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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.

987 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 987
Reviews: 555
rAvg: 3.72
pDev: 13.71%
Wants: 32
Gots: 42 | 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: 987 | Reviews: 555 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of sideshowrob


3.13/5  rDev -15.9%

Brew poured a deep, dark brown into a logo pint glass. Very little head, though it was a nice shade of beige. A slightly sweet bouquet is present - just a barely perceptible hint of "roasted carmel". Taste was dissapointingly flat, with no strong flavors coming to the forefront. It remains a well-brewed lager style, (not sure how it got the schwarzbier label in BA?). Mouthfeel was not engaging, nor was it objectionable. Brew was easy to drink down, as there is nothing present to really endear or distain.

12-13-2004 00:03:31 | More by sideshowrob
Photo of ViveLaChouffe


4/5  rDev +7.5%

Pours a dark ruby brown with a 1/2 inch thick tan head. No lacing to speak of. Smells of dark roasted malt. Nutty. Sweet malt, fruity and spicy. Lightly bitter.

Tastes of creamy roasted malt. Caramel tones and nutty. Understated bitter finish. Creamy and a bit sweetly sticky. Smooth and tasty. Not complicated but does what it came to do. Good show.

The Fourth Beer of Christmas.

12-03-2004 01:00:47 | More by ViveLaChouffe
Photo of marburg


4.13/5  rDev +11%

One of the better Saranac offerings I've had. A dark, brooding sort of burgandy that borders on black. I'm most struck by the authenticity of the beer -- great flavor with a nice, smooth, somewhat thin German lager body. Lots of caramel in the aromas and in the flavor profile. Maybe a little sweet at points, but the leafy German hops balance it all out nicely. I love schwarzbiers, and this is not at all a bad rendition in my book.

12-01-2004 17:10:10 | More by marburg
Photo of Gumbafish

New York

3.63/5  rDev -2.4%

Good, but not as good as I had expected. Pours a very nice dark amber color with a decent amount of head. Has a nice sweet, maybe slightly fruity smell to it. Not overpowering in taste by anymeans, but saying that I think it could use a little more taste. Not an overly distinguishable beer, but a decent drinkable beer and a good fallback if you can't think of anything else to drink.

11-22-2004 19:37:04 | More by Gumbafish
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.18/5  rDev -14.5%

Dark appearance. Some grassy hop flavour. The Schwarzbier style is passable, and this is typical for it. Not missing anything here or for most Octoberfest beers. On-tap at Clark's Ale House #6. Somewhat sweet and a touch of roast. Doesn't work for me.

11-18-2004 04:34:22 | More by Sammy
Photo of tomthumbsblues


3.55/5  rDev -4.6%

Appearance is very dark brown with a slight reddish tint as you peer through the glass and see light on the other side. Small foamy head developed from moderate pour and it went down, but left a nice ring about the glass. Seems very carbonated and looks like coke. Nice roasted malt and chocolate aroma. Nice rich roasted malt flavor. Mouthfeel is a liitle disappointing because of too much carbonation. I can't really shake the idea of this being a coke. Aftertaste, however, is pleasant with hints of nuttiness. Overall, not bad, but not as good as I hoped.

11-13-2004 01:45:39 | More by tomthumbsblues
Photo of Backer2004

North Carolina

3.58/5  rDev -3.8%

The name Black Forest just sounds nice. Appears darker than a porter, yet light than a stout, this Bavarian style held little head or lacing around the glass. Smells of slight hops with a hint of caramel. Very active in the mouth. Not sure what Schwarzbier or Bavarian style is like at its best, but this was a mit malty, bitter, and with a slight bit of sweetness. Reminds me of an IPA.

11-05-2004 17:21:16 | More by Backer2004
Photo of Rio


4.2/5  rDev +12.9%

Poured near black from a 12 oz. bottle, with a decent, creamy-coffee colored head that faded to a nice lace. Smells of sweet malts and caramels, as well as a bit of a floral hop aroma in there.

Caramels come through in the taste as well, though not too sweet. The alcohol in this beer shows up for just a moment before a nice, smooth hop bitterness comes in. A bit thicker in the mouth, feeling creamy and smooth.

My first experience with this style. I was a little skeptical at first, but I really enjoyed this beer, and I hope to find some others of this style in the future.

