Darkwater | Swamp Head Brewery

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BA SCORE
3.85/5
Very Good
128 Ratings
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Swamp Head Brewery
Florida, United States
swamphead.com

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.80%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Jdmpolk on 03-05-2011

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#13,347
Reviews:
24
Ratings:
128
pDev:
12.21%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
2
Gots:
19
Trade:
1
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 128 |  Reviews: 24
Photo of kylehay2004
4.08/5  rDev +6%
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.

 439 characters

Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.35/5  rDev -13%
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.

 707 characters

Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of djrn2
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%

Photo of BEERchitect
3.62/5  rDev -6%
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.

 1,709 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
4.04/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours an opaque yet still clear jet black in color with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and moderate cola brown and garnet red highlights. The beer has a three finger tall foamy tan head that reduces to a medium to large sized patch of thick film (made up of larger bubbles) surrounded by a mottled very thin film covering the majority of the remainder of the surface of the beer and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of dark roasted malts and citrus/grapefruit pith + pine hops. Hints of cocoa.

T: Upfront there are slightly stronger than moderate flavors of dark roasted malts with a light amount of charred malts. That is followed by light flavors of cocoa that fades quickly to a moderate hop presence - citrus/grapefruit pith and pine. There is a moderate amount of lingering bitterness both from the roastiness and the hops.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly thin/watery.

O: A very enjoyable beer in a style that I might not have chosen myself (gift from my in-laws that they brought back from a wedding in FL) - probably one of my favorites beers in this style. only drawback is that it is a little thin in the mouthfeel.

 1,288 characters

Photo of nickfl
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
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.

 1,388 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.12/5  rDev +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.

 357 characters

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

Photo of nathanmiller
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
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.

 1,044 characters

Photo of mklisz
2.81/5  rDev -27%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Thin feel, oxidized flavor, unpleasant nose

43 characters

Photo of Lare453
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%

Photo of Gonzoillini
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%

Photo of beernads
4/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of petermethot
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%

Photo of fredmugs
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

Photo of cjgator3
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of TX-Badger
4.41/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a more opaque dark brown color with deep ivory colored head. Roast, pine, and some dark fruits and wheat on the nose; follows onto the palate. Medium bodied. Finishes with a very pleasant combination of roast and piney hop notes.

 235 characters

Photo of pathman
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%

Photo of maximum12
3.27/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

 1,352 characters

Photo of BDeibs
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of BMMillsy
4.08/5  rDev +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.

 389 characters

Photo of Resuin
3.81/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into an enlarged snifter.

Appearance: Pours black and leaves a finger of fluffy, light tan head that lingers for a long time. (4.25)

Smell: Mild spruce, roasty malts, dark chocolate. (3.75)

Taste: Light piney hops, toasted malts, light cocoa, light citrus. (3.75)

Mouth-feel: Low carb with a medium, creamy body. Smooth. (4)

Overall: A solid black IPA. Fairly light flavors but well integrated. (3.75)

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Darkwater from Swamp Head Brewery
Beer rating: 3.85 out of 5 with 128 ratings
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