Zwaanend'ale | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

very good
68 Ratings
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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.

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Reviews: 54 | Ratings: 68
Photo of
3.1/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

750ml bottle. Bottled on 4/14/06

Clear amber color. Medium, light tan head which faded quite quickly. Nice legs, viscous appearance to fluid.

Aroma reminded me of grapes & honey. Then, it hit me, that it really smelled like a grape Jolly Rancher. This subsided some as it warmed. Began to pick up caramel, and really ripe cantaloupe.

Taste was very sweet, grape flavored cotton candy. Little, if any, bitter balance. Maybe just a touch of grassy/herbal character near the finish. Some caramel.

Medium bodied. Medium + carbonation. Not drying. Mouth coating sweetness, almost cloying.

OA, too sweet for me. Interesting, but not something I would try again.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.18/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I found this on tap at The Grey Lodge Public House.

This beer came a pale brown amber with a wide collar of creamy white.

Smelled of sweet potatoes, caramel and over-ripe green apples.

Tasted big and sticky sweet like caramel, candied apple and red licorice. The hops reminded me of the spiciness found in DFH’s Punkin’ Ale for some reason with a little nutmeg.

The mouth feel was medium bodied and vicious but silky with a light carbonation.

As far as style goes, this one’s a little confusing. Regardless of style, it was too sweet for me.

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Photo of jackorain
3.22/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a wine glass.

A-Brown-amber, clear. 1/2 inch head fell to near nothing in a few seconds.

S-Caramel malt sweetness, toffee, dried fruit, raisans. Rye spice

T-Very sweet. Toffee, caramel, spicy rye grains, alcohol zing

M-medium body, alcohol zing and a tingle from the rye. Carbonation is weak

D-I didn't love this, I probably won't be seeking out again.

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Photo of mobud
3.32/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into pint glass from bottle.

A- Amber color with light head that goes quickly.

S- The smell that I really noticed was the muted malts. This beer has a rye base, but it really is not in the nose.

T- Great Malty sweetness with an alcohol rye finish.

M- Very full feel with a sweet candy coating in your mouth after.

D- Nice to try, but not high on my list to ever have again. This is the second time I have tried this beer and my impressions did not change over time.

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Photo of akorsak
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.

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Photo of Jacobob10
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.

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

*did not mind would not buy*

app: dullish copper not much head.

smell: dark fruits warm sweet brown sugar. nice

taste: easy going, simple, dark, sweet.. but not to sweet. good flavor, nothing to balance it out, but easy going.

mf: bit coating after a few gulps, maybe a bit to flat.

drinkable?: gits a bit thick

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very excited to try this ale. I had been trying to track this one down for ages it seemed like. Dogfish is not available in SC and was only available in NC after this was brewed. So it was up to trading, which I was lucky enough to score. Big bottle with an awesome label promoting the 375th anniversary.

A little history for this one, In 1631, a handful of Dutch adventurers, led by David Petersen DeVries, set foot upon the sandy soil, now known as Lewes, Delaware - where the land was flat and the air, sweet with salt. They proclaimed it Swanendael, or “Swan Valley,” the first settlement established in the New World. Over the course of generations, stalwart souls in the area would endure territorial disputes, invasions, and burnings. They would have seafaring marauders pilfer their possessions and British military forces destroy their peace.

Nearly five generations would pass from the founding of this first colonial settlement, also known as Zwaanendael, until the maturation of an independent governing body, capable of ratifying the constitution. Such bold perseverence deserves recognition - Zwaanendael, for its significance as the first settlement, and Delaware, for its prominence as the first state.

In celebration of the 375th anniversary of the Zwaanendael settlement, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery of Milton, Delaware, USA, has designed Zwaanend’ale, a rye bock based on vintage recipes of Dutch heritage.

Dense loaves of rye and pumpernickel are traditional fare in the Dutch diet, so Dogfish Head has carefully selected a strain of rye grain from the United Kingdom for this very special anniversary ale. Pils malt makes up the base, with rye comprising 5% of the grist. The rye adds a zesty spiciness. Organic wildflower honey intensifies the sweetness of the rich malt profile.

