Saranac Black Forest - Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Not Rated.
Saranac Black ForestSaranac Black Forest

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
84
good

1,077 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,077
Reviews: 561
rAvg: 3.72
pDev: 13.44%
Wants: 41
Gots: 99 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
Schwarzbier |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-15-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,077 | Reviews: 561
Photo of DarthKostrizer
3.07/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Look: Very dark brown and totally opaque with just over a 1/4 inch tan head with no retention and a tiny collar

Smell: Little bit of roasted malt some chocolate oak and vanilla

Taste: The flavors are a tad bit boring with muted notes of chocolate and coffee

Mouthfeel: A bit on the thin side and too much carbonation

Overall: This is a very average beer at best due to it lacking in so many departments

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.97/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

Photo of kennylopez
2.75/5  rDev -26.1%
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.

Photo of BeerKangaroo
3.7/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

In a pilsener:

A: dark, almost purplish-brown body with a small creamy colored head and had a slightly reddish beige color of the head with very small lacing

S: black cherries, some light malt, some berry aromas, subdued chocolate

T: same as the previously mentioned flavors through a decent bittersweetness

M: medium; creamy; quick clean finish, berry/chocolate aftertaste, slightly sessionable

O: good for the style and good for me

Photo of engagechad
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased in a mixer 12 - pint

Pours a deep dark black with tan head, good lacing.

Smells roasty and dark as it looks, not much going on but it's nice.

Taste follows, nicely roasty but there is a little funk i didn't like in there.

Feels great, great body.

Photo of DrDemento456
3.72/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Not the most impressive a slight ring of lace looks pretty creamy and sticky but the beer is far from style being dark amber rather than pitch black.

S - A weird bit of caramel but I smells some moderate roast and some chocolate but not nearly enough to be worth a high grade.

T - Hmm fairly bold I suppose. A nice bit of roast and a bit of nutty flavor but nothing compared to it's German counterpart. It is pretty full bodied and sweet.

M - Pretty full bodied so it's pretty good for the style.

Overall because I can't find it all the time (only in cases) and it's not as dark or aromatic as German counterparts but would enjoy it again if I could.

Photo of therica
4.37/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've had this a few times in past years-- ocasionally impressed, other times not. This time-- a definite bold YES. In fact, my original review of a few years ago was so mediocre of this beer (deleted) that I suspect they've greatly improved the beer since then.

A= very black, a modest tan head with medium bubbles, fades to a nice rimming, lacing and pooling.

S= all sorts of things going on here-- strong roasted malts, burnt nuts, maybe even a little road tar (kindly said).

T= bold as heck! My old review was so totally opposite (ie "a bit watery for a good Schwarzbier. Some dry roasted malts, light hops florals."). Wow this was a pleasant surprise to find this year! A strong bold flavor much like the old US German lagers of the pre-transistor era. Nutty, burnt dark malts, burnt molasses, I'm really pleased at the new and improved version! Hops bitters are in there but nicely blended without being hop-head. After sitting and gradually being consumed during the 15 minutes it's taken to write this, some nice dark prune and black cherry has emerged on my tongue as well!

M= slightly dry, slightly sweet, with nice burnt flavors mentioned above, some modest hops bitterness and florals lingering.

O= very drinkable! Ticks me off that they apparently only sell it in their Adirondack Trail Mix although I found out that they do indeed sell this beer in cases-- depends on your local beer store.

Photo of rodney45
4.32/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very dark, and seductive beer. Laced brown and red foamy and frothy head that lingers like a good dark beer should. The coloring and lace is very nice, i dont know what magic they used to get it to look like that, but its stunning.

S: Coffee and espresso smelling head from the toasted crystal malt, and the roasted grains. Sweet chocolate aroma makes any dark beer lover's stomach flutter.

T: Crystal malt and cocoa. Hop flavor is largely hidden by the complexity and depth of the malt character.

D: I could drink this until the cows come home.

O: This would be a great desert beer. For a schwarzbier (dark ale) this beer is as good as ive seen. For a mid level brewery, this is a refeshing high end style beer.

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

12oz bottle. Pours a black color with dark brown hues and almost no head. No lacing. Aroma is earthy with caramel malts. Taste is more of the earthiness paired with the caramel malts. A bit bready with hints of dark chocolate near the end. Somewhat sweet. Very tasty and drinkable. Slightly creamy mouthfeel. This is one of Saranac's best offerings. Overall, worth grabbing often.

Photo of Ezone024
3.63/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

looks like a black lager, but has a little deep red color in it too, nice big creamy tan head.

taste is mostly sweet malts, tiny bit of caramel comes through.
not as roasty as other blacks but still has a rich complex flavor.

mouthfeel is pretty warming yet medium bodied.
easy to drink.

Photo of mrfrancis
4.35/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a nearly opaque black with a creamy light tan mousse. In terms of appearance, it looks like most German schwarzbiers.

S: Subtle notes of anise, cream, dark chocolate, molasses, and roasted grain are present on the nose. Very elegant and refined.

