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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 JG-90
3.7/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a moderate sized light brown colored head with minimal retention. Beer is a very dark brown, almost black, with hints of red when in the light. Leaves minimal lacing. Smells of very ripe fruit, dark bread, and a bit of spices and caramel malt.

Tastes kind of like a dark banana bread made with very ripe bananas, rye bread, caramel/toffee malt, slightly burnt maple syrup. Mouthfeel is light/average with average carbonation. I dont think I've ever had a Schwarzbier before, but I like this one.

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Photo of Why-P-A
3.26/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A: Rich and dark, good color based on the name and style.

S: Aroma is surprisingly mellow, not off-putting but minimal dark malt aromas considering the color.

T: This is where Black Forest brings something unique and surprising. Like the aroma the beer is not dark but has an unlikely malt body and sweetness. Some slight hints of residual sugar.

M: Slightly syrupy, not heavy but the sweetness contributes to a thicker mouth feel.

O: While the burnt and roasted malts are a minimal element and though flavors these are a staple of many schwartzbiers this still beer works well as is. Black Forest has been around upstate NY on tap and in mix packs for years and is a solid mellow winter beer.

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Photo of MustaPekka
4.05/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Picked up this beer randomly in the liquer store.Not bad at all. This is how a dark beer should taste. Nice foam and really dark, dark colour. This beer is German style for sure being sweet and not bitter. Different styles here, either sweet or bitter. I prefer sweet, but that is of course matter of preference. This beer was a pleasant surprise !

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Photo of Justin23060
4.74/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A - Black w/ chestnut highlights. 1/2 finger beige head that coated 'till the end.

S - Sweet chocolate and caramel, with maybe a hint of licorice.

T - Perfect example of the style. Starts sweet ends semi dry with a slight vignious linger. Taste is pretty much in line with the smell.

M - Lighter side of medium, w/ some nice carb.

O - Definitely worth trying. Captures roasty chocolate and caramel qualities while at the same time remaining thirst quenching. Because of that it is a great dark offering for the summer months.

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Photo of HabiMendes
4.27/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This very dark beer has actually a very dark red tone against the light, and looks really elegant. The smell is an obvious caramelized malt, with well-harmonized hops. I can say the same for the taste, where you also see, in the background, some characteristic notes from darker malts: chocolate/coffee. The body is medium, and the aftertaste, relatively short, leaves us with a delicious and subtle hop taste. Great dark Lager.

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Photo of Haydn-Juby
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle

A: Dark reddish brown with some transparency. Small head with minimal lacing. Died down pretty quick

S: Once again I find the alcohol apparent in the smell but not in the taste, its strange. Some small tinges of caramel and very faint chocolate maybe.

T: Good caramel aftertaste but nothing to overpowering. Decent hop bitterness but really not that much. Not too bold tasting but not too weak either. Some flavor searching is required , as I found with their other beers, but it is there and it isn't bad either.

M:Goes down light and smooth drinking. Pretty easy going in this departement

Overall: It was a good beer but nothing I was shocked by , like their other brews. Pretty solid but not astounding. Probably wouldn't seek it out but it was good.

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Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
3.89/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle (from a Saranac Adirondack Trail Mix 6pack) into a pilsener glass. Poured a beautiful deep garnet red with a half-finger head that dissipated quickly with little to no lacing. Tastes very clean and refreshing, with a watery but smooth mouthfeel. Fairly weak-bodied, but it's a schwarzbier, not a porter. Overall this is one of my favorite beers; absolutely delicious and easy to drink. Too bad the mixed 6 pack only came with one of them...

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Photo of stxp
3.6/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

appearance: solid dark brown, barely see through, some reddish hints in light, thick chunky head fades quick with a sticky lace

smell: slightly earthy, woody and bit of dried fruit, candy-like sweetness

taste: a bit woody, caramel, some toast but not overly malty despite the color,

mouthfeel: carbonation hits first then gets a bit creamy, finishses with a slight dryness and a touch of roast linger, a bit thin on then end

overall: great aroma, a bit thin and lacking on taste, gets creamy in the middle but fades, could use a bit more toast/roast

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Photo of PatriotsRule
4.97/5  rDev +34%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Black Forest never ceases to wow me. I am on a bit of a schwarzbier kick and this brew trumps just about anything I can imagine...
A: Not much head, but it looks like a beautiful dark unfiltered beer with some nice lacing
S: Smokey fruit with light spicing
T: Yes indeed this is a well-balanced craft brew. it's crisp and a perfect choice for winter
M: Leaves me hoping I will have the opportunity to delve into the black forest later on in life
O: This is one of those beers that is so smooth it leaves me scratching my head in amazement

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Photo of gcamparone
3.65/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served From a. 12 oz bottle into a snifter,

A - big white head that leaves little lacing , copper clear body.

