Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

Saranac Black Forest - Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Not Rated.
Saranac Black ForestSaranac Black Forest

Educational use only; do not reuse.

559 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 559
Hads: 1,082
rAvg: 3.71
pDev: 11.86%
Wants: 41
Gots: 101 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Saranac Black Forest Alström Bros
Reviews: 559 | Hads: 1,082
Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.8/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Great looking brew. It is dark mahogany; looks very much like a porter. Two fingers plus of creamy beige head. Diminishes too quickly, but it leaves super sticky lacing all over the glass. Nose is malt and some caramel squeaks through. The flavor is sweet malt and lots of it. Little balance here and a bit thin and watery. Surprising taste for the look. You expect lots of smoky flavors but that's not what this is about. It's smooth, sweet, and all about malt. Enjoyable and drinkable it is a good beer that surprises the palate. Just a bit of roastiness creeps in at the end. (578 characters)

Photo of nomad
3.48/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Strange pick for Matt Brewing to mass produce (schwarzbier). It was just about a black color with a creamy tan head that stuck around nicely. Also had good german-style natural carbonation rolls on the tilt. The nose was of roasted wheat, some caramel malt. Taste was a quiet dark malt, roasted wheat, and a slight fruit from the hops taste. Had a thin body and character, yet a nice dryness during the finish though it fades moderately fast. Almost an oily mouthfeel with a strange feeling cloy after the finish, like an acid burn. A good Saranac beer? It may have been if they hadn’t filtered it, and gone through with the heavy elements of it. (647 characters)

Photo of maltydog
4.05/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

First tried this beer in their sampler case last week and I liked it so much that I bought a whole case of it for this weekend. In fact, I am enjoying one as I write this review! I am sampling this out of a 12 oz. bottle poured into a footed lager glass. The beer has a rich brown going to black appearance with hints of amber. The head is rich, creamy and opaque. It does not stay with the beer long and begins to dissipate on the first sip. The smell is of caramel and malt with a slight hop background. What a wonderful combo! The tast mirrors the smell with a rich, caramel and sweet front that is nicely balanced with a great blend of german noble hops in mid quaff. The finish is clean and dry with just a bit of residual sweetness. I believ that the mouthfeel is adequate, not great. All the great flavors are there, but they do not linger on your tongue. That being said I think that this helps to create to the tremendous drinkability of the beer. In other words, no resididual flavors on the back end that make you feel like you should pause and contemplate. Just a great tasting schwarzbier that naturally tempts you to take one drink after another and another and so on! On top of all this, Saranac's Black Forest lager is a great value. So, if you enjoy malt and an easy drinking beer,,,this is the one for you!

PROSIT !! (1,338 characters)

Photo of Scooter77
4.1/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown color with a medium-sized, bubbly tan head. The head loses its retention with each drink, leaving a thin film on the glass. The nose is primarily toasted malt and a caramel. There was a nice, rich sweetness blended well with the malt and slightly bitter hops flavor. The finish was very light and dry. This is a well-balanced beer that’s easy to drink and quite economical. (393 characters)

Photo of EmoBeerGuy
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours to a dark black, make you exspect that this beer is going to be very thick.

Nose is malty, carmel, with slight hops.

Taste is more of the smell, alot of malt and carmel sweetness here with a small but hearty dose of hops at the end. This one is very unique but in a subtle way. Not really like any other beer I've ever had. Maybe this is due to never trying another Schwarzbier.

I'd recommend this to anyone that hasn't tried this style. A great offering by Saranac, probably their best year-round beer...if not their best over all. (548 characters)

Photo of pezoids
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured out a dark and rich mahogany color. The head was a good size - creamy and tan colored. Sweet chocolate and caramel in the aroma. There is a nice roastiness in the flavor - a little bittersweetness with a hint of green apples. The beer was light to medium bodied. Good drinkability and an overall interesting beer. I would have this again. (355 characters)

Photo of Marty
4.42/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the most flavorful lager I have ever tasted. It's dark yet very easy to drink. It's sweet, but not yucky sweet (like Saranac's Caramel Porter). It's dark but not heavy. This is my favorite Saranac beer. Lately my buddies and I have been keeping six packs of this in our refrigerator in case of emergencies. (314 characters)

