Saranac Pale Ale | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

1,306 Ratings
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Saranac Pale AleSaranac Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
New York, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Officially American: previously an English pale ale, we’ve converted this beer over to an American-style Pale Ale.

We’ve dialed UP the hop profile, adding more focus to American style hops, like Cascade, Chinook, Citra, and Willamette.

Hop Infusion: every drop of beer is exposed to our hop slurry as the beer passes from fermentation to aging, resulting in a more brilliant, cleaner hop character.

Saranac Pale Ale’s foundation was built on the tried and true English varieties, Golding and Fuggles. We brighten Pale Ale with the three “C”s; a strong focus on Citra, complimented by Cascade, and Chinook. We then bridge the old world with the new with the two most distinctive hops Bramling Cross and Jester, both descendants of English and North American varieties.

Malts: Crystal, Two-Row
Hops: Bramling Cross, Jester, Citra, Cascade, Chinook

Original Gravity: 13.5° Plato
IBU: 32

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-08-2001

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,306 |  Reviews: 632
Photo of Arithmeticus
3.85/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A: no head, little carbonation; it looks inert; but it did leave good lacing
S: lovely plum, grape, orange smell
T: very nice flavor; sweeter version of a pale ale, with a razz that approaches an IPA; slight metallic taste
M: a bit flat in the mouth

I wouldn't go out of my way to have another, but it wasn't an unpleasant experience.

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Photo of BeerdedEric
3.01/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Very white head and very silky. A light copper straw color. Decently bubbly.

Not much of a smell. A little spice and grass clinging to the inside of my nose.

Slight bitterness some malt but kind of bland. It's an okay tasting beer. There is an almost soapy taste at the end to it, hard to explain.

Carbonation attacks the tongue immediately. Light to medium body.

I don't think I would want another after this one. I would have one at another time but I know I would get bored of it very easily.

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Photo of Wamesit
3.23/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours a strong copper with a rich frothy white head that gives way to slight lacing, albeit it in the form of discernible rings.

S - Floral hops, a hint of sweet caramel malts. Some grain aroma, not quite bready.

T - The malty sweetness is there, as is the oily hops. Not citrus or grassy but the leafy hops one might expect in and English style Pale Ale. It lacks the malt/hops balance an EPA should have. The malt is lost almost as soon as it is noticed, although it is not due to overpowering hops. The finish is a touch dry and soapy.

M - Medium but on the lighter side. Pours with a lot of carbonation but it doesn't stick around long.

D - English Pale Ales are a tricky animal for Americans. If you enjoy more mild P.A.s then you might enjoy this in numeration.

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Photo of mikeg67
3.18/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle from a variety pack. Pours copper in color with a nice, lacy head. Aroma is of pine hops, quite pleasant. The body is light. Flavor is dominated by floral hops, quite smooth and dry. Not too much complexity. On the whole, not a bad beer for the price.

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Photo of ludachris
3.18/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I'm in the mood for something hoppy and after this year's LCBO winter release, this is about the best I can do from my fridge.

Two fingers of soapy cream coloured head sit on top of a nearly clear copper body. Nice retention with spider leg lace left behind.

My first impression is it's very, very malty. Heaps of thick and chewy caramel with an almost brown sugar like sweetness to it. This hefty malt profile almost completely subdues the candied grapefruit, lemon rhine, and light floral aspect that makes up this beer's hop character. This may not provide me with the hop fix I wanted but it's still a decent smelling beer nonetheless.

Hmm, much different than what I had anticipated based on the nose. The sweet malty character is very dumbed down in comparison to the smell and the hop character is a bit more assertive. Touches of caramel and bready malts clash rather than blend with the soapy, semi-citrus hop character. Grassy in the finish with a lingering bitterness. Straightforward, somewhat bland, and lacking any real depth.

Light to medium bodied, crisp and somewhat refreshing but still seems flat at times and could use some amping up in the carbonation department. What makes beers with average ABV's so easy and pleasurable to drink is obviously not how well the alcohol is disguised but how tasty and balanced their end product is; two aspects that seem to be mediocre at best in this beer.

From a promising beginning to a less than satisfying end, this beer seemed to only get worse with each category. A good alternative to macros but I sure have had much better EPA's than this. I'd give a couple more Saranac offerings a try, but won't be picking this one up any time in the near future.

