1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Saranac Black Forest - Matt Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Saranac Black ForestSaranac Black Forest

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

956 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 956
Reviews: 554
rAvg: 3.72
pDev: 13.44%
Wants: 30
Gots: 27 | FT: 0
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)
View: Beers (88) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Saranac Black Forest Alström Bros
Ratings: 956 | Reviews: 554 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BarrelO


3.65/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Translucent reddish-brown body. Big fluffy head that fades to virtually nothing.

S: Caramel malts and noble hops.

T: Strong caramel notes. Medium bitterness. I would have like to have seen more roastiness.

M: Medium-bodied, just enough carbonation.

D: Not an exemplar of the style, but nothing I'd turn away from.

Serving type: bottle

09-16-2010 05:57:04 | More by BarrelO
Photo of vandemonian


3.2/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is black with a good head that lasts for several minutes. The smell is weak and has the flavour of caramel and malt. The main flavour of this beer is malt but the hops shine through at moments too. This beer seemed a bit thin in the mouth for a dark beer.

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2010 04:02:47 | More by vandemonian
Photo of jhammel01

New Jersey

3.2/5  rDev -14%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours black, maybe a bit ruby hue, with no head at all...The label lies! Sits as still as coffee with no carbonation bubbling or lacing.

Smell is promising. Notes of caramel and malt. Bit of Bavarian hops. Smells very authentic.

Deep caramel malts, coffee, chocolate dominate the taste of this beer. Its not a huge beer but plenty flavorful. Great carbonated mouthfeel...much different than how it looks! Good and bubbly.

Not bad, its just too bad that it didn't have a nice big head. Oh well, still good!

Serving type: bottle

09-08-2010 02:13:20 | More by jhammel01
Photo of WinthrHOPHEAD89


3.8/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an Irish Style Pint Glass

A - The description on the bottle promises a rich creamy head, but even after a straight pour this beer produced almost no head at all. The color is very porter-like with a rich dark mahogany appearance. No real effervescence, and left no lacing on the glass.

S - Dark malts seem to dominate the nose, with a hint of caramel. Smells like a dark brown ale and a porter mixed together really.

T - This beer tastes almost exactly as it smells. Dark malts settle on the middle of the tongue while the caramel sweetness coats the back of the throat on the finish. Definite chocolate and coffee notes as well. All in all a pretty complex palate, although not overwhelming in intensity.

M - The mouthfeel of this beer is fairly soft. This beer is not watery per say, for it is pretty medium in body, but the tepidness of this beer makes it seem thinner than it should.

D - Fans of the dark beers (stouts, porters, and brown ales) should have no problem with beer. This beer goes down fairly easy, but it doesn't seem like it should really, But a good after dinner beer for sure.

Final Thoughts: Would certainly recommend, but would probably not buy again.

Serving type: bottle

09-06-2010 17:54:37 | More by WinthrHOPHEAD89
Photo of sdj5

New York

3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark, nearly black with a one-finger tan head.

Smell: Cold coffee, nothing really stood out

Taste: Coffee, some roasted malt, strong biting hop finish

Mouthfeel: Smooth and easy to drink

Drinkability: I finished it quickly because it was so good

Serving type: bottle

08-27-2010 14:18:42 | More by sdj5
Photo of Sam21


3.33/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into flute.

Appearance - Brown body with a reddish glow. Large healthy head that recedes slowly eventually disappearing completely. Light lacing.

Smell - Malty sweetness combines with some subtle roastiness. There is a rich note of caramel that cuts through the dark malts.

Taste - Subtle caramel sweetness mixed with very light roasted flavors coming from the malt. Hops make a small stand in the finish but fade rapidly. Overall, seems a little dull, as the malt could use a little more umph, but still a decent flavor profile.

Mouthfeel - Medium body that gets a boost from a very creamy mouthfeel. Really glides across the tongue.

Drinkability - A decent beer that I would never turn down, but wouldn't necessarily seek out. Seems to be lacking a little something in the flavor department to make it really shine. Still, an easy drinking beer.

