3.2AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
I often chastise gimmicky beers because the gimmick alone doesn’t usually make the beer good. However, there are some beers that could use a gimmick to at least make them above average. Saranac Rye Pilsener is a good example of this as it’s a mostly generic beer at the core, but intended to have a unique hook. Unfortunately, it didn’t grab me.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Usually, light lagers and pilsners tend to pour rather rough, but this beer flowed quite smoothly and formed a perfectly-proportioned head (at least at first). The body was an uninspiring, clear, dark gold color with plenty of carbonation at first, but quickly calmed down to a completely tepid body. It was topped by a bright white fizzy head which dissolved quickly and left almost no lacing on the glass. The aroma was also quite standard for a beer of this complexion: grainy with just the slightest hint of spice noticeable.
On the label, Saranac advises the drinker to “pick out the unique flavors” – if only there were any to find. Rye Pilsener is a pale, light lager at the core and anyone that is familiar with beers of the style is already in a position to take an educated guess as to how this beer will taste.
I noticed that all the flavor was present in the initial taste, followed by a dry, doughy finish. The label also mentions a “subtle spiciness” to the finish and a “crisp bitterness”. While some spice is detectable, although very faintly, it’s not enough to make the beer genuinely enjoyable. Not that it’s bland and off-putting like so many mediocre examples of the style, just not enough to truly merit any kind of originality or delectable palate.
With a rather soft mouthfeel and a watery composition, Saranac Rye Pilsener’s drinkability is quite high. It does leave a slightly dry aftertaste, but mostly it finishes clean as any good summer beer should. The average drinker should have no trouble with this brew at all.
Pilsners, in general, are fairly light beers. So a “summerized” version with a slight gimmick is not going to be an exception. This beer is fairly light at 4.8% ABV. It won’t overwhelm or fill you up.
I can definitely see Joe and Jane Six Pack throwing back a few Saranac Rye Pilseners as part of the 2009 “12 Beers of Summer” mix pack. Aside from more discriminating drinkers like me, the average person won’t likely notice anything unique about it – so what does that tell you about the beer?