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Saranac Black Forest - Matt Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Saranac Black ForestSaranac Black Forest

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,003 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,003
Reviews: 556
rAvg: 3.72
pDev: 13.44%
Wants: 32
Gots: 48 | 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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,003 | Reviews: 556 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TheTrevor
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%

This beer poured a beautiful dark black with reddish highlights when held up to the light and a frothy three-finger head. The smell is of roasted malts with some coffee hints. The taste is like a muted porter, there are some smoky elements with some hints of caramel that give way to hints coffee and maybe even some nuttiness with very little if any hop bite. This is a nice beer that's got a good mouthfeel and I could imagine having a couple in one sitting.

TheTrevor, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.1/5  rDev +10.2%

32 oz. mini-growler w/ twist-off cap

A very gentle pour shows off a dark reddish highlighted brown color with crimson hues and a huge, 3-finger deep, ultra frothy and clumpy head that dissiptes really slow. The head is foamy and sticky. a real beast.

Wheat dipped in caramel, roastie oats, bready, sour-dough yeast with a slight alcohol buzz on the nose.

The flavor is a roastie wheat malt right off that becomes semi-sweet with mild current of caramel. The flavor turns herbal and very hearty later with a nice mix of yeastie graininess and subtle leafy hops. The lager yeast flavor lingers on in the aftertaste.

The feel is kinda thin overall but the monster sized frothy head adds some much needd depth and feel with a slightly dry finish.

Pretty enjoyable, and pretty simple, nice flavor with more heft needed in the feel.

GratefulBeerGuy, Dec 19, 2007
Photo of DrJay
3.25/5  rDev -12.6%

Very clear and dark brown with ruby highlights. It had a tan head that showed decent retention and a bit of sticky lacing. The aroma was mostly malt, with brown sugar, grain and caramel dominant. Low bitterness with very mild chocolate. It's sweet, but the malt still seems a little thin. Hop flavour kicks in towards the middle, mostly citrus. The body is on the light side and there's some obvious residual sugar in the texture. Carbonation was decent. Fairly drinkable, but pretty average and inoffensive.

DrJay, Dec 18, 2007
Photo of Durge
3.2/5  rDev -14%

Black brown brew with a fizzy limp head and minor lacing evident. Smells like coffee-nut with a touch of molasses. The taste brings on lots of charcoal and a grassy bitterness with a peppery fizz. Definitely leaves some bite on the tip of your tongue. Somewhat aqueous but very sprite, more like a refreshing summer beer. There is a subtle nut background I think. Pretty simple stuff and nothing special at all. It's pretty drinkable other than I just would't be interested in having more than one if there were any kind of choices available. It didn't go well with my meal that night which included baked potatoe and cole slaw. But I wouldn't turn this down either, it has a decent charcoal flavor that is pleasant at moments.

Durge, Dec 17, 2007
Photo of fitzy84
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%

A sample from the sample pack. The appearance is delicious-looking: a really dark color with a quickly thinned-out head. The smell was not too great or special. Definitely had a good roasting flavor, but it lacked specific ingredients' essences. I wanted to smell more of that malt and nut/woody flavor but it seemed overpowered within the roast aroma. The taste also lacked some punches, but it had a good bitter taste. One thing this drink does have going for it is its above average carbonation which makes it really crisp and refreshing. Overall, not too strong on flavor but a decent drink in the end.

fitzy84, Nov 30, 2007
Photo of Socrates68
4.1/5  rDev +10.2%

I was surprised to find out how light this beer tasted after I saw the nice, dark color. Overall, I can say this beer is very drinkable.

Appearance: A nice very dark brown, almost black color. Poured with a good head that lasted a decent amount of time.

Smell: Smells like a faint porter, with hints of chocolate and coffee. Not overpowering.

Taste: Just like it smells. A faint porter with a lighter body. Not overpowering with flavor, but enough there to taste it.

Mouthfeel: Great feel! A little creamy and goes down great! Lingers in your mouth shortly after it goes down.

Drinkability: I could see myself drinking more than 1 in a night.

Socrates68, Nov 12, 2007
Photo of PhageLab
3.48/5  rDev -6.5%

Single 12oz bottle purchased from Total Wine & More.

