Saranac Black Forest | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

1,139 Ratings
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 Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,139 |  Reviews: 571
Photo of BranfordBound
4.05/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz single picked up for $.99 no freshness date or indication of "schwarzbier".

Pours a deep garnet which appears super dark brown when not near light. 1/4" light tan head fizzles to a mediocre covering. Spotty lacing.

Smells of caramel, slight honey, and some malts.

Tastes of roasted malts with just a hint of coffee. A little honey sweetness sneaks in. Slightly hoppy and bitter on the back end. Nothing too strong, similar to a stout.

Mouthfeel is wet at first, which turns only a little dry. Chewier and with more prickling than expected.

Very drinkable. I'd prefer this in the fall or the winter, like I would a stout, but I can definitely see me picking this up when it gets colder. Surprisingly good for Saranac, I wonder how it compares to Sam Adams black lager.

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Photo of JimbobAlonymous
4.1/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Went to college 5 minutes from the brewery...been on a few tours. first experienced from the tap at their bar.

Appearance: beautifully dark

Smell: sweet...only a hint of alcohol smell

Taste: also sweet, made me imagine drinking a stout while simultaneously eating a piece thick of chocolate cake. very good tasting beer.

Mouthfeel: thick, creamy almost.

Drinkability: The only problem I have with this beer is that I can't drink much of it at a time. For dinner, or just one or two hanging out in the pub, fantastic...but for an all nighter? not so much.

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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 Tilley4
3.74/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was included in a Saranac sampler I recently purchased and its the best of the bunch..

An absolute pitch jet black with a thick creamy fluffy head... Incredible looking brew here...

Rich toasted malts with some cocoa and coffee aspects... Not necessarily the most upfront aspect of the brew.. Nice but not memorable..

A damn good Schwarzbier here... Nice rich roasted malt flavors that carry the typical cocoa and coffee aspects with them... There's even a little hop bitterness on the finish... I'm digging it so far...

Kind of disappointed that there was only one bottle in the sixer... I liked this one.

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Photo of ToasterChef
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a cellar temperature bottle into a tumbler glass. Big brown head, made of many sizes of bubbles. The liquid is a dark brown and has lots of rising and clinging carbonation bubbles. If I didn't know better, I'd say this looks like a glass of Coke. The aroma has some sweet malts and piney hops. The combination reminds me of black licorice. The flavor is tasty. It has a mild sweetness, some wheat, and a good bitter character in the finish. I don't like black licorice or black jelly beans, but this beer seems to have the good aspects of those candies. It has a medium body, but little coating; it ends up feeling a bit watery. The carbonation level is a bit above average. There aren't any major lingering flavors. Each sip goes down well, and the taste is very good, but there's something that makes me think I wouldn't drink too many of these. I obtained this beer through a Saranac mix pack. I wouldn't skip a purchase because a mix contained this beer, but I also wouldn't buy a six pack of just the Black Forest.

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Photo of PDXHops
2.73/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

Pours a couple of shades of deep ruby lighter than their Black and Tan, dark enough to be mistaken for black at a glance. The light tan head quickly reduces to a thick collar and a skim of fom. A little drippy lacing here and there.

The nose is quite mild, but pleasant. Pretty straightforward roasted and toasted malts with a bit of dark chocolate.

Tastes pretty good, mildy sweet with a gentle chocolate/toasted maltiness. Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Quite a bit of citrusy hop character, with a lingering tanginess in an otherwise dry finish. Enjoyment is somewhat lessened here by the typical Saranac cardboard/paper flavor.

Overall impression: Lose the cardboard and this would be a nice little beer.

Overall impression: The pape

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Photo of LittleCreature
4.03/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Note: The bottle says 5.3%abv, not 5.5%.

Appearance - 4.5
This "black" beer pours two fingers of beige head over a body of clear, dark reddish brown. Decent head retention and the foam leaves sticky rings of lace right down the glass.

Smell - 4.0
A rather sweet aroma of toasty malt, caramel and a little dark chocolate.

