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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: Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-07-2009

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 104 |  Reviews: 66
Photo of wilbrew
3.58/5  rDev +6.9%
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 -3.9%
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 -38.5%
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 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 kegger22
3/5  rDev -10.4%
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 +4.5%
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 beerphan
3.85/5  rDev +14.9%
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 +15.2%
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 +4.2%
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 +6.9%
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 -2.4%
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%
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 +0.3%
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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Photo of woodychandler
3.68/5  rDev +9.9%
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 drperm
3.03/5  rDev -9.6%
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 bltzburgh
3.95/5  rDev +17.9%
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.

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Photo of mtnbikerpa
2.91/5  rDev -13.1%
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 jwc215
2.82/5  rDev -15.8%
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 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 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 brentk56
2.91/5  rDev -13.1%
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 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 KenC411
2.78/5  rDev -17%
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.

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Photo of Mardukk
3.71/5  rDev +10.7%
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.

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Photo of dsa7783
2.75/5  rDev -17.9%
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...

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