Awesome to have a beer with such a back story, so now let u see what it tastes like...

A - Poured a somewhat hazy honey tinged brown. A nice almost wooden lacquer like color. Had a decided mead like color to it. Small maybe an inch head faded quickly and left really nothing behind but a thin topper of lace. Lots of carbonation streaming up from the bottom made it look very lively. Not very much side glass lace.

S - Aroma was very very light, almost too light that it was hard to pick up anything really strong or dominating. Some light grapes and a touch of something sweet, cane sugar or caramel maybe. Some earthy type of hop maybe in the back, but overall was really hard to pick up anything too specific, just not enough punch to it.

T - This was an odd one. It was like a cross between a light wine and a brown ale would be the best way to try and categorize it. A very fruity grape like finish to it. initial taste was somewhat bitter and grainey. It taste kinda like an old style, like the meads would be a perfect example. Some yeast and some very nice tones of grain but that was it, not very strong in flavor either. No hint of alcohol what so ever.

M - Very smooth, almost a little slick, but nothing bad in anyway. Just a little bit syrupy for me. It was a little flat and could have benefitted from some more carbonation. to really give it some pop.

D - Pretty decent overall, however it was just rather bland. I had no problem polishing off the 750ml by mself, but with it being as syrup like as it was it would be hard for me to really have anymore then that,

Overall I have to say I was kinda dissapointed by this. I thought it would have been alot better then it was. It just did not have any real kick to it. And came off with a rather bland taste overall. Really needed a little extra something to put it over the top. Still a pretty decent novelty beer and if you can get one a nice one to have under your belt to say you tried it.

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Photo of hopsaplenty
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750ml brown bottle, bottled on 4/14/06. According to the label, this is an old Dutch-style Rye Bockbier brewed with honey.

Bronzed copper. Thick, sticky head of fine off white bubbles that leaves fat bands of lacing. Sweet, clean aroma with rich malt and a slightly spicy hop note. The taste is thick with sugary malt and just a hint of gentle hop spice. Caramel and butterscotch are prominent along with a modest alcohol component that comes through in the finish. Finishes sweet and tacky and a touch warming from the alcohol. I did not pick up any distinct honey notes other than the sweetness. The body is medium-full and has a heavy, slightly cloying mouthfeel which may have been helped by bumping up the carbonation. This was a bit heavy and overly sweet which hurts its drinkability and would have benefited from just a touch more spicy hops. Happy 375th Lewes, the original home of the DFH brewery!

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Photo of Callenak
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle acquired in a trade.

Pours light for a bock. A clear, deep caramel color with light, quickly receding head. Smell is of course malt forward with a hint of honey. A hint of fruitiness but mostly caramel from the malt.

Taste is very sweet and syrupy. Taste of raisins. Not much in the hops department. Probably fair for the style. Maybe a little honey in the taste too. Full mouth feel.

All in all, a decent beer. Nothing I would go out of my way to try again. Still waiting for a DFH beer to really impress me.

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Photo of mentor
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.

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Photo of Imstillthegman
3.48/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Descibed by DFH as a "Dutch-style Rye Bokbier brewed with honey". Pours a nice clear amber with about an inch of off-white head that reduces to just a ring in about two minutes or so. Smell the rye...sweet and sour. Some honey and grass as well. Alcohol is present in the aroma. Rye bread first hits the tastebuds before the malts come through. Some sweet undertones. Slighlty sour on the back of the tongue. Mouthfeel is smooth and bubbly. Just a hit of alcohol tingle on the finish. Drinkability is average for me, but others may like the style more than I do.

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Photo of lou91
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.

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

Acquired via trade from mymrnngjckt, so a big Thank You goes out to him. Poured from a 750ml bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a deep amber color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is sweet and malty with caramel, honey, brown sugar and spices. There's a touch of hops in the background as well.

