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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 IronLover
3.73/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Autumn orange in color with good clarity. Poured with a short white foam that quickly disappeared. Lightly toasted and caramel malt aromas with chocolate in the bacground. Starts off a bit thin but quickly evolves into a medium bodied beer with tangy, robust carbonation. Caramel and dark toasted malt flavors up front quickly followed by chocolate flavors that grow through the middle. Tangy hop bite from start through the middle. Flavors and feel take a smooth turn toward the end. Finishes with a toasted malt finish.

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Photo of Hop_kulture
4.43/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

not doing the astmo kinda drunk. thank you saranac 12 beers of winter

this is a wonderful winter beer. hazelnut and chocolate flavor. great mouthfeel. precisely a chocolate lager. one of my favorite ive had for the past three years. if you like sweet beers you will love this. ive always been happy with any up state new york brew

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Photo of u2carew
3.9/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz longneck bottle
A) Pours with a two finger, off white head that retains itself for a while. Settles to sticky lacing at the edge of the glass. Clear copper colored body.
S) Caramel. Yeasty. Hints of chocolate.
T) Pleasant malts up front and throughout - caramel, toasty, and slightly buttery. Finishes with a mellow hop bite.
M) Smooth. Lighter side of medium bodied. Dry finish.
O) A decent brew. I'd definitely drink another one.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.47/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A- pours a medium-dark amber with a one finger head that dissapates to a small layer that sustains on top, no lace.

S- toasty malt with some caramel and cocoa nibs are noticable at first, but beyond that- grains and cooked sweet corn,and just a bit of spicy hops at the end

T- sweet cacao mixes with some caramel malt with a bit of hazelnut character. Underlying under the sweetness is a toasty character with some grain. There is a light herbal hop finish on the back end, the finish is quite dry.

M- medium body with moderate carbonation, leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a creamy finish

O- I appreciate that this one holds up the malt character expected with a bock, but the combination of this with the chocolate seems a bit unbalanced. It's worth a try however, as it is quite different. Wouldn't put it anywhere near Sam Adams Chocolate Bock though.

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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 HarryPotHead
3.69/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Poured from 12oz brown bottle into short stem chalice, this beer yields a silky smooth beige head of about a finger and half. Little to no lacing left behind as the head gives way a little too prematurely. Color is a rich amber hue but seems a little cloudy.

S - Fresh bread dominates with very subtle notes of cocoa, hops, and alcohol. Pleasant....definitely not offensive.

T - Umm....ok, so I'm expecting more in the way of the cocoa. It's there but it is sooo subtle you really have to seek it out. Slightly above average for the style. Crisp with a dry finish...slightly warm too. Not very bitter either.

M - Not to thin. Just the right amount of carbonation for the style.

O - One of the best of the bunch from the Holiday sampler, but nothing spectacular. A little too safe. I wish Saranac would take a few more chances with their brews...if they were just a little more daring they might fare better. [ii]D. Cheers!

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Photo of Kremlock
3.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Medium amber colour, white head that pours about 1/2 inch think. There are a few particles floating in the beer, looks like yeast particles but hard to say.

S: Sweet chocolate with some floral hints.

T: The cocoa comes through very well in this lager. There are hints of malt and caramel but it is not distracted by the cocoa. There is a strong dry finish

M. light-medium bodies, silky with good carbonation. The carbonation cleans up the cocoa and allows the bitterness to come through.

O: I had expected a bit more maltiness to compete with the cocoa but other then that the bitterness and the dry finish are pleasant.

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Photo of papaglide
3.74/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- 1 finger head dissipates rather quickly

S- malt with sweet chocolate and a herbal hint of hops

T- the first thing to strike is a chocolate sweetness/slight bitterness combo. Then a slight maltiness mixed with a tiny hint of cocoa in the background arrives. The beer finishes kind of on the dry side with an ever so tiny bit of alcohol warmth. This beer is very well balanced.

M- Nice: not highly carbonated and on the thin side of middle but only by a hair. It's not at all chewy and not at all offensive.

O- This is a very nice beer: not outstanding but nice in an average kind of way. The style says bock, I say it's a very drinkable dunkel. But as a bock it is underwhelming, as a dunkel it is a nice average sample for the style.

