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Saranac Black Forest - Matt Brewing Company

Saranac Black ForestSaranac Black Forest

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

915 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 915
Reviews: 550
rAvg: 3.72
pDev: 13.44%

Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
Schwarzbier |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-15-2001)
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Ratings: 915 | Reviews: 550 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of jwc215


2.13/5  rDev -42.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The manager at the beer store recommended the Saranac variety pack. This was one of the samples. He mentioned that it just arrived, so I assume it was fresh.
It poured a dark reddish brown with a very thin head that quickly vanished to leave hardly a trace. The color was decent, but the head was very unimpressive.
The smell was very faint. There were some vague hints of sweet caramel with a touch of a hoppy background.
The taste was of a watery sweetness with hints of caramel, hops and a slight alcohol finish.
The mouthfeel was thin and watery. Quite disappointing. It even left an off-taste in the aftertaste. Not terrible, just off.
Overall, it was disappointing. There are better, more complex examples of this style. This was weak.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2006 00:01:31 | More by jwc215
Photo of oelergud


2.23/5  rDev -40.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Not quite black but a very dark ruby body. Good carbonation but weak retention and no lace.
Sour alcoholic scent, not a real pleasantry to stick your nose in.
Taste is citric/sour molasses, some floral qualities. Limited aftertaste. No hint of malts or anything actually hoppy.
So so bodyfeel, little coating.
Wont try this again for a while.


Serving type: bottle

02-21-2005 22:38:06 | More by oelergud
Photo of silentjay


2.23/5  rDev -40.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

this black forest is more of a dark mahogany/ruby with a pinkish brown head that raises to over two fingers, retains well, and laces well.

smells of rusty metal, some roasty malts, a bit of caramel and thats about it.

buttery and metallic in flavor that is distinctly saranac. not good. i'm looking for the roast, i'm looking for the chocolate, the coffee, the malt, but its all hidden behind the metallic, buttery saranac flavor.

light-to-medium bodied with no aftertaste and a watery finish.

meh. not terribly offensive, but i'd rather not drink this and save the calories and money for something better.

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2010 05:29:00 | More by silentjay
Photo of Jwaks


2.25/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Serving 12oz bottle

Initially shows a dark mahogany color but reveals a transparent deep ruby color when held up to natural light. Half a finger worth of frothy hot chocolate colored head quickly dissapates leaving a paper-thin ring of froth encircled a patchy layer of fine suds. A few small pillars of fine bubbles channel carbonation to the beer's surface.

Nutty oil, burnt caramel malt, grassy hop and earthy aromas with hints of bitter citrus peel play on a slightly closed nose.

Malty, burnt caramel and nougat mix with flat, austere bitter and grassy flavors on the entry though the mid palate evolving into a slightly tannic, dry and bittery nutty finish with a zing of citrus zest. A mediocre attempt at a balanced brew, this doesn't have the malt nor hop backbone and structure to support the odd off-flavors. Sadly, it does not have much substance to offer beyond the austere bitterness, grassy flavors and bitter, nutty finish in effect lowering the flavor score.

Light to medium bodied for a schwarzbier, this leaves only an unpleasant bitter flavor behind with little malt presence and it doesn't coat the palate like others in the style. A thin body aids drinkability though just enough to earn it a slightly below average score.

I remember this beer being much better in the past, perhaps this was an old bottle? No freshness date is present on th bottle; I will have to revisit this one in the near future.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2007 22:16:29 | More by Jwaks
Photo of Maestro


2.3/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This beer is my first step into the world of Schwarzbiers. I don't care much for it. The appearance is dark and cloudy. There is a thin head that leaves a little lacing. There is a sweet carmel taste but it doesn't come through too much. There seems to be a lack of maltiness in this beer that makes it seem watery. Maybe I don't know enough about Schwarzbiers, but I wouldn't seek this one out again.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2004 01:40:29 | More by Maestro
Photo of Vendetta

New Jersey

2.42/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

Pours black, decent sized brown head. Lacing.

Aroma is of malt, coffee, dry roastiness. Though not incredibly present, it does the job during the sip.

