They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Three Bears. Which Saranac Is Just Right?

Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Imperial India Pale Ale - where should it end? Does, or should, one have more merit than the other? Why brew three types of seemingly similar beer when you could just as easily focus all your attention on making one fantastic beer? Well tonight I'll try to find out wether Saranac's range of the Pale stuff amounts to the production of three separate beers or not...

It certainly would seem that the biggest of beer geeks would say that there's a massive difference between a Pale Ale and a Imperial IPA, but is that really the truth? Could the difference between the three beers only be the strength, or do varying ingredients and a lust for flavour bring out the beast in the big boys? And who's to say that a perfectly made Pale Ale can't be better than a Imperial IPA - I've had some Impys that are absolutely shocking!

Apparently this Pale is "A classic English Style Pale Ale brewed with six speciality malts and perfectly hopped with hand-selected English Kent Goldings and Fuggles Hops." Well for one I'm not sure how you go about hand selecting English hops - that could take rather a long time - but it's nice to see an American Pale which isn't so predominately hop forward. Not too strong for America - 5.5%. Aromas come forward of grapefruit, lemon, marshmallow and a big bouquet of amber caramel malts. It's big on the spicy malt flavour, and certainly not as hop forward as you'd expect. It's fruity, hints of melon and light orange dominate. A pleasant bitter tang in the body and certainly in the finish - not a beer I expected but very nice.

The India Pale Ale comes in at 5.8% - just 0.3% higher than the Pale, so I'm hoping that some bigger ingredients will make some difference. "A hop lover's delight! ...This brew is very hoppy in both aroma and flavour from the generous amounts of Cascade Hops used in brewing." No mention of the malts now, that theme has disappeared - It's all about matching this beer with different foods now on the label. (Seafood, Pizza and Mexican - A little vague really..) So what's the difference? Well not much really. A lot of similar flavours and aromas to the first but much more of an orange bittering pithy flavour. There is more amber spicy malts in the body but overall the flavour is lighter and fruitier. A lot more of the sweet fruits and caramels come across in the body and a big bitterness comes about in the long lasting finish. Once again - less hops than I expected, but still a good beer.

This Imperial IPA comes in at 8.5%. "Mt. Marcy, Skylight, Algonquin... Majestic Adirondack High Peaks - They are the Inspiration for our new 'High Peaks' Series; a line of beers that are bigger, more complex and flavourful; beers that are meant to be sipped and savored." Apparently the brew is made with ten malts and ten hops and at the end of all that it's not too much different than the previous two - it certainly is bigger in all aspects - but does that make it a better beer? It certainly has a big caramel sweetness and malty body in aroma and flavour. The flavours are jumped up and in comparison from beer one to beer two, beer three is miles above the first two. Slightly floral and slightly nutty - not bad - but could be improved. Anyone can make a strong hoppy beer, but it takes a genius to make it work well.

So which Saranac is just right?

Well none of these.... I had their Imperial Stout a few months back and it was a BEAST!!


  1. How old are these bad boys. Sounds like the journey over has killed a lot of the fresh hop zing?

  2. It has Rick, they were out of date in fact, but still interesting to try them side by side at once. I'm sure they would have been a lot tastier fresh. Shame really - we need more beers in which the flavour won't disappear after a month or two....

  3. Think a few of these bottles have been kicking about in the UK for a bit.

    Have you had the Black Forest? Really dig that beer.

  4. Not seen that one Chris, but it looks like a really interesting beer! I enjoy a good Black Beer... will keep my eyes pealed.