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Dark Swan | Lagunitas Brewing Company

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Dark SwanDark Swan
Very Good
455 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!

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 455 |  Reviews: 119
Reviews by DamienArk:
Photo of DamienArk
3.39/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

More User Reviews:
Photo of kojevergas
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%
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 Ahypercube
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.75 | 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 is 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 and 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, with grapefruit, 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 Lone_Freighter
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
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 1000lbgrizzly
2.99/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Dark purple/red/brown hue with a distinctively purple coarse head that fades to a veneer and leaves wisps of lace. The nose offers cherry, grape, orange citrus hops, 'classic' bready-beer and mild sourness. It's a combination that doesn't sound great, but the odder flavors in there are comparatively minor; whether they buoy or detract is up to the drinker. The flavor has an immediate zip of tartness, but that quickly gives way to grape and iron (blech), cherry, bread, faint oak, even butter. The body is slightly sweet, fairly tannic, and a bit prickly with the carbonation.
The taste of iron, plus the tannins, made this beer tough to down. Nevermind the curt appearance of sourness, this was flawed beyond enjoyment. After reading the bold vision the brewer had for this beer, I would say he nailed it on the image and the nose, and then fell flat on his face with the taste and feel. The ABV is also something to appreciate, although it isn't enough to sway me.

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Photo of colts9016
3.54/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love the name of this beer Dark Swan and it being a wild ale made it an easy choice to try. Poured into a tulip glass around 40 degrees. Ruby red beer with sapphire hues and a 1/2 finger pink head. The head had no retention and was creamy. The clarity of beer was clear with some carbonation bubbles active.
Wine, lemons, crackers, lightly toasted, floral, touch of earth, and some funkiness.
Serious sour grape notes, lemons, crackers, floral, earthy, lightly toasted malt, a touch of funk, and some bready notes.
A little astringency, medium minus body, medium carbonation, and medium plus finish.
I had struggled with this beer, I wanted to love it. I just felt the beer was just one note and lack that something to make it good. I really did not care for it.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.91/5  rDev +0.8%
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 ocelot2500
4.24/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep purple color with a tight, faded purple head that leaves little bits of lacing.

Smells of berries and grapes.

Tastes of the berries layered over some yeast. Fruits lead off with notes of raspberry, grape, blackberry, plum, and some pomegranate. Fairly tart overall. A bit of syrupy sweetness lies underneath the fruits. A touch of earthy bitterness comes through along with a touch of tannins. Finishes with a lingering tart berry note.

Mouthfeel is medium with a smooth amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is a nicely done wild ale, if you are craving some berries.

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Photo of BB1313
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a tulip. Pours a dark purple with ruby hues; fluffy light purple head that falls leaving nice bubbly retention and nice lacing. The aromas have that signature Lagunitas hop profile. Some berries along with some vinegar. Some funk. Malts and yeasts are there. The flavors are tart, sweet and sour without being overwhelming. Fresh blackberries are there. More vinegar and funk. Nice hop flavors, but it's not bitter at all. Alcohol goes unnoticed. Mouthfeel is on the lighter side of full-bodied, possibly medium-bodied with moderate carbonation. Slightly thin, but it's fluffy and definitely has body to it. Easy drinking stuff.

This is a solid brew. Sours are one of the few styles that I don't have a ton of experience with, so you can take my opinion with a grain of salt. I just never really got into the style. The hop aromas and flavors make this one unique, but it's not bitter at all. This one is balanced and doesn't come off as extreme or intense. Enjoyable stuff.

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Photo of Rivarol
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of krome
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of briancathy
4.32/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of dominic4beer
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of nwhittin
3.96/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of golf4collet
2.97/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3

Photo of Korbynlehr
3.27/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Purple malty firwad beer with a quick finish.

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Photo of calcnerd
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of SpaethJam
3.89/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of elglueckert
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Mooslerfitness
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of djrn2
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of citizencane
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours bright purple with solid head and minimal lacing. Smell is of grapes, raspberries, and sour beer. Taste is the former two, and sour takes a back seat but is clear. Sours aren't a style I gravitate toward but this is tasty.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.43/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of StormAles
4.23/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of AgentMunky
3.36/5  rDev -13.4%
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.

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Dark Swan from Lagunitas Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.88 out of 5 with 455 ratings