RATINGS: 63   WEIGHTED AVG: 2.86/5   SEASONAL: Winter   EST. CALORIES: 177   ABV: 5.9%
Our Saranac Winter Lager is a rich, malty, old school German Lager, made with traditional German malts and hops and fermented with a lager yeast. Look for a rich but smooth malty taste, balanced by an impressive Hallertau hopping-A nice reward for enduring our winter months.

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lithy (2996) - Capital of Appalachia, Pennsylvania, USA - MAY 25, 2010
Clear amber red-beige cover. Toasty, aroma is spicy malts, caramels. Taste is cocoa, caramel, toast.

MrBunn (2867) - The Wet Side of a Dry Town, Pennsylvania, USA - JAN 15, 2010
Bottle. Pours a lovely deep amber/copper color with a thin but dense head. Aromas are a mix of grain dust, a bit of apple juice concentrate and caramel. Flavor is pretty grain dominant with a bit of an apple like fruitiness that comes and goes. This is fairly sweet with a fruity finish.

Beergeek23322 (2602) - Chester, Virginia, USA - DEC 2, 2013
11/1/2009. Bottle from a sampler pack. Golden color with a white head. Sweet malty aromas with grain and light hops. Watery and lacking flavors.

freekyp (2466) - Thomasville, North Carolina, USA - JAN 6, 2010
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 I’ve tried. Well done.

Beerona97 (2399) - Washington, USA - JAN 15, 2010
Clear ruby amber, thick foamy beige head. Aroma of bread, caramel, earth and spicey hop. Taste is like an O’fest with some bitter hops and roast balanced by toffee. Medium body, smooth carbonation.

gsmitty80 (2130) - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA - DEC 11, 2011
This was a nice heavier vienna beer. It was kind of sweet with a good malt.

topherh (1929) - Kearney, Missouri, USA - DEC 2, 2009
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.

jflopsu (1862) - Hoboken, New Jersey, USA - OCT 28, 2013
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.

ChadPolenz (1847) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - APR 15, 2010
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.


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.

fredandboboflo (1570) - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA - FEB 13, 2010
Bottle. Wow. After the maple porter I thought I must have gotten the worst of the winter pack out of the way. Now I’m just terrified to try the rest. Corn. Creamed corn. Corn syrup. Goddamn government subsidies.

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