Saranac Black Lager
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Saranac Black LagerSaranac Black Lager
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German Schwarzbier
Ranked #182
Ranked #45,202
3.36 | pDev: 14.29%
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
New York, United States
Saranac Black LagerSaranac Black Lager
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Reviews: 66 | Ratings: 104
Photo of rodbeermunch
2.45/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

Comes in dark colored with brown and crimson hues. Aroma was earthy and reeked of alcohol despite a relatively low abv.

Taste is much like every other Saranac brew, similar yeast no matter what style, a general lack of malt or hops depending on style. A lot of earthy English toffee and tea malt notes, sawdust, wood, rubbing alcohol.

Needs more hopping for schwarz style.

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Photo of MadScientist
3.21/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: A medium-light copper with excellent clarity. The head is a long lasting, off-white

S: There is a light roasted malt character that seems strange and unpleasant at first. Moderately-light chocolate malt aroma with some graininess. There is a light earthy hops aroma. Not much else, just a fairly clean lagered beer.

T: A light malt sweetness with a light cocoa flavor. The hops provided a moderately-light bitterness and a very-light earth hops flavor. The balance is even. The finish is somewhat towards the dry. The after taste is slightly of bittersweet chocolate.

M: a medium-light bodied beer with moderate carbonation.

O: Almost an amber lager like a vienna with a hand full of chocolate malt. The chocolate character is pretty light and would benefit from more support from complimenting roasted gain character.

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Photo of Bockrules
3.88/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from the bottle into a pint glass

A - Pours a dark bronze with a bit of amber tinting around the edges when held up to light. Has a nice and thick two finger, tan head. Appears to have substantial carbonation. Head is reduced to a ring of bubbles 3/4th's down the glass. Leaves an acceptable amount of lacing in the form of several medium splotches mostly near the top of the glass.

S - Chocolaty with some earthy hop notes. Could be much bigger.

T - Chocolate malt upfront. The body is has plenty of chocolate flavors as well as a few subtle coffee notes and enough earthy hops flavors to round the whole thing out. The hops flavors seem to become more intense in flavor as the beer sits in your mouth, crescendo as the beer passes over the back of the tongue and then transition into a bitter-chocolate finish.

M - Medium bodied with substantial carbonation to give it a creamy mouth feel. Feels somewhat light, but still has enough substance to support the flavor.

Ah, Saranac. It's been over a year since I had one after moving from Ohio. Good college memories of hanging out in the Adirondacks drinking these. This one survived the journey west and is at least a year and a half old, however it doesn't seem much worse for the wear. This was from the winter seasonal pack I believe, and in typical Saranac fashion, the seasonals are of much higher quality than the standard fare. Easy drinking, that stays true to a somewhat rare style. A bargain for less than a buck a beer.

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Photo of airheadmtrcycle
4.26/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I picked up a winter sampler from Saranac for around $14 at Hop City. I was looking for a sampler. The friendly, knowledgeable beer geek employee told me it's a great selection of winter beers. It looked really interesting. For the record this is my first Saranac and my first schwarzbier. I like the label with a big black bear in the foreground of a snowy, rocky mountain landscape.

Pours almost black, but held to the light it is a dark red and transparent. The head is 2 fingers thick. It fades to a film and leaves nice lacing. Damn good looking beer.

Aromas of roasted malt and bread. Pretty strong aromas too. Not complex, but very inviting. The taste is deliciously malty with a slight bitter finish that stays with you. The hops are easily detectable. Saranac Black Lager matches the description of schwarzbier here on BA perfectly. It's refreshing yet you feel like you are drinking something substantial. This beer goes down easily, perhaps one of the most sessionable I've had.

I don't want to go overboard, but I really like this beer. Moreover, it seems to be a perfect interpretation of its style. I'm not going to hold back on my rating.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.35/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed on 2/15/2010. Bottle. Pours a clear dark brown with a thick light tan head. Aroma of roasted malt, sweet malt, light nuttiness. Flavor of sweet malt, some residual sugars, some roasted malt. bready malt, light chocolate malt. Pretty decent, very drinkable.

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Photo of caddybuyer
3.53/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle from a winter pack that I have been saving to taste....

A-Deep red garnet with a creamy tan head that laces nicely. Damn...this is a nice looking beer....

S-Roasty and dry. I am detecting mostly malt, a tiny bit of hop.

T-Bready and malty. A very nice brew with a hint of cocoa and bittersweet chocolate. This is not amazing, but it is very solid for a seasonal one-off pack offering.

M-Decent mouthfeel and carbonation.

D-Drink this...hell yeah...all night long, along with the balance of the winter pack. These guys may not brew the best beers, but I never tire of their seasonal offerings. Kudos...

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Photo of mikereaser
2.8/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours a very dark brown with some tan foam

S - very malty sweet aroma

T - the taste is sort of roasted, cola like flavor, chocolate malts

M - medium bodied with good carbonation

D - either black lagers aren't my thing or saranac isn't my thing. i'm guessing the latter

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.45/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Budweiser pokal.

