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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 Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.18/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Dark appearance. Some grassy hop flavour. The Schwarzbier style is passable, and this is typical for it. Not missing anything here or for most Octoberfest beers. On-tap at Clark's Ale House #6. Somewhat sweet and a touch of roast. Doesn't work for me.

Serving type: on-tap

11-18-2004 04:34:22 | More by Sammy
Photo of BuckeyeNation


3.15/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Roasted walnut brown that becomes black cherry when backlit. A vigorous pour produced more than three fingers of coffee milkshake-colored foam that has a good bit of character and isn't shy about laying down lace. This is pretty much what a schwarzbier should look like.

The nose is unacceptably weak, but seems to hit its style marks as well. Nothing darker than caramel malt is present, so it isn't surprising that neither chocolate nor coffee are appreciated. A hint of hoppiness (Mt. Hood, Hallertau) is noted as well.

Schwarzbiers should not be porters or stouts, but they should be darker, maltier and much more flavorful than this. Black Forest is too weak-kneed, which is a pretty common problem when it comes to The Matt beer. If you like inexpensive and unchallenging in the extreme, then belly up to the bottle.

The flavor profile includes dark caramel and the slightest amount of watery chocolate possible. Hop bitterness is more apparent than hop flavor. This isn't bad beer by any means, it just needs a huge infusion of flavor and personality. It sure is easy to drink though, I'll give it that.

Keeping the average train rollin' right along... we come to mouthfeel. It's on the thin side for the ABV (more malt please) and is appropriately carbonated.

The Black Forest conjures up images of a deep, dark, rich, malty German doppelbock. Or even a schwarzbier, if done right. Sorry, but this brew doesn't have the chops to match the awesomeness of its name.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2009 13:13:08 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

3.58/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

i have been assembling full lineups from breweries and randomly doin these horizontal tasings with my family. The saranac one from a couple weeks ago was more then epic as it took months to gather all of these, but it was a hell of a fun night!

Rich dark brown in color, basically black with a small tan head across the top that lasted for a few moments before settling down into some nice side glass lacing. chocolate malts, hints of light roasting and a touch of peat. I expected your normal smoked beer here and it was nice and Smooth, nice notes of chocolate, peat, roasted malts and that really nice nut like spice especially in the finish, Smooth, even carbonation and a nice medium body.

Overall not a bad beer at all. Really a very intresting take on the style with a light spiceness that really made it stand apart.

Serving type: bottle

04-28-2011 23:43:12 | More by mikesgroove
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 BEERchitect


3.35/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Maybe intended to be a Stout until the malts and body didn't show up. Nevertheless, good for a Schwarz. A thin, roasted grain flavor and texture takes on boldness upfront, then disipates to a lighter body and finish. Would be chalky or coal-like if not for a moderate malt sweetness that is displayed mildly over the roasted graininess. Still lacks the clean quality in the finish and the sweetness is a bit too dominant. Still a good brew if you like the flavor of a Stout without the chewy texture.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2006 01:26:14 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of Thorpe429


3.03/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Huhzubendah. Served in a tulip.

Pours near black with a very thin off-white head that falls quickly, leaving behind a thin ring of lacing. Some spots. The nose carries a bit of light roast and chocolate. Everything very faint. Flavor has just a touch of light roast, mild toffee, and not much else. Light to medium body with moderate carbonation. Decent enough, but not something I'd come back to.

Serving type: bottle

07-19-2011 00:45:43 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of metter98

New York

3.73/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer poured very dark amber in color with a creamy tan head that left a thin layer of bubbles constantly covering the surface. A light to moderate amount of carbonation is visible.
S: There is a moderate aroma of dark roasted malts in the nose along with some hints of coffee and toffee.
T: The initial taste is rather malty and slightly sweet with notes of caramel; a mild amount of bitterness comes through in the finish.
M: It feels light-bodied and smooth on the palate. Not very much carbonation is perceptible.
D: Consuming this beer is a breeze; I could easily have several of them in a single sitting. Despite the dark appearance, it's not too strong or heavy so it has year round drinkability.

