Zwaanend'ale | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Liked This Beer
3.85 w/ 68 ratings

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States

Style: Bock

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by hopsaplenty on 04-25-2006

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 68 |  Reviews: 54
Photo of Phatz
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
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.

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Photo of brandoman63
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%

Photo of froggyfrog
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
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.

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Photo of Damian
4.49/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank from a 1 pt. 9.6 fl. oz. bottle acquired as a selection from Michael Jackson's Rare Beer Club
Bottled 4/14/06

Thanks to my friend James for treating me to this one.

Poured a clear, dark amber with a frothy, bubbly, off-white head that faded to a thick, lasting film. Sporadic streaks of lacing cascaded down the sides of the glass.

The aroma was outrageously sweet and fragrant. Rich, bready, caramel malts, honey and brown sugar came through strong.

The taste was a malty masterpiece from start to finish. Sweet, creamy malts, honey and brown sugar were apparent up front. A slightly sour, lemony flavor (possibly from the rye?) was noticeable mid-palate along with some white wine/grape notes. Raisins and mild spices also came out as the beer warmed. A slight alcohol kick was noticeable in the back of the mouth. At 8% ABV, however, the alcohol was quite well hidden. The finish was clean with absolutely no aftertaste.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied and fairly creamy. Velvety smooth and easy-drinking.

All in all, this was a very non-traditional take on a bock, but an excellent one at that. In many ways it reminded me more of a braggot. Some may find the sweetness overwhelming but I found it to be rather enjoyable. Kudos to Dogfish Head for succeeding with this unique offering.

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured Vom Fuss at the DogFish Head Ale House, to a big pint glass. Bright and clear orangesish amber liquid with good carbonation. A respectable 2 finger head that fades fast and leaves a nice lace.

The smell is very fruity with some rye bread.

The taste is strikingly peachy and sweet, some lightly toasted rye bread. Carmely notes and a very smooth, yet slightly dry, hopy finish. 8% ABV is expertly hidden behind a very interesting and well planner flavor profile.

Mouthfeel is very good, nice carbonation, a good medium to full body and a smart complex flavor profile. A very elegant and well crafted beer.

The drinkability is very high, big satisfaction from this fruity bock. A clear winner. Prosit und Zum Wohl! MK

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Photo of connecticutpoet
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
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.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I dont remember who sent this my way but thank you very much!

The beer was served in a Imperial Nonic.

Appearance: The beer poured a brillant clear ruby amber coloration. The head was a finger and half high with a creamy white head. The head slowly resolved itself into a ring of foam.

Smell: The beer has a very pleasing caramel maltyness wrapped around a spice ball. The beers aroma consist of honey, cloves, cinnamon, brown sugar, lots of caramel, nutty aromas, spicey apple fritters.

Taste: Man this is great stuff! The caramel wraps around a spiced honey toasted nuttyness. Between the spice and the alcohol this beer never nears the cloying range.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The beer is full bodied and lightly carbonated. The flavors meld together well. This is one fine easy to drink beer. Why? Oh why is this a one off?

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.44/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well I didn't know what to expect from Zwanneed ale, or whatever it's called. All I knew was that it had a goofy name, and a tag hanging on the shelf below it that said "sold only in DE" - and that had me sold! I think it was $9.

I paid it no attention when I opened and poured it, assuming that since it was from DFH it would be PDG (pretty damned good). But boyeee-boy, was I wrong! It's PDG... (pretty damned great)!

It poured a clear orange-amber-copper body beneath a finger-thick head of light tan foam. The nose was malty with a distinctly caramelish side. The head slowly dropped, but then left a nice, average-sized creamy collar and a smattering of creamy spots here and there about the glass. The nose pulled me in once again - oh so sweet!

In the mouth it was full bodied with just a light caress across the tongue from the moderate carbonation.

The flavor was an eye opener! Bam!..(to quote Emeril)... Maltiness! Caramel, rich and sweet with an underlying current of dark sugar and light spice (I don't know if that's from the rye or the alcohol, or both!), black raisins, and nuts (even cashews!). It's rich and sugary, and caramelish, and grainy, and doughy, and spicy and nutty and.... well, just one big ball of malty-caramel-spice with a mild fruity edge. Very nice!

The alcohol is very well hidden, although it does show midway; but it's also kind of sweet which tends to cover that. And, overall, for such a big beer with a sweet edge, I found it pretty well-balanced and far from cloying. I REALLY enjoyed it, and I hope to find it again so that I can buy whatever they have in stock. VERY NICE!!!

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Photo of OStrungT
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
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.

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Photo of jabocu
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was my first beer at the American Beer Festival '06 in Boston... since it was my first..and second :).. (thanks to a suggestion to go right for this one from a local), I was able to get a good tasting of it. First of all, this is a great beer, and from what I understand was supposed to be brewed close to how it was done 400 years ago.

