Saranac Black & Tan | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

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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

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Reviews: 495 | Ratings: 756
Photo of weller1js
3.45/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

appearance: pours a clear yet very dark brown with moderate carbonation and light-bubbly tan foam, leaving moderate rim of lacing.

smell: scent of barley and toasted malts with light notes of chocolate with a sweeter-malty undertone.

taste: begins with a light bitterness that remains throughout, the malty flavor is secondary with a light hint of chocolate, very consistent throughout.

drinkability: balanced and consistent, has everything you would expect in black and tan, yet the stout elements are not overly impressive, but still very drinkable.

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Photo of Mosstrooper
3.46/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into 400mL Radeburger Seidel.

Appearance: Black with some golden-brown where the light comes through and a good-sized brownish head that dissipates somewhat quickly and leaves behind a thick ring of foam.

Smell: Roasted malt is dominant, but there is also a citric hint/ Weak smell overall.

Taste: Begins with a bitter, roasted malt flavor and a metallic hint, finishing with sweet malts and grassy hints.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with sharp carbonation up front and a dry finish.

Drinkability: A solid brew- nothing great, but there really isn't anything bad about this. I'd be willing to drink it again, but I wouldn't go searching for it.

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Photo of NODAK
2.53/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Smell here is of muted roasted malts and a little chocolate. Not really a lot.

The taste is a bit surprising. The initial burst is of a good amount of bitterness. The body is of a small roasted malt and chocolate character. There's a good deal more bitterness in the finish, lingering with an aspirin-like quality.

All in all, I'm just not very impressed. Seems more like an IPA and stout, and even then there isn't enough stout.

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Photo of bjoyce12
3.91/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

If you can't get an actual black & tan, this would make a good substitute. It's lacking the separation of the stout and ale, of course, but makes up for it in a good mixture of the two styles. Good flavor, nice balance, without a huge ABV which I think is a good thing.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.33/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a shaker pint. Beer is black to brown with a big head of small and medium bubbles that leaves some lacing on the glass. Moderate to low carbonation, it looks fine I guess.

The lager aroma oddly wins in this matchup, kind of confusing. Its kind of malty, clean, decent, mild roast on the backend.

I thought this beer was mostly stout and only some of the amber lager, but the lager is clearly dominant. Its a malty, kind of sweet forward amber lager flavor, pilsner, caramel malts, with a mild bitterness at the end with some of the roast from the stout. As far as a "black and tan" is concerned, its quite boring, uninteresting, not entertaining and I don't even truly feel that this is a real style, although plenty of other beer styles are blends, I'm just not getting this one. Still like hoppin' frog's example much much better.

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Photo of BarrelO
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Dark brown body with reddish tinges. Off white head that fades to nothing and leaves a hint of lacing.

S: Slightly roasty, some fruitiness.

T: Chocolate and roasted notes like a stout. Clean crisp bitterness like a lager. The two aspects largely blend together with one periodically asserting itself.

M: Light-bodied, highly drinkable.

D: I'm not really big on the black and tan style (I guess it's the Irish in me), but this one is OK. It manages to be slightly more interesting than either the dry stout or the lager would be on their own.

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Photo of vandemonian
2.78/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This beer has a black colour with a reasonable head that lasts quite well. It smells very bready and malty on the nose. The flavour has a hoppy opening with some coffee overtones moving into a smooth and not overly bitter aftertaste. This beer is light bodied and unimpressive in the mouth.

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Photo of soju6
3.23/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours a dark brown with a nice tasn head that fades to some lacing.

S: Mild mixture of grain & sweetness. fairly bland aroma.

T: Malt with a light sweetness giving way to bitterness and a dry finish.

F: Medium body & mild carbonation, not a lot here.

D: Decent beer, but not what I was expecting.

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Photo of morebeergood
3.85/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The last remaining bottles from a mix twelve pack that were in the back of my refrigerator. Poured into an Irish style pint glass. One solid color of dark brown, with a surprisingly large head. Smell had a nice chocolate malt aroma. Taste was a nice mix of cocoa and coffee. Mouthfeel was pretty good, but if this beer's body was stepped up one notch, it would greatly improve my thoughts on this particular brew. I would love to see this beer made more along the lines of a porter. Wishful thinking. An easy beer to drink, but after two I began to feel this beer was a bit boring. But I enjoy trying a bottled black & tan. Though, as others have said, some people may be let down - it's not really a black & tan once it's out of the bottle.

