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 williamherbert

New York

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

Dark brown head with not a speak of light to speak of, but has a slight reddish tinge. Has one finger of head that disappeared quickly.

Malty, nutty aroma. Seems to have a slight hop presence, but that is covered up by the malt. Slight sweet (caramel?) hit.

Toasted malt flavor, with a sweet aftertaste. If hops are there, they are far in the background. Tiny bit sour on the way down.

Medium-bodied thickness, but is clean and doesn't linger too much. Pleasant nut-malt aftertaste. As far as stouts go, this one is delicious and very drinkable. Feels like it has a kick but is quite the enjoyable stout.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2006 18:03:18 | More by williamherbert
Photo of Gmann

New York

2.88/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a deep dark brown with traces of amber, not much head or lacing. Caramel/roast malt smell, not very distinct. Caramel malt flavor with hints of chocolate, followed by a metallic hop aftertaste. Moderate mouthfeel, crisp, decent carbonation. Goes down easy, some bitterness that lingers. A decent lager overall, I can drink a few.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2006 02:58:42 | More by Gmann
Photo of RedChrome


4.2/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Body was a blend of brown color with garnet hints. A quater inch creamy chesntut head turned quickly into a slick on top. No carbonation can be seen rising. Light lacing clumps.

Very appealing aroma is light on the nose. A very sweet caramel aroma dominates the first whiff. The second smell had a roasted cashew and pistachio finish. Nice light bittering of hops.

A very sweet tasting coffee flavor. A bitter note of burnt caramel is only faintly noticable. Nice falvors seem to come strictly from malt. NO noticable hops characters.

A nice thickness in a beer with such delicate flavors. Average carbonation tingles on the tongue, without moving flavors around.

A very nice offering, a great combination of aroma and taste. This would be a great beer to have with sauerbraten. Pick this one up as a great beer for a chill winter evening.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2006 18:40:09 | More by RedChrome
Photo of dustylong


3/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Yet another Winter pack beer....Pours a dark brown color with a reddish tint, and little head, retention, or lacing (poured from a bottle into a pint glass). Has a fruity smell to it with a hint of caramel. Tastes fairly fruity, too. Has a good balance between the malts and hops. Not overly bitter. Tastes suprisingly light in the mouth with a good amount of carbonation. Overall a decent beer...worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2006 03:35:55 | More by dustylong
Photo of BBM

New York

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

This is one of Saranac's best beers. It pours an almost-black with a small tan head that lasts a few seconds. Smell is of roasted nuts, sweet dark fruits, and unsweetended chocolate.

The taste echoes the smell for the most part, although there is a slight metallic taste for some reason. The roasted nuts is the lasting flavor on the pallette, although the chocolate and dark fruits are the upfront flavors. Body is thin, and the beer goes down smooth. Quite drinkable. I've always liked Schwarzbiers for being dark and complex yet not overly heavy. This is a good example of the style.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2006 15:17:36 | More by BBM
Photo of maddogruss

New Jersey

2.9/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a 12 oz bottle into a glass mug. Nice, dark body but almost no head at all and no retention. Smelled kind of like a light beer with not much of a taste to it either. Mouthfeel was a little more than thin, about what I expected for this beer. Not too drinkable of a beer in my point of view but everyone else seems to rate it fairly highly. Maybe I got a bad sample in my bottle, but overall I was not impressed by this brew; it did not meet what I had expected.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2006 03:33:59 | More by maddogruss
Photo of phisig137


3.53/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep mahogany color, with a one finger head. Decent retention gives way, and nothing is left behind.

Aroma is slightly woody, with a touch of roast flavors. Fairly clean and pleasant.

Flavor is light and enjoyable. Lager yeast is prevalent, along with a slight caramel sweetness. Slightly astringent roast character on the finish. Mouthfeel is a little thin. Drinkability is pretty good.

One of the better beers from Saranac in the mixed twelve. Not a fantastic schwarzbier, but a pretty enjoyable beer in general.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2006 00:49:59 | More by phisig137
Photo of billybob


4.35/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours very dark brown with hint of red, head about one finger, tan color, fades too soon with some lacing. smell is bready with coffee in there also. taste slightly sweet, burnt coffee, caramel and malt with some hop at the end a very good mix. mouthfeel medium and smooth very enjoyable beer. very drinkable beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2006 04:57:50 | More by billybob
Photo of scarletfire79

New Hampshire

4.4/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

wow. pours deep deep brown. i'd dare to call it black. smells of sweet caramel, definitly sweet smelling. the taste is really well rounded with caramel notes, hints of coffee, slight fruit-like flavor. goes down real smooth. actually a lot more drinkable than i would have thought from the pour. refreshing. i could see myself having a few of these. love the mini growler. definitly makes it stand out on the shelf. would love to try this on tap.

Serving type: growler

11-06-2006 19:25:43 | More by scarletfire79
Photo of treehugger02010


3.58/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured from a 12 ounze bottle into a glass. It was very thick, producing not much head and even less lace. The smell was very bland. The taste was pretty solid, very well mixed. Out of the 5 or so Sanarancs I have tried I probably like this one the best. I really enjoyed this brew. Don't drink and review.

