Chad9976 (1363) - 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.
Jblauvs (1356) - Chester, Vermont, USA - DEC 25, 2009
3.1 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
POurs a Dark amber with a tall offwhite head. Aroma is light and toasty with some caramel and spiciness. Flavor is suprisingly robust with a solid caramel malt base and some spiciness on the finish. Light enough for sessioning but solid flavor.
MI2CA (1340) - Noblesville, Indiana, USA - FEB 18, 2010
3.5 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
12oz - Aroma of toasted malts and leather. Flavor of caramel, toffee and toasted malts. Palate is sticky. Not a bad dark lager.
redlem (1306) - Ohio, USA - FEB 13, 2010
2.8 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
Bock like aroma and taste. Sweet and with yeast, but not overly artificial. A distinctive taste and aroma. One of the better brews from them.
yesyouam (1016) - Fairport, New York, USA - OCT 13, 2009
3.2 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
Saranac Winter Lager is a clear, amber beer with a fluffy, off white head that has decent retention. It smells slightly sweet, malty and peppery. Itís medium-light bodied and the finish is a little gritty. It has a peppery twang thatís balanced well with a green, botanical bitterness that lasts through the finish. Thereís nothing really stand-out here.
Powertrip (999) - Calgary, Alberta, CANADA - JAN 6, 2010
3.5 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 13/20
Extremely rich malty nose filled with caramel & brown sugar. Taste starts off full of malt then opens up to some dull nut and earthy dryness and a backgrond of burnt toast. Not as impressive as the nose but still comforting and hearty enough for a winterís day. Finish is dusty and subdued. LIghtly carbonated and a peaceful light brown colour.
MrBeerFanatic (901) - Friona, Texas, USA - NOV 23, 2009
3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 11/20
Pours a medium to dark amber with a slightly foamy off white head. Aromas of caramel, wood, light whiskey, light nuts, and some roasted malt. Flavor is of caramel, light roasted malt, toffee, honey, and some light vanilla. Aroma isnít quite as the same as the flavor. Slightly sweet with some tasty drinkable flavors. A decent but average winter lager.
Uglyradio (791) - Greenville, South Carolina, USA - FEB 22, 2010
3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 10/20
Copper color with an off white head...Mild malt aroma...Slightly bready flavor with a medium body and carbonation...Good balance...
jflopsu (772) - New Jersey, USA - OCT 28, 2013
1.7 AROMA 3/10 APPEARANCE 2/5 TASTE 4/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 6/20
UPDATED: DEC 14, 2013 Pours a light orange. Has a faint sweet citrus aroma. Taste is sweet mix of citrus and some caramel. Bland aftertaste.
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.