Saranac Chocolate Amber Lager | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

185 Reviews
Read the review
Saranac Chocolate Amber LagerSaranac Chocolate Amber Lager

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

Style: Euro Dark Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-22-2002

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 185 | Ratings: 227
Photo of AJPainter
3.78/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge tan head off a moderate pour, which takes a long time to dissipate. Near black with some brown and almost ruby highlights when held up to the light. Aroma of toffee and caramel with roasted grains and a whiff of alcohol and tons of chocolate. More roast, dried fruits, chocolate, and some alcohol flavor. Tastes more like a porter than what I was expecting (having never had a munich dunkel). Nice and creamy mouthfeel.

I wish there were more than two in the holiday twelve-pack, but hopefully the others will live up to this one.

 536 characters

Photo of davidt
3.18/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Part of the "12 Beers of Winter" package. Pours a dark brown with a thick frothy head. The head lasts till the end. There is negligible aroma, only a slight roasted smell. The taste follows with a slight roasted malt flavor. Very little hops. Some sweetness to the taste, but nothing that's really "chocolate".

Overall, not a bad beer, but not exceptional. Easy to drink with a decent flavor. But, maybe sometimes you need a beer that's not over the top. :-)

 460 characters

Photo of Jp7010
3.75/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Split a 2007 winter 12-pack with my brother-in-law, came home with the leftovers, among them including one of these.

Popped it open and poured it into a nonic. A rich black with an inch of cappuccino foam. I don't quite see what's so 'amber' about this chocolate brew. It smelled like sweet chocolate, with hints of coffee. The taste was sweet, yet bitter, much like a a good, dark chocolate. It had a mild carbonation that danced on the tongue. A decent brew, but definitely one to have for dessert with a block of dark chocolate. Certainly not a session beer.

 562 characters

Photo of drseamus
2.84/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Nice dark body but the head was small initially and disappeared quickly. The aroma isn't strong but there is a burnt smell in there. The flavor doesn't stand out either but has a certain "Saranac" quality to it. The body is pretty light and the drinkability isn't great.

 270 characters

Photo of morimech
4.2/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This sat forgotten in my fridge door for quite awhile. The only date I can find on the bottle is 2002. I would think that would be accurate. Lets see how it aged.

Pours a very dark brown with a big tan head that threatens to overflow in the glass. It settles down to a nice cap and leaves heavy lacing. So far so good.

It smells of burnt coffee and chocolate. The chocolate smell is very mild. Like a milkshake. Things are really picking up now.

The taste is chocolate malt with a little bit of coffee bitterness. The flavors blended together very nicely. It has a very smooth mouthfeel, almost creamy coating is left behind. Medium body with very good carbonation.

I would assume this beer aged quite well. I can't remember drinking it 5 years ago but I have to wonder if it was this good.

 795 characters

Photo of Gambrinus1184
3.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Out of the 12 Beers of Winter mix-pack, into a SA pint glass.

A: Poured a dark brown, almost black, with ruby tones shining when held to the light. Looks like a stout or porter. Head is average, but is a nice tan.

S: Smells malty and sweet, with burnt, bittersweet chocolate and a very light hop twang.

T: Tastes robust and chocolaty; almost too robust for a lager. Not too sweet, but all of the bitterness here is from the chocolate, and the hops tend to be a bit fruitier. Not the best balance.

M: Full bodied, but not like drinking oil. Any chance of crispness is taken away by the sweet maltiness of this brew.

D: Perhaps too rich to have more than a couple, but it works well as a dessert beer, and the ABV is enough to give you a little winter merriment.

Overall, another somewhat unimpressive selection from Saranac. It doesn't fail as a winter brew, however, as it is sweet and warming.

 900 characters

Photo of bluejacket74
3.71/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, part of the Saranac 12 beers of winter pack. Served in a Sam Adams BL glass, the beer pours very dark brown with an inch and a half frothy tan head. Head retention and lacing are both pretty good. It smells like chocolate and roasted malt, not much else to it. Taste is similar to the aroma, with a bit of bitter hops in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium, it's nice and smooth with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is good too. Overall I think this is a good beer, I could drink quite a few of these at a time. It could use a little more chocolate IMO, but it's still good. Not a bad choice at all!

 615 characters

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.88/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Part of the Winter '07 12-pck. This one looks very interesting.

The look is a really dark brown, going toward black and almost opaque. The head is formed easily with a robust pour which creates a really nice frothy brown head that is sticky and clumpy. Most of the bubbly activity is in the middle of the glass and looking really lively. The retention is also very good.

Very chocolate and caramel malt on the nose with a distinct herbalized, zesty lager yeast whiff...smells one part Oatmeal stout and one part lager.

This is a very smooth but lively brew that has the roastie, smoked chocolate flavor of a decent oatmeal stout with the sour-herbal yeastiness of a lager. The feel is pretty medium to full, smooth but livley. Very interesting indeed. I like it.

