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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.

1,041 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,041
Reviews: 557
rAvg: 3.72
pDev: 13.71%
Wants: 37
Gots: 68 | 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: 1,041 | Reviews: 557 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of claytri
2.83/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer poured a dark amber with a tan head. The aroma was of sweet malt and dark fruits. The taste was malt with a tanin bite it was neither sweet nor hoppy. The body was medium and dry. This was a bit disappointing the label sold it as a dark spiced lager so I reviewed it as such. Getting on here and seeing it listed as a Schwartzbier it might make some difference although I didn't pick up any smokieness. I wasn't impressed and I doubt I would try it again. To me it was an example of the big fib. The look and aroma said sweet dark fruits, but the taste only delivered a washed out tanin flavor.

claytri, Jan 08, 2006
Photo of Stubbie1
3.13/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours almost black with hints of red. Tan head, thick and tall, also stays a bit and fades to a thin lace. Aroma is malt and something sweet, chocolate? caramel? Mild notes of hops noted. Taste is sweet but not a uncanny sweet but a nice malt sweetness. Hints of nuts and a touch of hops mixed in. Thin feel in the mouth, Nothing overwhelming to brag about but an ok brew.

Stubbie1, Jan 07, 2006
Photo of bditty187
3.78/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark red in hue with brown entwined; this is yet another non-black “Black Lager.” Beige head, at the apex the foam was two fingers tall, head retention was good, it slowly faded to a moderate cap of about a half finger tall. The subsequent lacing was very spotty and hardly noteworthy. On the whole, I like how this beer looks; it has a textbook appearance.

The nose is a bit clean for me. I need my nose to jump at me, Mönchshof this is not… but what is? Instant coffee hints, nuts, caramel candy, and the lightest kiss of flowery hops. Moderately potency, with some effort I could detect enough aromas that sparked my brain to say, “Yep, this is a Schwarzbier.” I can’t ask for much more then that… inviting but the aromas are too restrained to really praise the nose.

The palate is very representative of the style. My first impression… a well made domestic Schwarzbier. Dry maltiness, caramel, hints of dark fruit, suggestions of char, faint coffee notes, nuts, and some earthiness. I like this beer, it is very solid. I can’t ask for anything more in my Schwarzbier. The more I drank, the more I’m thinking this beer would hold up well against any Black Lager, no matter the country of origin. Long, filling aftertaste… the palate is tasty but relaxing. Yummy!

Medium in body, the mouthfeel is moderately light, appropriately so. Fairly low but natural carbonation, the mouthfeel is like the palate… relaxing. I want to sip and savor this beer even though I don’t “need” too. Nice.

This is a yet another solid Saranac beer! It is very damn drinkable. I would love to buy six-packs of this (does it come in six-packs?) but I can’t get it locally (okay, I might be able to get this one in Iowa). I will buy more the next time I see some. This offering was part of a 12-beer sampler that I purchased in Lawrence, KS. Very good stuff; try one.

bditty187, Jan 04, 2006
Photo of LPorter33
3.48/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

From the Winter 12 pack.

Apperance = Good looking dark rootbeer brown, nearly black, ,a little bit of light gets through. Nice 2 finger head which goes quickly into thin film. Decent lacing.

Smell = Pretty average in the nose. A faint malt presence with some alcohol in the background. Not much hops at all. A bit of sugary sweetness.

Taste = A litle light a watery but with enough flavor to save it. Good bready, toasted aftertaste and a perfect level of sweetness. It's just quite thin in the mouthfeel.

Overall = My first Saranac from the 12 pack. I had high expectations for this one as I've heard it's their best but I must say I'm disappointed. It's still an Ok beer, though I'd never buy it on my own again.

LPorter33, Dec 25, 2005
Photo of unknownlamer
4.05/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on the 278th day of 2005.

Poured a deep but clear brown will a small and quickly fading head that left no lace. The aroma was of sweet grain with a bit of florally hops, a tiny bit of roastiness, and something else that I couldn't put my finger on.

The taste was interesting. I couldn't put my finger on all the flavors, but I tasted a bit of caramel, a bit of toffee, and a bit of roast (just a little around the edges); followed up by florally hops. There wasn't any grain or hop bite at the end. It was mostly sweet with fairly low bitterness, but still decently balanced.

The carbonation and body were really nice. There was no roughness, and the body was just thick enough to match the taste. The taste and smell were fairly interesting, and I kept sniffing it to figure out what that smell I could place was. Definitely something I will buy again, and drink more than one of.

unknownlamer, Dec 23, 2005
Photo of Litterbean
3.8/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber dark brown and has a nice off-white head. Clear, not hazy.

