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Saranac Black Forest | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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567 Reviews
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 567 | Ratings: 1,124
Photo of Utica_Brew_Review
3.07/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

very dark, almost a purple / black color with mild carbonation and mild head. Toasted, dark chocolate malt aroma. Too carbonated. Chocolate and toasted caramel notes for taste. Tastes almost like a light chocolate lager. Balanced mouthfeel, apart from the carbonation. Good schwarzbier.

 286 characters

Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.82/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle purchased at Beers of the World in Henrietta, NY. A great dark session lager.

Pours dark brown. A one inch fizzy head forms, leaving very minimal lacing on the glass.

Smells like light roasted malt and chocolate.

Just enough roasted malt and grain in the flavor to keep this interesting. It certainly doesn't bash you over the head with the roast, but it's enough to keep it interesting. Slight malt sweetness that reminds of caramel and toasted bread. Grassy hop flavors.

Thin body, could be thicker to be truly great. Very drinkable, crisp and creamy mouthfeel. Well carbonated.

A simple dark lager that's good for drinking a few. The flavors and complexity won't knock your socks off, but it's still pretty flavorful, and one of Saranac's best beers.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.03/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle purchased from Leura Cellars in the Blue Mountains.

Pours a deep claret red with a lackadaisical head of beige which froths itself up when swirled and then disappears again very quickly. Some persistence forms a crescent of fine film around the glass. Minimal lacing. Light body.

Nose is sweet with cereal grain airiness, a little soggy and limp. It's helped by the touch of roast which comes through, and a tender smokiness. When swirled, the roast becomes a little more prominent and the cereal notes dissipate a little, giving more of a floury tone. Still, it's a bit flat, and those grainy characters persist longer than I'd want them to.

Definite cereal characters on the palate as well, which give a pronounced sweetness that really detracts from the beer. Under this is the potential for something better. Solid, structured, toasty dark malt characters with a lightness and crispness in the body—a nice amalgam for what a Schwartzbier should be. The interplay between the sweetness and this darker underpinning gives off some strange harmonics in the interim though: concord grape, musk and frosting. It's not wrong, but it doesn't seem all that right either.

Feel is light without being crisp: and the added sweetness seems to give it more body than it actually has.

Overall, I'm a little disappointed. A schwartzbier can be very simple and still very good, but this seems to flounder a little. It doesn't reach deep complexity, nor does it stay truly crisp and brittle. Either direction would have improved this beer.

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Photo of digitalflood
3.63/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Saranac Black Forest (2013) - Creamy head reduces to good lacing. Thick black color. Good carbonation. Faint smell. Black berries. Thick malty body. Sweet nose. Light malty note. Thin mid-palate berries and syrup. Faint stout bitter note in back palate. Little to no after taste. Very clean. Slight chocolate stout after taste. Very drinkable. Very light despite that heavy look. Wish it had a bit more malt or stout notes. A little too light for a dark beer. 3.0 out of 5. Okay. Not as good as I remember it. Matt's tends to have the occasional iffy beer. Their consistency is sometimes hap hazard and I think that might be the case here.

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Photo of BWED
3.56/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz into a craft pint

A- Near black with dark brown highlights. A wimpy fizzy head, hangs on as a thin layer. No lacing.

S- Biscuity with a bit of a coffee nose. Overall fairly mild in aroma.

T- Light roasted malt, and a bit of an iron taste. Mild once again.

M- Medium-light body. Very drinkable.

O- A solid schwarzbier, no attributes are over the top, but it holds a nice color and a decent taste. A good dark beer to take a break with if drinking some heavy hitting stouts wears you out.

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Photo of JG-90
3.7/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a moderate sized light brown colored head with minimal retention. Beer is a very dark brown, almost black, with hints of red when in the light. Leaves minimal lacing. Smells of very ripe fruit, dark bread, and a bit of spices and caramel malt.

Tastes kind of like a dark banana bread made with very ripe bananas, rye bread, caramel/toffee malt, slightly burnt maple syrup. Mouthfeel is light/average with average carbonation. I dont think I've ever had a Schwarzbier before, but I like this one.

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Photo of Why-P-A
3.26/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A: Rich and dark, good color based on the name and style.

S: Aroma is surprisingly mellow, not off-putting but minimal dark malt aromas considering the color.

T: This is where Black Forest brings something unique and surprising. Like the aroma the beer is not dark but has an unlikely malt body and sweetness. Some slight hints of residual sugar.

