Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Saranac Black & Tan | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
495 Reviews
Read the review
Saranac Black & TanSaranac Black & Tan

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

Style: Black & Tan

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-05-2001

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 495 | Ratings: 755
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.85/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Part of a Beers of the World pack from Cost Plus World Market.

Pours a semi-clear dark amber color with a puffy 1 inch beige head that fades to a small cap. Thin tightly spaced rings of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of roasted dark malt, chocolate syrup, and caramel aromas. Taste is of roasted malt, coffee grounds, caramel, and slight roasted peanuts. A mild roasty bitterness lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a pretty good carbonation level making for a crisp yet smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good black and tan beer that is much better than the Mississippi Mud beer of the same style I have tried in the past.

 669 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

one of the best saranac beers and an absolute taste of fall for me. pours thick and dark, like a cup of coffee. has a nice tall lasting brown head on it. notes of coffee and dark dry roasty malt are the featured smells, but chocolate is also present. flavor is much much lighter than the nose indicates. still quite robust, but more laid back. the chocolate notes come forward a bit, and the earthy malts are balanced by a nice crisp lager finish. the mouthfeel is excellent, its so smooth, infinitely drinkable. one of my favorite dark beers to session in the autumn. carbonation is average, and the finish is very dry. overall an excellent beer that is a part of the seasonal flow of life for me.

 698 characters

Photo of metter98
3.63/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer poured clear dark amber in color with a thin, creamy white head that has good retention properties. A moderate amount of carbonation is visible from the rising bubbles.
S: The nose is rather sweet and has aromas of caramel and toasted malts.
T: There is a mild amount of sweetness in the taste, which mostly has flavors of toasted caramel malts with some hints of chocolate. There is a very mild amount of bitterness in the finish.
M: It feels light- to medium- bodied on the palate and relatively smooth and creamy. There is some dryness in the finish.
D: The beer is very drinkable. I could easily have several of these in one sitting.

 649 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
2.8/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

It's always puzzling to me why anyone would water down a stout with a lighter beer. Anyhow, If one were going to, Saranac's isn't as bad as I would have thought. It pours a lighter-than-expected brown/ black. Not opaque. Has a mild head that disipates quickly. Aromas are a little lactic in nature, a little grainy (black malt) and a light sweetness (caramel?). Flavors are light for a beer with a stout in it. Flavors are lessened by the lager addition. A bitter from both the black grain and hop addition is less than clean--charcoal-like. The texture is a bit chalky, but not dry. Finishes a grainy bitter and, again, chalky. Not overly impressed with this one, but still drinkable.

 685 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
2.64/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a black color stout with a nice big brown bubbly head with better then average retention. Aroma is kind of weak with limited sweet malt being distinguishable. Taste is also on the light side with lots of sweet malt, a quite thin body and no discernable bitterness at the end. Nothing to write home about I guess.

 327 characters

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.16/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

My first experience of tasting a Black & Tan, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The appearance was very inviting and smell pretty good, but the taste was a bit muddle in my opinion. It was too hard to discern all of the different flavor notes and tastes kind of like a mess really. I'm not sure if this is how this style is supposed to taste but I feel some fine tuning could make this into a solid beer.

 409 characters

Photo of zeff80
3.33/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a dark brown color, almost black. It had a three-finger, tan & creamy head. It left some lacing.

S - It smelled of roasted malt.

T - The taste was slightly bitter with the roasted malt flavor. It also had a little caramel to it.

M - It was soft and smooth. It was medium to heavy bodied. I expected it to be heavier.

D - It is a pretty good version of the style. If I wanted a bottle of a Black & Tan, I would look for Saranac.

 454 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
3.63/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark caramel with a lot of tan head and some good lacing. The smell is roasted malt, chocolate, and caramel. The taste adds a little bit more sweetness. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, chewy, and a bit dry. Drinkability is good, going down easy for how dark and dry it is.

 276 characters

Photo of nickfl
3.76/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours with a two-finger head of light brown foam that rests on top of an opaque, dark brown body with just a hint of light showing through. The foam settles at an average pace and leaves nice lace on the glass.

S - Lightly fruity yeast notes with some caramel and toffee. Notes of red apple, plum, and perhaps a hint of diacetyl.