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Photo of WinthrHOPHEAD89
2.56/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into an Irish Style Pint Glass

A - NOTE: Please do not do into this beer hoping that it will pour a tradition "Black and Tan Lock" with a denser beer sinking to the bottom along with a gradient change.

With that said this black and tan pours moor in the stout fashion, although it is half Saranac: Irish Stout the look is more like that than anything else. In the light you get a real dark ruby red mahogany kind of color. This beer doesn't generate much head, but pours a one finger light brown soapy head the quickly dissolves, but does manage to leave some lacing.

S - There is hardly any smell at all to this beer. But if you real get your nose into the glass, without drinking any of it through your nostrils, you get a faint scent of roasted dark malt and chocolate, but that's really it.

T - The taste of this beer is... interesting. But that doesn't mean it's bad!! Whilst drinking this beer pretty cold, the first thing I noticed was a definite chocolate flavor up front, but the finish is where this beer is a little strange. Once this beer crosses over the back end of your tongue you notice a dry grainy tingly feeling you get with most lagers. But after the swallow you're left with a traditional stout flavor, ALA Guinness, or Murphy's. This taste of this beer isn't off-putting, just a little strange. Having made a few Black and Tans the old fashioned way, this beer seems to just taste like a black and tan gone wrong. Normally on a Black and Tan you get the bold stout flavor upfront, with a crisp lager finish (which also does depend on which combination of beers you are using, but more or less all black and tans tend to do this), Here you seem to be getting the stout flavor up front, the lager taste in the middle, and then more stout flavor on the finish. If I was drinking this blind, I would guess that this beer is either a straight Irish Stout or a Dark Brown Ale (ALA Sierra Nevada: Tumbler). Having let the beer warm up a little bit, the taste of this beer seems rather messy. Depending on what you want to taste, you'll taste. If you want to pick out the Lager taste you can do so, and same with the stout, but when you look for both at once you get this real sour-y clash.

M - The mouth feel on this beer is rather medium bodied considering that it is essentially 2 beers in one, but not as soft I was expecting. But all in all the mouth feel is fairly decent.

D - The drinkability of this beer is pretty much the same as Saranac: Irish Stout (for those who have had it). To be honest I believe that homemade Black and Tan's have a higher drinkability than this, but for the average stout drinker, this beer would not be a problem, definitely not a sessionable beer though.

Final Thoughts: This beer is just strange. It was nice to try, but I would much rather make my own Black and Tan. But a bid nod for Saranac for trying something different!

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

Never had a Black & Tan, not at a bar or a pre-packaged one. Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, beer is a deep brown color with dark ruby highlights and a thick, creamy mocha head. The head continues to deposit rings of lacing around the glass as it travels down the glass. The nose has the characteristics of a stout, deeply roasted malts like coffee and burnt chocolate but there is also a fruitiness. The flavor brings more of the same with the roasty flavors being subdued due to the mixture of the lighter lager. Black Patent malt, coffee and burnt chocolate are present along with some sweeter notes like caramel and molasses. Mouthfeel is medium in body but the creamy, nitro-like head makes it seem fuller than it is; very smooth. Overall, very drinkable (that's the point isn't it?) with the lighter beer "watering" down the Irish stout but still strong enough to get the enjoyable flavors. I would have to say this is a success.

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Photo of Sam21
3.68/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into pint glass.

Appearance - A vigorous pour yields a dark brown body with a large creamy tan head. Chunky lace and nice retention. Great looking beer.

Smell - Lots of dark malt that lend notes of chocolate and roastiness. Some sweetness coming from the lager used in this blend. Pleasant.

Taste - Lots of roasted malt and a bit of chocolate. Good dark malt presence, although the sweeter malts are also present. Smooth light bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied with a very slick feel. Nice smooth carbonation.

Drinkability - Very drinkable and enjoyable. Goes down smooth and quick. Reminded me of a nice porter with a very approachable flavor profile and mouthfeel.

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

Pours dark with a moderate tan foam with great retention.

