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Saranac Black Lager - Matt Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Saranac Black LagerSaranac Black Lager

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97 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 97
Reviews: 65
rAvg: 3.35
pDev: 14.33%
Wants: 2
Gots: 2 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
Schwarzbier |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-07-2009)
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Ratings: 97 | Reviews: 65 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of pagardner


4.5/5  rDev +34.3%

06-02-2012 00:27:49 | More by pagardner
Photo of airheadmtrcycle


4.3/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I picked up a winter sampler from Saranac for around $14 at Hop City. I was looking for a sampler. The friendly, knowledgeable beer geek employee told me it's a great selection of winter beers. It looked really interesting. For the record this is my first Saranac and my first schwarzbier. I like the label with a big black bear in the foreground of a snowy, rocky mountain landscape.

Pours almost black, but held to the light it is a dark red and transparent. The head is 2 fingers thick. It fades to a film and leaves nice lacing. Damn good looking beer.

Aromas of roasted malt and bread. Pretty strong aromas too. Not complex, but very inviting. The taste is deliciously malty with a slight bitter finish that stays with you. The hops are easily detectable. Saranac Black Lager matches the description of schwarzbier here on BA perfectly. It's refreshing yet you feel like you are drinking something substantial. This beer goes down easily, perhaps one of the most sessionable I've had.

I don't want to go overboard, but I really like this beer. Moreover, it seems to be a perfect interpretation of its style. I'm not going to hold back on my rating.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2011 22:18:00 | More by airheadmtrcycle
Photo of mempath


4.18/5  rDev +24.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

nice light tan head and lacing, dark cola appearance, settles fast.

smell is a nice breadiness, but there is an assertive freshness that suggests nothing extremely complex, but very refreshing and somewhat bold

taste almost matches the nose...almost a sour finish amid a mostly malty-bready palate. carbonation, though a bit flat, keeps the flavor upfront. a good trade-off.

very drinkable. best to session with a few other Saranacs. actually, as simple as this seems, i'd love to oscillate on a do nothing evening with this and a nicely contrasting Saranac from this winter pack. nice to see some new entries into the lineup this season.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2010 02:54:05 | More by mempath
Photo of tclapper

North Carolina

4/5  rDev +19.4%

11-17-2011 21:30:49 | More by tclapper
Photo of TaylorK


4/5  rDev +19.4%

10-14-2012 20:41:01 | More by TaylorK
Photo of bigeyedfish89


4/5  rDev +19.4%

01-02-2014 17:08:52 | More by bigeyedfish89
Photo of lccrunchy


4/5  rDev +19.4%

01-11-2012 22:35:11 | More by lccrunchy
Photo of TheBeerdedCharmer

New York

4/5  rDev +19.4%

12-02-2013 01:26:04 | More by TheBeerdedCharmer
Photo of kb2250

New Jersey

4/5  rDev +19.4%

04-21-2013 20:28:58 | More by kb2250
Photo of Stinkypuss


3.98/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Saranac Black Lager, poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours a dark amber with a small white head that retains decently well. Spotty lacing.

Aroma of roasted malt, molasses and brown sugar.

Flavors of caramel, mocha, and roasted malt. Earthy hops add a zing and a flash of bitterness. Suggestions of toffee in the finish.

A prickly mouthfeel with a mild viscosity. Finishes semi dry. On the fuller side of medium bodied.

Solid drinkability. Good flavors that work well together. A good example of the style, which I am a fan of.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2009 01:50:17 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of bltzburgh


3.95/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured dark black with medium head
Head smeemed to diminish fairly quick but showed good lacing on the glass.

Very drinkable lager with a nice chocolate and carmel smell and just the a hint of nut in the aroma.

Full flavor with a reasonable after taste. Thumbs up, though I bought in a variety pack, I would purchase a full case for one of the up comming "Beer Club" events we have coming up.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2010 03:56:15 | More by bltzburgh
Photo of GeoffFromSJ

New Jersey

3.93/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very decent schwarzbier, which we need a lot more of.

