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Saranac Black Lager | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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Saranac Black LagerSaranac Black Lager

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

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

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Reviews: 66 | Ratings: 103
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 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.

 376 characters

Photo of mnrider
2.46/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz. Brown Bottle. Pilsner Glass.

A: Dark brown, with a reddish tint. Thin head never lasts, with little lacing. Carbonation is strong.

S: Watered down malts. Sweet with bread.

T/M: Mostly malts. Kinda watery with a slight caramel taste. A little bitter on the back end. Carbonation is strong.

D: I've had better beers of this style. Not that bad, just something I wouldn't get. Unless in a mix pack.


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Photo of yesyouam
2.6/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Saranac Black Lager is a dark and clear tawny brown beer with a thick, lumpy, light beige head that has oily bubbles; outstanding retention and lacing. It has a sharp, metallic aroma that's a touch cheesy. It's smooth and medium bodied with a pretty clean finish. It's pretty dry with a roasty note of coffee and a light, green bitterness. The aftertaste is metallic. Yeah, that metal taste really throws it off.

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Photo of dsa7783
2.75/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Watered-down and lackluster are the best adjectives to describe this sampling experience... An American stab at a traditional German style that fails to capture the richness of this unique style of beer... Flavlors were sadly lacking... Nothing of the "chocolate malt" profile was evident... Nothing special...

 310 characters

Photo of KenC411
2.78/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark amber hue capped with a sizable head, lasting for about 2 minutes before fading away with lacing on the side.

Smell: Deep chocolate, hint of roasty malt, however, very faint.

Taste: Malt taste in the front, kiss of hops for a finish. Taste of chocolate and some malt coats the tongue in the front. Very light on flavor, and a bit watery.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, mild carbonation.

Drinkability: Smooth beer with deep contrast. The beer is enjoyable, though I would not actively seek it out.

 514 characters

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 jwc215
2.82/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Part of Saranac winter variety pack:

Pours ruby/cranberry toward brown - certainly not black - with a head that, at first, seems to hold some promise, but soon descends to a patch. Some vanishing dots of lace...vanish.

The smell is of diark-ish (cocoa?) maltiness with a slight berry-like tartness and slightly burnt coffee.

The taste is of sweetened coffee with balancing, though overroasted, roast (slight burnt edges) and a tart note. Sweetness balanced by roast/toast and a hint of non-descript hops in the finish.

Light-to-medium bodied...It is pretty smooth.

Drinks suprisingly well (for one) though very mild all-round. Had to dig for character though was the first beer I had for the day. A schwarz light...lite...

 728 characters

Photo of mtnbikerpa
2.91/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured out a 12 ounce bottle. Very dark almost black. Little or no head. Its a plainer and less flavor than the winter lager. Flavor is very disappointing compared to the color. It is very drinkable but nothing I would go out of my way for. I expected more of a malt or coco flavor. Or maybe some dark fruity flavors. If you are looking for something special look again. If you want a solid drinking every day brew, this is it.

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Photo of brentk56
2.91/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear burnt caramel color with a solid tan head that leaves some lacing around the sides of the pint glass

Smell: A bit of roasty malt, but just a small bit

Taste: Opens with a brown bread flavor but moves in an almost bitterly sour direction by mid-palate, though the crusty bread makes a re-appearance just before the swallow; roasty malt in the aftertaste, the sour/bitter flavor lingers as a distraction

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A bit disappointed with the bitter flavor on this one; verging on sour, it reminds me of nuts that have gone off

 616 characters

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.

 357 characters

Photo of mklinger
3.02/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint. Initially there was a bit over 1/2 an inch of foam that dissipated almost instantly. Additionally, no lacing was left behind with this beer. Poor head in all ways. Color was a black that when held to the light showed a deep garnet. Nice color, but poor head.

Aroma was pretty bland. Bit of the roasty malt in the aroma but not much else.

Taste was fine, nothing exceptional, but fine. Bit of roast, little bit of hops and a fairly thin mouthfeel. Not hoppy enough to be a schwarzbier. Just a light, slightly roasty but fairly neutral beer.

 582 characters

Photo of drperm
3.03/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into my pilsener glass.

A: Looks a bit like Dr. Pepper in my glass. Handsome, translucent brown with copper notes as the light passes through. A thin tan foam gets thinner as it sits atop.

S: Smells like beer. Smells like lager beer. A nose reminiscent of dark Vienna lager (say, Negra Modelo), very much malt-forward.

T: Simple, humble, straightforward, not bad. A bit watery, but nicely roasty-malty. No pretense with this one. A hint of chocolate shows up at the end if you're patient.

M: Somewhat watery throughout.

D: Not bad, not great: Average. One could work through a few of these with no problem. Don't drink it too cold or you'll miss out on some subtle notes. Try with meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

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Photo of Gmann
3.05/5  rDev -9.2%
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.

 535 characters

Photo of ujsplace
3.1/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an oversized wine glass.

A: Deep amber/brown in color, off white head with descent residual lacing.

S: Roasted malts, nutty.

T: Mild malt and some hop bitter bite at the end. Somewhat lacking in terms of boldness, but not bad.

M: Medium and crisp. Nice carbonation.

D: A nice crowd pleasing black lager.

 320 characters

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.


 268 characters

Photo of russpowell
3.16/5  rDev -6%
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...

 565 characters

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..

 312 characters

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.

 827 characters

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!

 727 characters

Photo of oberon
3.23/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

 465 characters

Photo of Brad007
3.23/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hmm. A successor to Black Forest? Not sure why they need a second version of the style (schwarzbier).

Pours a dark brown color with a two-finger head into my glass that fades down to leave some lacing on the edges.

Aroma is full of sweet and grainy malt with almost no roastiness detected in the nose.

Taste is much of the same. Sweet, malty and syrupy(?). There's a bit of caramel/molasses in the taste.

Mouthfeel is thin and somewhat undesirable. It's just not very impressive. Black Forest has better overall texture.

They should stick to Black Forest as their flagship schwarzbier. This beer just reeks of desperation to fill up a holiday pack with "new" beers. The Winter Lager and even the Maple Porter offered more when compared to this.

 751 characters

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.

 552 characters

Photo of Amalak
3.28/5  rDev -2.4%
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 WVbeergeek
3.3/5  rDev -1.8%
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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Saranac Black Lager from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 66 ratings.
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