Thursday, December 6, 2012

Saranac Red IPA

India Pale Ales are supposed to be bitter, but they’re also supposed to taste good. Saranac Red IPA definitely has the bitterness factor going for it, but it’s lacking in the good taste department. Hops without taste to back them up are rather boring.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
Chad9976 (765) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 6, 2012
I poured a 12oz bottle into an official Saranac shaker pint.

Appearance: Dark copper/burgundy hue. Forms an average size, off-white, foamy head which leaves plenty of lacing on the glass and never completely dissipates.

Smell: Similar to hop pellets: earthy, grassy scent with a hint of sweetness.

Taste: The bottle’s label indicates this beer is a "twist on a traditional West Coast IPA," but aside from the raw bitterness I’m not sure I would compare this to a beer of that style at all. There are some unusual hops used in Saranac Red IPA - Calypso, Palisade, Chinook and Delta (according to the website). These aren’t known for imparting citrusy aromas and flavors. It’s just sheer bitterness, and dry, astringent bitterness at that.

The label also mentions "caramel malt undertones," but I fail to find them. There isn’t much malt distinctiveness here at all other than a crackery, biscuity taste. That’s not to say this is a bad beer, far from it. I’m actually more indifferent to this palate than anything else. This is probably the most bitter Saranac brew I’ve ever had, and in that vein it’s impressive. Still, it’s lacking balance and memorable flavors, so it’s also forgettable.

Drinkability: Though noticeably dry and bitter, Saranac Red IPA isn’t a challenge to drink. The body is medium with a perfect level of carbonation to give it some energy, but calm enough to enable smooth swigging. The aftertaste is dry, though, but tolerable. The 6% ABV is a bit bigger than I would’ve guessed, but it’s not overbearing.
 Grade: 5/10