Darkwater - Swamp Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Darkwater
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BA SCORE
87
very good

101 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 101
Reviews: 21
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 12.37%
Wants: 1
Gots: 9 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Swamp Head Brewery visit their website
Florida, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  ABV ?

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Jdmpolk on 03-05-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 101 | Reviews: 21 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.34/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to Earlycsquid for sharing this one at the monthly bottle share held at Flask Fine Wines in Studio City, CA.

Pours a murky brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is much the same with roast, char, and slight herbal hop flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast and hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is an above average beer with a solid smell, but the flavors are a bit watery and boring to me.

Serving type: bottle.

Photo of djrn2
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%

Photo of Thorpe429
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to G311 for sharing this one. Served in a mini tulip.

Pours a very dark brown color with a nice off-white head and a good bit of lacing on the way down. The nose carries a good dosage of pine and light roast plus faint citrus in the background. Flavor is also roasty with a nice hop component. Light-medium body and good carbonation. Very solid.

Photo of BEERchitect
3.6/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

If there's a line where IPA meets Porter, then Swamp Head's Darkwater Ale is dancing across that high wire with ease.

A billowing head rises from the depths of the milky, dark brown ale underneath. Sandy in its froth, the mix of large and small bubbles is confident in its retention and laces equally as impressively. Its a fantastic looking ale that's easily mistaken for Porter.

But there's no such mistake as the first whiff reveals an unexpected sharpness from hops. White grapefruit, oranges, a pep of lemon and an array of earthy notes reveal its deviant hoppy side. What starts of piney turns grassy, bark-like, and with a toasted smoky-chocolate note.

To taste, the drier-than-usual Porter taste is toasty and with a hint of campfire and bittersweet chocolate. Roasted pecans, burnt embers and freshly sawn pine gives the beer a heft that's uncommon to IPA. But all that hop character that rises in the middle palate sure does. Less juicy and sweet, the sharper varieties of charred white grapefruit, orange peels, light lemon and juniper and stemmy sassafras close in on its accute resinous bitterness to finish.

Medium-dry in texture, the beer struggles to capture the full dryness of IPA with all that dark malt flavor and weight swirling about. Still, the ale achieves a mostly toasty-dry body with the assistance of hop dryness and warming alcohol late. But coming along also is some hop and grain derived astringency that gives the beer a palate sensation of tannin-rich wood spices.

Darkwater is a fantastic beer. But there's a difference between "Cascadian" or American Black Ale and a hoppy Porter. I'd love to see more vibrant (juicier) hop aroma and taste with a drier Karafa-lead IPA.

Photo of kylehay2004
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this one on tap at Tippels Bottle shop

A: dark, very dark, not even that reddish ting of light, half finger head

S: grassy, pine

T: smokey and mildly roasty. Dark fruit, grassy notes. This beer is offset by sugar notes a a tolerable degree of bitterness.

M: mild carbonation, medium bodied and very smooth.

Overall: I think this is one of their best. The flavors though different coalesce to be a both drinkable and complex brew.

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%

Photo of nickfl
4.43/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - The beer pours with one finger of light tan foam, resting on top of an opaque, dark brown body with no light showing through. The foam settles fairly quickly and leaves moderate traces of lacing on the glass.

S - A pungent aroma of pine and citrus hops with notes of grapefruit, pine tar, sweat, and shallots. Dark malt characteristics lurk in the background with brown sugar, caramel, and a hint of coffee.

T - Dark sugary notes of caramel and brown sugar up front. Some more dark caramel and even a bit of molasses in the middle as orange and grapefruit hop flavors join the party. The beer finishes out with an equally matched tug of war between the dark, sugary malt and the bright, citrus and pine hop flavors. Moderate hop bitterness lingers on the palate in the aftertaste with a bit of chocolate and smoke.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, and a balanced finish.

D - Another really excellent beer from Swamp Head. I continue to be blown away by the consistently great beers that this little brewery is putting out and this one is a perfect example of just how and why their beer is so successful. This beer has an aggressive, interesting hop profile and a dark malt backbone without becoming over the top of resorting to strange ingredients for shock value. It is well made and well balanced in a way that makes it memorable and at the same time unusually drinkable.

