Tasting Notes: Dark Swan from Lagunitas Brewing Company

LagunitasDarkSwanPour_edited_editedFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we enjoy an enchanted moment with the ever-elusive Dark Swan Sour Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California).

Developed to be Lagunitas’ take on the beer-wine hybrid, Dark Swan is a “uniquely deep and rich purple [hued]” American Sour Ale that has been “dry-hopped with some experimental Pekko hops from the Yakima Valley, then fermented with . . . house yeast on some of Sonoma County’s-own Petite Syrah grape juice from . . . Adobe Road Winery.” Swooping in at 7.9% ABV and 25 IBUs, Dark Swan promises to be “smooth, slightly sour, and superbly strange.”

Dark Swan officially released in mid-February, but there is still a good amount of it hanging around out there on shelves and taps.  You can look for this Limited Release offering to be available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s distribution area.

Now that we are all a bit more familiar with Dark Swan’s background information, it appears that it is finally time to crack open a bottle and plunge into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Dark Swan Sour Ale (2019) from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Appearance:  A somewhat vigorous pour produces a beer that is a beautiful deep purple in color and wearing nearly two fingers of rose-pink foam.  When held to direct light, red tones push through and blend with the purple to create a color that is similar to pure cranberry juice.  Although dark in color, it still reveals an incredible degree of clarity and a mellow amount of carbonation activity.  Head retention is decent, reducing slowly to a lasting, chunky ring that leaves spotty lacing on the glass at times.

Aroma:  A clean grape presence opens the aromatics with both sweet, fresh grape juice and a complex dark red wine/Shiraz-like character.  The complexity builds as the hops shuffle in to add floral notes, a pop of black currant, and a tinge of spicy herb.  Underneath all of this lies a faint sweetness similar to a hard fruit candy (think grape Jolly Rancher).

Taste:  The vinous qualities lead here as well, playfully weaving in notes of Concord grape juice, lightly tannic red wine, and just straight fresh dark-skinned grapes.  The hops add supporting notes of black currant, assorted berries, a twist of citrus, and soft floral tones.  The profile closes with a gentle dose of sour funk and nondescript malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel:  On the lighter side of medium in body with a medium carbonation, Dark Swan is wonderfully crisp and easy-drinking.  On the palate, it playfully bounces between sour, fruity and sweet. The 7.9% ABV is completely hidden, allowing this beer to drink much lighter than it is.  Aftertaste is all red wine and berries.

Final Thoughts: Dark Swan is a whimsical take on the beer/wine hybrid that somehow boasts both the approachability of the grape juice box and the complexity of a fine red wine.  The hops seem to be dialed back a bit for a Lagunitas offering, sacrificing in-your-face dankness for just the right amount of complementary fruity and floral notes.  This approach allows the grape/wine character to shine, but the beer is still able to assert itself as . . . you know . . . a beer by casually reminding you of the hop qualities and malt sweetness that would clearly be out of place in a wine.  This results in a ridiculously refreshing beer that basically drinks like a slightly less carbonated wine spritzer.  Overall, Dark Swan is wildly unique, a little weird, and extraordinarily tasty.  If you are at all a fan of red wines (or pilfering juice boxes from the children’s stash), be sure to grab some of this year’s batch of Dark Swan before it disappears from shelves.  Prost!

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Lagunitas Dark Swan Sour Ale (2019) Returns for a Limited Time

LagunitasDarkSwanTatLagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California) has officially announced that Dark Swan Sour Ale will return for a limited time in mid-February as a part of the brewery’s OneHitter Series.

Developed to be Lagunitas’ take on the beer-wine hybrid, Dark Swan is a “uniquely deep and rich purple [hued]” American Sour Ale that has been “dry-hopped with some experimental Pekko hops from the Yakima Valley, then fermented with . . . house yeast on some of Sonoma County’s-own Petite Syrah grape juice from . . . Adobe Road Winery.”  Swooping in at 7.9% ABV and 25 IBUs, Dark Swan promises to be “smooth, slightly sour, and superbly strange.”

Dark Swan is scheduled to release in mid-February and will hang around as long as supplies last.  You can expect to find this “HIIIIGHLY limited” brew available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s distribution territory.  Prost!

