Saranac’s Pale Ale is the brewery’s flagship beer, but it’s actually an
English-style pale ale. "Big Moose Ale" is essentially the
American-style equivalent of that beer, but it’s only available as a
winter seasonal. That’s a bit of a shame because this is exactly what I
look for in a brew of the style: big flavor with genuine hop bitterness
that’s well-balanced and highly drinkable.
I poured a 12oz bottle into an official Saranac shaker pint.
Appearance: Dark copper body, crystal clear, some carbonation visible.
Forms an average size, yellowish, soapy head which mostly dissipates but
still leaves plenty of lacing on the glass.
Smell: Orange candy scent plus a hint of pine needles and some confectionery sweetness.
Taste: I appreciate Saranac Pale Ale for its subtlety, but the Big Moose
Ale is bit more overt in its delivery. Strong hop bitterness from the
get-go, along with noticeable caramel and toffee sweetness. There’s a
distinct resiny character, especially through the middle of the palate,
that imparts some astringency and piney flavor. It finishes with a sharp
hop bite before fading away fairly clean.
This is a satisfying drinking experience and I’d bet if this beer were
made by a brewery with a bit more "indie cred," craft beer nerds would
be rating this much higher than they are. I like it better than
Saranac’s flagship pale ale, but much like that beer I wouldn’t say this
is anything world-class or earth-shattering. It’s just a solid beer
that’s a little more solid than others.
Drinkability: "Crisp" is a word that comes to mind in describing how
Saranac Big Moose Ale drinks. The body has a distinct carbonation
presence, but is not overly fizzy. The mouthfeel has plenty of energy
from the hops, but isn’t intense by any means. I’m actually impressed
they were able to get so much body out of only 5.3% ABV. It’s an
efficient brew that’s for sure.