T: Opens crisp and malty with flavors of molasses, dark chocolate, minerals, cream, anise, and coffee beans with a hint of grassy hop bitterness developing before the finish. This beer finishes on a dry and crisp note with coffee, chocolate, and molasses flavors dominating.

M: Medium-to-full bodied, dry, and rich with crisp, effervescent carbonation.

O: This is an excellent schwarzbier. I generally feel that the Saranac line is hit or miss, but luckily, Black Forest is not a misfire. Just as good as some of the classic German schwarzbiers.

Photo of mastodonj
2.93/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I'll admit I don't have a lot of experience with
Swarzbiers so ....here's goes:

A - very dark, almost purplish-brown with a small creamy head
(seems to be emblematic of Saranac) and a reddish beige color
of the head with very small lacing.

S- Some malt and berry aromas come forward but minimally.
T - Enters smoothly and leaves with a nice bitterness and a clean finish (again the clean finish seems to be a hallmark of Saranac)
M - The head and its creaminess contribute to the smooth
mouthfeel

Overall - pretty average but very drinkable although you
wont' be thinking about it the morning after. ;-)

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

12 oz bottle. Purchased as part of a 12-pack Fall sampler. Freshness code on bottle.

Pours a rich, brownish-black. Tannish head. Smell is nice, roasted caramel malts. Taste blended well with perfumy, sweet hops. Finishes tight and dry. Decent, full-bodied brew.

Photo of bubseymour
4.42/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark like a a Coke in the glass complete with fizzy head.

It has a really nice pronounced malty smell to it with some caramel backing.

Taste - Very unique and interesting flavor. Starts very sweet and malty then has a crisp bite in the finish and seems almost like an APA but its black in color. Very interesting, flavorful and quite sessionable.

Mouthfeel - fine

Overall - A very unique beer and style and Saranac pulls it off quite well. One of the bolder flavored beers in their quiver.

Photo of TheIronHammer
3.94/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle to a beer glass.

A: It looks pitch black except around the edges where a little light gets through. The head is a medium tan. There foamed up to about half a finger's width, and then receded.

S: There is an aroma of roasted grains definitely. There is also an aroma of dried fruit, like dried cherries. Once it warms up there is a spice, maybe ginger present.

T: It has a pretty heavy roasted taste. There is a bitterness, like that of coffee. It is a bit astringent. Roasted flavors last a good while on the back of the tongue.

Mf: It has a medium body. It needs to be a bit heavier to support the nose and taste. It has pretty strong carbonation which works for this beer.

Overall: This beer has a delightful nose. The taste is also pretty good. The appearance is right inline with what's expected of this style. The mouthfeel was the detracting part of this beer; it needs to be heavier. However, it is an all round good beer. I will try this one again sometime.

Photo of fx20736
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into mug.

Charcoal black that reveals only darkest garnet when backlit. 1 finger mocha colored head, some lacing.

Aroma of toasted nuts roasted, maybe slightly scorched malt, with an echo of a cinnamon like spiciness

Mouthfeel is solid and on the big side.

Taste: Rich, caramel malt with a slight taste of red wine, dark cherries and chocolate.

Notes: First had this beer beer a decade ago, not sure why I waited so long to go back. This is a tasty, nicely made lager full of richness, inviting flavors which seem feel like brownies in the oven made with dark chocolate and walnuts. Will rotate in for the fall.

Photo of CaptJackHarkness
4.39/5  rDev +18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Twelve ounce bottle dated best by 12/31/2012 from Twelve Beers a falling collection.

Poured deep brown with ruby highlights, thin beige head rapidly dissapated, no lacing of glass to speak of. Scent of sweet chocolate malt.
Sweet rather than bitter with just a tang in the aftertaste. Overall a nice brew for a wet autumn day!

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

My first foray into the diverse world of Saranac. Bottle with best by Jan 2012. Poured from the bottle into my Duvel tulip. Nice brown frothy head, dark almost black color. Nice lacing. Smell was mostly smoked malt, some smoke and mild hops. The taste was light, not as heavy as you'd think with the color. Website said to pair with Mexican so I had a taco with it. Nice match. Mouthfeel was light and easy drinking. Pretty good stuff. Almost like a porter.

Photo of Chaney
4.08/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked up a small Saranac snack pack tonight so that I could do some ticking.

A: I wouldn't exactly say this is black, as the name suggests... more like dark reddish-brown. The head, which was mighty hefty, was beige in color, and clung to the glass as I siphoned the liquid.

S: Very weak nose actually.... almost non-existent even. After several attempts, I did manage to find some puffs of multi-grain bread and caramel, but that's about it.

T: The taste on the other hand was very nice and there was nothing fake about it. A German delight through and through! Medium bodied, with a rich, malty taste, and just the right hint of sweetness. Pumpernickel bread? You betcha!

M: Some splotches left on the glass, and this had a very smooth, non-bitter, wet character overall.

