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Saranac Chocolate Lager - Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Not Rated.
Saranac Chocolate LagerSaranac Chocolate Lager

Educational use only; do not reuse.

65 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 65
Hads: 174
Avg: 3.41
pDev: 15.25%
Wants: 0
Gots: 6 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
Bock |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mostpoetsdo on 11-27-2011

Saranac Chocolate Lager is a sinfully delicious deep amber lager made with certified organic cacao from Belize. Our brewers looked far and wide for the highest quality cacao to create a smooth chocolaty taste that only comes from the most exclusive cacao plants. We used the roasted seeds of these decadent plants and perfectly paired them with caramel malt and German Hallertau hops to create a malty chocolate sweet flavor. You'll love savoring this beer with your favorite holiday foods or on its own for a delicious treat!

15 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 65 | Hads: 174
Photo of Arithmeticus
2.32/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured chilled in flared glass.

A: light caramel color; really nice, foamy head; carb is slow
S: almost nothing there
T: dry, bitter chocolate flavor; not sweet; bracing; spices are pretty minimal; tastes like a chocolate soda I once (and only once) had

Sorry, I don't recommend this one.

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Photo of blakelive784
2.52/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 fl oz bottle served in a pilsner glass, reviewed live:

A - Pours a transparent, dark copper color with a fairly thin 2 finger head. Retention is pretty poor. Nothing special.

S - Caramel and pale malts, indistinct hops and a very slight nose of chocolate. Very mild in strength, and a bit uninteresting.

T - Toasted caramel and toffee open, then the chocolate finally comes through. It's a nice flavor, but it feels a pit out of place among the flavors created by the foundation. The chocolate seems almost artificial though, like hot cocoa powder.

M - Medium bodied, highly carbonated, slick on the finish. Not necessarily tailored to the flavors, but I like it.

D - I can get behind what this beer is trying to do. It's an inspired and different take on the style (though I'm pretty sure this isn't a Bock), but it's poorly executed.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.63/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Best before March 31, 2013. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into an Oskar Blues pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are low given the brewery. Acquired at Argonaut Liquor in Denver, Colorado as part of a Saranac variety box; all the others in the box were underwhelming to say the least.

Served straight from the fridge. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger beige colour head of nice cream and thickness, and good retention. Body colour is a caramel-copper. Appears overcarbonated judging by the bubbles. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Pretty underwhelming for a chocolate lager.

Sm: Caramalt, sweet malts, and some floral hop character. Generic and bland. I don't get any chocolate at all. No yeast character or alcohol is detectable. I'm none too excited for this one, lads. An average strength aroma.

T: Sweet and heavy on the caramel, with some good heavy-bodied malty bock notes. Some nice candi sugar notes are its only notable characteristic. It's rather simple, but it fills out nicely, hitting the demands of a bock - just not those of a "chocolate lager." Still, I'm glad it's a bock and not a schwarzbier. Lacks balance in spite of its simplicity. Built in a boring fashion, but it's enjoyable in a general sense; I do love beer itself after all. There's little to say about it given how little is going on.

Mf: Sticky, light, smooth, wet. Poor palate presence. It does feature good thickness, satisfying style conventions. Overall, it doesn't complement the flavour profile that well.

Dr: Drinkable but underwhelming. A boring bland beer that in no way satisfies its declared style. This is not at all a chocolate lager. I wouldn't have it again, but it isn't horribly priced. Another forgettable beer from a mediocre brewery. I'm unsurprised they brew for Costco.


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Photo of ezterry
2.75/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.5

A: Looks good, deep amber color ber with a bit of head that dissipates

S: A very strong sent of coco but very little of the beer or hops. However I suspect the hops+coco mix is causing this to come across as slightly unpleasant.

T: In short I don't like it.. coco is very up front with some bitter maybe astringent tones to the taste.

M: Not bad, despite being only amber has a nice full mouthfeel expected from a chocolate based drink, nice carbonation,

O: This was not a pleasant beer for me. A strong coco flavor and smell but very little sweat backing it up.. This might be due to the clean amber lager base. If felt is needed crystal and roasted malts to back up the coco or something to complement it. (ie. I'd rather a lagered porter with chocolate than this drink)

In short it tastes like the bitter coco and not like a rich chocolate

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Photo of 401J
2.79/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Beer 1 of a craft pack cracked, lip smacked , now I wanna give it back.