The taste is somewhat good -- very roasted, coffee. Malty.

The true downfall of this beer is the mouthfeel. Holy carbonation. This is more carbonated than even most of the light beers and might be the most overcarbonated beer that I've ever tried. It completely ruined the experience for me, and I'll be steering way clear of this. It also severely damaged the drinkability of the beer itself.

It's a shame, too, because the makings are there for a quality brew but the execution just fell fall short. Disappointing.

Serving type: growler

02-08-2009 20:30:40 | More by Vendetta
Photo of Avagadro

New Jersey

2.53/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

pours with a brownish-tan head that doesn't get very big or last for long. Very dark, only letting you see hints of reddish-brown around the edges of the glass. Spicy, malty aroma, but not too strong of an aroma overall. Taste follows with the same spicy, malty flavor, also not too strong. Very light bodied in the mouth for a porter. To me this seems to be a sub-par porter. Nothing really special to offer and not even as good as I hoped it to be.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2006 04:42:28 | More by Avagadro
Photo of eporter66

New York

2.53/5  rDev -32%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz Bottle into a pint glass

Appearence is of a dark beer, with some reddish highlights. Pours a nice foamy 1 finger head that quickly receeds down to nothing. I did not get much of an aroma from this beer, nothing stands out other than some hints of malt
Taste was rather bland, with somewhat sour flavor and aftertaste. Average mouthfeel, a bit lighter than I expected, but in reading the description of a Schwarzbier. it fits the mold. It is a drinkable beer in the lightness of its body, so I am sure if you are enjoying the flavor, this one goes down smooth.

I am a fan of Saranac beers, this is the first one that I have not been all that fond of - I will chalk it up to the style, just not one to my liking.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2009 15:30:06 | More by eporter66
Photo of earthboundagain


2.55/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From Notes

12oz brown bottle with forest scene on the label. I did not notice a freshness date, but it may have been there.

Appearance: This beer was a blackish brown with a lot of ruby in it. The head didn't last long and there was no lacing, looked like a flat coke in the glass.

Smell: Not much here to speak of, some malt and maybe a hint of coco.

Taste: Bah is this a beer or a flat soda. Tastes like Mr. Pibb that's gone flat, if you added some bitterness too it.

Mouthfeel: Flat Dr.Pepper mouthfeel here.

Drinkability: Very easy to drink but it was like drinking a flat pop.

Overall: I hate writing reviews like this, but I thought it was necessary. I have heard good things about this beer, but the six pack I bought was bad. I will try it again, and hopefully I got a bad batch, I will update this review if the next round is better.

Serving type: bottle

09-29-2009 19:05:19 | More by earthboundagain
Photo of kkipple

South Carolina

2.58/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours out a tiny dirty tan head on a deep deep amber-brown beer that looks black till you hold it to the light. Fizzy.

Smells slightly doppelbockish, caramel malts, nuts, tannins, cherries.

Tastes weird, roasted malts and a damp hop bitterness. Watery mouthfeel for the roasted taste. Oxidized, probably – I taste a tannic, wine-like quality that I don’t think is supposed to be here… also mild tartness and a hint of cocoa. Finishes roasty and sour. What is this beer trying to be? A light-bodied porter? A schwarzbier? Who knows… Black Forest is an odd mix of tastes, and one that doesn’t hit me the right way. It’s not completely undrinkable, but I’m not gulping it down, either.

Worth trying in their mix pack at least once.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2007 04:29:54 | More by kkipple
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

2.6/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle: Poured a deep black color beer with a huge dark head with good retention. Aroma of slightly roasted malt. Taste is comprised of roasted malt with some subtle bitter hops to finish. Body is way too thin and there is a definite lack of coffee in here. Not bad but not close to being great either.