M: Slightly syrupy, not heavy but the sweetness contributes to a thicker mouth feel.

O: While the burnt and roasted malts are a minimal element and though flavors these are a staple of many schwartzbiers this still beer works well as is. Black Forest has been around upstate NY on tap and in mix packs for years and is a solid mellow winter beer.

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Photo of MustaPekka
4.05/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Picked up this beer randomly in the liquer store.Not bad at all. This is how a dark beer should taste. Nice foam and really dark, dark colour. This beer is German style for sure being sweet and not bitter. Different styles here, either sweet or bitter. I prefer sweet, but that is of course matter of preference. This beer was a pleasant surprise !

 348 characters

Photo of Justin23060
4.74/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A - Black w/ chestnut highlights. 1/2 finger beige head that coated 'till the end.

S - Sweet chocolate and caramel, with maybe a hint of licorice.

T - Perfect example of the style. Starts sweet ends semi dry with a slight vignious linger. Taste is pretty much in line with the smell.

M - Lighter side of medium, w/ some nice carb.

O - Definitely worth trying. Captures roasty chocolate and caramel qualities while at the same time remaining thirst quenching. Because of that it is a great dark offering for the summer months.

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Photo of HabiMendes
4.27/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This very dark beer has actually a very dark red tone against the light, and looks really elegant. The smell is an obvious caramelized malt, with well-harmonized hops. I can say the same for the taste, where you also see, in the background, some characteristic notes from darker malts: chocolate/coffee. The body is medium, and the aftertaste, relatively short, leaves us with a delicious and subtle hop taste. Great dark Lager.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle

A: Dark reddish brown with some transparency. Small head with minimal lacing. Died down pretty quick

S: Once again I find the alcohol apparent in the smell but not in the taste, its strange. Some small tinges of caramel and very faint chocolate maybe.

T: Good caramel aftertaste but nothing to overpowering. Decent hop bitterness but really not that much. Not too bold tasting but not too weak either. Some flavor searching is required , as I found with their other beers, but it is there and it isn't bad either.

M:Goes down light and smooth drinking. Pretty easy going in this departement

Overall: It was a good beer but nothing I was shocked by , like their other brews. Pretty solid but not astounding. Probably wouldn't seek it out but it was good.

 784 characters

Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
3.89/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle (from a Saranac Adirondack Trail Mix 6pack) into a pilsener glass. Poured a beautiful deep garnet red with a half-finger head that dissipated quickly with little to no lacing. Tastes very clean and refreshing, with a watery but smooth mouthfeel. Fairly weak-bodied, but it's a schwarzbier, not a porter. Overall this is one of my favorite beers; absolutely delicious and easy to drink. Too bad the mixed 6 pack only came with one of them...

 466 characters

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

appearance: solid dark brown, barely see through, some reddish hints in light, thick chunky head fades quick with a sticky lace

smell: slightly earthy, woody and bit of dried fruit, candy-like sweetness

taste: a bit woody, caramel, some toast but not overly malty despite the color,

mouthfeel: carbonation hits first then gets a bit creamy, finishses with a slight dryness and a touch of roast linger, a bit thin on then end

overall: great aroma, a bit thin and lacking on taste, gets creamy in the middle but fades, could use a bit more toast/roast

 554 characters

Photo of PatriotsRule
4.97/5  rDev +34%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Black Forest never ceases to wow me. I am on a bit of a schwarzbier kick and this brew trumps just about anything I can imagine...
A: Not much head, but it looks like a beautiful dark unfiltered beer with some nice lacing
S: Smokey fruit with light spicing
T: Yes indeed this is a well-balanced craft brew. it's crisp and a perfect choice for winter
M: Leaves me hoping I will have the opportunity to delve into the black forest later on in life
O: This is one of those beers that is so smooth it leaves me scratching my head in amazement

 538 characters

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

Served From a. 12 oz bottle into a snifter,

A - big white head that leaves little lacing , copper clear body.

S - unripe bananas, cloves, and wheat sitting on a heavy toasted malt backbone.

T- Starts off with a spicy clove taste, ends with a chocolate-covered banana flavor.

M- Medium mouthfeel, medium-low carbonation.

Overall quite enjoyable. Subtle flavors but an overall easy drinker.

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Photo of magine
3.87/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.

Pours a dark brown with ruby red edges; light tan head. Head settles to a lace layer. Some patching along the edges. Average looks.

Brew smells of caramel malts; roasted malts. Decent nose.