Vital Information for Dark Swan Sour Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Release – Limited/OneHitter Series, mid-February 2019
Style – American Sour Ale
ABV – 7.9%
IBUs – 25
Featured Hops – Pekko 
Added Ingredients – Petite Syrah grape juice
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles & draft
Beer Finder – https://lagunitas.com/beer-finder

 

 

Tasting Notes: Willettized Coffee Stout (2018) from Lagunitas Brewing Company

lagunitaswillettizedpourFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we do our best to ward off the cold with the soothing warmth found within a bottle of Willettized Coffee Stout from Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California).

Released back in December as the perfect partner for “fireside-swigging and sweater-sipping”, Willettized Coffee Stout is a “big and burly stout” brewed with coffee beans from Metropolis Coffee Company and then aged for “up to 24 months” in Rye Whiskey casks sourced from Willett Distillery.  100% barrel aged and blended, Willettized (12% ABV) is a “chocolatey, coffee-y, smoky, oak-y, rye-y beast” that is “meant to be shared and/or aged . . . or not . . . whatever.”

A limited amount of Willettized Coffee Stout was released at the tail end of 2018, but there is a chance that a few bottles could still be hanging around out there.  Look for this OneHitter Release to (possibly) be available in 22 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois, Washington and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s nationwide distribution territory.

Now that we are all a bit more familiar with this beer’s background information, what do you say we cozy up to a bottle and get into these Tasting Notes?

Tasting Notes for Willettized Coffee Stout from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Appearance:  A gentle pour produces a glossy black Imperial Stout topped with two fingers of foamy, brown sugar-colored head.  When held to direct light, the black color softens a bit at the edges to expose some brown, cola-like tones.  The beer is completely opaque, hiding any visual hint at its carbonation level.  Retention is good, gracefully falling to a tightly packed cap that coats the glass with creamy sheets of lace throughout the experience.

Aroma:  Whiskey greets the nose with gentle, alluring notes of booze, vanilla, earthy/spicy rye, and oak.  Rich dark chocolate and a dollop of caramel then work their way in to round off the alcohol with a soothing sweetness.  Dark roast coffee then turns up to offer a final layer of complexity with light notes of roast, smoke and bittersweet chocolate – accentuating both the whiskey and chocolate notes that preceded it.  Everything here is wonderfully straightforward and beautifully on point.

Taste:  Dark chocolate and dark roast coffee take the lead here by laying a rich foundation that is bitter and sweet, earthy and decadent.  The coffee gently opens further, coaxing out the rye whiskey’s notes of vanilla, oak, rye spice, molasses, and caramel.  A bit of coconut and a toasted bready/crackery quality (almost graham cracker-like) seemingly come out of nowhere only to be quickly enveloped by a faint waft of smoke and tobacco in the finish.

Mouthfeel:  Full-bodied with a soft carbonation level, this Imperial Stout is velvety and viscous in texture.  On the palate, it is beautifully balanced as any sweetness is kept in check thanks to the bitterness of the coffee and earthiness sourced from the rye whiskey barrel.  The ABV does bring some heat, but it is pretty tame for 12%.  The aftertaste is just lingering, warm notes of rye whiskey and coffee.

Final Thoughts: Living up to all expectations set by its name, Willettized Coffee Stout is simply an incredibly well-composed Imperial Stout brewed with damn good coffee and clearly aged in high-quality whiskey barrels.  The rye whiskey notes are extraordinarily clean, well-represented, and effortlessly drive the entire experience.  With that said, the base Imperial Stout – with its pronounced aromas and flavors of coffee and chocolate – maintains a fantastic depth of character and refuses to get lost in all that barrel character.  Each note is interlocking and depends on the others to come together to create a top tier barrel-aged stout experience.  Seriously, if you are at all a fan of those old school, annually released barrel-aged beers that have served as a rite of passage for so many of us over the years (think KBS and Bourbon County Brand Stout), Willettized Coffee Stout is a must try.  It just does not get much better than this.  Prost!

 

Lagunitas Willettized Coffee Stout Returns for a Limited Time

Willetized-Stout_22oz_Photo-195x725Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California) has officially announced that it is putting the finishing touches on 2018 with the “hiiiiighly limited” release of Willettized Coffee Stout.

Back to tackle the peak season of “fireside-swigging and sweater-sipping”, Willettized Coffee Stout is a “big and burly stout” brewed with coffee beans from Metropolis Coffee Company and then aged for “up to 24 months” in Rye Whiskey casks sourced from Willett Distillery.  100% barrel aged and blended, Willettized (12% ABV) is a “chocolatey, coffee-y, smoky, oak-y, rye-y beast” that is “meant to be shared and/or aged . . . or not . . . whatever.”

