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.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,139 |  Reviews: 571
Photo of thekevlarkid
3.67/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This "Bavarian Style Beer" was a deep, wood-stain brown approaching black out of the bottle. The tan head was small, only as thick as a pencil and the retention no so great either. The aromas were very soft, hints of chocolate and barley. The flavors however were good, some hoppy notes first soon followed by a rich maltiness. Hints of nuts, fruit and some chocolate. The body was medium/full and the mouthfeel creamy. I was not blown away by this and it sounded darker than it was but I still enjoyed it quite a bit.

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

Got as extra in trade with johnnnniee - many thanks! Poured from a 12oz bottle (some codes but no clear dating info) into a pint glass. It was a dark reddish brown color with some carb but no lacing. It was a small fizzy tan head that quickly dissipated. Other reviews talked about a big head so this one may have been off from the shipping.

The aroma was sweet caramel malt and the expected roasted/burnt smell of a schwarzbier. The taste was pretty good but not as flavorful as I hoped. I let this one warm up too much so it was impacted a bit by that. This is a style that I've discovered recently and have been getting into. This one is good but I've had better in the style. I'd need to try another one at right temp to give it a fair shake but for now this is what it is.

Overall, a good drinkable beer that is just missing a bit in the flavor department. Would like to try it at least once again.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.75/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a deep mahogany color with reddish/tan head.

S: The nose was sweet with rich german black forest chocolate as well some fruitiness.

T: The flavor was dark roasted caramel and dark chocolate. There was some cherries and dark fruit (plums) balanced nicely with a light roasted bitterness. Finishes with a slight burnt coffee flavor upon warming and a fruity cherry lacing.

M: syrupy with lots of dark roasted malt, coffee with some fresh cherries.

D: Definitely a dessert beer.

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Photo of Reagan1984
3.86/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured with a great fluffy tan head that built up to about 3 fingers in height.
The beer was a very cool deep reddish/brown color. Mahogany?? Pretty darn good retention on the head. Some decent lacing. No visible carbonation. A lot more reddish tones than I've ever seen in a Schwarzbier.

Aroma was pretty light and mostly of grains. A touch of sweetness, but not much.

Flavor was decent but I was slightly disappointed. Based on visual and aroma I was hoping for something a little deeper than this. Cant' say there is anything wrong with it. Good balance, front to back. Nice malt flavor with some fruity notes. A touch of hops at the end... A touch of a bread like finish.

Mouth feel is light and it's quite drinkable. A good very Schwarzbier... Was hoping for a great one.

I have to say this, it's one of the better Saranac styles.

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Photo of Conrad
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a big stein. My cousin bought me a growler from the PX at Ft Lee, so I just had to drink it out of gratitude.
A: Dark as old sin. Over half inch of thick creamy head that stayed through the drink and left lots of pretty lacing.

S: Sweetis, caramel malts upfront with a bit of of grassy/floral hops sneaking in back. Thin but enjoyable aroma.

T: Yum. Immediate taste of caramel, followed by dark fruit like plum and raisin. The hops is subdued but still present.

M: Medium to full bodied. Smooth without being too syrupy. Most enjoyable.

D: I'm glad it came in a growler size. That's a lot of beer. I like the way the foam clings to my moustache.

Nice artwork on the lable. Another fine addition to my collection. (1060 labels so far)

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Photo of SixpointJMH
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice deep brown colour that shows lighter caramel like hints of brown when held to the light. Head is mid-sized and semi-creamy, with a fair amount of stickiness to it.

Aroma is sweet from the caramel but also has a bit of a mellow earthy quality to it as well. There's a dirtiness here that mixes well with the sweetness. A surprising bit of alcohol is thrown into the mix as well. Simple, but nice.

The flavour essentially echoes the aroma. Caramel leads the way with perhaps even a bit of cocoa. There's a bit of a fruit flavour in the middle of each sip as well, and the earthiness comes through mainly at the finish. Nice. Once again, alcohol is detected, which is odd considering the overall tameness of this one (5.5% ABV). Mouthfeel is a bit too thin, even for the style.

This is a nice beer overall. The only place it sort of misses the mark a touch is the mouthfeel, and the thinness is certainly tolerable and far from offensive, and likely a victim of personal preference more than anything else. Would like to see it more often on it's own in six packs, but the Saranac regular and seasonal mixed sixes and twelves seem to be the norm more often than not around here. Certainly worth a try if you see it.

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Photo of oneeye
3.75/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.
A. Pours a brownish black with a little tan head. A little lacing left with little carbonation.