Serving type: bottle

08-29-2005 15:27:02 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of MTMugs

New York

2.63/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Not quite sure what we were drinking here...The color was dark but in the glass wasn't dark enough - looked like someone had added a little dark food coloring. Couldn't tell if this was a lager, an ale or whatever. No discernable taste to say wow about - wouldn't try it again unless I was stuck in the airport and this was all there was.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2002 07:08:52 | More by MTMugs
Photo of theozag


2.65/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Perhaps my lack of experience (to date) with this type of beer explains my low ratings. Perhaps I just got a bad bottle of Black Forest. But whatever the reason, this wasn't a beer that I'll likely drink again.

Black Forest practically lives up to its name in appearance, pouring dark brown and blending to a pitch black color. A thick tan head forms over your glass and fades rather fast. This beer smells of caramel and sugar, and lacked any distinct aromatic quality, though I thought the sugar I smelled was maple. Black Forest starts smooth and soft. It is full-bodied with oat and caramel flavors. A malty sweetness is present throughout the entire drink. This beer finishes oily, wet, and saves its sharpest flavor bite of all for the last few drops on your tongue. Finally, this beer's aftertaste is fortunately mild, but it has a tendency to sit on your tongue for quite a while.

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2004 02:39:45 | More by theozag
Photo of PDXHops

South Carolina

2.7/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

Pours a couple of shades of deep ruby lighter than their Black and Tan, dark enough to be mistaken for black at a glance. The light tan head quickly reduces to a thick collar and a skim of fom. A little drippy lacing here and there.

The nose is quite mild, but pleasant. Pretty straightforward roasted and toasted malts with a bit of dark chocolate.

Tastes pretty good, mildy sweet with a gentle chocolate/toasted maltiness. Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Quite a bit of citrusy hop character, with a lingering tanginess in an otherwise dry finish. Enjoyment is somewhat lessened here by the typical Saranac cardboard/paper flavor.

Overall impression: Lose the cardboard and this would be a nice little beer.

Overall impression: The pape

Serving type: bottle

06-29-2010 22:31:20 | More by PDXHops
Photo of NODAK


2.73/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Aroma here has some sweet caramel on it, along with some mild roasted malts and chocolate. Varied, but somewhat muted.

Taste combines a bit of caramel with some rosted chocolate in a very mild taste. For a beer of this color, style and aroma, it's surprising just how little it tastes. There's a small hop presence on the backend, and there's a small tart twang that seems out of place there as well in the finish. All in all though, it's subdued. I feel it's too thin and watery.

It's certainly drinkable, but there just doesn't seem to be much here. I'm looking for more complexity and character. I just don't get that here.

Serving type: bottle

09-22-2010 01:59:36 | More by NODAK
Photo of changeup45


2.75/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

After reading the reviews in here on this beer I thought I would really like it. I was a little disappointed. This is a very dark looking beer, dark brown with hints of red in it. The advertise a thick creamy head but I just didn't see it. The flavor is caramel and malty but it smelled and tasted almost a little skunky. Definitely tastes lighter than it looks and the mouthfeel is a little tart. It wasn't a terrible beer but it wasn't good either and I was expecting more.

Serving type: bottle

08-23-2008 22:12:56 | More by changeup45
Photo of HugoGrim


2.78/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint. Purchased as part of the 12 Beers of Winter sampler case.

Jet black body with only minimal light coming through. Head disappeared so fast I can't even describe it.

Scent is not at all what I expected. Light and almost fruity. Sweet and quite fragrant.

Flavor is quite muted. I just tried the Black & Tan and I honestly don't see much difference. Has a slight hint of carmel sweetness which the label boasts about, but nothing major.

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2006 00:31:13 | More by HugoGrim
Photo of kennylopez

New Jersey

2.78/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: a dark raspberry black with a thin white head and minimal lacing.

Smells: sweet caramel hints and a hop character that is floral.

Tastes: I taste a sweet fruit flavor something like a berry or fig through the mild hop note that is very enjoyable

Mouthfeel: there is little carbonation and a sweet lingering aftertaste.

Overall: I picked up a mixed six pack from Saranac and this was probably my least favorite out of all of them. Good brew but not my favorite.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2011 22:21:17 | More by kennylopez
Photo of Sycodrummer


2.8/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from the bottle into a tapered pint glass the beer was a dark ruby brown (black from a distance) color with a thick one-finger head and some spotty carbonation bubbles. No lacing throughout the sample.