Taste - 4.0
A lovely dark, malty, German-style lager. Toasty German malt character dominates with just a hint of roastiness, dark chocolate and caramel sweetness. Very little hops or bitterness, but the finish is just dry enough to balance the malty richness.

Mouthfeel - 4.0
Light to medium bodied, in contrast to the porter-like appearance. Fine bead, giving a rather smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability - 4.0
Not the most exciting beer in the world, but true-to-style and very enjoyable any time of the year.

The addition of caramel syrup is a no-no if you believe in following the Reinheitsgebot (sp?).

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Photo of KTCamm
3.7/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours very dark brown with small off white foam. Mostly dissolves, but leaves some volume around the rim. Light roasted malt smell, slightly sweet. Creamy caramel taste, very smooth. Surprisingly punching carbonation - small bubbles. Good drinkability. Nice beer.

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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 Soilworker
3.4/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Dark amber color (appears almost black until you hold it up to the light) with a one finger tan head.

S: Sweet caramal malts with a bit of grassy hops and light fig aroma.

T: Light roasted malts with hints of caramel sweetness and fruit to them and some floral hops to accompany the malts. Seems to hit the intended style ok.

M: Pretty smooth and creamy. More on the watery side.

D: Goes down very smooth and nothing is terribly overpowering. Easy to have a few and get down.

Notes: For the style I think they did a pretty respectable job. Not really my cup of tea but they hit what they were going for. Still a solid-offering.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.71/5  rDev 0%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Pours very dark copper, ruby highlights, with a quickly fading head.
Nose shows dark chocolate, lots of caramel and light roasted malt. Quite sweet, that caramel and an enticing bready note work wonders.
Similar flavours though not as complex: roasted barley, sweet caramel approaching honey. Mild roasty bitterness accompanies a dry finish.
Carbonation is ridiculously high.
Aroma is the strong point of this beer, it's really let down in other areas. The carbonation problem is a real worry.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
3.71/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours deep brown with ruby highlights when held to the light. A solid tan foamy head and good lacing. Pretty beer.

Some toasted malt, some light cocoa and coffee aromas. A bit on the light side here, but ok.

I really expected them to go over the top with sweetness, and that just didn't happen. Good deep roasted malt with some light coffee and light sweetness to round out charred and bitter edges. Good balance and intensity of flavor. OK, this isn't typical German schwarzbier, but a damn good domestic shot at it. Flavor is lingering and pleasant.

Lighter bodied, and a touch too carbonated, but it still works.

Overall, this went down quick and easy. Flavorful, not heavy, nothing off, and enough flavor to reach for another. surprise from Matt's, and one of their best brews.

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Photo of stakem
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color with some redness about it and more than a finger of tanned head. Decent retension and sticky lacing around the glass. Nose is a bit mineral-like with some notes of citrus hops. Taste is also quite mineral filled with citrus hops present both upfront and with a touch of bitterness in the crisp finish. Slight grainy malt character comes through as it warms. Medium body with a flavor profile that just barely suggests dark grain but doesn't quite get there with the flavors. Regardless it is a pretty decent lager that is easy drinking and modestly carbonated.

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Photo of scottbrew4u
4.07/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a deep mahogany color with ruby hues and very clear. Head is thick and light brown.

S: Ripe dark fruit, currants, roasted grains, brown bread, and molasses. Hints of vanilla came through. Hops have an herbal character that remains a bit subdued.

T: Some semi-sweet roasted grains, currants and blackberries, touch of caramel, molasses and coffee. Hops add some bitterness with citrus and herbal hops. Finish is balanced.

M: Medium body with crisp carbonation.

D: Well balanced and very easy to drink! It begs for another.

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Photo of CHickman
3.67/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours opaque black with a 1/4 inch creamy tan head; decent lacing, but just above average. Smells malty with hints of hops, grains/toast and caramel.

Tastes of sweet roasted malt, caramel, brown sugar, light floral hops, and a semi-bitter finish that has a burnt wood or roasted coffee bean ending. The hops and grains are present and add accents in a nice compliment to the malts. Light carbonation with a crisp and creamy mouthfeel; it goes down smooth with a real nice feel to it.

