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

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 570 | Ratings: 1,137
Photo of tj4288
5/5  rDev +34.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

i almost feel it unfair to rate a perfect score, because i recently reviewed another saranac brew as a perfect score, but i reviewed to style and my personal opinion and thats what i believe this beer deserves.

poured from 12oz bottle into tulip glass.

a- black body shows colors of brown and ruby when held to light. off white thick dense head hangs around the entire time. balls up when swirled. decent lacing.

s- freshness. earthy light hops. sweet malt. well balanced.

t- light earthy hops with low bitterness. also a light weak malt. well balanced yet not overly complex flavour.

m- light body, light carbonation. smooth and silky.

d- goes down easy geat price... i honestly cant get enough of this stuff. saranac black forest has been a favorite of mine for a long time and i finally got around to reviewing it. highly recomended to those who prefer a dark but not heavy or strong beer.

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Photo of Doctuh
5/5  rDev +34.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a blackened amber, light comes through in a copperish hue. The head is frothy and creamy. Hops dominate the aroma, with a hint of the caramel roast before the moment. The schwarzbier is well represented, a porter-like anticipation transforms into a smoother fading finish. The standard Saranac profile of a dominant pre-swallow taste leading to a crisp end lends itself well to this style of beer. The initial aromatics foreshadow this malty peak, slight chocolate into a roasty withdraw.

Each sip is a singular moment, each glass a individual episode. But each beer is part of a history, and a beer without history is water. In this are the beers that enlightened you to the knowledge that beer is worth reviewing. Alone in such distinguished company is that beer, the unique duality of style and brewer that made you first appreciate beer. To each their own: transcending communal rating.

One is fortunate to have a beer to bring oneself to places where they cannot physically go again. I would take a ponderous moment in this Black Forest anytime.

- Bottle pour, cellar temperature, into a pint glass -

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Photo of PatriotsRule
4.97/5  rDev +34%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Black Forest never ceases to wow me. I am on a bit of a schwarzbier kick and this brew trumps just about anything I can imagine...
A: Not much head, but it looks like a beautiful dark unfiltered beer with some nice lacing
S: Smokey fruit with light spicing
T: Yes indeed this is a well-balanced craft brew. it's crisp and a perfect choice for winter
M: Leaves me hoping I will have the opportunity to delve into the black forest later on in life
O: This is one of those beers that is so smooth it leaves me scratching my head in amazement

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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 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 Justin23060
4.74/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A - Black w/ chestnut highlights. 1/2 finger beige head that coated 'till the end.

S - Sweet chocolate and caramel, with maybe a hint of licorice.

T - Perfect example of the style. Starts sweet ends semi dry with a slight vignious linger. Taste is pretty much in line with the smell.

M - Lighter side of medium, w/ some nice carb.

O - Definitely worth trying. Captures roasty chocolate and caramel qualities while at the same time remaining thirst quenching. Because of that it is a great dark offering for the summer months.

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Photo of tugdriver7
4.7/5  rDev +26.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Disclaimer: Schwarzbiers are a favorite and this one is easily the best of the US craft-brewed varieties. Deep black with red/brown highlights; moderate head retention, though it laces the glass nicely. A bit of malty lager in the nose, but the taste is a wonderful blend of crisp lager and dark coffee/carmel malts that is at both incredibly complex and yet delightfully refreshing. A real winner.

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Photo of Corum47
4.65/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My new favorite beer. Wish I could find it in other than a variety pack. I found BF growlers on vacation and bought a whole case. I tend to enjoy english-style ales, but there's nothing like watching a hockey game with a few BF's. Would very much like to try it fresh from the tap someday.

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Photo of mrdudesir
4.62/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: A dark brown with red tinge. Tan head diminishes quickly.

Smell: A faint, sweet caramel with malt.

Taste: Malty at first, finishes on a sweet caramel taste with light bitterness. Leaves a nice taste in your mouth that makes you want more.

Mouthfeel: Just the right amount of carbonation, not too heavy, perfect compliment for the taste.

Drinkability: It's easy to down a couple of these, and it's a beer I could drink daily. Quite refreshing.

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Photo of StantonRice
4.57/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer is exactly what I had hoped the Caramel Porter might be (but a lighter version)...unfortunately I couldn't stand the Caramel Porter.

The appearance is rather dark...misleading in a dark room but well worth the confusion. A bit of reddish brown coming through the glass when held to the light.

It smells great with hints of caramel and that familiar coffee flavor and malt.

It tastes as it smells which is great. sweet but not too sweet, not too heavy but from time to time that does pretty nicely. Not bitter at all but certainly well rounded.

Comfortable mouth feel, light in comparison to what I'm used to but definitely a fortunate change of pace.

I could drink a hundred of these, which may or not be good...Right now it feels fantastic.

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Photo of deaconoflove
4.57/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Black Forest was the first dark beer that I remember from years back. Unfortunately, when I went back for another case, my distributor could not get it in cases anymore, only in variety packs.

ap. Impenatrable black with a small tan head and decent lacing.
sm. Caramel witha citris background, nicely blended aromas.
ta. caramel, toffee, orange, roasted coffee, chocolate...a sweet/tart blend. All the flavors I love in one smooth package.
mf. Nicely carbonated, full and smooth with a tart clean finish.
dr. This is a easy, light bodied dark beer with full flavor.

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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 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 GeoffRizzo
4.5/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light brown in color, thin, yet foamy head, decent retention, stringy carbonation noted. Sweet, malty and some floral notes on the nose. Medium to full bodied with a caramel malt sweetness taste noted up front. Creamy, some light coffee beans noted, and the hops come through nicely towards the finish, a light toasty finish. Smooth for a darker beer, very tasty and well balanced, one of Saranac’s top brews!