I make it a point to choose randomly when rocking out these variety 12's and this wasn't a good start.

Lack luster appearance.. I poured into a 12oz glass and once the brew settled in, it just shrugged its shoulders and took a nap.

The smell of chocolate was pronounced but not too appealing to me.. The flavor followed suit with an artifical chocolate taste very forward..

Not a bad mouthfeel.. But i'll end up feeding the second one to an in law come Christmas.

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Photo of TeamMathis
2.81/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Appearance: Looks like an ale.
Smell: Light chocolate.
Taste: Light chocolate.
Mouthfeel: Watery.

It's not a bad drink. It's just not exciting. The chocolate is certainly there, but it's still just a hint of it. If it has it in the name of the brew, I would expect it to be more than a hint. This is rather watery, looks like an ale, and has far too little chocolate. Odd advertisement. I enjoyed it, but wouldn't get it again.

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Photo of alexkeil
2.88/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle from the Saranac winter variety pack, it features one of their nicer labels.

It has brillant clarity and a dark amber color with an off white disappearing head with some lacing.

Aroma of light coco, alcohol hints, and coffee with cream, some bready malts come through.

Taste is of doughy malt, a healthy amount of noble hops balance the sweet malts, alcohol is noticable, coco nibs come through and linger in finish. There is also a little bit of ripe melon in the middle.

Mouthfeel is medium with moderate carbonation, even a little hoppy bitterness.

This is a creative well made lager that is nice for a holiday variety pack. Its a change of pace to try and talk about at holiday gatherings. Probably not anything you would seek out on its own, but to have during a session.

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Photo of mikeg67
2.95/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle from a veriety pack. Pours amber with a long lasting, foamy, off-white head. Aroma is of bready, toasted malt, hints of hops and caramel. Body is medium and smooth. Taste is toasted malt, caramel, hint of herbal hops. Finish is medium lasting, slightly bitter. This was the first bottle from the pack I could finish.

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Photo of Minkybut
3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I poured this average tasting beer into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The beer was copper colored and light for its name I thought. It poured a fair head. The smell was malty. The taste on this beer was weak. I tasted no chocolate ate all and actually more of a vanilla taste than anything. I did not think it well represented itself as to what is was suppose to be. Not buy again.

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Photo of Brouwerij78
3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had very high hopes for this beer as well (see my review on the saranac vanilla stout). I bought a cold 12 pack of the 12 beers of Christmas and there were 2 of these Chocolate Lagers included. I poured yet another (wasted!) frosty mug full...and again another big fat flop. It was pretty much bland overall - not even a hint of chocolate. This one too fell short and flat of my expectations - even for a plain lager. Very lackluster and blah. Again - save your money for a real craft brew. Amen and testify.

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Photo of fastrodney
3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Served from a bottle into a weizen glass.

A: Nice head that dissipates at a decent rate. Mid-to-dark amber.

S: Malty with a pleasant scent of hops.

T: This is where it gets interesting. I actually started drinking this one from the bottle; as soon as I realized this wasn't your standard chocolatey stout/porter, I decided to take a closer look (literally and figuratively). Honestly, I wouldn't have noticed the very faint chocolate had it not been advertised as such. It has a nice malty taste to it with an indistinct astringent hop back that isn't particularly pleasant. I can see it's classification as a bock, but I wouldn't be shocked to see it as a red, either.

M: Nice and thick. Medium carbonation.

O: This one's kind of a head-scratcher. Not terrible, but not great, and the chocolate is almost imperceptable. Huh.

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Photo of Samp01
3.02/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle thanks Mikeg67. Poured a clear brown amber with a small beige head. Aroma and Taste is of mildly toasted barley, malt, some chocolate notes, mild bitterness. A medium body with moderate carbonation on the palate. The Finish is toasted grains some light chocolate flavor and mild bitterness. Seems a bit light on the chocolate flavor needs more chocolate. Overall an ok sessional brew.