A - Slightly intimidating for my tastes, it's a completely pitch black opaque concoction. Minimal head and a little bit of lacing.

S - Almonds and roasted malts. A hint of something sour comes in at the end, not able to pinpoint what though.

T - Remarkably different from what I was expecting, this is my first schwarzbier. A lot lighter than it looks. Mildly bitter and malty. Has an nut-like feel to it, again like almonds. Not bad at all.

M - Surprisingly light bodied and clean. Decent carbonation.

D - Fairly high I'd say, I could make this my beer for the evening if I only had a few more. Overall this is a decent brew and one I would recommend to anyone looking to try new things, enjoy!

PhageLab, Oct 27, 2007
Photo of sbe1
4/5  rDev +7.5%

I used to get loaded on this beer years ago back when it used to be called Prior Dark and was sold super cheap for a good beer.

Matt brewery bought out the brewery in Pennsylvania (Schmidt's) that made Prior Dark (aka Prior Double Dark) and after awhile Matt rebranded it Saranac Black Forest. You can still get this beer on tap, sold as Prior Dark in some places--for example Clark's Ale House in Syracuse, NY. Whenever I'm in the 'cuse I make a point to have a pint of Prior Dark/Saranac Black Forest at Clark's before I leave town. I've also had Saranac Black Forest in bottles and I can attest it's the same beer.

Appearance: I've only seen this stuff in darkly lit bars and it looks like a brownish/blackish cola color. Has a decent head that doesn't last, but leaves a light brown lace that sticks to the glass.

Smell: Sweet, sweet, sweet! Malt and caramel, not much else there, but what is there smells very very nice.

Taste: Like a Heath bar in beer form (and I mean that in the best way possible), caramel, toffee, and chocolate, with a dominant malt taste.

Mouthfeel: Not heavy but not light, like a Becks or a Sam Adams Black Larger type of mouthfeel. Very smooth.

Drinkability: Fantastic! This is a beer I could drink all night. A wonderful session beer.

sbe1, Oct 27, 2007
Photo of AlHam
4.22/5  rDev +13.4%

Pours dark and clear, with a nice head.

Smells of dark roasted malts.

The taste follows through. The roasted malts come through, and hops follows through for sound finish.

Easily one of Saranac's best beers. A good call anytime for a nice Bavarian-style Schwarzbier.

AlHam, Oct 22, 2007
Photo of splat215
3.88/5  rDev +4.3%

Saranc Black Forest

A - 4.5, Rich dark-red amber. Like a dark Dr. Pepper, amazing foamy head that dssipiates but lingers a bit. Awesome

S - 3.5 - Earthy, caramel, and sweet

M - 3.5 Medium bodied, wish it was thicker. A bit coarse

T - 4.0 Delicious caramel, chocolate-like flavors (must be the malt)

D - 4.0 - I've had this before and never quite appreciated this untl now - this is a great beer from Saranac and probably the best I've had from them. I had two of these on tap at the brewery tour ... now I remember why I finished them so fast.

splat215, Oct 18, 2007
Photo of animal69
3.73/5  rDev +0.3%

# 3 is my favorite Saranac brew; pours a deep cherry-cola color w/ a slight tan head moderate lacing; a rich toasty malt aroma w/ some faint hop undertones; nice sweet malty, almost "coffee"-like flavor balaced w/ the hops, a little more "watered down" tasting than my usual on-tap version; good med body, though once again being alittle thinner than the tap version; all in all a very drinkable beer..

animal69, Oct 15, 2007
Photo of Kendo
3.63/5  rDev -2.4%

A: Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pilsner glass. Body is dark brown with reddish hues. A 1-finger tan head settles on top and leaves some rings of lacing on the way down.

S: All malt -- caramel malt, roasted malt and burnt sugar.

T: Grainy malt is the first impression, followed by a caramel/toffee-ish sweetness. There's a faint finish of minerally hops to provide some balance, and a slightly burnt smokiness lingers in the aftertaste. Not bad at all.

M: Body feels a little thin, but there's a moderately creamy feel to it.

D: Very good. Goes down easy.