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Photo of Stampman
4.48/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The serving was in a pint glass and the beer was room tempature. The color was black with a thick brown head. The head remained with small bubbles for period of one minute and then started to break up. There was consistent distict lacing throughout drinking. The smell was clean and stong with the scent of hopps and malt. The taste was very pleasant without any bitter taste. The mouthfeel was medium and very pleasant.
I feel all dark beers should be drunk in the european manner, room temprature and in a pint glass. I think it brings the maximum amout of flavor to the drinker. This beer proved my belief is correct. This beer has made my buy list and will continue to be a choice for serving guests.

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Photo of Marty
4.42/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the most flavorful lager I have ever tasted. It's dark yet very easy to drink. It's sweet, but not yucky sweet (like Saranac's Caramel Porter). It's dark but not heavy. This is my favorite Saranac beer. Lately my buddies and I have been keeping six packs of this in our refrigerator in case of emergencies.

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Photo of selecter70
4.42/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An all-around good delicious schwarzbier, which I am an eager fan of (got a Monchshof right now!). This offering good ol' Matt's Brewery (great source brewery: Saranac, Brooklyn, Harpoon-for a season, and others including the infamous Billy Beer!)I got to visit when I was a kid & was fascinated, although all I got at the end was great root beer (alas!). This great beer poured a rich dark brown amber with a nice light brown lacey head. A full & deep malty aroma with smoky nut hints was enjoyed by the nose, while the flavor brought more of the same along with a slight roasted cherry and chocolate-licorice tones. More, I want more!

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Photo of bubseymour
4.42/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark like a a Coke in the glass complete with fizzy head.

It has a really nice pronounced malty smell to it with some caramel backing.

Taste - Very unique and interesting flavor. Starts very sweet and malty then has a crisp bite in the finish and seems almost like an APA but its black in color. Very interesting, flavorful and quite sessionable.

Mouthfeel - fine

Overall - A very unique beer and style and Saranac pulls it off quite well. One of the bolder flavored beers in their quiver.

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Photo of obrendano
4.41/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

love, love, love this brew

A - fantastic almost bloody-red tinged black body, great tan head

S - sweet and floral with a caramel kick

T - dark malt and and almost licorice bite behind it and a ton of delicate hop flavor instead of a stinging IPA-like blast. finishes with a nice bready, molasses taste

M - solid body and smoothness

O - a great craft from a great company who rarely, if ever, will break your wallet

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Photo of beernut7
4.4/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I really like this beer. I am not usually privy to lagers, but this one changed my views. A beautiful deep amber color and foamy head introduce a sweet aroma and malt flavor that is unique. Goes down smooth and easy. THis is especially good for those who wna tto have the health benefits of a dark beer, but not the body of an dark ale.

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Photo of CaptJackHarkness
4.39/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Twelve ounce bottle dated best by 12/31/2012 from Twelve Beers a falling collection.

Poured deep brown with ruby highlights, thin beige head rapidly dissapated, no lacing of glass to speak of. Scent of sweet chocolate malt.
Sweet rather than bitter with just a tang in the aftertaste. Overall a nice brew for a wet autumn day!

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Photo of scarletfire79
4.38/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

wow. pours deep deep brown. i'd dare to call it black. smells of sweet caramel, definitly sweet smelling. the taste is really well rounded with caramel notes, hints of coffee, slight fruit-like flavor. goes down real smooth. actually a lot more drinkable than i would have thought from the pour. refreshing. i could see myself having a few of these. love the mini growler. definitly makes it stand out on the shelf. would love to try this on tap.

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Photo of ColdPoncho
4.38/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really love the color of this beer, its a beautiful deep dark reddish brown when you hold it up to light and it almost looks black just normal. It has a fairly complex smell, with some sweet caramel malts, chocolate and coffee, and some light hints of citrus. The caramel and coffee really come through in tasting it, and there is a slight bitter aftertaste. It's got an appealing medium mouthfeel, and for a darker beer I think it is surprisingly drinkable.

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Photo of therica
4.37/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've had this a few times in past years-- ocasionally impressed, other times not. This time-- a definite bold YES. In fact, my original review of a few years ago was so mediocre of this beer (deleted) that I suspect they've greatly improved the beer since then.

A= very black, a modest tan head with medium bubbles, fades to a nice rimming, lacing and pooling.

S= all sorts of things going on here-- strong roasted malts, burnt nuts, maybe even a little road tar (kindly said).

T= bold as heck! My old review was so totally opposite (ie "a bit watery for a good Schwarzbier. Some dry roasted malts, light hops florals."). Wow this was a pleasant surprise to find this year! A strong bold flavor much like the old US German lagers of the pre-transistor era. Nutty, burnt dark malts, burnt molasses, I'm really pleased at the new and improved version! Hops bitters are in there but nicely blended without being hop-head. After sitting and gradually being consumed during the 15 minutes it's taken to write this, some nice dark prune and black cherry has emerged on my tongue as well!

M= slightly dry, slightly sweet, with nice burnt flavors mentioned above, some modest hops bitterness and florals lingering.

O= very drinkable! Ticks me off that they apparently only sell it in their Adirondack Trail Mix although I found out that they do indeed sell this beer in cases-- depends on your local beer store.

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Photo of oldirtycaffrey
4.37/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The appearance of this beer lives up to its name--it pours black with a slight, slight red/purple hue to it, containing a small tan head that dissipates quickly leaving only a fair amount of lacing on the glass as you finish it off. The smell is really great--a nice, sweet aroma with hints of malt, alcohol, and even licorice. The taste is strong, bitter, slightly fruity, sweet with a very nice 'after-kick' in the back of the mouth. However, it is very easy to drink. Really impressed with this brew.

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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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