Saranac Black & Tan | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Saranac Black & TanSaranac Black & Tan
761 Ratings
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:
Stout & Lager

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-05-2001

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 761 |  Reviews: 497
Photo of UnionMade
2.95/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

The beer pours a middling dark brown, topped with a thin layer of taupe head. The head starts to thin almost immediately, finally diminishing into a small ring around the glass. No lace, with threadbare head retention just barely holding together.
The aroma is mainly malty, with a blend of pale and roasted malt providing the gist of the experience. Some caramel and a touch of coffee, with a vague breadiness and a wisp of pear fruitiness. Most of the flavor seems to originate from the lager end, which doesn't say much.
The flavor starts with some muddy roasted barley, some pale malt coming through and possibly some wheat. A blandness carries through, seeming to prune off subtleties that would otherwise be apparent. A vague suggestion of fig remains, traveling into a slight earthy hop flavor. The finish is rather sweet, leaving you with a slightly roasty taste on your tongue. Altogether sweet, without anything standing out. Smooth mouthfeel, with a medium body and moderate carbonation.
I'm not much for pre-mixed black and tans, and this is certainly not a stellar example of such. Rather vapid flavors mingle into a muddy backwash of unfocused beeriness. Not something I'd buy a six pack of.

 1,208 characters

Photo of RocketWidget
3.5/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very stout-like black, but with a lager-like thinning white head. Smells crisp and hoppy. Much more stout flavor is prevalent here than amber lager flavor. Roasted, burnt flavor overrides lager-like spicy qualities, though still detectable. An interesting brew, like a watered down stout with a lager element, but still nothing to brag about.

 350 characters

Photo of bigbubba
3.85/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a pretty good beer. Nice and dark with a thick tan head. The dark malt is evident and it's not too sweet. Very drinkable. Not the best bottled black and tan out there, and not even close to the real thing, but a good choice when you want something dark but you're not quite in the mood for a stout. It reminds me a little of Leinenkugel Creamy Dark.

 357 characters

Photo of masterbruewer
3.56/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a dark amber/brown with a slightly off-white head nearly an inch thick that sticks around

The smell is biscuity and malty.

Oooh, this is good. A rich malty, yeasty taste that fades into a nice hoppy flavor that lingers. Not a real complex taste but a solid blend of stout and lager.

The feel is thick but not syrupy with little carbonation, but enough to notice.

Maybe a bit to sturdy for everyday drinking, but a very enjoyable brew. I'd seek it out again.

 476 characters

Photo of clvand0
3.38/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer poured a dark brown color with at thick off white head. The aroma was of roasted malts with a little bit of a hoppy background. The roasted malts made up the majority of the taste, but there was also some bitter and hoppy sweetness. The mouthfeel was good and it was easy to drink, although a little watered down.

 323 characters

Photo of mschofield
3.5/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark reddish-brown with a tall frothy tan head, leaves ring lacing.
Roasted malt and earthy hop aroma.
Flavors of roasted malt, caramel, butter, dough, and toasted malt.
Bitter and metallic aftertaste
Smooth, medium body, easy to drink one but I don't think I could go for more than 2
More brewers should follow Saranac and make such a low cost introductution to their brews like this Saranac mix pack.

 407 characters

Photo of ManekiNeko
2.63/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle served lightly chilled in a pint glass.

Appearance: Nice dark chestnut brown topped by a healthy khaki head. Nice and thick, settles to a small layer of foam that remains throughout consumption and leaves some nice lacing on the glass.

Smell: Dark malt and German aromatic hops commingled, but not necessarily meshing perfectly.

Taste: Bitter dark malt at first, then there's this jarring snap of brassy and sour hop flavors. Metallic aftertastes.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and relatively crisp.

Drinkability: The off metallic taste makes me not want another one of these. I'm beginning to think I only like black and tans when they are assembled at the bar, but this one certainly is no shining star.

 729 characters

Photo of merlin48
3.53/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I will eventually finish off my 2003 12 beer sampler box, with a review of all the varied contents. The only other black and tan that I've had out of a bottle was a Yuengling's, and the Saranac is better. Pours with a really nice head, unlike the other samplers out of their box. Good retention and lots of lacing. Color is a clear dark chestnut with definite ruby highlights. Aroma is more like a stout, coffee and bittersweet chocolate, and so is the taste. Mouthfeel has some carbonation along with a bitter hop balance. Difficult to zero in on the flavors here, but it's a pleasant sipping brew. Can't wait to sample their stout, after enjoying this combination.

 666 characters

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.7/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Saranac Black & Tan is the last of my assorted 12 pack.

Pours a nice black with a thick tan head. Very thick. Lotsa lacing after every sip!
Smell is a nice roasted coffee.
Taste is very nice. A roasted smokey coffee which is smooth. No aftertaste, maybe a tad watery. Good overall.

