Saranac Black Forest Black Beer
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Saranac Black Forest Black BeerSaranac Black Forest Black Beer
Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Lager - Schwarzbier
Ranked #80
Ranked #34,762
3.75 | pDev: 13.07%
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
New York, United States
Saranac Black Forest Black BeerSaranac Black Forest Black Beer
Notes: A Bavarian Black beer with distinctive caramel malt sweetness and a rich creamy trademark head. Flavorful, yet smooth…very drinkable!
Reviews: 584 | Ratings: 1,169 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of moodenba
moodenba from New York

3.79/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Saranac Black Forest Black Beer 12 oz. bottle at refrigerator temperature poured into a shaker glass in Nov., 2020. The initial pour yielded a very dark body with a tan creamy head. Interestingly, the foam that started so promising disappeared quickly. The initial flavor gives a fairly mild dark beer impression. The carbonation seemed a little too aggressive. After the swallow, the pleasant aftertaste features the malt with just a hint of hops. All in all, this is a solid dark lager that isn't extremely heavy. I'm guessing this isn't available in summer, where the lighter body might be better appreciated.

Nov 17, 2020
Photo of dkoehler42
dkoehler42 from New York

4.06/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is beer looks the part of a schwarzbier. It has a pleasant roasted malt aroma which carries over into the flavor. As it sits on your tongue, You continue to taste the roasted malt long after the liquid is gone. This is enjoyable and I would enjoy drinking this more often than part of Fall.

Oct 28, 2020
Photo of Lucular
Lucular from Maryland

3.74/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip pint glass. A dark brown, roasty schwarzbier with a hint of pine/grapefruit hops. Mouthfeel is a little bit thin but otherwise everything is solid.

Sep 13, 2020
Photo of Peach63
Peach63 from New York

3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours deep copper with 1/4 inch tan head which quickly dissipates. Very little lacing.

Aroma is toffee, malty, slight citrus, roast malts.

Tastes is toffee, malty, slight smokiness. Moderately bitter.

Light bodied, semi-dry mouthfeel. Lightly carbonated.

This is a decent entry from Saranac.

Dec 02, 2019
Photo of Buckeye55
Buckeye55 from North Carolina

3.87/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear dark amber with foamy head that subsided quickly. Smells sweet and malty, kinda boozy also.
Taste follows, picking up more caramel. Medium mouthfeel and sweet aftertaste, lighter than what I'd expect from a bavarian black beer. Like it alot

Oct 05, 2019
Photo of officerbill
officerbill from New York

3.51/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

L: deep dark ruby black with a tall dark tan head that quickly dissolves to a ring
S: can't tell due to stuffy nose
T: oddly sweet with some caramel & licorice. No noticable hops or bitterness
F: smooth & light. Minimal carbonation. Easy over the tongue with a mild burnt sugar aftertaste
O: not what I was expecting. Saranac bills this as a “Bavarian black beer”, but it's not. It's not a bad beer, but it is very
“light”, malt forward with little hop backbone. I had fond memories of this when it was one of Saranac's regular offerings. Now it's part of their fall “German roots” variety pack and, compared to köstritzer, it's a bit of a disappointment.

Sep 22, 2019
Photo of EMH73
EMH73 from New York

3.71/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a very dark brown with ruby highlights, a one inch tan head that left decent lacing. Smells of caramel, roasted malts and a bit of hops. Tastes of sweet caramel, toffee, roasted malts, bread, cherries and a touch of hops. Light to medium bodied, soft carbonation, smooth mouth feel, mild bitterness on the finish.

Dec 23, 2018
Photo of jjamadorphd
jjamadorphd from Florida

3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Another decent brew from this brewer...

Not quite black, the beer pours out very dark brown with highlights of dark caramel. The smell was light on malt with a touch of caramel added in. Mouthfeel was light and light in carbonation as I prefer. I enjoyed the taste which followed along with the smell - malty and very lightly caramel sweet. Overall, this is a solid beer, glad to have it on hand during the long Thanksgiving weekend.

Nov 24, 2018
Photo of mvanaskie13
mvanaskie13 from Pennsylvania

3.71/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a narrow pint glass: color is near black at the top and dark amber at the bottom, head is light tan with fine bubbles, initially presenting about 1/2 inch thick.

