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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.

1,021 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,021
Reviews: 556
rAvg: 3.72
pDev: 13.71%
Wants: 37
Gots: 60 | 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: 1,021 | Reviews: 556 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of FirstMan
3.8/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Well, the serving type selection field above doesn't have a value of "jug", but that's sort of what this came in. It's called a "growler" on the bottle, but it's more of a bomber that got squashed. Screw on cap doesn't really do it for me either...

A fairly vigorous pour brought up a slight head of small white bubbles, but these fizzled out quickly and left just a haze across the top. Black color - yes this is a schwartzbier - with a mahogony ruby coloring when held to the light.

The nose is interesting. Sweet sweet sweet, with what I swear is grapes in there. There's a distinct wine-esque aspect. It's not bad, but just interesting... interesting...

Malty sweet grains are predominant on the palate. Slight fruitiness with - again - creeping way back there in the back, just a little essence of grapes. Bitterness of the hops creeps in later, but not overwhelmingly. It's actually a quite well-balanced. I'm liking this.

Mouthfeel is somewhat creamy, but with a lightness and carbination that keeps it from being mistaken for it's dark breathren.

FirstMan, Nov 14, 2005
Photo of Stimack
4.2/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Probably my favorite brew from Saranac. Can remember back to my college days when this would be on tap and only on tap. We would be so excited when that happened and would camp out at either Duffs or Maxfield’s up in Potsdam. Well it has been many moons since then, but this is still one of my favorite brews for a number of reasons, the memories, the price and that it is a good brew. Pours to a dark brown color with a tan head that has good retention and leaves some lacing down the sides of the glass. The aromas of dark malts lead to chocolate and coffee scents along with some noticeable hops. The taste is very good; malt dominates up front highlighting chocolate, coffee and nuttiness flavors. Also notice a hop sense in my mouth even after I am done with the sip, not over powering at all but it is there in the background. A fantastic brew and one that will always remain one of my favorites!

Stimack, Nov 10, 2005
Photo of semihobo
3.33/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Adirondack Trail Mix.

Pours a very dark brown, almost the definition of mahogany. This includes red around the edges. Tan / caramel head fades a little leaving some lacing and stubborn big bubbles. Yum.

Smell lives up to the style. Not the burnt malts I was expecting; instead, Pale Ale bitterness hops win out. There is a creamy note from the dark malt, though. Smooth smell.

Dark malts prevail. Not too much burntness, although it's there. Roasted sunflowers, maybe. Nutty finish. A bit of hops bite rolls through on the beginning and crops up again at the end. As it warms, a sour note creeps out... I think it could have been avoided.

Mouthfeel is a little overcarbonated. Makes the beer seem more sour and harder to get a good gulp and feel on. Thicker than the Gordon Biersch schwarzbier (my only other comparison). Mouthfeel is definitely the limiting factor on this beer for me... except as the carbonation mellows, the sourness of the taste increases.

Not super drinkable. I'm not flying through it during the review. The mouthfeel is kind of oppressive, as is something maybe a little sour in the taste as the pint is drained. Nothing great, I guess it is a pretty stock schwarzbier, not bad, just not the bomb. Mouthfeel could be friendlier...

semihobo, Sep 05, 2005
Photo of Phyl21ca
2.6/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle: Poured a deep black color beer with a huge dark head with good retention. Aroma of slightly roasted malt. Taste is comprised of roasted malt with some subtle bitter hops to finish. Body is way too thin and there is a definite lack of coffee in here. Not bad but not close to being great either.

Phyl21ca, Aug 29, 2005
Photo of mrdudesir
4.68/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: A dark brown with red tinge. Tan head diminishes quickly.

Smell: A faint, sweet caramel with malt.

Taste: Malty at first, finishes on a sweet caramel taste with light bitterness. Leaves a nice taste in your mouth that makes you want more.

Mouthfeel: Just the right amount of carbonation, not too heavy, perfect compliment for the taste.

