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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.

955 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 955
Reviews: 553
rAvg: 3.72
pDev: 13.44%
Wants: 30
Gots: 26 | 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)
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Ratings: 955 | Reviews: 553 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of briman


3.45/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served from bottle into standard pint glass.

Pours dark brown, pretty clear, with ruby tint when held up to the light. Nice half inch tan head, decent retention. Not much lacing.

Aroma is malty, caramel along with some lightly toasted malt, and maybe a hint of coffee as it warms up..

Taste is malty. Mild caramel malt sweetness upfront, moving more towards a bready malt flavor towards the back. Finishes with some slightly darker malt flavor, and a touch of hops to balance it.

Medium-light body, moderate carbonation. A little watery for my taste. Balance is decent, but it would be better if the darker roast elements were a little more prevalent. Not bad, and could be a session beer.

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2006 01:51:54 | More by briman
Photo of MaltyGoodness


3.15/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

32oz. "growler" bottle

Pours a clear, dark mahogany brown with a thick tan head that thins. Mild lacing on the glass.

Light aroma of roasted malt, caramel, and cocoa.

Tastes roasty upfront with some slight caramel and cocoa flavors. A bitter bite sets in midway and rides out to the end. The bitterness lingers.

Thin body, ample carbonation.

Average attempt all around. The bitterness in the flavor is too unbalanced making it a little less drinkable overall.

Serving type: bottle

08-18-2006 02:46:01 | More by MaltyGoodness
Photo of russpowell


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

32 oz growler pours ruby red/mahognay with a 1" off white head. A hint of lacing & head retention

S: Slight choclate & molasses aromas

T: Fruitty up front, then choclate & a hint of iron surfaces. Choclate follows with a more choclatel dryness on the finish

MF: Light to medium body with too much carbonation

Drinks okay, A half-hearted attempt at the style IMO. A good one to have newbies cut their teeth on, of you don't be overwhelmed by flavor, pretty good values for $ for the impovrished BA who still wants to represent

Serving type: bottle

08-09-2006 04:08:19 | More by russpowell
Photo of Liquids


3.5/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Mahogany tinted black with a one finger head that is darkly tan, and has a few large bubles. When this fades, it leaves a film and not much lace to speak of. This smells more like a pilsner to me, bit of spicy hops and pale malts. Tast is surprisingly bland, not heavily carameled, and mostly paler malts here with a tiny bit of caramel and a note of darker malts in the finish. Mild in hops but not menacingly sweet either, a bit of spice and minimal bittering. The carbonation isn't overpowering, but it does burn the tounge--not exactly smooth carbonation. The beer is medium-light in body. I wouldnt mind this beer on tap. There isn't anything particularly bad about this beer, and it's not dissapearing-flavored macro swill. But the across the board 3.5's to me spell out b-o-o-r-i-n-g. It's not BAD beer but it's hard to be enthusiastic about this beer (and this beer company in general) and think of it as hand crafted. Really--why bother drinking a booring beer unless you can't find something better? I can.

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2006 20:00:20 | More by Liquids
Photo of akorsak


3.48/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz black beer served in a Naked Fish glass. The beer is cold.

Appearance: The ale is more of a deep brown color with ruby red hints (on a table it does look black though). There is a vigorous head on the pour that settles down into a thin white ring and laces.

Smell: The ale has a chalky aroma that is unpleasant but soon fades into a lightly roasted chocolate aroma.

Taste: The chalky aroma does not pop up in the taste, thank goodness. Instead there is a roasted chocolate/caramel flavor that is somewhat thin on the first sip but finishes long. There aren't a lot of big hops here, just enough to add a kiss of bitterness.

Mouthfeel: The darker roasted characteristics are quite good, giving the beer an interesting flavor that lasts a while.

Drinkability: The ale is quite drinkable and a good intro for someone who doesn't like dark beer.

Serving type: bottle

08-02-2006 11:32:14 | More by akorsak
Photo of Manosbeeroffate


3.33/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

32oz. Growler for $3.20. Pours dark brown, tan head emerges then goes away quickly. Smells a bit like a macro lager. tastes a bit better, light burnt malt taste, slight bit of hops. Mouthfeel is oh so thin and watery. Overall, it's OK. The bottle looks cool and has been beckoning me to try it, so I now have.

