Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saranac Caramel Porter (2009)

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (744) - Albany, New York, USA - APR 15, 2010
 I like beers that happen to have a caramel flavor to them, but what about a beer that’s all about the caramel? Saranac Caramel Porter is just such a beer as it drinks like a brown ale with a rich, sweet taste along with roasted malts, although all take a backseat to the caramel flavor.


With a fairly thin body, this beer flowed smoothly out of the bottle to a dark amber/brown complexion. It generates an average-sized head which is tan and soapy, although it evaporates rather quickly and leaves only minor lacing on the glass. The aroma is an intense scent of caramel and malts, although when taken together it seems more like vinegar (although I believe this is actually butterscotch).


Any beer connoisseur worth his or her salt knows the darker the beer, the warmer it should be drank. Saranac Caramel Porter is a great example of this rule as it has two very distinct tastes based on the temperature it is consumed.

If drank at cold temperature, say, right out of the fridge, the beer has a very malty palate with a sweet finish. Caramel is present, but is rather mild. In fact, the vinegar-like scent is also prominent in the flavor giving the beer a dry, bitter taste. Again, I believe that’s actually butterscotch I’m tasting, so why isn’t it as tasty as those gold hard candies?

If allowed to warm to about 50 degrees, the flavor is much different. The palate is a well-balanced mix of roasted malts and a sweet, rich taste of caramel and possibly toffee. It’s almost sugary in a way, but not the point of being gimmicky or overly-sweetened. Like my friend Jay said, it’s like a caramel apple you’d get at the summer carnival. Overall, it’s delicious and very satisfying.


Although taste is still my top priority in a beer, I still like a brew that’s easy to drink. Saranac Caramel Porter has a soft, gentle mouthfeel as though it were water (probably due to its low carbonation). The sweet palate finishes smooth, although it does leave a dry aftertaste.


Dark, sweet beers tend to have the reputation of being hefty, which is odd because the numbers usually say otherwise. This is true of Saranac Caramel Porter as it is 5.4% ABV and an original gravity of 13.30. It doesn’t drink like anything it isn’t as this is a perfect middle-of-the-road brew that works well on its own or accompanying a meal.


I am genuinely impressed by Saranac Caramel Porter because it seems like an authentic example of a niche foreign style. Although I think its attributes are possibly a liability since this seems to be more of an acquired taste rather than something drinker-friendly. Regardless, it is indeed sweet, smooth and lean and that’s what I like in a beer. 
Grade: 8/10

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