Dark Swan
Lagunitas Brewing Company

Dark SwanDark Swan
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Wild Ale
Ranked #1,408
Ranked #17,255
3.9 | pDev: 10.26%
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States
Very Good
Dark SwanDark Swan
Notes: An experimentally hopped sour ale fermented with dark red wine grapes. Observers of yestercentury once doubted the existence of the Dark Swan, stating the fair-feathered fowl was the only color of its kind. Explorers eventually upended that theory, shocking the world and shining light on the Dark. This beer might just do the same. It’s a sour ale fermented with dark red wine grapes, giving it its uniquely deep and rich purple hue. Then it received the signature Lagunitas treatment with a healthy dose of experimental dry hops. This might just shock your taste buds!

There just really isn't anything else like the Dark Swan... it's a dark purple hybrid ale the takes our house yeast and feeds it some Petite Sirah grapes to munch on. It's smooth, slightly sour, and superbly strange. Give it a taste, if you dare!
Reviews: 128 | Ratings: 485 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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sulldaddy from Connecticut

3.81/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Sampling a cellar temp 2017 12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. Ive been sitting on this as I honestly wasnt sure what to make of this one. Figured tonight is as good as any to try it.
The beer pours a dark, but clear merlot color with a fluffy and aggressive eggshell white to tinted pink head of 3 cm. This foam fades quickly to a thin edge layer and one surface island.
the aroma is very vinous with dark grapes, some tart berry notes and even a little bit of tannic notes that really push the nose towards a more astringent note. I also get some mild biscuity yeast, but no hop character and the ABV is well hidden too.
First sip, reveals a light to medium body with very fine and tingly yet spacious carbonation. Texture is smooth and a little watery.
Flavor is kind of tart with dark fruit dominating. I get red grape and raspberry, but also acidic red wine notes on the finish. I dont really describe this as sour, but acidity. I dont get any hops and the ABV is well hidden.

I admit that I dont love this beer, but it isnt flawed and it isnt mouth puckering sour either. A cool experimental beer, but not one I would try again. Only on personal preference, I dont think the beer is flawed.

Oct 02, 2020
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StoutElk_92 from Massachusetts

4.33/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark red with a creamy frothy light khaki tan foam head. Notes of lightly tart berries, raspberry, blackberry, mild blueberry and strawberry, cherry, plum, red wine, Petite Sirah grapes, mild tropical fruit, sweet citrus, candied dark fruit, hints of chocolate, toasty caramel malt, with floral earthy herbal grassy pine. Feels medium bodied, creamy and slick with moderate smooth carbonation. Overall a nice sour ale fermented with red wine grapes.

Apr 01, 2020
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

(12 oz bottle, 038 9 2 3486 1006, 7.9% abv; purchased single off shelf... poured into fat tulip)

L: crystal-clear, purple-ruby liquid; tall, pink-tinged foam stand... does keep a chunky collar; one long band of crusty lace

S: acidic, vinous fruit on the pour; once in the glass, mushy citrus hops leap out, so much so that the vinous character gets buried or at least neatly woven into the hop blast... takes another moment, but the shrub-y, fruity malt syrup undertones creep back; subdued but pointed beam of booze in the mist

T: good bit of orange and piney hop, but they're shoved to the sides by the vaguely Flemish red-like (tart, malty) base; red grape skins, floral oil, piney aftertaste; relatively dry aftertaste... grape, malt, and fruity/pine hops, with a moderate sour smack; little depth, but lots of volume

F: subtly velvety-smooth body, though its thinned out and/or opened up a bit by the MOR tart tang and rather perfectly-tuned boozy warmth... has some apparent weight to it (alcohol-influenced?), but falls short of rich or viscous; lip-smacky, soothing

O: had eyed this up for awhile now; took a paltry, all-too-familiar singles selection at a store I hadn't been to in quite awhile that resulted in this being 'single'd-out, so to speak... glad I got it and hadn't researched it at all in the past - rare unusual Lagunitas brew (though it does vaguely resemble a sour-ed version of their pointless, off-base take on a Scotch ale)... actually a nice sipper; would buy it again, and could potentially have a few (1515)

Sep 24, 2019
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jwc215 from Arizona

3.82/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle -

Pours deep red/crimson with a pink head that slowly settles to a wide island. Trailing lace sticks.

