Monday, 5 September 2011

REVIEW: SARANAC BLACK FOREST

Great Beer Styles


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: Schwarzbier
  • ABV: 5.3%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
American Beer on the whole has a really bad reputation, with good cause. Most commercial American breweries produce quite low alcohol brews with very mild flavours, which in this country are worse than our local beers, whilst also being quite expensive.

The guy at my beer store, recently suggested I try this and a couple of other American craft beers and so far I am very impressed. The label is what really drew me to this beer, it shows a fantastic German forest scene and the dark blue label is more striking than the photo shows. (A big thank you to my girlfriend Lizzie, who is taking all the photo's for this blog.)

This is a Bavarian Black beer also known as a Schwarzbier. It is quite an unusual style and one that is very rarely found brewed outside of Germany. But from first impressions this American attempt is a great try. It pours a beautiful dark colour, with a small coffee-like head. When you hold this beer up to the light it looks a dark red colour. This beer looks remarkably like Coke. Almost a perfect representation of the style.

The aroma is good as well, really strong malt characteristics and caramel flavours fill the nostrils immediately. The hops are quite floral and there are smells like raisins or some such fruit as well. It is one of the sweetest beers I have ever smelt which isn't a fruit beer. It's quite unique in that sense.

Where to begin with this beer's flavour, it's pretty full-on. So the head is very rich and creamy, it doesn't last long though so get in quick to try it. The lacing on the glass is non existent after 3-4 minutes. The caramel taste is very strong, and the beer is alot thicker than I expected, it's almost like a syrup. Hints of the raisins or figs are evident in the finish as is the alcohol though, which detracts from the beer a little bit. There is very little hops in the finish which I am slightly disappointed about as I think it might add to the overall complexity of the beer.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable beer. There are not enough black beers on the market and this is one of the better ones that are produced. However I feel there is room for improvement if the hops characteristics were improved. Anyway it's not a beer that you could drink many of, but it's definitely worth a try. Many people will not like this due to the high malt contents of this beer, but if you want to expand into more exotic beers this is a good stepping stone towards stronger Stouts or Porters.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

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