Saranac offers three IPAs during the year. The original IPA is a traditional American IPA and one of their core beers, available year-round. The other two, India Copper Ale and Rye IPA, are winter beers and available in the winter mixer. This grouping contains the first IPA I ever had, and I encourage you to try each of them because it shows how versatile the IPA style can be.
This is everything a traditional American IPA should be. Smooth for the entire sip, hops are balanced throughout and don’t sit too heavy at any point. It’s light body makes this IPA very refreshing while not skimping on flavor, which makes this incredibly easy to drink. The hop element is about what you’d expect to find in your average American IPA, producing a sweetness that is pronounced, yet not too strong. Even though Saranac IPA uses only Cascade hops, it doesn’t have a strong floral element, which is common with that type of hop. It also doesn’t have an overpowering or overbearing hop flavor, instead having just the right amount to maintain balance and smoothness. As the sip progresses your mouth salivates due to the right amount of sweetness, and at the end of each sip you’re left with just enough hop aftertaste to keep you wanting more. The creaminess of this IPA is a key element to making it a well-rounded beer. At no point is anything out of balance to take you aback. Each sip is as smooth as the last and continues to get better.
As a whole, this is a simple, classic take on the American IPA, but it is done extremely well. What sets this IPA, and others like it, apart from others is that everything is in the right balance. Saranac IPA reminds me a lot of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, but with a touch less hops and smoother. Because of this it’s more refreshing and a better beer overall. Even though it’s simple, because of how well it’s executed, this is a perfect version of the American IPA, and worthy of my first perfect 10 rating. If you think all good IPAs should have a strong floral and citrus element, or be over-saturated with hops, you won’t think this is a 10. I’m not saying those types aren’t done right, and I do like IPAs with those characteristics, but there is something to be said for simple if it’s done well, which this is. Even though Saranac IPA doesn’t go to any extremes, this beer is fantastic because everything is so well-proportioned and succeeds at what it’s trying to do. If you’re looking for a classic American IPA, this is perfect. This is the first IPA I ever had, about five years ago, and I’m happy to report it’s as good now as it was then. There will be more perfect ratings to come, but right now I’m very pleased to give the first to Saranac IPA.
Saranac India Copper Ale
If you were to mix a very nice red ale and an American IPA, you’d be left with Saranac’s India Copper Ale. It’s an interesting and delicious combination that keeps you thinking the entire time you drink it, noticing different and wonderful things throughout. At first you mainly notice the creamy malt that makes each sip smooth and very enjoyable. Each sip is very creamy and full of flavor, leaving you with a slightly malty, yet juicy, finish. After a while I noticed another flavor poking through the malt, and eventually I realized it was hops that gave it a nice flavor and unique finish. Citrusy hops pop through at different times to give it a perky flavor. I forgot I was drinking an IPA because of how well the malt is balanced with the hops. The right amount of hop sweetness combines with savory from the malt to create a complex and delicious flavor. The finish is that of an IPA, but it takes a while for the hops to build to notice. The hops are masked by the malt, making them a secondary flavor in a style of beer where they shouldn’t be, but complementing the main flavor wonderfully. Maybe surprisingly, this is an easy beer to drink. The only downside is that after a while it can begin to get filling due to an above-average thickness and rich flavor. In the end, though, this is a complex beer I would gladly drink any time. Plus, if you don’t know what you’re in the mood for, this covers several bases. I recommend this for any fan of IPAs or darker ales, and especially those who like malty English pale ales and IPAs. Saranac India Copper Ale is very good, and even though it gets you thinking at first, in the it’s easy to stop thinking and just enjoy it.
Saranac Rye IPA
This is the least enjoyable of the Saranac IPAs, yet it’s not offensive. Saranac Rye IPA uses rye malt to give it a unique and subtle flavor, although it’s not noticeable until the back end of each sip. As a whole, the flavor is rather bland and not exciting, though it doesn’t do anything to turn you off and doesn’t have a bad flavor. It’s just kind of there. This doesn’t really taste like an IPA at all, with no hop presence or sweetness. After starting with almost no flavor, the rye malt yields a slight muckiness of flavor at the end, but it’s the only time you notice the rye. While not a great beer, Rye IPA doesn’t do anything to upset. It actually starts very clean, yet without much flavor, and is drinkable for the duration. I was curious about the combination of rye and hops when I looked at the bottle, and in the end I expected something more. For better or worse, I would’ve preferred more pronounced flavor. The result, though, is beer that is drinkable without much to offer.