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.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,137 |  Reviews: 570
Photo of soupyman10
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is near black brown color with a bunch of lighter brown highlights. Nice big bubbled head that dissolves quickly down to nothing. Very mild nose of roasted malt and light citrusy hops. Very light chocolate. Flavor is similar. Tons of roasted malt, and a bunch of citrus. Light caramel. Solid hop character. A nice flavor. Feel is appropriate for the style, with good carbonation. Another solid brew from Saranac. I haven't been disappointed yet.

 456 characters

Photo of mhewes
4.32/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A : Pours a nice dark brown/black with a tan head that leaves good lacing

S : Strong caramel smell with some roasted malts. Some fruit notes also. It actually reminds me of a Dr Pepper

T : Good caramel and chocolate flavors that go with the malt. There is just enough hop bitterness to balance it out

M : Crisp and smooth

D : Easily drinkable. I could session this one

 372 characters

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

I'm a big fan of Saranac and Schwarzbier, so imagine how happy I was to find out that Saranac made one.

Poured a crisp dark brown with a bit of dark tan head.

Smells very refreshing, coffee and caramel.

Tastes very sweet up front, alot of roasted caramel, but it bitters fast, which I found unusual because this style of beer prides itself on being smoother, due to the hops, and less bitter.

Mouthfeel is good. Nice weight and carbonation.

Drinkability is good. Saranac/UC/FX is right down the road from me, so I consider this commercially available as I don't have to go to a specialty shop to get it, and for a commercially available version of my favorite style, it's pretty decent.

 691 characters

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

12-ounce bottle poured into a tulip yields a deep reddish-brown opaque body capped with three fingers of creamy light tan foam that diminishes to a ring leaving a little lacing.

Smell is nutty with caramel sweetness and a stab of molasses.

Taste is sweet and fruity with caramel, bready malt, and a light floral character; the beer shifts gears with a cool and juicy finish tinged with a smoky bitterness that lingers.

Light-medium bodied and smooth with a slight astringency cut with a nice juicy finish. Very light and refreshing with excellent drinkability.

 563 characters

Photo of ghostmech007
4.18/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Very cool looking beer.

Very dark brown with red highlights. Beautiful coloring. Tan head that just hugs the glass. Lacing is patchy.

Big caramel smell! Malts are present, some fruit notes, apricots I think. Hops come through if you take a deep breath.

Rich creamy caramel full bodied weight. The apricot notes come through with a hint of -OH. Hops take there place in the finishing of the taste but ever so slightly. Finish is enjoyable with a plethora of flavors.

This is the best Schwarzbier I've ever had. But that isn't saying much as I've only enjoyed a few of them.

 614 characters

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

One of the brews available in the Saranac sampler 12 pack I purchased at Julio's Liquors in Westborough, MA.

A: Very dark brown with ruby highlights. Large tan head that virtually disappears after a brief appearance. Good clarity.

S: Strong caramel malt aroma with some roasted elements. Clean lager character. Rich - quite caramel like. A really good aroma all around.

T: Sweet caramel malt flavor though less so than the nose. Exhibits a solid roasty flavor that carries through till the end. Roastiness and subtle hop bitterness lingers long and dry. Overall sweet and rich but not overly so.

MF: High carbonation. Medium full mouthfeel. Dry but not astringent.

D, notes: Good drinkability. This is a solid well balanced beer. Roasty but not overpowering.

 765 characters

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

This beer had a good head. It was creamy off-white head. The beer was thin and dark (a reddish-black). It reminded me of a cola. The mouthfeel was thin, dry and smooth. It was not bitter. This beer was highly carbonated. I'd have another one of these beers.

 257 characters

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

Poured from 12 oz bottle into nonic pint glass.

A - Very dark brown, almost opaque, with thick 2 fingered light brown head. Decent retention and decent lacing.

S - Caramel malts, moderate floral hop presence, and a slight smokiness.

T - Starts off with smooth and sweet caramel, followed by strong, slightly unpleasant phenols, and wrapped up with floral and somewhat citrusy hops. Bitterness grows mid-palate all the way through the aftertaste.

M - Moderately carbonated with medium body. Goes down smooth.

D - The intensity of the phenolic and hoppy taste mid-palate combined with the increasing bitterness makes this a little difficult for me to drink. The taste itself is so heavy and obvious that having more than one or two would be a chore. Not bad at all though.

