Sunday, March 02, 2008

Saranac Winter Wassail Microbrew Review

Although it's now March, I was able to pick up a straggler winter beer sampler 24 pack of Saranac's 12 Beers of Winter. The 12 beers is actually only 6 different styles of beers in 2 separate 12 packs (a little misleading as I'd initially thought I'd have the opportunity to sample 2 of 12 different brews).

Anyway, the price was right and I'd had several pretty good past experiences with craft beers from Saranac (Saranac's actually one of the brand names of beers brewed by Matt Brewing Company out of Utica, New York). This case of craft beer looked festive enough from the design on the packaging and since it is still officially winter, I thought I'd give it a try.

Saranac Wassail Ale, as served from the traditionally classic brown glass bottle (with fairly festively cool label)poured a crisp cool looking copper pink into an unchilled 16 ounce standard pint glass.

The perky foamy head rose in agitated fashion to a billowy off-white head of a good three quarters inch, but simmered down in less than 2 minutes to virtually nothing. Nothing too notable here yet.

Aroma is festive. Malty and sweet with rough edges of fruit and spice. A very faint raison/clove scent eminates. Not alot like many Christmas ales I've sampled these past few months. For a spiced ale, I sense more in the way of fruit presense.

This winter ale microbrew provided a fairly crisp flavor. Sweet and malty at first but more in the way of fruit presense as I progressed mid-glass via the warming stages. The sweetness and malt tended to transgress to a fruity, plum-like flavor. Not so much on the spice side once hitting mid-glass with warming. I really don't know the alcohol by volume rating of this beer but assume it's under 6%. If it's more than that, it's extremely well hidden.

Saranac's Winter Wassail is an enjoyable microbrew. It's refreshing, a little unique, and fruity in an unobtrusive manner. I imagined more prominence in the way of spices judging by the label description, but was more impressioned with the fruit side of this ale. Plum sticks foremost in my mind, at least with this particular 12 ounce bottle.

If you haven't tried any beers from Saranac yet, this microbrewery's offerings are definitely worth a shot. I've sampled several from the Matt Brewing Co and have rarely had any extreme disappointments. I would describe many of Saranac's beers as great "crossover" beers to the craft beer world. Saranac Winter Wassail out of their Winter Beers mixed sampler pack is worthy of inclusion in the mix of 24. It's more of a milder Christmas beer I'd say with better enjoyment promised upon consumption around festively warmer holiday meals rather than while riding out a late winter blizzard in the freezing cold of an unsurrendering winter. This is global warming? How can we get some more? I think we need it.

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