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Saranac Black Forest | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

562 Reviews
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Saranac Black ForestSaranac Black Forest

Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
New York, United States | website

Style: Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-15-2001

User Reviews
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Reviews: 562 | Ratings: 1,105
Photo of rodbeermunch
2.74/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Thin brown pour, it is lighter than the name black forest would imply the color would be. Thin light brown head. Nuttiness in the aroma, chocolate malt kind of missing, same with roasted qualities.

This lacks the pop of a schwarzbier, the hops, the carbonation, the roast. Comes off more like a watered down brown ale. Not bitter enough. Not roasted enough. Not enough of what this beer should have to be classified as such.

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Photo of Brian_L-2056
3.98/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice dark brown color with a very robust cream color head. Smells faintly hoppy. Initial taste is light and fruity with a slight malty, coffee aftertaste. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this brew. I will definitely enjoy more of this.

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Photo of JMS1512
4.03/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On the docket: Saranac Black Forest Black Beer with a date of 1/25/15. Pretty old, I blame the establishment from which I purchased it, and the fact I didn’t look until I got home. Caveat emptor.

Poured into: Sam Adams perfect pint glass

S: A deep, amber-brown body with violet highlights supports a dense, pockmarked beige head. Tiny bubbles zip to the underbrush of the head’s bottom. Eventually, the head subsides into a clearing, a small ring on top. Lacing is sporadic due to the beer’s age, or a non-beer-clean glass, or both.

A: Clean, with a hint of caramel, a touch of sweetness, and white-bready grain. Subtle hop aroma of earth and a twist of lemon.

T: Smooth clean malt, a dash of roast. Sweet start but drying finish. Reasonably bitter and hoppy, with earth and lemon carrying through from the aroma. There’s something a little off, I just can’t quite tell what. DMS? Am I crazy?

F: Medium-light, persistent, tiny bubbles. Sweet on the start, but chalky and drying on the finish. Crisp, drinkable.

O: Consumed fresh, I’m sure this one is fantastic, as evidenced by “the brothers.” Old, it’s certainly drinkable, but not how the brewer’s intended. It does, however, sport all the hallmarks of a well-made Schwarzbier.

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Photo of steveo25
4.51/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I haven't had this beer in a long time...had one tonight, forgot how good it was!
To me, it's a light dark beer. Nice flavor, smooth, very drinkable.

Saranac does it again, nice work Utica.

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Photo of Yargamo
4.52/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had some trepidation, fearing this beer would not be as good as I remembered it.

Well, it's as good if not better. Hard to imagine how a brewery with so much mediocre offerings can nail one style so wonderfully

Two finger dense head from a slow pour. Gorgeous dark brown with garnet edges. Inviting

Smell is pilsner like with plenty of grain and noble hops.

Taste is on point for style. A great beer for an autumn session or barbecue chicken pairing. I want another after I finish this one.

If Saranac would reinstate some of their old winter favorites into their lineup and focus on their lagers with mor care they could be a good brewery. In the meantime I'll remain dubious yet curious. Either way, this beer is going into rotation. Big time

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Photo of zinklesmesh
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I don't usually like dark beers, but this one is really well balanced and delicious. A lot of dark beers tend to be too malt-forward for my taste, but Black Forest has a great hoppy bite that complements the dark malt. It tastes like a really solid lager, just with a little more of the dark roasted malt flavors coming through, and a slightly thicker mouthfeel.

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Photo of TheBeerMaster1
3.52/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Once the dust settled it was just an average schwarzbier. Smooth and dark but lacked much flavor. I've made much better schwarzbier at $25 for a 48 bottle yield.

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Photo of DavidGross
3.67/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Another beer I picked up in bottle from a sampler pack. Was really good, surprising that my wife liked it too. Very nice color and aroma with just right taste and balance for me.

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Photo of mhuber
4.75/5  rDev +28%

Pours clear, deep reddish-brown color. Small head that dissipates quickly. Some minor lacing. Notes of caramel and burnt coffee with a mild bitterness. Full flavored without being heavy. Excellent!

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Photo of microbrewlover
3/5  rDev -19.1%

This brew pours a black color with a one finger mocha head which dissipates fairly quickly; light lacing. Low carbonation

The smell is roasted and sweet malts; it is rich and deep.

The taste is roasted and sweet malts along with some sugary sweetness, maybe some type of syrup is in there. There is virtually no hop taste. The beer finishes with a crisp, cracker like lager taste.

This is not a bad beer but not great either. It might be good for a cool day when you do not want something too heavy. It does taste light for such a dark looking beer.

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Photo of nicholas2121
4.3/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Saranac Black Forest brewed by Matt brewing Company with an ABV of 5.5% This brew pours out a dark brown color with a nice off white head. It put you in the mind of black coffee. The smell is rich with sweetness and some grains. The taste is sweet and smooth but rich. There is a lot going on in this brew. There is nothing overpowering in this brew. Black Forest has a nice balance to it. The sweetness in this brew is just right. The mouthfeel is smooth and rich. Matt Brewing company did a nice job with this one. Overall I'm giving this 4.5 out 5. I would buy this brew again.

