm not a big fan of overly sweet beer as a rule so...

Initial taste I found to be quite full of caramel but the burnt undertones that one would expect from a stout seemed to come out the longer the beer sat at room temperature and the further I got into my glass. Halfway in I was not noticing the caramel flavour as much as the more traditional porter tastes.

Mouth feel was about what one would expect from a porter. Nice carbonation that enhance the flavors.

Drinkability. If you have a sweet tooth you may like this. I found it to be slightly overpowering. I personally didn't like it and probably wouldn't try it again. But just because I didn't like it doesn't mean you won't...give it a try anyways.

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Photo of barnuba
3.35/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into a conical pint glass.

Appearance: Two finger creamy white/tan head with sticky lacing that follows the beer down to the bottom of the pint. Dark brown/red depending on the angle of the light.

Smell: Sweet . . .caramelized sugar with roasted undertones

Taste: caramel followed by malt followed by a caramel finish with slight bitterness

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Good carbonation.

Drinkability: IMO good beer to mix into a session to break samples up – perhaps not the best beer to start with…

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Photo of mnj21655
3.08/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From notes made on 11/29.
12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass

Pours a clear dark brown with hints of red and about a 1/4" of tan head that exhibits decent retention. Smell is pleasant with a prominent caramel aroma supported by a solid maltiness. Taste is good, some dark crystal malts are present upfront but then give way to some biscuits and caramel. The caramel lingers into the finish but is overtaken by some slight roastyness in the form of possibly chocolate but more likely black patent malt. There really isn't much hop flavor in here but there is a bit of hop bitterness. Good mouthfeel, medium-light body and low-moderate carbonation. Drinkability is average. No real major flaws in this brew. Overall its pretty solid but the caramel can be a bit overwhelming in the aroma and, to a lesser extent, the taste.

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Photo of sbe1
4/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A wonderful, very drinkable sweet caramel porter. A real treat for those of us with a sweet tooth.

Appearance: Beautiful deep deep dark red, nice foamy tan head.

Smell: Rich caramel smell, creamy malt, faint hops.

Taste: Sweet caramel, rich malt, a little hop tickle.

Mouthfeel: Medium to Full bodied and creamy, the proper amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Excellent, for those of us with a sweet tooth, for those of you who aren't fond of sweet beers, it's still very drinkable, but you may need to take a break once in awhile.

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Photo of BeerSox
2.31/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12oz bottle into nonic.

Somewhat of a light-colored Porter, as I can see through it. This one looks closer to a dark brown ale The highlights are ruby red with a one finger light tan head that slowly settles to a thin cap.

The slightest touch of bitter malts are drowned by a strong pseudo-caramel aroma. It almost smells like popcorn butter, which is also the smell of diacetyl. I think the aroma comes from any added caramel to the brewing process.

There are two distinct flavors to this that seem to clash rather than complimenting each other. One is a bitter malt flavor, with some aid of hops, and the other is a sweet sugary flavor (similar to caramel, of course). Medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. The feel is somewhat thin for a Porter. The finish is some lingering caramel flavor.

I like caramel and I like Porters, but this one seemed to fall short in both categories. I think the caramel was overdone a little which made a very sweet characteristic that doesn't fall in place with the rest of the beer. Not recommended.

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Photo of sraimondi
3.13/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured with a 2 finger head.

Deep copper color, very little lacing.

Smell is all about sweet malt, very slight hint of smoke. Toasty bread is there too.

Taste is sweet throughout, a bit one dimensional as no hops twang at all. A very slight metallic aftertaste, but not an issue. Almost cloying, but not quite.

Mouthfeel, medium body.

Overall, an interesting beer. Not really my cup of tea, as the balance is off; one dimensional. However, not awful, although I'd only partake of this one in the 12 mix pack.

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Photo of DrinkinBoy
3.99/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Saranac Caramel Porter appears as a dark brown-red, and is surprisingly pretty translucent.

The smell is strong, and really smells nothing like beer and completely like caramel.

Its taste is unique, the roasted taste associated with porters is the first thing that hits your tongue. The after it taste is unique. It taste a lot like caramel, so that mixed with the roasted flavor makes me feel as though I just drank a caramel coffee. Also the more sips you have the more the caramel flavor stands out.

The mouthfeel is also excellent and relatively unique. At first it feels very light and carbonated, but shortly after it has a bit more depth again slightly like coffee.

Saranac Carmel Porter is a overall a great beer, but definitely a one at a time thing. The sweetness of it is great, but a little overwhelming. I bought mine in a 12 winter mix pack (6 styles), which is great for sharing with friends.

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Photo of jmalex
3.69/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This was a beer that I had on tap during my introduction to craft beer which I loved. I'm sure my tastes have changed drastically in the past 2 years, but I really wanted to revisit this one. So thank you greatly to Matt Capone who split up the Saranac winter 12-pack and generously sold me the 2 Caramel Porters out of it. Tonight will be my first taste of this beer in nearly 2 years.

APPEARANCE: Pours into a Sam Adams glass a reddish brown that is surprisingly transparent. The head barely forms on the pour and immediately settles out to a medium collar and small foamy patch, surely formed by the etchings at the bottom of the glass.

SMELL: Yep, there it is. Caramel. Not caramel malt. This smell just like the candies. The sweetness is balanced not by hops but by a bitter black malt aroma and a huge phenolic alcohol smell. The intensity of the burn is disconcerting but is the only thing I dislike about the aroma. Otherwise, it's sweet but nice.

TASTE: I'm torn on what score to give this, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. I like it! Initially the familiar porter flavors in this beer come out, but the caramel follows quickly. Joining the candy flavor is a firm bitterness from black malt as well as the hops. A hint of diacetyl comes out toward the finish as well.

MOUTHFEEL: I can't give it the benefit of the doubt here. This beer is definitely on the thin side as was evident from being able to see through it. Carbonation level is appropriate however.

DRINKABILITY: Though it approaches it, this beer is not quite cloying. There's enough bitterness present to make this a nice drinker. It goes down easy, the ABV doesn't get in the way, and I'd gladly have another.

Alright, this beer isn't making the BA Top 100 any time soon, but I'd still recommend it. The problem is that it's only available in the Winter 12-pack, and that might be too big an investment for some people. Your best bet is to randomly find it on tap and go in with no expectations. Drink it if you see it.

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Photo of fitzy84
4.67/5  rDev +47.8%
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 +7.6%
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 -16.5%
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 +7.6%
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 +8.9%
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 +17.7%
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 -7.3%
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 +26.6%
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 +3.5%
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 -2.8%
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 -12%
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 +28.2%
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 +34.8%
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 +3.5%
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 +18.7%
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 -30.7%
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 -45.6%
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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Saranac Caramel Porter from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 3.16 out of 5 with 810 ratings
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