Saranac Black Forest | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

570 Reviews
Saranac Black ForestSaranac Black Forest

Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
New York, United States

Style: Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-15-2001

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 570 | Ratings: 1,137
Photo of donspublic
4.18/5  rDev +12.7%
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)

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Photo of tigg924
3.4/5  rDev -8.4%
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..

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Photo of Cavanaghty
3.33/5  rDev -10.2%
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.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.59/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

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Photo of thebeers
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

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Photo of rypkr
3.34/5  rDev -10%
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.

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Photo of udfan07
4.81/5  rDev +29.6%
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.

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Photo of Rock_Glenn
2.92/5  rDev -21.3%
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.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
2.74/5  rDev -26.1%
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.

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Photo of Brian_L-2056
3.98/5  rDev +7.3%
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.

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Photo of JMS1512
4.03/5  rDev +8.6%
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.

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Photo of steveo25
4.51/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I haven't had this beer in a long time...had one tonight, forgot how good it was!
To me, it's a light dark beer. Nice flavor, smooth, very drinkable.

Saranac does it again, nice work Utica.

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Photo of Yargamo
4.52/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had some trepidation, fearing this beer would not be as good as I remembered it.

Well, it's as good if not better. Hard to imagine how a brewery with so much mediocre offerings can nail one style so wonderfully

Two finger dense head from a slow pour. Gorgeous dark brown with garnet edges. Inviting

Smell is pilsner like with plenty of grain and noble hops.

Taste is on point for style. A great beer for an autumn session or barbecue chicken pairing. I want another after I finish this one.

If Saranac would reinstate some of their old winter favorites into their lineup and focus on their lagers with mor care they could be a good brewery. In the meantime I'll remain dubious yet curious. Either way, this beer is going into rotation. Big time

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Photo of zinklesmesh
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I don't usually like dark beers, but this one is really well balanced and delicious. A lot of dark beers tend to be too malt-forward for my taste, but Black Forest has a great hoppy bite that complements the dark malt. It tastes like a really solid lager, just with a little more of the dark roasted malt flavors coming through, and a slightly thicker mouthfeel.

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Photo of TheBeerMaster1
3.52/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Once the dust settled it was just an average schwarzbier. Smooth and dark but lacked much flavor. I've made much better schwarzbier at $25 for a 48 bottle yield.

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Photo of DavidGross
3.67/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Another beer I picked up in bottle from a sampler pack. Was really good, surprising that my wife liked it too. Very nice color and aroma with just right taste and balance for me.

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Photo of mhuber
4.75/5  rDev +28%

Pours clear, deep reddish-brown color. Small head that dissipates quickly. Some minor lacing. Notes of caramel and burnt coffee with a mild bitterness. Full flavored without being heavy. Excellent!

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Photo of microbrewlover
3/5  rDev -19.1%

This brew pours a black color with a one finger mocha head which dissipates fairly quickly; light lacing. Low carbonation

The smell is roasted and sweet malts; it is rich and deep.

The taste is roasted and sweet malts along with some sugary sweetness, maybe some type of syrup is in there. There is virtually no hop taste. The beer finishes with a crisp, cracker like lager taste.

This is not a bad beer but not great either. It might be good for a cool day when you do not want something too heavy. It does taste light for such a dark looking beer.

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Photo of nicholas2121
4.3/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Saranac Black Forest brewed by Matt brewing Company with an ABV of 5.5% This brew pours out a dark brown color with a nice off white head. It put you in the mind of black coffee. The smell is rich with sweetness and some grains. The taste is sweet and smooth but rich. There is a lot going on in this brew. There is nothing overpowering in this brew. Black Forest has a nice balance to it. The sweetness in this brew is just right. The mouthfeel is smooth and rich. Matt Brewing company did a nice job with this one. Overall I'm giving this 4.5 out 5. I would buy this brew again.

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Photo of Caveworm
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company. Poured from the bottle into a glass, this had a 1/16th of a finger that went away rather instanstly, pitch black body as expected, and not very much lacing. At all.

I smell rich malt characteristics. Not very much else going on here.

The taste is rich and full with roasted malt. Its not very savory,though. Just bolder than the average lager, I suppose. Which it ought to with this color! I'm gonna make a broad generalization here& say its like Michelob high test, but just a PINCH lighter. All in all, a lager vibe is felt.

Mouthfeel is medium-light. Clean and smooth.

Overall a 3.5 for Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company. I may buy this brew again.

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Photo of fscottkey
2.97/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A: Looks black - but there is light penetration that makes it look like a dark red. Forms a 1 1/2 finger tan head. The head is nce and dense

S: Nothing prominent on the nose.

T: Hard candy, dark fruits. Sweetness.

M: Light, watery mouth feel.

O: I think this has some sessionability. It is not overly complex or deep. I think I could kick back with a few of these on a hot day. It is not my favorite beer but it brings a little something different to the table.

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Photo of stephenjmoore
2.99/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- More brown than black, dark body with a thin light tan head.

S- Mild malt aroma, with a hint of roast.

T- Malty, some caramel, some char, somewhat sweet from the malt.

M- Lighter body, medium carbonation, not all that thick and drinks like a medium lager.

O- A decent entry level beer for the style, but nothing that stands out.

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Photo of beer456
2.99/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a darkish liquid. Not a heavy looking "black beer" though. In fact color is kinda "light".

Smell is kinda weak. Hardly overpowering at all.

The taste at first blush was nothing memorable but the after-taste was quite nice.

Not to be confused with Saranac "Black & Tan", this "Black Forest" is superior for sure but the alcohol content is really kinda weak.

The variety pack i purchased only provides 1 Black Forest of the 6. feels like an autumnish beer.

Like I said, it really could really use more alcohol for sure.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.3/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: 16-oz. glass
From: My aunt Jenny
Price: N/A for a variety 12-pack
Purchased: N/A
Consumed: Jan. 17, 2014
Misc.: N/A

Poured a pitch black color with 1-to-2 fingers of khaki tan head. Below average sporadic lacing on the sides. Minimal retention.

Smelled malt heavy, metallic, smoky wood fire, red malts and rye hops.

Tasted caramel, toffee, amber malt, light wood fire and overall a bit lighter than I thought it would be.

Medium body. Thin-to-oily texture. Soft carbonation. Abrupt finish.

Wasn’t a fan of this beer. I probably even overrated it a bit.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.74/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a clear but opaque very dark brownish amber (approaching black but not quite there) with light amounts of gentle visible carbonation along the surface of the beer and some cola brown highlights. The beer has a finger tall creamy foamy dark beige head that slowly reduces to a medium sized patch of thick film surrounded by a thin film covering the majority of the remainder of the surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of dark and roasted malts with a light aroma of dark fruit sweetness.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of lightly roasted malts and dark malts with just a hint of dark fruit (cherry) sweetness - kind of reminds me a bit of a German Black Forest Cake. Light notes of chocolate/cocoa. Light amounts of bitterness in the finish which fades pretty quickly.

M: Light bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: I think this is a pretty interesting beer with nice flavors/aromas for a less common style that is easily accessible. Easy to drink and definitely one I could have a couple during a single session.

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Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.71 out of 5 based on 1,137 ratings.
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