Thursday, December 26, 2013

Saranac Moonshadow

3.8
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1032) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 26, 2013
I poured a 12oz bottle into an official Saranac shaker glass. It had a best before date of 3/31/14 and came as part of a mix pack for $14.28 ($1.19 per bottle or $0.10 per ounce).

Appearance: Dark brown/light black hue with some ruby red highlights. Pours to a small, off-white, soapy head which nearly completely fades away and leaves only trace lacing.

Smell: Piney hops with a touch of malty spice (rye?).

Taste: It’s nice seeing mainstream breweries like Saranac dabbling in more eccentric styles like the Black IPA. Moonshadow is their first foray into the style and while it’s not a particularly amazing example of one, it’s definitely one of their best-ever beers because it has a lot of a flavor. Tasty, piney, hops with surprisingly strong bitterness dominate here. There’s even some spicy malt character, which is unique and interesting. Just wish the "black" had been emphasized more.

I was surprised to find that this beer is actually brewed with six different hops (though their website doesn’t indicate which are used at what points in the brew for which purposes). Though that fact alone is pretty impressive for this brewery. There’s definitely a strong presence of piney, earthy hops here. They impart a genuine bitterness that’s slightly dry, but not truly dank or resiny. The malt base is noticeable as well, with a significant sweet, cola-like taste, plus some rye-like spice (probably the Munich malt). Little to no roasty character, which is disappointing. With a few tweaks to the recipe, I think Saranac would have a great beer here.

Drinkability: While Saranac Moonshadow is pretty darn bitter and flavorful, I was surprised by how fast I drank it. The mouthfeel is on the thinner, flatter side. It’s actually refreshing for a moment as it cross the palate and goes down smooth and finishes clean. A little too clean, actually, indicating this is a deliberately light-bodied brew even though it weighs in at 6% ABV. Still, I had no trouble throwing back two in a row. 
Grade: 8/10