The smell is of sour-ish red berries and dark red wine with a hint of chocolate.

The taste is of sour berries and pinot noir (with a hint of late chocolate). Tart and sweet in the the finish.

It is tart with a mild pucker. Alcohol relatively well-covered.

A unique, interesting brew - Kudos for that. Sour berries and dark red wine meets a strong ale. Certainly not the wildest, sourist wild ale, but enough to fit the style. I like it, but even after the whole bottle, feel like I should like it more than I do.

Aug 22, 2019
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Cvescalante from Texas

4.42/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Hats off to Lagunitas for continuing to put out quality beer at an approachable price point! Best bang for your buck. I absolutely love sour beer, but it can be so stinkin expensive. Not this beer.

Smells tart, I pick up berries and a common red wine undertone. It’s what I imagine a sour Pinot Noir would smell like, but I’m no wine connoisseur.

The flavor follows the aroma very well. Tart, berries, wine, delicious.

It feels light, and is carbonated well. Pair that with the taste and smell, and it makes this beer so hard to put down. I could see myself drinking this on any day of the year. Well done.

Aug 16, 2019
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VoodooBear from Puerto Rico

3.69/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Presentation: Draft, served in a mason jar-type glass.

Appearance: The lilac colored, one finger head stays around for a while but doesn't leave behind any lacing. It's a clear, deep, ruby red color.

Smell: It's a sweet and fruity smell of grapes, cherries, refined sugar and even some bubblegum.

Taste: It's tart, but quite sour; mostly just fruity and juicy grapes with a slight hint of boozy wine as it warms up. Some malt graininess balances things out towards the end.

Mouthfeel: It's smooth and medium bodied with a low carbonation.

Overall: It's not really sour but it's an interesting beer with a fair amount of wine character from the Syrah grapes.

Aug 14, 2019
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twage04 from North Carolina

4.21/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark purple brown with medium to high carbonation. Some fruit/funk on the nose. Complexity, sourness, some fruit and malt. Very fun beer to sip on!

Aug 07, 2019
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Act25 from New Jersey

4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I'm a rave on Dark Swan, which is much better expression than black swan.
a) Look is surprisingly wine like but it's fully, happily, hoppingly a beer.
s) berry, grape, cut grass, hop.
t) Follows aroma... lots of berry and grapes in the taste, great see-saw complexity.
f) Bright, crisp, like great sours freshens.
o) Love when a brewer does something new.

May 02, 2019
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ChicagoJ from Illinois

3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

4/3/19 (Chicago): $6 12 oz draft pour into snifter. Dark purple pour, light off-white head leaves creamy lacing. Light grape aroma, taste consistent with aroma, somewhat sour taste. Light texture, mouth feel and carbonation, easy light drinking. Crisp and clean, overall solid pour.

Apr 04, 2019
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mikeg67 from New Jersey

3.3/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. Pours pink with tall, long-lasting, foamy pink head. Nose is of citrusy hops, plums and barn yard. Body is full and tangy. Taste is sour, bready malt, funky yeast, herbal hops and lemon zest. Finish is long and bitter-sweet. Too sour for me.

Apr 02, 2019
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Parmesan from Colorado

3.09/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

L: Pours a dark purple red color with a small pink red head that dissipates rather quickly and leaves no lacing on the glass.

S: Strong note of grape, notes of the red wine barrel, slightly sour and tart. Smells rather one dimensional.

T: Sweet grape with some acid in the back of the throat, a slight note of raspberry, sweet and tart. Still seems quite one dimensional.

F: Carbonation seems a little off on this beer.

O: This is a vey one dimensional beer.

Dec 17, 2018
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rodbeermunch from Nevada

2.88/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Picked up a 6 pack of this. This is the rare occasion where I was disappointed with a Lagunitas beer.