Aroma is typical black and tan...roasty and chocolatey predominate

Taste is very similar, mouthfeel has a crispness that comes from the lighter side of the beer. Some mild bitterness. Not bad.

Drinkablity is okay, but this isn't my go to style. Pretty standard, but Saranac have made good of it.

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Photo of LairdChisholm
3.64/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Taken from notes 8-13-10

A - Dark brown, almost black, with a huge mocha head that lasts throughout the entire drink and leaves a thick foamy lace that sticks around. One of the best looking brews I've ever seen.

S - Creamy with some chocolate. A little bit of chemical smell that tainted it.

T - Creamy up front with chocolate, fig and raisin notes to follow. You can taste the amber lager towards the end with a bit of metallic taste that I wasn't too fond of.

M - Thick and creamy, but no complaints.

D - Not too hard to drink but doesn't leave me wanting another.

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Photo of 828beagle
3.36/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass a deep dark brown and a big beige head that lasted quite a while. I bet It could have held a quarter up. Very nice lacing effect. Roasted nutty smell. Bitter burnt taste of licorice. Medium bodied, moderate carbonation. Looked much better than it smelled or tasted. When I poured it I thought I was in for a real treat, but in the end it was just ok.

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Photo of CouchCobra
3.27/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Saranac is a local brew for me, so I get all the limited editions and seasonals, pretty much as soon as they're available. I tend to steer away from the regulars, because (and this one is no different) they aren't special. They're good, not great. Passable but not sought out.

It tastes just like what it is: an average mix of average beers.

Aroma: If you've ever been to a beer soaked frat house, this beer smells like the beer that is the origin of that scent.

Head: Looks better than what lies beneath it.

Taste: Not a lot of substance. It doesn't have the "weight" that a black and tan should have.

Mouthfeel: Thin. Watery.

Drinkability: Aftertaste doesn't excite the palate, just dulls everything. I might have to think to drink the first, but numbers 2-4 are easier to get down.

A good option if nothing else looks good to you, but don't think you've scored a great treasure, you will be disappointed if you get your hopes up.

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Photo of bigrzman
3.98/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark and rich in color, pours with a frothy brown white head, minimal and tight carbonation.

S: Smell clean and chocolaty. Very appealing smell that shows the degree of roast in the malt and quality ingredients.

T: Nutty and chocolaty, minimal hop taste and sweet.

M: Syrupy and thick. It is a nice wet beer and it is thirst quenching. Good for a hard days work.

D: Very drinkable. Yes sir may I have another. Thirst quenching, full bodied, and pleasant.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
3.66/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My local Kroger's is hit or miss. I went tonight 10 minutes before the end of alcohol sales and saw that they havent had a shipment in a while. The beer isle was barren. I snagged this Saranac 6 pack because it contains 6 different beers and because I havent reviewed a black and tan yet. That stupid thing called hype has me very uninterested in this whole pack, but I will try to transcend that.

A- It looks really good in my glass. Its a really nice surprise. This beer holds a head better than a whole lot of other beers. The head is a really nice, luxurious, ample and dense foam. It stays forever, almost like a nitroed beer. Also like a nitroed beer the lacing surpasses ringlets and achieves a solid film. The beer itself is a little less impressive. Its a rather ordinary clear mahogany color.

S- Strong smelling but unfortunately its nothing super impressive. It smells a lot like an English pale ale. Lots of malts, raisin and fruity ale yeast. There is a bit of depth added by the dry Irish stout that is part of this blend. It is that classic bitter session stout smell of roast and yeasts.

T- Again, decent but overall underwhelming. But I must say that everything thus far has been better than I expected. This is turning out to be a rather nice beer. It does achieve balance, but only just. It is really heavy on the malts. The bitterness doesnt really come from hops, it comes from the roast found in the stout portion. Even though its counterpart is a lager, the taste seems to bounce back and forth between bitter stout and English pale ale.

D- This really did turn out to be a rather nice surprise. I wouldnt even have a problem drinking this again.

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Photo of Tilley4
3.33/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky dark reddish brown topped by a nice thick off white head that quickly fades to not much at all...

A blend of noble hops and chocolatey malts mingle together quite nicely and the result is pretty pleasant... The malts dominate but they should here..

Very stout-like from the get go with a finish of very slight hop presence... I'd much rather this be a traditional black and tan... The flavors muddle together here..