Very good and very drinkable beer - the color is deceiving as this looks like a stout or porter in the glass, but goes down much easier.

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Photo of wesbrownyeah
3.8/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Saranac Black Forest. 5.5% alcohol. Out of a six pack mixer.

A- Pours an ultra dark amber opaque fluid that produces a small but lasting heead dropping to a thin froth leaving rings of lacing on the glass.

S- Sweet dried plums and raisins are upfront with light malts and hops in the back.

T- Taste is one of a kind. First is a toasted malt kick of vanilla beans, plums and raisins. Has a malted barley run as well. Hops are noted with light lemony hits in the flavor on the backbone. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a small carbonated spritz to allow a easy drinking experience.

D- 2 of 3 excellent drinking beers from Saranac so far. I'd put a bit of these in my fridge if i had a good price and availibility.

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Photo of donteatpoop
3.7/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I don't know how I've missed it all these years but damn it I like dark lagers. Kostriker is one of my favorite beers ever and this Saranac isnt bad at all.

Clear dark burgundy a creamy head clung nicely to the glass. The one thing that stands out about Saranac to me is the head; always thick and always clingy.

The smell is sweet like molases an underlying hop bite.

The taste has the same flat sweetness and a nice dry piney hop.

A good beer. I got a sampler pack of Saranac from a friend, so far they're not bad; but I haven't had anything that quite stands out. This beer is much the same; very good but not anything really amazing about it.

I'd buy this one again, but there are several others that I'd rather pick up over Saranac Black Forest.

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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 jsprain1
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a dark ruby with very little head on it.
S- Smells very sweet. malty and fruity. good bit of caramel. a little bit of floral.
T- Creamy caramel with just a bit of hop. very sweet with a tinge of alcohol.
M- Dry. Medium bodied.
D- Very drinkable. A very schwarz. Up to this point, my favorite saranac beer.

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Photo of tjd112
4.02/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Got this in an Adirondack Trail Mix sixer, and I can tell you this is the jewel of the trail mix. Poured a black ruby color with decent head, but not much in the way of lacing. The smell and taste is chocolately and rich like your usual black forest cake. Mouthfeel was medium and creamy, and this beer was very drinkable.

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Photo of ThaBobfather
3.86/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The pour lives up to its name pours a solid black with a good topping of chocolate colored head.
Smell is malted slightly with some cashews on the smell.
Taste is very similar toasty malt flavor followed by smooth hints of cashews.
Finish is wet with some slight toasted flavor left.
Drinks ok, goes done well at 5.5, sessionable.

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Photo of biggred1
3.53/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ebony with rosewood highlights and a thin cap of tan colored foam that leaves behind fine lace on the glass. Lightly toasted malty caramel and honey with a faint touch of nice aroma hops in the nose. Caramel malty sweetness with some nice noble hop bite. Medium light bodied with bright carbonation. A decent brew for sure but at around $10.99 a sixer a tad over priced in this area.

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

The beer is a very dark brown with reddish color apparent on the edge. A thick light brown head which dissipates after a short time leaving a fair amount of lacing. The aroma and taste both have a caramel malty flavoring with a slight hop profile. There is also an earthy component to the flavor. The beer seems a lightly carbonated and does not feel as thick as one might expect. This is probably my second favorite Saranac beer.

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Photo of JustinJTisdale
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours dark reddish almost purple with a mid off white head. The taste is very malty with hints of fruitiness and a crisp finish. My only complaint is the taste doesnt really match the texture of the beer. It feels thicker than it tastes.

Would buy and drink again though.

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Photo of dgilks
3.33/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Fairly dull aroma with some light roasty and earthy notes. Fairly insipid really.

The colour is a very dark mahogany which looks black. A small tan head dissipates after some time. Good but not great.

The taste is malty with some caramel notes and a touch of burnt coffee like roast. Otherwise is it fairly thin.

A medium-light body and high carbonation don't really work for me.

Sure it's drinkable but mainly because there isn't enough flavour to really be a factor.

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Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.71 out of 5 based on 1,139 ratings.
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