Kendo, Oct 15, 2007
Photo of funkengruven
3.68/5  rDev -1.1%

This poured a nice black with a brown head, as a schwarzbier should. Smell is a slightly weak aroma of caramel and malt. Flavor is nice and malty, not very bold, not too bad, could have used a bit more of a punch in the flavor department. Nonetheless however It's quite drinkable and rather refreshing.

This is a really good attempt at a Schwarzbier, but when it comes to Schwarzbiers, Köstritzer is easier to get and it's better.

funkengruven, Oct 04, 2007
Photo of matty
3.45/5  rDev -7.3%

Dark chocolate colored beer.The taste was like a chocolate-caramel bread that was cooked in an open fire pit.I do mean this is a good way though! Great taste from top to bottom of bottle smooth with pleasant aftertaste.I will recommend to anybody!!!!

matty, Sep 16, 2007
Photo of dmamiano
3.48/5  rDev -6.5%

Drank from the bottle so I wasnt able to view it.
Beer smelled of roasted malts with an almost bready character.
Tasted of a bit burnt malt, bready with a very nice flavor profile.
Hops seemed to be missing. Just enough to balance the malt.
Good mouthfeel .
Very nice lager. I really enjoyed it.

dmamiano, Sep 07, 2007
Photo of ZimZamZoom
3.6/5  rDev -3.2%

Poured a 12 oz. bottle into my Sam Adams high tech glass.

Got a two-tone black over brown color, which becomes a reddish brown when held up to light. It wants to be pretty but does not quite get there. A fingers wroth of tan head gives way to little lacing and quickly becomes just a thin layer on top of the beer.

Smells slightly sweet, with some caramel and a bit of hops. Taste is sweet and malty, with a bitter hop finish that ends abruptly. Nothing lingers for long after this one's done. OK I think this is my first example of the style, and I was not sure what to expect. Its finishes clean like a lager, but has a bit of an estery flavor also. Interesting, but not for long.

Light bodied and definitely drinkable. Not sure how it lives up to the style but I will drink it again for sure.

ZimZamZoom, Sep 07, 2007
Photo of Rootdog316
4/5  rDev +7.5%

Black Forest pours to a dark brown color with a hint of reddishness. You cannot see the red unless you hold the beer up to a light. Otherwise, its dark brown in color and it produces a nice- size head of foam> the aroma is very enticing with a nose that's roasty and sweet.

The flavor of this beer emphasizes the sweet, roasted malt. I could also detect traces of caramel, molasses, and chocolate, but very little hop taste. This is good for those who prefer the sweet taste of malt over the flavor of bitter hops. The body of the beer is medium, and it finishes a little on the watery side, although not excessively so.

Saranac brews this product using caramel and two- row barley malts, Hallertauer and Mt, Hood hops, and lager yeast to produce a smooth, easy to drink dark beer. The alcohol level is 5.5 percent by volume and there are 173 calories in a 12 oz. serving.

Rootdog316, Jul 22, 2007
Photo of Zephenbrewid
3.7/5  rDev -0.5%

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle poured into 12 oz pilsener glass

Appearance: Opaque black, darker ruby translucence when held to light, solid tan head which does not dissipate very quickly.

Smell: A little malt sweetness pulling through

Taste: Good balance, bitterness seems to come from the roasted malts primarily, some light chocolate flavor

Mouthfeel: light bodied, though could have been slightly lighter. well carbonated, this beer was bubbling til the dire end

Zephenbrewid, Jul 21, 2007
Photo of LeftyBWS
4.35/5  rDev +16.9%

Poured from a 12 oz. dark brown bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours well to a mostly dark brown but partly deep reddish color, with a good amount of fizzy head.

S: Smells sweet and malty, though not quite as stongly as a dark stout. A nice toned-down version of that style, but still plenty intriguing.

T: I can taste plenty of sugars throughout, and the label indeed claims a “caramel malt sweetness.” There also appears to be a light and smooth chocolatey taste.

M: Full and malty, though not overpowering. Nice and smooth throughout, but still with the heaviness of a more stoutish beer.