Serving type: bottle

11-01-2006 22:44:01 | More by treehugger02010
Photo of jcdiflorio

West Virginia

4.1/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served into a nonic glass from a 12oz. brown bottle crimped on cap.

Ruby red almost brown.a very creamy tan head lacing and clinging onto the sides of the glass.
The aroma was extra clean,citrusy,fruity,nutty,caramelly a hint of chocolate.Oh so inviting.
A clean,fresh taste thats citrusy,carmelly,nutty and chocolatly. A perfect balance and very delicious ta boot.
A light to medium mouthfeel,a pleasing bitterness that glides down so very easy. The word juicy keeps coming to mind,if you drink this I think you will know what I mean.
A drinkable as a dark beer could be.So refreshing,the only bad thing about this review was that I only had 1 bottle to review.
I will buy this beer again!

Serving type: bottle

11-01-2006 04:36:15 | More by jcdiflorio
Photo of beerphan


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

12oz bottle -> american pint
no date

Pours an almost black brown with chunky red glares. The small head didn't last long and left sporadic gobs of lace. Extreme carbonation is standard for Saranac.

Nose: Deep dark fruit scent, most closely resembles the grape jelly smell i used smell every morning at the Welch's plant during a summer long ago. Caramel and chocolate linger behind.

Taste: Caramel and chocolate malts dominate up front. The thick full mouth finishes dry, with a slightly oily hop bitterness.

Full bodied deep mouthfeel that finishes dry and crisp. By far the best mouthfeel from a bottled Saranac offering.

For mostly sentimental reasons, this gets a high drinkability from me. Easy to drink, widely available in my area, a rare style, and cheap. Black Forest won't dissappoint.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2006 14:07:04 | More by beerphan
Photo of jazappi


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

Presentation: Brown Bottle, Neat But Simple Design Label

Appearance: Dark, non transparent, head dissappeared quickly, did have small ring of lace that did not stick to the sides

Aroma: Matly, but hard to describe completely

Taste: Almost chocolately, hint of caramel

Mouthfeel: Very Smooth, Enjoyable

Overall: Poured into a pint glass. Very decent dark beer, stouts are my favorite. I would definatly buy again. This time in a six pack.

Serving type: bottle

10-19-2006 00:59:32 | More by jazappi
Photo of MmmIPA


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

A-Dark brown body with a off white thick head that went away fast.Little to no retention on the glass.

S-I cant describe the smell, but its very pleasent.

T-Fruity/Burnt taste.I dont know how to describe it,but I like it.I dont taste any hops in it but the malt is there.There is a strong taste.

M-Watery again,I dont know why Saranac beers are watery.Its not thin like there other offerings.

D-I like this beer,I could drink a few,I think the darker the beer from Saranac the better it is.I would reccomend this beer to beer drinkers.I wouldnt buy the mixed case again,I would just stick to seperate 6 packs of the beers I found appealing.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2006 16:56:26 | More by MmmIPA
Photo of Damian


3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drank from a 12 fl. oz. bottle

Poured a deep jet black with only hints of ruby brown along the edges of the glass. Small, one finger tan head almost immediately faded to a ring of lace.

The aroma was rich and malty. Sweet caramel malts were apparent with hints of vanilla, hazelnuts and a general oakiness.

The taste, however, was uneventful. Not much happening up front. Later, some malts, mixed with a slight hop bitterness, ran along the palate.The aftertaste which consisted of some nice, resonating hop bitterness was probably the most exciting part of this beer.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied and smooth.

Serving type: bottle

10-02-2006 20:22:44 | More by Damian
Photo of mortarit

North Carolina

3.45/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Intention: It was time to restock the mini fridge so I did a road trip down to the old favorite spot.

Bottle Spec. Growler 32 oz.

Date: Cellar Aged

Watering Hole: Peace Street Market

Head: Nice foamy Head, gradually dwindle into puffy cloud and faded away

Lace: Some lacing but weak in form

Color: Dark reddish-brown

Aroma: Barroom smell

Cost: $2.99

Taste bud: After having a cough drop, it was watery

Opinion: I thought it was a excellent beer for smoothness and session recurrence

Serving type: growler

09-30-2006 03:54:34 | More by mortarit
Photo of rarevos

New York

4.22/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 32 oz growler into a pint glass.

A: Pours a dark, reddish-brown. Mostly brown, with red at the edges. Light tan head that dissipated quickly. Nothing remained but a solid ring around the inside of the glass and a little wispy island.

S: Rich and malty, with a touch of citric fruitiness and some light hop fragrance.

T: Light toffee at the front . Finish is lightly bitter with a sweet, floral tail (like rosewater). This is really, really smooth.

M: A bit slick. Not quite syrupy.

