Saranac Black Forest | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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565 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

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Reviews: 565 | Ratings: 1,119
Photo of paulginva
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

APPEARANCE: This beer, poured from a bottle into a flute, produced a medium tan creamy 1/4" head that dissipated slowly leaving good head lacing. Carbonation was moderate in a murky pitch black body with just a little light around the edges.

AROMA: Moderate roasted grain and caramel with light hints of dark cherry, dried fruit and spices.

TASTE: Somewhat different from the aroma. Heavy dark malts with a light overlay roasted espresso and caramel. The fruits and spices that I noticed in the smell test seemed absent.

MOUTHFEEL: This beer had a medium body with a somewhat thick, syrupy texture, moderate carbonation and good body lacing that dissipated slowly. The initial flavor was a moderate roasted sweetness accompanied by a hint of bitterness with a lightly bitter finish that lasted for a moderate length of time, leaving a slightly astringent aftertaste.

DRINKABILITY: This beer is definitely repeatable and would make a decent, if unusual, session beer. The body should be a little heavier to support the taste. It's a good but not great example of its style but nothing really stands out. Nonetheless, it's easy to drink and presents good value for the money. I'll buy it again.

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Photo of Beejay
2.91/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Medium brown as it pours. Black in the glass with a very full tan head, although the fluffy full texture quickly turns into large bubbles dissipating into itself.

S: Bready and toasty. There is a little bit of an herbal note in there as well. I am also picking up a bit of a chalky smell for some reason.

T: Malty, with notes of caramel and flour. There is a slight tang in the finish, as well as maybe a touch of a metallic flavor. Some toffee in the aftertaste.

M: Medium light, the carbonation seems to be a little lack luster for me.

O: Meh.. Not bad, but not amazing either. Not something that I would likely seek out.

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

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The beer was black as the name implies. The beer poured a nice tan head but it did not hang around long. The smell of this beer was just okay, I thought it smelled a little sour at first. The taste was nice, a little sweet kinda caramelly but not too much. I liked and will buy again.

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Photo of TechTriumph
3.92/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

No freshness date; Poured in a pint glass.

A - One inch of light tan carbonated head that doesn't last too long; Very dark brown in color with a ruby hue; Not too much lacing left behind

S - Big surprise here - was not expecting the huge nose of mixed fruits and sweet caramel; The fruits consist of plums, grapes, and raspberries

T - The same fruits from the nose step forward first in the taste; This is followed by very sweet caramel and leafy/woody hops with just a small hint of tobacco in the distant background; Fruity and sugary sweetness lingers in the aftertaste

M - Good amount of carbonation; Lighter side of medium bodied; Somewhat syrupy mouthfeel that allows the sugary sweet taste to linger

O - The big presence of fruits in this beer was quite surprising to me. I really don't think it's a bad thing though as I found the aroma and taste to be pretty enjoyable. There's a lot of sweetness in this beer that, while it didn't turn me off, would prevent me from having too many of these in succession. Overall, I think this beer really stands out within the style and is one that I'd like to have again in the future.

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Photo of cyclonece09
3.4/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a 14 oz "pint" glass. Pours a black with a very small brown head that dissipates very quickly and disappears entirely. Has a strong fruity smell, with not much of a hint of malt or hops. Has a slight malty taste, but the fruity taste does dominate. Carbonation is perfect and goes down smooth with no aftertaste or ill tastes. Overall, a little above average beer.

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Photo of rangerred
3.37/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance is a very dark brown with just a thin tan head. Very little in the way of lacing.

Smell is largely of caramel and fruit; specifically berries. Very little roast character is detectable.

Flavor is quite sweet with the same fruitiness along with caramel. Cherries are quite noticeable and it reminds me of drinking a cherry coke. This is unlike any other schwarzbier I have had in that there is no coffee/roasty flavors. Mouthfeel is pretty good.

Overall a decent beer but not what I was expecting. A little too sweet and out of balance.

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Photo of beerme626
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured beautiful dark, with dark foamy head that dissapated immediately. Very carbonated, to the point of looking like Coke.
S: Rich, woody smell. Definite malts.
T: Very malty, light, but flavorful.
M: Thin
Overall: decent, worth getting in the Trail Mix 6-pack.

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

A-Dark brown, a little reddish towards the edges. Completely opaque. Some lacing, thick, creamy head that doesn't last extremely long.

S-Roasted malts. slight caramel smell, too.

T-roasted malts and light caramel once again, hint of a coffee taste as well.

M-Little bit on the thin side, medium carbonation. Lingering aftertaste.

