Saranac Black Forest | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

1,137 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: 1,137 |  Reviews: 570
Photo of youbrewidrink
3.86/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice clear black color with a small tan head.

Very light malt aroma with a hint of fruit.

I really enjoy this style of beer, it has the body of a lager with more of a stout flavor. There is a malty sweetness that is not overpowering. Because of the name I was expecting a bit more cherry flavor.

Very drinkable.

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

Served in a normal pint glass.

This is one of the nicer Saranac brews. Dark brown appearance. Thought the aroma was weak, almost non-existent. Right on Par with most satisfactory Bavarian Black Lagers that I've tasted. Caramel notes with roasted malts. Nice clean finish. Mouthfeel is like a lager, but with the extra flavor of a Porter or Extra Stout.

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Photo of imanidiot777
4.03/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: Pours a dark brown/black color, decent head and stays for a decent amount of time.

s: Not good at the smells but smells malty / caramel.

t: Malty / Caramel aftertaste, not overly strong though.

m: Could use slightly more carbonation but still good nonetheless.

d: Not the kind of beer you would have a lot of but it is amazing for a few.

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Photo of GodOfBeer
3.71/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown/red almost black, a nice tan head with some nice lacing.

The first thing I smell is hops, maybe a bit of sweet caramel too and a whiff of a lager.

Tastes sweet up front, some graininess, finishes with a nice surprising hop citrusiness, and some burnt caramel.

Thin, lagerish mouthfeel, somewhat drinkable, my first schwarzbier and not disappointed!

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Photo of goblue3509
3.33/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown color with a tan color head. The smell and taste are not what you would expect. Both the smell and taste have fruity undertones which you wouldn't think of with a dark beer. It is more along the lines of an ipa than a stout or porter. Very dry mouthfeel.

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

Appearance- Clear, deep ruby-brown body with a decent amount of fizzy, tan head head that recedes quickly. Good lace.

Smell- Toasty, caramelly malt, balanced well by some nice, fruity hops.

Taste- Great balance between crisp, caramel-malt and a nice, fruity hoppiness.

Mouthfeel- Light-medium body with plentiful carbonation. clean finish.

Drinkability- A pretty decent example of the style, and a refreshing dark beer for the summer with lots of flavor.

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Photo of Norfawkers
3/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A smokey taste but not a very memorable offering from the Saranac variety pack.

Appearance: Dark brown (looks like Pepsi) with little head and lacing

Smell: Barely there; faint chocolate

Taste: Smokey with malty overtones; a bit bland

Mouthfeel: Too much carbonation but smooth enough

Drinkability: Good for swilling; average at best

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

Hey, this is a solid brew. Pours fairly dark brown and has a solid tan head with thick rings of lacing. Smell is somewhat light but still nice. Light caramel, chocolate, and a touch of coffee. Some earthy hops as well. Taste is good. Very well balanced between sweet and roast with moderate hop bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is light to medium in body and very, very smooth. I could have a couple of these with ease if not more.

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Photo of Folderol
4.04/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I remember drinking this stuff a couple of years ago in my Saranac mix pack and being fairly impressed. With schwarzbier, so you shouldn't go into the taste test expecting too too much, and Black Forest is no exception. Where I find this excels is in sweet flavor and appearance. This is a beautiful beer with a solid deep red color and a huge rocky head. Taste is pretty light, a mix of malty sweetness and roasty bitterness that was really easy to quaff. Not a special beer by any means, but good solid stuff.

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Photo of cjl1209
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

"Bavarian Beer"

A - Pours a very deep brown, almost black. Appears blood red when held up to light. Accompanied by a decent light brown head.

S - Roasted malts, coffee, and cocoa.

T - Lightly roasted malts and a bit of bitter coffee come out first. A sweet flavor reminiscent of cocoa powder then presents itself along with notes of caramel. As my glass warms any bitterness present slowly subsides.

M - Light/medium. Possibly a bit thin.

D - High. This is a good malty brew that goes down much easier than one would expect of such a dark beer and is therefore quite easy on the stomach.

Final Thoughts: Find more schwarzbiers!