Photo of BittRnessabounds
4.03/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wonderful looking Gore Mtn. Garnet dark reddish-brown color with nice off-white/tan head. Lace hung around for the duration. Sweet and appealing smell that is mostly malty, with a bit of caramel and hops thrown in. Taste is very smooth and crisp, very enjoyable. This is easily the best Saranac has to offer, and is even better if you can find it on-tap. (354 characters)

Photo of mzwolinski
3.72/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown/ruby in color with a fair sized, medium-tan, creamy head. Nice lace in the glass. Very appealing, sweet malty aroma with caramel and toffee notes. Medium body to the beer though the finish starts out unsatisfyingly light, almost watery. Things improve as the beer warms, however, with a nice toasty aftertaste developing to compensate somewhat for the thin body. Flavor begins with a strong taste of caramel malt and a mild (too mild, IMHO) roastiness. Hop flavor is understated. Drinkable beer, but too wimpy to be a a great schwarz. (545 characters)

Photo of avylover
4.24/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Right away this brew is looking good & thick. The only light to penetrate this brew comes out blood red. Other than that, it's black, hence the name. Huge frothy head. Looks can be decieving though. This beer is about as thick as your average pale ale. Still nice but no motor oil here.Smell is nice & malty, with some hops peeking through. A decent sweet malt taste, not overbearing at all. Drinkability is niice here. Not a "Big" beer, but great beer (452 characters)

Photo of francisweizen
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my first achwarzbier and a pretty good one if I do say so myself. You have to love Saranacs great beers at such an affordable price:-) Anyway, this beer poured a light black, dark brown mahogany colour with little to no head on it. This smelled of mainly 1 thing, ROASTED malts...there was also a bit of chocolate and caramel in the nose as well.
This beer tasted good, very hearty, smoky(almost), malty, and roasted! This had a pretty thick, charred mouthfeel and a decent drinkability as well.
Not bad, but i'd like to try a better, authentic, German-Made Schwarzbier!
F. (594 characters)

Photo of BeerAngel
3.86/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with garnet highlights and comes with a massive tan head. The head slowly shrinks down into a lumpy froth that lasts and lasts. The smell consists of faint burnt malt and a slightly twangy hop. Again the taste is also slightly faint but has a nice combination of lightly roasted malt and an earthy grain with very light hops. It is incredibly smooth and drinks down easy. It is light bodied and finishes just a lightly dry bitter. Nice brew! Thanks again to BIGDEB for sending me this brew! Cheers! (517 characters)

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I see from my research (a few clicks of my cordless mouse) that this beer has been reviewed many times. Well, I have a 12 fl.oz. Bottle to finish the nights sampling with, probably wise.
Described on the label as ‘Bavarian Style Beer’, which gives me about as much confidence as A-B describing Bud as a Pilsner-Style Lager. I hate the foreign labels that US breweries appear that they have to tag themselves with; they are usually good enough to stand on their own merits, so my advice would be to ditch the foreign references guys.
Pours a turbid dark brown – smoky darkish iridescent deep ruby red, antique cherry wood color. The head is a creamy smooth tan colored ½” pillow covering.
Nose is of sweaty malty biscuit aromas and dark toffee caramel. Aromas are medium in strength but never pervasive. Has a mouthfeel consistency that reminds me of Tate & Lyles Golden Syrup, mixed with Dates and dark fruits. Finish is bitter with a lingering mild sweetness. This is a Black beer that appears to improve with temperature, the dark roast malt flavors increase exponentially with temperature. At room temperature this beer is at its very best. Thin but wholesome strange beer, that is to say, that it is a very good Shwarzbier. Make Sense?