Serving type: bottle

08-27-2010 01:06:11 | More by Sam21
Photo of soju6


3.95/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown with a good tan head that fades to ample lacing.

S: Full malt aroma with caramel sweetness and coffee.

T: Malt and bittersweet chocolate and mild bitter taste.

F: Medium body, Well balanced, creamy & smooth, mildly dry finish.

D: Well done. Excellent Swarzbier

Serving type: bottle

08-24-2010 21:57:20 | More by soju6
Photo of thebeerdoctor


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

Black Forest reveals the brewing expertise of the Matt Brewing Company. A very fine American example of black beer. Should be compared with Kostritzer. Easy to drink and admire. One of the better offerings made in the United States. Flavor complexity is enjoyably relaxed.

Serving type: bottle

08-24-2010 15:46:15 | More by thebeerdoctor
Photo of morebeergood


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

Bottle was part of the variety twelve pack. Served in a standard pint glass. Dark brown color with ruby highlight at the edges. Thin but substantial head. Smell was like wet coffee rinds. Taste was very good. Lots of coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and black licorice. Very enjoyable. Mouthfeel was thick enough to notice but smooth enough to be an easy drinking beer. A nice combination for a successful schwartzbier. Drinkability was on the high side as it had a great flavor, was very light but had presence in the glass. One of the better Saranac beers in this variety pack.

Serving type: bottle

08-24-2010 15:08:17 | More by morebeergood
Photo of LairdChisholm


3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Taken from notes 8-13-10

A - Brown, almost black with a two finger mocha head that makes you want another before you even have you're first sip. Significant lacing. A great looking brew.

S - Interesting smell. Sweet caramel malts with maybe a hint of cinnamon. I enjoyed it though.

T - Sweet malts with chocolate and cream notes. A little bit of a bitter taste after that is a nice finish.

M - Very nice. Good amount of carbonation with a medium body.

D - Goes down easy and smooth. Could drink one after another.

Serving type: bottle

08-17-2010 14:57:17 | More by LairdChisholm
Photo of kshankar

District of Columbia

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

Pours very dark, with a tan thick foam.

Aroma is of coffee, toasty malts.

Taste is very toasty and malty, coffee and chocolate really come through as well. Finishes off with some minimal bitterness from hops. Balances out well.

Mouthfeel is well carbonated, working well with the flavor profile. Drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

08-17-2010 03:29:43 | More by kshankar
Photo of RankRefugee88

New York

3.53/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into weissbier glass.

A - Nice dark color. Nice tan head. Some bubbles slowing moving from the bottom to the top. When shone through the light, shows a dark amber color. Head becomes pretty much invisible, lacing is very strong.

S - Smells nice, roasted malts, bit of caramel. Nothing really hits the nose first, nothing really leaves an impression at the end, either. A bit hoppy.

T - Smooth taste. Malty and sweet. Caramel is present, hops are too. Has a good taste overall.

M - Has a decent mouthfeel. Warming, kind of creamy. Leaves a dry finish at the end.

D - Drinkability is decent. Good for a dark beer, but I don't know how many of these in a row I can drink.

This is a good beer overall. I would recommend it.

Serving type: bottle

08-07-2010 01:45:29 | More by RankRefugee88
Photo of adamrobertt

New York

3.93/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Serving type: Brown longneck bottle. Picked this up in a QuickChek actually, but I've had this beer (and most of Saranac's offerings) many times.

Appearance: I can't really see it this time around since I'm quaffing straight from the bottle, but I'm familiar with it's appearance. It pours a thick, dark amber which essentially looks black unless you hold it up to the light. Creamy brown head, but not too much.

Smell: Sniffing the bottle doesn't really bring forward too many aromas. Mostly a malty whiff with a hint of hops.

Taste: This beer is tasty. Huge caramel notes upfront, with a nice hop finish including a faint touch of alcohol. Some fruity notes come through at the end too, but I can't quite put a finger on what I'd compare them to.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly smooth and creamy. Really thick, chewy mouthfeel. The texture of this beer is incredible. Probably one of the thickest, creamiest beers I've had in recent memory.

