By Julia Burke, Beer Editor
You never know what’s going to shine in a blind tasting. That’s why it’s so important. Big-name beers from lauded breweries may actually be lackluster in a lineup, without the pomp and circumstance their fame would normally require, while lesser-known or less respected breweries may surprise and force the drinker to reconsider relegating it to “party beer” status. The latter is exactly what happened the first time I tried Saranac’s new white IPA.
I was blind-tasting Belgian styles with a group of experienced tasters, and after several samples that turned out to be from Ommegang, Dupont, and Lindeman’s we were served a delightfully refreshing, deliciously hoppy lighter ale with soft coriander notes and a surprisingly bitter finish. We tried to guess the brewery. It had to be Belgian, or at least a legitimately Belgian-inspired brewery, we agreed. Another agreement: we’d drink it all day.
This fine summer brew, holding its own among the top names in Belgian beer, turned out to be a limited release white IPA from Saranac. Ubiquitous in my area and a staple at parties all over the state, Saranac has its standbys and its misses amid myriad styles and special releases, but this is the first of their beers I’ve tried that I would truly recommend for hopheads. Furthermore, it’s the first of their beers that I’ve tried and then promptly purchased, to crack on the front porch in the unseasonably warm weather and sip in pure beer bliss. My friends, recruited to taste and opine, agreed wholeheartedly.
What’s in it? Wheat and oats for a creamy, floral malt bill. The hop is Citra, a winner in this style for its fierce bitterness and gorgeous orange and tangerine notes. The color is a cloudy, peachy tangerine; a one-finger head and pretty lacing suit the style and the summery weather. It’s a burst of fruit and delicate malts before a mouthwatering hop finish, and after a weekend of enjoying it I can confirm that this is truly a beer to “drink all day”––but unlike many such beers, you'll actually notice its pleasant flavors sip after sip.
Consider me surprised, pleased, and thirsty for another.
Producer: Saranac by Matt Brewing Company
Style: Belgian white/IPA
Stemware: pint glass
(3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)