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Photo of fscottkey
3.03/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

A: [3.00] Nice clear mahogany color. There is very little head on this beer - just a thin white trace on the top. No lacing at all. There is a best by date (3/31/13 - so this beer is *very* old)

S: [3.00] Biscuity and bready. There are caramel and malty notes too. As it warms there are slight wafts of chocolate.

T: [3.00] This first few sips are very traditional lager flavor. Nice balance of malty sweetness. Maybe a slight bit of chocolate on the finish - but just barely.

M: [3.25] The carbonation level is right. There isn't much body - but I suspect this is low ABV

O: [3.00] If you poured this in a glass (and didn't tell me what it was) I don't think I'd pick up any chocolate flavor. It is subtle, even when I am looking for it. To be fair this is a beer that was in the back of the fridge for a long time - so it may have lost some/all of its character. The beer is pleasant and is actually nicer as it warms.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.03/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Best by 3/31/12.

Pours a clear iced tea color with a 2 inch foamy off-white head that settles to a small cap. Random small streaks of lace stick to the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt and some subtle chocolate aromas. Taste is of malt, artificial chocolate flavoring, and some herbal/citrus zest hops. There is a medium amount of bitterness that lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is an average beer that doesn't live up to the chocolate flavors I was expecting.

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Photo of buyBinboaVodka
3.07/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I had this on-tap at the Taphouse Grill.

A - It came to me in a pint glass with almost no head on it and a minimal amount of lacing. The dark amber color with caramel highlights look pretty good it looks like a good beer.

S - This beer smells awesome...if it were a vanilla lager. I get almost no chocolate through the nose. I can pick up vanilla extract with a similiar scent to that of a stewarts root beer, not chocolate. There is a malt presence but not nearly as strong as the vanilla aroma.

T - Pretty much the same as the nose. I get a vanilla and malt taste but NO chocolate.

M - Thin bodied with a smooth finish.

O - Not the beer I was expecting, but not a horrible beer. There are way better choices, but if it is there and there are no other good choices, I might get it.

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Photo of yesyouam
3.09/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Saranac Chocolate Lager is a crystal clear amber beer topped with a sand colored, waxy foam that has very good retention and lacing. It has a metallic aroma with a hint of grass and chocolate. It's medium bodied, a little watery with a slightly chalky finish. It's just a touch sweet and amply bitter. Something about it seems kind of salty. The chocolate fills the middle of the taste without much subtlety. It gets more bitter toward the end, with notes of wood, resin and metal. Well, I'm glad there's chocolate in there. I don't think this beer would stand up without it. It isn't great, but it isn't bad.

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Photo of gregb13
3.2/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Funny, if you blindfolded me and gave me this beer I would guess that I was drinking a Sam Adams Chocolate Bock. There is an unmistakable Raisin Bran flavor that is very pronounced in both of these beers. It's not bad but not what you'd expect from a supposed chocolate beer, although it kind of grows on you. Just average stuff. One bottle is enough.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.2/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle with a best by date of MAR 31 2012. Pours a clear copper color with a small cap of beige head. Fades pretty quick and does not leave much lace.

Nose is sulfurous lager and a faint cocoa aroma. Not really sweet and the malts dont carry much heft, maybe some toasty caramel but pretty flabby overall.

Taste is much better as some of the sweetness comes out and the chocolate is light, smooth and tastefully done. Not bad...the mouthfeel is thin, being little more than the consistency of water though. I enjoyed trying this once, but its certainly one-dimensional and I dont really think Id want a whole sixer of this in the fridge. Although...on the other hand, this is probably the best one of the winter mix 12-pack my dad brought back from D.C. This pack was my first taste of the Saranac family, and I am pretty disappointed with all 6 I have tried thus far.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.23/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle. Sampled on February 3, 2013.

The pour is a copper-amber color with a lingering off-white head and lacing. I expected it to look much darker for something with chocolate in its title. But it is also a lager so that has to come into play I guess.

The aroma is light in milk chocolate with a slightly more vanilla and caramel malt feel than chocolate. Clean hops though.