Photo of beernads
4/5  rDev +3.1%

Photo of Gonzoillini
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.69/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 6.8% ABV, per the bottle label.

Appearance - Pours a dark brown with a khaki head. A couple fingers of head. Murky dark brown. Looks kinda icky, maybe that's just the association I make with the name of the beer. I just can't get the image out of my head of Swamp Head filling the boil kettle with scummy water drawn from some stagnant pond in the dead of Florida summer. But at least the head retains nicely.

Smell - Grassy hops, some grapefruit. Nutty and chocolatey. Equal parts hop and dark malts.

Taste - Hops at the start. Very grassy tasting. The roasted malts are more prominent. Less nutty, more coffee and roast. Combines with the grass hops to give it a bit of a harsh taste, but it's good.

Mouthfeel - As I said, it gets a bit harsh. Bitter from hops and roast. Thin, too.

Overall - This Black Ale category has so many variations, but I think this fits pretty well. Roasted malts, lots of hops, and not sweet. It's not an easy marriage of flavors to accept at first, but I quite enjoyed it.

Photo of Lare453
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of cjgator3
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of pathman
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of cpetrone84
3.3/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour is black with lots of tan head. Nose is light roast, hint of marshmallow, citrusy hops. Taste is sweeter, roast is very light, notes of dark malts, a good bit of citrus and notes of candied sugar. Gets a little sweet, strong carb and a light body. Flavors are a bit muted.

Photo of maximum12
3.23/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to the best human being in Florida, moose3285 for this extra that came clanking along with a truckload of other FL goodness. Dark glass 750ML bottle split with my wife.

True to the name, this beer is both dark & mostly made up of water, though there's red highlights in there, too. Carbonation is on the high side. A sniffle brings forth that typical odd clash of a 'black ale': heavy roast duking it out with citrus & pine hoppiness. Touch of smoke, chocolate as it warms. Strangely appealing.

Darkwater can't quite break the mold of a black ale. Heavy, heavy roast emerges immediately & goes toe-to-toe with a heavy hand of citrusy hops, with a quick lash of bitterness. Tastes like weak coffee with a handful of tea leaves thrown in (or hop leaves, I suppose). Vanishing chocolate & malt in the middle is washed away in a flash flood of bitterness on the end that tastes unfortunately like the dregs in the coffee pot. The weak coffee metaphor swells as the beer warms. Half a bomber? Well, OK, since it's here by my left hand.

Yet another beer where the aromatics don't translate well onto the taste buds. This one had real promise, but fizzled out; the combo of overpowering roast & thin mouthfeel left me wanting. Decent enough, but I'm more disappointed because I feel like this one was close. Something was lost in the translation.

Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%

Photo of Holland
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of threedaggers
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of petermethot
4.5/5  rDev +16%

Photo of Gatordaddy
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of BMMillsy
4.06/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Gator Beverage. Black/dark brown pour with a nearly one finger tan head, looking pretty creamy. Huge dry pine aroma, some wood, sweet malt, spicy grains. Flavor is up front pine, chocolate, and a dry spicy finish. Medium mouthfeel, lingering spice. Medium carb. Pretty smooth beer and very nice. Relatively easy to drink. Solid beer and now one of my favorites from Swamp Head.

Photo of trxxpaxxs
2/5  rDev -48.5%

Photo of fredmugs
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%

Photo of macrosmatic
3.89/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. Poured from 750 mL bottle into a Russian River pint glass.

A: Very dark brown, and pretty hazy. More than a finger of off-white head but just a bit of visible carbonation.

S: Not a big aroma here. Roasted malts, grapefruit and pine hops...not too exciting.

T: Roasted malts with subdued coffee character, pine and grapefruit pith hops. This isn't particularly complex but has a nice flavor. A restrained bitterness in the hang, seems to be a combination of hops and roasted bitterness.

M: Heavy body for style, moderate alcohol presence, and the carbonation sensation stays on the low side.

O: This was pretty good, and I wouldn't hesitate to drink it again if I found it on tap somewhere. But probably not something I'd go out of my way to have again. There are some more easily available and superior black IPAs around.

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Darkwater from Swamp Head Brewery
87 out of 100 based on 101 ratings.