redlem (1290) - Ohio, USA - FEB 13, 2010
1.6 AROMA 4/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 3/10 PALATE 1/5 OVERALL 5/20
I saved this for last in the mixer because I knew it would be sweet. I had a hard time getting this one down. The maple is dominant and drowns out all of the porter characteristics, if there were any to begin with.
Tanker12 (173) - USA - FEB 12, 2010
2.7 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 11/20
Aroma is brown sugar, maple and some alcohol. Appearance is a deep brown color with a fizzy head. Taste is mostly maple. The palate is this and lacks depth. Ok beer but lacks balance.
williamherbert (1167) - Syracuse, New York, USA - FEB 8, 2010
3.4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
Aroma is toasty, nutty malt. The maple syrup comes out as it warms up a tad.
Appears glossy, ruby red. Head shrinks, but doesnít disappear.
The malts in the flavor are milky and mildly toasted. Caramel and mild maple. Rich and sugary sweet. Very smooth.
Feels very smooth and silky. A sweet (not too sweet) balanced porter. The maple accent works for a one-off.
curly (2397) - Redmond, Washington, USA - JAN 22, 2010
3.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 12/20
Brown color with a ruby hue, fizzy tan head. Aroma of maple, brown sugar, roasted malt, biscuit, vanilla. Taste is very sweet with the maple and roasted malt with a slight bitter finish. Medium light body, lively carboantion. Needs more thick malt.
PilsnerPeter (3028) - Flushing, New York, USA - JAN 20, 2010
3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 1/5 OVERALL 13/20
Bottle: Pours a rubyish auburn with a thin film of tan head. Apparent maple in the nose, but itís not sweet, rather toasted, which is welcoming. Then thereís that house Saranac metallic note of iron oxide. Over carbonated, again, thinning out an already thin bodied beer. Interesting flavor, however, with lots of maple, but itís dry. Some toasted dark bread flavors in itís maltiness. Hearty, but still thin- the finish has a maple presence as well, making it toasty, and almost mildly smoky. Interesting, but again, metallic and thin. With some refining this can potentially be an interesting offering.
Chad9976 (1020) - Albany, New York, USA - JAN 17, 2010
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Every once in a while I encounter a brew that walks a fine line between genuine craft beer and one of the more gimmicky types. I donít believe thereís a direct correlation between a beerís authenticity and its quality and Saranac Maple Porter is proof of that.
This is a very satisfying beer in terms of taste and drinkability even though it does appear to be a pedestrian attention-grabber. Iím not ashamed by how much I like it, although Iím sure beer snobs will tell me why I should be.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
Saranac Maple Porter pours to a dark mahogany/ruby red color bordering on opaque black. It forms a thick, white, frothy head which lasts throughout the lifespan of the drink and leaves some lacing on the glass.
The aroma is very strong and inviting as soon as the bottle is opened. A rich maple syrup-like sweetness combined with a dark chocolate bitterness battle for position in my nose (and I have to admit itís hard to choose between them).
Beer aficionados tend to enjoy chocolate stouts because of their ability to balance rich sweetness with roasty malts and hop bitterness. Saranac Maple Porter is able to perform this impressive balancing act just as well as some of the big-name chocolate brews (i.e. Rogue Chocolate Stout, Youngís Double Chocolate Stout). The difference here is the reliance on caramel malts and maple syrup flavoring (although chocolate is also a component).
Up front this beer has a rich sweetness akin to your breakfast maple syrup, along with some toasted caramel and chocolate malts to make the palate truly robust rather than just a gimmicky sweetness. On the back end is a slight bitterness reminiscent of a British brown ale (which isnít surprising considering its use of Fuggles and East Kent Golding hops). It finishes with a surprisingly strong flavor of bitter dark chocolate which lingers for quite a while.
The only caveat to this beer is, as the bottle indicates, itís not made with real maple syrup, but rather ďnatural flavorsĒ and there does seem have an artificial sweetener flavor. Additionally, I canít help but feel this brew is milder than it could be in order to make it more drinker-friendly. Still, the palate is surprisingly complex and the flavors genuinely satisfy from start to finish.
One of the things I honestly dislike about tasty beers is sometimes theyíre so enjoyable itís difficult to drink them slowly. Saranac Maple Porter is not only tasty but extremely smooth which makes it difficult to NOT slug it down. This could also be due to the fact the beer is noticeably lighter in body than it could (and should) be. Itís thin in the mouth and the finish seems the slightest bit watery.
At 5.3% ABV this is a medium brew in terms of potency. It doesnít fill you up, which is fine, but sometimes you want more density in a dessert beer.
While not perfect, Saranac Maple Porter is one of the best beers available on the mainstream market (supermarkets, gas stations, etc.). As of this writing itís only available in the ď12 Beers of WinterĒ mix pack ($15 - $18), which is something of a shame since it would probably sell extremely well in a standalone six-pack. Considering its ingredients and target audience, it begs the question, ďIs it really craft beer?Ē My answer is, ďDoes it really matter when itís this good?Ē
oteyj (2124) - New Hampshire, USA - JAN 16, 2010
2.5 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 4/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 10/20
Bottle courtesy of Cliff- thanks dude. The pour is dark brown with garnet tints and a lively khaki froth. A near perfect appearance if it didnít look like a brown ale on the darker side. The lacing is spider web like, though as it forms, the head disappears. The aroma is pure maple syrup and caramel- the diacetyl actually gives it pancake like characteristics. The malt character is all that is present, along with a mild note of grainy astringency. The flavor is charred pancake and waffle. Maple syrup and diacetyl combine to create a strange and unique, though wholly cloying malt character. The roast character also adds to the arrangement- I would consider paring this with a pancake that had been on the griddle for far too long. More subtle notes include barley grain and instant coffee. The palate is thin for the style, demonstrating a lip furling astringency that finishes semi-roasty, but mostly empty and water-like. Iím trying to be constructive, but this is deplorable...
beerbomb (173) - New Jersey, USA - JAN 14, 2010
4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
been waiting for this for so long...sensual maple aroma/delicious maple flavor with decent roasty malt-not syrupy, not thin. well rounded, mapley, delicious.
iíd buy this regularly if it was available.
I <3 maple
Ibrew2or3 (6207) - Tempe, Arizona, USA - JAN 10, 2010
3.6 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
12oz bottle pours mahogany with thin light tan head. The aroma is pretty full with maple, mapliness, coconut, brown sugar, prunes and oxidized cherry fruit meat. The taste is much the same with lots of maple syrup, heavy on being maple and less on being syrup, and coconut like chewiness flowing into thin layers of vanilla and prunes.
obguthr (3313) - Lynchburg, Virginia, USA - JAN 8, 2010
3.2 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 11/20
From the Winter Variety pack. Extremely inviting creme brulee, caramel, and maple syrup nose. Crystal clear mahogany brown, thin tan head. Initially just sour with maple syrup appearing at midpalate and finishing with bubblegum and sour walnuts which donít go well. Thin mouthfeel. Not awful, but a bit of a weird concoction, needs more body and sweetening. Caramel Porter was better.