The 2018 batch of Willettized Coffee Stout officially started rolling out in late November/early December 2018 and will hang around as long as supplies last.  You can expect to find this OneHitter Release available in 22 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois, Washington and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s nationwide distribution territory.  Prost!

Vital Information for Willettized Coffee Stout from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Release – Limited/OneHitter Series, late November/early December 2018
Style – Imperial Stout
ABV – 12%
IBUs – 32
Added Ingredients – Coffee beans from Metropolis Coffee Company
Treatment – Aged for up to 24 months in Rye Whiskey casks sourced from Willett Distillery
Availability – 22 oz. bottles & draft
Beer Finder – https://lagunitas.com/beer-finder

 

Tasting Notes: Sparkling Swan Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

LagunitasSparklingPourFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we settle in for Thanksgiving by raising a glass of Sparkling Swan Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California).

Introduced earlier this month as the little sister to Lagunitas’ infrequently released Dark Swan Sour Ale, Sparkling Swan is a highly-carbonated beer-wine hybrid “brewed with red wine grapes” that offers a “super bubbly” champagne-like experience, “but with a gentle kiss of hops and a light malt backbone like a beer.”  Coming in at an easy-drinking 6.5% ABV and 28 IBUs, the purple-hued Sparkling Swan is “perfect for any celebration” headed your way this holiday season.

Sparkling Swan is available now and will be hanging around through February 2019.  You can expect to find this Limited Release available in 12-packs of 12 oz. bottles at select craft beer retailers located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois, Washington and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s distribution area.

Now that we are all caught up on the technical data, let’s get into these Tasting Notes so that we can experience the true majesty of a Sparkling Swan!

Tasting Notes for Sparkling Swan Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Appearance: A cautious pour produces a beer that is a shimmering purple in color (similar to that of grape juice) and wearing over two fingers of pink to soft purple hued foam.  When held to direct light, the purple tones intensify and take on a ruby red radiance. Despite its dark appearance, the beer is clear and pulses with a highly active carbonation presence.  The brightly colored head quickly collapses down to a thin ring that occasionally notches the glass with a wisp of lace.

Aroma:  First Impression – Sparkling Swan basically smells like someone filled this glass halfway with a fine Cabernet Sauvignon and then topped it off with some Welch’s . . . and that’s pretty friggin’ awesome.  Red wine grapes and concord grape juice combine to produce a sweet, fruity character that offers added notes of raspberry, cherry and plum. Light, floral and fruity, the hops surface near the end of the profile in an attempt to balance that sweet fruitiness and also act as a pleasant fragrance that rounds off any trace of lactobacillus.

Taste: Very similar to the nose, the flavor profile opens with grape notes that range for red wine complexity to the incredibly approachable and sweet presence of concord grape juice.  The fruitiness open further to present distinct tones of tart cherry and black currant. The beer is nice and tart, but it has a very clean lactobacillus tartness that is completely devoid of funk or added earthiness.  Crackery malt and a touch of floral hops finally turn up near the finish to temper that sour/tart character a bit.

Mouthfeel:  Light side of medium in body with a bright carbonation, this beer is super easy-drinking and has a refreshing effervescence to it.  The tart and sweet characteristics do a good job balancing themselves out and result in a pretty dry experience overall.  The ABV is well hidden but does supply a slight warmth in the throat.  Concord grape juice and floral hops linger a bit in the aftertaste.

Final Thoughts:  In a nutshell, Sparkling Swan Ale is red wine and champagne sophistication meets childhood memories of grape juice boxes.  It has a certain level of complexity while still remaining playful, familiar and approachable.

Full of personality, this beer makes the following claims as to why it is a solid choice for holiday gatherings:

  • Beautiful to look at, it has that wow factor that will definitely grab the attention of everyone in the room.
  • Hand it off to either the wine faithful or the traditional beer lovers at the table and it will most assuredly get a fair share of perplexed but intrigued “That’s a beer?” inquiries.
  • As far as the meal goes, it has the tartness to work alongside any plate that has cranberry sauce on it, the effervescence necessary to cut through fatty meats and rich gravy, and has the staying power to hang out for a cheese course or any desserts that are chocolate or fruit-focused.

That is certainly one hell of a case, but the best attribute of this beer just might be that it does not have to be limited to special occasions and holiday feasts.  Full of daily drinker potential, Sparkling Swan is just a fun, easy-drinking and tasty brew that is absolutely worthy of your attention at any point or time this holiday season.  Be sure to check out this Limited Release while you can.  Prost!