Drinkability: It's easy to down a couple of these, and it's a beer I could drink daily. Quite refreshing.

mrdudesir, Aug 29, 2005
Photo of andjusticeforale
3.7/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle; Big Black-ruby on the bottom color with a nice tan head that quickly dissipated. This was odd, as Saranac touts itself and its product on the bottle as a “trademark large head.”

Sweet roasted malt in a very subtle nose.

The taste is nice and bold; roasted grain and malt in the front, a sweet caramel push in the middle and a dry finish. There was no aftertaste, and each sip beckoned the next like that of a sweet stout. One crazy way to describe this is stout-like.

Perhaps this is because the mouthfeel is a bit under-carbonated- or like juice in the mouth and cheeks. It does feel intentional, and this is a great addition to the subtlety of the flavor. Too much carbonation with be undrinkable here. It was just the opposite. Its nothing to write the international beer judging committee about, but it is a very nice product and one of my new favorites from Saranac.

andjusticeforale, Aug 24, 2005
Photo of lackenhauser
3.43/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep, deep chestnut brown color. Not quite black but damn dark. Nice 1/8" head. Low aroma-whats there doesnt have any real characteristics-just "beer like". Good flavor. Malty with just a whisper of roasted malt. Some hop flavor. Nice mouthfeel to balance the flavor. Very drinkable beer. Even though it doesnt have a lot of the flavors and notes of a true schwarzbier its pretty good. Decent enough US example.

lackenhauser, Aug 21, 2005
Photo of tgbljb
4.22/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

purchased as part of sampler pack. Poured a deep brown color with tannish puffy head that quickly fell to a mild ring. Smell is mostly of caramel and very refreshing. Taste is nice and malty with more notes of caramel. Finished with just enough hop btterness to compliment the malts. Easy drinker.

tgbljb, Aug 10, 2005
Photo of cubedbee
3.85/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown infused with hues of red, a medium coffee-coloroed head that fades down to a lingering cap and some lacing. Nose is faint, but a nice roasted coffee and caramel. Taste is very nice--lightly toasted malt, coffee, caramel, and vanilla with a nice dose of floral hops at the end. Mouthfeel is nice and smooth, although a little thin. Overall this is a really nice drinker---easily the best from the Saranac sampler.

cubedbee, Aug 06, 2005
Photo of jakester
3.98/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was from the Adirondack Trail Mix Sampler

Pours a beautiful clear, deep mahogany/ruby with a very short-lived tan head. Quickly drops to islands and a ring. No lacing. Carbonation evident.

Aromas of cherries and other fruits, vanilla, dark chocolatey malts, and spicy/herbal hops. Clean. These aromas are delicate.

Flavor is of dark brown sugar, chocolatey cherries, vanilla; rich and tasty. Very clean and crisp. Aftertaste is spicy, like white pepper.

This has a medium body, light sticky sweetness, pretty strong bite from carbonation across the tongue. Pleasant.

This is an easy drinking, yet tasty and interesting beer. Lots of character, lots of flavors. A good effort from Saranac. Recommended.

jakester, Jul 19, 2005
Photo of Bierguy5
3.43/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Dark brown color, with red highlights. Thick tan head, great retention. Great amounts of lace on the sides of the glass. Sweet toffee nose. Caramel like sweetness, almost too much of it. Not much roasty flavor. Not very much bitterness. Creamy mouthfeel, with low carbonation. This was too sweet for me, needed some bitterness to balance it out.

Bierguy5, Jul 16, 2005
Photo of Naes
3.73/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The color is blackish red and has a small dark cream colored head that fades away quickly.

The aroma is super malty with a possible hint of coffee (might be in my head),

The flavor is roasty with a bit of sweetness. The hops are well hidden, but do have a slight presence. A decently rounded (a bit on the light side for me though) brew.

Its mouth feel is a bit watery, although it is carbonated quite well.

An easy drinking and smooth beer.

Naes, Jun 29, 2005
Photo of AlexJ
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

This is my 1st schwartzbier review here, I wish I had a better selection.

