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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Ratings: 802 |  Reviews: 453
Photo of vfgccp
2.01/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Abbreviated review: Simply isn't a porter. Should probably be called a brown ale, but still wouldn't be a great beer, just more aptly named.

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Photo of russpowell
3.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours an effervescent chestnut tinged brown with 2+ fingers of fluffy tan head. Good lacing & average head retention

S: Some toasty malt, plums, not a lot else

T: Caramel, toasty malt & dryness, plus leafy hops up front. Roasty malt & dryness are up front as this warms, the caramel tastes a bit less fake. Finishes pretty sweet & dry kind of reminds of some iced coffees I've had over in Asia or Hawaii.. Almost pulled a 3.5, just too sweet

MF: Light/medium bodied with somewhat biting carbonation

Drinks alright I could do a few prior to moving or getting sick of the caramel. If in the right mood I could do this with some doughnuts at breakfast

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Photo of smcolw
3.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Brown (dark, dark amber) with a touch of red; decent beige head; no appearance of cloudiness.

Aroma: caramel (surprise, surprise) and vanilla but little else. Lots of sugars. Reminds me of a tray of candy apples.

As expected, a very sweet beer. The caramel comes through strongest in the aftertaste although it is prevalent throughout the tasting. I find it a tad bit overwhelming. With effort, I can also detect some darker malts (chocolate and crystal). While the label notes some English hops (Fuggles & Kent Goldings), I had trouble picking them up until late in the aftertaste.

I like the uniqueness of this beer but not the overpowering sweetness. Not really a porter in my mind, but it could be an excellent and special dessert beer. I'm torn on the scoring: as a Porter, this is very different and not very accurate. As a sweet beer, I could see this with a fine cheese course or a tart dessert and would highly recommend it as a special treat. So I rated the taste as a Porter and the "drinkability" as a dessert beer.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.13/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Darkest caramel with brilliant scarlet and orange highlights... that becomes dark crimson with backlighting. The khaki colored cap is three fingers to start and required a small slurp after a vigorous pour. This is pretty much how I'd expect a caramel porter to look.

If you're going to give your beer this name, then you'd better make sure it smells like caramel. Caramel malt probably isn't enough, which is why the brewery added natural caramel flavor. Although it isn't an amazing nose by any means, mission accomplished. Sweet caramel is mixed with what smells like a garden variety porter.

I'm less impressed when it comes to the actual drinking. Something doesn't seem quite right and I can't decide if it's the caramel or the porter talking. I guess it could be both. There isn't much malt on hand, which is never a good thing when it comes to beer of this style. Maybe it's the artificial sweetness. It tastes as if saccharine is present rather than malt sugars.

Other than a mild tightening on the finish, and an increasingly bitter linger, I can't appreciate much contribution from the Fuggles or East Kent Goldings hops. No matter, malt should be able to carry a porter if enough is utilized. The lack of it in this beer hits the mouthfeel pretty hard. I'm reminded of a dark lager more than a porter.

Caramel Porter is my twelfth Matt Brewing Company beer and I haven't given one of them a flavor score higher than 3.5. That has to be some sort of a personal record. This brewery seems to be constantly spinning its wheels, putting out style after style without gaining any sort of traction toward what I would consider good craft beer. Call me an optimist or call me an idiot, I still have hope that one will surprise me someday.

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Photo of Jason
2.71/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12 oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

A: Nearly impressive head retention and lacing, pretty light in color for a porter with a brown hue with reddish highlights.

S: Smells like a piece of cake, not beer but cake. Very sweet, after a few more sniffs it smells like a thick cream soda and butterscotch. Oh yeah all of this is saturated by caramel and lots of it.

T & M: Smooth and creamy, I’d be real disappointed if it was not this way coming from a flavored beer as some don’t even try.Cloying sweet, malt sweetness is there but then there is the caramel flavoring that just breaks the palate with sweetness. Hops? They are there but do little and are hard to find. Faint roasted and toasted malt add a mild chocolate flavor that just help the cloying sweetness along. Finishes with a long, long sweet flavor.

Drinkability & Notes: This should be treated as a dessert beer and that is all, this is too damn sweet. I looked for the sweetness knowing what was on the label and it smacked my palate around, it was hard to drink another after this one let alone another beer all together as it ruined my palate with that cloying sweetness and caramel flavor.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i have been assembling full lineups from breweries and randomly doin these horizontal tasings with my family. The saranac one from a couple weeks ago was more then epic as it took months to gather all of these, but it was a hell of a fun night!