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Photo of Haydn-Juby
3.77/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 12oz bottle to a Pilsner glass

A: One finger head. Not much lacing but some. Transparent copper-orange color typical of a Bock. Died down kind of quick.

S: Small amounts of cocoa and a yeast smell. The alcohol was quiet evident in the smell which is odd because its not too apparent in the taste.

T: Once again some of those cocoa flavors. Nothing to strong but it is there. Bitterness is mild to none which is understandable for a Bock style beer. Nice caramely flavor at some points if your willing to search too.Really there isn't too much to the taste but what there is is pretty good tasting.

M: Pretty nice carbonation, maybe a little bit heavy though. The bubbles immediately tickle your tongue on impact.

Overall: It was a solid beer. Probably wouldn't go looking for it again but I enjoyed the experience.

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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 claspada
3.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, dark copper color with a foamy, off-white head that recedes to leave minimal lacing.

Aromas begin with toasted bready maltiness, with a sprinkling of cocoa powder. There is some grainy malitness in there as well with a scant bit of caramel as it warms.

The tastes begin with some toasty, crackery pilsner maltiness, some light toasted nuttiness. Finially you get some light cocoa and some toffee sweetness and a light nondescript bitterness presumabley from some noble hops.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side of light-bodied with medium carbonation. Finish is fairly dry and clean

Overall having this after Samuel Smith's Chocolate Stout was maybe not fair but this really lacked the flavor profile I was looking for. The lager yeast presumabley scrapped much of the sweet flavor out of this beer leaving a more clean balanced flavor profile, but maybe just the chocolate and lager combo aren't a match you see too often for a reason.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A new take on an old favorite! The taste and texture of German dunkel is complemented by both raw chocolate spice and also the strength of bock. The grainy-sweet but silky smooth flavors that ensue simply belong together.

Pouring frothy, deep, and dark- its garnet hue is brilliantly clear. Slightly off white, the foam that separates from the beer skirts the beer with a sheet of bubbles that proves long lasing and speckles the glass with lace. It's an impressive looking beer throughout.

Elegant aromas of toasted malt, light toffee, hazelnut, and freshly kilned cocoa nibs all give the supple and sultry scent of Nutella. But with background whiffs of cooked corn, starch, and alcohol, the beer breaks away from breakfast time nutrition and steps into the adult beverage world.

The common taste of German dunkel is alive and well here as the part-grain, part-malt balance gives up its caramelized sweetness and mild starchy flavor. Toast, light coffee, toffee, hazelnut, and clay earthiness gives the beer its robust taste and remarkable dryness. But just as the taste of dunkel settles in, the added complexity of chocolate enters in and gives the beer added smoothness, savory, and earthy spice that is pleasantly unexpected and carries the beer through the finish.

It's grainy-sweet texture is simply on par for dunkel, but the grain character is in danger of astringency if not for the creamy textures that are aided by the cocoa nibs. Nutty, creamy, and lightly slick to the palate, these textures further detract from the corn-like character of yeast. Its late fade from creaminess to semi-dryness falls just short of completion as the beer lingers with residual grain sweetness and cocoa oils.

Sell this beer as a dunkel and I'm all aboard. It's satisfactory and appealing with nuances of complexity that is unexpected yet rewarding. But as a self-sold chocolate infused bockbier, my mind is set on higher expectations.

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Photo of tempest
3.97/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

OK, so right off the bat, in case anyone reading this wondering, this beer is nothing like the sickly-sweet caramel porter. No, there isn't a big chocolate taste, but, this is a decent bock. Let it warm up a bit, and a dry cocoa comes out in the aroma and there's a light, earthy note in the flavor's finish. Of course, there's also a big caramel, toffee, and toasted bread crust barley character. It's less fruity than your average bock, but I like the cocoa replacing the usual sugars. The body is on par with your average lager, making it fairly drinkable. This is kind of a cool beer: balanced chocolate, tasty malts, and a slightly bitter hops finish. I'd take another.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.41/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Part of the Saranac 12 Beers of Winter variety pack - $13.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

"BB MAR 31 2013"

Appearance: Pours a clear, light amber-hued body with a foaming, barely off-white head.

Smell: Well-toasted malts, though not overly effusive, given a sprinkling of cocoa powder. Very, very vague hop note lingering in there.