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Photo of greenmonstah
2.61/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle into pint glass

A - Clear pale orange-copper with a finger of white head.

S - A bit hoppy, a bit grainy. Not very appealing.

T - Bitter and tart immediately. Give it a second and it becomes grainy and dry. Not a lot of character to the malt. Meh.

M - A notch above thin, with average carbonation. Extremely dry finish. Unappealing.

D - The dry mouthfeel and boring flavor make this almost a chore to drink. Try the Big Moose Pale Ale, it is much better.

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Photo of beerdown77
3.2/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I first noticed that this beer was more grainy/meaty than I expected. There was a sour, muck taste that lingered in my mouth a little too long. The appearance was average, as was the drinkability. I have not been impressed with Saranac as a whole, but I'm not pouring it down the drain either.

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Photo of GodOfBeer
3.38/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an orangey-copper with a thin white head with some lacing on the glass.

Smells of biscuity malts, flowery hops with some slight citrus notes.

Tastes thin and hoppy upfront with a sharp bitter aftertaste, not very malty and the hops aren't very appealing in this.

Pretty carbonated mouthfeel with a very dry character. Not terrible but nothing I would seek out again.

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Photo of chinchill
3.18/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle served in glass mug.

Pours a lovely amber with a moderate amount of off-white head. Head is short-lived save a partial thin coating.

S - primarily hoppy, as expected. Slight but undesirable metallic aroma.

T - hoppy with malt presence. Slight smokiness. Bolder taste than expected given aroma.

M - typical for type; moderate carbonation.

Overall, well balanced taste, but rather average.

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Photo of KeithStolte
4.02/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz to pint glass.

A - Clear bronze color with a nice lacy head. Head Retention is a few minutes.

S - Slightly sweet hoppys taste and quite refreshing

T - Pretty good slightly sweet with hops and malts. Good beer at a great price.

M - Slightly metallic, but good mouthfeel. Can definitely feel a bit of the carbonation.

D - I think this is very drinkable. Very smooth.

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Photo of dstc
4/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear ruby-copper color with decent off-white head. Head falls to a very small one. Thin lace.

Mild hop aroma that is floral and spicy. Rather mild though.

Nice mild hop taste up front with a malt backbone. Slight hop bitterness in the finish.

Medium bodied and somewhat smooth.

Not bad. Rather drinkable.

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Photo of shand
3.15/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle with no date code into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice transparent bronze color with about two fingers of very nicely laced head. Head retention is about average.

Smell: Sweet hops and biscuity malts. Smells very refreshing.

Taste: Not too shabby. Sweet hops and malts. Nothing astounding, but a good beer at a good price.

Mouthfeel: Feels good in the mouth, but tastes just a little metallic as it hits the back of the throat.

Drinkability: This should be very drinkable, this just goes right down. However, there's a bit of a lingering metallic aftertaste that kind of kills the drinkability for me.

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Photo of dogfishandi
3.83/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle out of the fridge into an imperial pint glass. no freshness, born on date. bottle claims 6 different malts and hopped with EKGs and fuggles.

pours a clear light amber, copper color. 2 fingers slightly off white head that faded pretty quickly to a thin retentive layer. bits and pieces of sticky lace on the glass.

the aroma has a nice balance. fruity, herbal tea like hops are at the forefront with grainy, biscuity malts underneath.

sharp grassy, highly fruity hops followed by a woody character. on the backend theres grains, biscuity, bready malts. finishs with a moderate hop tingle. not bad tasteing, hop forward, but still nicely balanced.

light bodied, a tingly carbonation thats a little overdone. has that same slightly astringent feel that most saranac brews seem to share.

i can easily knock this back all night long, its cheap price and wide availability in my area makes this even easier. ive drank plenty of this beer before and im sure to revisist again. this is also newly available in 16oz cans.

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Photo of Mit
3.33/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

a-pours a nice clear amber colour.

s-sweet malts coming through with a hint of bitterness from the hops.

t-bitterness at the first sip, flavour rounded out by the maltier notes.

m-average for the abv.

d-pretty drinkable. I could def have more of these.

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Photo of BarrelO
3.43/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Amber body. Decent white head leaves no lacing.

S: Strong notes of caramel. Also some floral hops.