It's a big so what....

Serving type: growler

07-17-2006 01:05:44 | More by Manosbeeroffate
Photo of jackorain


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

My wife picked-up several of the craft packs, both summer and traditional for my suprise 40th b-day party. I was pleasantly suprised with the selection and quality. I always veiwed saranac as a psuedo-micro, big trying to look small. I could be wrong, so here we go.

This brown bottle with blue label had no apparent freshness date. Took this bottle fro the cooler and poured into a pint glass. Poured dark brown color with some light coming through. About 1/2 inch of a moderately thick tan creamy head that disapointingly dwindled to a thin coat in just a few momments. However, there was some lacing. If it wasn't cooler cold the head might have been better though, so can't fault too much there.

The smell was not strong, hints of malt carmel and faint green hop. Again too cold, as the beer warmed up, the same aromas got slightly stronger but never really shined.

Very nice sweetness, actually pretty sweet but not overpoweringly so, carmel, malt only a little hop on the finish. A really nice taste though.

medium body, nice carbonation, however, color betrayed the mouthfeel, I expectd a thicker creamier mouthfeel.

Very drinkable, I coud have several.

Serving type: bottle

07-16-2006 13:28:16 | More by jackorain
Photo of MuenchenerKindl


3.93/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to my tall glass mug. Nice dark brown color kind of cloudy. A good looking 2 finger mocha head fades to nothing.

The smell is nice, dark roasted malt and some hops.

The taste is also good, roasty malt ans a nutty flavor, some lively fruit note appear, the bitter finish is mild, but not bad.

Mouthfeel is nice, good carbonation. Could have more body.

Drinkability is also good. I could easily drink several, but I might hold back as there are other fine choices. MK

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2006 05:15:24 | More by MuenchenerKindl
Photo of blackie


3.7/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

appearance: The nice 1" tan head gradually recedes, leaving a layer on top that forms a smiley face. The beer is a dark ruby brown in color.

smell: A good blend of roasted barley and bitter cocoa with a muddied green hoppy aroma. Not much else too it, straightforward and good.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is a slightly higher medium, and the body medium or so.

taste: Lighter to moderate flavors of roasted barley and maybe a slight chocolate are found. Moderately sweet. Plenty of hop flavor, though dulled by the roasted flavors. A medium bitterness lingers into the finish. Not quite a traditional schwarzbier, but nice.

drinkability: pretty easy

Serving type: bottle

06-23-2006 03:09:51 | More by blackie
Photo of silver0rlead

North Carolina

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

32oz mini-growler yields a nearly opaque black pour with a nice thick tan head that retains well and leaves nice lacing. The aroma has big roasted notes of coffee and dark chocolate, as well as some caramel sweeetness and some lightly bitter floral hops. The flavor also starts out with some nice roastiness (expresso and dark chocolate), along with some toasted bread, caramel, floral and mineraly hops and a touch of alcohol. The mouthfeel is medium and appropriate for the style, while drinkability is slightly lacking. This is a well constructed schwarzbier, tasty and complex...cheers to Matt brewing for a fine beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-18-2006 06:19:23 | More by silver0rlead
Photo of Boilermaker88


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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Sam Adams Black Lager glass. Dark brown, almost coffee-ish, in color with a firm (though fast-fading) 1" thick tan head. Spotty lace.
Lots of caramel malt in the nose. Lots of it. Some dark fruit and cocoa. Hints of moist dirt. Touch of herbal hops. Taste has a heavy, potent malt profile. Fruity sweetness edges in. Light nutty taste as it moves back. Hops are mellow but pop up on the radar and linger pleasantly. Feel is medium-bodied and rather dry.
Well, it's going down smoothly and quickly enough so I'll give Black Forest a thumbs-up. Worth picking up.

