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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Reviews: 570 | Ratings: 1,137
Photo of Sammy
3.16/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Dark appearance. Some grassy hop flavour. The Schwarzbier style is passable, and this is typical for it. Not missing anything here or for most Octoberfest beers. On-tap at Clark's Ale House #6. Somewhat sweet and a touch of roast. Doesn't work for me.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.97/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

by far my favorite of saranac's year-round offerings. pours a barely see through dark red/black color almost purple with a nice head. german malts are present in the flavor and a sharp yeast nose peaks my interest. taste is old world bavarian dark beer to me, drinkably malty, old and refined in character. roasty but not heavy. i like it a lot better on tap than from the bottle, but this is a good representation of what saranac is capable of.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours out smoothly into a pint glass. The color is a deep ruby reddish black color. The head is a nice shade of tan. The lacing didn't really exist at all. The aroma of the beer was much like a German lager with just a little bit more of a roasted smell to it. The taste of the beer is pretty good, has a strong roasted backbone to it with a subtle German lager aftertaste. The mouthfeel isn't heavy at all for a dark brew. Overall it's pretty good.

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Photo of metter98
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer poured very dark amber in color with a creamy tan head that left a thin layer of bubbles constantly covering the surface. A light to moderate amount of carbonation is visible.
S: There is a moderate aroma of dark roasted malts in the nose along with some hints of coffee and toffee.
T: The initial taste is rather malty and slightly sweet with notes of caramel; a mild amount of bitterness comes through in the finish.
M: It feels light-bodied and smooth on the palate. Not very much carbonation is perceptible.
D: Consuming this beer is a breeze; I could easily have several of them in a single sitting. Despite the dark appearance, it's not too strong or heavy so it has year round drinkability.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 4

Had this as a part of the Saranac Adirondack Trail Mix ($11.99/12 Pack)

My first stab at a Schwarzbier here. Pours an extremely dark but free flowing oil black (not like a a highly viscous RIS). Smells of caramel and many other things. I could not believe something that pours this dark and was so light bodied and easy to drink. Definitely a unique style that I was impressed with.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.35/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Maybe intended to be a Stout until the malts and body didn't show up. Nevertheless, good for a Schwarz. A thin, roasted grain flavor and texture takes on boldness upfront, then disipates to a lighter body and finish. Would be chalky or coal-like if not for a moderate malt sweetness that is displayed mildly over the roasted graininess. Still lacks the clean quality in the finish and the sweetness is a bit too dominant. Still a good brew if you like the flavor of a Stout without the chewy texture.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
2.62/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle: Poured a deep black color beer with a huge dark head with good retention. Aroma of slightly roasted malt. Taste is comprised of roasted malt with some subtle bitter hops to finish. Body is way too thin and there is a definite lack of coffee in here. Not bad but not close to being great either.

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Photo of zeff80
3.89/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured out brownish, black. It had very little head. It smelled like malt and chocolate. Its flavor was sweet and malty. The malt flavor really stood out. It also had a slightly bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel was very sharp. It went down smooth and was quite drinkable.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.03/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Huhzubendah. Served in a tulip.

Pours near black with a very thin off-white head that falls quickly, leaving behind a thin ring of lacing. Some spots. The nose carries a bit of light roast and chocolate. Everything very faint. Flavor has just a touch of light roast, mild toffee, and not much else. Light to medium body with moderate carbonation. Decent enough, but not something I'd come back to.

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Photo of nickfl
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours with one finger of light brown head that rests on top of an opaque, black body. The foam settles down quickly and leaves moderate lace.

S - Sweet bready malt with a hint of caramel and light roast. Otherwise quite clean with no significant hop or yeast character.

T - Some lightly roasted flavors up front with a bit of caramel and cola-like character. Watery caramel in the middle with a bit of spicy hop flavor. Finishes with a dry, toasty/roasted grain note and light bitterness.

M - Medium-light body, moderately high carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - A bit one dimensional for me. The roast malt character is appropriately light, but the beer lacks the body and depth to back it up. The cola flavor is not entirely pleasant and seems to be one of the dominant features of the beer as it lingers in the aftertaste. Not something I would seek out again.