 775 characters

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

Pours a very nice dark color, nearly black, with some nice head and great lacing. It has a very nice scent, nicely balance between hops and malts, with a little bit of coffee aroma, although it is a very slight scent, not very strong. Great taste, a nice light beer with slight burnt grain flavors and a small bitter aftertaste, a nice balance. It goes down fine, a nice beer to try, one of my favorite Saranacs.

 412 characters

Photo of blackjack000
4.32/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: A dark ruby brown with a good amount of light tan head that clings to the glass.

Smell: Sweet caramel, brown sugar, and roastiness. The smells really stand out nicely.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Creamy! A pleasant hoppy twang that is perfectly balanced by malt. There is a pleasant hops and bit of dark chocolate aftertaste. The carbonation and body of this beer are just about perfect.

Drinkability: This is really good. I don't want to put down the glass. By the time I put the glass down, I'm already reaching for it again so I can get another smell or sip. This is a really nice experience. It seems to have a lot more character than some of the other schwarzbiers I've had.

 687 characters

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

It pours a dark reddish brown with a big creamy tan head. The head makes nice lace that slowly slides down the sides of the glass. Its aroma is sweet with roasted malts and caramel. The flavors of the dark roasted malts and caramel dance on the tongue as nice bitter notes slide in from the sides to finish slowly with a light bitterness. It has a smooth and creamy palate with soft carbonation that sets you up for anther sip.

 427 characters

Photo of ewright
3.51/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A vigorous pour from a 12 oz bottle into a nonic yields a huge 2+" head that sticks around ... both in retention and lacing. The beer is a deep brown that shows crystal clear when held to light.

S: Muted smokiness with just a very faint sulfuric note... nothing unusual for a lager, but not my favorite aroma.

T: Semi-sweet chocolate/cocoa mixed with burnt caramel. There isn't noticeable hop characteristic to the flavor, but enough presence to balance the malt flavors.

M: Dry, smooth, moderate carbonation.

D: Easy drinking for such a dark beer, I miss the esters I would get were this an ale.

 603 characters

Photo of Ch1mpy
3.36/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well here we go. This American schwarzbier pours dark dark brown. Small off-white head. Nice lazing.

It has a roasted, complex aroma with elements of hops and a little coffee.

Mild carboration on top of a grassy bitter taste. Pretty thin actually.

Feels really smooth in your mouth, goes down surprisingly fast.

 314 characters

Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.1/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

A: Pours a nice dark cola color with ruby and tan accentuations and a thin veil of white foam.

S: Smells a bit sweet and nutty with caramel and licorice aromas.

T: The sweet nutty flavor is balanced with some moderate hopping and a deep roasted coffee/cocoa flavor. It's not too heavy of a brew though, so the flavors don;t become cloying.

M: Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth.

D: Nice roasted flavor, manageable ABV and a great growler presentation made this a very drinkable beer on all levels. Great for a session or dessert beer.

Saranac brews are generally disappointing, given the fact they all taste almost identical save a few minor details. However, the Black Forest, with it's menacing black bear on the label, is a keeper.

 797 characters

Photo of bark
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The colour is deep, deep brown. The head is high, brown and airy. It leaves very little lacing.

The smell is malty, roasted, and a bit sweet with some fine balancing bitter notes.

The taste is dry and roasted with fresh notes of honey, fried meat, butter and a fine bitterness. The aftertaste is roasted and malty with some minerals and some gravy.

The carbonation is very fresh with lots of small bubbles. The liquid is medium smooth.

Lots of flavours but still balanced and highly drinkable. Nice done.

 511 characters

Photo of Hoagie1973
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

One of the best Schwarzbiers I've had to date.
Appears black, but is actually clear and dark red when held to light. Nice tan head that retains well and leaves some spotty lace.

Smell and taste are very much the same; sweet caramel and roasted malt with a prominent hop presence in the finish. Much more generously hopped than others I've had of this style, which can be annoyingly sweet.

The heavy, thick mouthfeel decreases the drinkability somewhat, but I wouldn't refuse a second (or maybe a third) bottle.

 513 characters

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

Appearance: Saranac Black Forest pours a dark, dark maroon colour (somewhat similar to the one of a coke, you know it insidiously looks as if to be dark, dark brown but really isn't?) and a relatively high -- light brown-to-cream yellow colour -- crown which diminishes rather quickly and leaves some lacing.

