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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,203 Ratings

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Ratings: 4,203
Reviews: 1,770
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.03%
Wants: 87
Gots: 340 | FT: 5
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-09-2001

A deep mahogany, Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins and Belgian-style yeast.

25 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,203 | Reviews: 1,770 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ujsplace
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Hefewiezen glass...I just had it handy...

A: Burnt amber, not much head, but what is there is creamy whitish with ok lacing...

S: Sweet caramel malt, and woody oak, alcohol and some dark, overipened rasin-like fruits.

T: Caramel malt, rasins, burnt woodsy spice and a strong malt finish. Alchohol is definiely there, but not overdone.

M: Medium, mild carbonation dry alcoholic finish.

D: The abv and warming presence limits this to a nice, warmer, spicy drinking brew that can catch up rather quickly. Overall, another good offering from Dogfish Head...

Photo of Vancer
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Now this was a drinker, even with the 8% kicker. Just gotta slow down an sip for an afternoon while BBQing.

Nice start, amber oak pour with a clingy tan head – very good looking. Aroma was a tad thin, hints of rich malts with the good ol’ Belgium yeasts. Nice transfer into the tastes, although this was very sweet for the first bottle. The raisons seemed to provide a plum-like base.

Very slick and lingering in the mouth, the Belgium sugar candy turns into maple syrup at times. Again, a slow sipper.

Photo of boudreaux
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Coppery liquid with a slight haze and only a ring of foam on the edge of the glass.
S - strong with molasses and maple; a touch of sherry notes.
T - sweet up front, with a touch of spice on the back end; strong alcohol presence early but softens as beer warms; alcohol up front in the taste; also, caramel, raisins, anise and a little pepper; soft bitterness in the finish.
M - very long finish with a lot of alcohol warmth. Lush body and kind of creamy.
D - not something i could session, but drinking two in a sitting is doable

Not my absolute favorite beer, but definitely good. Can't quite put a finger on what's missing, but it's just not something I couldn't live without. Overall, a very fine brew.

Photo of aforbes10
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bought just a single bottle because i'd heard bad things about this beer and i didn't want to waste my money. but after having tried it, i can say that i thought it was quite tasty and worth my money after all. there's a lot of malty, choco-qualities in it and while i didnt really taste raisens, i did get some sort of sweet fruit taste that was nice. a very hearty, tasty beer that i can't find anything to really complain about.

Photo of erikm25
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a solid crispy brown. Maybe the slightest hint of dark amber tinting but overall mahogany as the bottle states. The head was minimal. Lacing and retention could have been better especially after an aggressive pour.

S: Definitely has some strong caramel hints. Hints of raisin and plums. Brown sugar sweetness in the back. Little tinge of alcohol but nothing overwhelming.

T: Caramel taste at the front though relatively light. Dark ripe raisins and dry roasted malts with a sharpened sugar finish. Pinch of buttery toffee. I picked up on a very subtle coffee taste with hints of chocolate. The nose and the taste almost match up perfectly. Not very complex but still very straight forward and nice.

M: Mouth feel is decent though a little more thin. Low carbonation.

D: Grabbed this on a whim for about $2.50 for a 12oz. I had once before and remember liking it a little more. A solid offering but DFH has many other offerings I would try again over this one. Figured it was a historic day thus making it as good of a day as any to have a beer.

Photo of SchmoTerp
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This staple of DFH pours a deep mahogany (as described on the bottle) with medium to low head. Not surprisingly, it smells and tastes strongly of raisons. It's fairly easy and smooth enough to drink with a good mouthfell, but I think drinking several of these would get old due to the raison taste - towards the end of the drink it started to taste more bitter than sweet.

I'd certainly recommend this one, but not something I'd get everyday.

Photo of clefoodandbrews
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a very dark brown with a thicker creamy head that left significant lacing for the first half of the drink.

The smell was full of sweet scents...Caramel Malt and Yeast mainly dominated the smell. This had me a little worried!

The initial flavors to hit you are sweet too. Dark sweet fruits, toffee and raisins coat your palate at first and continue during the drink. They are well balanced and not too overpowering as the nose might have suggested. The aftertaste is what surprised me. A slight hint of citrus hops came through to add a little bitterness that totally changed my opinion of this beer. Without this ending this beer would have been too sweet from start to finish for my taste, but with the added bitterness it made this a very well balanced and drinkable brew.
Mouthfeel was light as was carbonation.
I found this beer to be quiet drinkable. I could have seen myself easily sitting back and enjoying a few of these!