Pours a dark purple and black like Kansas State kind of vibe with a lighter head 1/6". The aroma was red wine like and mildly tart. The dry hopping did not show up in the nose.

Taste was a disappointment. The sour factor wasn't enough, the hopping didn't stand out, the mouthfeel suffered because of what seemed like a lack of carbonation. Also didn't hide the alcohol very well. The grapes came across more in the appearance than anywhere else, it provides a slight dryness with the red wine barrel (?). Seems to be lacking a malt body to carry all these weird combinations of things. Some currant and other dark bitter fruit notes too.

I can't even remember the last time I was this disappointed with a Lagunitas beer. Maybe I never have been this disappointed with them. Who knows. This was a rare swing and a miss for their normally stellar lineup and rotations.

Nov 30, 2018
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barnzy78 from Illinois

3.6/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle. Purple grape juice colored body with a thin effervescent pinkish layer of foam. Fruity aroma with grape, plum, and berry; but unfortunately reminds me of cough syrup. Tart and sour flavors of grape, berry, peach, plum, and cherry. Medium body, lively carbonation, sour, tart, and dry finish. Pretty good, but a little too much like grape cough syrup for me to buy it again.

Nov 18, 2018
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drtth from Pennsylvania

3.78/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The clear dark reddish purple beer pours out into a Duvel glass with a 1/2” thick pink head that visibly recedes to a ring and an irregular island of foam on the surface. Sipping creates a couple of arches and several small patches of lacing.

The aromas are mostly about the red wine grapes along with some light earthy hop character that blends in nicely. There also seems to be some malt in the background.

The flavors are much as expected from the nose with the red wine grapes more up front than the hops. In addition there’s some sour tartness that is tempered by a bit of sweetness. In the background there’s some light earthy bitterness.

The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium bodied and slightly prickly with the finely bubbled light carbonation. The finish begins as the red grape flavors and tartness begin to slowly fade away to a long lightly bitter ending with some background tartness that goes on for a very long time.

Overall this is an interesting hybrid ale in that the red wine grapes are in charge of the show but with the tartness well controlled and a bit of residual bitterness so we’ve got both some wine-like flavors and some beer-like flavors. I’ve enjoyed trying it but probably will not do a repeat.

Nov 18, 2018
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Franziskaner from Missouri

3.22/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Ruby to purple in color with a fingernail of pink around the rim and covering the vast majority of the top. The aroma is of tart dark blackberries and grape. I'm tasting very tart blueberries and blackberries. The mouth is very dry and crisp. The alcohol seems to be pretty well hidden.

Nov 10, 2018
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patre_tim from Thailand

3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Reddish purple and filtered with some carbonation, and 2 fingers of purple head.

Smells of berries, sour notes, and lilacs.

Tastes of sour and of grapes, and lilacs.

Light body, with moderate carbonation.

Got in Sacramento, drinking in Redding, Oct 19th, 2018. Watery and decent.

Oct 20, 2018
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dacrza1 from New Jersey

3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

DATE: September 27, 2018... OCCASION: watching The Office after a Liberty back-to-school night... GLASSWARE: La Fin du Monde tulip... a dark purple body, intimidatingly dense, but a half-finger of brownish off-white head that resiliently stays creamy and foamy... deep merlot, cranberry, rich dark chocolate, bitter and slightly boozy with a subtle hop fruitiness.... this draws as a medium-bodied live wire, effervescent and bold, with a punchy entrance and a long, dry finish that leaves a smooth, wine-like experience.... the flavor profile is strong, and at 8.5%, a powerful collection of strawberry, cherry, dark red wine, rich lilac, blackberry, and a light hint of oat and malt... a BIG experience from a 12 oz. bottle, this retains that Lagunitas hop thought while slowing the roll on each sip with a buzzing at the teeth and a warmth at the throat... worth sipping, though its profile does muddle at some point, making the experience not as memorable as some others... that said, what doesn't Lagunitas do well....

Sep 28, 2018
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Maxms from Russian Federation

4.22/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Ruby wine color, moderately sour but strong by ABV. Smells black currant. A little bit like classic lemonade. But leaves distinctive beer finish. Rare type.