Brew is creamy up front, some good hops spice it up towards the end. Slightly bitter end with good lingering malts. Perfect mouthfeel for the style. Real good flavors here. Good solid brew here for sure.

A very nice sessionable black lager here. A party pleasing dark brew that can be approached and enjoyed by all fans of beer. Good stuff here.

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

A- Black as night, only a deep, deep ruby red when held to a bright light. Solid one finger tan head.

S- Slightly sweet, nuttiness, with a faint hoppy bite on the nose

T- Lemony hops up front, with earthy and grassy roasted malts. Faint coffee on the finish

M- Surprisingly light with a consistant carbonation.

O- Lighter and less flavorful than I expected it would be and would have preferred, but the benefit is that it is highly drinkable and one could have a few of these and not be weighed down.

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Photo of MoreThanWine
2.82/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a 1.5" mocha head with medium lifespan. The body is a deep but clear burnt umber brown. Alas my sample really doesn't smell of anything at all, even after full room temperature. The taste is a watery lager with just the slightest hint of dark roasted malt. And there's not much of a finish. To me this is what you get when you go for a look to a beer instead of just brewing to see what you get.

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

Ive had this beer countless times, on tap and bottle. This review is from a 12oz bottle. Poured into HF Wine Glass. Pours a deep black color with slight off white head. Very malty slightly roasted aromas. Taste is very nice fruity malt, but very mild. Great brew from saranac, an all time classic go to brew for me

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Photo of JOaikido
3.77/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pitch black with a nice light beige head. Touch of amber at the edges when held up to a light. Head sticks to the glass.

S- Grassy & floral with a hint of citrus hops.

T- Hops bitternes with a little roasted note. Touch of sugary sweetness. Decent malty middle with roasted coffee notes.

MF- Medium bodied. A little sugar stickiness. Smooth.

O- Nice dark beer. A little light for my taste, but good.

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Photo of StaveHooks
3.58/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz served in a Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

A - Pours a clear dark russet brown with a 1 finger mocha head that forms a tight bubbled cap. One long streak of horizontal lacing that looked like a skinny dinosaur.

S - Dark caramel malt, dried grain, cherry and berry fruit, lager yeast, fruit bread.

T - Roasted caramel malts, tangy sweetness, dried grass, chalky lager yeast, matches the nose, the cherry fruit is mixed in with the malt creating a fruit bread flavor, some hops wick away some of the sweetness. Finishes semi dry with compliments of fruit and slightly bitter and roasted malts.

M - Moderate carbonation, fuller body for the style, somewhat velvety but sticky at times, wet upfront but finishes semi dry.

Very fruity for the style. Had a nice roundness of roast and bitter to battle the sweetness. Decent mouthfeel too. Not bad. Not something I would seek out but I'm glad I had a chance to try this out.

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Photo of TheMultiYeast
3.26/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours dark brown with a light tan head.

Some chocolate and smoke in the nose, ripe dark fruit, black berry juice, raisins

More roasted chocolate, malty, unique juicy bitterness.

Despite some decent flavor complexities, this one's pretty light in body.

Pretty good for one of those light dark beers.

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

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. BB Jan 31 2012

A: Pours a deep mahogany brownish red with a 1 finger off white head. Too opaque to see any carbonation. Head sticks around for a while and leaves a small amount of lace.

S: Chocolate roasty malts up front with a degree of lightness compared to any stout. A little faint and lagery. Must be the yeast.

T: Fairly tame with a mix of roasty and chocolate malts. Some hop kick at the end

M: A lot lighter in the body than you would expect, feels a little thin and watery. Pretty carbonated. Pretty balanced.

Overall a solid beer for Saranac that I've been enjoying for years. Consistent, light and drinkable.

 661 characters

Photo of circus_cat
4.1/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass.

A: Poured almost pitch black with a dark red hue. Khaki head that started at about one inch and dissipated quickly leaving almost no lacing.

S: Roasty malts, sweet caramel, and lots of dark fruits.

T: Big time dark fruits here. I get plum and blackberry. It's almost sour. A little bit of coffee dark chocolate on the finish.

M: Light to medium bodied and pretty effervescent. Dry finish.

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Photo of 57md
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown with copper edges. The half finger of beige head does not linger very long. The nose has a touch of roast. The dominant flavor is light roasted malts with a nice tingling bitterness on the finish. This is a respectable offering, but not an extraordinary example of this lager style.

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Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.71 out of 5 based on 1,124 ratings.
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