The smell is a malty chocolate with hints of caramel and walnuts.

The innitial taste has a faint roasted character fighting to come thru but masked by what seemed to be out of balance proportions of imitation chocolate and caramel. A artificial sweetness flavor with an odd finish.

Medium body with a high degree of carbonation. I'll pass on this one again as it fits the bill with most of the rest of the winter mixed 12: blah.

Serving type: bottle

03-23-2006 13:39:05 | More by Sycodrummer
Photo of craftaholic

New York

2.8/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: The color is the only part where the appearance gets points, there's a nice dark ruby colors but other than that it looks like soda; dismal head and syrupy with a hint of carb.

Smell: Has a scent of plum and raisin with a mix of caramel malt and even some bready grains and yeast.

Taste: Weak somewhat coffee flavoring with a hint of nut and thats about it.. Tastes like almost flat soda.

Mouthfeel: Some carbonation, very creamy, has a throat tickling aftertaste.

Drinkability: Like flat soda? I mean its easy to drink but why bother.

Overall: This is quite the weak beer, there had to of been food coloring added because its such a light-bodied dismal brew. Saranac can put out a better brew but this one should be dropped like a bad habit.

Serving type: bottle

09-11-2009 23:09:41 | More by craftaholic
Photo of Beerandraiderfan


2.8/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brown pour, thin head, the brown is a darker brown, more malt than I think I've seen from Saranac in a beer before. Aroma, mild nuttiness. Didn't think chocolate was all that existant.

I dunno if it's been trademarked by Saranac, but the usual watery and bland taste. Definitely not getting the chocolate now. Seems more like an introductory beer for people afraid of 'dark' beers (look see, its not heavy). Is there some hopping here, or is the carbonation just way up? Actually kind of appreciated the liveliness of it a little more than I was expecting.

Not terrible.

Serving type: bottle

08-16-2011 18:29:28 | More by Beerandraiderfan
Photo of Brent


2.83/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Perhaps I forgot to turn my taste buds on, but I found this beer to be surprisingly light on flavor. Great dark color - but almost none of the malty sweetness associated with a schwarzbier. A little tart and astringent up front, and then it just sort became nondescript in overall flavor. Maybe this is one of those beers that is really good on tap, but does not bottle well. I would sum it up in one word - "bland."

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2002 09:22:43 | More by Brent
Photo of claytri


2.83/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer poured a dark amber with a tan head. The aroma was of sweet malt and dark fruits. The taste was malt with a tanin bite it was neither sweet nor hoppy. The body was medium and dry. This was a bit disappointing the label sold it as a dark spiced lager so I reviewed it as such. Getting on here and seeing it listed as a Schwartzbier it might make some difference although I didn't pick up any smokieness. I wasn't impressed and I doubt I would try it again. To me it was an example of the big fib. The look and aroma said sweet dark fruits, but the taste only delivered a washed out tanin flavor.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2006 09:07:57 | More by claytri
Photo of Rudgers73

New York

2.83/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours pitch black from a 12 oz. bottle.

A- Very dark with a caramel colored head that settles to nothing.

S- Burnt, similar to a porter.

T- Similar to a porter but more bitter than sweet. Sticky and thick, but only really sweet at the start. Finishes a bold burnt bitter.

M- A little heavy with carbonation. The combination of bitterness and carbonation doesn't treat my tongue well...

D- One is enough. Very bold heavy flavor. Nice change-up from a light beer for a night.

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2006 21:08:32 | More by Rudgers73
Photo of kernalklink


2.85/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured a nice dark brown with minimal head. Soft malt, slightly dark aromas- smells like a nice version of this classic brew. The tastes are there- the cooling roasted flavor of the semi-sweet malts, slight hop bitterness and some complexity. But this lasts only for a second, then all is replaced with a dull watery seltzer. What a shame- good flavor out of the gate with none at the finish. But still one of saranac's better beers.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2007 05:12:04 | More by kernalklink
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Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 915 ratings.