Lagunitas Brewing Company Sends Sparkling Swan Out for a Limited Release

Sparkling-Swan-Bottle-195x519-v2Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California) has announced that Sparkling Swan, a Limited Release tart and bubbly grape ale, is hitting shelves now to serve as the brewery’s holiday-ish beer.

Inspired a bit by its much bigger sister, the infrequently released Dark Swan Sour Ale, Sparkling Swan is a highly-carbonated beer-wine hybrid “brewed with red wine grapes” that offers a “super bubbly” champagne-like experience, “but with a gentle kiss of hops and a light malt backbone like a beer.”  Coming in at an easy-drinking 6.5% ABV and 28 IBUs, the purple-hued Sparkling Swan is “perfect for any celebration” headed your way this holiday season.

Sparkling Swan Ale is rolling out now and scheduled to hang around through February 2019.  You can expect to find this Limited Release available in 12-packs of 12 oz. bottles at select craft beer retailers located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois, Washington and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for Sparkling Swan Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Release – Limited, November 2018 – February 2019
Style – American Sour Ale
ABV – 6.5%
IBUs – 28
Added Ingredients – Red wine grapes
Availability – 12-packs of 12 oz. bottles
Beer Finder – https://lagunitas.com/beer-finder

Lagunitas Brewing Company Births a Fresh Batch of Born Yesterday Pale Ale

Lagunitas_BornYesterday12oz_2018_Web_195x519Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California) has announced that the 2018 batch of Born Yesterday Pale Ale, the brewery’s “Un-Freakin-Filtered” Fresh Hop Ale, is officially hitting shelves and taps during the week of October 8.

Created as a liquid celebration of fresh hop season, Born Yesterday is an unfiltered, “newer” take on Lagunitas’ DogTown Pale Ale that features a fresh addition of “some wet, lupulin-drenched, un-kilned, whole-cone, fresh-picked-and-rushed-straight-from-Yakima hops.”  With this year’s batch boasting “11 lbs-per-barrel of Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Indigenous Catawampus” hops, Born Yesterday (7.2% ABV) promises to be “the freshest thing to come out this fall harvest.”

Born Yesterday is shipping now and will be available as long as supplies last.  You can expect to find this “HIIIIIGHLY” Limited Release available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois, Washington and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s nationwide distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for Born Yesterday Fresh Hop Pale Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Release – Limited/One Hitter Series, October 2018
Style – Harvest Ale/American Pale Ale
ABV – 7.2%
IBUs – “HIGH”
Featured Fresh Hops –  Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic & Indigenous Catawampus
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles & draft
Beer Finder – https://lagunitas.com/beer-finder

Tasting Notes – The Classics: Brown Shugga’ from Lagunitas Brewing Company

LagunitasBrownShuggaPourFor this week’s installment of Tasting Notes, we kick it old school with a classic by getting into a hearty pour of Brown Shugga’ from Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California).

First created back in 1997, Brown Shugga’ is a Barleywine-style Ale that actually came into existence when the brewers at Lagunitas botched a batch of Olde GnarlyWine Ale and attempted to save it by adding “loads of brown sugar.” Although this quick fix made it so they were able to reach the same original gravity of GnarlyWine, they discovered that they ended up with something completely different in terms of flavor and aroma.  What they did get was the “dangerously slammable”, mighty tasty Brown Shugga’ (10% ABV) that has been a hit with the brewery’s fans ever since.

The 2018 batch of Brown Shugga’ is out now and will be available through December.  You can expect to find this Limited Release brew available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois, Washington and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s nationwide distribution area.

Now that we have covered Brown Shugga’s history and release details, let’s crack open a few bottles and get all sweet on these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Brown Shugga’ from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Appearance:  Brown Shugga’ pours up a deep, red-hued copper in color while wearing over two fingers of rocky, tan-tinged foam.  When held to direct light, the copper softens a bit as dark amber tones push their way through.  The beer is pristine in clarity and displays an extremely exuberant carbonation presence.  Head retention is good, eventually falling to just under a finger of pillowy foam that leaves behind some serious sheets of lace on the glass.  Absolutely stunning to look at.

Aroma: Surprisingly, the first thing to hit the nose is a substantial waft of orange zest and pine from the hops.  Caramel, toasted grain and toffee then work their way in and are followed by a smooth note of molasses.  Sugary booze meets a refined, balancing hoppiness? We’ll have a sip of that fo sho.