Drinkability: Due to the heavy flavors and mouthfeel, it's hard to have more than one or two of these, but they are really good.

Serving type: bottle

08-07-2010 00:57:16 | More by adamrobertt
Photo of 828beagle

North Carolina

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

Poured into a pint glass a deep dark brown with a slight amber tint. Nice beige one finger head to start with but fell quickly to a slight cloudy ring consistent with the style. Smells pretty sweet, like caramel, raisins, and fruitcake. Sweet and sour taste like prunes, dried figs, and black licorice. Light carbonation and medium body. Quite enjoyable with good personality. I love Schwarzbiers and this brew is a true specimen to the style. Hands down the best of the Saranac Trail Mix sampler.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2010 23:23:25 | More by 828beagle
Photo of bigrzman


4.13/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

i bought this in a Saranac variety 6 pack for $9.85 plus deposit. It is a pleasant beer and i would gladly drink another.

A: Poured with a thick yellow-brown head that dissipated to a pancake thin head within 3 minutes. Clumpy lacing that makes an archipegelo of island chains along the glass. The beer is a translucent red brown. I honestly expected a deeper color after having Swarzbeir in Germany. Looks good though

S: Smells sharp and floral. These guys used a different hop compared to there standard mix. Also smells of alcohol and grass. I like it.

T: Tastes grassy, malty, and flowery. Some nut tones are also included. Very pleasant overall. The aftertaste is sweet and and flowery.

M: The light carbonation is very good. Moderate body and it goes down smooth.

D: It is a wet beer suited for summer. It is also warming so it would be good in the winter.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2010 12:49:53 | More by bigrzman
Photo of MbpBugeye


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

So far I have been very surprised with this mixed 6 pack. Its really good value for something picked up at a Krogers.

A- Like all their beers Ive had so far this beer has a big, creamy, resilient head with a nice reverse cascading effect. It leaves lots of lacing and stands strong in my New Glarus stemmed pilsner. The body isnt quite as dark and rich as I wanted. It looks a lot like a doppelbock or something. Light passes through with relative ease and shines a soy sauce red.

S- Malty, caramelly and bready. Roast is not strong enough, in fact, nothing about the smell is quite strong enough.

T- Taste is pretty decent, but if I were drinking this blind I dont think I would peg this for a schwartzbier. Its just not roasty enough. There is still nice dark fruits and a touch of bitter roast but most of the balancing and bitter finish comes from hops with notes of pine and citrus.

M- Very dry and very prickly. It finishes pretty clean, very dry and crisp.

Serving type: bottle

07-18-2010 19:08:32 | More by MbpBugeye
Photo of BranfordBound


4.1/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz single picked up for $.99 no freshness date or indication of "schwarzbier".

Pours a deep garnet which appears super dark brown when not near light. 1/4" light tan head fizzles to a mediocre covering. Spotty lacing.

Smells of caramel, slight honey, and some malts.

Tastes of roasted malts with just a hint of coffee. A little honey sweetness sneaks in. Slightly hoppy and bitter on the back end. Nothing too strong, similar to a stout.

Mouthfeel is wet at first, which turns only a little dry. Chewier and with more prickling than expected.

Very drinkable. I'd prefer this in the fall or the winter, like I would a stout, but I can definitely see me picking this up when it gets colder. Surprisingly good for Saranac, I wonder how it compares to Sam Adams black lager.

Serving type: bottle

07-16-2010 20:44:36 | More by BranfordBound
Photo of JimbobAlonymous


4.13/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Went to college 5 minutes from the brewery...been on a few tours. first experienced from the tap at their bar.

Appearance: beautifully dark

Smell: sweet...only a hint of alcohol smell

Taste: also sweet, made me imagine drinking a stout while simultaneously eating a piece thick of chocolate cake. very good tasting beer.

Mouthfeel: thick, creamy almost.

