Beer Profiles: A Side by Side Comparison

Saranac Black and Tan vs. engling Black and Tan

Profiled by Ken Carman

This was inspired by a visit to several pubs in upstate New York. For some reason some carry the Yuegling product, others carry the Yuengling. The are very close to each other and have the same suppliers. One pub tells me the snowmobilers prefer the Yuengling…

That’s sad: the Saranac is better.

The Yuengling has a more ruby/garnet appearance. The rocky head dissipates fast. It is thin: more lager-based I would assume. Aroma that slight lager sulfur sense I get with lagers: though… obnoxious? No, not at all. Mild. Slight. Mouthfeel: carbonation and a slight dark grain sense. Taste: thin, weak, kind of like the pretend dark beers Utica Club, Genessee and Pabst put out in the early 70s… though not that weak. Better than that.

The Saranac, on the other had, is a lot more complex. The gravity is up and the darker malts more interesting. There’s a slight acidic/sulfur sense in the background, but it is very, very slight. Hops, like in the Yuengling: very background. Hard to judge. The malt dominates in both: unfortunately the Yuengling doesn’t have enough distinctive malt character to make it all the interesting.

One would think that Saranac, made by Matt Brewing, had spent all its time perfecting this recipe, but they have more styles and spin off of styles than almost any craft brewer in America. Please note, I did type “almost.” And just a few of those are what I would call “problematic.” The stout is one I consider “problematic.” That brew is a bit too harsh for me; as if they used too much Black Patent, or boiled too long: astringent. But if this is the same stout they use for their Black and Tan, it works very well… in the Black and Tan.

Yuengling, on the other hand, has few “styles.” They really need to step up to the brew plate, and they could also reassess their recipes in a market that has a more educated quaffer.