Poured a dark brown with a small tan head which faded leaving behind a nice thin film of lace on the top and long sticky strands down the glass. Smell was a tad light, but came through more as it warmed. Roasted malts, caramel, perhaps a touch of coffee were present. Maybe even a hazelnut as it warmed. Taste was great. First off the feel was silky smooth, almost shake like with perfect carbonation that just floated in your mouth. Smooth feel gave way to a full taste, lots of roasted malts and caramel, slight burnt coffee in the back and a dry hop like finish.

overall not bad at all, it had all the parts and just needed a bot more to throw it over the edge to excellence

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Photo of paulish
3.5/5  rDev +11.1%

Photo of woodychandler
3.7/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured with a thin, light-tan head that quickly dissipated to nothingness. The color was a deep brown with ruby highlights. The nose was very sweet, carmelized, with a light smokiness. Mouthfeel was full with a smoky, sweet taste on the tongue. The finish was really caramel-like, with a taste not unlike sucking on a Sugar Pop. My fillings ached from the memory. I cannot say that it was an unpleasant experience, unlike some malt-driven beers in recent memory, but it still was not my cup of tea.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.11/5  rDev -1.3%
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 Gkruszewski
3.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of PA-Michigander
3.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of atlbravsrno1
3/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of TMoney2591
3.8/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Duvel tulip glass.

Thanks to Cuzco for this bottle!

Reviewed blind as part of Blind BIF #4:
The pour results in a pretty nice dark brown topped by a healthy tan foamy head. The nose comprises light roasted malts, caramel, light toasted toffee, brown sugar...honestly it smells like a really nice cookie, kinda like the base cookie that normally holds a Hershey Kiss. You know the one I mean. The taste brings the roast and caramel back, now joined by a hint of licorice, a sharp stab of mild blueberry (okay...), a wave of vanilla, some random pinpricks of raisins and figs, and it all wraps up together into an oatmeal raisin cookie-esque configuration. The body is a sleek medium, with a mild carbonation and a smooth, slightly grainy feel. Overall, a very nice beer, one I could see easily drinking an entire sixer of on a number of occasions (if 'twere possible, o' course).

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Photo of BeerForMuscle
3.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.9/5  rDev +23.8%
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 stakem
3.2/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Eric for the bottle. Poured from a 12oz brown bottle with no indication of freshness into a SA sensory glass. This brew appear a dark brown color with pretty decent clarity and less than a finger of dark tan head that fades fairly quick. Some large bubbles rise to the surface from the etching on the bottom of the glass. The cap does not hold beyond a thin layering across the top. Sips and swirls reveal a bit of faint patch lacework on the glass. When held to the light, this brew displays quite a bit of dark brown clarity and ruby highlights.

The aroma of this brew is very sweet with a scent of caramel/toffee and a bit more sweetness that is somewhat reminiscent of vanilla. A touch of citrus hops impart a bit of a fruity aspect as well as some mineral/metallic scents through the later portion of the nose. Initially this brew smells very sweet and pleasing but never really comes together and seems a bit awkward.

The taste of this brew is a bit fruity and sweet. It has a flavor of caramel malt mixed with some vanilla sweetness and a touch of toffee. There is a fruity hop/alcohol presence that clashes a bit with the herbal/mineral quality of the hops. This brew finishes with a bit of an herbal hop bitterness that counters the would-be over sweetness of caramel and toffee.

This is a medium bodied brew with a moderate amount of carbonation. The abv crept up a bit for less than 6% and was slightly noticeable but overall this is fairly decent drinking. However, it is quite a contrasting amount of different tastes that dont particularly work well together. The whole idea of a caramel porter is an interesting concept but just didnt quite get it done for me. Worth a try but not something I would enjoy more than just one of.

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Photo of ejimhof
2/5  rDev -36.5%

Photo of tdm168
3.56/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown with 1/4" of dense, foamy, off white head. Great retention. The smell is like caramel candy. The taste is also similar to caramel candy with faint roasted malts and hops for balance. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, lightly carbonated, and very smooth.

Overall, this is a decent beer. It's different at least. The nose and taste are a little too sweet and candy-like. It's just a little too one dimensional.

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Photo of imperialking
3/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of rab53
3/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of Billolick
3.14/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Another very mediocre brew from the fine folks at Saranac. Pours dark brown and clear, minimal head/lacing. Nutty caramel nose. Taste is, you guessed it, caramel and sweet. Tastes sort of like a mix between sugary caramel corn and a bottle of miller. There is obviously much better beer out there to be consumed. Saranac seems to be trying to fill the space betwwen BMC and any type of decent craft brew, I'm sure there is pleanty of $$$ to be made in that zone.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.68/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown with a thick light tan head. Nose is super caramel, but it's almost like someone put an additive in it, and it's not natural. Flavor is pretty caramel heavy as well. It's nice and robust and flavorful, yes. The artificial edge is just a bit too prevalent. It doesn't make it a bad beer or anything like that though. Feel is good. It's drinkable and nice enough, but like I said before, the artificial edge just doesn't work right.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
2.67/5  rDev -15.2%
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 feloniousmonk
1.76/5  rDev -44.1%
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 GreesyFizeek
3.01/5  rDev -4.4%
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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Saranac Caramel Porter from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.15 out of 5 based on 802 ratings.
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