Tim Lavis, News Editor
You May Find Yourself having a Talking Heads moment here, if you read last week’s stout review. You may say, “this is not the beer review that was previewed last issue. These are not pale ales.” This week, spontaneity won out over predictability when I found myself with the opportunity to preview the winter seasonal pack from Saranac (Matt Brewing Company).
The pack, dubbed “12 Beers of Winter,” is only a slight departure from last year’s winter seasonal; the brewery’s Chocolate Lager replaces the brewery’s hold-steady Rye IPA, though the rest of the pack’s beers remain consistent. Like Saranac’s fall seasonal, the winter has two types of non-traditional flavored beer. The Chocolate Lager and Vanilla Stout are both heavily steeped in their respective tones; unlike Saranac’s fall seasonal Caramel Porter, though, neither of these winter brews are excessive or inappropriate in their namesake flavor. The old standards this pack has assimilated include the classic Saranac session beer Bohemian Pilsner; a surprisingly full bodied Lake Effect Lager; an IPA-reminiscent India Copper Ale; and the beer-in-focus of this piece: the lovely Big Moose Ale. If a baltic porter and a pale ale birthed, by some glorious happenstance, a love child, you would end up with Big Moose Ale.
This is a bold, thick ale with much of the character of a pale ale. Big Moose pours medium brown with a thin white head—a standard brown ale in appearance with an able, strong aroma: heavy in hops and with a definite citrus tinge. Upon tasting this brew, the overt note is a sour citrus accompanied by a good deal of hops—almost, but not quite what one would expect of an IPA. This pale ale start is quickly balanced out by creamy caramel malts: an unexpected combination with astonishingly intricate interplay. Meanwhile the mouthfeel of this ale is on par with that of a porter. While the significant carbonation struck me as odd for such a heavy-bodied brew, it is an adequate accompaniment to the hoppy sourness. Big Moose finishes overtly citrusy and slightly sour making for a sandwich of sorts: thick malty flavors bookended by citrus with plenty of hops to boot. Said beer aficionado August