Aww, that li'l bear on the label is sooo cuuute! I'm not sure if I can actually call this brew "cute", per se, but it's good-looking enough, I suppose. It pours a clear, surprisingly light garnet-brown with about a finger (more or less) of light ecru foam. The nose is roasted (the whole damn thing, I'm tellin' ya!), with some accent lighting from some chocolate, soil, and floral hops. So far, not all that different from the other schwarzes (save maybe that asshole from "A Christmas Story"...). The taste doesn't deviate all that much, either, with notes of caramel, bitter dark chocolate, minor hoppy bitterness, and a tad bit o' greenery. The body is light, just an itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie-yellow-polka-dotted bit lighter than it seems it should be, with active carbonation and a drier-than average finish. Still, this just kinda serves to make this brew a little easier to down than other schwarzes. Not bad, but not quite as good as that cute wittle bear...

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.68/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours out a dusty, dark brown body with a two inch, light khaki-colored head.

Smell: 1-2 combo of roast and toast with complimentary supporting notes of chocolate of the darker variety, cola nuts, and dark fruits. Roastiness in the aroma deepens a bit as it warms.

Taste: Toasted pumpernickel bread liberally dipped into chilled, roasty coffee. Touches of bittersweet chocolate, dark fruits, and charred nuts. Light sweetness overall. Hops provide ample bitterness and a very slight herbaceous hint. Drying, roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: A very acceptable Schwarzbier; balanced and easy to down.

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Photo of biggred1
3.5/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark ruby red with a creamy tan cap that leaves some decent looking lace on the glass. Mild cocoa, black and chocolatey malt in the nose. Nice, mild roasted malt flavors with a touch of wintergreen and honey. Light and easy drinking with mild carbonation. A decent black lager.

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Photo of generallee
3.63/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a pint glass. The bottle has no noticeable freshness or born on date.

Appearance: It has a deep dark crimson body with a tall foamy head. The head is tan in color and hangs on well, leaving lots of splotchy lacing on the glass.

Small: The aroma is very modest with only light hints of roasted barley malt and some herbal/mineral like hops.

Taste/Palate: Up front it has nice mellow roasted and dark bready maltiness. It quickly thins out and gets quit watery in the middle. Hop flavor steps up in and adds herbal and mineral like notes with a somewhat metallic edge to the finish. This finish seems to linger just a little too long. It has a medium body that seems to thin out towards the finish and carbonation is mellow giving it a smooth overall texture.

Notes: Overall I would say that Saranac's Black Lager is very drinkable but there Black Forest is a much better interpretation of a German Schwarzbier.

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Photo of dmamiano
3.16/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

pours a deep black..very nice off white head and some sticky lacing webbing on the glass.
smells a bit like dough. bready and malts. wisps of black licorice tantalize the nose
taste is solid..decent mouthfeel. A fairly nice malt backed by an adequate amount of hops.
Some roasted grain...and even a bit a spice..

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Photo of wilbrew
3.58/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass with a reddish brown color that lets through a bit of light. Two finger tan head which dissipates quickly with a decent amount of lacing. Biscuity aroma with a chocolate malt flavor. This beer has a mellow hop profile and just a hint of alcohol is noticeable. The beer is very drinkable and a good example of a dark lager.

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Photo of thekevlarkid
3.22/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Out of a bottle this beer was a dark copper color with barely a finger of tan head. The head quickly became a tiny collar that left thin, sliding lacing. The aroma was very grainy and full of dry chocolate malt, toasted malt, coffee and a little German malt. The flavors were an exact extrapolation of the aroma and distinctly European. But despite my repeated attempts to enjoy it I kept thinking it was sour, off or just plain awkward. I couldn't put my finger onit (it was trying so hard!) but it just kept letting me down. The mouthfeel was creamy, the body medium and the carbonation appropriate. I give this one points for getting the style correct, but when I really boiled it all down it just wasn't enjoyable to drink!

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
2.06/5  rDev -38.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Ugh, another Saranac effort. Pours a dark red and brown. Aroma is dirt and alcohol, i.e. "earthy".

Taste, I don't know what the deal is with Saranac, but every beer, every style, has that same quality to it, and its not enjoyable. Its like a biscuity sawdust is added to every batch. In addition, this beer has some browned malt feel, and no discernable hopping.

Just not enjoyable for me.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.55/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Part of the twelve pack I decided to split with the in laws yesterday, this was one of the final ones taken out. Served cold and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 02/21/2010.

The pour was decent, dark brown in color with the slightest bit of light shining through, enough that you could tell that it was a nice light brown around the edges. Small head crept up the sides of the glass and left behind only a touch of lacing in a bare top. Aroma is smoked malts, hints of brown sugar, a touch of chocolate all nicely blended together. Had a much stronger smoke note then I would have thought. Very light body led the flavor not coming off as strong as I would have liked, but I still think it worked pretty well in the end. Rich smoky malts lay on the tongue with a touch of a light hop kick back in the finish that was slightly dry and even.

Overall it was fairly session able I have to admit. Not as full as I would have liked to have seen but I think it worked for what it was. Pretty solid.

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Photo of kegger22
3/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Saranac Black Lager was a very dark brown with a half-inch beige head the faded to a collar.