Smells of malts and has several nutty characteristics.

Smooth taste, light in body despite it's dark and imposing character. Malty, with hints of caramel and hazelnut. Some vanilla characteristics as well. Light carbonation rounds it off, sweet aftertaste. A tiny bit of earthy hops in the back of the tongue.

Just less than astounding, this is a good beer to relax with. Not overly complicated or bold. Just a good ol' fashioned black lager.

Litterbean, Dec 21, 2005
Photo of nlmartin
3.6/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer poured a straight blackness. The head looked like a creamy coffee coloration about an inch thick. The head quickly resolved into a ring of foam.

Smell: The beer smells like caramel toasted malts with a good infusion of coffee. There is a nice fruityness to the nose.

Taste: The beer pretty much lives up to its taste. Plenty of sweetness coupled with malty goodness. Leads sweet on the taste and finishes hoppy dry.

Mouthfeel: This is a light bodied creamy beer with plenty of carbonation.

Drinkability: This is a very easy beer to drink a good sessionable beer. Plenty of flavor without being beer crack.

nlmartin, Dec 19, 2005
Photo of cooncat
3.4/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving was a 55 deg. bottle, poured into a 16 oz. glass. This was part of the "12 Beers of Winter" sampler pack.

On the pour, I got a small light tan head. The head did not last long, but a swirl of the glass produced some light lacing. The nose and taste remind me of many seasonal Oktoberfest beers. I liked the balanced flavor of a lightly hopped beer, balanced by a biscuit-like maltiness. Mouthfeel is quite nice for this style, and the finish leans towards the malty side.

A good session beer, for when you're planning on having more than one.

cooncat, Dec 18, 2005
Photo of HoorayBeer
3.98/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was nice, drank it after a long day outside in the cold. A good winter beer. No head, laces the glass well. Nice deep amber color. Sweet aromas, nice sweet notes. Good malty flavor with a sweet caramel finish. Very clean, and smoothe. It was very tasty!

HoorayBeer, Dec 18, 2005
Photo of LucaBrasi
3.33/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not bad.
BF poured a deep ruby brown color, a small head other than described on the bottle that faded away rather quickly.
Smell is lightly sweet.
Taste is clean a hint of fruit like apricot and finishes with a caramel feel.
Mouthfeel is good it is light and crisp.
Drinability is good also due to the light feel, it is flavorful but not overpowering. A good mix.

LucaBrasi, Dec 17, 2005
Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.35/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Coffee / copper brown with a one finger head that dissipates in a minute, tiny specks of lacing drift down the glass with time.

S - Slight odors of coffee, but predominantly Miller Lite and carbonation.

T - A mild coffee complimented by faintly sweet chocolate flavor. A pleasant coffee bitter aftertaste. Not a strong flavor by any means, but it is quite enjoyable.

M - Slightly thin, but refreshing and smooth.

D - Goes down easily, would make a good breakfast beer! (For those who start their mornings right!) I never tried a Saranac beer before, for the price, I couldn't pass up the twelve beers of winter. If half of the others are about this good, then it was money well spent.

mrasskicktastic, Dec 15, 2005
Photo of daliandragon
2.9/5  rDev -22%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I'm pretty sure this is my first Schwarzbier..its always nice to try out a new style. This one looks like a porter, with a rich dark color just a shade off jet and creamy rich head that subsides mush slower than most Saranacs. Unfortunately the nose isn't up to the challenge, with a thin graininess the only discernable quality.
The taste is caramel malts with a touch of metal, not real special one way or another. Slightly bitter aftetaste is a minor plus. Mouthfeel is too thin also, I don't expect Guinness thickness, but not ginger ale either.
I woldn't go out of my way for this one again but it's a cool style, I'd definitely like to see more examples, just not from the Utica crew.

daliandragon, Dec 13, 2005
Photo of sabrills70
3.73/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Just got finished decorating the tree, so time for a cold one!! Pours a very dark ruby red with a 1 finger head and good lace. Smells of a fruity caramel malt, more sweet than roasty. Cherry and plum with hints of vanilla. Fruity taste, again with cherry and plum and some roasted malt but not as much as you would think for a beer this dark. Nice roasted bitterness. Hops are detectable but not predominate. Crisp and somewhat refreshing. I think I would like another. A decent brew.

sabrills70, Dec 11, 2005
Photo of mynie
3.23/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Middle of the road Schwarz pour. Deep dark red with a small head that dies quickly and never comes back no matter how nicely you ask it to.