Nice ruby to dark color. Clean lager taste with some roastiness from the chocolate malt.

Quite drinkable, not incredibly complex. In other words, a very nice schwarzbier. If someone likes Guinness, this may be a nice beer to introduce them to the world of craft beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2009 19:22:58 | More by GeoffFromSJ
Photo of WesWes

New York

3.9/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark brown/black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a dry, roasted scent that's also a bit chocolatey. It seems as though they added chocolate malt only to a traditional lager. I guess it works. The taste is good. It's light, yet full of flavor. There is a dry, roasted character, but also a really sweet chocolate flavor in there as well. It's pretty damn quaffable. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a better than average black lager. It seems as though the malt bill is quite simplistic, but who cares? It tastes good to me. Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2009 22:05:01 | More by WesWes
Photo of Bockrules

New Mexico

3.9/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from the bottle into a pint glass

A - Pours a dark bronze with a bit of amber tinting around the edges when held up to light. Has a nice and thick two finger, tan head. Appears to have substantial carbonation. Head is reduced to a ring of bubbles 3/4th's down the glass. Leaves an acceptable amount of lacing in the form of several medium splotches mostly near the top of the glass.

S - Chocolaty with some earthy hop notes. Could be much bigger.

T - Chocolate malt upfront. The body is has plenty of chocolate flavors as well as a few subtle coffee notes and enough earthy hops flavors to round the whole thing out. The hops flavors seem to become more intense in flavor as the beer sits in your mouth, crescendo as the beer passes over the back of the tongue and then transition into a bitter-chocolate finish.

M - Medium bodied with substantial carbonation to give it a creamy mouth feel. Feels somewhat light, but still has enough substance to support the flavor.

Ah, Saranac. It's been over a year since I had one after moving from Ohio. Good college memories of hanging out in the Adirondacks drinking these. This one survived the journey west and is at least a year and a half old, however it doesn't seem much worse for the wear. This was from the winter seasonal pack I believe, and in typical Saranac fashion, the seasonals are of much higher quality than the standard fare. Easy drinking, that stays true to a somewhat rare style. A bargain for less than a buck a beer.

Serving type: bottle

08-04-2011 04:10:27 | More by Bockrules
Photo of porterwoobie

North Carolina

3.9/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz, poured into a standard pint glass.

A: brown color with ruby highlights on the edges of the glass, clear, one finger persistant tan head, some lacing

S: some caramel sweetness and a slight roastiness.

T: light malt flavor with some mild sweetness. slight roasted malt flavor.

MF: medium light bodied,moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: not a bad beer at all.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2009 10:29:26 | More by porterwoobie
Photo of MrHurmateeowish

New Hampshire

3.9/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle purchased as part of a seasonal 12-pack at Shaw's in Windham, NH. Pours a dark brown to black copper crystal clear body with a half inch of short-lived khaki-colored head. Light aroma, hints of roast and caramel. Robust roasty flavor with some nuttiness and hints of earthy herbal hops toward the finish. Clean finish. Light to medium in body with moderate carbonation. Tasty and drinkable for sure, probably one of the better beers from this variety pack. Good stuff!

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2009 18:26:39 | More by MrHurmateeowish
Photo of mjaskula

New York

3.88/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a pilsner glass. Pours a nice dark brown, with a touch of red when held to the light. The light tan head was three fingers thick and thinned to a film; it left some nice thick lacing.

The aroma was light but had clear notes of roasted malts, coffee and a touch of hops. Taste is light and smooth, mimicking the aroma. Very well balanced, the roastiness blending very well with the hop bitterness.