Serving type: bottle

07-10-2010 02:56:33 | More by metter98
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

3.4/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black but with a few red tints thrown in there with a light slightly off-white head,not much aroma to it slight chocolate and fruit.Taste is pretty lively and fruity with a light roasted nut flavor as well.Well a better than average brew but nothing to write home about here.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2004 23:15:55 | More by oberon
Photo of NeroFiddled


4.1/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with a full, big bubbled tan head that holds fairly well and leaves some good lace. The dark malt and slightly hoppy aroma is surprisingly apparent. Medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and lightly creamy mouthfeel. The malt flavor is apparent up front, mainly of a very nice, gently sweet caramel backed by bittersweet chocolate. As it crosses the palate a distinct, grassy hop flavor comes forth. A solid bitterness that never oversteps its bounds balances the palate before receeding into a lightly dry finish with some residual chocolate-like notes. An exceptionally well done beer that deserves more attention.

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2002 07:52:57 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of feloniousmonk


3.93/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: black as night, with a creamy tan head. Aroma: lush and creamy, with notes of cocoa, nuts, feeling like a well-whipped latte!
Pleasant on the palate, dark, but sweet, initially hoppy, but smothered behind thick, huge malt.Very mild, smooth, but with a lasting, tasty flavor, and certain fruity tones emerging as we go.
Honestly, had I not known it was a schwarzbier, I would have pegged it as a less hoppy porter, it was so full and flavorful.
Thanks to UncleJimbo sending it out.

Serving type: bottle

05-18-2003 18:32:42 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

3.85/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 32oz. growler into a pint glass.

A: The beer is a purplish, brownish black with a thin, off-white head that lingers and leaves a thick, even lace.

S: It has a very malty sweet smell with notes of dark fruit and roasted coffee along with a bit of alcohol. However, overall the smell is not very strong.

T: You taste the sweetness right away; however I expected more of an espresso/dark chocolate kind of flavor. Instead, I got more of a fruity flavor with a backdrop of dark chocolate, hops and malt.

M: Extremely smooth, but the carbonation is a bit on the high side, with a medium-to-high body. The finish is clean overall, but it leaves a slightly acidic after-taste and a bit of a sticky residue.

D: This beer is indeed drinkable, but more from a standpoint of I-can-drink-this-as-I-eat-a-ton-of-food-at-a-family-function rather than the standpoint of I-can-drink-this-beer-until-I-get-completely-trashed.

The first Schwarzbier that I ever tried was Sam Adams Black Lager, which I liked a lot. It made me very curious of what other beers in this style tasted like. So far, this has been the only other beer that I’ve been able to find in the style and although it’s a good beer, it pales in comparison.

Serving type: growler

05-07-2006 04:15:57 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of russpowell


3.58/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

32 oz growler pours ruby red/mahognay with a 1" off white head. A hint of lacing & head retention

S: Slight choclate & molasses aromas

T: Fruitty up front, then choclate & a hint of iron surfaces. Choclate follows with a more choclatel dryness on the finish

MF: Light to medium body with too much carbonation

Drinks okay, A half-hearted attempt at the style IMO. A good one to have newbies cut their teeth on, of you don't be overwhelmed by flavor, pretty good values for $ for the impovrished BA who still wants to represent

Serving type: bottle

08-09-2006 04:08:19 | More by russpowell
Photo of WesWes

New York

3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a black color with a thick tan head. The aroma is is good. It boasts of roasted barley and crystal malts along with a bit of yeasty scent. The taste is malty and smooth. It has a creamy finish. The mouthfeel is good. This is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a fine sessions beer; a real good drinker.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2003 02:08:56 | More by WesWes
Photo of drabmuh


4.13/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a conic pint glass. Beer is dark but clear, brown at the corners. Thin tan head made up a smallish to medium bubbles covers the top of the beer, falls leaving some lacing. Carbonation low to moderate with medium sized bubbles.

not much of an aroma, no roast, no smoke, no hops, maybe a little malt and some lager character smell.

Nice body, really smooth, nice sweetness and a little hint of roast at the end, very subtle. Easy drinking, beautiful beer. I was not sure what to think from the aroma or the look but this is a really nice tasting beer and finishes completely. Wet, no bitterness really or hop flavor. Nice connected from and back.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2009 05:44:11 | More by drabmuh
Photo of zeff80


3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured out brownish, black. It had very little head. It smelled like malt and chocolate. Its flavor was sweet and malty. The malt flavor really stood out. It also had a slightly bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel was very sharp. It went down smooth and was quite drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2006 03:53:28 | More by zeff80
Photo of Knapp85


3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours out smoothly into a pint glass. The color is a deep ruby reddish black color. The head is a nice shade of tan. The lacing didn't really exist at all. The aroma of the beer was much like a German lager with just a little bit more of a roasted smell to it. The taste of the beer is pretty good, has a strong roasted backbone to it with a subtle German lager aftertaste. The mouthfeel isn't heavy at all for a dark brew. Overall it's pretty good.

