Dark Swan | Lagunitas Brewing Company

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Dark SwanDark Swan
Very Good
317 Ratings
Dark SwanDark Swan

Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.70%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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!

Added by UCLABrewN84 on 10-29-2016

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 317 |  Reviews: 79
Photo of kojevergas
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

BOTTLE nabbed at a beer store in Austin, TX.

8.5% ABV.

APPEARANCE: Purple-pink head.

Purple body.

Certainly unique - arrestingly so. Head retention is stellar for the ABV - ~10 minutes. ~11cm head height.

AROMA: Red grapes. Grape must. Raisin. Vinous notes. I'm detecting acidity, but not outright sourness or even brettanomyces funkiness.

Aromatic intensity is low; this is quite muted for a sourale.

TASTE: Authentic grape - red grape. Scintillae of raisin and vine. Acidity. But above all, squishy grape.

Not overtly sour, nor obviously funky. It's maybe a 2/10 in terms of sourness intensity...there's some light smackiness there, but it's not dominant.

Certainly a beer for the wine drinker, featuring grape flavour that eclipses any malty or hoppy flavours. Balanced though a bit one-note. It approaches uniqueness with its commitment to wine/grape flavour.

TEXTURE: Not as chewy or thick as one might anticipate a wine-like beer to be. Smooth, wet, full-bodied, and (of course) unrefreshing. Almost perfectly carbonated. Smacky. Neither soft nor hard. Not stale or withered.

OVERALL: Lagunitas has successfully smashed syrah red grape notes into beer, and the result is very committed to that flavour. Not the gimmick beer it could have been nor so wine-like as to be non-beer. Well worth trying, though it's best regarded on its own terms instead of in contrast to other sour ales since it's really not all that sour. Hides its ABV quite well. Great post-Heineken takeover work from Lagunitas I'd happily buy more of.

High B- (3.50) / WORTHY

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Photo of MichialTanner1
3.45/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Ahypercube
4.27/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A rare Lagunitas is always fun to try. This is the only one I’ve seen with a purple cap. Nice swan graphic on the bottle too...

L: Pours a transparent violet-red, like pomegranate juice or rosé. Glows magenta in light. Lots of strawberry-ice-cream-colored head on the pour, but hardly any lacing as it is a sour ale.

S: Very fruity. I get blackberry, rhubarb, black grape, cranberry and black currant along with jam notes, then strong ethanol (as if it was a red wine) and a finish with grapefruit pith, pine, lemon rind and Petite Sirah grape peels. (I wouldn’t know the grape, except they listed it in the description. But it’s very grapey.)

T: Not bad, but a bit too hoppy for the style. The sweetness of the grapes and blackberry is noticed first, along with dry saltiness and the sourness of rhubarb, sour cherries, and then bitter cranberry and black currant. The berries mix together so deeply, it seemingly turns into a tart dark fruit jam. The bubbles throw the booze up your nose like a sparkling red wine...which someone squeezed a lemon wedge into and then dropped it in to soak. The finish is a somewhat excessive amount of pine, grapefruit pith and lemon and tangerine rinds, but it is balanced by a mellow malt sweetness that rescues it from being too bitter. Overall impression is tart blackberry jam on an english muffin.

F: Solid for a sour ale. There’s definitely a lot of body to this one. Drinks like a really thick, dry kombucha.

O: I liked Eroica better. This idea offers great promise, but unfortunately it’s a bit too hoppy for the style... I looked it up. Only 22.6 IBU. This style is sensitive. I hate to say it, but I think they should tone it down a bit more with the dry hopping.

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Photo of sisterofba
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of Maillard
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of puboflyons
3.16/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle with a 2017 vintage. Sampled on March 10, 2018.

The pour is a kind of cranberry-red amber with a modest short lasting head.

The body is light-medium.