Taste: The beer sneaks onto the palate with an unassuming biscuity malt presence that steadily builds to sweeter notes of caramel, toffee, brown sugar and molasses.  Lightly floral and citrus hop notes link up beautifully with the caramel and toffee to strike a nice level of balance.  Resiny pine notes turn up late to close out the flavor profile with even more hoppy goodness.

Mouthfeel:  Medium to full-bodied with a medium carbonation, Brown Shugga’ is nice and creamy on the palate, exceptionally smooth, and incredibly easy-drinking.  After a playful bout of push and pull, the sugary sweet notes and the citrusy/piney hops amicably decide to sprawl out together in a relaxed state of balance (not at all cloying, but not overly bitter either). Despite being slightly pronounced in the nose, the 10% ABV is pretty tame overall.  The aftertaste is all caramel and pine.

Final Thoughts:  Now that our glasses are all empty and discussions have been had, the best way we can describe Brown Shugga’ is that it comes across as an American-style Barleywine that strives for balance while maintaining enough of a hoppy bite to keep it from being allowed in the arena of the English Barleywine.  What do we mean by that? Well, it is an experience that features enough sweetness to live up to its name while that big American hop presence dials in the right amount of bitterness to find an inexplicable, almost miraculous level of balance.

Just like in the beer’s origin story where the brewers at Lagunitas ended up with something completely different than they expected, the same could happen to anyone who orders a pour of Brown Shugga’ . . . but in the best possible way.  The name creates certain sugar-filled expectations. The enthusiastic hops then turn up to offer a bit of a surprise.  The initial shock wears off as it all then comes together to form a uniquely balanced beer that is ridiculously drinkable for its size.  That uniqueness leaves a lasting impression from sip to sip, glass to glass, and year to year.  It always keeps you coming back for more, and that is why it is a classic.  Get you some Brown Shugga’ while you can.  Prost!

LagunitasBrownShuggaFeature2

 

Lagunitas Brewing Company Releases 2018 Batch of Brown Shugga’

Lagunitas_Brown_Shugga_171212_041430Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California) has announced that Brown Shugga’ will enjoy its annual “Sweet Release” from October to December 2018.

First created back in 1997, Brown Shugga’ is a Barleywine-style Ale that actually came into existence when the brewers at Lagunitas botched a batch of Olde GnarlyWine Ale and attempted to save it by adding “loads of brown sugar.” Although this quick fix made it so they were able to reach the same original gravity of GnarlyWine, they discovered that they ended up with something completely different in terms of flavor and aroma.  What they did get was the “dangerously slammable”, mighty tasty Brown Shugga’ (10% ABV) that has been a hit with the brewery’s fans ever since.

Brown Shugga’ officially returns this month and will hang around through December.  You can expect to find this Limited Release available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select beer-friendly retailers, bars and restaurants located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois, Washington and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s nationwide distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for Brown Shugga’ from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Release – Limited, October – December 2018
Style – American Barleywine
ABV – 10%
IBUs – 51.1
Special Ingredient – “Loads of brown sugar”
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles & draft
Beer Finder – https://lagunitas.com/beer-finder

Lagunitas Brewing Company Keeps Summer Alive with Release of Mozango

Lagunitas_Mozango_22oz_v1_currentLagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California) has announced that it will introduce Mozango, a Mosaic-hopped Ale with mango juice, in September as its next Limited Release offering.

Offered as one last tribute from the folks at Lagunitas to the summer of 2018, Mozango is a Fruit Beer/IPA-ish “juicy concoction chock-full of earthy-floral Mosaic and a pinch of citrus-piney Simcoe hops, topped off with loads of fresh mango juice.” Once this magical marriage of Mosaic and mango does its thing, Mozango (7.7% ABV) rises to deliver “a smooth and aromatic tropicalian punch, right to the kisser.”

Mozango will begin hitting shelves and taps in September and is expected to stick around through October 2018.  You can find this new Limited Release brew available in 22 oz. bottles and on draft at select beer-friendly retailers, bars and restaurants located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois, Washington and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for Mozango from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Release – Limited, September – October 2018
Style – Fruit Beer
ABV – 7.7%
IBUs – 49
Featured Hops – Mosaic
Added Ingredients – Fresh mango juice
Availability – 22 oz. bottles & draft
Beer Finder – https://lagunitas.com/beer-finder