O: I don't understand the sub-par reviews on this one. I found this one to be a very nice.... especially for the price!

Photo of projectflam86
3.48/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle.

A- Pours a deep dark brown color with a thick foam head that leaves nice lace.

S- Caramel malt and maybe a touch of smoke. Hops are noticeable and mostly pine. There is also sort of a peat malt type of aroma.

T- Sweet and smoky but not overboard with a light bitterness in the finish. Slightly herbal with a good deal of caramel malt flavor and a bit of chocolate and the peat malt makes another appearance.

M- Lighter bodied than expected with ok carbonation.

O- Overall a decent beer but it could use a bit more of everything to really thicken up the flavor profile.

Photo of BeerNoobNC
3.59/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured the beer from a bottle into a pint glass.
I am not very familiar with this type of beer

When poured from the bottle, there was little to no foam. There was a good bit of carbonation. The appearance actually reminded me of a Coke or Pepsi in the color (though this may be slightly darker) and the carbonation and foam.

The scent is not really that strong. Maybe a little bit of a sweet smell and a small amount of hops.

As I said, I am not experienced with this style of beer, so I do not know what to expect, but this beer was pretty good in my opinion. It is definitely not as rich and flavorful as it looks (as a stout beer would be), but what I have heard about this style, it is supposed to be lighter in taste and body than porters and stouts. Some notable flavors are slight caramel and chocolate. Also, there is a small amount of hops present.

Although I am not as familiar with the style, this beer seems to have a lot more flavor for its style in comparison with other Saranac beers. It is surprisingly drinkable, and for the low price (the variety 12 packs often go on sale for about $12), this is definitely worth a try, especially if this is not a familiar style and you want to try something new.

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

A: Deep mahogany – quite clear through, and dark garnet when backlit. Okay size tan head doesn’t stick around for long and doesn’t leave much for lace.

S: Some sweet grainy malts, breadcrust, bits of caramel & toffee, and faint hints of dark fruits & even roast. Ghost hint of hops. Reasonable amount going on, but not very forward.

T: First thing that strikes me is the dark fruit aspect. More currants and cherries ( and perhaps plums) than the usual raisin / date / prune / fig dark fruit notes. Not that it is strong or overdone, just that you notice it. Malts actually open first with sweet bread and then some crust comes in with a bit of toffee. Towards the end you get some good amounts (yet soft) of cocoa and roast that linger into the finish. Some herbal and grassy hops just barely and briefly poke though at the end – clearly there for balance.

M: Just barely medium body with carbonation leaning lively. Refreshing with an impression of sweetness more than reality of residual sugars. Mildly drying finish.

D: refreshing, flavorful, and oh so drinkable. Nice full of character malt base with good depth. I especially like the dark fruit note. Avoids the temptation of too much roast. Instead it focuses on lighter malts. Good amount of sweetness, but not at all heavy. Nicely to style and quite approachable.

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

Ba Review #50
Served On: 9/2/2011
Glassware: Pint Glass

This was from the 2011 Saranac fall mixed pack.

Look: Poured a dark cola brown – almost black. A lighter caramel hue was around the edges of the pint glass. The head was a nice creamy 1 finger of medium tan foam. It reduced down to a patchy coating rather quickly.

Smell: Aroma was very sweet with a slight earthy spice. Also dark fruits like raisons or plum. Maybe even some brown sugar or molasses.

Taste: First was some rough carbonation which lead into an unsweetened molasses and plum. The signature Saranac malty note was certainly in this one. The finish was fairly clean with hints of roasted malts and the unsweetened notes from before. I had virtually no aftertaste on the palate, probably due to the watery consistency. There may have been some plum lingering on a couple of sips.

I really like Saranac and this was an OK offering from them. It was certainly true to the Schwarzbier style and extremely sessionable. Perfect for working out in the yard on a cool Autumn evening.

Photo of rlee1390
3.7/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Deep ruby read but looks black in the glass, one finger head with no lacing.

S-Roasted malt, some caramel

T-Roasted malt, caramel and some spicyness, not much bitterness in the finish.

M-Medium bodied, smooth but lacking in carbonation

O-Remember having Magic Hat's and Sam Adam's from last year but there is a lack of carbonation in the beer compared to those.

Photo of MadTown1000
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours what looks like a brown at first, but actually is a deep ruby red against the light. Close to opaque, but shows some transparency around the edges. Not much head; what there is quickly dissipates.

Smell is distinct, and matches the look. Sweet and molassesy. Flavor then basically matches the smell, with an extra helping of very dark chocolate. Carbonation is more obvious on the tongue than I'd expected. Also, the sweetness leads into a nice toasty grain aftertaste I didn't expect from the smell. Alcohol not that evident. Mouthfeel is heavy, a bit sticky, but not overly so on either count.

This beer is highly consistent all around - It reminds be strongly of Sprecher Black Bavarian. For a heavy dark beer with some flavor to it, but without the extremes of a Russian Imperial, this will do the job admirably.

Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
84 out of 100 based on 1,077 ratings.