I get a cherry tartness in the taste but little else. Not sweet. Not mellow. Not tart. This is not my thing.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.91/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4


A: A beautiful radish coloring with violet hues glisten from back-lighting, similar to a dr. pepper. Bright coppery coating is moderately lasting atop, and of a slight nature. Minimal lacing.

S: Sour dark fruit, plums, and caramel raisins. Some pear and applesauce yeastiness. Smooth and fruity, easy sourness and very pleasant to endure. Very fruit forward flavor, dark grapes, with a great deal of sourness.

T: Cherries, dark fruit, plums, and sugary fruits are most prominent, while a bit of sour maltiness adds backdrops to make a very strong and good first impression. Yeasty applesauce, raisins, and apple plum esters along with some dark grapes add a big fruit factor. Raspberries, honey and cranberries add some countering sweetness to the palate, creating a calming and fruity nature. The finish is dry, red wine like, with some acidity come post-swallow.

M: Tart and acidic mouthful, has a very full nature per style, with a slippery and syrupy consistency. Softly carbonated keeps things silky smooth, with a good slide on the tongue. Sour fruitiness lines the tongues on the hold.

O: From the first sip it delivers a highly favorable first impression and sourness that is balanced by a huge fruity nature that demands your attention. Highly drink-ability rate, with outstanding regards to style, in terms of flavor and depth of fruity character, as well spectrum of respect to a wide audience that welcomes all with a sweetly tart and fruity flavor. The wide range of fruitiness and silky sourness defines this drink for a worthy example without breaking the bank.

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Photo of sweemzander
3/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of Pencible
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew was very fruity and crisp. The scent and taste were more tart than sour. It had a good blend of blackberry and citrus zest. Nice and unique sour IPA.

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Photo of crbnfbr
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Orlaith
4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

As a fan of sour beer this one hit the spot, a nice blackcurranty flavour and the hops come through on the nose, I like it! Its a sweeter sour ale that is refreshing and pleasant.

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Photo of HopsandHeads1981
4.64/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of mvanaskie13
4.09/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a small chalice: color is crazy ruby red with pink head, head presents at least 3/8 inch thick at first then dissipates to ring with some lacing. That color is great and not expected.

Smell might be the most interesting aspect of this beer - aroma has more hop aroma than expected and maybe even hop dominant - your head tries to make you think there is fruitiness but its very subtle and the light pine hops are there and more dominant.

Taste veers another direction into the sour, earthy, fruity realm with plum and fermented grape flavors, hard to pin point as i'm personally not knowledgable in taste comparison of grapes but the flavor works well. Hops are still there but less pronounced and filler in the background. Very easy drinking for the strength.

Mouthfeel is slightly tart, crisp, moderately carbonated.

Overall a very interesting beer which leaves you shaking your head from pour to finish but well worth the taste.

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Photo of Burghman
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of mush
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of gspeer711
3.84/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Keepnitrl
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Hayden34
4.29/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Bubbawilly88
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of AJmon13
3.76/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Ristaccia
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a tulip.
The appearance was a semi-dark purple to dark blue color with a fairly quickly dissipating foamy to semi-bubbly head that slid off at a moderate pace. Light lace ran here and there.
The aroma had some sweet to tart black raspberries starting it off and then developing in with some red raspberries. Pulls the sweet and the tart in with a low lying sour character. Some grassy notes and then a touch of dry semi-sweet non barrel woodiness.
The flavor was moderately tart with an ample blended sour and sweet berry edge flowing over the sweet woodiness. Slight sourness right before the aftertaste and then the brisk sweet berry quality hitting against some grassiness.
The mouthfeel was about medium bodied with a fair sessionability about it. Carbonation felt fine. ABV felt just as projected. Semi-vinous harshness and punchy little bit of sour feels riding on into the finish.
Overall, pretty nice sour ale. I want to say: "fruited sour ale" and well, it's one that I would have again.

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Photo of TTripp725
3.02/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of nwhittin
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

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Dark Swan from Lagunitas Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.92 out of 5 with 317 ratings