T - Sweet malt and toffee up front with light herbal hops. Some darker malt character in the middle, burnt caramel and light roast. Finishes with a bit of spicy hop flavor and moderate bitterness that is balanced by coffee like malt and a bit of roasted grain bitterness. Lingering caramel and coffee flavors coat the tongue along with light char.

M - Medium-light body, moderately high carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - Not bad, the malt flavor is quite nice with a robust roast character that sits on the back of the tongue long after the beer is gone. The aroma is a bit weak, just light yeast and malt, but the flavor helps to make up for it. The finish is quite dry, which makes the beer a bit easier to drink while also enhancing the roast malt character. This is a better than average black and tan and one of the better Saranac beers that I have tried.

 1,199 characters

Photo of oberon
3.51/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep brown with some reddish highlights thru out with a nice creamy well sustained head.Slight aroma of dark roasted malt and some caramel but pretty slight like I said,a decent melding of flavors some bitter sweet chocolate,caramel and dark roasted malt the beer finish rather abruptly not much lingering flavors.Hey not bad and $5.19 for the Trail Pack I think more than worth the price,wish there was two of these and only one Adirondack Amber.

 456 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.83/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz undated bottle served in standard pint glass.

Although I've had many Saranac beers over the years, this is the first since returning from the Czech Republic where my expectations were raised upon seeing some Saranac bottles for sale for about $6 each: this in a pub (Zly Casy: Prague) where a fine Czech beer cost about $2, a world-class Belgium about $6, and very few American beers were available.

A - quite dark for a black and tan: although a bit of light comes thru creating mahogany highlights at the edges, the beer is close to opaque. The modest tan head has a nice mixed density appearance, very good retention, and leaves plenty of lacing.

The nose is quite fine if a bit subdued, and featured hop tinged medium and dark malts. Very slightly floral.

Of course, I knew what I was drinking but still the fact that this is a mix of a lager and a stout actually seemed apparent in the taste. This failure to blend seamlessly is to be expected and actually added to the complexity and enjoyment of the beer. This even held for mouthfeel which did seamlessly combine the two into something like an average body (i.e., heavy for a lager/ light for a stout), again in a very enjoyable mix where the combination as considerably more effervescent and a bit drier than a typical stout. The finish is stronger (mainly dark malt) and longer lasting than one might predict based on the strength of the preceding flavors.

O - If memory serves me well, this is about as enjoyable as a black and tan in a bottle gets, although one can do better with various combinations of beers found on draft at a good pub. Over-priced in Prague but a bargain in Eastern U.S.A.

 1,672 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.6/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The body is a very dark brown with reddish-mahogany highlights and a creamy tan head that holds fairly well and leaves some spotty lace. The nose displays some grassy hops over a dark maltiness that's made up of light caramel and hints of deep roasted coffee. The body is medium/light, and it's crisp in the mouth due to a fine, median carbonation. A toasty malt character appears first on the palate; followed by an acidic roastiness and then some caramel notes as it warms. Some grassy/floral hop flavor shows up just as the bitterness starts to rise in the swallow. There's a quick shot of chocolate upfront, and then some passing caramel, in the lingering bitter finish that mainly leaves you with a roasted astringency/acidity and some grassy/metallic hop flavors. - That may not sound very good, but it is. It's a nice, dry and refreshing finish that lets you know you're drinking a dark beer. It makes you want to have another taste, and adds to its drinkability. It's not a great beer, but it's well made and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this simple "style".

 1,075 characters

Photo of mactrail
3.09/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Seems like a case where two and two add up to three. Not an improvement on either the stout or the lager. Looks quite lovely in the glass, with a foamy head and nice lacing. On the thin side, quite dry. The sourish burnt malt flavor seems to pervade every sip. Some malt and a brief nose of roasted grain.

Interesting succession of tart and winey flavors that give it some complexity. But in the end seems to be mostly about the bitterness, both hops and charred malt. Long bitter aftertaste.

 493 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.43/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark reddish brown color with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malt, brown sugar, coffee, some dark fruit, a touch of chocolate and a faint bit of hops.