S - unripe bananas, cloves, and wheat sitting on a heavy toasted malt backbone.

T- Starts off with a spicy clove taste, ends with a chocolate-covered banana flavor.

M- Medium mouthfeel, medium-low carbonation.

Overall quite enjoyable. Subtle flavors but an overall easy drinker.

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Photo of magine
3.87/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.

Pours a dark brown with ruby red edges; light tan head. Head settles to a lace layer. Some patching along the edges. Average looks.

Brew smells of caramel malts; roasted malts. Decent nose.

Brew is creamy up front, some good hops spice it up towards the end. Slightly bitter end with good lingering malts. Perfect mouthfeel for the style. Real good flavors here. Good solid brew here for sure.

A very nice sessionable black lager here. A party pleasing dark brew that can be approached and enjoyed by all fans of beer. Good stuff here.

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Photo of Rukasu
3.41/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Black as night, only a deep, deep ruby red when held to a bright light. Solid one finger tan head.

S- Slightly sweet, nuttiness, with a faint hoppy bite on the nose

T- Lemony hops up front, with earthy and grassy roasted malts. Faint coffee on the finish

M- Surprisingly light with a consistant carbonation.

O- Lighter and less flavorful than I expected it would be and would have preferred, but the benefit is that it is highly drinkable and one could have a few of these and not be weighed down.

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Photo of MoreThanWine
2.82/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a 1.5" mocha head with medium lifespan. The body is a deep but clear burnt umber brown. Alas my sample really doesn't smell of anything at all, even after full room temperature. The taste is a watery lager with just the slightest hint of dark roasted malt. And there's not much of a finish. To me this is what you get when you go for a look to a beer instead of just brewing to see what you get.

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

Ive had this beer countless times, on tap and bottle. This review is from a 12oz bottle. Poured into HF Wine Glass. Pours a deep black color with slight off white head. Very malty slightly roasted aromas. Taste is very nice fruity malt, but very mild. Great brew from saranac, an all time classic go to brew for me

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Photo of JOaikido
3.77/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pitch black with a nice light beige head. Touch of amber at the edges when held up to a light. Head sticks to the glass.

S- Grassy & floral with a hint of citrus hops.

T- Hops bitternes with a little roasted note. Touch of sugary sweetness. Decent malty middle with roasted coffee notes.

MF- Medium bodied. A little sugar stickiness. Smooth.

O- Nice dark beer. A little light for my taste, but good.

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

12oz served in a Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

A - Pours a clear dark russet brown with a 1 finger mocha head that forms a tight bubbled cap. One long streak of horizontal lacing that looked like a skinny dinosaur.

S - Dark caramel malt, dried grain, cherry and berry fruit, lager yeast, fruit bread.

T - Roasted caramel malts, tangy sweetness, dried grass, chalky lager yeast, matches the nose, the cherry fruit is mixed in with the malt creating a fruit bread flavor, some hops wick away some of the sweetness. Finishes semi dry with compliments of fruit and slightly bitter and roasted malts.

M - Moderate carbonation, fuller body for the style, somewhat velvety but sticky at times, wet upfront but finishes semi dry.

Very fruity for the style. Had a nice roundness of roast and bitter to battle the sweetness. Decent mouthfeel too. Not bad. Not something I would seek out but I'm glad I had a chance to try this out.

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Photo of TheMultiYeast
3.26/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours dark brown with a light tan head.

Some chocolate and smoke in the nose, ripe dark fruit, black berry juice, raisins

More roasted chocolate, malty, unique juicy bitterness.

Despite some decent flavor complexities, this one's pretty light in body.

Pretty good for one of those light dark beers.

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Photo of CloudStrife
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. BB Jan 31 2012

A: Pours a deep mahogany brownish red with a 1 finger off white head. Too opaque to see any carbonation. Head sticks around for a while and leaves a small amount of lace.

S: Chocolate roasty malts up front with a degree of lightness compared to any stout. A little faint and lagery. Must be the yeast.

