puboflyons (2542) - Allenstown, New Hampshire, USA - NOV 11, 2009
2.8 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 11/20
From the 12 fl. oz. bottle marked 2649-0834. A dark amber pour with lively carbonation and a thin white head. The aroma has muted malts and hops along with a little touch of frutiness in the scent. The mouthfeel is pretty average. The taste gives off a more caramel malt flavor but it is rather bland. A slightly better hoppy ending. This is fairly easy to drink but has little in the way of character.
jb (2514) - Rochester, New York, USA - JAN 23, 2010
2.8 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 12/20
Honey, caramel, a touch of brown sugar in the nose, amber color, very clear, with a faint bubbly head. Sugary sweet palate, some bit o honey, a bit of hops to balance. Very light body, not great but drinkable.
Beerona97 (2397) - Washington, USA - JAN 15, 2010
3.3 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
Clear ruby amber, thick foamy beige head. Aroma of bread, caramel, earth and spicey hop. Taste is like an Oífest with some bitter hops and roast balanced by toffee. Medium body, smooth carbonation.
weihenweizen (2196) - Charleston Area, West Virginia, USA - JAN 29, 2012
2.5 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 4/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 10/20
Refrigerated bottle poured into shaker. Pours clear amber with half finger that dissapates quickly. Some lacing, medium body, medium carbonation, and caramel malt aroma. Taste is toasted malt and grassy hop finish. Not a fan.
gsmitty80 (2011) - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA - DEC 11, 2011
2.8 AROMA 4/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 4/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 12/20
This was a nice heavier vienna beer. It was kind of sweet with a good malt.
topherh (1915) - Kearney, Missouri, USA - DEC 2, 2009
2.7 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 10/20
Bottle pours a clear brownish amber with a white head. Aroma is lightl caramel malt, toast, and a bit of metal. Flavor is much the same with some nutty notes coming through.
gkost (1710) - Tampa, Florida, USA - NOV 13, 2009
3.4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
POurs amber. Nose is nutty, toasted malt and sweet caramel. Flavor is bready, nutty, floral hops, sugar sweet, cinnamon.
freekyp (1634) - Thomasville, North Carolina, USA - JAN 6, 2010
3.4 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 15/20
Nice malty lager with a bockish sweetness, but a rich spicy hop character. Aroma is shows brown sugar, earthy malt and some noble twang. Pours a gorgeous auburn with a thick sticky white head that leaves a lot of lacing. Finish is well balanced with a little brown sugar sweetness showing through receding into a mellow malty lingering. Packs more flavor than most other Viennas Iíve tried. Well done.
fredandboboflo (1570) - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA - FEB 13, 2010
0.8 AROMA 1/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 1/10 PALATE 1/5 OVERALL 2/20
Bottle. Wow. After the maple porter I thought I must have gotten the worst of the winter pack out of the way. Now Iím just terrified to try the rest. Corn. Creamed corn. Corn syrup. Goddamn government subsidies.
Chad9976 (1420) - 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 Iíve 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, Iíll admit most of their brews are indeed ďsupermarket beers,Ē but that doesnít 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. Itís not a bad beer by any means, but itís 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 itís unremarkable.
Iím not sure what the average drinker (craft, macro or otherwise) thinks of when they hear the term ďwinter beer,Ē 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 ďWinter LagerĒ then itís reasonable to have an expectation along these lines.
Saranac Winter Lager does play by these rules, but isnít 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. Itís mild, to be sure, but the character is noticeable. Thereís 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 doesnít change as it warms, although it doesnít worsen either.
The good thing about Saranac Winter Lager is that itís a surprisingly refreshing brew. In fact, I think thatís the intention. The brewerís website recommends pairing it with spicy food such as chili, and I could certainly agree with that. Itís thirst-quenching because itís so mild and has a watery, soft mouthfeel. Whatís surprising is the fact this is such a potent brew at 5.9% ABV. It doesnít feel that heavy in the mouth, nor on the system.
I really wanted to like Saranac Winter Lager more than I did, but itís impossible to coax flavors out of a beer that arenít there. Its drinkability is impressive, but the palate is not. Still, considering this beerís target audience itís a worthy conclusion to the Saranac ď12 Beers of WinterĒ variety pack ($12 - $20). I just wouldnít make it one of my first choices right out of the box.