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Photo of atpben
3.41/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Part of a Saranac variety pack. Poured into a pint glass. Appears a dark reddish brown color with a light brown head. Aromas of mostly chocolate and caramel. A good roasty taste throughout with the chocolate and caramel creeping in nicely. Very smooth and creamy and very easy to drink. Pretty good beer.

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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 Blakaeris
3.13/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pour murky mahogany with ruby highlights. Head is initially thick, but settles into a thin sheen leaving slight lacing.

Aroma is caramel malt and dark grain. Earthy with hints of nut.

Taste is similar to the nose. Caramel malt, and smokey dark grain. Earthy hops bring balancing bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied.

A drinkable but not outstanding black lager. Worth a try.

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Photo of bashiba
3.13/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This beer poured a nice dark brown color with bright Ruby Highlights and a thin tan head that quickly turned into a small soapy ring.

The smell is sweet and malty with a bit of cedar.

The flavor is light and slightly sweet with a bit of a sweet dark bread flavor and a touch of woodyness along with a bit of light earthy hops making it very balanced.

The mouthfeel is light and a bit thin.

Its ok, nothing to right home about.

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Photo of Finch
3.97/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

P: 12 oz brown bottle saying "don't be afraid of the dark", which I'm not anymore! No freshness date.

A: Very nice, dark reddish-brown ... the beer looks stunning while pouring. Nice looking tan head. Little to no head retention or lacing and I'm beginning to think I got a bad batch here.

S: Very pleasing and mild scent with a slight sweetness. There's an aroma in there that seems to be very relaxing when inhaled.

T: You can certainly taste a bit of caramel in here, but not too much. It's just about right for my tastes, however I'm beginning to miss the roasted flavor from a stout. This is still good though. It's a bit more balanced than most of the dark beers I've had.

M: Seems a bit light to me. Even the bottle says it's supposed to be medium-bodied ... I'd give them medium-light at best. I can live with it though!

D: You would think it would be difficult to drink, but if you like dark beers then this goes down about as easy as anything else out there. There's just enough bitterness in the mix to keep a balanced beer, so it should make a lot of folks happy.

O: Pretty good brew. It kinda stunk to drink it before it got cold enough, but I just couldn't wait. It sounds as good as it is. I think I've just become a schwarzbier fan! It's really that good if you ask me. Thinking about drinking one of these colder or even from a tap is making my mouth water already.

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

12 oz bottle out of the Saranac brewery mixed six pack. Gonna serve this one up in a Pilsner glass. Why not, right?

A: This one pours a super dark brown that builds up an almost black body. Yet again, I have to use the almost cola looking body going on here. Held to the light, a really nice red hued brown shines through. It almost glows red. Nice active carbonation moving around in here. The head was an almost perfect finger of light tan head. The head tries to hold on but it does eventually falter into a thin ring that puts up some light and thin lace on the glass. Good looking.

S: Getting some light bready malt first and foremost. There is some caramel and a very slight amount of bitter chocolate making an appearance. This brew has a nice, slightly bitter hops presence that is earthy and mingles nicely with the grains that are kickin in here. Very nice aroma but with that said, it is quite muted and mild.

T: Very nice indeed. This is a subtle beer but it has something to it as well. Nice bready presence along with some really nice caramel goodness. The caramel is rich but not over the top. That is cleaned and cut by the slight hops bitterness. The hops have a grassy and leafy presence. really makes this fresh and soothing. The grains come out a touch in the hops but there is no real chocolate translating in the taste. Still a good representation taste wise.

M: I know that brews in this style stay on the light side, but this almost has a touch of wateriness to it. Its not enough to destroy the beer, but it does take away a times. Carbonation is nice and crisp, really makes this enjoyable because it is very refreshing. ABV doesn't play a factor to me at all, very subdued in that category. Aftertaste is all caramel and slight hops bitterness.

D: Solid brew for the style and just overall. Really enjoyable, easy rinking beer. Its light on the palate and sits light in the stomach. Sessionable and would be easy to kill a sixer of this brew. I will have to keep an eye out of sixers of this to keep on hand for a thirst quenching brew with some flavor. Would absolutely visit again.

