One of the main reasons that people criticize Saranac is that they don't have many big, bold beers. What most people don't realize is that Saranac wants it that way. Their goal is to make a good variety of session-able beers (generally <5% ABV), that allow you to drink a couple and not get drunk. That being said, they are also receptive to the desires of the market. Since many craft beer fans want strong, big beers, Saranac started their High Peaks Series.
As I indicated, the High Peaks Series is a line of beers that Saranac makes to be a little bigger, and in some cases, more experimental. Some of the recent ones are: Lemon Ginger Saison, Imperial IPA, Imperial Stout, Chocolate Orange Porter, and Wet Hop IPA. The Wet Hop IPA is the one I will be focusing on today. In case you are wondering, Wet Hop IPA indicates that the hops are not dried before they are used in the brewing process. The hops were used within 24 hours of being picked. Generally they are dried in kilns to preserve them better until the brewing process. Ideally, this gives a fresher hop flavor than dried hops can manage. In addition, the hops were all hand picked in New York State by friends of the brewery, which I'm sure made for a wonderful little event.
While Saranac brewed this beer as a Double IPA, it is much lighter than most. It is only 7% ABV, so it is lighter in alcohol than many standard IPAs. Personally, I found the flavor of this beer to be fantastic. It was packed full of hops, but wasn't overwhelmingly bitter. The freshness was pretty apparent, though I'm not entirely sure if the same freshness couldn't be achieved by using dried hops. It is citrusy, but has a good maltiness in the body. It is everything that I like in an IPA, but on the lighter side.
If you are one of those "big beer" kind of people, don't count Saranac out. Give the High Peaks Series a try. You might like it.
Glassware: Pint, Tulip
Synonym Beer: Sierra Nevada Harvest
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