O-A very good beer from a great brewing company. Definitely one worth trying.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
3.07/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Look: Very dark brown and totally opaque with just over a 1/4 inch tan head with no retention and a tiny collar

Smell: Little bit of roasted malt some chocolate oak and vanilla

Taste: The flavors are a tad bit boring with muted notes of chocolate and coffee

Mouthfeel: A bit on the thin side and too much carbonation

Overall: This is a very average beer at best due to it lacking in so many departments

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.97/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

by far my favorite of saranac's year-round offerings. pours a barely see through dark red/black color almost purple with a nice head. german malts are present in the flavor and a sharp yeast nose peaks my interest. taste is old world bavarian dark beer to me, drinkably malty, old and refined in character. roasty but not heavy. i like it a lot better on tap than from the bottle, but this is a good representation of what saranac is capable of.

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Photo of kennylopez
2.75/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: a dark raspberry black with a thin white head and minimal lacing.

Smells: sweet caramel hints and a hop character that is floral.

Tastes: I taste a sweet fruit flavor something like a berry or fig through the mild hop note that is very enjoyable

Mouthfeel: there is little carbonation and a sweet lingering aftertaste.

Overall: I picked up a mixed six pack from Saranac and this was probably my least favorite out of all of them. Good brew but not my favorite.

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Photo of BeerKangaroo
3.7/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

In a pilsener:

A: dark, almost purplish-brown body with a small creamy colored head and had a slightly reddish beige color of the head with very small lacing

S: black cherries, some light malt, some berry aromas, subdued chocolate

T: same as the previously mentioned flavors through a decent bittersweetness

M: medium; creamy; quick clean finish, berry/chocolate aftertaste, slightly sessionable

O: good for the style and good for me

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Photo of engagechad
3.75/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased in a mixer 12 - pint

Pours a deep dark black with tan head, good lacing.

Smells roasty and dark as it looks, not much going on but it's nice.

Taste follows, nicely roasty but there is a little funk i didn't like in there.

Feels great, great body.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.72/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Not the most impressive a slight ring of lace looks pretty creamy and sticky but the beer is far from style being dark amber rather than pitch black.

S - A weird bit of caramel but I smells some moderate roast and some chocolate but not nearly enough to be worth a high grade.

T - Hmm fairly bold I suppose. A nice bit of roast and a bit of nutty flavor but nothing compared to it's German counterpart. It is pretty full bodied and sweet.

M - Pretty full bodied so it's pretty good for the style.

Overall because I can't find it all the time (only in cases) and it's not as dark or aromatic as German counterparts but would enjoy it again if I could.

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Photo of therica
4.37/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've had this a few times in past years-- ocasionally impressed, other times not. This time-- a definite bold YES. In fact, my original review of a few years ago was so mediocre of this beer (deleted) that I suspect they've greatly improved the beer since then.

A= very black, a modest tan head with medium bubbles, fades to a nice rimming, lacing and pooling.

S= all sorts of things going on here-- strong roasted malts, burnt nuts, maybe even a little road tar (kindly said).

T= bold as heck! My old review was so totally opposite (ie "a bit watery for a good Schwarzbier. Some dry roasted malts, light hops florals."). Wow this was a pleasant surprise to find this year! A strong bold flavor much like the old US German lagers of the pre-transistor era. Nutty, burnt dark malts, burnt molasses, I'm really pleased at the new and improved version! Hops bitters are in there but nicely blended without being hop-head. After sitting and gradually being consumed during the 15 minutes it's taken to write this, some nice dark prune and black cherry has emerged on my tongue as well!

M= slightly dry, slightly sweet, with nice burnt flavors mentioned above, some modest hops bitterness and florals lingering.

O= very drinkable! Ticks me off that they apparently only sell it in their Adirondack Trail Mix although I found out that they do indeed sell this beer in cases-- depends on your local beer store.

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Photo of rodney45
4.32/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very dark, and seductive beer. Laced brown and red foamy and frothy head that lingers like a good dark beer should. The coloring and lace is very nice, i dont know what magic they used to get it to look like that, but its stunning.

S: Coffee and espresso smelling head from the toasted crystal malt, and the roasted grains. Sweet chocolate aroma makes any dark beer lover's stomach flutter.

T: Crystal malt and cocoa. Hop flavor is largely hidden by the complexity and depth of the malt character.

D: I could drink this until the cows come home.

O: This would be a great desert beer. For a schwarzbier (dark ale) this beer is as good as ive seen. For a mid level brewery, this is a refeshing high end style beer.

