What We're Drinking: Saranac Clouded Dream

A surprisingly good offering from a middle-of-the-road brewery.

If you live anywhere on the East Coast, chances are you've seen Saranac's beers before. They're the 11th biggest brewery (based on sales volume) in the U.S., located in upstate New York just south of the Adirondack mountains. The brewery, somewhat confusingly called F.X. Matt Brewing, actually makes more than just Saranac -- they also produce the majority of Brooklyn Brewery's beer, and make beer for lots of other labels as well. It's a process called "contract brewing," where breweries who need to supplement their output, or don't have their own facilities arrange for a place like F.X. Matt to brew and bottle for them.

As for Saranac itself, their offerings tends to be decent but far from impressive -- the kind of stuff that's a definite step up from macro-brewed lagers, but pales in comparison to lots of other choices on a well-stocked beer store shelf. Which is why we were surprised at just how much we liked this Belgian IPA.

Appearance - Murky copper with a thin head.

Smell - Juicy citrus and sweet malt aromas that are surprisingly strong.

Taste - It's sweet and malty right away, with a big orange flavor and maybe just a little bit of peppery spice upfront. It's definitely got a sweet pine hoppiness (a step up from the bland bitterness in ), but the orange-y citrus and bready malt notes taste the strongest. Both aspects blend together well, and there's a dry and bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, with medium carbonation.

Overall - This is definitely one of Saranac's strongest offerings; it's surprisingly bitter, spicy, and balanced in comparison to their other so-so brews. It also gets points for being a good execution of an uncommon style: the Belgian IPA, which blends spicy yeast-driven flavors with an aggressive IPA hoppiness. The orange and spice notes you get in a Belgian White (also known as a witbier), are the strongest flavors here, but there's enough aromatic pine hop presence to make things interesting.


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