MiP (13836) - Sønderborg, DENMARK - AUG 11, 2010
3.1 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
Bottle. Clear dark amber colour. Very small tan head. Clean flavour, semi-dark malts. OK balanced by the alcohol.
phaleslu (6905) - Cincinnati, Ohio, USA - JUN 23, 2010
2.7 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 11/20
12 oz. bottle from a mixed pack from A-1 Liquor in Indianapolis. Pours a semi-cloudy brown amber color with an active off-white head. Notes of caramel malts, nuts, brown sugar, earthy hops, and wet leaves. Light bodied, with average carbonation and a mouthfeel that would be sweet and nutty if not for the fact that it’s too watered down. Why hold it back? There’s a better beer here somewhere.
Leighton (12231) - London, Greater London, ENGLAND - JUN 14, 2010
3.4 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
Bottle. Pours a nice amber-brown with a medium, off-white head. Nose is heavy on the malts. More malty sweetness in the flavor, with caramel, light brown sugar and toffee. Faint hops of the earthy variety. Medium bodied with average carbonation. Sweet, semi-sticky finish. Not bad overall.
lithy (2996) - Capital of Appalachia, Pennsylvania, USA - MAY 25, 2010
2.8 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 10/20
Clear amber red-beige cover. Toasty, aroma is spicy malts, caramels. Taste is cocoa, caramel, toast.
DocLock (8093) - Lower Pottsgrove, Pennsylvania, USA - MAY 21, 2010
3.1 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
Bottle from Winter 09 variety pack. Deep coppery brown pour w 2f tan head. Nose is earthy c malkt, some spices, hops. Tastes fairlly rich, w some hops, mild spicy peppery notes, and some finishing Wheaties. A decent cold weather beer, and this one went rather quickly out of the variety 12 pack, which is a relative indicator of its decency.
checkmatei1 (765) - Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, USA - MAY 5, 2010
3.2 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
Bottle: Poured a dark amber color with a nice head. The aroma was again, sweet malts with a bit of spice. The flavor was malty, cinnamon, ginger, and a hint of clove. Overall, a nice conclusion to the 12 beers of winter...a very easy drinking variety.
Chad9976 (1269) - Albany, New York, USA - APR 15, 2010
3.1 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 12/20
UPDATED: JUL 16, 2011 I’ve always considered myself a fan of the Saranac line of beers, although I catch a lot of flack for it within the craft beer geek community. Sure, I’ll admit most of their brews are indeed “supermarket beers,” but that doesn’t necessarily make them bad. I think when other beer geeks think of Saranac they would think of a beer like Winter Lager. This is an overtly pedestrian beer, which is evident from its smooth drinkability and fairly direct palate. It’s not a bad beer by any means, but it’s not nearly as fanciful as the description would indicate.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
The body here is very reminiscent of an Oktoberfest with a dark amber/brownish color with a clear complexion. It forms a surprisingly large, off-white rocky head which is slow to dissipate and, surprisingly enough, leaves some lacing on the glass. The aroma is quite sweet with hints of caramel and a touch of spice. There is a slight graininess to the nose as well, but mostly it’s unremarkable.
I’m not sure what the average drinker (craft, macro or otherwise) thinks of when they hear the term “winter beer,” but the first thing that comes to my mind is a spicy, peppery, warming palate. If a beer is going to put the put itself forward as a winter beer, especially as blunt as “Winter Lager” then it’s reasonable to have an expectation along these lines.
Saranac Winter Lager does play by these rules, but isn’t a strict adherence to them. There is a slight bit of cinnamon or ginger to be tasted here, in addition to a maltiness to create for a slightly sweet palate. It’s mild, to be sure, but the character is noticeable. There’s even a touch of hop crispness on the finish with a faint bitter aftertaste.
The problem is, despite all this apparent complexity, this beer is pretty direct. The palate doesn’t change as it warms, although it doesn’t worsen either.
The good thing about Saranac Winter Lager is that it’s a surprisingly refreshing brew. In fact, I think that’s the intention. The brewer’s website recommends pairing it with spicy food such as chili, and I could certainly agree with that. It’s thirst-quenching because it’s so mild and has a watery, soft mouthfeel. What’s surprising is the fact this is such a potent brew at 5.9% ABV. It doesn’t feel that heavy in the mouth, nor on the system.
I really wanted to like Saranac Winter Lager more than I did, but it’s impossible to coax flavors out of a beer that aren’t there. Its drinkability is impressive, but the palate is not. Still, considering this beer’s target audience it’s a worthy conclusion to the Saranac “12 Beers of Winter” variety pack ($12 - $20). I just wouldn’t make it one of my first choices right out of the box.
rampmaster (642) - Alden, New York, USA - APR 14, 2010
3.3 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 11/20
Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a pint glass. The bottle has no freshness date or abv% listed. This bottle was part of the 2009 Saranac Winter 12 pack.
Appearance: The body has a garnet color with good clarity. On top sits a thin half inch thick head which is beige in color and fades quickly. Lacing is very minimal and slick leaving a mostly clean glass behind.
Smell: It is light overall in the nose with some malty sweetness and hints of leafy, almost herbal/metallic hops.
Taste/Palate: There is a rich bready sweetness up front with some light roasted grain notes as well. This maltiness meats some hop flavor in the middle it and adds a nice moderate balance of hop spice and bitterness with just a very slight metallic edge. It seems to finish quickly and fairly clean. It is dryer than it started but there is still a thin residual sweetness mixed with thin hop bitterness. The body is light to medium with average carbonation.
Notes: For the style it seems just a little on the light side but everything is in good balance for the style. Once again Saranac has brewed another decent easy drinking beer.
nuplastikk (4745) - Madison, Wisconsin, USA - MAR 23, 2010
3.1 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
12oz bottle. Filtered chestnut brown-amber color. Frothy off-white head. Sweet medium-dark malt aroma. Rich caramel malt tones, with a drinkable very-Saranac body. Lacks much depth, seems like it’s missing some pieces. Solid enjoyable sugary sweet malt tones, and a touch of soapy bitterness. Despite these qualities, it’s still watery and bland, and a tad too sugary for it’s own good. A beer Saranac should nail, and only pull off half-heartedly. Good for a tick, not much else.
basspro76 (423) - New York, USA - FEB 25, 2010
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Pours a rich dark brown color with a slight white head. Flavor is a sugary bready mixture that is delicious. One of my favorite Saranac offerings.