Swan Lake Gray Stout is a 5% stout from Hyouko Yashiki No Mori Brewery, based in Niigata. It’s part of their spring seasonal line up and can be found in both bottle and on tap across Japan. Why is it gray but appears to be black? Well Hyouko Yashiki No Mori Brewery decided to use a black stout base and then use Belgian white yeast (whatever that means as most yeasts are light coloured). For those that skipped art in school, like myself, when you mix black and white, you end up with grey/gray.
Swan Lake Gray Stout Aroma and Taste
I’ve been wanting to try Swan Lake Gray Stout for a while now, but at over ¥700 for a 330ml bottle, the cost put me off. I could get three Aooni IPAs for that price and be nicely relaxed. At Ikarashitei Yui in Niigata though, Swan Lake Gray Stout was only 950yen for a full US pint – a bit better but not much more. At least it’s on tap…
It come up pitch black with a tiny amount of amount of tan-coloured bubble that disappeared quickly, leaving an oily surface on top. Swan Lake Gray Stout had an interesting aroma of roasted coffee, liquorice, and chocolate but the Belgian funk from the yeast came barging through. The contrast of aromas was peculiar at first but it worked well, especially when Swan Lake Gray Stout had warmed up. Hints of cream came seeping in at room temperature and smelt like a creamy hot chocolate.
With so much going on in the nose, it was interesting in how the aromas transferred over to the body. The light body held the flavours together well, with chocolate and coffee coming through, along with the Belgian yeast producing a dry backbone to the beer. Some hints of fruit came through in the end but by that point I was too far gone and had ordered a second pint.
Swan Lake Gray Stout The Bottom Line
I would never have thought that a stout / Belgian yeast hybrid would work, but you know what? I liked Swan Lake Gray Stout and would happily order a pint of it again. Bottle? Perhaps now.