Smell is light roast, stronger caramel, light bread, hint of grassy hops.

Taste is light caramel, maybe some toffee, some bread; flavor reminds be of a light bock as the roast is a bit less than some other schwarzbier.

Mouthfeel is light carbonation and light lingering sweetness.

Overall a good darker lager with characteristics of schwarzbier and bock with the lighter roast and moderate caramel.

Sep 29, 2018
Photo of AleManDan
AleManDan from California

3.96/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark fruits, raisins, chocolate...delicious. Light and easy to drink like a lager but flavorful and fun too. I miss this beer! Is it still in production?

Jun 19, 2018
Photo of CoryIanShafer
CoryIanShafer from Pennsylvania

3.66/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A Dark beer, tan head, looks deep and dark, smells of mutated lemons, grapefruit, bitter caramel, hay, toffee, cotton candy.
On the tongue it is very sweet and malty, love the malt, there is however the usual American fascination with hops which put this slightly into the bitter category on the back end, but overall a nice balanced beer, slightly bitter, but passable.

Jan 13, 2018
Photo of Samlover55
Samlover55 from New York

3.68/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle into Perfect Pint glass
BB 12/31/17
L- pours a dark brown/black, with a huge creamy tan head, and lacing
S- some sweet malt
T- slight toffee, followed by some coffee notes, and a smooth finish
F- clean crisp and smooth
Overall this a typical schwarzbier, light and easy drinking, with the bare minimum of roastiness

Dec 10, 2017
Photo of CNoj012
CNoj012 from New York

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

This beer pours a crystal clear color that looks brown until it is held up to the light revealing a lovely shade of deep ruby garnett. The head is two fingers, creamy and tan.

Smell is sweet caramel malts with a touch of roastiness.

Taste is similar with a bit of green vegetal hop flavor that provides a moderately bitter finish.

Feel is light and smooth. There is a nice tingle from the bitterness on the finish.

Overall this is a very good beer. Very flavorful yet easy drinking. Happy Saranac brought this back so that I could finally review it as this is an old favorite of mine.

Aug 06, 2017
Photo of Lone_Freighter
Lone_Freighter from Vermont

3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The appearance has a dark, almost purplish-brown body with a small creamy colored head and had a slightly reddish beige color of the head with very small lacing. The smell has black cherries, some light malt, some berry aromas, and subdued chocolate. The taste is basically the same as the previously mentioned flavors through a decent bittersweetness. The palate is about a medium; comes across slightly creamy; with a quick clean finish, berry/chocolate aftertaste, slightly sessionable. Overall, this is good for the style and good for me.

Jul 02, 2017
Photo of donspublic
donspublic from Texas

4.18/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from bottle into tulip, little under a finger of tan colored head, recedes after a minute so so lacing. Dark ruby brown in the glass, little light filters thru. Smells of roasted malt, some caramel peeking thru. Taste is pretty complex for a schwarzbier, initial caramel sweetness, roasted malt taking a backseat here, more predominant on the nose than the palate. There is some dark fruit in the middle there, reminiscent of what you pick up in quads, but very muted. Finishes up with a very mild bitterness. This is a really nice Schwarzbier, perhaps beating out my old favorite Reasonably Corrupt (which I have to give a real review one day)

Feb 15, 2017
Photo of tigg924
tigg924 from Massachusetts

3.4/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours opaque, dark brown in color with 1/4inch head, Taste is fresh malt, grain, and light chocolate..Light bodied, sweet, with moderate carbonation..Very clean..Makes for a solid, average schwarzbier...Worth a shot if you like the style..

Jan 21, 2017
Photo of Cavanaghty
Cavanaghty from Maine

3.33/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Darker reddish brown with a thin beige head.

Smell: Fruity tones and Malts.

Mouthfeel/ Taste: Smooth medium bodied. Taste of sweeter malts.

Overall: Good beer. I would have this one again.

Jan 04, 2017
Photo of HattedClassic
HattedClassic from Virginia

3.59/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a nice off white and creamy head that dissipates rather quickly. The beer itself is a very nice black color with a decent texture and sheen to it.

The smell is okay. It has a light dark chocolate and weak caramel note. There is a light roasted malt note but it does not come out much.