S. The aroma of roasted caramel malts and a bit nutty.

T. Dark caramel with a fruity presence. A subtle roastiness and subtle hop presence. Finishes dry and thin.

M. A light bodied beer with a nice dry finish.

D. An easy drinker with lots of flavor. A well balanced beer that goes down easy.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4.01/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a flute. My girlfriend just bought me a bunch of beer glasses for my birthday. So excited to get some use out of them.

4.5 A: Dark, like used motor oil, basically black. Finger and a half of thick creamy head that retains really, really well and leaves lots of lacing.

3.5 S: Sweet and caramel malts. Mild touch of grassy/floral hops. Nice smell but too weak.

4.0 T: Very good. Big hit of creamy caramel, then dark fruit. It is capped off with a small amount of grassy hops.

4.0 M: Medium to full bodied. Smooth, but syrupy. Very nice.

4.5 D: You can easily session this beer.

This is my first schwarzbier. If they're all this good, then I'm a fan for life.

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

Pours a very dark brown that approaches opaque. Tannish head. Nose is kind of maple-ish. Overall seems a bit one-dimensional. Interesting. Flavor brings an interesting sweet tone. It borders on being too much, but by just a hair it keeps it tolerable. An earthy tone gets in on the mix as well, but the sweet, vaguely honey edge keeps control over things. Feel is smooth on liquid and carbonation, with the liquid being a bit sticky. Overall a nice drinker. I've had better examples of the style, yes. But this is still a solid enough offering.

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

Purchased this beer in a "Mini Growler", beer pours a nice dark brown with a billowing head, nice lacing as beer is enjoyed.

aroma is brown bread/molasses with a touch of piney hops, very nice.

taste is tosted malt, with a touch of hope bitterness, not an overly aggressive flavor profile, tastes a bit like a tamed down porter, enjoyable flavor but not outstanding.

mouthfeel is good but could have a bit more viscosity.

overall, a solid beer, there are just not enough of this great style produced in the US, my favorite is Sprecher's Black Bavarian but I can't get that here in Maine, Saranac Black forest is an acceptable substitute.

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

Poured from a growler into a pilsner glass.

A = Clear dark reddish brown with a large light tan head, fair retention, medium lacing.

S = Very crisp scents of white pepper and rye bread dough.

T = Upfront good malt flavors of light caramel and half baked bread, good bitterness hits at mid-palate and continues into finish, less spice than expected from the smell, but well balanced and refreshing.

M = Medium-light body, good carbonation which foams but not too much contributing to great mouthcoating without stinging tongue.

D = This is an excellent beer to sit around and enjoy.

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Photo of joezak5
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured into a Duvel sniffter; dark blackish ruby with just a hint of light sneaking through, three finger and tight tan head with little retention and decent lacing.

Smell: Sweet bitter caramel malt, slightly floral.

Mouthfeel: Very light for a dark beer, low carbonation and very smooth.

Taste: Sweet and light caramel with very delicate but flavorful floral hops, earthy finish.

Drinkability: This was from a 6 pack variety pack with 6 different beers... props to Saranac for that... I would search this one out as something to bring to a novice as an excellent intro to dark beers.

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Photo of Mit
2.98/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Bought a growler of this when I was over the border.

Very nice appearance that was in keeping with a black beer. No head to speak of mind you. Dark in the glass with some slight caramel colouring when held up to the light.

Smell was mostly sweet and malty.

Taste was fairly mild compared to what I think a black beer would be like. Very sweet tasting as the beer warmed up to room temperature.

Mouthfeel was nice and heavy. I almost felt like I was drinking a porter.

Drinkability. I would say that drinkability is low as the sweetness becomes somewhat cloying as it warms up.

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Photo of changeup45
2.73/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

After reading the reviews in here on this beer I thought I would really like it. I was a little disappointed. This is a very dark looking beer, dark brown with hints of red in it. The advertise a thick creamy head but I just didn't see it. The flavor is caramel and malty but it smelled and tasted almost a little skunky. Definitely tastes lighter than it looks and the mouthfeel is a little tart. It wasn't a terrible beer but it wasn't good either and I was expecting more.

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Photo of ckeegan04
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to orcasteve for the chance to try this one.

A - Dark dark brown in color with ruby highlights when held up to light. Thick light brown head that slowly fades leaving spotty lacing all over the glass.

S - Sweet malty goodness of caramel and dark fruits. A little smokiness as well but the caramel malt aroma is the star.

T - Very sweet malty taste up front. A little burnt caramel. A spicy hop taste comes in in the middle but quickly fades back to the same sweetness.

M/D - Rather thin on the feel. Very well carbonated. A good beer that would be great to have around if you love malty beers.

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Photo of theopholis
3.17/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Body is brown/amber color (the color of maple syrup) with short head of about 1/4" or so. The head is light brown and dissipates fast. Some lacing, but not much.