Serving type: bottle

06-16-2006 00:42:00 | More by Boilermaker88
Photo of tastybeer

North Carolina

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

Color is dark brown, clear, with a finger high head that fades really fast. Nose is smooth and mainly malty with some hops in there somewhere. Mild nuts, caramel and cocoa come to mind. Taste is a balance of earthy hops and various roasted malts. Everything seems a little subdued and mellower than I would like. You kind of have to work to pick things out. Mouthfeel is pretty good, a little thin though. Easy drinkability.

Not bad....give it a try.

Serving type: bottle

06-16-2006 00:23:59 | More by tastybeer
Photo of MrSeth


3.23/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Ap: Pours an almost opaque black, but with cola colored edges. A hearty tan head forms and settles, but a good amount of lace remains on the surface and around the edges.

Sm: Seems simple at first, hoppy with skunky edge. But there is more to the nose on closer inspection. Rich malt, fresh baked rye bread. Also milk chocolate, warm and inviting. A fine nose, indeed!

Ta/Mf: Full malt flavor, puckering and dry. The middle is a bit empty, though some of that chocolate is echoed. There is a tinny offness, not sure if that is just an issue with this particular serving. I want to like the taste of this beer, and honestly it's not bad at all. But it doesn't live up to what the nose promises. It turns out to be average. The carbonation is vigorous and the body is light but not wimpy. Powerful bitter aftertaste.

Da: Medium-Low. You're regular dark beer drinker would be happy with this offering.

Serving type: growler

05-13-2006 23:25:18 | More by MrSeth
Photo of wedge

North Carolina

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

Cloudless deep ruby with a light, creamy tan head. Sweet caramel malt aroma along with creamy coffee, nuts, and noble hops - slight hint of berries. Creamy, sweet malty flavor - lightly roasted with hints of coffee. Lush mouthfeel...very nice.

This is best at a warmer temperature. Solid all around and quite the enjoyable and drinkable schwarzbier. I've ignored this beer too many times...

Serving type: bottle

05-12-2006 02:16:15 | More by wedge
Photo of zeff80


3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured out brownish, black. It had very little head. It smelled like malt and chocolate. Its flavor was sweet and malty. The malt flavor really stood out. It also had a slightly bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel was very sharp. It went down smooth and was quite drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2006 03:53:28 | More by zeff80
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

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

Poured from a 32oz. growler into a pint glass.

A: The beer is a purplish, brownish black with a thin, off-white head that lingers and leaves a thick, even lace.

S: It has a very malty sweet smell with notes of dark fruit and roasted coffee along with a bit of alcohol. However, overall the smell is not very strong.

T: You taste the sweetness right away; however I expected more of an espresso/dark chocolate kind of flavor. Instead, I got more of a fruity flavor with a backdrop of dark chocolate, hops and malt.

M: Extremely smooth, but the carbonation is a bit on the high side, with a medium-to-high body. The finish is clean overall, but it leaves a slightly acidic after-taste and a bit of a sticky residue.

D: This beer is indeed drinkable, but more from a standpoint of I-can-drink-this-as-I-eat-a-ton-of-food-at-a-family-function rather than the standpoint of I-can-drink-this-beer-until-I-get-completely-trashed.

The first Schwarzbier that I ever tried was Sam Adams Black Lager, which I liked a lot. It made me very curious of what other beers in this style tasted like. So far, this has been the only other beer that I’ve been able to find in the style and although it’s a good beer, it pales in comparison.

Serving type: growler

05-07-2006 04:15:57 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of ism

New Jersey

3.43/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

32oz growler pours an opaque black with brown highlights, and with a rich tan head, decent retention. Sweet malt in the nose, a hint of spice, but overall subdued. Mild carbonation up front, roasted malt with spice, and slightly ascerbic, and a little oily -- though any hops that are responsible for it are barely perceptible. Thin mouthfeel, grainy.

Not a lot of oomph or complexity here, but straightforward and would complement some junky food well. Goes down smooth and easy.

