Dark Swan | Lagunitas Brewing Company

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Dark SwanDark Swan
Very Good
435 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 435 |  Reviews: 116
Reviews by SpdKilz:
Photo of SpdKilz
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

More User Reviews:
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 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.

 1,597 characters

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 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 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.

 969 characters

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.

 1,719 characters

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 DanGeo
3.51/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Photo of JW_WNC
3.77/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.59/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

In my teku, the beer was the color of a Concord grape. There was a small pink head.
Grape and cherry aroma. A little sour.
The taste was ever so slightly tart grape.
Dry, softly sour.
Not too impressed with this one.

 216 characters

Photo of heddar33
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of TTripp725
3.02/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Guinnsslvr
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap. Pours clear, reddish-purple in color with 1/3 inch head. Taste is red grapes, cabernet sauvignon, sour mix, and light oak. Slightly sour with a touch of sweetness, light bodied with moderate carbonation. Makes for a tasty wine/beer hybrid. Wine is front and center but the sour mix adds a nice touch. I prefer how Trillium integrates wine into beer more, but this is right up there.

 400 characters

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

Photo of rsquared59
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of DavidR_9
3.51/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle (no date) into belgian tulip glass. Pours a very dark grape juicy color with a deep red hue infront of good backlighting. Decent fluffy off color head right after the pour, quickly recedes into a thin and light bubbly purple ring of foam. Smells of acidic and slightly sweet grape juice, not too pungent. Red grape fruitiness, hint of unripened blackberry, sour/tart grapey finish with a light cracker-y flavor on the back. Fairly thin mouthfeel with low-med carbonation. There isn't a whole lot of depth and complexity to this beer but it surely packs a punch while hiding any traces of alcohol flavor.

 617 characters

Photo of Franziskaner
3.22/5  rDev -17%
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.

 290 characters

Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: looks like a dark red wine permeated with streams of rapidly rising bubbles and crowned by a 3" pink foam cap with good retention.

S: rich berry and dark grape aromas supported by lemon, bread crumb, citrus, and earthy biscuit notes

T: flavors start with big, slightly sweet grapes and berries that with the biscuit malt backbone suggest jam on a biscuit. Mild tartness builds towards the finish joined by medium bitterness.

F: The body and carbonation are medium. A mild warming gradually creeps up as you drink.

O: This complex beverage maintains its beer character while offering up strong red wine flavors.

 617 characters

Photo of bpfrush
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of MattyG85
4.5/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of HopsForBrains
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Excellen flavor imparted due to the red wine barrel aging.

58 characters

Photo of Trenthunt
4.85/5  rDev +25%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Super good sour with a great red wine grape finish as Smooth going down as it smells it will awaken the senses as you drink it take your time and enjoy.

 152 characters

Photo of acurtis
3.72/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

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Dark Swan from Lagunitas Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.88 out of 5 with 435 ratings