The taste is okay. It has a light dark chocolate and light roasted note with a slight hop note to it. It also has that slight 'clean' taste you get with a lager yeast. There is also a very light caramel note that travels with the chocolate but gets easily overtaken by the other notes.

The feel is okay. It's a beer that's bordering between light bodied and medium bodied but falls on the lighter side due to the biting carbonation. It has smooth and clean and slightly dry finish.

Overall, a less than stellar beer but not entirely worth writing off. The beer is drinkable and decent when it's fresh instead of when it's close to its expiration date.

Nov 29, 2016
Photo of thebeers
thebeers from Pennsylvania

3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown with three fingers of light brown head that leaves solid lacing. "Lager-like" aroma of floral hops, with some sweet malt and, yep, a hint of cinnamon behind. Taste is malt forward, with a dry finishing roasty-caramel-and-stale-hop combo thing going. Just a hint of the muted sourness traditional to the style. A slight creaminess to the mouthfeel, too. Not my favorite schwartzbier, but it at least hits all the right notes.

Oct 11, 2016
Photo of Fordcoyote15
Fordcoyote15 from Kentucky

3.34/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

I love a schwarzbier but this is entirely lackluster. How the "bros" rated this a 96 I'll never know. Arguably the worst I've had per style but still gets a marginal rating because these roasty German rarities are fairly few and far between and even a mediocre one is worth trying once imo.

Sep 24, 2016
Photo of udfan07
udfan07 from Ohio

4.81/5  rDev +28.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

It's been awhile since I have had this beer but it tastes exactly as I remember. A dark beer with roasted notes in the taste and a smooth finish. This is probably one of my favorite beers from Saranac.

Aug 27, 2016
Photo of Rock_Glenn
Rock_Glenn from New York

2.92/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

The other Saranac beer that I don't mind drinking, this one was actually a bit of a disappointment. I went through a Schwarzbier kick after visiting a different brewery, but this one didn't cut it. Thinner than I expected, poured more brown than black. There is not much in the form of aromas, a little roastiness, a little bit of German hops. The flavor is dominated by a bad tasting yeast, and the beer is slightly more dry and bitter than I would expect.

Jun 22, 2016
Photo of rodbeermunch
rodbeermunch from Nevada

2.74/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Thin brown pour, it is lighter than the name black forest would imply the color would be. Thin light brown head. Nuttiness in the aroma, chocolate malt kind of missing, same with roasted qualities.

This lacks the pop of a schwarzbier, the hops, the carbonation, the roast. Comes off more like a watered down brown ale. Not bitter enough. Not roasted enough. Not enough of what this beer should have to be classified as such.

Feb 22, 2016
Photo of Brian_L-2056
Brian_L-2056 from West Virginia

3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice dark brown color with a very robust cream color head. Smells faintly hoppy. Initial taste is light and fruity with a slight malty, coffee aftertaste. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this brew. I will definitely enjoy more of this.

Nov 19, 2015
Photo of JMS1512
JMS1512 from New Jersey

4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On the docket: Saranac Black Forest Black Beer with a date of 1/25/15. Pretty old, I blame the establishment from which I purchased it, and the fact I didn’t look until I got home. Caveat emptor.

Poured into: Sam Adams perfect pint glass

S: A deep, amber-brown body with violet highlights supports a dense, pockmarked beige head. Tiny bubbles zip to the underbrush of the head’s bottom. Eventually, the head subsides into a clearing, a small ring on top. Lacing is sporadic due to the beer’s age, or a non-beer-clean glass, or both.

A: Clean, with a hint of caramel, a touch of sweetness, and white-bready grain. Subtle hop aroma of earth and a twist of lemon.

T: Smooth clean malt, a dash of roast. Sweet start but drying finish. Reasonably bitter and hoppy, with earth and lemon carrying through from the aroma. There’s something a little off, I just can’t quite tell what. DMS? Am I crazy?

F: Medium-light, persistent, tiny bubbles. Sweet on the start, but chalky and drying on the finish. Crisp, drinkable.

O: Consumed fresh, I’m sure this one is fantastic, as evidenced by “the brothers.” Old, it’s certainly drinkable, but not how the brewer’s intended. It does, however, sport all the hallmarks of a well-made Schwarzbier.

Oct 18, 2015
Saranac Black Forest Black Beer from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 1169 ratings