Saranac Black Lager | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

66 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Saranac Black LagerSaranac Black Lager

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

Style: Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-07-2009

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 66 | Ratings: 104
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.

 1,156 characters

Photo of mempath
4.19/5  rDev +24.7%
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.

 641 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.97/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Saranac Black Lager, poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours a dark amber with a small white head that retains decently well. Spotty lacing.

Aroma of roasted malt, molasses and brown sugar.

Flavors of caramel, mocha, and roasted malt. Earthy hops add a zing and a flash of bitterness. Suggestions of toffee in the finish.

A prickly mouthfeel with a mild viscosity. Finishes semi dry. On the fuller side of medium bodied.

Solid drinkability. Good flavors that work well together. A good example of the style, which I am a fan of.

 544 characters

Photo of bltzburgh
3.95/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured dark black with medium head
Head smeemed to diminish fairly quick but showed good lacing on the glass.

Very drinkable lager with a nice chocolate and carmel smell and just the a hint of nut in the aroma.

Full flavor with a reasonable after taste. Thumbs up, though I bought in a variety pack, I would purchase a full case for one of the up comming "Beer Club" events we have coming up.

 397 characters

Photo of GeoffFromSJ
3.92/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very decent schwarzbier, which we need a lot more of.

Nice ruby to dark color. Clean lager taste with some roastiness from the chocolate malt.

Quite drinkable, not incredibly complex. In other words, a very nice schwarzbier. If someone likes Guinness, this may be a nice beer to introduce them to the world of craft beer.

 323 characters

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

The beer pours a dark brown/black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a dry, roasted scent that's also a bit chocolatey. It seems as though they added chocolate malt only to a traditional lager. I guess it works. The taste is good. It's light, yet full of flavor. There is a dry, roasted character, but also a really sweet chocolate flavor in there as well. It's pretty damn quaffable. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a better than average black lager. It seems as though the malt bill is quite simplistic, but who cares? It tastes good to me. Cheers!

 660 characters

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.

 1,495 characters

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

12oz, poured into a standard pint glass.

A: brown color with ruby highlights on the edges of the glass, clear, one finger persistant tan head, some lacing

S: some caramel sweetness and a slight roastiness.

T: light malt flavor with some mild sweetness. slight roasted malt flavor.

MF: medium light bodied,moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: not a bad beer at all.

 368 characters

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

12oz bottle purchased as part of a seasonal 12-pack at Shaw's in Windham, NH. Pours a dark brown to black copper crystal clear body with a half inch of short-lived khaki-colored head. Light aroma, hints of roast and caramel. Robust roasty flavor with some nuttiness and hints of earthy herbal hops toward the finish. Clean finish. Light to medium in body with moderate carbonation. Tasty and drinkable for sure, probably one of the better beers from this variety pack. Good stuff!

 480 characters

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.

 470 characters

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.

 1,030 characters

Photo of Kinsman
3.84/5  rDev +14.3%
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.

 585 characters

Photo of number1bum
3.82/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown, slightly reddish color with about a finger and a half of tan head. Definitely not black; I've had numerous other black lagers that were black, and this one is not. Keeps a thin lace and does leave some decent stick, but c'mon, it's not black.

Smell is pretty grainy, although it does have some dark caramel sweetness as well. Has a touch of chocolate too. Hmmm...beyond the grain it doesn't really smell like a scharzbier, but it doesn't smell bad. Hmmm...

Ditto on the taste. More chocolate and rich caramel in the flavor than the nose even. It's pretty tasty actually. Not like any black lager I've had before, but it does have some good flavor. Some hop bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, medium bodied with modest carbonation.

Beating a dead horse here but this is no typical schwarzbier. Must be that it was brewed with a lager yeast, but beyodn that it drinks a bit more like a porter. It's not really true to style, but it is pretty good. This Winter pack is pretty solid so far.

 1,033 characters

Photo of smibroncos
3.75/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A. Poured a clear, rich, ruby brown with a one finger creamy, light tan head. Small amount of lacing clung to the glass.

S. Roasted malt, carmel, leaves. earthy.

T. Bitter chocolate, ester, carmel . Slight sourness.

M. Medium bodied, good carbonation, dry.

D. This lager stars bitter and ends bitter. Not alot of sweetness to balance it out but a pretty decent brew none the less.

 384 characters

Photo of Mardukk
3.71/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown with an off white head that creates some lacing.

Not much smell to speak of other than a hint of malt.

Nice clean schwarzbier in that the flavor is light chocolate in the finish and also light on the roasted junk. Hops make the finish somewhat clean with the chocolate lingering a bit. There is also a hint of sweetness mid taste.

Medium carbonation with a medium well balanced body.

I'm a big fan of the style and this fits it very nicely. Well balanced and drinkable with some nice lightly roasted characteristics.

 540 characters

Photo of woodychandler
3.68/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I loooove Saranac's 12-packs! They give you an opportunity to try (and review) a whole buncha different beers all at once and all at a reasonable price. Here goes.

I got almost two fingers' worth of light-tan head with decent retention off of my pour. Color was a deep-brown with ruby highlights - very pretty. Nose was lightly cocoa-sweet. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full with a light cocoa sweetness on the tongue. The bottleneck mentioned "dark chocolaty flavor", but I did not feel it was all that. Chocolate, sure, but not dark chocolate. Finish was slightly malty-sweet with that chocolate malt taste, but it probably would not satiate any self-respecting chocolate lover's dream. Still, for the price, not bad.

 715 characters

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.68/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Kinda weird, Saranac already has a black lager called 'black forest', looks and tastes mostly the same to me but whatever. Luckily, I love me some black lagers so although this may be a clone basically, it's still enjoyable. I do like the black forest better, due to its hint of caramel and more roastiness in there, but this black lager is still solid with some decent roastiness. Not as as good as the big moose ale but another solid Saranac winter mixer.

 457 characters

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.

 662 characters

Photo of CHickman
3.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours out black looking but when you hold it up to light it's a red/brown in color with a creamy tan milkshake like head; smells of roasted malt with hints of coffee, caramel and chocolate.

Tastes of roasted malt, some malt sweetness, coffee, chocolate, nut, very faint hops, and grain or yeast. Nice smooth rich taste and feel, with medium carbonation and an overall rich roasted malt flavor that finished crisp and on the dry side. It tastes and feels like a stout even though it's called a lager.

Very tasty beer (not sure I'd call it a Schwarzbier like the label says) that goes down smooth and leaves a little lacing on the glass. The Saranac 12 pack variety packs always provide a lot of enjoyment and this year's winter selection is on target again!

 760 characters

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.

 983 characters

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.

 483 characters

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.

 347 characters

Photo of bob3701
3.56/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a shaker pint glass. Very dark amber, clear with reddish-orange highlights. Nice creamy head that dissolved into a thick film. Laces really well. Slight roasted aroma. Faintess hint of coffee bitterness. Very smooth in the mouth. Highly drinkable. Not the best black lager out there but pretty good.

 311 characters

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.

 1,011 characters

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...

 620 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Saranac Black Lager from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.36 out of 5 based on 104 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.