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.