Even though I’m excited to try the Saranac Pumpkin Ale that was among the bottles sent to me from Saranac (AKA Matt Brewing) earlier this month, I have never had any of the Saranac line of beers so I wanted to try their Pale Ale and IPA first, to get a “baseline feel” for their beers.
Matt Brewing is one of the long-standing American breweries, founded under that name in 1888 and surviving Prohibition. The brewery has been owned by the Matt family during all that time, and in 2008 weathered a fire that damaged much of their packaging line, but they are still going strong. The “Saranac” line of beers is their flagship line, and they also produce Utica Club, as well as (according to Wikipedia) the Kirkland line of beers for Costco in the Eastern U.S.
Their Pale Ale is brewed in the English style, with plenty of East Kent Goldings hops and is 5.5% alcohol by volume.
Appearance: Nice amber-orange in color, dark-copper-penny bright; decent light tan head.
Smell: Malty with caramel and some toffee and maybe butterscotch. Fruity. Mellow, earthy hop aromas.
Taste: Earthy bitterness, crisp bread crust character, a bit hope vine-y. There’s a bit of a bite or edge to it, maybe a hint metallic which I think is intentional (the hops?).
Mouthfeel: Crisp and dry with a lightly-medium body.
Overall: A nice pale with an edgy bite, earthy and English. I bet this would be fantastic on cask.
The IPA is in the American Style, with plenty of Cascade hops, though I personally would think with 5.8% alcohol by volume it’s more of an American-English hybrid.
Appearance: Copper, lighter in color than the Pale, bright and shiny, with a dense white frothy head. Nice lacing is left behind in the glass.
Smell: Pleasant aroma hops here, citrus with a bit of spice and earthiness. Fruity nose.
Taste: Fruity-spicy hop flavor up front (mango-ish?) and it’s lighter than the Pale but definitely hoppier and also earthy. (This earthiness seems to definitely be a house character, if I can call that after only sampling two beers.) Nicely fruity “ale” character (yes it’s generic but that’s where my mind went), a bit sweet, and the hop bitterness comes up again at the back. Touch of mineral/chalk/gypsum/hard water character.
Mouthfeel: A tad lighter than the Pale, just shy of medium-bodied. Clean finish with a lightly bitter palate left behind.
Overall: Very drinkable IPA, not terribly strong (this was before I knew the ABV), but fresh and tasty.