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

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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Ratings: 104 |  Reviews: 66
Photo of djrn2
3/5  rDev -10.7%

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.

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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

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Photo of oline73
3/5  rDev -10.7%

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.

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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...

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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 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 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.

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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 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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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 rab53
3/5  rDev -10.7%

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...

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Photo of sendbeer
2.5/5  rDev -25.6%

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!

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Photo of AngusOg
2.75/5  rDev -18.2%

Photo of plaid75
3.33/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep, deep amber hue with a two finger off white head. There was good retention and very good lacing.

The smell featured a light caramel malt and some roasted malt.

The taste consisted of some sweetness and a bit of burnt grain. Pretty authentic actually.

The mouthfeel was toward the lighter side of the style.

Overall a decent lager, not as good as Black Forest. Easy to drink for sure.

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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.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.52/5  rDev +4.8%
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 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 beerthulhu
3.35/5  rDev -0.3%
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 tigg924
3.4/5  rDev +1.2%
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 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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Saranac Black Lager from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.36 out of 5 based on 104 ratings.
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