It's been a loooooooong time since I reviewed a Saranac beer and it's been even longer since they released a NEW beer. But both of those streaks come to an end tonight when I review their "Chocolate Lager" - available only in their "12 Beers of Winter" mix pack. I tend to love chocolate stouts, but chocolate lagers...? I'll give it a shot.
3.7AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tumbler.
Appearance: Beautiful shade of deep amber to light brown. Slightly hazy, but some carbonation visible. Forms an average size, white frothy head that retains and laces well enough.
Smell: Despite the name, there’s little chocolate to be found in the nose. It’s more in line with a higher end American amber lager or bock. Lightly sweet malty body with hint of candy somewhere in there.
Taste: When a beer is named "Chocolate ____" you tend to expect all chocolate all the time. In the case of many stouts that’s certainly possible, but I’ve yet to find a truly chocolate lager and Saranac’s offering is no different. However, that’s not to say it fails as a chocolate beer, but that it’s a more refined American amber lager with a pleasant chocolate candy taste right at the end.
The majority of the palate is very malt-forward, lightly sweet, and dare I say creamy. No adjunct taste at all, nor is there the presence of generic American lager (well, it does make itself known through the middle of the palate). It’s a clean, mild, lightly sweet palate with little bitterness. The chocolate flavor comes as a quick burst immediately after you swallow. It’s not high-end gourmet chocolate, but rather something more everyday like the taste of a candy bar or cookie. It’s a pleasant surprise every time, but it’s not very robust. But at least it’s not cloying, either, as the aftertaste is amazingly clean.
Mouthfeel: Thicker and softer than your average lager with no fizz tingling on the tongue, either.
Drinkability: I have to give Saranac props for not skimping on this brew as it weighs in at 6% ABV and seems to make use of it all. The beer drinks and feels more like an ale with a comfortable mouthfeel and a smooth finish. It’s not quite sweet enough to work as a dessert beer, though. Mostly it’s a treat for the lager drinker.