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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,048 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,048
Reviews: 1,766
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 70
Gots: 267 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Brewery visit their website
Delaware, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
A deep mahogany, Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins and Belgian-style yeast.

25 IBU

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-09-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,048 | Reviews: 1,766 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Caj1:
Photo of Caj1


3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

I had been wanting to try something from Dogfish Head for a while, and, not in the mood for a bitter IPA at the time, I went ahead and got a six-pack of these brews, party because I wanted a brown ale and partly because I was lured in by the claim on the package which said it was the American beer of the year for the year 2000. My experience below.

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, I ended up with about a finger of off-white head which foamed up and then dissipated in the span of about thirty seconds. What's left is some thin but persistent lacing. The beer itself is a nice dark copper/amber that is crystal clear with minimal carbonation. When held to the light it looks almost like strongly brewed iced tea.

With smelling I got an immediate whiff of grapes, somewhat reminiscent of a wine, which makes some sense since this is brewed with raisins. I also get some caramel and butterscotch and a little bit of malt, and the ghost of an earthy smell. The smell translates quite well to the palate; raisins are the first thing I taste, and after holding the beer in my mouth for a little bit I can taste alcohol just a bit, since this is a relatively high alcohol beer (8% ABV, wowzers.) After swallowing the flavor becomes more complex, leaving a nice caramel and just a tiny bit of chocolate, and also a nice hint of earth and bitterness from the hops. This beer definitely prefers to overpower the palate at first and then slowly reveal its character. Mouthfeel is nice, smooth and clean immediately, but after a few moments it foams up and becomes less smooth, while also burning a little bit from the alcohol and carbonation.

Overall this is a pretty nice beer, but I feel like they could have toned down the abject sweetness just a tad and it would have worked a little better; that raisin flavor is just too much to handle when it smacks you in mouth, but this beer is also a grower. I was very off-put on my first bottle, but after subsequent drinks I've come to like this a little more. I would drink it if offered, but probably won't be buying again. That said, I appreciate what the guys at Dogfish Head were trying to do; I just feel like they could have executed a little bit better.

07-02-2013 02:28:34 | More by Caj1
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

3.73/5  rDev +1.9%

Poured a deep copper color with slight head that was gone quickly,the aroma was complex almost meaty with slight sugary notes.Taste was somewhat fruity,like others i do pick up some grape-like flavors,with some sweet alcohol flavors rounding this one out.A very complex beer kinda hard to rate,I would try again,would love to find on tap.

06-14-2003 20:32:22 | More by oberon
Photo of Popsinc

Ontario (Canada)

3.4/5  rDev -7.1%

Appearance: 12oz bottle. Pours a very dark amber with a small head that fades down to a ring.

Smell: Sweet, malty nose is pretty much all i get here. Hints of brown sugar and molasses with syrupy undertones.

Taste: Nice hoppiness off the top accompanied by a trace of woodiness. The sweetness quickly appears and again is highlighted by brown/raw sugar and probably molasses. There is a hint of dark fruitiness but it is overshadowed by other flavours. Alcohol kick on the finish.

Mouthfeel: A moderatley lively beer with a dry fuzzy mouthfeel. The finish leans towrds the drier side.

Drinkablilty: I found this beer slightly better than average but not great. I think i will try it again down the road and see how my thoughts change.

08-27-2003 16:59:15 | More by Popsinc
Photo of RoyalT


3.9/5  rDev +6.6%

Appearance – Syrupy orangish-brown in color and very clear with little head. This one looks serious.

Smell – Big, beautiful BSDA aroma here. The dark yeast is very abundant and can be smelled from arm’s length away. The ripened fruits are full and complex. I can easily pick out cherries, apricots, some orange, and a little melon. There’s also a modest warning of alcohol to this one. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ABV was higher than advertised.

Taste – The fruits came out more in the taste. This was very nice but I would have liked to have seen a little more yeast at the tongue. This has an excellent flavor though, and the dark mark is still noticeable.

Mouthfeel – No carbonation and somewhat thin for a BSDA. I would have preferred something a little more lively.

Drinkability – Very drinkable example of the style. The emphasis on fruits and the rather strong alcohol taste didn’t bother me at all, but others may find it a bit too much.

12-25-2003 01:44:38 | More by RoyalT
Photo of DaPeculierDane


3.05/5  rDev -16.7%

This is another rather strange beer (I’ve had a bit of a run of them lately). It’s not quite dark enough and certainly not lively enough on the carbonation/head end of things for my tastes. I will admit, however, that it is rather drinkable considering the ABV.

The aromas are gummy or syrupy and consist mostly of caramel, raisons, and orange peal. The taste reflects this. It’s also quite sweet giving it a rummy sort of mouth feel. By that I mean that the feel is a rough blend of sugar cane and alcohol.

Not terribly great but not bad either.

One note, I purchased a six pack of this six months ago and at the time, I cared even less for the beer then I do now. My taste buds may be playing a trick on me but the drinkability seems to have gone up considerably with the brief aging period as has the orange in the nose…or maybe I’m just more in the mood for this sort of beer this week. Who knows?

