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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,157 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,157
Reviews: 1,767
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 15.07%
Wants: 77
Gots: 301 | 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:
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: 4,157 | Reviews: 1,767 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jasonjlewis
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

jasonjlewis, Nov 07, 2006
Photo of Zorro
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

Zorro, Jun 24, 2006
Photo of BBM
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

BBM, Apr 06, 2007
Photo of mooseisloose
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

mooseisloose, Apr 11, 2008
Photo of cyclonece09
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Pours a nice deep maroon color with a small white head that dissipates quickly but leaves a little lacing. Smells of fruit dominated by raisins. Tastes of raisins and slight grape taste with some wine-like hints. Beer is carbonated correctly, goes down smooth with only a slight taste of fruit aftertaste. Overall, a very good beer.

cyclonece09, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of movingtrain
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle sampled form a Piraat glass.

Pours a light brown/amber color. From the bottle there is a good amount of carbonation, but as the beer settles, that head fades quickly to almost nothing.

The aroma is kind of winey. Lots of malt in the nose, cinnamon, brown sugar, grapes, plum, hard candy, and perhaps some hops in the background, but not too present at all...somewhat reminds me of spiced rum.

The up front is on the bitter/sour side with citrus puckering notes. There is also a rich sweetness in there as the beer warms and coats the palate. The sweetness seems to come in the form of sugar flavors, as well as some white grape juice. There is some spice there, too...cinnamon for sure.

Overall, a unique beverage, but not one that is particularly drinkable. The 8% ABV is masked quite well underneath the flavor of the beer, and is not overwhelming at all. The flavors linger for some time, and the beer finishes with some interesting elements.

movingtrain, Jan 23, 2011
Photo of magnj
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a - Deep Mahogany as the bottle suggests. 1 Finger head from a strong pour settles to a film, then a ring. Looks very nice.

s - Smokey, Raisin. A little different, a little funky, but intriguing.

t - The Raisins are there for sure. Hops are very subtle and there is a dry smokey flavor, a little grainy. Alcohol is detectable but not strong. Just like it smells, a little weird, different than anything I've tried but not unpleasant and quite complex. Tastes like a Belgian Dark Ale with a twist.

m/d - Not real thick or syrupy, not too thin. Tasty enough, but at 8% and with it being a little unique it's a sipper and I'd only have one. Not an all night session beer but I'd drink it again.

magnj, Jan 13, 2009
Photo of dauss
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The label is copyrighted 1999, with the 7 etched off. So I don't know how old this beer is. Pours a very hazy dark amber copper. Small head fades quickly into a lace on the edge of the glass. Nose is very malty, the darker ones because I'm picking up a hint of coffee. Dark fruits and the alcohol is quite noticable. First sip, light-moderate carbonation. Wow this beer is interesting. Very malty, pretty strong sweetness. It is also hopped just right. Light bitterness is present in the entire sip. Finishes dry and lightly bitter, and you can definitely feel the alcohol evaporate off the inside of your mouth when you exhale. It definitely warms me up. Great for a desert beer, but I don't think it classifies as a Belgian ale.

dauss, Oct 07, 2004
Photo of ramrod666
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was given to me as a sample from Vecenie Dist. when I was picking up my beer order.
this beer pours a dark amber color with a beige 1" head that quickly disappeared. there was very little lacing through the ingestion of this tasty brew. sour grapes and alcohol dominate the palate but, with a bitchin' warming effect that follows all the way to the belly. I enjoyed this beer and would recommend and try it again. maybe not a beer that i would wack down a 12 pack of but, a great sipper nonetheless.

ramrod666, Jun 01, 2004
Photo of ChrisBowers
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

You gotta hand it to the boys at DFH for trying new things. Sometimes they may go a bit too far, and I think this is one of those occasions. It is not a bad beer, but its novelty wears off quickly. Pours a medium brown with zero head. And I mean zero. Smell is of raisons and alcohol. Taste is pretty much the same. Very sweet. At first the melding of the raisons and the belgian beer sugars is interesting, but eventually it kinda overpowers your taste buds. The alcohol is very evident... not bad on a cold winters day, however. This stuff I've found is better on tap. Out of the bottles its just too syrupy.

ChrisBowers, Jan 11, 2004
Photo of cnjohn19
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I understand the reviews on here do not seem to be the best, but i enjoy this beer...much different than the hop dominated brews i typically search for...