Very dark brown, almost black in color with crimson highlights. Mocha head puffs up nicely, and falls just as quickly like all Saranac beers.

Lagerish aromas of roasted grain, buttered bread, mocha, and a hint of floral hops.

Flavor is lighter than expected for such a dark brew. Lightly charred malts upfront, a touch of cocoa and coffee in the middle, with lightly bitter floral hops in the rear.

Body is surprisingly light with a smooth, yet at times watery mouthfeel. Actually quite thirst quenching on a HOT June day in NC.

AlexJ, Jun 23, 2005
Photo of OatherS
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The blue label has a forest scene on the label.

A: A very deep brownish red color, almost totally black. Very short lived head.

S: Not much of any aroma to speak of.

T: Nice smooth malty flavor. The flavor is not very strong and there is just a hint of a hop aftertaste.

M: Smooth.

D: Nice beer to have on a cold day I would say.

OatherS, Jun 16, 2005
Photo of kbnooshay
3.53/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

MMM this is a special one. This pours a nice dark borwn with a little red tint to it with a nice tan head that dissipates very quickly. The smell is light but noticeable faintly is coffee and caramel. In the taste the toasted malts come through and it finishes off sorta bitter. Sorta hoppy. Very crisp but creamy at the same time. The mouthfeel is sticky yet moderate. I could drink many of these.

kbnooshay, Jun 15, 2005
Photo of whartontallboy
3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a dark brown color, slightly ruby tinted highlights, and a thin white head.

Coffee, chocolate, and a little bit of hoppiness. Caramel is pretty strong, too.

Taste is nicely malty, with some thick caramel and coffee. Hoppiness comes through on the backend pretty nicely.

Mouthfeel is light, possibly a bit thin.

Overall, not bad, definitely a nice choice.

whartontallboy, Jun 04, 2005
Photo of pentathlete
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black with dark cherry tones, small quickly dissipating white head. There is little in the nose either good or bad. Taste is slightly malty up front with a mild anise finish. Mouthfeel was thin, but the flavor lingers for a minute or so. This is smooth and easy to drink. We're having it with German sausages and kraut for lunch.

pentathlete, Apr 17, 2005
Photo of pootz
3.85/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle ( thanks Sammy) Has a little lighter color than a German Schwazbier...this was clear with a nice dark mahogany with ruby highlights...1 finger cap good lacing...nose is where this style should be: wisps of charred caramel malts and light wet hay smells.

The mouthdfeel is medium...good malt spine with light Caramel toasty ,malts bucking toned back grassy hops ..finish is wet with some cocoa tones...very tastey and thrist quenching the two characteristis one needs in a Schwarzbier...this is as good as Kostritzer any day.

pootz, Mar 31, 2005
Photo of BeerNinja007
3.03/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle. I have had this draft and it was much better than the six pack sampled for this review. Perhaps it is too old (no freshness dating).

The foamy 2" tan head fades to a 1/2" trace and leaves bubbly lacing on the glass. This dark opaque beer reveals a red hue when held up to the light. The aroma is of malt and raisins, deep and earthy, though maybe a touch of citrus develops as it breathes. The taste is similar- not much up front, mostly raisin and dark malt in the middle and end, and slight piney hops appearing in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is medium bodied but somewhat dry, adequate carbonation (though it could handle more). By this time the head is gone but thick lacing remains. This is a narrow beer with both the scent and taste consisting entirely of dark earthy bitter tones at the back of the tongue, just a little smoky malt on the middle of the tongue, and absolutely nothing up front. In my opinion though it is quite good and drinkable, I would want to switch to something more well-rounded after one or maybe two of these at most. A good beer to try, but have something else around as well.