11-01-2004 02:24:02 | More by Rio
Photo of Beastdog75

New Jersey

3.13/5  rDev -15.9%

It is interesting to note that Saranac's Black Forest beer is of the Schwarzbier style, a style which is somewhat hard to find in the U.S.A. I myself have only had one or two schwarzbiers, so its kind of hard for me to make adequate comparisons of this one to others of its kind. This beer does turn out to be a decent dark lager, but in the end it sadly fails to excite me.

Black Forest pours a dark brown color with some reddish hints to it. A fingers worth of foam forms and lasts for a little over 20 seconds. The aroma has some deep, dark roasted malts present, with some cocoa noticable as well. Some spicy hop presence is noticable too. The mouthfeel is smooth and moderately carbonated. Good, roasted malt flavors here. Some coffee/chocolate notes present. Some fruitiness is there too, along with the citric/floral hoppiness. A bit of dryness shows up in finish. The hoppiness lingers into the aftertaste along with some of the roasted dryness, but the beer ends with only a little bit of alcoholic warmth.

Many say that this is Saranac's best. It is one of their better ones, but I feel that this is a good but not great beer, and it simply didn't seem deep enough for me. I would try this one again in the future if given the chance (I don't see this particular Saranac around too much in my area).

10-27-2004 03:13:40 | More by Beastdog75
Photo of TheDeuce

New York

3.88/5  rDev +4.3%

Had this out of their sampler....

Appearance-dark red color, nice head that sticks around.

Smell-caramel, alchohol, some fruit scents, very pleasent.

Taste-lot of caramel coming out here, very sweet and pleasent, the fruit flavors hit you after that combining for a wonderful taste that's delicate and smooth.

Mouthfeel-liked it, the caramel and fruit was quite pleasent as was the aftertaste.

Drinkability-if you can handle the alcohol and like the style you should have no trouble.

Overall-a hard style to find, even harder to master I've heard, yet this is a more than solid beer that definitely needs to be on your wish list in the winter. Goes fine with many meats and breads or even better on it's own. A great beer.

10-24-2004 21:38:12 | More by TheDeuce
Photo of blitheringidiot


3.5/5  rDev -5.9%

Appealing mountainy outdoorsy motif label on a 12 oz browner that offers a bit of brief write up that explains "Bavarian style with caramel malt sweetness and trademark rich creamy head. Look for the delicate Brownish-Red color. Until recently, exclusively served on draught."

A deep black ruby hue with scant light getting thru. A razor sharp thin ring cap that shows some tan color after a few swirls. No lace whatsoever.

Big caramely malt nose that is 100% malt all the way.

First swigs: Slightly roasted easy malts and a twinge of hops balance. Flavors of cherry and root beer notes and butterscotch caramely malts run the show.

A middle of the road bodied feel. Becomes too one dimensional.

Last swigs: One dimensional malty butterscotch beer that almost reminds me of a Vienna style lager. Matt brewing makes soooo many beers. Good variety pack case of 2 x 12 for about $27 and a decent beer in that variety. Forgetable but not regretable.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

08-24-2004 01:30:51 | More by blitheringidiot
Photo of mattcrill


3.9/5  rDev +4.8%

Appearance: looks like Coke coming out of the bottle. Pours a clear black/ruby. A foamy white head that's gone in an instant

Smell: Hops up front. A fresh, lemon, flowery smell dominates. Kind of an unexpected smell for as dark as this beer is. But very enjoyable none the less.

Taste: Flowery hops, fresh like a citrus fruit, almost cola-like at times with a sweet aftertaste. It has a nice dry finish. After it warms up a bit, the malt wins out and dominates the hop presence. But nicely balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium, very complex with a nice carbonated balance.

Drinkability and overall: A very enjoyable brew. This was my first schwarzbier and I will come back for more. I like the fact that it's a dark, complex beer but it's not so heavy and overpowering which forces the drinkability to suffer. Don't get me wrong, I love my Russian Imperials but this would make for a nice session.

08-21-2004 15:45:55 | More by mattcrill
Photo of Mitchster


3.93/5  rDev +5.6%

Pours to a brilliantly clear very dark brown with ruby accents, forming a rocky tan head with very good retention and good lacing. Carbonation is moderate. Mouthfeel is intially tangy with a ruddier finish and medium body. Aroma is nice, with herbal hops, amber malts, the suggestion of dates, lemon, and caramel. Taste begins with flavorful herbal hops, followed by amber malts, mild dates and caramel. The finish has notes of tobacco and leather and a sustained moderate woody bitterness. Fermentation is clean with no appreciable alcohol or off-flavors.