Serving type: bottle

05-08-2011 05:12:43 | More by Knapp85
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 RblWthACoz


3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown that approaches opaque. Tannish head. Nose is kind of maple-ish. Overall seems a bit one-dimensional. Interesting. Flavor brings an interesting sweet tone. It borders on being too much, but by just a hair it keeps it tolerable. An earthy tone gets in on the mix as well, but the sweet, vaguely honey edge keeps control over things. Feel is smooth on liquid and carbonation, with the liquid being a bit sticky. Overall a nice drinker. I've had better examples of the style, yes. But this is still a solid enough offering.

Serving type: bottle

10-04-2008 17:16:23 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of WVbeergeek


4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep ruby brown almost black if not held up to the light, forms a very nice mountainous tan chunky head leaves behind thick coating of lacing on the sides of my glass. Aroma: Delicate toasted malts paired with very nice herbal German Hallertau hops in there they definitely arise in the aroma. Taste: Perfect blend of sweetness from the dark roasted and caramel malts kicks up the hop flavor very much so authentic tasting just tasted a Schwarzbier from the subsidary of Kulmbacher yesterday and this is even more drinkable and more favorfully hopped. Mouthfeel: Light to medium body in the spectrum but has a nice soft carbonation not overcabonated at all. Drinkability: Best of the bunch from Saranac I definitely am going to pick up a sixer while supplies last down the street at the liquor store good brew to have on hand.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2003 08:22:55 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of Gavage

New Jersey

3.2/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep dark brown with an off white head that produced some lacing through the drink. A slight roasted smell was detectable. The roasted malt was most prevelent with a slight hint of bitterness. Somewhat thin bodied and slighlty crisp on the tongue. The roasted malt lasts into the aftertaste for a short time. Drinkable, but overall an average attempt in this style.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2003 14:50:50 | More by Gavage
Photo of smcolw


4.15/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Reddish, dark brown color with a tight light beige two finger head. Dark enough that a bright light barely shines through the glass.

Chocolate malt aroma, creamy and sweet--almost like hot cocoa. Very inviting.

Rich and flavorful, yet not overpoweringly bitter/sweet. This is wonderfully balanced. Up front is a light-bodied chocolately malt. As the beer settles, the carbonation brings out the alcohol warmness and a subtle hop flavor. This hop lingers after I swallow.

Thinner than I'd like, this dark beer is flavorful, aromatic and very drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2004 02:05:32 | More by smcolw
Photo of mactrail


3.68/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Sems to be a workman-like job of making a faultless but plain beer. Nice mahogany color in the glass, modest head, carbonation is quite creamy but fades away before long. Nice touch of malt on the lips, dark roast is warm and toasty. Hops come on stealthily and provide a slight bitterness, reminiscent of coffee.

A German style not known for wild and crazy antics, so this seems in keeping with a tradition. Maybe a better quaff in a big stein with the smell of sizzling pork nearby.

Serving type: bottle

06-21-2011 03:10:56 | More by mactrail
Photo of StonedTrippin


3.98/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

by far my favorite of saranac's year-round offerings. pours a barely see through dark red/black color almost purple with a nice head. german malts are present in the flavor and a sharp yeast nose peaks my interest. taste is old world bavarian dark beer to me, drinkably malty, old and refined in character. roasty but not heavy. i like it a lot better on tap than from the bottle, but this is a good representation of what saranac is capable of.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2011 16:18:51 | More by StonedTrippin
Photo of tempest


3.8/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a bottle of this after another frigid day in Syracuse. This beer doesn't taste quite like a schwarzbier, but its still pretty good. Aroma of dry cocoa and barley with a semi-bitter chocolate flavor and smooth finish. Not an amazing beer, but well-balanced, tasty, and very drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2007 23:05:31 | More by tempest
Photo of mdfb79

New York

3.48/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 5/8/10 notes. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a dark brown with an inch of tan head and light carbonation.

s - Smells of caramel and roasted malts mostly. Not much else here.

t - Tastes of caramel and roasted malts, some hops, and maybe a hint of chocolate.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - Not a bad lager but nothing special. Some nice caramel and roasted malts in the smell and taste and pretty easy to drink. Wouldn't seek out but would have again.

Serving type: bottle

05-20-2010 02:08:49 | More by mdfb79
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Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 915 ratings.