Drinkability: The only problem I have with this beer is that I can't drink much of it at a time. For dinner, or just one or two hanging out in the pub, fantastic...but for an all nighter? not so much.

Serving type: on-tap

07-13-2010 17:13:40 | More by JimbobAlonymous
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 Tilley4


3.75/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was included in a Saranac sampler I recently purchased and its the best of the bunch..

An absolute pitch jet black with a thick creamy fluffy head... Incredible looking brew here...

Rich toasted malts with some cocoa and coffee aspects... Not necessarily the most upfront aspect of the brew.. Nice but not memorable..

A damn good Schwarzbier here... Nice rich roasted malt flavors that carry the typical cocoa and coffee aspects with them... There's even a little hop bitterness on the finish... I'm digging it so far...

Kind of disappointed that there was only one bottle in the sixer... I liked this one.

Serving type: bottle

07-03-2010 23:31:23 | More by Tilley4
Photo of ToasterChef


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

Poured from a cellar temperature bottle into a tumbler glass. Big brown head, made of many sizes of bubbles. The liquid is a dark brown and has lots of rising and clinging carbonation bubbles. If I didn't know better, I'd say this looks like a glass of Coke. The aroma has some sweet malts and piney hops. The combination reminds me of black licorice. The flavor is tasty. It has a mild sweetness, some wheat, and a good bitter character in the finish. I don't like black licorice or black jelly beans, but this beer seems to have the good aspects of those candies. It has a medium body, but little coating; it ends up feeling a bit watery. The carbonation level is a bit above average. There aren't any major lingering flavors. Each sip goes down well, and the taste is very good, but there's something that makes me think I wouldn't drink too many of these. I obtained this beer through a Saranac mix pack. I wouldn't skip a purchase because a mix contained this beer, but I also wouldn't buy a six pack of just the Black Forest.

Serving type: bottle

06-30-2010 23:38:13 | More by ToasterChef
Photo of PDXHops

South Carolina

2.7/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

Pours a couple of shades of deep ruby lighter than their Black and Tan, dark enough to be mistaken for black at a glance. The light tan head quickly reduces to a thick collar and a skim of fom. A little drippy lacing here and there.

The nose is quite mild, but pleasant. Pretty straightforward roasted and toasted malts with a bit of dark chocolate.

Tastes pretty good, mildy sweet with a gentle chocolate/toasted maltiness. Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Quite a bit of citrusy hop character, with a lingering tanginess in an otherwise dry finish. Enjoyment is somewhat lessened here by the typical Saranac cardboard/paper flavor.

Overall impression: Lose the cardboard and this would be a nice little beer.

Overall impression: The pape

Serving type: bottle

06-29-2010 22:31:20 | More by PDXHops
Photo of LittleCreature


4.03/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Note: The bottle says 5.3%abv, not 5.5%.

Appearance - 4.5
This "black" beer pours two fingers of beige head over a body of clear, dark reddish brown. Decent head retention and the foam leaves sticky rings of lace right down the glass.

Smell - 4.0
A rather sweet aroma of toasty malt, caramel and a little dark chocolate.

Taste - 4.0
A lovely dark, malty, German-style lager. Toasty German malt character dominates with just a hint of roastiness, dark chocolate and caramel sweetness. Very little hops or bitterness, but the finish is just dry enough to balance the malty richness.

Mouthfeel - 4.0
Light to medium bodied, in contrast to the porter-like appearance. Fine bead, giving a rather smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability - 4.0
Not the most exciting beer in the world, but true-to-style and very enjoyable any time of the year.

The addition of caramel syrup is a no-no if you believe in following the Reinheitsgebot (sp?).

Serving type: bottle

05-27-2010 12:01:31 | More by LittleCreature
Photo of KTCamm

New Jersey

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours very dark brown with small off white foam. Mostly dissolves, but leaves some volume around the rim. Light roasted malt smell, slightly sweet. Creamy caramel taste, very smooth. Surprisingly punching carbonation - small bubbles. Good drinkability. Nice beer.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2010 10:27:57 | More by KTCamm
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
Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 956 ratings.