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Saranac Black Forest - Matt Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Saranac Black ForestSaranac Black Forest

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,058 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,058
Reviews: 558
rAvg: 3.72
pDev: 13.44%
Wants: 40
Gots: 80 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-15-2001

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,058 | Reviews: 558 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ghostwalker
3.63/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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.

Photo of Sycodrummer
2.85/5  rDev -23.4%
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.

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

Pours dark and richly black with some red highlights under light. Big head at first, but it quickly fades to nothing. This beer has a clean roasted malt smell... not a very big nose, but nice enough. Huge bitterness at first swallow from the malt and hops... the tongue prickles are forward on the palate. The sensations move backward with time. The carbonation in Black Forest is very still.

Overall, a nice schwarzbier, but I've enjoyed some of the imported ones much more.

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

Pours a three-fingered light tan head that fades to a ring leaving traces of lace. Nearly black color. Very light carbonation and medium bodied. Mostly malty/chocolate nose. Starts sweet but there hints of bitterness, finish is on the thin side. 12 oz bottle from their winter sampler 12-pak $9.99, Market Basket Concord, NH.

Photo of Frozensoul327
4.1/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One helluva well made Schwartz.... Pours out to a rich, dark reddish black color with a small brown / tan head of foam. Some notes of lacing and medium low level of carbonation. Aromas of nuts, roasted malts, caramel and some minor dark fruits is astounding; it's not often a beer of this style has such pronounced aromas. Taste is medium full bodied, and comprised of roasted malts, grain, molasses, wheat and some rye bread flavors. Nice. Mouthfeel is good, has some viscosity to it, and the carbonation is not too high. Very good drinkability; wish this was available in MI. Recommended. Special thanks to conneticutpoet for the sample.

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

Very nice beer. I have enjoyed other beers in this style but Id say this is even a step up. mmm.

Appearance: Pours a motor oil black with a deep red hue. Creamy light brown head.

Smell: Sweet dark malts, toasty caramel, and hints of Cola.

Taste: Taste of charred black sweetness. Cola. Maybe some toffee and unsweetened chocolate. Some redness like cherry or birch. A deep malt character and a gently assertive hop character. The aftertaste is a wonderful lingering gently hopped sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Fantastically smooth and slick with a creamy finish.

Drinkability: This beer is remarkably drinkable. Wow. It goes down so easily and so does the next one and the one after that. This is an easy drinking mild, sessionable beer I highly recommend.

Hope this is helpful.

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

Stewed raisins and lots of dark fruit in the aroma. A hint of chocolate as well. Dark brown to black with a limp head. Raisins a bit of licorice some roasted malt and a hint of dark fruits. Very low carbonation, but an enjoyable beer, if not one of the better schwarzbiers out there.

Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.53/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Part of the "12 beers of Winter" pack that I've been enjoying over the last week or so. Going in alphabetical order through them, and this is (so far) the most enjoyable of the beers I've had so far. It isn't saying a whole lot, since the earlier offerings were average at best, but this was a decent brew and pretty enjoyable!

Nice, dark pour to it. A decent amount of head, and a dark roasted brown color to it. Just a bit of blood-red at the edges, and not a lot of lacing either. Very pronounced caramel and toffee notes to this, with not a lot of bitterness up front or in the back. Very malty and pretty solid in taste - it almost carries itself like a session beer even though the ABV is 5.5%. Warmed me up nicely and just a hint of bitterness could be detected between sips, even though the roasted flavors dominate more and are the backbone of the mellow aftertaste.

Not the best beer I've had recently, but this is an enjoyable bottle out of the holiday pack, and good alternative for those who don't like bitter stouts or porters. If only the other brews in the holiday pack (so far) measured up to this...

Photo of BadBadger
3.03/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer pours a somewhat dark color out of the bottle, as is to be hoped for. The tannish head is moderate but short lasting. The smell is of sweet malt. The taste is also malty, with bitter undertones. The mouthfeel is rather watery. Not worth searching out. But if the opportunity presents, give it a try.

Photo of cracgor
4.01/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Okay so it pours out a dark black with a red hue to the edges. has a thin flimsy collar of foam on top. slightly off white in color. not that impressive of a look to it. It is a very sweet smelling beer with good hop feel to it. Very sweet tasting beer. Definitely a caramel undernote with some sweet piney hops to it. tasty. a good standard, but nothing exceptional. The mouthfeel is great. very light and unoffensive. it has a nice flavor but none of the body. great when you want something light. as a result this is a very drinkable, super drinkable beer.

Photo of orfeu
4.15/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Rubied brown with a big foamy beige head that steadily fades to a sticky cap. Doughy yeast and caramel malt aromas mingle with a leafy hop presence. Starts out with floral noble hops and sweetish nutty malts with somewhat of a mineral aftertaste. Mouthfeel is creamy, smooth and medium-bodied. Lingering bitterness, but the malt nuttiness persists as well. Eminently drinkable. A solid offering I'll certainly look for again.

Photo of Riggsy
3.88/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from 12 Beers of Winter variety pack

Appearance: Dark red bordering on black in color. Pours a light tan head, fades rather quickly.

Smell: Sweet caramel flavors. Hints of fruityness and a mild floral hop aroma also exists.

Taste: Thick creamy sweet caramel and a thicker syrup like mouth feel. Citrusy flavors start and hop bitterness on the finish.

My first schwarzbier. Enjoyed this one will and seek out the style more often to compare.

Photo of clemtig76
3.53/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Finally a decent beer out of the Saranac Holiday 12 pack. Pours a dark garnet almost balck color with a thin tan head. Smell is of deep roasted malts and coffee. Taste is sweet and malty with a medium body. Slight hop bitterness. A decent offering from Matt Brewing.

Photo of HugoGrim
2.82/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint. Purchased as part of the 12 Beers of Winter sampler case.

Jet black body with only minimal light coming through. Head disappeared so fast I can't even describe it.

Scent is not at all what I expected. Light and almost fruity. Sweet and quite fragrant.

Flavor is quite muted. I just tried the Black & Tan and I honestly don't see much difference. Has a slight hint of carmel sweetness which the label boasts about, but nothing major.

Photo of kmo1030
3.88/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

dark brown with reddish orange higlights and a tan head that lasts for a while.
the aroma contains caramel and slightly roasted chocolate. a little nutty and slightly coffee-like at times. a little hard to read as it the aroma is a little weak.
the taste is mostly caramel and cocoa-like with some notes of coffee. there is some herbal/floral hop bitterness along with a little bit of dark fruitiness mid taste. hints of light smokiness show up here and there.
medium bodied with smooth coating carbonation. fairly dry which is a benefit here.
good drinkability, easy drinking and flavorful

Photo of PBRstreetgang
3.88/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep garnet, with ruby/mahogany highlights and good clarity. Pale brown sugar colored head of one finger has a fizzy consistency and shows both a lack of retention and lacing. Roasted barley and chocolate malt nose, with a hint of english hops and a faint butterscocth aroma. A strong roasted flavor upfront, with a chocolate malt sweetness. A dry, english hop aftertaste creates a superb balance, while keeping the finish more bitter than residual sweet. The carbonation is medium, and the body is light, giving the mouthfeel just enough crisp to keep the rich malts from becoming slick. A very drinkable beer with a healthy dose of rich malt and bitter hops.

Photo of claytri
2.93/5  rDev -21.2%
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.

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.

Photo of bditty187
3.73/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

Photo of LPorter33
3.46/5  rDev -7%
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.

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.

Photo of Litterbean
3.78/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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.

Photo of cooncat
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 1,058 ratings.