D: Yup. Saranac does have some pretty boring brews, but this isn't one of them. I love the mini-growler; it ran me $2.99 and yielded two pints. It's not hugely roasty, but it's not supposed to be, really. It's well-balanced, easy to drink, and has a very nice flavor.

Serving type: growler

09-19-2006 15:28:42 | More by rarevos
Photo of tattooedtolley


4.22/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black in color with some red highlights. Tan head.

Smell: Mostly malty in the aroma with a splash of floral hopiness.

Taste: Caramel and roasted malty goodness. The hops show through a bit but seem to balance more than anything. The hops, I think, added a touch of a fruitiness to it. Good tasting brew.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body.

Drinkability: Easy drinking, sessionable. I have only had it in the mix pack and this and the black and tan are typically the first to be grabbed by everyone.

Serving type: bottle

09-15-2006 15:59:58 | More by tattooedtolley
Photo of JWFokker

New York

3.68/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Saranac's Black Forest is a pretty solid representation of the Schwarzbier style. It looks very much like a good stout, it's nearly black with a touch of red when held up to the light and has a great big light brown head on it when poured into a stein. The nose is nice, a good mix of roasted malt and a bit of fruit, somewhat sweet with a little bite to it. The flavor and mouthfeel aren't what you'd expect given the apperance and aroma of the brew, but is consistent with the Schwarzbier style. It's got the roasted malt and caramel and coffee you'd expect, but not as intensely flavorful as most stouts and certainly no where near as thick as one. Think of it as an easy drinking stout. Where a good stout leaves you filled after a couple, you could easily drink this like a lager and have several. It's well balanced and goes down very easily.

Serving type: bottle

09-15-2006 05:49:59 | More by JWFokker
Photo of Rudgers73

New York

2.83/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours pitch black from a 12 oz. bottle.

A- Very dark with a caramel colored head that settles to nothing.

S- Burnt, similar to a porter.

T- Similar to a porter but more bitter than sweet. Sticky and thick, but only really sweet at the start. Finishes a bold burnt bitter.

M- A little heavy with carbonation. The combination of bitterness and carbonation doesn't treat my tongue well...

D- One is enough. Very bold heavy flavor. Nice change-up from a light beer for a night.

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2006 21:08:32 | More by Rudgers73
Photo of tugdriver7


4.72/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Disclaimer: Schwarzbiers are a favorite and this one is easily the best of the US craft-brewed varieties. Deep black with red/brown highlights; moderate head retention, though it laces the glass nicely. A bit of malty lager in the nose, but the taste is a wonderful blend of crisp lager and dark coffee/carmel malts that is at both incredibly complex and yet delightfully refreshing. A real winner.

Serving type: growler

09-10-2006 21:38:25 | More by tugdriver7
Photo of greebsnarf

New York

3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The massive head almost spilled out when I poured this 12oz beer into my 500mL+ stein, but after a minute or so it settled down to a persistent light-coffee coating atop the opaque dark maroon brew. The aroma is pretty malty and very sweet, with a bit of yeast and a metallic undertone. The first sip is much thinner than I expected, but there's a sweetness as well as a nice roasted flavor that's sustained by a bit of bitter hops and a pleasant carbonation which gets much stronger after I swallow.

The flavors seem a bit diluted, especially considering the milky consistency and the bold malty smell. It's not really a problem when I sip it but if I drink a little faster--which it really invites with the carbonation and the thin, sweet taste--I end up missing most of the flavor. That said, once I've gotten used to the wateriness it becomes actually quite nice: refreshing and easy to drink without sacrificing flavor complexity, only strength. I'd come back to this one.

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2006 06:11:27 | More by greebsnarf
Photo of riversider76

New York

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

Pours the darkest of browns. Thin tan head. Not much retention, but decent lace.Body is light, with just a bit of carbonation. Smell is of dark chocolate, sweet roasted malts, and a hint of hops. Taste is like the smell, only stronger. Has a nice smooth finish. Not bad at all!

Serving type: bottle

09-05-2006 00:15:17 | More by riversider76
Photo of dansm


4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a nice dark brown, almost black, with a decent fluffy tan head that hangs around a bit.

S-Surprisingly not very aromatic. Hints of chocolate, roasted nuts, and sweet malts.

T-Tastes like it smells, only stronger, and with just a hint of hop bitterness.

M-Body is on the heavy side of medium, with decent carbonation. Feels slightly oily on the tongue.

D-This is an easy drinker. Goes down smooth and finishes nice.

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2006 09:51:50 | More by dansm
Photo of Deconstructionis

West Virginia

4.22/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very dark brown/chestnut, opaque beer with medium body and medium/low carbonation. Thick, finely beaded and relatively stiff head. Nice roasted malt aroma but surprisingly little hop boquet considering taste is to the bitter side. Flavor is rich with evident caramel malt and notes of coffee and yeast. Maybe not on a par with the premier Bavarian Schwartzes it seeks to emulate but a great American lagervery solid beer and my favorite of the many Saranac brews.

Serving type: bottle

08-25-2006 21:59:45 | More by Deconstructionis
Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 956 ratings.