Very deep, plain malt smell, like a strong lager. None of the smoke or spice I'm used to finding in schwarzbiers. It's decent, I guess, in spite of being a little bland.

Tastes like a middle of the road all malt lager. No complexity--no hops, even. Just a dull fruity malt that's refreshing but boring.

This beer's not worth the price of admission.

mynie, Dec 10, 2005
Photo of hero27
3.73/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled as part of the "Saranac 12 Beers of Winter" variety pack.

Pours fairly black with a modest tan head..some thin lacing as well. Aroma is mostly roasted malts and a mild hop profile. Tastes blend pretty well together and the mouthfeel is surprisingly creamy.
An interesting Schwarzbier. Not overly complex, but it is fairly drinkable. Somehow this beer separates itself from the very average array of Saranac beers..still nothing too spectacular, but worth a try at least.

hero27, Dec 01, 2005
Photo of Enola
4.1/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is much more than I was expecting. This has to be one of the smoothest beers I have tried. The mouthfeel is incredible. It poured out with a small head. It is a very deep brown in color. The smell is of toasted grain. Possibly some caramel notes in there as well. That taste is outstanding as well. Not very bitter. Just very smooth. The mouthfell, as mentioned above, is near the top in my book. This style of beer lends itself to being very drinkable. I could drink these all night. This is a great beer. I bought a sampler and now can't wait to try others by Saranac.

Enola, Nov 28, 2005
Photo of coasterfreak75
3.33/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The pour was a thick, dark brown bordering on black with a one finger head that quickly dissapated and left a thin white lace around the top of the beer.

The smell was strong hop spice with sweet chocolate undertones and just a hint of fruit.

The drink started with a thin watery flavor followed quickly by hops and a rush of sweet malt. The finish was clean and sweet.

All and all a descent version of this style. Worth a try.

coasterfreak75, Nov 20, 2005
Photo of asabreed
3.85/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another brew from the 12 Beers of Christmas. Poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: A dark dark amber color with a mocha-colored head. Head fades a bit quickly though started at about 1", but the lacing's sticking pretty well to the glass. Lots of bubbles from the middle of the glass flowing up toward the surface.

Smell: Nicely balanced it seems, though there's not too much that's singularly discernible necessarily. However, there's some dark malts, faint hints of dark fruit, some dark bread and slight hop bitterness.

Taste: Once again, balanced, but there's not much I can put my finger on specifically. But still, by the end there's a good amount going on. Some chewy malt, some traces of dark fruit, some yeast-like thickness, and finally some hop bitterness lingering well on the tongue with some slight dark fruit and malt.

Mouthfeel: Slightly watery, but still kind of creamy. I wish the body was bigger, but there should probably be more malt presence for that. If that were the case it'd probably make the mouthfeel and the complexity of every facet of this beer a little crazier. But alas, this is what we have as the beer's presented.

Drinkability: A solid, drinkable brew from Saranac. I could make a session out of this. With some push this could be excellent, but as it is it's pretty good, and I could definitely drink some more.

asabreed, Nov 19, 2005
Photo of JISurfer
4.03/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the best beer out of the sampler pack by far. It had a very thick/fluffy head that had great head retention. The body was a very dark amber color, almost black when you looked at it a certain way. The smell was alright, just nothing was too overbearing, so it all worked together smoothly. There were hints of hops, some lightly roasted malts, some faint spices, and some darker fruits. The taste was a little bit better. Again, everything worked together well, but the caramel malts were evident, as well as the little hop finish it had. Very creamy beer, coated the mouth nicely. I was expecting something a little heavier, but instead I got a dark beer that was pretty light and easy to drink. I know that's a common misconception among beers sometimes, because it was prooved wrong here. Worth a try if you can get it.

JISurfer, Nov 18, 2005
Photo of jmz62565
3.25/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This pours a jet black with a small one finger tannish head.As with all Saranac beers the head is small and disappears quickly.The aroma has a slight roasted malt scent,but not much else.The taste is a little malty with coffee.To me, it tastes like a flat Coke with iced coffee in it.It's not bad,but Sam Adams version is much better.The m/f is light,weak,and watery.This is my 12th of a Saranac Winter 12 pack.I was pretty disappointed with this brewer,and I really can't imagine having another Saranac.

jmz62565, Nov 18, 2005
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
Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 1,041 ratings.