T: A lot more bitter than I expected. Strong hop bitterness, but not a whole lot of malt flavor. Caramel malt is quite subdued. Some grapefruity aftertaste.

M: A bit heavier than the typical pale ale.

D: I think I'd describe this as an Anglo-American pale ale. It incorporates elements of both English and American pale ales, but the blend doesn't really work for me. Not a preferred pale ale.

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.23/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz.

Pours amber gold, reddish hue to the light, medium fine whittish head retains as a film.

The nose is overwhelmingly floral hops with a pine tinge and maybe some citrus sweetness.

The taste is pine hoppy but more tart than bitter. Definite lemon tartness on the tip of the tongue. Kind of one-note.

Moderate tingly carbonation throughout, most noticeable in the back of the throat. Body is moderate and on the fuller side.

Easy going, quenches the thirst okay, could session this but the taste isn't that special. Wish it had more character or variety to it.

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Photo of NODAK
3.22/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The aroma here is mostly of sweet caramel malt with a bit of floral hops. The fact they use Cascade hops certainly shows.

Some caramel malt is apparent at the front...however, it's somewhat fleeting, as the floral hops take over into the finish. The hops have a decent level of assertiveness for style, although they don't approach APA level. Again, the use of Cascades is obvious. A slight bit of sweet malt shows in the aftertaste, but it's otherwise pretty clean.

It's a very drinkable, if not forgettable, EPA. Hops are perhaps a bit pronounced here than in most EPA's, and the caramel is toned down a bit. For that reason, I wouldn't say it's among my favorite beers of this style, but it's not bad.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.8/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Appearance - The beer pours an amber colour with a gigantic frothy and fizzy off white head. There isn't much carbonation showing. There is also some decent lacing and the head lasted for a long time.

Smell - I can smell hops, malts, caramel, and some citrus and floral notes.

Taste & Mouth - the beer has a nice mouthfeel, smooth and creamy with a nice amount of carbonation - which is surprising because I can't see very much. I can taste the hops first and foremost, and then some sweet caramel and malts, and then it finishes slightly bitter. The beer comes across as just a tad on the watery side, but still decent.

Drink - An above average beer that is highly sessionable, I'd gladly buy this again.

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Photo of vandemonian
3.07/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This ale is not pale; it's actually an fairly dark amber colour. It has a nice sweet honey smell. The beer has a malty sweetness with a eucalyptus tang that fades into an aftertaste chemical bitterness It is reasonably thick and carbonated in the mouth. Overall, this is a decent beer that is let down by the aftertaste.

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Photo of Brenden
3.63/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I don't even know how old these notes I just dug up are.

The body is a clear amber-copper. There's some good activity forming an off-white head just over one finger tall that retains itself well and sticks in patches to the glass.
There's a good balance of hops and malts on the nose. If only it were stronger. It's bready from the malts with citrus and plenty of zest and spices.
The malt takes over in the flavor, muting the hops bitterness a bit. A little off-balance, more hops are really called for in the flavor. Zest and spices are evident here as well.
While initially crisp with a moderate smoothness that would make for a good mouthfeel, I get a kick of something a little grainy and it gets a bit fizzy.
There's better out there, but this is a good offering and quite drinkable. This would make a good session beer.

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Photo of WinthrHOPHEAD89
4.18/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into standard tumbler glass

A - Pours a bright 1.5 - 2 finger off-white foamy head that fizzles down slightly but regenerates nicely and easily by swirling the beer around in the glass. Head leaves some nice lacing on the glass. This Pale Ale is straight up copper in color, like a brand new penny, with medium effervescence.

S - This beer has pretty much the typical "Saranac" smell, with lots of maltiness and noticeable fruity hop esters. Slight caramel and pine scents seem to be present as well. Definitely smells like a walk into a forest.

T - This beer is one of the hoppiest Pale Ales I have ever had, but that is not to say that it is intensely bitter. The English Kent Golding's and Fuggles hops are definitely noticeable on the tongue. The hops don't linger for too long though, for the bitterness is accompanied by a caramel tasting malt character. As the beer warms the hops seem to become slightly harder to pick out, but all in all the beer remains pretty sturdy throughout in terms of taste.

M - The mouthfeel on this beer is super soft. The effervescence and medium body of the beer create a very pleasing pillowy feeling on the tongue as you are drinking it.

