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 dmamiano
3.46/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Drank from the bottle so I wasnt able to view it.
Beer smelled of roasted malts with an almost bready character.
Tasted of a bit burnt malt, bready with a very nice flavor profile.
Hops seemed to be missing. Just enough to balance the malt.
Good mouthfeel .
Very nice lager. I really enjoyed it.

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Photo of ZimZamZoom
3.6/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 oz. bottle into my Sam Adams high tech glass.

Got a two-tone black over brown color, which becomes a reddish brown when held up to light. It wants to be pretty but does not quite get there. A fingers wroth of tan head gives way to little lacing and quickly becomes just a thin layer on top of the beer.

Smells slightly sweet, with some caramel and a bit of hops. Taste is sweet and malty, with a bitter hop finish that ends abruptly. Nothing lingers for long after this one's done. OK I think this is my first example of the style, and I was not sure what to expect. Its finishes clean like a lager, but has a bit of an estery flavor also. Interesting, but not for long.

Light bodied and definitely drinkable. Not sure how it lives up to the style but I will drink it again for sure.

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Photo of Rootdog316
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black Forest pours to a dark brown color with a hint of reddishness. You cannot see the red unless you hold the beer up to a light. Otherwise, its dark brown in color and it produces a nice- size head of foam> the aroma is very enticing with a nose that's roasty and sweet.

The flavor of this beer emphasizes the sweet, roasted malt. I could also detect traces of caramel, molasses, and chocolate, but very little hop taste. This is good for those who prefer the sweet taste of malt over the flavor of bitter hops. The body of the beer is medium, and it finishes a little on the watery side, although not excessively so.

Saranac brews this product using caramel and two- row barley malts, Hallertauer and Mt, Hood hops, and lager yeast to produce a smooth, easy to drink dark beer. The alcohol level is 5.5 percent by volume and there are 173 calories in a 12 oz. serving.

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Photo of Zephenbrewid
3.65/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle poured into 12 oz pilsener glass

Appearance: Opaque black, darker ruby translucence when held to light, solid tan head which does not dissipate very quickly.

Smell: A little malt sweetness pulling through

Taste: Good balance, bitterness seems to come from the roasted malts primarily, some light chocolate flavor

Mouthfeel: light bodied, though could have been slightly lighter. well carbonated, this beer was bubbling til the dire end

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Photo of LeftyBWS
4.33/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

A: Pours well to a mostly dark brown but partly deep reddish color, with a good amount of fizzy head.

S: Smells sweet and malty, though not quite as stongly as a dark stout. A nice toned-down version of that style, but still plenty intriguing.

T: I can taste plenty of sugars throughout, and the label indeed claims a “caramel malt sweetness.” There also appears to be a light and smooth chocolatey taste.

M: Full and malty, though not overpowering. Nice and smooth throughout, but still with the heaviness of a more stoutish beer.

D: Pretty high. A nice alternative to a heavv, wintery beer when you’re looking to have a few. I’ve bought it by the six-pack frequently, and always call dibs on it when I split a variety pack with a friend.

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Photo of
3.44/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle

Clear, dark brown with ruby highlights. Modest, light tan head. Minimal lacing and legs.

Roasted notes and coffee on initial sniff. Deeper draws brought out caramel. Overall rather sweet, but mild in intensity.

Taste brings back the coffee and roast flavors. Herbal notes in there. Nicely balanced, but just a bit more bitter than sweet. Touch of caramel.

Light to medium body. Medium carbonation. Not particularly dry.

Easy drinking, very sessionable and nice flavors.

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Photo of chefdejour
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

BOTM offering

A: poured from 12 oz. dark ruby / brown with thin light tan head

S: some raisins and dark dried fruit with carmel malts

T: caramel and raisins, lack of hops could be due to age of sample

M: med. light carbonation and thin

D: curiously interesting beer, but drab and boring at the same time.

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

the bottle was titled as a growler but it was a quart with a screw type cap. i liked the package cuz i had some last night and will finish today.

i really enjoyed this beer. nice dark rich color. nice head that settled down with nice lace. the smell was rich and chocalate. the taste was quite pleasant with rich malt.

i will certainly get this one again and will search for more from this brewer.

i recomend this one but dont expect to drink a lot of them. it is rich.

suckem up and movem out.


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Photo of dacrza1
2.86/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

After sampling the traditional lager, thought I'd try the dark side of Saranac...pleasantly surprised by the look of dark cedar, almost mocha body with short-lived head...malt is heavy, creamy, with a hint of metal in the scent....a thin, fleeting mouthfeel with soda pop bubbles when chewed...odd taste--I'm about to take a Dorito to chase it...overall, better straight than chewed....only a few schwarzbiers sampled, mostly Japanese and of course Xingu... not in that class, but a nice find in the winter sampler...