Pours a dark brown with a minimal white/yellow head...very clear and looks a tad amber in the light...Smells of chocolate, white grapes, and almonds...A rich taste with its distinct raison-ish aftertaste...Give it a second, at first you may not enjoy it, but it gets better once the brew warms slightly in the glass...This beer is slightly bitter, and I'm not sure it's supposed to be...

Let this beer warm a bit and you'll enjoy it more...

cnjohn19, Apr 16, 2009
Photo of brentk56
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours a clear, relatively dark amber color with a head that disappears rather quickly; some strands of lacing are left behind

Smell: Caramel, figs and prunes with an edge of cinnamon

Taste: Relatively sweet caramel, up front, with the fig and prune flavors and hot cinnamon developing through mid-palate; after the swallow, just a little too alcoholic, but still shows off the dried dark fruit

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: For a Belgian dark, this lacks the caramel malt and dark fruit complexity that I associate with the style; an interesting experiment, but there are other Belgian darks that I prefer more

brentk56, Jul 03, 2005
Photo of Onenote81
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice mahogany brown with a nice reddish hue. Pretty small head on this one which was disappointing. Pretty good lacing along the edge after each drink though.

Smelled some grape, raisin, and maybe some plum? Definitely sweet smelling for sure.

Nice velvet-like quality to the mouthfeel; nice and smooth. Slight metal bite for the first few sips. This gives way to the taste of raisins and licorice. This brew reminds me of wine for sure. There is little burnt taste on the finish.

This beer is different than any thing else I've ever tried, for which I am very glad I did give this a go, but I will probably not visit this again anytime soon. Not bad, just different.

Onenote81, Aug 12, 2008
Photo of theboozecruise
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Chimay goblet. It pours a dark ruby color, smallish off-white head. It appears to be filtered as there is not cloudiness in the beer. It's alright, but nothing outstanding on the eye.

The smell is a little confusing, but I like it. Definite darker fruit smells, plums and raisins. There is also a little caramel malt in there, like there's some brown ale influence.

The taste is more of the same, raisins mixed with the malty flavors, but the hop presence comes out much more on the tongue than the nose. It tastes more like a Belgian ale than it smells. I like it, but still not top notch.

No complaints about the mouthfeel, but I can't see throwing these back. It's hard for me to define 'drinkability' with a beer like this, but it doesn't make me excited to dirnk another, I'd rather move on to something different, so I can't give it too high of a score.

theboozecruise, Feb 05, 2010
Photo of soulfly1492
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aroma: Chocolate, brown malt, esters in the form of raisins and prunes, brown sugar. Some alcohol mixes in with all the sugars.

Appearance: Dark, caramel color. Cloudy. Light brown head with a tint of orange. Great retention

Taste: Sweet and fruity, hard to pinpoint at first, this is definitely a bit different. Brown malt, some milder English malts, semi-sweet chocolate, raisins, brown sugar and coffee.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body. Foamy from the carbonation. Nice neutral feel, not oily, not drying. A bit warming though.

Overall: Complex for sure. Just enough bite to make this one a sipper, but a savory one at that. Like a combination of a brown ale, coffee stout, and Belgian dubbel.

soulfly1492, Jan 29, 2012
Photo of kneeland
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

I love the appearance, but the laced head does disappear before you're done. A lovely copper penny shade.

I taste a whole lot of malt, and caramel, and Belgian nuts. Very nut brown ale-like. Almost reminds me of Buster Nut by Ska.

Overall, this is a good one. I would definitely have another, but not too many. It is a heavy one for my American blood.

kneeland, Oct 09, 2011
Photo of canucklehead
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this beer in Washington State and was excited to finally
taste Dogfish Head's brews. This Belgian style ale was much
more subtle than I expected with a nice balance of sweetness and
complex fruit flavours. Dangerously drinkable at a fairly high abv ,this beer compares with similar offerings from Unibroue
Ommegang and Hair of the Dog. I can't wait to try Worldwide Stout.

canucklehead, Sep 08, 2003
Photo of dreadnatty08
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, dark mahogany color as its description implies. About a half inch of head is formed after an aggressive pour, staying around. Aromas are rich, chocolaty, sweet, oaky and vanilla. Flavor is almost stout like in texture and sweetness. Moderate carbonation floats heavy roasted flavors, sweet maltiness mingles with minimal hopping. An enjoyable beer, distinct for sure, but lacking a bit of complexity with an overall cloying sweetness surrounding it.

dreadnatty08, Jul 05, 2006
Photo of larryi86
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle dated 2/18/10 poured into a snifter

A- A nice brown with red tint and a small tan head.

