Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Bock - Traditional
3.86 | pDev: 10.36%
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Notes: Brewed to commemorate the 375th Anniversary Celebration for the first town (Lewes) in the first state (Delaware), this is an old Dutch-style Rye Bokbier brewed with honey.
Reviews: 54 | Ratings: 69 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by dgherm:
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dgherm from Pennsylvania

3.75/5  rDev -2.8%

Aug 02, 2013
More User Reviews:
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mentor from Colorado

3.41/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to foolcircle for providing this one as part of BIF33. Thanks a million for the opportunity! Hard pour earns an accidental two finger head that crackled and quickly settled to a half-finger of clingy head. Nearly clear and richly orange. Orange-golden that's sort of reddish. Smells caramel malty and orangish hoppy. Cidery fermented honey. A bit of dry grassy that could be hops.

Tastes fermented honey on top of a caramel that bursts through. Red apples and light DME powder. Sweet cherries, like the syrup from a jar of cherries that lacks any cherry sour. Thick dextrinous mouthfeel and modest carbonation. Finish is wet and sticky on the front of the tongue.keeps the malt sweet hanging around. A touch of alcohol starts off the aftertaste. Enjoyable. Not complex and not particularly drinkable. If sticky sweet is not a beer you like, then stay away from this one.

Jun 25, 2006
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akorsak from Pennsylvania

3.33/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a pint of Zwaanend'ale served at the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg, MD.

Appearance: The ale is a hazy yellow-orange color with a small ring of head.

Smell: There is a strong malt aroma here but not much else.

Taste: The taste gets a little dicey. Some of the flavors come across as slightly metallic (say bad lines, maybe?). The alcohol is well hidden, unfortunately so is the rye that I was hoping to taste.

Mouthfeel: The ale sits a little uncomfortably on the palate.

Drinkability: This is not the first DFH brew that I'd turn too.

Jul 25, 2006
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uturn from Florida

3.75/5  rDev -2.8%

Jan 16, 2013
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Gasp100 from Delaware

3.71/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours a deep, clear copper with crimson hues and soft, sticky lacing down the glass. This is a really, really nice color - think Autumn.
The smell is of gingerbread, carmel, sweet fruits and cinamon. The taste is really sweet and there is a lot of depth. I don't detect much in the hop department, but a lot of carmel and biscuit from heavy malts. It's almost a little syrupy for my tastes without a crisp finish.
The mouthfeel is thick and a little cloying but very smooth with a slight bitter twinge in the after taste.
The drinkability is a little low on this because of the sweet, estery profile and syrup-like taste and mouthfeel. A bomber is perfect for this sample - this is not a session beer (although it hides to 8% nicely) but it pretty complex and worth a try.

Sep 09, 2006
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lou91 from California

3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I think DFH makes good beers and aside from the WWS and Festiva Lente I have not blow away by there lineup. This is another example of a good but not great beer. All the right ingredients, look and tastes- maybe a bit too sweet. Malty, sweet with a long caramel aftertaste. Worth a try but I hope this is not big bucks.

Oct 25, 2006
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deejaydan from Michigan

3.96/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours pale for a bock, but a thick head is there to support. Aroma is slight. Clean, not much there. Taste is malt and alcohol forward. Heavy on the munich malt, mouthfeel is fairly thick. I'm surprised to see the hops as subdued as they are in here, after all, this is a DFH beer. It's a nice beer, but it's not outstanding.

Jul 18, 2006
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BuckeyeNation from Iowa

4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lacquered kumquat with multiple streams of fine carbonation contributing to a softly frothy cap that looks like a wedge of lemon mousse. Abstract splotches of sudsy lace look very nice on the glass above. I'm impressed so far.

Zwaanend'ale is described on the label as a 'neo-traditional' offering (actually, that describes most Dogfish Head beer). The nose, however, is that of a traditional bock. I can't be sure that I appreciate the honey and dates per se, but this 'Dutch Rye Bock' smells sweet and malty and fruity... and wonderful.

It tastes even more wonderful. The honey is now obvious and adds a sweetness that could not have come solely from malt sugars. I'm sure the dates (also appreciated) add sugars of their own. I didn't expect this to be a dessert beer, but it's definitely sweet enough to be just that.

In my opinion, rye malt is the ingredient that makes Zwaanend'ale work as well as it does. It adds a spiciness and a complexity that most bocks lack (yes, in my opinion). Listen up craft brewers of America... give us more big rye beer! The contrast between sweet and spicy is some kind of delicious.

The flavor profile consists of butter toffee, pureed dates, buckwheat honey and shaved orange peel. This is one time when I'm happy that Sam went all neo-traditional on my ass. All that extra stuff makes for a much better 'bokbier' that the traditional recipes can manage. The alcohol is even expertly masked; not alway a given with this brewery.