This is a unique hybrid-ish brew that I found to be better than avaerge for this Brewery and not at all hard to drink.

 891 characters

Photo of burnstar
3.74/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a big light tan head. Lacing on surface and sides. Mild roasted malt aroma with some chocolate notes. Mild chocolate malt flavor. A little roasted malt bitterness. Some herbal hops are present in the finish. Balanced. Medium bodied and smooth. Quite drinkable. Solid beer overall

 296 characters

Photo of Brad007
3.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a black color with an ample brown head. Aroma is smooth and malty with a hint of chocolate in the nose. Taste is much of the same. Kind of sweet on the tongue with the lager characteristics shining through a very thin layer of roastiness. Very drinkable and simple. A good start for the style. The chocolate part is subtle and could use a bit more "oomph".

 362 characters

Photo of yourunclewalt
2.95/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a deep, blackish, brown-red body with a one-finger creamy tan head.

S - Chocolate (clearly) with a definite toasted tinge. Scrambled eggs?

T - Dark chocolate, burnt bread, bitter hoppy aftertaste. Not too sweet.

M - Medium to thin, carbonated finish.

D - Not being a chocolate fan, this isn't too terrible. I definitely liked the toasted quality, whether that was a product of storing for the last 6 months or not.

 438 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Chestnut with bright orange highlights... that becomes dark crimson when backlit. Up top is a golden beige, whipped creamy cap that is laying down quite a bit of lace in shredded sheets. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the appearance is along the lines of a light porter. This is one of the better looking Matt Brewing Company beers that I've seen.

The nose is too weak. Repeated sniffs allow me to (barely) appreciate heavily toasted/lightly roasted malt that has no cocoa notes whatsoever. Vanguard, a Hallertau variant, is the single hop in use. That's a good choice for a Munich dunkel lager, but it doesn't contribute much to the aroma.

Prior to seeing the style listed above, I wondered what in the world a 'chocolate amber' might taste like. I thought it might be some sort of black and tan. After tasting Saranac Chocolate Amber, I think I'm at least as correct as BA (Munich dunkel lager) or the brewery's website (European style dark lager).

In my experience, neither one of those styles is this roasted malty, this chocolate-like or this full in the mouth. Black and tan (or even porter) fits the beer much better. Having said that, it isn't an outstanding version of any one of those styles. It's too grainy to be considered much better than above average. I do like the Vanguard hops though. Their bitterness and their spicy noble flavor is just what the beer needs.

The brewery describes the mouthfeel as 'heavy'. I guess that depends on what style one chooses to compare it too. For a relatively low ABV lager, I'd say they have a point. I like the beer's girth, but it could stand to have some of its rough edges smoothed out. In that sense, it isn't very lager-like.

Saranac Chocolate Amber is a strange beast that, in my opinion, is best thought of as a black and tan. In looking back at my review of the brewery's actual Black & Tan, which I consider to be one of their best offerings, I don't see a whole lot of difference between that beer and this one. SCA is a little too unrefined to be a star, but is a reasonably pleasant brew all the same.

 2,084 characters

Photo of Redwood21
3.28/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

dark brown black with a tan head that has good retention
no smell really, this is getting old i would liek a fragrant beer to run across my nose sometime soon
taste isnt all that chocolate, though there is some with some coffee, but nothing too robust. very easy beer to drink. it is what it is a darker lager, with a more deep taste than a lager might have but nothing super layered, or super interesting. I must admit im almost through my saranac mixer 12 pack. saranac puts out alot of good products. few really wowed me, but they make an above bar brew time and again, at an affordable price (note price did not affect my scores if so, they would be higher) anyway, good show saranac

 689 characters

Photo of billybob
3.76/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a dark brown with ruby highlights and a three finger tan head that held well and a fair amount of lacing. weak dark chocolate and roasted malt aromas. taste is better with slightly bitter chocolate mixing with the roasted malt and dark caramel. mouthfeel was light with a slight after taste. good drinkable beer but not special in any way.

 345 characters

Photo of happygnome
3.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: light brown color with about three quarter inch heas that does not dissapear fast leaving a good amount of lacing
s: chocolate malts, nice bitter hop presence
t: chocolate flavor initiall followed by a roasted nut flavor nice hop biterness very enjoyable
m: medium bodied a little more carbonated than i expected but still very nice.

overall this is a very good brew that i really enjoyed
I wish my friend would have brought back another sampler pack from this brewery, its so nice that there are 12 different beers

 525 characters

Photo of penguinjive7
3.18/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark amber with a bit of white head.

Smell is of faint unsweetened chocolate and a bit of a musky sent.

The taste has hints of burnt, unsweetened chocolate but this is not very well defined. There is also a kind of metallic taste to it.

This is much lighter bodied than I expected and quite watery.

Overall, it was not at all what I would have expected form the style. It is too lite and watery for me. It is drinkable, but I would rather have something else, given the choice.

 502 characters

Photo of sethmeister
2.98/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle (from winter 12 pack sampler) into pint glass at cellar temp.