T: Fairly tame with a mix of roasty and chocolate malts. Some hop kick at the end

M: A lot lighter in the body than you would expect, feels a little thin and watery. Pretty carbonated. Pretty balanced.

Overall a solid beer for Saranac that I've been enjoying for years. Consistent, light and drinkable.

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Photo of circus_cat
4.1/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass.

A: Poured almost pitch black with a dark red hue. Khaki head that started at about one inch and dissipated quickly leaving almost no lacing.

S: Roasty malts, sweet caramel, and lots of dark fruits.

T: Big time dark fruits here. I get plum and blackberry. It's almost sour. A little bit of coffee dark chocolate on the finish.

M: Light to medium bodied and pretty effervescent. Dry finish.

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Photo of 57md
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown with copper edges. The half finger of beige head does not linger very long. The nose has a touch of roast. The dominant flavor is light roasted malts with a nice tingling bitterness on the finish. This is a respectable offering, but not an extraordinary example of this lager style.

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Photo of Stampman
4.48/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The serving was in a pint glass and the beer was room tempature. The color was black with a thick brown head. The head remained with small bubbles for period of one minute and then started to break up. There was consistent distict lacing throughout drinking. The smell was clean and stong with the scent of hopps and malt. The taste was very pleasant without any bitter taste. The mouthfeel was medium and very pleasant.
I feel all dark beers should be drunk in the european manner, room temprature and in a pint glass. I think it brings the maximum amout of flavor to the drinker. This beer proved my belief is correct. This beer has made my buy list and will continue to be a choice for serving guests.

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Photo of paulginva
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

APPEARANCE: This beer, poured from a bottle into a flute, produced a medium tan creamy 1/4" head that dissipated slowly leaving good head lacing. Carbonation was moderate in a murky pitch black body with just a little light around the edges.

AROMA: Moderate roasted grain and caramel with light hints of dark cherry, dried fruit and spices.

TASTE: Somewhat different from the aroma. Heavy dark malts with a light overlay roasted espresso and caramel. The fruits and spices that I noticed in the smell test seemed absent.

MOUTHFEEL: This beer had a medium body with a somewhat thick, syrupy texture, moderate carbonation and good body lacing that dissipated slowly. The initial flavor was a moderate roasted sweetness accompanied by a hint of bitterness with a lightly bitter finish that lasted for a moderate length of time, leaving a slightly astringent aftertaste.

DRINKABILITY: This beer is definitely repeatable and would make a decent, if unusual, session beer. The body should be a little heavier to support the taste. It's a good but not great example of its style but nothing really stands out. Nonetheless, it's easy to drink and presents good value for the money. I'll buy it again.

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Photo of Beejay
2.91/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Medium brown as it pours. Black in the glass with a very full tan head, although the fluffy full texture quickly turns into large bubbles dissipating into itself.

S: Bready and toasty. There is a little bit of an herbal note in there as well. I am also picking up a bit of a chalky smell for some reason.

T: Malty, with notes of caramel and flour. There is a slight tang in the finish, as well as maybe a touch of a metallic flavor. Some toffee in the aftertaste.

M: Medium light, the carbonation seems to be a little lack luster for me.

O: Meh.. Not bad, but not amazing either. Not something that I would likely seek out.

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Photo of Minkybut
3.6/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The beer was black as the name implies. The beer poured a nice tan head but it did not hang around long. The smell of this beer was just okay, I thought it smelled a little sour at first. The taste was nice, a little sweet kinda caramelly but not too much. I liked and will buy again.

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Photo of TechTriumph
3.92/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

No freshness date; Poured in a pint glass.

A - One inch of light tan carbonated head that doesn't last too long; Very dark brown in color with a ruby hue; Not too much lacing left behind

S - Big surprise here - was not expecting the huge nose of mixed fruits and sweet caramel; The fruits consist of plums, grapes, and raspberries

T - The same fruits from the nose step forward first in the taste; This is followed by very sweet caramel and leafy/woody hops with just a small hint of tobacco in the distant background; Fruity and sugary sweetness lingers in the aftertaste

M - Good amount of carbonation; Lighter side of medium bodied; Somewhat syrupy mouthfeel that allows the sugary sweet taste to linger

O - The big presence of fruits in this beer was quite surprising to me. I really don't think it's a bad thing though as I found the aroma and taste to be pretty enjoyable. There's a lot of sweetness in this beer that, while it didn't turn me off, would prevent me from having too many of these in succession. Overall, I think this beer really stands out within the style and is one that I'd like to have again in the future.

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