If you like medium-bodied beer that is also lightly syrupy, then the mouthfeel will be right up your alley. I do and it's up mine (alley that is). It seems that corn is the secret ingredient that was added to lighten things up a little and keep the beer breezily, easily drinkable. Mission accomplished. The mouthfeel has that telltale lagery smoothness with a nicely rounded beginning, middle and end.

Zwaanend'ale is a beer pun on Zwaanendael (Old Dutch for 'Swan Dale'), a former colonial settlement near the Dogfish Head Brewery. Not only is it one of the best DFH brews that I've ever had, it's one of the best bocks that I've ever had. Too bad it was only brewed one time. Here's hoping that it becomes a seasonal at the very least. A big 'thank you' to lackenhauser for the bottle.

Jul 16, 2007
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Zorro from California

4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled due to the efforts of lackenhauser.

Pours a beautiful deeply copper colored beer with no real head formation.

Smell is slightly sweet with the clear and strong scent of rye in the nose. Lots of rye bread aroma and the pleasant sour snap that only rye has. Some fruity scents are present here too mostly raisins and nuts. There is a mild peppery smell here from the alcohol that is pleasant.

Taste is thick and rather syrup like with a good taste of raisins, nuts and rye at the beginning. Toffee and vanilla flavors kicks in after a while and the taste stays rather sweet. Faint rye after taste, hops don't do much here.

Mouthfeel is full.

Any OK beer to drink but this beer throws your senses quite a few curve balls. The idea of a rye bock beer is imaginative to say the least and it does confuse the taste buds a bit. This is certainly easy to drink and I don't think age will change this much so drink it up and don't save this Delaware commemorative beer.

Jun 05, 2006
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Jacobier10 from New Jersey

3.37/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Acquired at the Belgium Comes to Cooperstown 2007 festival at Brewery Ommegang from a very generous DFH employee.

Poured into a snifter, the color is light brown with a thin, bubbly white head. Not much head retention, but reappeared with a little swirl. The aroma was very sweet. Lots of caramel. The taste was even sweeter. Very malty and slightly boozy. Carbonation was low and the alcohol was definitely noticable as the beer was a bit "hot" in my mouth. Decent flavor, but could probably benefit from a little more carbonation.

Oct 08, 2007
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beerking1 from Virginia

4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottling date 4/14/06, stored in my cellar and refrigerator since early 2007. The beer is called an "ale," but the label says it is a "bok," which is a lager style. Pours clear medium orange-amber, with an off-white head that fades fairly fast, leaving a decent lace. Aroma is alcohol, crystal malt, and some spicy rye character. Big bodied beer, with flavors of rye, sweet malt, some figs, and alcoholic notes.

Dec 30, 2007
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Beertracker from Oklahoma

3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dogfish Head's Zwaanend'ale was brewed to commemorate the 375th Anniversary Celebration of Lewes, Delaware. According to the brewery this is an old Dutch-style Rye Bokbier brewed with honey. This special anniversary Bock pours up with ample carbonation that creates a long standing & stable creamish white head with loose bubbles that prominently stands atop a deep amber-gamboge orange body. The honeyish nose displays some rich toasted maltiness that's reminiscent of freshly baked sourdough rye bread with wisps of dried fruits (e.g. apricots, mangos, pawpaws, etc...), spicy hops, and grain alcohol. Maybe just a hint of dusty oxidation? The satisfying flavor is dominated by a sweet doughy maltiness with some caramel & honey notes (e.g. Baklava) along with a pleasant nuttiness (e.g. roasted & salted pistachios) that's marked by just a touch of spicy (e.g. caraway seed, cumin) bitterness. The slightly salty/mineral like finish is a touch heavy, but there's sufficient bitterness, alcoholic complexity, and some dryness from the rye to keep it from becoming overly cloying. This finely crafted specialty Bock from Dogfish shows just how diverse this brewery can be and comes highly recommended if you have a bottle hidden in your cellar. If not, definitely trade or track one down! My suggested food pairing is Apfel-Currywurst und Pommes Frites (sliced & browned Bratwursts smothered with sautéd sweet Vidalia onions, honey-pepper bacon bits, and Granny Smith apples covered in a spicy curry sauce served over French fried Yukon Gold potatoes served in a thick bowl with buttered slices of freshly baked sourdough rye bread. Here's to the first state in the Union!

PROST! Beertracker

*Taster's Note: Special thanks to travisd13 for the bottle.

Feb 06, 2008
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vurt from Oregon

4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed at Lucky Baldwin's (Pasadena, CA) on the 2nd night of their 8th Belgian Beer Festival, in the official Festival glassware (a Piraat snifter).