The body is creamy and in the medium range.

The taste is more akin to a sweet caramel malt lager than chocolate. Actually vanilla would be the better descriptor. There is a slight lingering bitterness at the tail end. Probably my least favorite selection in the Saranac 2013 Winter Mix Pack.

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Photo of rangerred
3.23/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a clear coppery orange with a little over a one finger off-white head. Pretty good lacing and head retention.

Chocolate is definitely present in the aroma but in a more subdued way than what I was expecting. A huge caramel base with hints of toast and a fleeting brush of grassy noble hops. Not bad.

The flavor again has just subtle hints of chocolate. Really tastes like a Vienna lager base with some chocolate thrown in although they compliment each other nicely. Toast and caramel undertones with some cocoa. I can barely detect some grassy hops buried underneath and bitterness is light to moderate. Watery mouthfeel with a little sticky finish.

Overall, an all around average beer and I really with the chocolate was a little more pronounced. Not quite as good as Sam Adams chocolate bock but non-offensive nonetheless.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

LOOK: Pours a medium copper color, with a dense off white foam. The head sticks around for a few minutes and laces the glass appropriately.

SMELL: Roasted malt, caramel and a hint of powdery chocolate.

TASTE: Toasted malt, caramel and a small hit of watery chocolate. Bready and lager like with an underpinned cocoa flavor. Mild and kind of bland, but agreeable and decently drinkable.

Has a medium bodied feel with a slightly benign flavor. Decent beer, the chocolate is honed down here. I'd have it again.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.31/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours a light amber color, not much of a head and very little lacing, not as dark of a pour for something called "Chocolate Lager".

Smell is mostly caramel malt with a very subtle hint of cocoa, definitely on the sweet side.

Taste seems a bit watery, definitely wishing for more of a chocolate presence considering the sweet caramel malt is the largest aspect of this beer, it does have a crisp refreshing carbonation though.

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Photo of Brenden
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A very dark orange color, it's almost bronze, though it's completely clear. A pale tan head starts off firm and rests right around a finger tall. It takes a bit of time to fade, eventually leaving a thinner foam that clings especially to the edges but keeps itself together. It leaves some spotting behind as it falls.
A somewhat metallic note, English-style though I don't think any English varietals are used, develops as it sits. The cocoa is definitely there, though. Otherwise it's toasty with just a touch of toffee-like sweetness and a ghost of leaf.
The flavor goes fruitier. While the cocoa sneaks through underneath and into the finish, I wish it was more of a factor. The toast, a touch of toffee and the leaf make up the foremost notes, with a touch of dryness at the end. It's a decent bock, with good balance, toastiness, and a malty base with just a bit of hops for balance and depth, but it could use a little more something, and the chocolate just is too subtle.
The feel isn't bad but is a little tinny as a tea-like leafiness, which also adds some dryness, comes through. It's almost medium-bodied, maybe barely, with a steady carbonation and even, moderate crispness.

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Photo of daliandragon
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This seems to be the only unreviewed beer in this year's Saranac winter sampler. This appears dark copper with golden highlights, and the head never really gets going, leaves only moderate lace. Nose has faint chocolate and watery malt but doesn't really stick out.

The taste has more obvious chocolate and toasted note, along with a slight nutty flavor. A little sweet in the finish, this bock is still relatively smooth and light for the style. not something to write home about but this goes down fairly easy.

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Photo of NODAK
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nose on this one is fairly faint...chocolate malts and a roasted note are present there but it isn't a very fragrant beer.

This beer tastes pleasant enough, although it's a bit light on flavor compared to where I'd like it to be. It definitely has a nice, silky chocolate malt taste to it, though it isn't quite as powerful as I'd like it to be as it sometimes is in other beers like this. The taste itself is good though, as I said, and is rather one-note. Towards the finish, there's a small roasted note and a tiny hop twinge....but again, really just dominated by the sweet chocolate malts on the body.

Easy drinking but nothing exciting. Decent. I could go for this sometimes, but only if I wasn't looking for something interesting.

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Saranac Chocolate Lager from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
79 out of 100 based on 65 ratings.