Pours a copper slightly hazy color with nice head retention. Aroma was sweet and fruity. Not heavy fruits like figs or raisins, but almost light and tropical, or apples and pears maybe. There is some wheat and rye spiciness and cinnamon also. Flavor was nicely sweet, with a touch of biscuit and rye. The fruits come out nicely. Very smooth and refreshing flavor, I really wish they had this in bottle!!!!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +13%
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.

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Photo of CWiggins
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I acquired a bottle of this beer from a friend who recently visited the Dogfish Head brewery in Delaware. I gave her some money and told her to pick any item she deemed interesting, and she came back with three beers: the 120-Minute IPA, a bottle of Jin, and a 750ml bottle of Zwaanend'ale. The latter I knew absolutely nothing about, and so I waited until Thanksgiving to pop it open and serve it to friends at dinner. One month ago I visited the brewery and came back with several of their hard-to-find offerings, including a case of Zwaanend'ale. The first bottle of that case has just been opened, and I've decided to post my review based on this most recent tasting. (This evening, actually!)

I poured this beer into a Dogfish Head snifter and immediately notice the beautiful brown hue exhibited through the glass. No substantial head formed, just a sparse foam that lasted briefly. The aroma is mainly of a sugary sweetness and honey, with hints of dark malts and dried fruits. It's intriguing, to say the least.

I love the flavor of this beer. Being a fan of the Bock style, I noticed the similarities almost immediately, but also the differences: it has the inherent light sweetness of Bock beers, but the rye flavor keeps it from being too much. Also, the rye gives it a particular dark character that is most unusual. Nice hints of honey, fruit, and brown sugar, and the 8%ABV provides just the right amount of warming at the finish. There's very little bitterness here to speak off, which I suppose is typical of the Bock style.

The mouthfeel is big but not sticky. It lingers on the palate for just the right length of time.

I love this beer, and I'm really glad I purchased a case of twelve 750ml bottles, since this beer may not be produced again after 2006. (It was made in celebration of the 375th anniversary of the founding of Lewes, Delaware, a historic town halfway between the brewery and Rehoboth Beach, where the Dogfish Head Brewpub is located.)

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Photo of pershan
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
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.

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Photo of WesWes
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark amber color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich, malty scent that boasts of crystal, roasted, and rye malts. Its sweet with some roasted notes along with a mild spiciness that blends well with the alcohol aroma. The taste is delicious. It has a warm, malty flavor that goes down easy and finishes sweet with some roasted, spiciness. It's very rich, but drinks excellent. The mouthfeel is great. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is an exceptional beer. I really enjoyed the rye element in it. It rounds out the palate and adds character to an already solid beer.

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Photo of tuckevalastin
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 Bottle

A: Pours a dark amber color. Very translucent with a small head that doesn't last long.

S: Has a strong sweet malty aroma. Smells of dark fruit/raison with some honey and carmel type tones.

T: The taste follows where the smell left off. Again sweet malts dominate. Raisons, honeys, and some caramels are clearly noticable.

M: A medium bodied beer with little spice and not much heat. A pretty smooth beer.

D: The sweet malts are pretty strong but it is still rather drinkable.

Overall, this beer is pretty decent four years later. I never tried a fresh one so I can't speak for what the aging did but it's definetly one I drank pretty easily.


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Photo of ggaughan
4.12/5  rDev +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.

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Photo of WonderWoman
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a very dark golden yellow with a rim of head.
Smelled spicy and malty with notes of caramel.
Tasted of molasses and caramel with a sticky maltiness. Sort of reminded me of a barley wine.
The mouth feel was syrupy with highly carbonated bubbles.
I liked this beer. I’m finding the more I explore the more I like sweeter beers and this one did it for me.

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Photo of JohnnyM2002
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at the Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats. The beer is to commemorate the 375th anniversary of Lewes, Delaware, the first town in the first state.

It was definitely a lighter color than other Bock's...kind of a light copper. It smelled amazing - sweet, fruity, and spice; best aroma I've experienced to date. The taste matches very well - a very sweet, fruity beer with the spice aftertaste. The combination isn't too sweet's the perfect blend. Overall, it is a very drinkable beer. I picked up a bottle to take along with me and save it for later, but I think I'll be breaking it open pretty soon! Another A+ from DFH!

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Photo of vurt
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
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...

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Photo of illidurit
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to gunhaver for opening this bottle at the RBSG 08 Grand Tasting. Poured into a La Chouffe goblet. Dark orange color with a wet white head that leaves some lace chunks. Sweet caramel malt aroma with some tropical esters and raisin. Flavors of sweet stone fruit and caramel, a touch of spice, prune, and tobacco. Zero alcohol flavor, great drinkability. Another bizarre winner from DFH.

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Photo of ckeegan04
4.04/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of Zorro
4.02/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

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Photo of beerking1
4.02/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

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Photo of mendvicdog
4/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of ROGUE16
4/5  rDev +3.9%

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Zwaanend'ale from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 64.7% out of 100 with 68 ratings
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