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Photo of Caveworm
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company. Poured from the bottle into a glass, this had a 1/16th of a finger that went away rather instanstly, pitch black body as expected, and not very much lacing. At all.

I smell rich malt characteristics. Not very much else going on here.

The taste is rich and full with roasted malt. Its not very savory,though. Just bolder than the average lager, I suppose. Which it ought to with this color! I'm gonna make a broad generalization here& say its like Michelob high test, but just a PINCH lighter. All in all, a lager vibe is felt.

Mouthfeel is medium-light. Clean and smooth.

Overall a 3.5 for Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company. I may buy this brew again.

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Photo of fscottkey
2.97/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A: Looks black - but there is light penetration that makes it look like a dark red. Forms a 1 1/2 finger tan head. The head is nce and dense

S: Nothing prominent on the nose.

T: Hard candy, dark fruits. Sweetness.

M: Light, watery mouth feel.

O: I think this has some sessionability. It is not overly complex or deep. I think I could kick back with a few of these on a hot day. It is not my favorite beer but it brings a little something different to the table.

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Photo of stephenjmoore
2.99/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- More brown than black, dark body with a thin light tan head.

S- Mild malt aroma, with a hint of roast.

T- Malty, some caramel, some char, somewhat sweet from the malt.

M- Lighter body, medium carbonation, not all that thick and drinks like a medium lager.

O- A decent entry level beer for the style, but nothing that stands out.

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Photo of beer456
2.99/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a darkish liquid. Not a heavy looking "black beer" though. In fact color is kinda "light".

Smell is kinda weak. Hardly overpowering at all.

The taste at first blush was nothing memorable but the after-taste was quite nice.

Not to be confused with Saranac "Black & Tan", this "Black Forest" is superior for sure but the alcohol content is really kinda weak.

The variety pack i purchased only provides 1 Black Forest of the 6. feels like an autumnish beer.

Like I said, it really could really use more alcohol for sure.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.3/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: 16-oz. glass
From: My aunt Jenny
Price: N/A for a variety 12-pack
Purchased: N/A
Consumed: Jan. 17, 2014
Misc.: N/A

Poured a pitch black color with 1-to-2 fingers of khaki tan head. Below average sporadic lacing on the sides. Minimal retention.

Smelled malt heavy, metallic, smoky wood fire, red malts and rye hops.

Tasted caramel, toffee, amber malt, light wood fire and overall a bit lighter than I thought it would be.

Medium body. Thin-to-oily texture. Soft carbonation. Abrupt finish.

Wasn’t a fan of this beer. I probably even overrated it a bit.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.74/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a clear but opaque very dark brownish amber (approaching black but not quite there) with light amounts of gentle visible carbonation along the surface of the beer and some cola brown highlights. The beer has a finger tall creamy foamy dark beige head that slowly reduces to a medium sized patch of thick film surrounded by a thin film covering the majority of the remainder of the surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of dark and roasted malts with a light aroma of dark fruit sweetness.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of lightly roasted malts and dark malts with just a hint of dark fruit (cherry) sweetness - kind of reminds me a bit of a German Black Forest Cake. Light notes of chocolate/cocoa. Light amounts of bitterness in the finish which fades pretty quickly.

M: Light bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: I think this is a pretty interesting beer with nice flavors/aromas for a less common style that is easily accessible. Easy to drink and definitely one I could have a couple during a single session.

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Photo of stella77artois
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass.

A - Pours black, with just a hint of dark ruby showing at the bottom. More dark ruby when shown to light. No carbonation visible. A 1" head formed, which was tan in color and dissipated rather slowly. A very nice looking beer.

S - Roasted malts and a bit of lager dankness up front. Ever so subtle hints of dark fruit. Really not a whole lot going on, but not a bad smelling beer.

T - Kind of disappointed, because this beer is rated fairly high here. Not real impressed. Roasted and caramel malts up front, with a very subtle hint of cocoa. Mid mouth I noticed a hint of wheat (weird), as well as the dark fruits noted in the aroma. The taste really isn't bad, but the aftertaste isn't pleasant. A cheap sweetness is noticed. That really hurts the beer.

F - Felt ok. It's a thick style, so the beer was a bit thick. Not a bad beer to eat with a meal, but probably not something I'd drink on it's own.

O - Again, kind of disappointed. Due to the fact that this beer is rated high, I will try the other that came with the 12 Beers a Falling variety pack. Maybe it'll be better. But based on this, it's not a beer I'd buy again. Not a bad beer, but a cheap sweetness in the aftertaste kills a decent tasting "in-mouth" beer.