Photo of JMD
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a crystal clear deep copper color with small white head that fades quickly. Very little lacing.

S: Sweet malty aroma. Brown sugar, molasses and ripe dark fruit.

T: Same as the aroma, big sweet malty flavors. Brown sugar and molasses. Fruity notes as well with hints juicy prunes, raisins, and dark cherries. Very faint hops linger on the back end. Alcohol is well masked.

M: Full bodied and creamy. Robust with ample carbonation.

D: For me, this beer does alot of things right and a few things wrong. It's full bodied, bold flavored, but misses the mark on a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Enjoyable, but not my favorite offering from Dogfish head.

Photo of assurbanipaul
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark amber with a thin off-white head. Nose is fruity and pungent, strange sour musty aromas mixed with the usual malts and hops. No lacing but thick enough to coat the sides.

Taste is like a strong, strong red ale. Caramel malt character dominates but is rounded out with some sweet non-citrus fruity elements like raisins, grapes or figs. Traces of tea, light tobacco or even whiskey-soaked wood, although it doesn't taste of whiskey. In fact, there's not a trace of alcohol in the taste at all.

Medium mouthfeel, smooth and oily with little carbonation. Finishes clean with no unpleasant aftertaste. My palate doesn't quite know what to do with this but it isn't bad. Unsure of how it matches up with the style but impresses me as sort of a hybrid lambic, sitting halfway between a gueuze and a Corsendonk. I would be real curious to see how this ages. Many thanks to spiritdeus for sharing this curious brew.

Photo of burnstar
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a deep amber/red with niced thick white head that dissipates quickly. Aroma is very sweet, fruity, and a bit yeasty. Taste is extremely sweet initially with malt and fruit flavors. There is also a distinct tart flavor present and just a bit of bitterness in the finish. It is full bodied and somewhat syrupy. This beer is quite good but it's a bit too sweet for me to drink any more than a single bottle at once.

Photo of whiterabbit
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful colour, rich dark golden brown with hints of red and orange.

Nice aroma. Mild yet inviting. Sweet, banana and wine? Mellow, not very strong

Several layers of taste. First smooth, sweet, maybe fruity. Quickly tarts up. Wine, raisin, maybe some caramel.; then alcohol. no mistaking that. Starts smooth, but rather harsh finish'

Mouth feel changed at least three times, I like the complexity from sweet, to smooth, to sharp.;

Like this one. Different, strong, tasty and good. Not a big fan of this brewery, don't get the hype, as good, but not great, but this offering is a winner.

Photo of CMW
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep reddish/brown color with a foamy white head. The head disappears quick;y and leaves just some slight lacing.

S - Malty and boozy. There is also a mixture of dark fruits, syrup, and wood.

T - Heavy malt upfront that mixes with molasses and honey. Raisins, figs, and dates provide and muted sweetness. The alcohol is noticeable in the finish but not as boozy as I would have expected from the nose.

M - Carbonation is high and provides a little sting on the tongue.

D - DFH makes beers that you usually love or hate. This one is different for me as I see it as middle of the road. However, it is goof enough that I would like to drink more than one.

Photo of rievelx6
3.79/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Poured into a glass looks very similar to an amber lager but with a head that has slight yellow to it.

S- Scents of malt, with some darker fruits.

T- Darkly sweet, Cherries, dates, raisins, candi; tastes like the scent.

M- Medium body and medium carbonation

O- Overall this is an okay beer taste like it would be better with more aging.

Photo of far333
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark copper color with a beige foamy head that runs away quickly. Aroma is plentiful - sweet and rich, with malt, fruit and alcohol. Flavor likewise is rich and sweet. Tastes malty with hints of apricot and honey, and a bit of yeast. Mouthfeel is lacking. It's slick and watery with low carbonation. Drinkability is on the low side due to the overly sweet flavor and unappealing mouthfeel.

Photo of hotstuff
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This particular brew poured a small white head with small bubbles. The body was mahogany in color and there was no lacing on the sides of my glass. I sensed an aroma of raisins with this brew and the flavor had a hint of smoke. All in all, not a bad drink.