Glad I got the chance to try this but not something I'd reach for again..

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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.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
2.28/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Bottled on January 5th, so this puppy has 6 months of aging on it...lets give it a whirl.

A- pours a very dark brown, nearly black, with a nice mocha colored head. The head fades VERY quickly and the lacing is disgraceful. Embarrassingly bad.

S- not much of anything...slightly metallic smell. Seriously, thats all I'm getting. *really*?

T- tastes a lot like a brown ale...nutty flavor. The lager in this tastes like water compared to the stout, even when mixed. Its more of a...brown & clear? I dunno. Unimpressive.

M- feel is of water. Very thin. I know this is only half stout, but I'd like some sort of body to it. Its got the feel of a light lager, and thats not something I look for in a beer

D- I guess its drinkable. I wouldn't look to buy it again...its bland as hell. But hey, I guess thats drinkable.

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Photo of m1ked
2.73/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

On the shores of lake Ontario (U.S. side) for the 4th. Absolutely beautiful weather. The friends we are visiting think of me as "the guy who likes fancy beer". I don't have the heart to launch into the debate because they mean well and are so nice. So nice they bought a Saranac sampler for me.

A- pours a mostly pitch black thin appearing liquid with a brief 1/4" tan foam of a head that shrinks down to an incomplete skimming. When held up to the 10 a.m. sun the edges look like a cola

S- sweet grains with a touch of coffee and cola once again (power of visual suggestion?). There is a certain sweetness in there. Almost like a faint chocolate covered cherry.

T- well I don't get that sweetness like the nose. I get a bitter coffee-ish flavor that has almost a chalkiness to it. Not much upside here. Finishes with astrigent bitterness.

M- thin with consistent low carbonation throughout.

D- when my friends who thoughtfully bought me this "fancy beer" ask how this beer is, I immediately respond "great". But the reality is this is not a good beer. I would rather drink one of the hundreds o Molson Canadiens they have in their fridge rather than this "fancy beer"

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

the famous saranac b and t. The style is blended already so it's the "off-site" combination

A- dark as night with that nice head on top. Great lacing all over the brew. Completely opaque

S- roasted malts and coffee. Some mint and maybe slight chocolate as well. I think the scent really replicates the black and tan combos out there

T- delicious flavors of smoked malt with a slight hop presence as well. Flavors of roaste coffee beans with a tad bit of chocolate at he end. The light aspects of the brew can be tasted very briefly. The flavor is commited throughout

M- full bodied and creamy. Just enough combination to pull through

D- look, I could drink these all day. This is a great presentation of the concept of a black and tan. It's very hearty, but good enough to have several in a sitting

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Photo of albern
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is an interesting beer, and one must be reminded that it isn't a porter so it shouldn't be judged as such, despite appearances. The beer pours a medium bodied dark brown with a small head that doesn't retain. No real lacing either. The nose is quite good. There is a nice roasted note or two, lots of bready aromas, some dextrin sweetness, maybe a touch of chocolate.

The taste is a bit chocolately, slightly charred, deep roasted, with a touch of sweetness underneath. There is a drying punch to this beer in the finish and almost a saltene quality that really pulls the moisture out of the mouth. There is a charred quality to the beer in the finish, that lingers longer than it should. There is a touch of metallic flavors, and a bit of an over processed feel to this beer. It's decent, worth a try, not exceptional, but very drinkable.

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Photo of PDXHops
3.3/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

Neither black nor tan, this beer is instead a deep ruby with lighter cherry highlights (not sure I would have noticed this if I wasn't outside on my front porch). Nice retention from the light tan head. Scattered drippy lacing.

Pleasant nose of cocoa, crisp grains and caramel, with a little coffee coming through.

Bitter black malt up front gives way to a fairly substantial bitterness midswallow. Body is definitely on the thicker side of medium. It really fluffs up with carbonation at the swallow, followed by a lengthy dry roasted finish. The gentler cocoa and caramel from the nose is there, but you have to go looking for it a bit. Holding things back a bit are a metallic flavor and a touch of the cardboard/paper quality that seems to be a staple of Saranac beers.

Overall impression: Not too bad for a blended/bottled black and tan.

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Saranac Black & Tan from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.48 out of 5 based on 756 ratings.
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