A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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Gary -

Thanks for looking into the Saranac group. On those occaisions we have revisited New York State, we have tried it and liked it, as you have. It is funny to think of 'Saranac' as the brand name, because honey, Utica ain't the Adirondacks. Still--20 some years ago when I was a teen growing up not far from Utica, this brewer produced the 'Matt's beer ball', a big plactic beach ball filled with thin watery pi%$ which could be easily placed in a cold snowbank and enjoyed by the young and brainless. Anyone who remembers that stuff and 'Utica Club' would agree that this is one brewery which has come A LONG WAY.

BrianC -

I agree with your assesment of Saranac as a brewing company. Its definitely big enough to be recognized (throughout the Northeast, really), but their beer itself is usually nothing spectacular. I'll have to give their IPA a try since you enjoyed it.

AZ -

The IPA is a bad example of the Saranac group. I have a bias towards darker beers anyway, but the best example is Saranac's Black Forest. Before microbrews and brew pubs, and even before Matts had a Saranac line of beers, Black forest was being brewed under the name Prior Double Dark. This is a Bavarian black beer which is in fact one of the oldest recipes used by the Matt Brewing company - at least according to one of the Matt's who I saw speak at the Madison County Hop fest a few years back. Several Bars in Syracuse (Shifty's, Clarks, to name a few) still pour it as "Prior" with a domestic price tag. One of the best deals at Clarks for instance.

Alan -

And that is where it is a matter of taste as I am not keen on their Black Forest but I am not keep on any of the German black lagers, a proper and honourable style, that I have tried. It does reflect more the Matt's house style, which as you say the IPA is a bit distinct from, that does not fall into what I like. Just to be clear, that is a very different comment that, say, Cooperstown Old Slugger which I really found to be odd for a micro or the entire world of bad beer which I do not write about. I will try it if I get to Clark's again - which is likely.

Alan -

Sipping a Sgt. Major's IPA side by side with this, it is quite striking how different they even though they are stylistically almost identical. They differ in weight of malt, type of hops as well as the timing of their introduction into the boil. Hops for 100% of the boils makes bitter, introduce it with about 25% of the time left creates the green flavours and right at the end of after leaves the fragrant floral aromas. They are both lighter IPAs but the Saranac is quite a bit lighter, the Sgt. Major's a little creamier, richer. The Sgt. Major's hops are less floral in the nose and more bitter on the tongue. The Saranac is almost lemony ice tea if the tea bags were left in for, say, 36 hours - brisk. There is little or no citrus to the Sgt. Major. It is more about astringent twiggy with a nice bitter herb green. <p>A great side-by-side which confirms the quality and freshness of each of these brews, each at one end of the micro scale - a mini and a regional contender.

david -

Just wanted to add my two cents... I'm not much of a connoisseur (yet), but I think Saranac's Black & Tan is well worth it. I've only enjoyed that brew a few times, but as of the last time I had it, it stood out. Admittedly, I can't avoid college standard "ales" (anything that costs $15 for 30 cans), but I've been making an effort to develop a palette; and while it may be baby steps, the Black & Tan is head and shoulders above what I'm used to.

(Oh, and please school me if I deserve it.)

Alan -

You can only school yourself. No one can drink for you - though many would offer. It reminds me of once asking a guy who ran a wine shop if a particular 60 buck book would be a good investment in my wine education. He said two 30 buck wines (this was mid-80s) would do more.

Gary -

The first Saranac I had a few years ago was also the Black and Tan, and I loved it. It seemed a little more like an affordable Porter than a black and tan (will somebody find a way to bottle a true, 2 color, black and tan in our lifetime? well, that takes all the fun out of pouring one, doesn't it? )On a recent post Alan talked about turning a fruited beer into a black and tan, and although the first impulse is skepticism, maybe there's something there to try.

Mike -

Back to the subject of Saranac ales....it's weird to say, but I think the Saranac Pale Ale actually has a stronger (more generally bitter) hop character than the Saranac IPA. I live within two hours of Utica, so I consider Saranac my hometown favorite....even though J.W. Dundee (a.k.a. Genesee Brewery) has introduced their Pale Ale. The Dundee's Pale is a little too balanced for me....it's a nice change tho, since i almost always have Saranac Pale in the fridge.
I'm trying to get my managers at the Roadhouse Grill to replace one of the crappy beers we offer on tap with Saranac Pale. I would spend a lot more time/money in the bar at the Roadhouse if they did so. I'm convinced that they would sell a good amount of it too, since we don't currently offer anything with a noticible hop character....darn, we don't offer anyting other than American Macros, except for the Rohrbach's Scotch Ale. I would drink the Scotch Ale all the time if i didn't have to drive!! Try it!!!! ROHRBACH SCOTCH ALE.....

Alan -

I never heard of Rorhbach, Mike, but now I have to find it. I have yet to investigate Western NY or even Rochester but this summer may see that happen.

Jeff -

I having been looking for OV splits by the case for my father in law (trying to get in good) in the finger lakesarea and can't seem to find them. I don't like the beer much myself but my father likes to serve it at family get togethers as the little bottles stay verycold
Any help would be great!

D. M. -

I would like to say thanks to matts brewery for the pretty good beer that we enjoyed as young teenagers in the late seventies and early eighties. Loved that beer ball , the fun part was drinking them and then kicking around the plastic ball afterwards.
T the time we all thought that the beer ball was a great concept with the plastic tap.
Real innovative for it's time, nobody else that I know of had it.

D. M.

michael lyons -

Can someone please tell me where I can get OV splits


Desperately searching for one opaque MATTS BEER BALL to replace a broken one. It is one of two converted into ceiling fixture light globes years ago. Keep running into "dead ends". Help anyone? Thanks!
(585) 671-4430 or AF2K@juno.com

raymond j. miles -

i lost my old red Matts baseball cap which was my lucky fishing hat. Are any available for purchase ?

Cindy -

I live in Syracuse and have been looking for OV Splits, does anyone know where I can find them.


Good Luck, I've only seen the 12oz, in cases. Mosly at Rite Aid, but Wegmans too


I. J. Goodman -

Still desperately looking for a translucent MATTS BEER BALL since 2008 to replace a broken one. It is one of two converted into ceiling fixture light globes years ago. Someone must have one somewhere. Thanks! (585) 671-4430 or AF2K@juno.com