Friday, December 20, 2013

Saranac Rudy's Spiced Christmas Ale

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
Chad9976 (1026) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 20, 2013
I poured a 12oz bottle into my official Saranac shaker glass. It came as part of a mix pack for $14.28. ($1.19 per bottle, or $0.10 per ounce). There was no discernible freshness date.

Appearance: A pretty shade of honey-like amber/gold. Crystal clear with plenty of carbonation visible. Pours to a fairly large, white, foamy head which mostly dissipates and leaves trace lacing.

Smell: The usual amber ale malt base plus some generic Christmas spices (ginger and nutmeg mostly).

Taste: I’m usually not a fan of amber ales and I usually dislike ginger as a spice in beer, so I should probably detest Saranac Rudy’s Spiced Christmas Ale because it’s an amber ale spiced with ginger. On the contrary, I find it pleasantly surprising. While it’s far from a great beer, it does what so few beers can do: make an amber spiced with ginger likable.

There’s a certain malty taste nearly all standard amber ales tend to have. It’s slightly sweet, but not in a confectionery sort of way. That’s what’s going on throughout most of the palette here. The taste is best described as mild and clean. A hint of cinnamon spice is detectable throughout the beginning of the swig, but then followed by a strong surge of ginger and possibly nutmeg. The label description is "This amber ale’s ingredient list reads like a Christmas cookie," but does not mention the ingredients. The brewery’s website only indicates which malts and hops used, but not the spices, so I can only guess.

As it warms, the ginger becomes more prominent and upstages the other ingredients. Not being a fan of ginger I was a little put off by this, but at no point was the beer as a whole unlikable. It’s not especially Christmas-y, but it’s a nice attempt at originality.

Drinkability: Rudy’s Spiced Christmas Ale is a rather big brew for Saranac as it weighs in at 6% ABV. It doesn’t seem to have the body to back that up, though. The mouthfeel is rather calm with medium to light weight. There should be more flavor for the strength to this beer. Then again, its mildness makes it drinker-friendly and appealing as it’s comfortable on the palate and smooth going down. Take what you can get I guess. 
Grade: 6/10

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