I suppose it was a good thing to show up on the 2nd day after all. As soon as I spotted this bottle in the fridge, I had to have it. I'm sorry to hear this is a one-off brew; it's delicious.

A- Gorgeous orange amber color, with extremely fine carbonation which forms a dense off-white head. Lace forms readily, but slides back down into the head rather than clinging to the glass.

S- Tons of malt and honey. Very sweet. There's a bit of apple skin fragrance in there too, and a spicy hint of fennel at the very end.

T- The nose tells you pretty much everything about this beer up front. The malt is fat and luscious, with a prominent honey flavor. What initially feels like tartness develops into a mouth-watering juicy fruit/"Swedish fish" flavor. The fennel flavor comes in at the very end. There must've been some hops in there somewhere, but they didn't have much to say. The lengthy finish lights up with some alcohol warmth.

M- The richness is beautifully balanced by the superb texture of the carbonation. "Silky" is much too weak a word. This beer is *velvety*.

D- It's been such a lovely beer up to this point that I almost don't want to admit that the sweetness gets to be a bit much by the end of the 25.6 oz. bottle. If it were available in a 4-pack of 12 oz. bottles, I'd buy it in bulk and hoard it greedily. And if I could somehow find another large bottle, I'd try my best to cellar it for a year and serve it at Thanksgiving. Mmmmm...

Feb 12, 2007
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DrJay from Texas

3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear medium amber with a thin beige head that showed a bit of lacing. Mild aroma with fruity notes and a dull maltiness. The flavour was balanced in favour of malt sweetness and it had a mild berry/fruity tartness that melded well with some spiciness. Green apples rounded out the finish. Creamy texture with some dryness. Pretty good overall with decent drinkability.

Jun 04, 2007
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OStrungT from California

4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a golden color, whit a thin white head. The head fades quickly, leaving minimal laces. Tiny bubbles rise from the bottom of the glass.

This beer has a sweet malty aroma. I can detect some fruity notes also. That is odd, but not bad. It has almost no hop aroma. What I can detect, smells like Saaz. Slightly peppery, whit some citrus zest.

This beer tastes exactly like it smells. It is sweet. It has a caramel malt flavor. Behind that, I taste a slight raisin flavor. The hop flavor is almost non existant. The ABV is well hidden in this beer.

This beer goes down smooth, leaving a sweet aftertaste. It is full bodied and sweet. It is carbonated to perfection.

This beer might make a good session beer, if it was available here.

Overall: Thanks ggaughan for giving me the chance to try this beer, as part of a great trade. Tomorrow, I will be sending you some more great beers. I hope you enjoy. Great beer.

Jan 08, 2007
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connecticutpoet from Connecticut

4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Obtained 4-20-09, in an in-person trade with AdamB84 at Julio's Liquors in Westborough MA. I got this, and he got a 2007 Sanctification. This was bottled 4-14-06. Just over 3 years old... gotta be good.

Opened with barely a hiss. Got a huge whiff of aroma (see notes later). Poured out a nice clear amber brew, with a half finger head that was rather noisy at first. It eventually subsided completely.

Aroma was VERY complex and multilayered. Dark fruits (mainly raisins and prunes), rum, rich strong malts, sweet, honey-like, brown sugar all blended together. Wow. And yet, despite all this, it still definitely had that distinctive bock smell. Although if I had to choose a style based on just the smell, I would have picked doppelbock.

Taste starts out with rich full malts, then some fruitiness. It was a little estery, with a little rye bite, and finished with a honey-biscuit sweetness. On the swallow, the alcohol made itself known.

Mouthfeel was full, rich, viscous but not oily, with some warming character from the alcohol. Somewhat chewy, but not overbearing.

Drinkability... damn I wish this wasn't retired. I could go through two bottles of this in one sitting and not flinch. VERY deceptively easy drinking.

Apr 22, 2009
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ChainGangGuy from Georgia

3.55/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear, deep amber body with a thin, fizzy white head.

Smell: Sweet, rich toffee and full notes of prunes. Slight hint of sherry.

Taste: Copious amounts of sugary sweetness with flavors of caramel and honey upfront. I'm not really getting much in the way of rye (or hops for that matter) More of the syrup-soaked prune and fig fruitiness. Slight sherry on the sweet, warming finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Syrupy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: A decisively sugary sweet beer, perhaps overly so.

Sep 02, 2007
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bjohnson from Massachusetts

3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Imstillthegman for this offering as part of the 120/190 BIF from awhile back. Poured into a Pilsner glass. Bottled 4/14/06.