Photo of philbe311
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark redish amber... Transparent, but looks quite thick... Nice head...

S - Sugar w/ mild hops... A little underwhelming...

T - Expected sweet... Got the bold hoppiness of a very unique blend...

M - Great balance and texture... Coats the mouth very well... Thick...

D - A unique well crafted and complex brew... A would drink again because I think I could find new complexity each time I indulged, but not a session beer...

Photo of TLove
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer was unique and certainly gratifying, though not exceptional. The pour had surprisingly little head. The taste was a sharp mixture of hoppy and sweet, and the green raisins did not compromise the drinkability of the beer. As usual with Dogfish Head, the beer had a higher ABV content. In congruence with the light redness of the beer's color, the spices and woody structure of the beer did not disappoint, however the flavors were particularly abrasive.

This beer was not a classic Belgian Strong Dark Ale by any means, but displayed gestures more prominent in the hoppiness of an IPA or the fruitiness of a cider beer. A solid offering from a fantastic brewery.

Photo of PeatReek
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dunno if this one changes by season; my glass was bottled in Nov. '05.

Appearance: Very clear amber/copper with yellowish off-white head.

Smell: Yeasty. Maybe some very mellow goldings or fuggles. A bit of sulphur? I could be making that up.

Taste: ah, there are the esters. Attack is a nice rounded malty sweetness, followed by subtle bready/malty tastes. The alcohol makes an appearance in there somewhere, but it's not "hot" for an 8.0.

Mouthfeel: a little thin considering how bold the tastes are; feels somehow insubstantial. Carbonation burns a little at the end, but again I just don't feel the high alcohol.

Photo of Bootscraper
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my second Dogfish Head type that I have had the privilege of enjoying.The first was their pumpkin ale, which I can say is up there as one of the creamiest beers I have had. Whenever this brewery ever got mentioned at another forum, someone in particular always raved about this brew. So, I thought it was about time I reviewed one.
Served between 45 and 50 degrees F in my trusty pint glass, listening to Nachtmystium's "Instinct:Decay".
First things first... the off-white, bubbly head got up to about 2cm, settled to 1 cm after a couple minutes, a very thin layer after 5 mins, and nothing when I got to the bottom of my glass. However, this was the result of a vigorous pour, so my opinion is not stellar. The color was a very deep bronze/rust color in the shade, and a dark brownish red when held up to light. The lacing (when it was around) fell very slowly, but was quite minimal and patchy.
The last beer I reviewed was a belgian style very similar to this one, and shared some of the same rum-soaked fruit scents. This, however, was much more mellow and quite subtle.
In many reviews I have read, people claim this beer is a bit too alcoholic in flavor. I don't see it though. Yes, the warmth is certainly here, but it seems to be disguised by an indistinguishable pallet (to me, anyways) of dark fruit. The taste started off as a crisp, refreshing sweet (I would say like soda, but again... "mellow" is the name of the game here) that was overcome by the signature darker fruits and slight spiciness towards the finish. However, I want to say that somewhere in there I acutely detected something "brighter", more along the lines of Banana. Throughout the duration of each sip there was also both roasted and slight brown sugar flavors. Tiny bit of bitterness, not too bad though. very rich... I can actually see how this may be an acquired taste.
I like the stickiness of this beer. It wasn't too much where it leaves the candy-like syrupy feeling in back of your throat lingering for too long, but was still enough to please me. It also was not too heavily bodied, which means that even though the flavor is pretty unique, it doesn't hurt the overall drinkability too badly. Can't wait to have something else by this brewery in the future.

Photo of airheadmtrcycle
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pilsner glass, which is blasphemous, I know. But they're new (my wife bought them for me), they look really cool and I like drinking from them. Poured a beautiful brown with a thick, frothy head that left a skim of crema-like head on top. A quick swirl brings back the thick head. The ale has a nice clarity without any visible carbonation.

The aroma is sweet like a dark fruit, perhaps figs, dates or, as it claims, raisins. There's something else there that I don't identify as alcohol until I taste it. The taste is very sweet, but not cloyingly so. I think I would have been able to identify it as Belgian without having to read it's a Belgian dark strong ale. The only other guess I can think of would have been a very unusual brown ale. I'm not experienced enough to distinguish a Belgian dark strong ale from a dubbel. Perhaps the Belgian dark strong ale lacks a hop presence. This ale definitely lacks a hop presence. There is an alcohol presence, but again not too much. The alcohol offers a spice that tries to balance the sweetness. The sweet fruity taste hits me first and then the spiciness follows through to the finish. Raisin D'Etre is a sipper, for sure.