D: Pretty high. A nice alternative to a heavv, wintery beer when you’re looking to have a few. I’ve bought it by the six-pack frequently, and always call dibs on it when I split a variety pack with a friend.

LeftyBWS, Jul 18, 2007
Photo of
3.45/5  rDev -7.3%

12oz. bottle

Clear, dark brown with ruby highlights. Modest, light tan head. Minimal lacing and legs.

Roasted notes and coffee on initial sniff. Deeper draws brought out caramel. Overall rather sweet, but mild in intensity.

Taste brings back the coffee and roast flavors. Herbal notes in there. Nicely balanced, but just a bit more bitter than sweet. Touch of caramel.

Light to medium body. Medium carbonation. Not particularly dry.

Easy drinking, very sessionable and nice flavors.

, Jul 13, 2007
Photo of chefdejour
3.23/5  rDev -13.2%

BOTM offering

A: poured from 12 oz. dark ruby / brown with thin light tan head

S: some raisins and dark dried fruit with carmel malts

T: caramel and raisins, lack of hops could be due to age of sample

M: med. light carbonation and thin

D: curiously interesting beer, but drab and boring at the same time.

chefdejour, Jul 10, 2007
Photo of giblet
3.53/5  rDev -5.1%

the bottle was titled as a growler but it was a quart with a screw type cap. i liked the package cuz i had some last night and will finish today.

i really enjoyed this beer. nice dark rich color. nice head that settled down with nice lace. the smell was rich and chocalate. the taste was quite pleasant with rich malt.

i will certainly get this one again and will search for more from this brewer.

i recomend this one but dont expect to drink a lot of them. it is rich.

suckem up and movem out.


giblet, Jul 07, 2007
Photo of dacrza1
2.9/5  rDev -22%

After sampling the traditional lager, thought I'd try the dark side of Saranac...pleasantly surprised by the look of dark cedar, almost mocha body with short-lived head...malt is heavy, creamy, with a hint of metal in the scent....a thin, fleeting mouthfeel with soda pop bubbles when chewed...odd taste--I'm about to take a Dorito to chase it...overall, better straight than chewed....only a few schwarzbiers sampled, mostly Japanese and of course Xingu... not in that class, but a nice find in the winter sampler...

dacrza1, Jun 16, 2007
Photo of albern
3.48/5  rDev -6.5%

Not a bad beer. It pours a pretty dark, rubyish color, with a little head that dissipates quicly. Decent to average lacing. The smell is malty, molasses, metalic, sweet fruits. The taste is caramel malt, some molasses, maybe a little coffeeish, maybe some raisin flavors, maybe a slightly burnt quality to the barley. This is medium bodied, slightly carbonated, but not overly so. It leans towards the sweet malts rather than the dryish hops. The mouthfeel is pretty slight, maybe a little on the refreshing watery side. The aftertaste is slight, just a tinge of hoppiness on the back end, but you have to look for it. Not a bad beer, not exceptional by any means. Schwarzbier (if I'm spelling it correctly) is a better Bavarian Dark.

albern, May 27, 2007
Photo of BuffaloBill91
3.8/5  rDev +2.2%

Got this in a mini growler- more like a big 1qt bottle nice price 2.99

This brew pours pretty blackish with ruby or actually more of a garnet tone to it when up to the light-pours a nice 2 finger tan head that lasts for a while this looks like porter to me..
If there is anything that I think this beer is lacking its in the smell- this doesn't have much of a scent maybe some malt and mild fruitiness..
I think that that beer tastes excellent sweet caramel and mildly bitter chocolate taste--I also taste some dark fruit- guessing it is blackberry.. I think its a great blend that finishes still both mildly bitter and sweet..impressive.
The mouthfeel is average -light to medium bodied - has a dry feel as if it would have a higher ABV without the hot head but that doesn't take away from its drinkability -- I almost wish this was a thicker brew- seems to me like it belongs that way...
This is highly drinkable and I think its easily a session beer.. This is becoming one of my favorite offerings on saranacs long list and I look out for it...I was happy to find this mini grower from them since I cant ever seem to find it in a pack that isnt a mixed pack

BuffaloBill91, May 18, 2007
Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 1,003 ratings.