A decent Schwarzbier. Something in this brew limits it's drinkability...it just doesn't appease to me tonight. Seems very average in most respects. Schwarzbier may be a rare style here in the US, but perhaps it's rare for a reason....it's just not something I would care to drink very often. Despite this, it's a well-crafted brew from the boys at Saranac.

07-12-2004 02:51:49 | More by Mitchster
Photo of meathookjones


3.58/5  rDev -3.8%

Had this on tap at Hard Times in Herndon Virginia. This came out looking a brown color with ruby highlights when the light caught it just right. There was a light tan head that wasn’t much more than a collar that left some lace in patches. The aroma was of sweet malts and fruit mainly. There was a light hop aroma complementing the malt. This one tastes of sweet caramel, nuts and a slightly tart finish. A little too sweet at times for my taste. This has a light to medium mouthfeel good carbonation and a lingering taste. First time having this style of beer so I was not sure to expect. Overall a pretty good beer and I shall seek out more this style.

06-10-2004 15:15:39 | More by meathookjones
Photo of brewdlyhooked13


2.95/5  rDev -20.7%

Appearance - looks black until held in front of a light, it's actually a cool looking translucent garnet. A tan head forms up but weakly and can hardly manage a covering.

Aroma - I'm getting just about zero here. Maybe a trace of malt, maybe it's just the power of suggestion, I really can't tell.

Taste - some base malts taste okay. A grainy attempt at sweetness, just a hint, a little raisiny but only slightly. Not bad, just not much going on. Don't drink it too fast, it improves rather well as it warms.

Mouthfeel - nothing memorable, but not bad either.

Drinkability - um, whatever? Nothing wrong with it, but if they decide to go back and make this only available on tap again, I won't miss it.

05-23-2004 16:48:58 | More by brewdlyhooked13
Photo of Jacobob10

New Jersey

4.4/5  rDev +18.3%

This is the first beer that I am trying out of the 12-pack sampler and damn, am I impressed!

Pours out dark brown, almost ruby colored. The head is on the small side and quickly disappears. The scent is very subtle, a roasted aroma, kind of nutty. The taste is downright amazing. Caramel, nuts, and roasted malts. Goes down great and leaves a creamy feeling in your mouth.

An excellent brew by Saranac. I almost wish all 12 of the beers in the pack were Black Forests, but I am excited to try the others as well. This has quickly become one of my favorite beers and I would definitely get it on a regular basis. Highly recommened, enjoy!

04-01-2004 01:40:44 | More by Jacobob10
Photo of Onceeven

New York

4.18/5  rDev +12.4%

This one's a gem in Saranac's lineup of beers, and one of the few that I'll buy with some regularity.
Pours a deep mahogany, on the verge of black, but not opaque like a stout. Finger thick off-white head that stuck around for a few minutes was treat as well as it's subtle lacing. Nice looking brew.
Smells of toasted malts and hop leaf, quite balanced if you ask me. Most of the time its one or the other. Also has a distinctive Saranac smell. Is this just me?
The mouthfeel feels a bit thin, but then again every time I look at it I keep thinking its a stout.. (especially in my Guinness glass).
Taste begins with a slight bite, then mellows out into a slightly nutty flavor. A subtle smokiness comes through in unison with a very enjoyable hop finish.
If you can find it, give it a go.

03-28-2004 05:01:10 | More by Onceeven
Photo of theozag


2.65/5  rDev -28.8%

Perhaps my lack of experience (to date) with this type of beer explains my low ratings. Perhaps I just got a bad bottle of Black Forest. But whatever the reason, this wasn't a beer that I'll likely drink again.

Black Forest practically lives up to its name in appearance, pouring dark brown and blending to a pitch black color. A thick tan head forms over your glass and fades rather fast. This beer smells of caramel and sugar, and lacked any distinct aromatic quality, though I thought the sugar I smelled was maple. Black Forest starts smooth and soft. It is full-bodied with oat and caramel flavors. A malty sweetness is present throughout the entire drink. This beer finishes oily, wet, and saves its sharpest flavor bite of all for the last few drops on your tongue. Finally, this beer's aftertaste is fortunately mild, but it has a tendency to sit on your tongue for quite a while.

02-19-2004 02:39:45 | More by theozag
Photo of Quaffer


4/5  rDev +7.5%

Appearance: This beer was a deep, deep, red. As it sat in the glass, it appeared brown, with ruby highlights around the edges. The beige head easily rose up to two fingers and settled down relatively quickly. It remained fairly coarse during its short life and finally became just a ring of rough bubbles around the edge of the glass.