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Photo of Poormon79
4.35/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A. Very dark looking. Thin head

S. Smelled a bit hoppy. Hint of malt

T. It had a very pleasent hoppy taste. Full beer taste

M. Great lingering taste. Full bodied

D. I had this in a growler, i imagine the bottles would be great as well and a little easier to drink.

Final Thoughts: A very enjoyable beer. I liked very much. Its a local brew so i have to give kudos

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

12 ounce bottle poured into a tumbler. Appears a clear medium brown color akin to root beer with almost an inch of dense light ecru foam. No lacing to mention here, but still, a nice looking pour. Smells and tastes of toasty bread, sweet caramel malts, and a touch of molasses, chocolate and bitter hops. A bit more than medium bodied with ample carbonation. One of my favorites from Saranac, but I only ever see it in their mixed twelve packs. I'd like to see this one in sixers around here.

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

Pours dark ruby red in color with a copious tan head that has only mediocre retention but decent lacing.
Smell is of sweet malts, some caramel and coffee aroma in both smell and taste.
Taste is sweet and creamy an a little thick on the tongue. Has some bitterness hops in the dry aftertaste.

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Photo of dbmcrorie
3.83/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an American pint glass, it produces a 1-finger head that disappears quickly. A bubbly cap remains to the end but it leaves no lace. A full glass appears to be dark copper brown. When held to the light, a deep red hue glows like a dark Irish Red.

Strong notes of toasted bread and rich malt were present within the bottle. However, the nose was very light once in the glass. Bitter cocoa notes of coffee and chocolate were pleasantly followed by hints sweet caramel.

Unfortunately, this beer - despite being a "bavarian" style, was rather light in flavor yet still medium bodied. I expected a bit more in the taste department.
Caramel sweetness is noticeable at first, which is followed by chocolate bitterness in the back of the tongue (reminiscent of Guinness) that balances out well. The only distinguishable characteristics from the hops comes from a slight sourness that stays on the tongue for a little while.

Not overly outstanding but extremely drinkable. It reminds me more of a sweet porter than a traditional bavarian beer. This, fortunately, is a style that can be paired with a wide range of foods; but is probably best paired with baked potatoes, fries, or pizza.

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Photo of DannyS
4.22/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a tulip glass, poured from a 12 oz. bottle.

A - Midnight black that yields a rusty amber sheen in the light. Nice, slightly sticky head that leaves a little lacing and a nice collar of foam.

S - coffee and malty bittersweet chocolate are the upfront aromas, with a subtle candy sweetness and caramel backing.

T - Lots of roasted coffee, accompanied by hoppy bitterness and malty sweetness. Dark yet not overwhelming on the palate. Great for the style.

M - Lots of active carbonation and a light body make this a very ethereal brew. Took me by surprise

D - It finishes with little bitterness and has a modest ABV. I'd totally session this if I was craving dark beer.

Overall - A surprising gem from my Saranac variety pack. Big on 'dark' flavor, but not heavy nor highly alcoholic. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.

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

Serving notes - 0.5L German glass, cellar temp
A - Malty aroma with noble hop aroma.
A - Nice billowing off-white head. Dark red-brown body, somewhat opaque. Slightly cloudy.
M - Medium to full body, low carbonation.
T - Roast upfront, followed by mild malty sweetness. Slight chocolate malt. Very crisp and clean.
D - I love the head on these beers and their maltiness. I could easily drink more of these.

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Photo of alkemy
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The dark ruby color mentioned a couple reviews below is a perfect description of the color. The main taste was sweet and roasted malt. This beer resembles a stout somewhat in taste and smell, but it is very light. It's actually refreshing to drink. I was expected a thick mouthfeel, but was pleasantly surprised to find an easy drinking beer with a pleasant taste.

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Photo of brianlg
3.45/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

1 quart growler. Pours a dark black, with dark reddish brown appearance in light. Not much head at all, just some tan bubbles. It smells of malt, not much in the sense of smell, or maybe my nose is off today. The taste is very good! It tastes malty, a little bit of caramel, and you can also taste a hoppy bitterness. There is a nice amount of carbonation. It tastes very good! Mouthfeel is nice and smooth, it feels very light. I am very pleased with this beer, it was only $3 for a quart. Well worth it!

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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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