T: The taste is likewise very sweet with flavors of honey, brown sugar and caramel up front along with a mild alcohol sting. The malt character is hearty but not too heavy. There's a decent hops presence that provides some balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry but slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, slightly filling, good kick, nice representation of style while still being a little different which is the norm for a DFH beer (and especially their one-off releases), it's a good beer, but it's not one that I could see myself drinking more than one bottle of, nor could I see myself selecting it over too many other beers.

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Photo of rdickey
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.

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Photo of bjohnson
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.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
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.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice-somewhat pale chestnut color-had to work to get any head out of it whether it was tilt the glass or raise the bottle sort of thing. Moderate aroma-caramel graininess with a faint alcohol smell. Syrupy sort of flavor-nice mellow bread quality. Sweet, malty overall. The alcohol comes thru a bit more then I would expect at only 8%. Might be me. Damn good body. Very (almost too) drinkable. For its minor faults its a very good beer. Maybe a tad too sweet.

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Photo of DogFood11
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.

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Photo of Gasp100
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.

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Photo of Patrick999
3.74/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This is probably past its prime, but they'll never produce it again, so what the hell....why not try it and give it a review? Bottled in 2006.

A - Poured into a goblet. Looked a little devoid of carbonation at first, but rallied late in the pour to muster a decent cap. Didn't retain so well, though. Slightly hazy reddish-gold, more red than gold.

S - I make a point to record my first impression upon opening a bottle, and when I sniffed, my first thought was "raisin." Pouring did nothing to dispel that thought. I don't know whether it's due to age or not, but it has taken on that rum raisin vinous aroma found in some of the DFH big beers. It's a good smell.

T - I could swear I've had this beer before. Honeyed raisins...I'll be damned, is this Midas Touch? I do get some spicy hints of rye - the rye aspect of this beer was probably stronger fresh. Sweet honeyed malts carry the day here, completely blitzing the considerable 8% alcohol. Burps are really strong rum raisin.

F - Good, better than expected for a sweet beer like this, but then again DFH always does a good job of making their sweeter beers go down easier than they really should. Doesn't make my mouth feel as sticky as it probably should.

D - While I enjoy this beer, a full 750ml bottle is a bit much for me in one sitting. I now wish I had someone to share it with. This is a beer that could conceivably be served to people who think they don't like beer. Could go in lieu of a dessert wine, or be paired with a meal in its own right. Just not very sessionable.

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Photo of maltydog
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

on tap at the Point Brugge Cafe in Pittsburgh (one of these owner said they were pouring one of the 4 sixtels released into the Pittsburgh market.) served in a 10 oz. footed glass. Description on Dogfish Head website said that this is a old Dutch rye bokbier brewed with the addition of honey. Appearance was a light copper hue with a wispy off white head. Smell was very malty on the sweet side with notes of burnt sugar and almond. Taste was of upfront sweetness with residual alcohol from the honey. Also, had a sour element very reminscent of a flanders red. Finish was very dry and balanced out the up front sweetness very well. Mouthfeel was full and juicy with a slight pucker.

This is a beer that I feel priveledged to have come across on a Saturday afternoon craft brew pilgramage around Pittsburgh!

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Photo of jmatthew
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The appearance is a brownish-copper color with a small but sticky head leaving decent lacing on the glass. On the nose, there is a definite presence of rye bread, with spicy fruit in the background. The taste is dominated up front by the warmth of alcohol and sweet caramel, which as it subsides begins to reveal some spicy notes, candied fruit and a slightly dry hop finish. The rye doesn't make any distinct appearance in the taste save for a vague yeastiness, and I can't specifically detect a honey taste, just sweetness. A moderately full mouthfeel, although its intensity makes this beer only enjoyable in smaller quantities.

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Photo of Beertracker
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.

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Photo of metter98
3.82/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is hazy amber-brown in color and poured with a very thin head that quickly died down, leaving lacing on the surface and a thin ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are sweet aromas of malt and raisins in the nose.
T: The overall taste is quite malty with flavors of raisins sweet potatoes and hints of malty sweetness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and slightly syrupy on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The beer is well balanced for the style—possibly because the spiciness from the rye helps to prevent this beer from becoming overly sweet or cloying.

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Zwaanend'ale from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.86 out of 5 based on 68 ratings.
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