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Photo of albern
3.47/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not a bad beer. It pours a pretty dark, rubyish color, with a little head that dissipates quicly. Decent to average lacing. The smell is malty, molasses, metalic, sweet fruits. The taste is caramel malt, some molasses, maybe a little coffeeish, maybe some raisin flavors, maybe a slightly burnt quality to the barley. This is medium bodied, slightly carbonated, but not overly so. It leans towards the sweet malts rather than the dryish hops. The mouthfeel is pretty slight, maybe a little on the refreshing watery side. The aftertaste is slight, just a tinge of hoppiness on the back end, but you have to look for it. Not a bad beer, not exceptional by any means. Schwarzbier (if I'm spelling it correctly) is a better Bavarian Dark.

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Photo of BuffaloBill91
3.71/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Got this in a mini growler- more like a big 1qt bottle nice price 2.99

This brew pours pretty blackish with ruby or actually more of a garnet tone to it when up to the light-pours a nice 2 finger tan head that lasts for a while this looks like porter to me..
If there is anything that I think this beer is lacking its in the smell- this doesn't have much of a scent maybe some malt and mild fruitiness..
I think that that beer tastes excellent sweet caramel and mildly bitter chocolate taste--I also taste some dark fruit- guessing it is blackberry.. I think its a great blend that finishes still both mildly bitter and sweet..impressive.
The mouthfeel is average -light to medium bodied - has a dry feel as if it would have a higher ABV without the hot head but that doesn't take away from its drinkability -- I almost wish this was a thicker brew- seems to me like it belongs that way...
This is highly drinkable and I think its easily a session beer.. This is becoming one of my favorite offerings on saranacs long list and I look out for it...I was happy to find this mini grower from them since I cant ever seem to find it in a pack that isnt a mixed pack

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Photo of zdk9
3.55/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours out a black brew with a finger of cocoa colored head. Some lacing but pretty weak.

S- Roasted grain and smokiness come out of the nose, with a hint of carmel sweetness.

T- The taste of this beer is all roastytoasty and smoky. The grains come out with a dark, but mild, coffee flavor. This is balanced by a hint of earthy and slightly pine resinous hop flavor and the whole thing is enveloped in a cloud of hickory and oak campfire smoke.

M- Smooth but not overall heavy, the alcohol comes out a smidge more than I would like but nice feel on my cheeks and tongue.

D- I enjoyed the smoky and dark flavors of this beer, certainly a sessionable dark beer.

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.48/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- very dark. would be transparent if it wasn't so dark. Small tan head.

S- some chocolate and malt.

T- sweet malty flavor with carmel. Very nice. Clean finish.

M- some carbonation and light body. somewhat watery. bot goes down pretty smooth

D- great dark lager. good session lager.

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Photo of Redwood21
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 0z bottle into a nonic pint glass,

A: there is a deep brown/blac color with a medium brown head that dies away, but not completely.
S: sweet warm caramel type aroma that is very nice.
T: follows the type description almost to a t. its lighter in body than the color may initially portend. there is a sweet medium body caramel type flavor. low bitterness. very enjoyable
M: medium bodied and enjoyable not much else to say
D: A good beer that follows the style very closely. i was suprised and would enjoy another one

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

Received in early April as part of my March MicroBeerClub shipment.

This beer poured a dark brown/black with ruby undertones and a nice tan head. Nose is of sweet caramel malts. Taste is of those sweet caramel malts with a light hop finish to balance things out nicely. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and well carbonated. Overall drinkability is good. This is a nice representation of the style and a nice change of pace for me!

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Photo of yourunclewalt
3.41/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

(This is my first review, so feel free to take with a grain of salt.)

A – Pours a deceptive black; a deep, blood red when held to light. Two-finger, thick, creamy head that dissipates after a few sips.

S - Extremely malty aroma - sweet with a hint of caramel. Countered with the slightest tinge of resiny hops.

T – Moderately bitter with a slightly burnt aftertaste – like a cup of Folgers. Not a terrible amount of character, but just enough to let you know you’re drinking something other than a macro lager.

M – Light, watery. Carbonation flutters on the tongue like a suffocating goldfish.

D – Highly drinkable, a good dark session beer akin to a dunkel weizen.

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Photo of Doctuh
5/5  rDev +34.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a blackened amber, light comes through in a copperish hue. The head is frothy and creamy. Hops dominate the aroma, with a hint of the caramel roast before the moment. The schwarzbier is well represented, a porter-like anticipation transforms into a smoother fading finish. The standard Saranac profile of a dominant pre-swallow taste leading to a crisp end lends itself well to this style of beer. The initial aromatics foreshadow this malty peak, slight chocolate into a roasty withdraw.

Each sip is a singular moment, each glass a individual episode. But each beer is part of a history, and a beer without history is water. In this are the beers that enlightened you to the knowledge that beer is worth reviewing. Alone in such distinguished company is that beer, the unique duality of style and brewer that made you first appreciate beer. To each their own: transcending communal rating.