Not a bad Black & Tan- I recommend it.

My 12 pack is gone but I plan on buying another Saranac assorted 12 pack. I enjoyed it!

 419 characters

Photo of marc77
3.68/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Deep chestnut, with a garnet haze when held to light. Burly, stiff tan head leaves lace. Softly sweet cocoa and light roast coffee comprise the dominate mild mocha note in aroma. Mellow earthy hop nose with an herbal tinge offers contrast. Trace buttery toffee hints. Tame, but pleasant aromawise. Gentle roasted barley bitterness upfront in flavor is bolstered by toasted grain and understated dark caramel malt sweetness. Clean, devoid of esters and quite lagerlike. Mirroring the aroma, stately lightly sweetened mocha is the theme here. Mild hop bitterness is appropriate, considering residual sweetness is equivalent. Almost creamy in mouthfeel, with a dilute espresso quality. Minute burnt grain acidity surfaces late and adds trace tartness, but fades immediately. Finishes abruptly and mostly dry, with quickly fleeting hints of overbaked chocolate cookie. A unique, very mellow brew, with soft roast and cocoa character. Almost clinical it its cleanliness. Simplistic, enjoyable and highly drinkable.

 1,009 characters

Photo of Quaffer
3.75/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: This beer was a very dark amber that appeared deep crimson when held up to the light. A coarse, beige head rose up to almost two fingers and dissipated very slowly. A very respectable amount of lace was left behind on the side of the glass.

Smell: The aroma was thick and creamy, being comprised of milk chocolate, roasted malts, and cracker. At times, it seemed to have a baked-goods spiciness to it as well. The roasted characteristics gave the aroma a nice depth, yet it remained light. A thin layer of hops floated over the top of all the other smells.

Mouthfeel: Velvety and even somewhat creamy on the tip of the tongue. Almost medium-bodied, but a tad on the thin side.

Taste: I had a hard time pinning down some of the flavors in this brew. Upfront, there was a bit of a sour tartness that eluded me and seemed to not belong. Then in the middle, a light bitterness kicked in combined with sweet chocolate. The bitter flavor continued on into the finish where it was joined by some nice roasted malt. The aftertaste was all toasty and, at times, charred and smokey. The characteristes of the lager that was used in this beer shone through occasionally, but the stout flavors dominated.

I had no idea what to expect from this beer. This is the first black & tan in a bottle that I have had. It was good, and I believe that it did a pretty good job of representing a black & tan. I would love to do a side-by-side comparison of a true black & tan made with Saranac products with this. Anyway, not a bad beer. Definitely different and drinkable.

 1,574 characters

Photo of kelticblood
3.37/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Huge beige thick head.Looks like ice cream with alot of sticky white lacing.Took forever to calm down.Intense carbonation present in the appearance.Although the mouthfeel lacked a bit of crispness it still goes down smooth.Very thick and malty.Color is a dark red.Hop bitterness is noted on the finish and also dryness.Has a distinctive black&tan taste but seems to be a bit more maltier.I dont think I could drink much more than two of these at any given time.I might buy these again.A convienient black&tan in one bottle.
No real aroma a bit watery.Medium bodied.

 566 characters

Photo of shippos
3.11/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

good thick tannish head and a dark brown color. can't get much of anything out of the aroma except a faint hint of roasted grain. taste is nicely balanced and very easy to drink. decent mouthfeel and a hoppy spicy aftertaste. overall this is a pretty good session beer but probably won't pick this up again.

 307 characters

Photo of HappyHourHero
2.91/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brownish tan head that was slow to disappear, and left a little lacing. The beer is dark brown in color, only a tiny bit of light makes it out. Pretty weak aroma, a little burnt grains and hoppy coffee in there. Weak roasted grain flavor that is crushed by the bitter burnt aftertaste. The body is on the thin side.

 315 characters

Photo of CBFanWish
4/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really enjoyed this beer. A deep blood red color pushing a lasting tan head. There was a sweet scent. Kind of malty. The taste was what I found to be well balanced. A nice smooth malt taste. I really enjoyed and will without a doubt drink this again. It's not too often one can call a dark beer refreshing.

 308 characters

Photo of Beastdog75
3.1/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

(Saranac "12 Beers" sampler, 2002 edition)

This has to be one of the most average dark beers that I've ever had. If it weren't for notes, I would have forgotten what this beer tasted like already. If for some reason you like very average beer, you'll enjoy this.

Saranac Black & Tan pours a medium-to-dark clear brown color. A 1 1/2 finger tan foam forms that lasts for about 1 minute. First smell was a somewhat strange "sweet roasted" smell, and there was a light hoppiness underneath that. The mouthfeel was thin but had some carbonation. This beer pretty much tastes like the smell. Some roasted malts present with a certain degree of sweetness. Some mild hints of coffee, and a moderate hoppiness in the finish. There is some dryness and some roastiness in the finish, and it finishes off with a little alcoholic warmth.

