3.6AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
A mistake brewers seem to make is creating gimmicky, overly-sweetened beers that are essentially wine coolers or malt beverages. But Saranac gets a fruity beer right with their Belgian Ale by loading it with lots of spice not unlike an authentic Trappist brew (in fact, the description even says it’s "brewed in the Trappist style"). It’s a full-bodied, robust beer that’s sweet and spicy.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Belgian Ale poured extremely smooth and formed a white, foamy head which dissipated mostly, but not entirely. It left some lacing on the glass as well. The complexion was a beautiful dark copper/reddish-orange hazy body with some carbonation noticeable. The aroma gave off some fruity notes along the lines of a cranberry scent with clove also being prominent.
As soon as I took my first taste of Belgian Ale I wondered when I had drank this beer before, and then it hit me: Saranac Pomegranate Wheat. This beer has a similar taste in that it’s obviously fruity, but with a deep, rich layer of sweetness rather than a tart or citrus-like taste.
Basically, this tastes like a summer-style fruity beer with additional spice for the winter season. Clove is a noticeable, with possibly some vanilla, as well as cherry, plum and raisin.
Spicy beers tend to be difficult to drink since their contents have a tendency to dance on your palate. Belgian Ale, while being quite spicy, doesn’t assault the palate and goes down extremely smooth.
Really the only thing I can criticize Belgian Ale for is its seemingly heavy body. At 5.9% ABV it’s quite a hefty beer. I definitely noticed the alcohol after just one bottle and the weight was noticeable as well, but nothing I nor the average beer drinker, can’t handle.
While I wouldn’t consider Saranac Belgian Ale to be a masterpiece, I do have to commend it for being such a high-quality beer because it’s able to convey a fruity theme while still having a truly complex, robust, non-gimmicky taste. This is a good stepping stone for Joe and Jane Six Pack towards authentic Belgian beers, namely - Chimay Red.