While on a Flying Dog shopping frenzy a few weeks ago, I also ordered a few Saranac beers from Matt Brewing Company, Utica, New York. I'd never heard of them, so as usual, I'm on for having a new beer experience.
Their Black Forest "Bavarian Style Black Beer" caught my attention, and of course, being in Germany had to be the first to be opened. My wife pointed out that the Black Forest is actually in her home state of Baden-Württemberg, but then the neck label really refers to the Adirondacks, and a dark place in there, so it's really just using a cool, recognisable German name. Besides, with the addition of caramel syrup, it can only be said to be influenced by German dark beers, as in lagerbiers here at least that'd be verboten! Not that I care, really.
The aroma is sweet, in a berry kind of way, with chocolate-caramel notes. All quite subdued, but pleasant. First impression on taking a mouthful is it's very smooth and soft. That vaguely chocolate-caramel element comes though here, too, but with a slight roasted edge and while as malt driven as many dark German beers, it feels a tad hoppier, not that I'd complain about that. The finish provides a lasting impression of blackcurrants, pine and a touch of cardboard that grates after a while. This started off as a lovely beer to sink into, but that almost oxidised note left me a little disappointed.
I won't give up on them yet, so if I see more from their range I'll be giving them a test drive. I think it was just one of those nights were the beer gods were not smiling down on me.