I had the Saranac Stout right after this one, and I immediately noticed that this was simply a watered down version of the stout (which was also quite average). Drinkable, but there is so much more excitement out in beer world that this is easily forgottable.

 1,094 characters

Photo of Gavage
2.41/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

The beer pours a deep brown color with a light caramel colored head. Very light lacing is evident. Absolutely nothing detected in the smell. Very thin bodied, has some slight caramel flavors and a tinge of bitterness come through. Very dull and uninteresting, and the carbonation seemed a little strong. This leaves me wanting to go back to making my own black and tan with high quality beers.

 393 characters

Photo of ElGordo
2.86/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a deep brown hue with a light creamy head that laces lightly on the glass. Not a whole lot of aroma, and what there is truthfully isn't great (a whiff of generic chemical, the faintest hint of malt). Lightly malty up front, with a building malty character that lingers on the palate. Fairly thin in the mouth, but not too bad. Not the best beer around, but I could drink a couple if not much else is around. I have to say the concept of a bottled, blended black and tan has always escaped me, but this isn't a bad beer.

 525 characters

Photo of goz
3.16/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a ruby tinged black, with a medium sized tan head that leaves a good amount of lace behind. Aroma is lightly roasted malt, lightly sweet, and lightly hoppy. Flavor is light on the roasted coffee, with some sweetness in there as well. Medium-thin in body, pretty boring.

 275 characters

Photo of beerguy101
3/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark Brown color. Medium head. Aroma is roasted malts, coffee and chocolate. A touch cloying. A medium bodied black and tan. A combination of a stout and a lager. The stout roasted malts and chocolate character is present. Beyond that, there is not much else there, a touch of coffee and a fizzy spiciness that I cannot identify. A little thin. Balance is OK. Guess it mostly because I am not a big fan of "mixed" beers. Mouthfeel is thin. Finish is crisp. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

 487 characters

Photo of Andreji
3.5/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

#3 of The All American Beer Spree.

How does one link a top notch style and a macro mediocre style, and achieve a great beer? I guess saranac proves this is extremely hard to achieve. This beer is good, but not great.

Pours a coke like black tone with a small carbonation and a thin silky head that fades easily leaving slight strings of lacing.

The smell, sweet and malty mainly is not very strong. It also has nice aromas of chocolate and coffee which are rather harder to identify.

The taste is of a nice, sweet stout but with the body reduced (more watered) and mixed slightly with the wheatyness and maltyness of a lager. The alcohol is also very, very perceivable which is not necessarily a bad thing. hops compliment it nicely at the end with a bitterness leaving behind only some sweetness on the sides of the mouth.

The mouthfeel is ok, perhaps a bit lacking in body for what one could desire of a stout (of course it isn't don't patronize me) but good thirst quencher. Just OK.

 1,003 characters

Photo of cbill
3.83/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

my first black and tan so i didn't really know what to expect. poured a slightly transparent brown with a nice off-white head. smelled slightlycitrusy with some nuttiness too. nice balance of hops and malt, neither was overpowering and it went down very smooth.

 261 characters

Photo of GeoffRizzo
3.95/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark black pour, with a nice two finger head, decent lacing throughout. Dark roasted malts, some sweetness on the nose. Roasted malt and some hops are noted off the top, some chocolate and caramel to be noted in the body. Medium bodied, smooth and slick palate, some nutty and papery flavors towards the back end. Excellent balance of malts and hops, and although not your true to definition black and tan, this is still a great beverage from Saranac, a good change of pace beer.

 479 characters

Photo of garymuchow
3.77/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Little light to detect aromas, but with effort offers an interesting and pleasing blend of light pale lager and darker somewhat roasted malt. More of the former. Also amber style malt sweetness. Color is a lighter black with strong red hues. One inch tan head, fairly firm with some lacing. Flavor not as pleasing as aroma. Fairly bitter that mellows some, with a slight roasted flavor, long lingering finish. Slight coffee characteristics with some fruitiness as it warms. Fullness from carbonation. otherwise medium to thin. Some softness. Aroma is outstanding with complexity, the rest is just somewhat above average.

 620 characters

Photo of TripelJ
3.94/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was a bit apprehensive with my first sip of the Saranac Black and Tan because it poured almost no head (at first I thought I had gotten a bad one). The taste was closer to what I would call a porter than a black and tan, with a nice balance of sweet malts and a mocha or coffee like bitterness. Very smooth and very drinkable. Nothing to write home about, but I would drink it again.

 385 characters

Saranac Black & Tan from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
Beer rating: 3.46 out of 5 with 761 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.