Serving type: bottle

04-27-2006 00:37:15 | More by ism
Photo of Avagadro

New Jersey

2.53/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

pours with a brownish-tan head that doesn't get very big or last for long. Very dark, only letting you see hints of reddish-brown around the edges of the glass. Spicy, malty aroma, but not too strong of an aroma overall. Taste follows with the same spicy, malty flavor, also not too strong. Very light bodied in the mouth for a porter. To me this seems to be a sub-par porter. Nothing really special to offer and not even as good as I hoped it to be.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2006 04:42:28 | More by Avagadro
Photo of barknee

New York

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

Wow! Actually after reviewing three other Saranac products, this brew actually has some aromatics to it (barely..) Medium-Dark coffee colored with a short lived off-white head; this brew has a nose of sweet slightly roasted malts with a touch of caramel. On the tongue the flavor is slightly acidic and lean, generally refreshing with a hint of sweetness and a slightly oily finish. This is a good grub-food kinda' beer, you know burgers and the like; anything with fat, as the slightly acidic nature of this brew will cut through it providing relative refreshment from this relatively decent beer. It won't irritate you nor will it impress you.

Serving type: growler

04-24-2006 00:06:38 | More by barknee
Photo of jwc215


2.13/5  rDev -42.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The manager at the beer store recommended the Saranac variety pack. This was one of the samples. He mentioned that it just arrived, so I assume it was fresh.
It poured a dark reddish brown with a very thin head that quickly vanished to leave hardly a trace. The color was decent, but the head was very unimpressive.
The smell was very faint. There were some vague hints of sweet caramel with a touch of a hoppy background.
The taste was of a watery sweetness with hints of caramel, hops and a slight alcohol finish.
The mouthfeel was thin and watery. Quite disappointing. It even left an off-taste in the aftertaste. Not terrible, just off.
Overall, it was disappointing. There are better, more complex examples of this style. This was weak.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2006 00:01:31 | More by jwc215
Photo of lordofthewiens


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

A 32 ounce growler, poured a dark brown with a fairly thick coffee-colored head. It had a sweet, roasted grain odor, and tasted the same, with some hops. Rather nondescript taste. Mouthfeel was a little thin. An OK beer, but not one that I'd want to drink a lot of

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2006 12:17:31 | More by lordofthewiens
Photo of plaid75

New York

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

This is one of Saranac's best offerings. When introduced it was a unique black beer, and since has been copied - most recently by Samuel Adams.

It pours a nice black hue with a caramel colored head. Like most Saranac beers, the head pours thick and sudsy but soon dissipated to a half inch profile.

There is a nice hop aroma when poured into a pint glass and light malt flavor.

Very drinkable for its style.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2006 01:51:21 | More by plaid75
Photo of ghostwalker


3.68/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Deep, dark reddish black-brown body. Thin finger of white head, leaves almost immediately.

Nose is slightly sour and bitter roasted malt.

Flavor is bitter and slightly roasty, as befits a Schwarzbier. Nothing incerdible, but not bad, either. Tasty and smooth. A decent attempt at the style and very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is thin, but not as thin as other Saranac brews...

Drinkability is pretty good. I'm a fan of the style and could kick back with a 6er of this for some NCAA action quite happily.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2006 23:36:35 | More by ghostwalker
Photo of BEERchitect


3.35/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Maybe intended to be a Stout until the malts and body didn't show up. Nevertheless, good for a Schwarz. A thin, roasted grain flavor and texture takes on boldness upfront, then disipates to a lighter body and finish. Would be chalky or coal-like if not for a moderate malt sweetness that is displayed mildly over the roasted graininess. Still lacks the clean quality in the finish and the sweetness is a bit too dominant. Still a good brew if you like the flavor of a Stout without the chewy texture.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2006 01:26:14 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of Sycodrummer


2.8/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from the bottle into a tapered pint glass the beer was a dark ruby brown (black from a distance) color with a thick one-finger head and some spotty carbonation bubbles. No lacing throughout the sample.

The smell is a malty chocolate with hints of caramel and walnuts.

The innitial taste has a faint roasted character fighting to come thru but masked by what seemed to be out of balance proportions of imitation chocolate and caramel. A artificial sweetness flavor with an odd finish.

Medium body with a high degree of carbonation. I'll pass on this one again as it fits the bill with most of the rest of the winter mixed 12: blah.

Serving type: bottle

03-23-2006 13:39:05 | More by Sycodrummer
Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 955 ratings.