A: Pours a clear ruby coppreish color with a frothy cream colored one finger head. Bubbles galore making their way to the top keeping that retention pretty nice.
S: Sweet honey notes coupled with a floral presence. Caramel comes into play, but the honey is still the biggest aroma. Thick sugary presence when you swirl the glass and take a whiff.
T/M: Starts of a bit sweet, but then it pulls a fast one on you. It's actually not as sweet as you thought. Honey notes are the most dominant with lacings of spice and a slight nuttiness. The rye shows itself with a spicyness and a sharp biting in the finish. Syrupy and thick in the mouth--full bodied and coating. Twang of booze appears but then recedes rather quickly.
D: An interesting beer to say the least. Malt notes, similar to the Liquor de Malt, are present in the aftertaste. Warms the chest, which is an inclination of the abv, although it isn't very high to begin with.

Jan 24, 2007
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froggyfrog from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on location. Upstairs at DFH Brewings & Eats, Rehoboth Beach, DE. Serving type: on-tap served in a pint glass.

The beer is called Zwaanend'ale, presumably after the whaling colony Zwaanendael established by Dutch captain David Pietersen De Vries in April 1631. (The area of Zwaanendael is present day Lewes, Delaware.)

A: Surprisingly bright, clear dark orange and red. Mine was headless.

S: Sugar cane and cinnamon.

T&M: Sweet apple juice. Heavy sticky raw sugar mouthfeel redolent of young Olde School. Tastes like warmed spiced Fuji apple cider and alcohol. The honey and the rye come together gracefully to create a beer that is smooth, sweet and dry all at once.

D: Very drinkable, smooth and warm.

May 17, 2006
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pershan from Maryland

4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured a clear, dark amber with a thin, almond head into a pint glass. The smell was of sweet malt and caramel - very nice. The taste was an excellent blend of caramel and sweet malt flavor, alcoholic esters, with a subdued hop bitterness at the finish. Nice carbonation and lacing, too. A top-notch high-gravity bock.

Aug 21, 2008
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ggaughan from Pennsylvania

4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted on the 4th of July with my cousin, bro and family. What a treat as I have been waiting to try this one for a few months now. The beer poured a clear coppish color with a thick nicely carbonated head and body. There was a nice fruity aroma to this one, light. The taste is also sweet and a bit syrupy but not overly. There is a good touch of honey and caramel that makes this bock enjoyable and fairly drinkable in my book.

Jul 07, 2006
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RWD1 from New York

3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Source: 750 ml capped bottle. No freshness date.

Appearance: Deep amber with an off-white half-finger head that dissipates rapidly.

Smell: Malty sweetness, with something else – dried fruit?

Taste: Very sweet… the honey comes through here, as well as more of the dried fruit taste.

Mouthfeel: Ok, but not great. Not enough crispness here to keep the sweet taste from being cloying.

Drinkability: Maybe I’m not in the right mood for this kind of beer, and perhaps this would pair well with a fruity dessert, but I find it hard to imagine drinking more than one of these.

Dec 23, 2006
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Phatz from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: This beer pours a transparent caramel color or copper. Very thick looking even in the pour with little carbonation it appears a bit syrupy from the start.

Smell: Fresh squeezed apple juice with a sprinkle of nutmeg. There is now bitterness whatsoever. This is a very sweet aroma.

Taste: Juicy Juicy Juicy. Malty and loaded with raw sugar (the classic DFH sugar element) this is a nice, easy sweet bock with a splash of vanilla and a slight sour twang, just enough to keep the sweet from becoming cloying.

Mouthfeel: Exceptionally smooth and a bit syrupy with a slick oiliness through the center.

Drinkability: What is not to like about this beer. Very tasty and very drinkable.

Hope this is helpful.

Jun 05, 2006
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DogFood11 from California

3.69/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750ml bottle poured into a tulip it forms an eggshell white head that falls to a thin cover. Lace is spotty and sliding. Copper body and minimal fine carbonation.

Very sweet in the nose and it translates to the taste. Caramel malts invade the palate only to be sweetened up again by a jolly rancher type backer. Citrus hops make an appearance quickly followed by some pumpkin pie character. It tries to have a sour edge towards the finish but the "juice" like sweetness takes over quickly. An oddball, in that I usually find beers with a similar makeup to be overly sweet. This one however, I find that the flavor profile is well put together even if a bit overly onesided.

Notes: I liked this offering. Dogfish head brews and my palate aren't a match made in heavan that is for certain, and this is an odd one that works for me. I can see this having very mixed reviews as its a polarized taste.

Jan 17, 2007
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brandoman63 from Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +16.6%

Nov 19, 2011
Zwaanend'ale from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 69 ratings