D - The drinkability of this beer is fairly high. Pale Ale and IPA fans should find this beer a pleasant experience to drink. This seems to be a pretty sessionable beer, and goes great with Spaghetti, Meatballs, and Garlic Bread, but overall, a pretty easy beer to drink.

Final Thoughts: Very Solid beer. One I would recommend and would buy a six pack of no problem. (This beer was part of a six pack sampler)

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Photo of LuthersMug
3.68/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Nice clean copper appearance with 1/2 inch of off-white head. Lacing sticks to glass, very nice.

S - Floral and fruity smells waft from this brew, very pleasant.

T - Slight hints of sweet fruit up front. Malts were a bit hard to find. Hops at the end were clean, slight bitterness.

M - A crisp and clean beer. Good carbonation.

D - I wouldn't mind having a second.

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Photo of pootz
3.87/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from LCBO:

Pours a lightly hazed amber-gold ale in the glass with a decent 2 finger off-white cap...fair retention--fair lacing...moderate carbonation.

Aroma is pleasant: bit of toffee, some biscuit dough, some toast...fruity esters..light wet hay hopiness from Kent goldings.

Medium-light body, rounded conditioned character, soft mouth feel

Nice dose of malts in the front ...a bit of malt complexity from six malts on the bill...toffee, toasty, bready, sweet biscuit, light roast...hops balance well in the middle....some great fruit tones and musty earthy bittering from Fuggles...light clean finish, bittering builds to a mildly bitter end.

An unexpected find from a US micro brewer renown for modest style rendition. At $2.15 a pint this boilerplate micro pale ale is a bargain. but I won't hold my breath waiting for local beer drinkers to appreciate the malt complexity in this beer...a very good melding of English and American styles in this easy drinking and flavorful Pale Ale. Great for sessioning or paiting with fresh shellfish.

I'll be buying quantity to lay in for the fall winter season.

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Photo of patelldp
3.3/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

A: Nice golden color, slightly copper but definitely along the lines of every other Pale Ale I have ever had.

S: Rich smell that unfortunately doesn't translate directly into the taste. Slightly malty, but doesn't lead on that there is an abundance of hops as characterized by the pale ale style.

T: As I said, the smell is misleading. Slightly bitter and citrus in the beginning, ending on a musty note. Not overly impressed, but at the same time it's not offensive.

M: Watery. Seems like a light beer with a lot more taste. Very easy to down considering it's not skunky like its light counterparts.

D: Easily pounded if in the mood. With the other Pale Ales that I have learned to love (Brown's, Sierra Nevada) being a lot tastier, this seems like the likely candidate for a college student to graduate from Keystone.

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Photo of biegaman
3.4/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Saranac Pale Ale has a good deal of colour, most of it being orange. Despite having good depth in its tone it has a very light complexion that allows the sun's rays to pass through it completely unrestricted (and even assists them in hammering out some glossy highlights along the way). Its head is substantial and lasts more than long enough.

Contrary to what they claim, the brewers don't seem to have used a lot of hops, at least not of the aromatic varieties. But no harm no foul - the malts are pleasant and ample, lending impressions of sweet biscuits and wholesome breads. A vague fruitiness may be testament to the Fuggle and Goldings hops after all (or, perhaps, a proper ale yeast).

The flavour isn't what I'd call delicious or anything, but it sure as hell is serviceable. A hefty earthy, fruity bitterness precludes a malty flavour that itself isn't exactly light-bodied. Given some of this brewery's other offerings I was expecting something of an extract taste, 'brew-your-own' quality, but this is more than acceptable for my taste buds.

Not to suggest it couldn't use a boost. When a word like 'acceptable' is used usually a phrase like 'too subdued' follows soon after. As noted, this isn't your grandma's Budweiser, not by a long stretch, but it doesn't have the same level of character or appeal as other - namely smaller scale and less commercial - American microbreweries.

Saranac Pale Ale is a serviceable, if ordinary, beer and that is likely just as The Matt Brewing Company intended it to be. While I generally don't see the appeal of drinking middling and mediocre beers, every so often a standard, middle of the road pale ale will be called on to do the trick and, for this occasion, that's just what this did. I doubt, however, even another such occasion will warrant a repeat purchase.

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Saranac Pale Ale from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.45 out of 5 based on 1,306 ratings.
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