T: The flavor is malty and sweet with flavors of caramel, milk chocolate and dark fruit. The hops presence is decent, but it shows itself only intermittently. Likewise, the after-taste is sweet & creamy.

M: Very smooth with a little crispness, medium body, medium carbonation, very sticky finish.

D: Unexpectedly tasty, goes down pretty easy, decent kick, slightly filling, this one seems more like a dopplebock to me and it was better than I thought it would be even if I wouldnÂ’t really drink too many of them if given another choice.

 854 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.13/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a dark brown body with a smallish, frothy, bone white head.

Smell: Chocolatey dark malts with hints of apple and yeast. Hm.

Taste: Dark malts, lightly sweet, and having a light chocolate taste to them. Again, there's that apple and yeast I kept tasting from their amber lager. No real hop character or bitterness. Final hint of chocolate on the drying finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Definitely better than that amber lager it's mixed with, but I think I'd rather just have had that "classic Irish stout" they were talking about.

 590 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.63/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brownish bronze that becomes bright orangish crimson with backlighting. The quality cap is the color of unvarnished pine with a lumpy, bumpy, bubbly surface and a good bit of lace. There's a lot to like about the appearance.

The nose, although not nearly as nice, is still pretty good. The beer smells vaguely chocolatey with caramel and brown sugar being more prominent. There's also some hoppy fruitiness in the mix. It's an odd, yet interesting aroma. I suppose that's what one gets by mixing two such disparate styles.

I was skeptical, but this is pretty good beer. It tastes exactly like what it is, a mixture of a dry stout and an amber lager. Lightly roasted caramel and chocolate malts are complemented by a fruity, more hoppy than expected character. I thought the beer had a better than even chance to be a muddled mess, but it works.

The finish is marginally more hoppy and is more pale ale-like than stout-like or amber lager-like. Maybe that's why I like it more than I thought I would; it all adds up to a pretty decent pale ale. The Kent Golding hops are, no doubt, part of the reason for that style connection in my mind. There isn't much wrong with the mouthfeel. It's medium in heft, falling a notch short of creamy.

Isn't the purpose of a Black & Tan the visual interest imparted by the separation of the two distinctive colors? So the purpose of bottling the two beers and, in the process, muddying them into one uniform color is... what exactly? That's what my thoughts were before drinking this beer, my first bottled version of the style. It isn't tremendous, but it works and I enjoyed it. Black & Tan is easily the best Matt Brewing Company beer that I've had yet.

 1,706 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
3.13/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The final bottle in my Adirondak Trail Mix Pack. This was the one I was saving, as it intriqued me the most. I always wondered how they did a black and tan right in a bottle or can, I just felt it needed to be mixed right then ya know..

A - Poured a deep dark black, with a smallish off white head that quickly faded leaving nothing but a smallish ring of lace on the top. A tiny bit of residula glass lace, but that was it.

S - Some burnt malts, a touch of caramel, and maybe a little hops, nothing to impressive, pretty standard overall.

T - Kinda bland, like a weak porter. Caramel, and coffee grounds, with some bitter hops, and a touch of earthy grains, maybe some cereal, again pretty standard fair.

M- Light, not too thin, but not robust in any means, decent carbonation kept it from feeling flat.

D - Pretty decent, it was better at first when it was cold as opposed to when it warmed up. I was able to pretty much throw down the last half of the glass just to get rid of it, so it is definatly sessionable.

I didnt really get a bad opinion of this one, however I did not really get a good one either. It just seemed to lack something to make me really want to seek it out. Its pretty standard fait and if its there I would drink it, but I would not seek it out.

 1,288 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
3.53/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours dark brown (almost black) in color with some light reddish hints when held up to the light. The beer has a finger tall foamy light tan head that reduces to a thick ring at the edges of the glass, some thick patches, and a very thin layer covering the entire surface. Moderate to significant lacing is observed.

S: Overall a very light aroma, I was expecting a bigger smell for this beer. Hints are of roasted and caramel malts with a very light floral/grassy hops.

T: Big malty flavor with lots of dark roasted and caramel malt hints in it. Some light amounts of grassy hops that have light bitterness, especially in the finish.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to high amounts of carbonation. Smooth with a slightly dry finish.