Cheers to my friend BigDeb for this sample. (1,294 characters)

Photo of kelticblood
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was given a 6 pack of Saranac's black forest by a guy at work.I was mislead by the name "Black Forest" assuming it would be real dark and thick.Upon drinking I found it was quite the opposite.I had a nice creamy head and poured a brownish-red color.It has a malty taste with a little bite upon swallowing.A little taste of hops and wheat but nothing overwhelming.I really enjoyed this beer and would buy it again. (415 characters)

Photo of MTMugs
2.63/5  rDev -29.1%
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. (338 characters)

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

An awesome awesome brew. One of my favorites from Saranac. Everytime my buddy goes home to Fredonia, NY I always give him cash and beg him to bring back a few 6'ers. Flavor is that of lighter stout but carries some hoppiness to it. Color is dark but not super dark like that of an imperial stout or even a heavy porter. Very drinkable, I think its pretty light for the flavor it packs (this is not to say this is a light beer by any means or stretch of words). A very enjoyable brew. I have to say I am a huge fan of the Saranac assorted 12 packs. (547 characters)

Photo of BJC
4.08/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Another review mentioned that there isn't a freshness dating.
If you hold the bottle (of all FX Matt produced beers) to the light, there is a Julian date stamped near the neck. The bottle I recently drank is stamped 1992 (the 199th day of 2002-the middle of July).

I enjoy this beer quite a bit. When I can find fresh stock, I jump on it. It's sweet, but not cloying. In fact, the sweetness comes in and out while drink a bottle playing off the hops.

When a poured a cold but not frozen bottle, the tan and rocky
head looked lovely. My favorite of all the Saranc beers; their
prices are unfortunately going up: $6-$7 in central to northern Jersey. (661 characters)

Photo of RBorsato
4.25/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark brown-blackish (amber to light source) with a brown head. Malty (light caramel aroma and taste) with a trace of roastiness on the nose... Medium bodied, creamy and smooth.

Great session beer ! Great on it's own but doesn't really stack up to the true European varieties... (283 characters)

Photo of bmills1608
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours nice and dark with slight red tinge to it. Head is tan. Grape nuts (the cereal) like scent on the nose, fruity also.

Taste is rich and smooth with a raisen/grape flavor and caramel malt. Carbonation is a bit more fizzy then I would have liked. Medium light moothfeel. Bitterness creeps in at the finish.

A very unique and satisfying brew. (355 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.12/5  rDev +11.1%
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. (645 characters)

Photo of shirfan
3.76/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, dark ruby brown, some light does get through on the edges of the glass. Decent tan head which didn't lace that well.

Although it looks like a stout, it doesn't taste or smell like one. Aroma is more hops than anything.

Taste is rather unique... decently hopped like other Saranac styles, almost to a point of fighting with the caramel malt. Too smooth and hoppy and not bitter enough to consider a stout, but fits the BA classification of "Schwarzbier" very well. (486 characters)

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

Dark amber brown brew topped in a healthy coating of off-white foam that leaves lace on the glass as it dies down. Nice bitter hops in the aroma as well as a nice roasty character and a touch of caramel. Surprisingly grassy nose that I really don't remember from the last time I had this brew over a year ago.

Smooth with a medium body that I would just love to fill up a bit. The roasty malts are there, but way toned down. The grassy flavor is also a bit light. Somewhat creamy mouthfeel. Definitely a brew that you could have a few of. Ah, a few minutes warmed in my hands, and a touch more flavoring comes into play. It is still lacking, but never the less it is a good beer. (685 characters)

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

This brew's a nice garnet color with a good creamy head. Problem is....it's gone within a minute. Aroma is indistinguisable. Seems like a sour fruity aroma that is out of place for this style. Taste is pretty bland. The only positive thing I can say about this beer is that it is not bad. The tastes that I perceive are all slight: caramel malt and a grainy dryness.This beer does not hold a candle to the Sprecher Black Bavarian. I am going to go confirm that right now as I have one Black Bavarian in the Fridge. (522 characters)

Photo of packetknife
3.76/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Almost black with a thick (and solid) tan head. Roasty on the nose but nothing nice. Smooth and malty with a slight hop kick. When chilled it has an odd sharp edge on your tongue. Let it warm slightly to enjoy. As in three/four minutes before the pour. Just thick enough without feeling Stout-ish. (297 characters)

Photo of beernut7
4.4/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I really like this beer. I am not usually privy to lagers, but this one changed my views. A beautiful deep amber color and foamy head introduce a sweet aroma and malt flavor that is unique. Goes down smooth and easy. THis is especially good for those who wna tto have the health benefits of a dark beer, but not the body of an dark ale. (340 characters)

Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
84 out of 100 based on 559 ratings.