Smell: The smell was straightforward and subdued. A very bready, cracker-like malt aroma was the most prevalent smell going, especially right after the pour. There was also a strong watery component on the nose. As the beer settled down and the head disappeared, some hops rose up into the mix, as well as a light smokiness. At this point, the malt aroma transformed into something a lot darker and more heavily roasted, though the bready component remained.

Mouthfeel: Light- to medium-bodied, though there was some round chewiness that stuck to the sides of the tongue. It was pretty smooth overall, with a light, refreshing carbonation tingle in the back of the mouth and in the throat. Slightly coating, but just barely.

Taste: Upfront, there was a tartness that kicked in quickly and and grew through the middle of the flavor profile. At this point it came crashing down and sank below the other flavors. In the middle emerged a lightly roasted malt flavor that was a little bready, nutty, and somewhat "airy." It became more roasted as the flavor developed into the finish, and left a nice toastiness in the mouth in the aftertaste. A light hoppiness came into play with this beer as well, but it did little more than add some balance to the brew.

This is my first experience with this style of beer so I have absolutely nothing to compare it to. I enjoyed it, but considering the "averageness" of the other Saranac beers that I have had, I am sure that there are much better renditions of the style to be had.

02-15-2004 00:52:35 | More by Quaffer
Photo of smcolw


4.15/5  rDev +11.6%

Reddish, dark brown color with a tight light beige two finger head. Dark enough that a bright light barely shines through the glass.

Chocolate malt aroma, creamy and sweet--almost like hot cocoa. Very inviting.

Rich and flavorful, yet not overpoweringly bitter/sweet. This is wonderfully balanced. Up front is a light-bodied chocolately malt. As the beer settles, the carbonation brings out the alcohol warmness and a subtle hop flavor. This hop lingers after I swallow.

Thinner than I'd like, this dark beer is flavorful, aromatic and very drinkable.

02-13-2004 02:05:32 | More by smcolw
Photo of bigbubba


3.33/5  rDev -10.5%

This was a nice dark beer with a head that diminished quickly. There was a good balance between the dark malt flavor and the hops. The mouthfeel was average but it is a very drinkable beer.

Nothing really stands out as exceptional or bad. It is smooth and well balanced but not exactly exciting.

02-11-2004 03:59:59 | More by bigbubba
Photo of RocketWidget


3.65/5  rDev -1.9%

This is my first try with the Schwarzbier style, and overall I like it. Pours a very dark, near black color, except in light there is red elements. Head is moderate and frothy off white. Smells like a dark lager, sweet and crisp. Taste is interesting, almost like a herbed beer. Not very sweet and not very hoppy, but a distinct taste of...cinnamon? Mint? Hard to place. Not bad, and recommendable, but not my favorite.

02-09-2004 02:43:58 | More by RocketWidget
Photo of Charthepirate

New York

4.15/5  rDev +11.6%

A solid stab at the schwarzbier style. Buttery, caramel, chocolaty and a touch of coffee slightly grape in the ester department. Rich and smooth going down also. Small floral hops on the back ground.

it poured dark, ruby red. Little head and good lacing.

Very, very tasty.


02-08-2004 04:32:32 | More by Charthepirate
Photo of Maestro


2.3/5  rDev -38.2%

This beer is my first step into the world of Schwarzbiers. I don't care much for it. The appearance is dark and cloudy. There is a thin head that leaves a little lacing. There is a sweet carmel taste but it doesn't come through too much. There seems to be a lack of maltiness in this beer that makes it seem watery. Maybe I don't know enough about Schwarzbiers, but I wouldn't seek this one out again.

01-16-2004 01:40:29 | More by Maestro
Photo of masterbruewer


3.18/5  rDev -14.5%

Poured a dark, dark brown with a light brown head that started at a quarter inch then magically expanded to 3/4 inch then settled at 1/2 an inch.

The smell is carmelly and hoppy.

The taste is sweet and malty, with a little carmel and nutty flavor, with a bit of hoppy aftertaste. All in all a nice rich but pleasant balance.

Mouthfeel is solid with little or no noticeable carbonation.

This is drinkable beer no overly bitter of off flavors and a pleasant blend of flavors. Another solid Saranac offering.

01-07-2004 02:14:46 | More by masterbruewer
Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 987 ratings.