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Photo of USArmySteve
3.56/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured very dark and cola-like with a large white head.

Smelled of chocolate with roasted wheaty undertones. I also noted a slightly acidic something at the end.

Tasted quite sweet, strong chocolate and vanilla from the outset. At the end I noticed an acidic bite that I did not find appealing.

Overall, not something I would buy again.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.74/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a dark brown cola color with a small fizzy white head. The head fades quite fast leaving some light lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is of a sweeter smell overall with lots of caramel mixed with some chocolate and vanilla. Along with these smells is a decent showing of roasted malt and a little bit of coffee. Other aromas of a more cola like nature are there as well; overall the aroma is sweet and dark smelling.

Taste – The taste begins with a sweet chocolate and roasted malt flavor. A good dose of caramel and vanilla are present as well. As the flavor moves from the initial it remains relatively constant with the roasted flavors growing slightly stronger in flavor. The roast flavors increase only to decrease once again toward the end of the taste. In the end, with a bit of more sweetness and chocolate coming to the taste, it leaves a nice sweet and roasted flavor on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the slightly thicker side for a brew of 5.5 % with a rather average carbonation. Both are decent for the style as they make a drinkable brew while still maintaining some of the darker flavors of the brew.

Overall – A decent beer overall. A little on the sweeter side, but tasty overall.

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Photo of Utica_Brew_Review
3.07/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

very dark, almost a purple / black color with mild carbonation and mild head. Toasted, dark chocolate malt aroma. Too carbonated. Chocolate and toasted caramel notes for taste. Tastes almost like a light chocolate lager. Balanced mouthfeel, apart from the carbonation. Good schwarzbier.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.82/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle purchased at Beers of the World in Henrietta, NY. A great dark session lager.

Pours dark brown. A one inch fizzy head forms, leaving very minimal lacing on the glass.

Smells like light roasted malt and chocolate.

Just enough roasted malt and grain in the flavor to keep this interesting. It certainly doesn't bash you over the head with the roast, but it's enough to keep it interesting. Slight malt sweetness that reminds of caramel and toasted bread. Grassy hop flavors.

Thin body, could be thicker to be truly great. Very drinkable, crisp and creamy mouthfeel. Well carbonated.

A simple dark lager that's good for drinking a few. The flavors and complexity won't knock your socks off, but it's still pretty flavorful, and one of Saranac's best beers.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.03/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle purchased from Leura Cellars in the Blue Mountains.

Pours a deep claret red with a lackadaisical head of beige which froths itself up when swirled and then disappears again very quickly. Some persistence forms a crescent of fine film around the glass. Minimal lacing. Light body.

Nose is sweet with cereal grain airiness, a little soggy and limp. It's helped by the touch of roast which comes through, and a tender smokiness. When swirled, the roast becomes a little more prominent and the cereal notes dissipate a little, giving more of a floury tone. Still, it's a bit flat, and those grainy characters persist longer than I'd want them to.

Definite cereal characters on the palate as well, which give a pronounced sweetness that really detracts from the beer. Under this is the potential for something better. Solid, structured, toasty dark malt characters with a lightness and crispness in the body—a nice amalgam for what a Schwartzbier should be. The interplay between the sweetness and this darker underpinning gives off some strange harmonics in the interim though: concord grape, musk and frosting. It's not wrong, but it doesn't seem all that right either.

Feel is light without being crisp: and the added sweetness seems to give it more body than it actually has.

Overall, I'm a little disappointed. A schwartzbier can be very simple and still very good, but this seems to flounder a little. It doesn't reach deep complexity, nor does it stay truly crisp and brittle. Either direction would have improved this beer.

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Photo of digitalflood
3.63/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Saranac Black Forest (2013) - Creamy head reduces to good lacing. Thick black color. Good carbonation. Faint smell. Black berries. Thick malty body. Sweet nose. Light malty note. Thin mid-palate berries and syrup. Faint stout bitter note in back palate. Little to no after taste. Very clean. Slight chocolate stout after taste. Very drinkable. Very light despite that heavy look. Wish it had a bit more malt or stout notes. A little too light for a dark beer. 3.0 out of 5. Okay. Not as good as I remember it. Matt's tends to have the occasional iffy beer. Their consistency is sometimes hap hazard and I think that might be the case here.

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Photo of BWED
3.56/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz into a craft pint

A- Near black with dark brown highlights. A wimpy fizzy head, hangs on as a thin layer. No lacing.

S- Biscuity with a bit of a coffee nose. Overall fairly mild in aroma.

T- Light roasted malt, and a bit of an iron taste. Mild once again.

M- Medium-light body. Very drinkable.

O- A solid schwarzbier, no attributes are over the top, but it holds a nice color and a decent taste. A good dark beer to take a break with if drinking some heavy hitting stouts wears you out.

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Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
84 out of 100 based on 562 ratings.