11-16-2005 00:27:19 | More by DaPeculierDane
Photo of DanGeo


4/5  rDev +9.3%

05-30-2013 03:35:00 | More by DanGeo
Photo of Fear4Beer


3.29/5  rDev -10.1%

Its too sugary for me and I usually like sweet things. I love me some dogfish head but the taste could have used a little less sugar. The alcohol is pretty well masked by the flavor. You will feel the 8% hit you after you finish your beer. :)

My reviews are more mental notes for me. I don't really care about smells, appearance, etc. Just the overall taste.

08-10-2013 02:26:20 | More by Fear4Beer
Photo of tectactoe


3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

09-16-2012 19:07:51 | More by tectactoe
Photo of Altair

4.25/5  rDev +16.1%

03-22-2012 00:48:03 | More by Altair
Photo of TCHopCraver


3.05/5  rDev -16.7%

Split a 12 oz. bottle. Reviewed from notes on 3/20/10. Date bottled is 12/4/09.

A: Poured into an oversized wine glass. Had a ruby-mahogany color with a 1 finger head, which retains pretty well. Small, dotty lacing which was accompanied by a viscous film on the glass. I thought this was a very attractive beer.

S: A very interesting combination of scents bombarded my nose. There was a funky-yeasty component, a zesty, coriander, pepper smell, along with some sweeter aromas- raisin, brown sugar, and some plum notes. It actually smells pretty boozy. I would've guessed it was higher than 8%, actually. A bizarre and complex smelling beer, to be sure.

T: Whoa, not really like the smell at all, in a pretty disappointing manner. All of the exciting hints from the aroma are pushed way to the background and the overwhelming flavor is a mineral-wateriness. The coriander and pepper are a relatively prominent player, but that coppery-water taste is just dominating my mouth. The finish is astrigent and coppery.

M: Starts with good carbonation and a decent medium weight, but it ends with a thin, watery feel that is not desirable.

D: No thanks, I will not have another (and I only had half of one). The copper astringency is just too much for my palate to handle. Maybe aging would help this, but I will look elsewhere for examples of this style. I will say this: If the taste had lived up to the smell, I would have given this much higher marks.

03-24-2010 17:33:54 | More by TCHopCraver
Photo of MadScientist

New York

3.83/5  rDev +4.6%

A: A medium-dark copper with good clarity. The head is tan and thin, the ring of bubbles around the glass last but the rest dissipates. There is some lacing on the glass that quickly slides down back into the beer.

S: Green raisin and alcohol are the first scents to hit your nose along with a Belgian yeast pepper aroma and malt sweetness. The fruitiness is moderately-strong with moderate alcohol, yeast and malt aromas. There is a little graininess to the malt in the background. no perceived hop aroma.

T: A moderately light malt sweetness and hops bitterness with some of the moderate alcohol balancing the sweetness. The balance ends ups slightly towards the bitter. There is a light raisin and plum flavor with moderately-light peppery notes and a light alcohol sweetness. The finish is medium and the aftertaste is of sweetness and fruity flavors.

M: Medium-full bodied with a moderately-strong carbonation and some alcohol warmth.

O: The fruit component is a bit lighter than you'd expect both from being brewed with raisin and for a Dark Strong although the brew calls it a Belgian Brown. When I think if this as a Dark Strong it seems disappointing thin on the flavors and note fruity enough but when I think of a Brown brewed with Belgian yeast this all makes sense as is fairly enjoyable which is how I scored it.

12-29-2012 01:34:25 | More by MadScientist
Photo of brownbeer


3.7/5  rDev +1.1%

It's a deep amber beer with a reluctant off-white head. Minimal bubbles rising up. Sweet raisin, fig, and caramel nose, with a sort of fruitcake belgiany feel going on as well. The body and taste of this beer is quite week. A warmer, creamier body would do worlds of good for this. The finish is pretty good. It's got a toasty caramel and smoke note. I won't be jumping out of any airplanes to try this again.

07-31-2010 03:02:38 | More by brownbeer
Photo of Tiernan


4.25/5  rDev +16.1%

02-01-2013 23:20:55 | More by Tiernan
Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy


4.38/5  rDev +19.7%

pours a deep rusty brown/orange with little head.
The sweet malt and alcohol are immediately apparent. Sweet dried fruit and yeast notes underly the malt fragrance.

Well balanced, belgian strong, nice hop finishing the sweet crisp malt flavors. The dried fruit and yeastiness are nice and were a little underplayed in the aroma.

Well bodied brew neither thick nor thin, with a clean finish. Very crisp and refresing. A nice represenation of a style that I usually find too sweet and slick on the pallet.

01-01-2012 21:29:08 | More by ArrogantDeadGuy
Photo of wesbrownyeah


3.4/5  rDev -7.1%

Dogfish Raison D'etre... fancy name with 8% alcohol.

A- Pours a brown amber colored fluid with small to none head that leaves a touch of floating froth.

S- Nothing to impressive just a little dark roasted malts, light raisons and alcohol esters. Also sweet brown sugar can be noted.