S- Malts and brown sugar with a hint of raisin and alcohol.

T- Malts and dark fruits, it is a little on the sweet side.

M- Smooth and thick.

D- This is an enjoyable and drinkable beer. This is not a bad example of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but no where near the best. The reason I like this beer is the fact that it is a cheap Belgian, $8.99 a six pack compared to $13.49 for a 750mL bottle of Chimay, and the only thing it is missing is the complexity.

larryi86, Jun 18, 2010
Photo of rye726
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice mahogany color with a tan head. Nose has sweet malts, and spicy Belgian yeasts. The taste also has a nice malt profile, but is not super complex. A good beer, but I'd like to see more Belgian characteristics. Medium body is well carbonated and drinks well.

rye726, Jan 30, 2009
Photo of peck95
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

this beer is a dark copper color with a very thin head and a little bit of lacing
the aroma is of rum cake/ banana nut bread
has a nice earthy taste raisons, nuts, caramel, and bananas also a strong alcohol note
over carbonated and a big alcohol burn,
a solid beer that i would call a mood beer, good only when im in the mood for something a little bit different.

peck95, May 03, 2009
Photo of philippehb
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My First Saison...

A - Dark brown, with almost a gem-like opacity. The head is medium.

S - A Sweet smell. Brown Candi Sugar? no hops, and there is more I can't identify.

T - Now the Brown sugar flavor really jumps out. An almost wine-like quality too. Dark Fruits? Wow this is complex ! Very interesting !

M - Smooth, in it's own way. Good carbonation

D - So different! Not sure if I like it, But I want another, its so interesting its hard to resist.

Can't wait to brew one and try other brewery's interpretations of this style.

philippehb, Aug 02, 2010
Photo of Kuromaru
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance--Pours a deep, semi-opaque ruby. Some amber/ deep orange hues show up in good light. Produces a thick, oatmealy head that dissipates fairly quickly.

Smell--Complex. Grape-y/ winey, sugary/ (toasted) malty/ bready, some yeast and some spice (allspice?). Grape seems to be the most prominent fruity note, but there's also fig, plum and raisin. Some tartness. Alcohol is not prominent. Overall, a definite "dried, aged fruit" vibe.

Mouthfeel--You can almost feel the moderate carbonation struggling in the heavy, sticky body. Like glue on the palate.

Taste--Some bittersweet chocolate notes show up in the taste. Big, big malt presence. Unripened grape and wine. Yeast and alcohol more subdued in taste than smell.

Overall--A lot to consider. A truly robust, flavorful beer. It's impossibly heavy and probably overly sugary for most palates. Definitely worth a try, though. Perhaps not a masterful rendition of the Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but it gives your togue plenty to think about.

Kuromaru, Dec 31, 2011
Photo of BeerAngel
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear medium mahogany with a nice smooth cream-colored head that shrinks to a 1/8" long lasting layer. From the foamy head billows a musty fruit aroma with faint spicing in the background. The taste is again a musty fruit, more specifically grapes and raison flavors, with a non-stick yeast in the background and has a unique abrupt halt to the richness that just starts to poke through. It comes up a little short in the wave of flavors as the rug is yanked out from underneath your tastebuds. It still has the making of a good beer in this medium bodied offering that finishes slightly sweet.

Notes: Quite drinkable at 8%, but I think it is lacking in the finish department. Perhaps that's what increases the drinkability because the taste ends too soon. This one is hard to explain, but it's an overall decent offering. Cheers!

BeerAngel, Apr 14, 2004
Photo of mattbk
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Deep ruby/light brown. Clear. Apeears fairly thick, lightly carbonated.
S: Dark fruit, all the way. Reminds me of a dubbel. Raisins, yes. Maybe a bit of chocolate. Pretty one dimensional, but still good.
T: Hmm, yes, the dark fruit, but the carbonation is actually higher than I would have thought, scrubbing flavor off my tongue. Additionally, it's a bit drier than I would have expected, which leads to a papery sort of flavor. It is possible this suffered from a bit of oxidation, no date on bottle. Still, not bad, lacking in flavor a bit. There is also come chocolate in this flavor profile as well. The chocolate is just a bit out of place. No alcohol in taste.
M: A bit drier than I would have liked, and more carbonated as well.
O: Definitely not a bad beer. Just a bit lacking in terms of complexity and flavor.

mattbk, Feb 03, 2013
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,157 ratings.