It’s quite possible Saranac Pale Ale may be the most accessible craft
beer in America, in more ways than one. This brewery is available in
many states and this style of beer is often enjoyed by outsiders and
newbies, but still appreciated by connoisseur-types. It’s meant to be
just a solid beer and that’s what it is.
I poured a 12oz bottle into an official Saranac shaker pint.
Appearance: Pure copper color, perfectly clear with some carbonation
visible. Initially forms a large, off-white, foaming head which never
completely evaporates and leaves minor lacing on the glass.
Smell: Mild malty scent, especially biscuit-like with a hint of caramel. Subtle piney hops as well.
Taste: To be fair, Saranac Pale Ale is an English-style pale ale which
means its meant to be balanced and lighter on the hops than the
American-style pale ale. And in that aspect this beer works really well.
It’s sweeter than most with a hint of caramel or honey flavors combined
with a slightly rustic or spicy maltiness (rye?). There’s a burst of
citrus and floral flavor at the apex of the palate, but it fades away as
quickly as it appears, leaving a mostly clean, but slightly dry
While I wouldn’t nominate this beer for any awards, I do think it’s one
of the most underrated and underappreciated beers on the mainstream
craft market. It’s genuinely flavorful, well-balanced, and a great
representation of a style often ignored stateside. I probably rate it a
bit higher than most people because I appreciate its subtlety.
Drinkability: If there’s one thing drinkers of Saranac Pale Ale can
agree on it should be the fact the beer is almost ridiculously
drinkable. The body is only medium all-around with a mouthfeel that’s
not thin, but still crisp. It’s refreshing while it’s in the mouth, but
it’s not a summer cooler. At 5.5% ABV it’s actually where it should be
in terms of weight: lighter than most craft beers but with enough flavor
for the body.