Beer Preview: Lagunitas Sparkling Swan

Beer Preview: Lagunitas Sparkling Swan
Lagunitas Sparkling Swan Ale with Grapes. Photo © Mark McDermott

I may have noticed the next beer trend for 2018. Or maybe it’s just a holiday season trend. Something to take our minds of pumpkin spice.

This past weekend, I sampled a Sparkling Rosé Ale by Forbidden Root. Now I have a bottle of Sparkling Swan from Lagunitas Brewing Company, which was sent to me by the brewery’s PR office. Both beers are fermented with grapes to give a Champagne-style character. The idea is to have these beers in your cooler for holiday celebrations.

More specifically, Sparkling Swan, a “cousin” of sorts to their tart Black Swan, is described as “Brewed with red wine grapes and super bubbly like champagne, but with a gentle kiss of hops and light malt backbone like a balanced beer.”

So. The beer pours very purple with a fizzy grape soda head. Not quite the color of champagne. More like a grape juice with a bit of brown ale malt. The smell leads off with purple grape, but there’s also a side dish of aromatic malt.

The taste has the tang of a tart grape. Not quite sour, but not sweet. The mark of a fruit beer where sweet fruit has fermented, instead of being added afterward. The tartness is almost at the same level of the Black Swan, which comes mostly from lactobacillus in fermentation. It’s a milder 6.5% abv, and a low 22 IBU, so the bitterness is from the sour malt instead of hops. The tart takes a bit of consideration to get through, which means no one will be slamming it down.

Recommended for a main course, or dessert or other fruity dishes.

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    Mark McDermott

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