Taste: A start of toasty German malts, a scant nuttiness (also toasty), then some sweetness and, at last, some of the namesake chocolate coming through. A drop of apple now and then. Scant herbal-hinting hops with only a bit of bitterness. Body lightens and it closes out nearly dry, which is nice surprise.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Overall: It's okay! Really, I'm just pleased it's not obnoxiously sweet or eye-rollingly artificial tasting.

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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 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 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 woodychandler
4.08/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

More bottles from my latest Philly run. I am feeling adventurous today and may try to eradicate the bottle backlog that has been an albatross since school started back.

My thanks to whomever transcribed the verbiage on the bottleneck onto the "Notes" section. It saves me a whole lot of work!

From the label: "Beer brewed with cacao nibs with natural flavors added".

The pour created two fingers of fragile, tawny head that fell like a souffle in an oven whose door had just been banged shut. It left nice lacing in its wake, though, so for that, Cheers! Color was a deep amber with NE-plus quality clarity, enabling me to see both through walls and into the future. Nose was chocolate, but a different chocolate than the Atwater that I reviewed earlier. This seemed somehow more authentic, like raw unprocessed chocolate. Nice. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full, not as dense as Atwater VoodooVator, but still pretty massive in the mouth. I am really glad that I drank this shortly after the Atwater Dark Chocolate as it gives me a greater appreciation for Saranac's craft. It was chocolaty, but subtly so. The chocolate had an unprocessed taste, as though the nibs were added almost as an afterthought. The finish was dry, believe me or don't! This is going to disappoint a lot of people who may be expecting a liquid chocolate bar, but for those of us who do not dig that sort of thing, this was perfect.

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Photo of metter98
3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is crystal clear reddish amber in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger high light beige head that only died down a bit and left lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of dark bread and cocoa powder in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell except that the chocolate flavors are a little more prominent. They definitely taste more like cocoa powder and not milk chocolate. Hints of brown bread are also present. No bitterness is noticeable, but the hops prevent it from tasting too malty.
M: It feels a little more than light-bodied and airy on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. A bit of dryness is noticeable.
O: The light and airy nature of this beer makes it very easy to drink and prevents it from feeling heavy.

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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 JoeyBeerBelly
3.62/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle served in a glass beer mug.

L - clear amber color with a off-white head that thinned to a light layer leaving spotty lacing.

S - nice cocoa aroma with sweet caramel malt in the background.

T - subtle chocolate blends in with caramel malt and there's a light bitterness towards the finish.

F - light/medium bodied with a easy drinking feel.

O - a likeable lager.

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Photo of mempath
4.65/5  rDev +36.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

one of Saranac's home runs/touchdowns/holeshots...! hits on all cylinders, but mostly where it counts: taste. the chocolate plays off the maltiness perfectly, but there is a nice, not too subtle hop touch in there that keeps it bitter, much like a good dark chocolate. choosing that Belize cacao was spot on.

beautiful to behold (a nice darkish golden hue), nice hint of cocoa in the nose...mouthfeel is not too carbonated, nor flat...good balance.

glad i picked up the case. the best in the bunch. i almost forgot about another Saranac grand slam: the caramel porter.


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Photo of plaid75
3.53/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark copper hue with a one finger frothy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured round chocolate malts and a soft caramel malt.

The taste consisted of the same chocolate and caramel malt profile with a rough earthiness that livened up the flavor a bit.

The mouthfeel was toward the thinner side of the style.

Overall a tasty malt driven lager.

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Photo of CloudStrife
3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a chalice. BB Mar 31, 2012 on the bottle.

A: Pours a clear, ruby-copperish amber with a 1.5 finger puffy off white head. Good clarity, lots of visible carbonation.

S: Sweet lagery malt aroma with hints of grass. Has metallic characteristics in it. Subtle chocolate aroma. Sweet roasted malts become more present as it warms up and compliments the chocolate.

T: Nice dark and roasted malt taste, chocolate is certainly noticeable. Has biscuity yeast characteristics. Still a slight hop bitter in the brew.

M: Pretty light bodied, nice carbonation. Very drinkable, not overly sweet as some chocolate beers are.

Overall an enjoyable and drinkable winter beer. Would recommend to anyone who likes darker beers. Good warm up to a heavier stout.

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