One is fortunate to have a beer to bring oneself to places where they cannot physically go again. I would take a ponderous moment in this Black Forest anytime.

- Bottle pour, cellar temperature, into a pint glass -

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Photo of kenito799
3.16/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Hard pour raises a tan foamy head, receds after a while to a ring, no lace. Dark brown, dark-roast coffee color when held in the light.

Not much aroma, a little sweet malt.

Creamy mouthfeel. Pleasant taste, mainly malt, finishes a touch on the sweet side but restrained hops provide a solid backbone. The Mouthfeel and slightly sweet finish makes this beer feel like it has a lot of body and substance. The sweetness reduces its drinkability for me. Tasty but not too exciting.

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

a: dark dark color with about a half inch worth of head that doesnt dissapear too fast leaves a little lacing
s: caramel and chocolate
t: very similar to the nose, caramel and chocolate notes, a little hop presence
m: medium to full bodied

overall this is a very nice brew i enjoyed it a lot, thanks to my friend for sharing this with me

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Photo of sethmeister
3.03/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle from winter sampler 12 pack into pint glass

Near black dark brown with ruby highlights. One finger fuzzy cream colored head which recedes quickly to an oily film leaving no lace.

Scent is hard for me to distinguish. Grassy, earthy with hint of dark fruit? I almost think I smell prunes.

Nutty malt sweetness which then switches to a light citrus flavor which moves about on the tongue for a while. Something a bit sweet in the finish. There is something lightly tannic which detracts from the taste.

Light bodied but thankfully lacking the distinctly watery ending that many of saranacs beers suffer from.

One of the better beers in the sampler but still not great. I enjoyed it but don't think i would go in search of more.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.31/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I got about a finger's worth of thick, deep-tan/light-brown head from this beer on the pour. The color was a deep, dark brown with beautiful garnet highlights. The nose had an interesting smoky quality to its sweetness. Mouthfeel was kind of thin and there was a slightly sweet taste on the tongue. Warming, I got more of a sugary sweetnessthan I had initially. It was quite as caramel-sweet as the caramel porter, but it was along those lines. The finish left me with a lingering sweetness. There was great lacing throughout. Overall, not bad, but not the first thing in that mixed 12-pack that I would reach for.

From the bottle: "Deep in the heart of the Adirondacks, there is a place where even light is scared to enter. The Black Forest! It inspired us to brew this delicious Bavarian style Black Beer with caramel sweetness, medium body and our trademark rich, creamy head. Look for the delicate brownish-red color. Don't be afraid of the dark!"

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Photo of kernalklink
2.9/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured a nice dark brown with minimal head. Soft malt, slightly dark aromas- smells like a nice version of this classic brew. The tastes are there- the cooling roasted flavor of the semi-sweet malts, slight hop bitterness and some complexity. But this lasts only for a second, then all is replaced with a dull watery seltzer. What a shame- good flavor out of the gate with none at the finish. But still one of saranac's better beers.

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

Nice Beer

I got 2 of these in a mixed 12 pack

Poured a very dark brown/black with a slight tan head into my Brooklyn Lager pint glass.

Smells nice, like a dark beer should.

Taste is very good, goes down easy. Light refreshing sweetness for a dark beer.

I drank my 2 and wish I had 2 more!

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

A nice blackish color with a solid tan headskie gives good brew-hope... Taste not quite where I'd like. Balance is ok, but something lacking in malt profile. Smooth enough to make for easy drinking, but do I really want another? Perhaps, but I think I can do better.

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Photo of Jwaks
2.28/5  rDev -38.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Serving 12oz bottle

Initially shows a dark mahogany color but reveals a transparent deep ruby color when held up to natural light. Half a finger worth of frothy hot chocolate colored head quickly dissapates leaving a paper-thin ring of froth encircled a patchy layer of fine suds. A few small pillars of fine bubbles channel carbonation to the beer's surface.

Nutty oil, burnt caramel malt, grassy hop and earthy aromas with hints of bitter citrus peel play on a slightly closed nose.

Malty, burnt caramel and nougat mix with flat, austere bitter and grassy flavors on the entry though the mid palate evolving into a slightly tannic, dry and bittery nutty finish with a zing of citrus zest. A mediocre attempt at a balanced brew, this doesn't have the malt nor hop backbone and structure to support the odd off-flavors. Sadly, it does not have much substance to offer beyond the austere bitterness, grassy flavors and bitter, nutty finish in effect lowering the flavor score.

Light to medium bodied for a schwarzbier, this leaves only an unpleasant bitter flavor behind with little malt presence and it doesn't coat the palate like others in the style. A thin body aids drinkability though just enough to earn it a slightly below average score.

I remember this beer being much better in the past, perhaps this was an old bottle? No freshness date is present on th bottle; I will have to revisit this one in the near future.

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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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