The aroma was good, malty sweet.

The taste was a roasted cola flavor, not particularly appetizing in a beer.

The mouth feel was light to medium bodied, oily and well carbonated.

Drinkability was fair, the ABV cooperated, but the flavor was not up to snuff.

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Photo of akorsak
3.5/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The last of my 12 beers of winter.

A: The schwarzbier is more of a deep reddish brown than schwarz. Heck, I'd chalk it up as a dark auburn color that takes on a glow when light shines through it. A half a finger of off-white head has left a barely noticeable lacing.

S: The nose has a strong caramel presence, syrupy and sweet. Not much in the way of dark roasted malts. The beer has the trademarked Saranac aroma lingering around too.

T: Lightly roasted dark malts and an extra shot of caramel syrup define the body. A stronger roasted aspect comes out late in each sip. Overall, the syrupy sweetness comes close to cloying. The Saranac house flavor permeates the beer.

M: The mouthfeel is sweeter with a great deal of caramel flavors. Mild hops assist a generally smooth mouthfeel.

D: Very drinkable. It's not my favorite from the 12 beers of winter but it'll do in a pinch.

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Photo of beerphan
3.85/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle -> american pint
part of the 12 beers of winter 2009/2010
product code: 2679 1438 screened on the bottle

Pours a crystal clear mahogany with scarlet highlight in the light. On the initial pour the head rose aggressively right to the rim on the pint. This initial aggresive rise is followed by a just as aggressive quick descent to a small puddle of dish suds. No lace. Normal Saranac carbonation is plentiful. I often wonder what it is that Saranac does to always have the glass lined with bubbles after a pour.

Nose: Faint malty nose. Mostly chocolate and burnt caramel

Malts up front and in the rear. Starts with a creamy chocolate and caramel. Some faint plum and licorice. Has a faint metallic twinge on the finish, along with some mild tart bitterness. Had this stored at room temp, (its winter so thats cold in my kitchen) and it really improved as it warmed a bit in my electric fire heated office.

Being a big fan of the Black Forest by Saranac, i had high hopes for this one, and was not disappointed.

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Photo of mjaskula
3.86/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a pilsner glass. Pours a nice dark brown, with a touch of red when held to the light. The light tan head was three fingers thick and thinned to a film; it left some nice thick lacing.

The aroma was light but had clear notes of roasted malts, coffee and a touch of hops. Taste is light and smooth, mimicking the aroma. Very well balanced, the roastiness blending very well with the hop bitterness.

The mouthfeel is nice and smooth. An easy drinking dark beer.

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Photo of Tilley4
3.49/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

From the Winter Sampler pack...

Pours a disappointingly dark brown, not black as a schwarzbier should be...nice head retention and lacing and all but the lack of color here has me thrown off a bit...

A fairly good aroma of dark roasted malts with the merest hint of cocoa to it.. Not overwhelming but not bad either...

Dark roasted malts and a touch of something darker such as cocoa or coffee in the taste dept... Nothing to write home about but not bad either.. Sorta middle of the road with this one...

Very thin and watery mouthfeel is a big disappointment here... Needs more body to it..

Overall, a drinkable brew but this isn't something I would reach for over other schwarzbiers...

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Photo of TheTrevor
3.58/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer poured a dark brown with some ruby highlights. The smell is some sweet lightly toasted malts with a bit of breadiness. The taste reflects the smell, with a tiny bit of hops in the finish. A surprisingly small amount of hops for Saranac. As a side effect, this beer ends up being quite a bit more drinkable than a lot of Saranac's offerings. Stylistically, this beer is almost exactly like their Black Forest, and in fact may be a rebranding of that one they've had forever.

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Photo of stakem
3.27/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark amber color with some red and browness about the edges as well. Has more than a finger of slightly tanned head that receeds sticking all about the glass. Aroma of hops and a bit of malt with a touch of some sulfur notes as well. Taste is a little roasty malt with some hops that leads in to a bitter crisp finish. Light feel and moderately carbed. All around not bad but again for a Schwarzbier it seems a little light in both the color and flavor. Still it is quite drinkable but it just seems like it is a little lacking in flavor.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.15/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured into a pint glass to one finger of tan head. It is brown witn a tinge of orange. I smell sweet roasted malts. The taste is mostly roasted malts as well. There is a faint hop presence. Overall, it is a pretty mild beer, but that is par for the style.


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Photo of irishking1977
3.36/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: This one is a dark ruby/black that has a moderate tan head that disappears almost immediately and leaves some decent lacing.

S: Somewhat off-putting malt and slightly bitter chocolate.

T: Mild roasted malt along with a light bitter chocolate finish. This almost reminds me more of a very light chocolate stout then german black ale.

M: Slightly carbonated but a bit watered down. Otherwise, nothing bad, but nothing that grabs my attention.

D: This is a reasonably drinkable black ale for the winter months. For the most part, Saranac seems to make brews that both a novice and a veteran beer drinker can enjoy. No one will get offended by their brews, but also, there's nothing that truly makes them stand out, either.

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Saranac Black Lager from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 78 out of 100 with 104 ratings