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Saranac Black Forest Black Beer | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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Saranac Black Forest Black BeerSaranac Black Forest Black Beer
1,144 Ratings
Saranac Black Forest Black BeerSaranac Black Forest Black Beer

Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
New York, United States

Style: Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
A Bavarian Black beer with distinctive caramel malt sweetness and a rich creamy trademark head. Flavorful, yet smooth…very drinkable!

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-15-2001

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,144 |  Reviews: 572
Photo of Murchmac
4/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

 290 characters

Photo of jordoo
4.01/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

 633 characters

Photo of BobbyBeerman
4.08/5  rDev +9.4%
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 -4.6%
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 -1.9%
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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Photo of SIRIUS2
4.02/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Black with short head of about 1/4" or so. Light brown in color and dissipated fast. Little to no lacing.

S: Smells malty but not overly so; there is a spicy hint of anise or something that is very vague on the nose. Whatever it is, it smells pretty good!

T&M: For a schwarzbier, I was anticipating something a little bit sweeter but was pleasantly surprised by how well balanced this one is. You still get a bit of the dark molasses notes without the cloying sweetness. I'm not sure what the bittering agent is in here, but I assume it is a well matched grouping of hops. Carbonation is light but persistent. The finish is relatively short but the linger of mild hop bitterness goes on for a while. Nice.

D: I like being surprised and this was a good one. Easy to drink and different enough that you want to keep tasting it to determine all of the flavors in the complexity. Good weight without being to heavy, great balance, and a decent ABV. I like it.

Special thanks to Steve for bringing this in for me to try!

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Photo of boralyl
3.78/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - It pours a black color that you can just barely see through with ruby highlights when held up to the light. It has 1 fingers worth of tan head that settles pretty quickly leaving small traces on the inside of the glass. Looks like a decent brew.

S - Some sweet malts, chocolate and nuts are most prevelant in the aroma.

M - A medium bodied beer that feels smooth with a medium amount of carbonation that tingles in your mouth.

T - In the front is a malty flavor with the sweet caramel and chocolate taste. It ends with some citrusy notes from the hops. The hops balance the sweet taste very well.

Because of the delicious flavor and crisp taste, it's very drinkable. This is probably my favorite in the trail mix variety pack.

 734 characters

Photo of soupyman10
3.68/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

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Photo of mhewes
4.32/5  rDev +15.8%
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

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Photo of LumpyGuitar
4/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

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Photo of cvstrickland
3.88/5  rDev +4%
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 +12.1%
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.

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Photo of Nipitato
4.12/5  rDev +10.5%
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 -19.6%
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 +4.6%
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 +2.7%
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 +15.8%
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 +9.9%
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 -5.9%
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 -9.9%
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 +9.9%
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.

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Photo of bark
3.9/5  rDev +4.6%
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 +3.2%
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 +10.5%
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 -11.3%
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.

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Saranac Black Forest Black Beer from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 3.73 out of 5 with 1,144 ratings
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