Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99! (Limited time offer, US delivery only)

Saranac Black Lager | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 104 |  Reviews: 66
Photo of mwa423
3.41/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Jet black with a finger of off white head.

S - Very little smell, just a tiny hint of malt.

T - Very typical lager taste only with a slightly darker malt flavor and a hint of smoke at the end.

M/D - A relatively easy drinker that is superior to lighter beers in the winter. Mouthfeel is quite light and doesn't leave a lot of taste in the mouth after you swallow.

 370 characters

Photo of bob3701
3.56/5  rDev +6.3%
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 animal69
3.48/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- pours a clear deep brown color w/ a thin off-white cap which dissipates quickly leaving little lacing in my pilsner glass

S- a very mild smell, some bready cereal grains with subtle darker whole grain and nuts as it warms

T- taste is slightly stronger with a bit more emphasis on the darker grains, a faintly minerally hop(?) bitterness with some nuts and very subtle dark fruits, clean crisp finish

M- a slightly dry, light bodied beer with a decent co2 level

D- all in all a very drinkable brew, i think their black forest is a tad better tho

 551 characters

Photo of deruiz10
3.36/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle served in a pint glass.

A - Darkish brown pour, reminiscent of molasses. Dark amber color around the outside of the glass. Medium-body coffee-and-cream color head fades fairly quickly, leaves significant lacing.

S - Not much smell; chocolate, malts, coffee & molasses.

T - Roasted malts, coffee, molasses, very slightly bitter-burnt taste in the finish.

M - A little watery for the style, minimal carbonation.

D - A good beer to drink when you get home from work or with some food, but too simple to be a sipper.

 530 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.97/5  rDev +18.5%
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 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.

 465 characters

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.

 340 characters

Photo of CHickman
3.65/5  rDev +9%
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 GeoffFromSJ
3.92/5  rDev +17%
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 number1bum
3.82/5  rDev +14%
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 mnrider
2.46/5  rDev -26.6%
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.


 413 characters

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.

 369 characters

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.

 625 characters

Photo of porterwoobie
3.88/5  rDev +15.8%
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 mklinger
3.02/5  rDev -9.9%
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 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.

 585 characters

Photo of ujsplace
3.1/5  rDev -7.5%
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 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.

 610 characters

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.68/5  rDev +9.9%
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 plaid75
3.33/5  rDev -0.6%
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.

 401 characters

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.

 501 characters

Photo of yesyouam
2.6/5  rDev -22.4%
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.

 412 characters

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.

 535 characters

Photo of MrHurmateeowish
3.88/5  rDev +15.8%
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 WesWes
3.88/5  rDev +15.8%
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

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

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