Smell: Nice malt sweetness with a malty aroma, but not to much. Something else in there, a smokiness? I can't put my finger on it, but it smells very inviting.

Taste: Very nice. A semi-complex malt sweetness up front, with dark molasses notes without the cloying sweetness. Nice, subtle blend of bittering hops. Well done.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is light but persistent. Mouthfeel a bit on the light side.

Drinakability: It's okay.

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Photo of sleazo
3.57/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a mixed six pack of Saranac while grocery shopping the other day. Here's the first review.

A_Pours a semi translucent dark brown with a two and half fingered fluffy tan head. The head manages to retain most of its shape somewhat surprisingly. When held to the light the beer reveals that it is actually ruby red in colour. Lacing is decent as well.

S_Fairly strong smelling. A nice mix of roasted malt and caramel.

T_A bit lighter than the smell indicated. The first sip light roasted malt. This is followed by a slight mineral taste. As it warms a bit of cola comes through. Mildly bitter and sweet at the same time.

M_Light bodied with a somewhat soft carbonation.

D_This is a decent but not great Schwartzbier. It is pretty refreshing but could use a bit more of that roasted quality. I would have it again it offered but probably would no go out of my way for it.

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Photo of dsa7783
3.2/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Single, twelve-ounce bottle copped from Gary's in Madison...
Pours a deep, dark purple hue with a decent-sized foamy head that soon receded and deposited a thin film of lacing around the edge of the serving glass...
Smell: Faint, mild aroma with hints of malts, blackberries, and dark sugars...
Taste: Crisp, refreshing, malty flavor, with slight nuances of mocha and cocoa powder...
Light bodied mouthfeel with an average-at-best level of drinkablity...
Mediocore stuff...

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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
3.43/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

thanks to orcasteve for this extra.

Pours a nice black with ruby highlights and a good looking light tan head that leaves good lacing. Nose is kind of fruity with slight roast, and a bit of grain. Taste follows with a lot of graininess and next to no roast factor. Some fruitish flavor in here, and lagery smoothness. Mouthfeel is a bit thin. Drinkability is good. Overall an ok beer, but certainly doesnt compare to a top notch shwarzbier. I think this would be a good conversion beer to get bud drinkers to like dark beer. A good conversion beer. certainly not a bad beer, just nothing to write home about. Thanks again to orcasteve.

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Photo of Murchmac
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

I have a soft spot for this beer in my taste buds. This was the beer that launched a thousand beers for me.

Deep dark brown, red highlights, nice head that stays with the beer.

Smells like a beer.

Tastes sweet, carbonated, some fig taste, creamy, full body.

Love it, buy it if you can.

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Photo of jordoo
4.01/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poored into a pint glass.

Large chocolate ice cream colored head tops a deep dark mahogony body. Head receided but did last the duration while also leaving some splotches of lace here and there. Smell is grassy hops, roatsed and sweet malts to go with some slight chocolate. The tatse is sweet molassas flavored malts upfront but has a nice bit of grassy hop flavor throughout while also hitting chocolate and dark fruit notes. Nice light finish for a beer that looks syrupy. Its got a medium body but is very smooth with good flavor thats not overwelming making it extremely drinkable.

By far my favorite Saranac brew.

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Photo of BobbyBeerman
4.08/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this in the Saranac Brewhouse in the Albany International Airport while waiting for my flight back home. I was impressed with the waitress. She knew her beer.

A: Dark ruby. Almost fails the light test. Creamy head that fades leaving some lacing.

S: Roasted chocolate malt, maybe a little caramel. There's some fruit in the back somewhere.

T: Just like the smell. Chocolate and a little caramel with a hoppy citrus crispness.

M: Medium body, smooth, well balanced, good carbonation.

D: I liked it. Not sure how easy it will be for me to get locally. It is something I would keep my eye out for to share with my drinking buddies.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.56/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Pours a dark brownish black color with a creamy light tan head that possesses good retention and lacing. The aroma is sweet malt with caramel and hints of roastiness. The taste is rich and smooth malt with some caramel and a mild hop finish. The moutfeel is smooth and creamy, very nice. Overall, Saranac Black Forest is a pretty decent Schwarzbier that is worth a shot.

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Photo of zymurgy4all
3.66/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown blackish color, and has a tan head that dissipates quickly. Smells of roast anc chocolate malts. Tastes slightly sweet and slightly acidic as well. Mouthfeel is average, and it leave a little behind in the aftertaste so it isn't totally dry. Easy to drink overall. I think this is quite impressive for an American made Schwartzbier. I would seek this out as a decent example for the style, especially since it will be fresh in the US and fairly cheap.

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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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