O: Actually a very easy to drink beer that is enjoyable. Not a style that I get that often but this is a pretty good example and definitely a session beer that you could drink all night.

 926 characters

Photo of russpowell
4.18/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was part of a mixed 6 I got in NC.

Poured caramel/brown with a a 3 fingers tan head. Great lacing & & good head retention

S: Choclate & toasted malt

T: Toasted malt & some grainyness up front. Fruittyness follows as it warms. Finishes choclatey & dry

MF: Medium bodied with a little chewyness. Good carbonation levels & really well balanced

This beer really shocked me, went down too easy& was just way better than expected. I make no apolgies, don't really consider this a legit style, but this works!

 522 characters

Photo of Jason
3.56/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle with no freshness date.

Appearance: Spiffy looking head, khaki coloured head is the best thing about this beer. Brown coloured brew with reddish highlights.

Smell: Toasted bread and some dextrin sweetness are pretty much all of the aroma.

Taste: Touch of roasted malt, earthy with a minty hop flavour and bitterness. Vague sweetness with a bitty and paper like flavours towards the end … not the oxidized paper flavour, just and odd taste. Finishes with a watery roasted flavour and faint hop oil.

Mouthfeel: Some crispness and a slickness in the mouth, medium bodied.

Drinkability & Notes: Not to bad, I prefer my B & T’s layered. This show that most of the Saranac beers are samey, blend two of their beers together and it still tastes pretty much the same as the others give or take a flaw or off flavour. This just happens to be a good blend.

 888 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.91/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Scarlet/deep brown color, opaque, with a one (plus) finger head on the initial pour. The bubble sizes are greatly varied: some large (and quick to pop), some minute.

Not a very powerful aroma in this beer. I detect some chocolate malt and slight floral hop.

Very chocolately followed by an excellent hop counterpoint. After the swallow, both the chocolate and hop linger pleasantly. Slightly thin in bodied given the big taste. Very high carbonation, but not in a distracting sort of way.

A mixed bag that I would recommend. I wish the aroma was more distinct and that it was a little fuller, but the taste is sublime.

 628 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
3.63/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Winchester Tavern shaker pint glass (oh, how I do love "Shaun of the Dead"...).

Pours a clear, dark ruby brown with a finger of strong white head that takes a minute or to to dissipate. The smell is faint, but holds remnants of dark malts, wheat, and a surprising bit of hoppy pine. The taste is somewhat bland, with some dark wheat notes mixed with a light bit of hoppy bitterness, almost a dry, biscuity finish, but no butter (can't have a biscuit without butter, duh!). The body is heavily moderate, but not quite as smooth as it could be; a little chewy near the end, but not chunkily so. Overall, an average brew that nonetheless remains pretty drinkable.

 673 characters

Photo of mdfb79
3.88/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 5/8/10 notes. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Poured a dark brown color, almost black, with one inch of tan head and light carbonation.

s - Smells mostly of roasted malts and chocolate.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, chocolate, and sweet caramel malts.

m - Medium body and light carbonation. Smooth and creamy.

d - I thought this was a very enjoyable black and tan. This is one of the better beers I've had from Saranac. Nice chocolate and roasted malts in the smell and taste. Would definitely have again.

 533 characters

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.73/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer is kinda black and kinda brown. Imagine that. The head is beige in color, standing in at 1/4" and leaving a nice, thick sheet of lacing on the pint glass. The aroma brings chocolate, roasted malt, and caramel. The flavor is pretty sweet, with a large chocolate presence. The beer is medium bodied and finishes dry. Overall, a decent beer.

 347 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The Saranac Black and Tan looks completely black with an impressively resilient off white frothy head. Once hel up to the light it is a deep amber brown tone, the lace is full and thick. You can smell the dark roasts, but the malt sweetness from the amber lager is also coming through in the aroma of this brew. A decent example of this miture in a botle, but I will have to say that I have ha better. The flavor of has a nice chewy caramel after taste in the finish. The dryness of the stout and the sweetness from the malt both represent, although a little unbalanced to me. An overall enjoyable medium to full body beer, carries a nice drinkability if your in the mood for something a little diferent. I like but don't love this one.

 736 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Saranac Black & Tan from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.48 out of 5 based on 755 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.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!