Jblauvs (1358) - Chester, Vermont, USA - DEC 25, 2009
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. nuplastikk (6414) - Madison, Wisconsin, USA - MAR 23, 2010
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. 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.DocLock (10970) - Lower Pottsgrove, Pennsylvania, USA - MAY 21, 2010
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.
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. MiP (15960) - Sønderborg, DENMARK - AUG 11, 2010
Bottle. Clear dark amber colour. Very small tan head. Clean flavour, semi-dark malts. OK balanced by the alcohol.
TheGB (578) - Boulder, Colorado, USA - DEC 12, 2011
Pours a dark amber with little head. Almost non existent aroma. Smooth taste with a nice malt taste and a bit of hop balance. Nice and smooth, but not that interesting. MrBeerFanatic (1067) - Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - NOV 23, 2009
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 isn’t quite as the same as the flavor. Slightly sweet with some tasty drinkable flavors. A decent but average winter lager. jmulv (336) - New York, New York, USA - DEC 14, 2009
A pretty solid winter lager right here, on par with Sam Adams, etc. Pretty malty and smooth, a little sweetness, finishes very crisp with a bit of hops. Great to sip by the fire as you watch the snow fall. Ron (4106) - Rochester, New York, USA - DEC 17, 2009
Clear brown color with a tan head. Aroma is malty and nutty with some resiny notes. Flavor is spicy at the beginning with a very dry middle and a lingering, bitter finish. Ibrew2or3 (8808) - Tempe, Arizona, USA - DEC 30, 2009
12oz bottle pours clear deep copper with thin loose off white head. The mild aroma has some malts with caramel hints and some lager yeast notes. The taste tries to be refreshing but a descent load of malty caramel and roast weigh on the experience. Behind those notes are thin layers of lager yeast and grains. Don’t know what makes this a “winter” beer