Saranac Black Lager | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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Saranac Black LagerSaranac Black Lager
104 Ratings
Saranac Black LagerSaranac Black Lager

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

Style: German Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 104 |  Reviews: 66
Reviews by Kinsman:
Photo of Kinsman
3.84/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Not really black as the name implies, but darker than other german lagers. Has a thin off-white head that leaves a nice lace

S: Has a bit of a roasted character to it and a slight aroma from the hops

T: A well rounded body of roasted malt, with a bit of lager yeast character and hop bitterness

M: Over a medium feel in the mouth, but plenty of body for this style.

D: While I haven't been able to find the Saranac Black Forest around here, I can't see how this can be much different from that beer. Overall very drinkable schwarzbier, that has made me want to try Black Forest.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.23/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Last of the Saranac Twelve Beers of winter beers for me to try.Poured a nice dep chocolate and ruby tinge,a large fluffy almond colored head atop.A mix of German malt and spice in the nose,not strong but quite nice.Really not much to say about the flavors because there were not many,light iron and chocolate is all I really picked up.A little thin in the mouth made it even less drinkable in my mind.Eh,it started out ok but really seemed to fizzle out in the end.

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Photo of MadScientist
3.21/5  rDev -4.2%
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 generallee
3.63/5  rDev +8.4%
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 tigg924
3.4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: dark brown in color, 1/3 inch head, moderate carbonation, clear

Smell: light chocolate and toasted malt

Taste: caramel and small burnt malt

Mouthfeel: medium carbonation, medium/light bodied, slightly bitter

Drinkability: Average for the style. Nothing overly exciting, but nothing bad either. Glad to drink the two in the sampler, would not get a six.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
2.06/5  rDev -38.5%
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 WVbeergeek
3.3/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cola brown with ruby highlights a large beige khaki head forms and leaves evenly spread lacing around my imperial pint. Aroma is heavier on nuts and caramel than the dark roasts like coffee and chocolate edges. The Black Forest Schwarzbier used to own this, no where near as traditional as that offering. Flavor has a slight tart sourdough edge to it creamy milk chocolate notes with herbal hops and harsh carbonation, that sour twang throws me off a bit. Mouthfeel is a bit acrid with a harsh tartness to the finish, light bodied sturdy carbonation. Drinkability is solid okay darker brew bring back the old formula.

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Photo of caddybuyer
3.53/5  rDev +5.4%
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 NJpadreFan
3.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Saranac- Black Lager

A- dark copper brown almost blackish. Small filmy head, no lacing.
S- Light roasted slight burnt malt with a light touch of dark chocolate.
T- Again, lightly roasted chocolate malts with a touch of brown sugar and earthy hops. Nice chocolately malt finish.
M- Sweet malty start with a light touch of dry chocolate malt in the middle. Chocolate malts get bolder in the back end with a light appearance of earthy hops.

Overall- Started off weak but improved further into the pint.

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Photo of mempath
4.19/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

nice light tan head and lacing, dark cola appearance, settles fast.

smell is a nice breadiness, but there is an assertive freshness that suggests nothing extremely complex, but very refreshing and somewhat bold

taste almost matches the nose...almost a sour finish amid a mostly malty-bready palate. carbonation, though a bit flat, keeps the flavor upfront. a good trade-off.

very drinkable. best to session with a few other Saranacs. actually, as simple as this seems, i'd love to oscillate on a do nothing evening with this and a nicely contrasting Saranac from this winter pack. nice to see some new entries into the lineup this season.

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Photo of avisong
2.5/5  rDev -25.4%

Photo of cliff1066
3.25/5  rDev -3%

Photo of chrishiker1409
3.5/5  rDev +4.5%

Photo of russpowell
3.16/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The last beer in my winter mixed pack I've yet to review

Pours chestnut with 2 fingers of rocky tan head. Good lacing & head retention

S: Brown bread & a touch of cooked corn & leafy hops

T: Licorice & brown bread, & leafy hops up front. Brown bread & leafy hops dominate as this warms. Finishes about the same brown bread, a touch of caramel & leafy hops with just a bit of apricot, just doesn't pull together for me...

MF: Medium bodied, fairly lively carbonation

Drinks easy, but not that great a Schwartz bier, could drink 2 or 3 before boredom sets in...

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Photo of Gmann
3.05/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a cola like brown color with a small tight khaki colored head that settled into a sparse cap. The aroma is of a toasted/slightly roasted malt, a bit of a caramel sweetness. Lacks that nice roasted malt kick. The taste is grainy and metallic. Not sure where this schwarzbier is going. Light roasted malt, grainy. Kind of a roasted macro though no rice/corn flavors. The feel is light with light carbonation. The feel hold ups, not watery, decent. I would say a below average schwarzbier. The roasted malt flavor is just not there.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.52/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle numbered 2879-0918. Sampled on November 13, 2009. The pour was noit as dark as I expected with a kind of ruby red-mahogany tone with little to no heaf and light lacing on the glass. The aroma had a bit of hops and nuts but it was somewhat muted and not very enticing. The mouthfeel was not too bad...a bit on the high side of medium body with a honey like smooth texture. I found the flavor to be more sour and bitter than chocolately and coffee-like as marketed. This beer had some likeable aspects to it but it did not live up to its marketing campaign. Nothing extraordinary here.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.35/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a burnt cranberry-cola with a ½ finger khaki colored head that was moderately lasting. The lacing sticks well around the glass while a light density of moderately paced carbonation bubbles find their way to the surface. The coloring was not really black in nature, could of used a bit more roasted malting for coloring and when held against the light it appeared a deep crimson red.

S: The nose was faint, with only the slightest regards of roastedness. There was a presence of dried vegetative matter and faint juicy dark fruit of plums ever so lightly detected. Not a lot to go on here, was fairly clean the way I lager should be.

T: The flavor offered a decent helping of softly roasted malt balanced with a touch of sweet dried caramel. Light watery coffee and roasted grains add dryness to the overall presentation while there is some dried dark fruit that moves in for the finish. The overall notion of the drink was one of moderate flavor with a light coffee lacing on the finish that did enough to make its presence known.

M: An active mouthful is a result of the strong carbonation with a lot of dance on the tongue. A light bodied affair like a good Schwarz.

D: Decent drinkability, easy enough to consume in multiples but wonder what my tolerance would be. A decent session minded beer for the casual craft drinker.

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Photo of akorsak
3.5/5  rDev +4.5%
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 logicalparadox
3.36/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Photo of mikesgroove
3.55/5  rDev +6%
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 tclapper
4/5  rDev +19.4%

Photo of buschbeer
3.15/5  rDev -6%
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 Amalak
3.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this out of a 12 ounce bottle.
A- It's a very dark brown in color, but still basically see-through. Some head and only a bit of lacing.
S- I'm not picking anything strong coming through.
T- Tastes kind of like cotton (to be honest, not sure what this means, but it's in my notes). It's very, very dry and has a sour, malt taste to it.

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Photo of airheadmtrcycle
4.26/5  rDev +27.2%
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 DaKur
2.75/5  rDev -17.9%

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Saranac Black Lager from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 3.35 out of 5 with 104 ratings