Kvasir, Dogfish Head – An ancient ale brewed in modern times

Kvasir Label

Basic Beer Info:

  • Brewery: Dogfish Head
  • Beer: Kvasir
  • Batch: 2013
  • Beer type: Fruit/Vegetable Beer
  • ABV: 10%
  • Imbibition date: 11-19-13
  • Temperature: 49° F
  • Serving type: Poured from 750ml bottle into a shitty, extended stay hotel glass
  • Price: $12.99/750ml (Giant Eagle, Cranberry Township, PA)

Dogfish Head has brewed what they call an “ancient ale” which is based on a red winter wheat that’s been combined with lingonberries, cranberries, honey and birch syrup.

I’m not sure what birch syrup is either.

Dogfish Head states on their website that the recipe for this beer was developed with the help of chemical analysis of botanical and pollen based organic material. This organic material was taken from a 3,500 year old Danish drinking pitcher that had been buried in the tomb of an unknown female. Apparently this analysis was able to suggest an ingredient list (with what degree of certainty, I am not sure). Basically, Dogfish Head went and brewed a darker/red wheat beer and added these ingredients. The result isn’t nearly as bad as it might seem at first, even if it does sound a bit contrived.

Appearance: 4.0/5

The beer, er I guess they call it “grog” in some of the marketing, pours a nice reddish-straw color. The beer is transparent, a nice change from my usual motor oil. There is more head than I expected, probably a good 1.25 to 1.5 fingers of a nice beige colored topping that lasted for a minute or so before settling down into a thin lace film of fine bubbles over the entire top of the beer.

Aroma: 3.75/5

It starts out and remains extremely subtle in terms of aroma. I get, in order of appearance, a bit of tartness, a bit of candy sweetness, and the faintest odor of cereal grains. I thought at first that I simply opened the bottle without letting it come to temperature, but the light nose remained throughout the entire session. Very delicate indeed.

Taste: 3.5/5

Tough to call here, and I blame that more on my inexperience with this type of beer than the beer itself. I get an immediate tartness, which I attribute to the ligonberries or cranberries. I always struggle determining the “true” taste when I’ve research a beer ahead of time. Would I have called out the berries if I didn’t know they were there? In this case, I think yes. After the berries I taste a visceral, borderline unpleasant bitterness. As the beer comes up a couple of degrees I start to get a faint cereal grain flavor after those berries. These grains are not too far from the bready grain taste you get from something like a Fat Tire. I detect no boozy heat at all in the flavor. That fact alone impresses me a little. The beer is much more delicate than some of the bigger beers I’ve drunk, like Deth’s Tar, that had comparable ABVs but showed the alcohol heat much more.

Mouthfeel: 4/5

The mouthfeel is exactly what it needs to be. It isn’t totally thin and watery, it isn’t chewy. It coats the mouth, maybe a bit slippery, and that’s it. Outstanding.

Label:

I enjoyed the label. It was good enough that it drew me in and made me research it at home before I came back and bought a bottle.

Overall: 3.5/5

It’s good and I always enjoy trying something new, especially something as original as this beer is. I’ll admit that it grew on me over the course of the session. I did not like it initially, at all, but as it warmed a bit I started to enjoy it further. I’m not sure that I will buy it again but I will recommend it to others for a taste.

Conclusion:

Final Rating1: 3.63/5

aFR2:  

To see a list of all my beer reviews and ratings, check out the Summary of Beers Reviewed page.


  1. My final rating is a weighted average of the 5 component ratings. See the Beer Review Methodology Page

  2. The aFR (adjusted Final Rating) is my attempt at standardizing beer ratings across the increasingly vast pricing and container volume differences. It ranges from near 0 to near 25, the higher the number is the better the beer is in terms of quality and value. See the Beer Review Methodology Page

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