Dark brown with ruby highlights. A hard pour yields 2 fingers of fluffy mocha colored head and leaves a decent amount of lace on the glass.

All I detect for scent is a light, bready lager aroma.

Fleeting chocolate and caramel flavors with a slight roastiness and an unusual but inoffensive peppery burning sensationg on the tongue. Bitterness creeps in at the end.

The mouthfeel starts off creamy but unfortunately ends watery, a trait I've noticed in a few of the saranac beers.

Drinkability is reasonably good, though I'm ready to move on to something else. Neither the worst nor the best of the 12 pack sampler. I would not buy this on its own.

 738 characters

Photo of kernalklink
2.8/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a dark murky brown with a quickly vanishing head. Aromas are fleeting; coffee, slight green hops, some roasted malts. Taste is not much different- first a sweetened toffee followed by burnt black coffee. Almost burning and acidic with raw hop bitterness. Some chocolate malt attempts to break through in the finish but is held back by the ugly coffee and burnt malts. Watery finish and goes down easy if you can ignore what your tastebuds are tellling you.

 463 characters

Photo of woodychandler
3.51/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Right off the bat, I could only get it to prduce a very thin, off-white head that had little retention. The color was a deep, dark brown with ruby highlights. The nose was sweet, especially with a cocoa scent. Mouthfeel was medium-to-thick with a light chocolate presence in the mouth. The finish had a full, effervescent feel to it with the same light chocolatiness continuing.

 378 characters

Photo of MuenchenerKindl
3.8/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass. The liquid is a nice light brown with good carbonation. The head is also nice of white, 2 fingers and leaves a bit of lace.

The smell is nice and sweet. A slight hint of chocolate malt.

The taste is nice but not quite what I would like. The chocolate taste is vety slight, just a hint, the sweetness is good and there is a stronger hop presents then the style would call for.

The mouthfeel is good, a tad thin but ok and the carbonation is good.

The drinkability is good. I would not mind trying it again. Prosit, MK

 572 characters

Photo of oelergud
3.11/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Clear deep and dark ruby body. Low carbonation. Creamy tan head with good retention and lace.
Not alot of smell, something wet, damp and with a touch of vegetation.
A little sweet with a faint hint of chocolate in the taste. Mild hoppy aftertaste with a citric twist. Well balanced.
Good mouthfeel. Easy to drink, very mild and unassuming.


 356 characters

Photo of RedChrome
3.36/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A light brown body with ruby hues when held to the light. Inch hich creamy tan colored head faded slowly. Average amount of carbonation can barely be seen. Clingy sheet down the side of glass.

A definite intial aroma of chocolate. The bitterness is a little bit high for a beer of this style. Overall strength is weak, making this just an average smelling beer.

Sweet chocolate aroma assaulted the tongue. A roasted nut flavor is secondary to the chocolate. As the taste sits on the tongue a spicy quality ensuses. A bitterness slightly above average.

While the thickness is a decent viscocity, the carbonation is a bit oveplayed as the sip continues.

A surprise in the mixed pack. Would work well as a pairing for smoked mozzerrella. A decent offering if you are looking for something with a range of flavors. Worth a taste.

 839 characters

Photo of Metalmonk
2.05/5  rDev -37.3%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Chocolate...Amber...Lager...would could this possibly be like?

This looks quite nice, with a really creamy head that retains for a solid several minutes. The color is a rich, ruby-hued dark dark brown, or just-barely-see-through-it black. Leaves trippy lace as the glass empties.

The aroma smells of copper, exactly like a penny,'s not my glass either, I'm sure of that, because I poured it into another, wondering if the glass wasn't properly washed. Same crappy smell. Blah.

The flavor has the same metallic notes that offend the nostrils. But at least something else gets through, that being a chocolate layer, and a roasted, no, burnt finish. But that metallic sheen persists. I love my metal, but not in my beer. Why even go further in the review? Who cares what the mouthfeel is like when the aroma and flavor is this bad? (For the record, the mouthfeel is too thin.) It's obviously not very drinkable. An "off" batch, or were my tastebuds totally wrecked forever by He'Brew's awesome Monumental Jewbelation last evening???


 1,061 characters

Photo of jjayjaye
3.53/5  rDev +8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark but translucent brown color. Nice 1/2" thick tan head that doesn't want to go .

S - Undaring earthy malt with a hint of chocolate.

T - All about the malty, modest chocolate flavor

M & D - Medium, not quite stout-like mouth that is very drinkable.

A good dark session lager. I'd buy it again.

 312 characters

Photo of auxiliary
3.95/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - This beer has a dark color to it, and has a tanish head to it.
S - Malty and a hint of chocolate
T - Malty and a hint of chocolate, not a burnt taste. I would say more on the malty side then chocolate.
M - Malty
D - Its ok, not the top of my list. I wou;dn't buy it again though.

 289 characters

Saranac Chocolate Amber Lager from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.27 out of 5 based on 227 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

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.