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Photo of oberon
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black but with a few red tints thrown in there with a light slightly off-white head,not much aroma to it slight chocolate and fruit.Taste is pretty lively and fruity with a light roasted nut flavor as well.Well a better than average brew but nothing to write home about here.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.12/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with a full, big bubbled tan head that holds fairly well and leaves some good lace. The dark malt and slightly hoppy aroma is surprisingly apparent. Medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and lightly creamy mouthfeel. The malt flavor is apparent up front, mainly of a very nice, gently sweet caramel backed by bittersweet chocolate. As it crosses the palate a distinct, grassy hop flavor comes forth. A solid bitterness that never oversteps its bounds balances the palate before receeding into a lightly dry finish with some residual chocolate-like notes. An exceptionally well done beer that deserves more attention.

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Photo of chinchill
3.49/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle served in pint glass

A - pours clear dark brown with nearly black color in glass. Ample and thick light brown head.

aroma - sweet malt; more similar to a Belgian dubbel than expected.

T - nice sequence of mellow flavors, with detectable hops in finish.

M = nice smooth and full feel; good carbonation level

D - goes down easy, but hindered by an aroma modestly attractive .

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.83/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 32oz. growler into a pint glass.

A: The beer is a purplish, brownish black with a thin, off-white head that lingers and leaves a thick, even lace.

S: It has a very malty sweet smell with notes of dark fruit and roasted coffee along with a bit of alcohol. However, overall the smell is not very strong.

T: You taste the sweetness right away; however I expected more of an espresso/dark chocolate kind of flavor. Instead, I got more of a fruity flavor with a backdrop of dark chocolate, hops and malt.

M: Extremely smooth, but the carbonation is a bit on the high side, with a medium-to-high body. The finish is clean overall, but it leaves a slightly acidic after-taste and a bit of a sticky residue.

D: This beer is indeed drinkable, but more from a standpoint of I-can-drink-this-as-I-eat-a-ton-of-food-at-a-family-function rather than the standpoint of I-can-drink-this-beer-until-I-get-completely-trashed.

The first Schwarzbier that I ever tried was Sam Adams Black Lager, which I liked a lot. It made me very curious of what other beers in this style tasted like. So far, this has been the only other beer that I’ve been able to find in the style and although it’s a good beer, it pales in comparison.

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Photo of mactrail
3.65/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Sems to be a workman-like job of making a faultless but plain beer. Nice mahogany color in the glass, modest head, carbonation is quite creamy but fades away before long. Nice touch of malt on the lips, dark roast is warm and toasty. Hops come on stealthily and provide a slight bitterness, reminiscent of coffee.

A German style not known for wild and crazy antics, so this seems in keeping with a tradition. Maybe a better quaff in a big stein with the smell of sizzling pork nearby.

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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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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.16/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Roasted walnut brown that becomes black cherry when backlit. A vigorous pour produced more than three fingers of coffee milkshake-colored foam that has a good bit of character and isn't shy about laying down lace. This is pretty much what a schwarzbier should look like.

The nose is unacceptably weak, but seems to hit its style marks as well. Nothing darker than caramel malt is present, so it isn't surprising that neither chocolate nor coffee are appreciated. A hint of hoppiness (Mt. Hood, Hallertau) is noted as well.

Schwarzbiers should not be porters or stouts, but they should be darker, maltier and much more flavorful than this. Black Forest is too weak-kneed, which is a pretty common problem when it comes to The Matt beer. If you like inexpensive and unchallenging in the extreme, then belly up to the bottle.

The flavor profile includes dark caramel and the slightest amount of watery chocolate possible. Hop bitterness is more apparent than hop flavor. This isn't bad beer by any means, it just needs a huge infusion of flavor and personality. It sure is easy to drink though, I'll give it that.

Keeping the average train rollin' right along... we come to mouthfeel. It's on the thin side for the ABV (more malt please) and is appropriately carbonated.

The Black Forest conjures up images of a deep, dark, rich, malty German doppelbock. Or even a schwarzbier, if done right. Sorry, but this brew doesn't have the chops to match the awesomeness of its name.

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Photo of russpowell
3.59/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

32 oz growler pours ruby red/mahognay with a 1" off white head. A hint of lacing & head retention

S: Slight choclate & molasses aromas

T: Fruitty up front, then choclate & a hint of iron surfaces. Choclate follows with a more choclatel dryness on the finish

MF: Light to medium body with too much carbonation

Drinks okay, A half-hearted attempt at the style IMO. A good one to have newbies cut their teeth on, of you don't be overwhelmed by flavor, pretty good values for $ for the impovrished BA who still wants to represent

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.58/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

i have been assembling full lineups from breweries and randomly doin these horizontal tasings with my family. The saranac one from a couple weeks ago was more then epic as it took months to gather all of these, but it was a hell of a fun night!