T-M- First taste to come to mind is a thick metallic flavor that lingers on the tounge. After the harsh metals are gone comes a mild toasted carmel malt flavor followed by a warming alcohol bite. Leaves a herbal tint on the tongue. Mouthfeel is good with little carbonation to even out the heavy flavor this one packs.

D- Not a bad beer overall just not balanced enough to enjoy more than one.

10-08-2009 23:07:47 | More by wesbrownyeah
Photo of Shakerman


2.5/5  rDev -31.7%

02-19-2012 02:20:45 | More by Shakerman
Photo of sprestridge


3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

12-06-2013 04:20:56 | More by sprestridge
Photo of Kidvicious

New Jersey

2/5  rDev -45.4%

01-22-2012 20:31:06 | More by Kidvicious
Photo of Chuggnutt


3.88/5  rDev +6%

Appearance: Deep amber, dark woodgrain red. Not much head. Red edges. Clear.

Smell: Rich and sweet—plummy, fruity—dark fruit (the raisins...). Belgian candy sugar. Maybe cotton candy. Brandy-ish, almost a cognac character.

Taste: Sweet with Belgian candy (sugar) character. Strong alcohol, reminiscent of a barleywine. Definitely a "dark vegetable" character (maybe it's subliminal from the "beet" reference on the label). Rich with dark fruits—plum, date, black cherry. Definitely Belgian. Flossy and candy-ish.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, a little effervescent, a bit of bite from the alcohol. You want to roll it around the tongue, it has that character.

Overall: Very good, a little different. Lots of fruit and candy sugars make this a sipping ale.

02-28-2007 07:15:31 | More by Chuggnutt
Photo of JacobMutberg


3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

10-09-2012 16:18:29 | More by JacobMutberg
Photo of SIRIUS2

North Carolina

3.83/5  rDev +4.6%

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Mahogany brown, clear, with a light foaming head. Moderate head retention and no lacing to speak of. The head reduced to an uneven fat ring of bubbles that stayed with the drink.

S: Subtle but complex. Some nice aromas of fruit, perhaps dates or figs, and some malty undertones that matched nicely with it. Nothing overwhelming that stood out on its own, just a light subtle understated aroma.

T: A rather light flavored brew for the weight and color. The tastes mingle well and are very balanced, almost too balanced as nothing stands out to give it a specific character. Like the smell, the flavors are complex but subtle, which makes you keep looking for something in the flavor profile that you just know is there. The finish is quick and clean, with just the slightest linger of malt.

M&D: Looking at this you would think you are about to embark on a rather heavy drink but in reality this comes off rather light. The carbonation is also light, and goes well with the rest of the personality of this brew. It's smooth drinking and sort of easy going in its own way. I liked it, but there isn't anything that jumps out at me and screams "this is great!" I would drink it again though.

04-10-2008 00:02:26 | More by SIRIUS2
Photo of BubalooBrewMaster


3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

12-17-2013 08:09:40 | More by BubalooBrewMaster
Photo of JMD71


4.22/5  rDev +15.3%

Appearance: Poured a deep brown, date-like color. No apparent head. Carbonation visible on sides of the glass.

Smell: Earthy, malty, fruity smell with traces of dates, prunes, figs & raisins. Slight mild alcohol aroma detected.

Taste: Wow! This has a deep, rich flavor that is wonderfully sweet, but not overly so. Tons of fruit on the palate - again raisins, dates, & figs. Alcohol apparent in the finish. Very little hop flavor detected.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth in the mouth. Full bodied & rich, but not cloying. Finished clean once swallowed.

Drinkability: This is a wonderful sipping Belgian Strong Dark Ale. A good beer as an apertif perhaps or to accompany a dessert possibly. Not something you'd have more than one of in a sitting due to its rich, strong flavor, but wonderful to enjoy as an occasional selection.

Comments: I thoroughly enjoyed this ale. Really wonderful aroma & flavor. Excellent beer for those times you are looking for something to sip slowly rather than for thirst quenching. The care that went into the presentation of aroma & flavor deserves to be savored....

03-23-2006 17:03:07 | More by JMD71
Photo of Scott414

New York

4.2/5  rDev +14.8%

Beer was much darker than I anticipated however, not overwhelming malt characteristics. I could not really detect any of the green raisin flavor. Overall, it was a beer that I tried on a whim and I really enjoyed it. Dogfish always manages to make unique styles that I am always willing to indulge in.

11-02-2010 03:42:05 | More by Scott414
Photo of orbitalr0x


4.1/5  rDev +12%

A nice deep clear bright amber red pour with a small, kinda thin bubbly head on top. Some sticky lacing makes an appearance. Big sweet candied fruit nose with hints of caramel, nutmeg, yeast and raisins. Interesting and a bit confounding.

First sip brings a sweet caramel candy maltiness along with a definite raisin flavor and a good Belgian yeast character. Alcohol makes itself known on the way down. Brown sugar, nutmeg and dark, sugary fruits are noticed. Quite enjoyable with an big flavor profile that keeps things interesting.

Medium bodied with a mellow carbonation and a bit of oily slickness. Goes down easy and I find it to be an enjoyable brew. I could see grabbing a sixer of this again in the future.

04-14-2005 01:47:54 | More by orbitalr0x
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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,048 ratings.