Sep 22, 2018
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AgentMunky from New York

3.36/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Teku glass.
A: Pours a stunning purple and expresses in the glass as a wine-dark, clear-deep ruby.
S: Grapico, lactic acid, loads of fruit, kinda of a barnyard Jolly Rancher vibe going on here.
T: Goshdarn. "Barnyard Jolly Rancher" pretty much nailed it. It is somehow less pleasant on the palate. It looks like Welch's and tastes a bit similar, putting me in the mindset of prison wine. Still. Interesting.
M: Zesty enough!
O: Ultimately, I think this is more interesting than good. And you know I'm liable to give points for that, but still. There's a cheesiness here I can't quite place or support. Slightly too sweet.

Sep 21, 2018
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metter98 from New York

3.71/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer appears to be clear and is very dark purple in color. It poured with a quarter finger high pink colored head that quickly died down, leaving a thin collar of medium-sized bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Light aromas of Concord grape juice are present in the nose along with notes of sourness.
T: The taste follows the smell and is a little sour with flavors of red grape juice. No hops or bitterness are detectable, but any traces of sweetness from the grapes are well masked.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a low to moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is hardly sour at all, but has subtle yet interesting aromas and flavors of red grapes.

Serving type: bottle

Sep 11, 2018
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TinFang from California

3.52/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not to my personal preference. Neither sour enough nor fruity enough, but someone who isn't familiar with the style might enjoy it as an introduction.

Sep 03, 2018
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M_C_Hampton from Georgia

3.77/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass, it's purple, really purple, short pink head that dissipates leaving little lacing, clear, and it's purple

S: dark grape juice, welches to be exact, some fruit hops, wine, slightly sour balsamic vinegar smell

T: there is an extreme bitterness up front that is quite shocking, it's the white part of the grapefruit kind of bitter, that fades into the flavor of red wine mixed with seltzer water, the finish is sour and tart, flavors of grape must linger, also a dry earthy hop finish

M: thin but alcohol is well hidden

O: think heavily hopped very dry sparkling red wine

Sep 02, 2018
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KingTen144 from Illinois

3.99/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A nice sour that hides its ABV very well. A good amount of tartness but not overly fruity. The flavor seems to somehow be lacking something, but I vastly prefer this beer to some other sours that overdo the flavor and turn the beer into cough syrup.

Aug 31, 2018
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TheSixthRing from California

3.5/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours dark and clear, garnet in color with a touch of purple. Pink, finger width head that dissipates in fair time to reveal a thin, consistent layer of suds. A few spots make up the lacing.

Smell - Tart, dark fruity aroma. Grape-ish, with lesser citrus and distant apple cider vinegar.

Taste - Tastes slightly better than it smells, but not by much. Tart, dark and fruity with grape, green apple and lesser tangerine. Hint of vinegar comes though vaguely in the finish to accompany the aforementioned fruitiness.

Mouthfeel - Light-bodied with moderate, tingly carbonation. Slick texture with a crisp, slightly dry finish.

Overall - Not a great sour by any means. There's definitely a bit of vinegar in there, though my lady isn't picking up on it. Hopefully they've learned to improve their 'sour ale' process, as evidenced by their latest release Cherry Jane, which is pretty darn good.

Aug 03, 2018
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HotDogBikeRide from Texas

4.46/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A dark, and barely translucent plum/amber ale with shiny, brilliantly cascading micro bubbles and "lacing" that is really a slick foam that slowly runs down the glass slowly as you drink. Smell is reminiscient of wine but faint yeasty with a sort of almost light Cabarnet hint. The flavor is a tart grape combined with some hop resin. The feel is sour at first, but fades to more of a Carlo Rossi Burgundy after flavor, very wine-like in the yeasty-ness it leaves on the back of the tongue. Big wine drinkers will know what I mean, that dry finish that sits in the throat and tastes like ya been drinking wine. Haha. It is a great beer with a lot of refinement to that flavor. The cheap wine comparisons are for a basis only, this is a very good beer. I like the change of pace

Jul 28, 2018
Dark Swan from Lagunitas Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 485 ratings