Smell: Sweet, malty and caramelly, almost with a fruit sensation to it at times. Great!

Taste: Once again, in great correlation with the smell: caramel and malt (not all that bitter though) with a slightly acidic reminiscence to it in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium full and creamy with low carbonation, it's smooth, smoooth like Shaft (not "a shaft", ya perv!) to the palate. Can you dig it?

Drinkability: Another? Surely, pleasing to down, rich to the experience, what more can you ask for? - Yarr, tis be a top notch Schwarzbier!

So once again: another? - Why, thank you! Yes, I just think I might! (So he did, and thus lived moderately happy ever after).

 977 characters

Photo of hwwty4
3.31/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 12oz bottle into my Chimay chalice. At first glance, it just looks dark brown, but hold it up to the light and dark ruby highlights come out. A light beige brown head disappeared pretty quickly leaving no detectable lacing. Aroma is caramel and just a touch of chocolate. Taste is really the same. There is a hint of astringency, like strong coffee but not much else. Mouthfeel is creamy up front but it finishes pretty thin. Its another solid beer from the Matt Brewing Co.

 483 characters

Photo of Lexluthor33
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark,sultry beer with nice head. The smell is of caramel and cream. The taste is malty caramel and sweetness just as the bottle says.The feel is sticky sweet and a good balance of malts. This is a pleasure to drink. It is so smooth and creamy. Good carbonation.
I think it must be one of their best beers.This beer is not complex and it does not need to be,it is just fine the way it is.

 388 characters

Photo of philbe311
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Appears to pour black, but with subtle red undertones... Creamy head...

S - Sweet caramel and malt... Maybe even a hint of coffee...

T - Cherry was an unexpected taste mixed with the expectedly sweet caramel and malt... Some hops too...

M - Not much carbonation... Very smooth...

D - A very enjoyable Bavarian brew... A highly enjoyable session beer...

 360 characters

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

Enjoyed from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

This is a very good dark lager from Matt Brewing. It poured with a black body and and a small light brown head. It had a rich taste featuring delicious dark malt with hints of rich fruit with a smooth lager finish. Well done, one of their best.

 291 characters

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

S = Caramel and chocolate.

T = A semi-sweet mixture of caramel and roasted malt with a small dose of chocolate. I detected a small hop bitterness near the finish, but it quickly disappeared and left a nice sweet bread flavor.

MF = Very smooth and creamy. Medium carbonation.

Overall, this is a very drinkable Schwarzbier.

 325 characters

Photo of taez555
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

32oz mini growler/bottle. From notes, tasted 1/20/08

This beer poured a mild dark brown body with a thick white head.

Nose is a light caramel and some roasted/toasted malt. Mild dark fruits sit along with some earth but it diminishes in place of roasted and caramel notes.

Taste is medium bodied with a little creamy texture. Loads of caramel and toasted malt. Dark roasted coffee beans. A dark roasted bitterness dominates rather than the typical hop bitterness. There's a nice dark fruit flavor throughout, like prune or dark grape juice. There's a mild stone and granite taste with an earthy hop flavor. Finishes mild.

A nice solid schwarzbier. Love the bottle/growler.

 676 characters

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

A welcome surprise, Black Forest might be the best beer I've tried from Saranac. Malty and bold, yet quite smooth, this is one I'll grab and store a.s.a.p. Thick tan head caps a lush black body. the smell is surprisingly impressive, full of hops, chocolate, and sugary sweetness--really terrific. The taste brings these elements together well, wrapping them in a smooth texture that makes Black Forest easy to knock back.

A gem from Saranac, well worth grabbing and enjoying, and one of my favorite Schwarzbiers.

 513 characters

Photo of Brad007
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color: Pitch black with a think brown head and some lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Rich and malty. Hints of chocolate in the nose.

Taste: Smooth and malty with some sweetness. Taste is similar to chocolate. Has the characteristics of a lager. Drinkable much like I remember.

Mouthfeel: A tad bit dry but otherwise, coats the mouth in goodness. Smooth.

Verdict: A decent schwarzbier. Drinkable and comes in a neat little mini growler. One of the better beers from Saranac.

 473 characters

Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.71 out of 5 based on 1,137 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.