BeerNinja007, Mar 25, 2005
Photo of twelvsies
3.1/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This an ok beer, but I've had way better schwarzbiers. I just kind of got into the style after trying a Monschoff (spelling? it seems to be different everywhere) at the Moan and Dove. This one lacks a little bit. Pours a very dark almost black color with some red showing through, looks thin though. Smell is fairly subdued, a little malty and grassy. Taste leaves a lot to be desired, it's pretty one dimensional, and at that it's not really even that impressive. Malty, sweet and caramely, a tiny bit of hops. Way too watery and none of the complexities I look for in a beer of this style. It's kind of a little syrupy, like a Coke or something. Not really worth it, but I guess it's a relatively cheap fallback beer.

twelvsies, Mar 15, 2005
Photo of blitz134
3.78/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nearly black in color with a transparent red body. Off-white head bordering on tan in color which disappeared quickly. Smell is of toasted, sweet malts with some chocolate characters. Again I pick up a common aroma I’ve detected in all of the Saranac brews that I just can’t seem to place. Its almost a bit metallic. Taste is actually pretty good on this one. Initially a bit of toasted malts coming through and a slight bitter finish. The flavor is very crisp. Mouthfeel is good as well and relatively medium to full bodied. This is the first of the sampler pack I’ve reviewed which I would say I would be glad to drink more of.

blitz134, Feb 23, 2005
Photo of ski271
3.53/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Know this beer well and love it.

Appearance: Very dark reddish-brown with a medium-sized, creamy, light brown with a reddish tinge head that stuck around.
Smell: Huh? Wait a minute. This can’t be right. It smells metallic and like sour milk. Under that is the fruitiness and caramel sweetness I was expecting.
Taste: More disappointment. Metallic with some sulfur on the finish. Otherwise, it’s caramel-like, a little nutty, a hint of bittersweet chocolate, and a mild fruitiness. Nice bitter kick on the finish. This HAS to be a bad bottle.
Mouthfeel: Flat and syrupy, not good.
Drinkability: I was so disappointed by this beer. Normally this is a highly sessionable beer, but this time I considered pouring it down the drain.

I got this bottle at a six-pack shop that allows you to mix and match so I only got one bottle. Never had a bad bottle from there before, but there’s always a first. I’ll have to try it again soon and update this review.
old ratings - A:4, S:1.5, T:1.5, M: 2.5, D 1.5

OK I'm editing this review because I had another bottle, and it was MUCH better. Didn't have that metallic ass taste, though it still had a slightly metallic finish. Texture was much better and it had a nice soft carbonation that the first bottle didn't have. Bad cap maybe? Also more fruity that I remember the first bottle being.

ski271, Feb 22, 2005
Photo of oelergud
2.23/5  rDev -40.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Not quite black but a very dark ruby body. Good carbonation but weak retention and no lace.
Sour alcoholic scent, not a real pleasantry to stick your nose in.
Taste is citric/sour molasses, some floral qualities. Limited aftertaste. No hint of malts or anything actually hoppy.
So so bodyfeel, little coating.
Wont try this again for a while.


oelergud, Feb 21, 2005
Photo of hobbes2112
4.2/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle from the sample pack.

Pours black at the core with a deep brown around the edges. Head was very small, but the pour was not all that aggressive. Smell is really sweet carmel, grain and fruit smell that reminds me of fruit-roll-ups. Taste is more than I expected from the signs I got from the look/smell. Taste is full of flavors, roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, bitter hops and alcohol.

This is a really good example of the style, I think this could make it into my top 10 if it was more readily available at home.

hobbes2112, Feb 20, 2005
Photo of sprackops
4.1/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Standard 12oz brown bottle, no freshness date. Poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Black with reddish brown highlights. Thin head, some lacing.

Smell: Dominant clean grains with some lightly roasted notes. Faint floral hop aroma.

Taste: Sweet caramel malts with a mildly bitter, slight roastiness. Pleasant dry herbal hop finish.

Mouthfeel: Thin with medium to high carbonation.

Drinkability/comments: Highly drinkable and a good representative of the style. While it's no Köstritzer, this is a fine beer. Saranac's best, in my opinion.

sprackops, Feb 18, 2005
Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 1,021 ratings.