The mouth feel is more carbonated than it looks and is pretty heavy on the palate. The extra bit of unexpected carbonation helps this along and contributes to its overall enjoyment.

Overall, I liked this beer. It's different, but based on the reviews I read I thought I would hate it. It turns out to be a pleasant surprise. I like the choice of malts and the way the roasting highlights them. I can imagine some might find this a little too sweet, but for me the spicy alcohol balances it enough that I enjoy it. Thankfully, I have another bottle; I would like to try this on-tap.

Photo of edskirk3
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, bottled December 30, 2005, apparently. I like when I can remember what I was doing the day that a beer was bottled. This has no effect on my rating but I just wanted to mention that. I was at work at the library, entering an audio verison of To Kill A Mockingbird into the catalog....

"A deep mahogany ale, brewed with Belgian beet sugars, green raisins, and a sense of purpose."

And in case anyone was wondering, Raison D'Être is a term for a sense of purpose. Literally translated from French, "reason for existence," or something like that.

OK, enough pretentiousness. It pours a deep, rich mahogany, good enough for Ron Burgundy's apartment (sorry, couldn't resist). Head is thin and white and doesn't get comfortable.

Smell is weakly of alcohol. Palate is same with undertones of dark malts, and dates/raisins. The alcohol is pretty dominant. Afterwards, a creamy sensation lingers, which I happen to like.

Not what I expected, but I'm not complaining. If I have one complaint, it's that the alcohol is pretty obvious. What I like about this beer is the creaminess, and the stickiness of my lips that results from drinking it. I'm a sucker for stuff like this.

Photo of jasonjlewis
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer wasn't bad, a hint of raisins in the back round with some caramelized malts. Nicely complex and balanced. very interesting and a little different. Has decent head and retention. Has a nice smell, but it's faint. Mouthfeel is nice and crisp, but could be a little bit thicker. This beer is easy to drink, but I don't think I'd make a sessionout of it. It's ok to have a couple of though. this is the most popular dogfish beer in lubbock, but it's no where near my favorite of their brews.

Photo of Zorro
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed through the miracle of BIF 43 NC Lotto and hoppedup.

Pours a clear brown ale with a very slight head formation. When held up to the light this is bronze colored ale with maybe a little extra red to it.

Smell is sweet malty and bready yeast to the nose. Fair whiff of coffee aroma from dark malt and apple and grape aromas. Toffee, butterscotch and some scorched sugar aromas are also in this. Alcohol is detectable in the smell, but it carries pepper, roses and peach aromas to the nose.

Taste is sweet and a little bready at the start. A mild flavored ale the first thing that gets my attention is a little coriander and coffee and smoke flavor. Fairly malty but this seems a bit under flavored.

Mouthfeel is good.

This is certainly a drinkable beer but I really expected more from DFH. The flavor is just too mild for my tastes.

Photo of BBM
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours a deep amber color with an off-white head that sticks around for most of the time. There is a dark fruity smell, combined with big malts and an alcoholic tinge at the back end.

I wasn't sure what type of beer this was when I tried it, but I would not have guessed a Belgian Dark. It doesn't seem to have the Belgian spice character or the earthy hops. That's not to say it's a bad brew though, because I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a huge malt character up front, with rich, dark sweetness coming through, and a mild hop presence to balance it out. Then there is a big, warming alcoholic finish to prove this beer means business.

Mouthfeel is medium, somewhat creamy and very smooth. However after even one, the sweetness and alcohol start to wear down your tastebuds. Overall this is another winner from DFH, but not quite on par with other Belgian dark ales out there.

Photo of mooseisloose
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Smells of many things..hints of coffee and brown sugar and butterscocth. Poured into..what else..a Raison D'Etre goblet. Had it for a while but never tried the beer. Pours to an opaque medium brown that lets slight light through. Taste is very complex. Heavy texture and sweet but also sour. Malty with only trace hops evident. The AC is evident but not overly so. The lacing is incredible, looks like wine, the best i've ever seen. This is a delight in a goblet. Dogfish continues to delight.

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,203 ratings.