Rich dark brown in color, basically black with a small tan head across the top that lasted for a few moments before settling down into some nice side glass lacing. chocolate malts, hints of light roasting and a touch of peat. I expected your normal smoked beer here and it was nice and Smooth, nice notes of chocolate, peat, roasted malts and that really nice nut like spice especially in the finish, Smooth, even carbonation and a nice medium body.

Overall not a bad beer at all. Really a very intresting take on the style with a light spiceness that really made it stand apart.

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Photo of smcolw
4.17/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Reddish, dark brown color with a tight light beige two finger head. Dark enough that a bright light barely shines through the glass.

Chocolate malt aroma, creamy and sweet--almost like hot cocoa. Very inviting.

Rich and flavorful, yet not overpoweringly bitter/sweet. This is wonderfully balanced. Up front is a light-bodied chocolately malt. As the beer settles, the carbonation brings out the alcohol warmness and a subtle hop flavor. This hop lingers after I swallow.

Thinner than I'd like, this dark beer is flavorful, aromatic and very drinkable.

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

Presentation: 12 oz. long neck with a dark blue label that shows a Central European forest scene. On the neck it states about using five different hop varieties and slow kilned malts." No freshness date to be found.

Appearance: Dark ruby in colour with a light tan lace that sticks in patches.

Smell: Sweet Oh sweet caramel and malt. Some fruit and a fine soft floral hop aroma follows.

Taste: Rich creamy caramel with a smooth almost syrup like mouth feel. Alcohol and hint of ripe fruit push their way to the tongue. Hop bitterness is in the back with a subdued hop leaf flavour that lingers.

Notes: Too few Schwarzbiers out on the market, this is the one to drink. Very drinkable and very enjoyable, top shelf.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.46/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 5/8/10 notes. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a dark brown with an inch of tan head and light carbonation.

s - Smells of caramel and roasted malts mostly. Not much else here.

t - Tastes of caramel and roasted malts, some hops, and maybe a hint of chocolate.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - Not a bad lager but nothing special. Some nice caramel and roasted malts in the smell and taste and pretty easy to drink. Wouldn't seek out but would have again.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.31/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I got about a finger's worth of thick, deep-tan/light-brown head from this beer on the pour. The color was a deep, dark brown with beautiful garnet highlights. The nose had an interesting smoky quality to its sweetness. Mouthfeel was kind of thin and there was a slightly sweet taste on the tongue. Warming, I got more of a sugary sweetnessthan I had initially. It was quite as caramel-sweet as the caramel porter, but it was along those lines. The finish left me with a lingering sweetness. There was great lacing throughout. Overall, not bad, but not the first thing in that mixed 12-pack that I would reach for.

From the bottle: "Deep in the heart of the Adirondacks, there is a place where even light is scared to enter. The Black Forest! It inspired us to brew this delicious Bavarian style Black Beer with caramel sweetness, medium body and our trademark rich, creamy head. Look for the delicate brownish-red color. Don't be afraid of the dark!"

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.11/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer is dark brown with 1/2" of tan head that settles to a thin cap within moments, leaving a nice sheet of lacing as it recedes. The aroma identifies this as a lager, with some chocolate and malt scents. The flavor is ok. Malt forward, with light roast, the finish brings a touch of hop bitterness. Not nearly my favorite of the style, this is a middle of the road example of a schwarzbier.

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

Appearance: Deep ruby brown almost black if not held up to the light, forms a very nice mountainous tan chunky head leaves behind thick coating of lacing on the sides of my glass. Aroma: Delicate toasted malts paired with very nice herbal German Hallertau hops in there they definitely arise in the aroma. Taste: Perfect blend of sweetness from the dark roasted and caramel malts kicks up the hop flavor very much so authentic tasting just tasted a Schwarzbier from the subsidary of Kulmbacher yesterday and this is even more drinkable and more favorfully hopped. Mouthfeel: Light to medium body in the spectrum but has a nice soft carbonation not overcabonated at all. Drinkability: Best of the bunch from Saranac I definitely am going to pick up a sixer while supplies last down the street at the liquor store good brew to have on hand.

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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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