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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.

1,010 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,010
Reviews: 556
rAvg: 3.72
pDev: 13.71%
Wants: 33
Gots: 50 | 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: 1,010 | Reviews: 556 | Display Reviews Only:
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
Photo of santoslhalper
4.08/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearence: Pours an almost purple color with a brown tinted head that clings the whole way down.

Smell: Smells rich and fruity with strong sweet notes obviously emphasising the malts.

Drinkability and Overall: The taste is initially fruity and sweet, with the hops rounded it off well at the end. Very smooth and very clean tasting. Not overpowering. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy.

Drinkability and Overall: Saranac's best without a doubt. Smooth, fruity, and enough complexity to keep most every palate drinking. I only had one Schwarzbier before this and it was Specher's Black Bavarian, and I loved it as well. Good beer.

santoslhalper, Feb 14, 2005
Photo of connecticutpoet
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was eagerly anticipated, as a coworker raved about this beer. I saved this for the last from their 12-bottle variety pack.

The aroma was of sweet malt and caramel, with dark fruits... raisins and plums... lurking in the background. Very nicely blended.

The taste was very slightly sweet, very smooth and malty, with only a little roasted character. I would have thought there would be more, based upon the color. It was very nice.

Mouthfeel was pretty good too... could have been a little chewier, but otherwise fine.

I would definitely go back for more of this one.

connecticutpoet, Jan 13, 2005
Photo of Billolick
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled a 12 ouncer that came in the holiday 12 pack, no freshness dating to be found. Pours dark brown, tan head, minimal lacing and just a faint coffee nose. Cant say I'm overly impressed with this one, why do so many of the dark beers from Saranac taste so similar?? Seems they put a differant label on about 8 beers, but the contents all are so similar. Drinkable, middle of the road stuff, but nothing to seek out.

Billolick, Jan 12, 2005
Photo of ElGordo
3.95/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black with ruby highlights and a thick, coffee-colored head that hangs around for a while. Deep roasted malt aroma with notes of mocha and maple. Nice, rich, creamy mouthfeel is very pleasant. Sweet roasted malt dominates the palate, accented by brown sugar and dark fruit (fig?). Not much aftertaste. Very drinkable.

ElGordo, Jan 12, 2005
Photo of Southernbrew
4.22/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first schwarzbier, fortunately my homebrewing dad could give me some insight.

Pours a lovely dark color, I'd say ruby/red, leaves a faint tan lace the whole way down.

Aroma is quite pleasant, nice blend of malts, caramel and floral hops, very nice.

Taste is dominated by caramel and sweet malts. Some fruitiness comes in as well though not nearly as noticably. A bit of bitterness comes through in the end, I would say from the hops and not the malt.

A very pleasant beer, the first from Saranac that I actually craved more of when I was done. Nice job.

Southernbrew, Dec 28, 2004
Photo of Citadel82
3.23/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was not impressed by this particular beer. It is drinkable but rather bland and watery. The head was minimal and short lived. no lacing whatsoever. The color was rich and somewhat attractive, though the smell and taste were rather bland compared with thier other offerings.

Citadel82, Dec 20, 2004
Photo of Hibernator
3.63/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this out of a 12 oz brown bottle and served in a tulip imperial pint glass. This has been one my favorite offerings by Saranac for some time now.

Pours a lighter shade of black with ruby highlights. Decent tan colored head on top. Some spotted lacings are clinging to the sides of the glass.

Aroma of roasted malts, plums and slight caramel.

Flavors of roasted and sweet malts with hints of milk chocolate. A little bit a caramel in there too. Very smooth and drinkable.

Only complaint and this seems to be very noticable lately for me with the Saranac line of beers is that their beers taste watered down. The mouthfeel is a little too thin. If they could bulk this beer up a little more, it would do wonders.

Hibernator, Dec 18, 2004
Photo of NEhophead
3.55/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz brown bottle.

Foamy tan head with above average retention. Some thin and condensed lacing with okay strength. Slightly black with a deep ruby hue.

Roasted malt aromas; light vanilla and coffee. Semi-sweet smelling. Also a moderate amount of a wheat driven aroma.

Light coffee and even subtle hints of chocolate along with a primary grain and wheat flavor. A very mild and thin maltiness. Faint bitterness that leads to a nutty and light coffee aftertaste.

Medium bodied; mild, mellow, and a touch thin on the palate. Quite pleasant.

A pretty good domestic version of the style, which makes this one worth trying on its own. Nothing special, but not unpleasant or obtrusive either.

NEhophead, Dec 18, 2004
Photo of ppoitras
3.73/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12ozer bottle bought as part of a mixed six of Saranac products from somewhere, I forget...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" dark tan/light brown head above the dark mahogany brew. Head fades but doesn't totally disappear, and lacing is the best of the Saranacs I've reviewed to date. Aroma is sweet dark malts, with some fruit tinges as well. Taste consists of fleeting dark malt bitterness, giving way to a slightly sour fruit note, and then back to some malt sweetness. Mouthfeel is a tad thin for a schwarzbier, but drinkability goes up a notch because of same. Nice brew from Saranac.

ppoitras, Dec 15, 2004
Photo of sideshowrob
3.13/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

sideshowrob, Dec 13, 2004
Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

ViveLaChouffe, Dec 03, 2004
Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 1,010 ratings.