The mouthfeel is nice and smooth. An easy drinking dark beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2010 02:36:54 | More by mjaskula
Photo of beerphan


3.88/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle -> american pint
part of the 12 beers of winter 2009/2010
product code: 2679 1438 screened on the bottle

Pours a crystal clear mahogany with scarlet highlight in the light. On the initial pour the head rose aggressively right to the rim on the pint. This initial aggresive rise is followed by a just as aggressive quick descent to a small puddle of dish suds. No lace. Normal Saranac carbonation is plentiful. I often wonder what it is that Saranac does to always have the glass lined with bubbles after a pour.

Nose: Faint malty nose. Mostly chocolate and burnt caramel

Malts up front and in the rear. Starts with a creamy chocolate and caramel. Some faint plum and licorice. Has a faint metallic twinge on the finish, along with some mild tart bitterness. Had this stored at room temp, (its winter so thats cold in my kitchen) and it really improved as it warmed a bit in my electric fire heated office.

Being a big fan of the Black Forest by Saranac, i had high hopes for this one, and was not disappointed.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2010 00:21:10 | More by beerphan
Photo of Kinsman


3.85/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Not really black as the name implies, but darker than other german lagers. Has a thin off-white head that leaves a nice lace

S: Has a bit of a roasted character to it and a slight aroma from the hops

T: A well rounded body of roasted malt, with a bit of lager yeast character and hop bitterness

M: Over a medium feel in the mouth, but plenty of body for this style.

D: While I haven't been able to find the Saranac Black Forest around here, I can't see how this can be much different from that beer. Overall very drinkable schwarzbier, that has made me want to try Black Forest.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2009 00:57:16 | More by Kinsman
Photo of number1bum


3.85/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown, slightly reddish color with about a finger and a half of tan head. Definitely not black; I've had numerous other black lagers that were black, and this one is not. Keeps a thin lace and does leave some decent stick, but c'mon, it's not black.

Smell is pretty grainy, although it does have some dark caramel sweetness as well. Has a touch of chocolate too. Hmmm...beyond the grain it doesn't really smell like a scharzbier, but it doesn't smell bad. Hmmm...

Ditto on the taste. More chocolate and rich caramel in the flavor than the nose even. It's pretty tasty actually. Not like any black lager I've had before, but it does have some good flavor. Some hop bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, medium bodied with modest carbonation.

Beating a dead horse here but this is no typical schwarzbier. Must be that it was brewed with a lager yeast, but beyodn that it drinks a bit more like a porter. It's not really true to style, but it is pretty good. This Winter pack is pretty solid so far.

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2009 01:57:43 | More by number1bum
Photo of smibroncos

New York

3.78/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A. Poured a clear, rich, ruby brown with a one finger creamy, light tan head. Small amount of lacing clung to the glass.

S. Roasted malt, carmel, leaves. earthy.

T. Bitter chocolate, ester, carmel . Slight sourness.

M. Medium bodied, good carbonation, dry.

D. This lager stars bitter and ends bitter. Not alot of sweetness to balance it out but a pretty decent brew none the less.

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2009 00:37:02 | More by smibroncos
Photo of dugly2ugly


3.75/5  rDev +11.9%

09-22-2012 00:16:57 | More by dugly2ugly
Photo of phishbone23

New York

3.75/5  rDev +11.9%

01-25-2013 14:32:15 | More by phishbone23
Photo of Nathanhlind

3.75/5  rDev +11.9%

04-21-2012 18:59:37 | More by Nathanhlind
Photo of Mardukk


3.73/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown with an off white head that creates some lacing.

Not much smell to speak of other than a hint of malt.

Nice clean schwarzbier in that the flavor is light chocolate in the finish and also light on the roasted junk. Hops make the finish somewhat clean with the chocolate lingering a bit. There is also a hint of sweetness mid taste.

Medium carbonation with a medium well balanced body.

I'm a big fan of the style and this fits it very nicely. Well balanced and drinkable with some nice lightly roasted characteristics.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2009 03:02:16 | More by Mardukk
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Saranac Black Lager from Matt Brewing Company
77 out of 100 based on 97 ratings.