Sorry for the lack of quip on this one. I’m most likely drunk in Ireland somewhere right now! But read on, and you’ll find that for Saranac, it’s best that this crew agree to disagree.- Mike

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Name:  Saranac Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer:  New York, USA / Matt Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Spiced Fruit Ale / 5.4%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Featuring Cascade hops, Maris Otter and Wheat Malts, and a bevy of spices including cinnamon, allspice, clove, ginger, and vanilla, Saranac aims to be your go to beer for pairing with fowl and game birds, assumedly making it a pairing selection for heavily basted holiday scarf fests.

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Packaging:

This is what I’m talking about….a Halloween beer!   Saranac’s dark label and mischievously grinning jack o lantern looks perfectly seasonally sinister, which is exactly what I want from an autumn ale centered around my favorite holiday.  You want St. Nick for Christmas and I want a scary pumpkin for Halloween. – Tim

Straight to the point and in you face with a classic Jack-o-lantern graphic helps this bottle stand out.  The simple bio on the neck is a nice touch, but what I’m really missing here is the ABV content that seems to be a mainstay with craft brews. – Rick

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Color:  6.5

A true amber with ruby values, and a luminous clarity. Very little head to speak of. – Mike

This ale has a nice dark amber color that glows with a reddish shimmer while held up to the light.  There’s a decent foamy head at first, but it quickly settles.  – Rick

M – 7 / T- 6.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 7.5 / E – 4

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Aroma:  5.5

The nose is tremendously fascinating with sweet pumpkin spices of cinnamon and nutmeg interlaced with an earthy leathery smokiness reminiscent of beef jerky.  I can’t seem to stop smelling this beer.  It’s captivating.  – Tim

Honestly, a bit unimpressive. I’ve got my nose half in the glass and all I can pull is a faint bitterness and dare I say…Lunchmeat? – Mike

There is a fair bit of sweetness found in the aroma.  Cinnamon and all spice stand out with a hint of smokiness somewhere in there.  Otherwise, kind of bland. – Rick

M – 2.5 / T- 8 / B- 6.5 / R- 5.5 / E – 5

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Mouth feel:  5.5

The bite from the carbonation in this beer makes it seem bolder than it actually is.  It’s body is pretty watery and light letting the spices really flourish. – Rick

A nice medium bodied beer that feels slick in the mouth with just enough carbonation to keep your attention. – Brittney

Not too thick, not too thin. This sucker sits the fence pretty hardcore, but in doing such, ends up being more of a wallflower than anything else. – Mike

M – 5 / T- 6 / B- 5.5 / R- 5 / E – 6

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Tasting notes:  5.5

Other pumpkin brews have pushed more of a “pumpkin pie” concept, leaning heavily on cinnamon and clove combined with an overt sweetness to make an overall “dessert” drinking experience.  This is refreshingly savory – striking as a brown ale with a pleasant malt character, well-controlled spices (allspice being more prominent than cinnamon or clove) and a trace of vanilla. – Erich

There’s a fairly substantial crisp bite from the dryness which is a tad overwhelming here.  It’s not very sweet and I pick up some peppery notes in the background.  I found this ale to be hard to decipher, and the spicy overtones really turned me off. – Rick

It’s a different pumpkin ale I’ll give it that.  They didn’t lean too much on spice as a crutch and sort of left out pumpkin altogether.  I’m not really sure what they were trying to achieve – Brittney

Smooth and malty with a convergence of molasses and caramel notes, tang and roast pumpkin, a whisper of smoke and ginger, more pumpkin and a hint of bitterness from the hops.  The smoke flavor is really what I keep coming back to.  It’s subtle in the body but adds a really interesting dimension to this beer. – Tim

Hints of smoke and bitterness prevail, over faint traces of clove, ginger, and cumin. There is a trace of burnt molasses that might acquiesce the presence of pumpkin in the mash, but nothing I would remotely call sweet. I’m kind of hoping we got a skunk batch. – Mike

M – 2 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 5 / E – 8

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Finish:  5

My whole tongue tingles with the initial impact of carbonation, and the same can be said as I swallow.  The dryness stands out with a strong clove presence on the finish.  There’s a hint of pumpkin on the exhale though, but it’s minimal. – Rick

Very nice but subtle build on the palate – the vanilla notes hang around as well as a bit of maltiness. – Erich

Clean finish with a hint of sweetness on the mostly dry ale.  Pumpkin is present and lingers for moment or two on the palate. – Tim

Not to be harsh, but I can’t wait to wash this out of my mouth. All of what might be considered redeeming vanishes quickly, and what’s left is acrid and harsh to the point of, to quote Ralph Wiggum, “tastes like burning”. – Mike

M – 1 / T- 6 / B- 6 / R- 4.5 / E – 6

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Flavor balance:  5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

Pumpkin and spice intermingle successfully here, even as the pumpkin prevails.  I give them high marks on making both ends mingle and not battle. – Tim

I’m not really getting much pumpkin at all here. – Brittney

I’d say this ale was too spicy for myself.  A lack of sweetness seemed to be attributed to a heavy handed addition of cinnamon which overpowers any thought of pumpkins here. – Rick

M – 1 / T- 8 / B- 5.5 / R- 4.5 / E – 7

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

There’s some very nice vanilla notes but the sweetness, like the spices, is well reined-in. – Erich

There’s a significant amount of dryness on the finish on this one which kills the lack of sweets. There’s just not enough sweetness in here to balance the dryness and dominant clove tastes. – Rick

M – 3.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 4 / E – 8

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Despite relatively high marks in the individual categories and a personal opinion that I would absolutely revisit this beer, I don’t know if I would go more than one in a sitting.  There a lot of complex flavors going on here that I feel would begin to wear on the palate over time.  Even now, I still taste the enduring traces of smoke on my tongue.  – Tim

I don’t intend to finish this one. – Mike

With its peers opting for sweeter offerings, sometimes invoking the feeling of the stomach ache after eating too much Halloween candy, the Saranac really sets itself apart here.  But it also isn’t too bold either, so no fear of one’s tongue going numb.  Putting a few of these away shouldn’t be difficult. – Erich

This pumpkin ale is just isn’t sweet enough for me.  I’m really turned off by the bitterness from the spices and dryness of this beer. – Rick

M – 1 / T- 5.5 / B- 6 / R- 3 / E – 7

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Overall:  5.5

M – 3.25 / T- 6.67 / B- 6.25 / R- 5.25 / E – 6.08

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