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Photo of PicoPapa
3.8/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. Pours a black color with dark brown hues and almost no head. No lacing. Aroma is earthy with caramel malts. Taste is more of the earthiness paired with the caramel malts. A bit bready with hints of dark chocolate near the end. Somewhat sweet. Very tasty and drinkable. Slightly creamy mouthfeel. This is one of Saranac's best offerings. Overall, worth grabbing often.

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Photo of Ezone024
3.63/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

looks like a black lager, but has a little deep red color in it too, nice big creamy tan head.

taste is mostly sweet malts, tiny bit of caramel comes through.
not as roasty as other blacks but still has a rich complex flavor.

mouthfeel is pretty warming yet medium bodied.
easy to drink.

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Photo of mrfrancis
4.35/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a nearly opaque black with a creamy light tan mousse. In terms of appearance, it looks like most German schwarzbiers.

S: Subtle notes of anise, cream, dark chocolate, molasses, and roasted grain are present on the nose. Very elegant and refined.

T: Opens crisp and malty with flavors of molasses, dark chocolate, minerals, cream, anise, and coffee beans with a hint of grassy hop bitterness developing before the finish. This beer finishes on a dry and crisp note with coffee, chocolate, and molasses flavors dominating.

M: Medium-to-full bodied, dry, and rich with crisp, effervescent carbonation.

O: This is an excellent schwarzbier. I generally feel that the Saranac line is hit or miss, but luckily, Black Forest is not a misfire. Just as good as some of the classic German schwarzbiers.

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Photo of mastodonj
2.93/5  rDev -21%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I'll admit I don't have a lot of experience with
Swarzbiers so's goes:

A - very dark, almost purplish-brown with a small creamy head
(seems to be emblematic of Saranac) and a reddish beige color
of the head with very small lacing.

S- Some malt and berry aromas come forward but minimally.
T - Enters smoothly and leaves with a nice bitterness and a clean finish (again the clean finish seems to be a hallmark of Saranac)
M - The head and its creaminess contribute to the smooth

Overall - pretty average but very drinkable although you
wont' be thinking about it the morning after. ;-)

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

12 oz bottle. Purchased as part of a 12-pack Fall sampler. Freshness code on bottle.

Pours a rich, brownish-black. Tannish head. Smell is nice, roasted caramel malts. Taste blended well with perfumy, sweet hops. Finishes tight and dry. Decent, full-bodied brew.

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Photo of bubseymour
4.42/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark like a a Coke in the glass complete with fizzy head.

It has a really nice pronounced malty smell to it with some caramel backing.

Taste - Very unique and interesting flavor. Starts very sweet and malty then has a crisp bite in the finish and seems almost like an APA but its black in color. Very interesting, flavorful and quite sessionable.

Mouthfeel - fine

Overall - A very unique beer and style and Saranac pulls it off quite well. One of the bolder flavored beers in their quiver.

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Photo of TheIronHammer
3.94/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle to a beer glass.

A: It looks pitch black except around the edges where a little light gets through. The head is a medium tan. There foamed up to about half a finger's width, and then receded.

S: There is an aroma of roasted grains definitely. There is also an aroma of dried fruit, like dried cherries. Once it warms up there is a spice, maybe ginger present.

T: It has a pretty heavy roasted taste. There is a bitterness, like that of coffee. It is a bit astringent. Roasted flavors last a good while on the back of the tongue.

Mf: It has a medium body. It needs to be a bit heavier to support the nose and taste. It has pretty strong carbonation which works for this beer.

Overall: This beer has a delightful nose. The taste is also pretty good. The appearance is right inline with what's expected of this style. The mouthfeel was the detracting part of this beer; it needs to be heavier. However, it is an all round good beer. I will try this one again sometime.

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Photo of fx20736
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into mug.

Charcoal black that reveals only darkest garnet when backlit. 1 finger mocha colored head, some lacing.

Aroma of toasted nuts roasted, maybe slightly scorched malt, with an echo of a cinnamon like spiciness

Mouthfeel is solid and on the big side.

Taste: Rich, caramel malt with a slight taste of red wine, dark cherries and chocolate.

Notes: First had this beer beer a decade ago, not sure why I waited so long to go back. This is a tasty, nicely made lager full of richness, inviting flavors which seem feel like brownies in the oven made with dark chocolate and walnuts. Will rotate in for the fall.

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Photo of CaptJackHarkness
4.39/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Twelve ounce bottle dated best by 12/31/2012 from Twelve Beers a falling collection.

Poured deep brown with ruby highlights, thin beige head rapidly dissapated, no lacing of glass to speak of. Scent of sweet chocolate malt.
Sweet rather than bitter with just a tang in the aftertaste. Overall a nice brew for a wet autumn day!

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Saranac Black Forest from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.71 out of 5 based on 1,119 ratings.
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