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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,219 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,219
Reviews: 1,774
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 15.07%
Wants: 91
Gots: 364 | 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: 4,219 | Reviews: 1,774 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of JMD
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
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 kpantz
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Executive Review: My first DFH, and while it didn't blow me away, it left me wanting more from the large, exciting state that is Delaware.

Appearance: Deep reddish-brown with a thin khaki-colored head.

Smell: Wonderful. Notes of rasins with a perfect bit of nuttiness.

Taste: You can really feel the alcohol in this one, but it's not overwhelming. A fruitiness lingers throughout the otherwise malty flavor, thanks to the rasins, I'm sure.

Mouthfeel: Pretty smooth...not very carbonated. A bit sticky, but what do you expect?

Drinkability: Not bad. 8% ABV would cut a hearty session short, but I could defiinitely sip a couple after dinner.

Photo of CortexBomb
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep, ruddy brown and amber into my goblet with a slight, white head on top. Smell is mainly fruit esters, lighter fruit scents...then almost raisin effects.

Taste, starts out sweet and then turns into a full tongue dark fruit caress. The raisins from the smell seem to be heading up the dark fruit flavour. There are also sugary tones in evidence and the lightest hint of spice lingering in the background. The finish is the only place the alcohol is really evident, as a minor burn is in evidence. Not bad.

Mouth is decent, not a lot of tingly action, but this is pretty full bodied in the mouth. Drinkability, solid as well. Belgian style beer is usually easy to put down, and this is no exception.

Overall a solid Belgian style beer from Dogfish. It's not as complex as some of my favourites, but it is an easy drinking, smooth flavoured beer that is enjoyable in the mouth.

Photo of geetlord
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a coppery red, with almost no head and very short lasting lacing.
The smell contained molasses and dried fruits(rasins)
The flavor was sweet and smooth, contained tastes of grapes, bread and mollasses. I felt that the hops was fairly well ballanced with the malts. the finish was smooth and carried a little of the alcohol flavor.
Teh mouthfeel had little carbonation and was slightly syrupy.
Overall I found this beer to be enjoyable if a bit sweet.

Photo of drtth
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a dimpled mug. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As poured the beer is a rich mahogany color with a 1/8” head that lasts a while but doesn’t leave much lacing. The head recedes to a thin irregular island on the liquid. Sipping produces little lacing, mostly small speckles that slide back down into the beer.

Smell: The aroma is nice and complex with some raisins, traces of dark fruit, some dark caramel, and a touch of yeast.

Taste: As expected from the nose, the flavors are dominated by the raisins and there is also some dark fruit present. The sweetness reminds of dark caramel but with a touch of alcohol. The yeastiness is definitely Belgian.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is on the full side of medium bodied and quite smooth with gentle carbonation. The finish begins in the fruit and sweetness which all fades gradually away.

Drinkability and Overall Impression: I’ve had this one before and I’ll be having it again. It’s a pleasant, easy drinker that’s good for sipping while reading or along with dinner and conversation with friends. My overall impression is that this is a well made beer that is worth visiting and re-visiting once in a while. It doesn’t beat out the better made Belgian beers but holds its own amongst the many average beers made in Belgium.

Photo of BBM
3.77/5  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
3.77/5  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.

Photo of mobyfann
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Paid around $1.79 for a single...

Poured into a snifter, appeals a dark brown base, with a medium white head, moderate head retention, and no lacing. The aroma is earthy fruit, like dates and grapes coupled with a mild malt character, nothing fancy yet pleasant.

The taste is a little bitter, but in the good way, followed by a spicy malt character with limited carbonation, medium-bodied and no sign of the fruit like the aroma?!? M&D both fit the bill, the spicy tone was a little harsh on the palette, at 8% its very drinkable, if these spices do it for you and this is what you expect from a Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

Final Thought: Haven't played around too much with the style, but it is a solid offering from a great brewery.

Photo of arnoldosu1
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is my first official review, not only here on beer advocate but in general as well! This is however not my first time enjoying this "deep mahogany ale" as dogfish states right on the bottle, nor is this my first Belgian dark ale, far from it in fact. So this is my cup of tea (or beer in this case). Now, on to the review!

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz. bottle (45-50 degrees) into a tulip glass; Raison D'Etre impresses with a rich mahogany color. It is alive with a fair amount of carbonation, which stays consistent throughout the experience. On initial pour the head is brought to the top of the tulip. It dissipates rather quickly though, leaving behind a nice ring in its wake, with minimal lacing.

Smell: The aroma is of sweet Belgian deliciousness with maybe a hint of raisin. So yes the Belgian beet sugars and green raisons seem to be in play! Though the aromas are not overwhelmingly present, it does excite the senses and is rather inviting!

Taste: With the first drink, I am delighted with not only a fruity booziness, but to my surprise the taste of what?...Raisins! This is a true Belgian dark, so no disappointment in that respect. In time the raisins seemingly give way to the taste of booziness and Belgian beet sugars, though it is enjoyable through each sip.

Mouth feel: Once again it IS a true Belgian dark, and don't let the alcohol percentage of eight fool you. It feels heavier than eight percent, which is not meant as a negative or a positive. Carbonation is not an issue, with a good amount present. It has a full bodied, fruity and heart warming boozy feel that does not disappoint and sits fairly heavily on, but does not overwhelm the palate.

Many beers draw you in with exciting ingredients, of which often turn out to be more or less marketing. I am happy to say with Dogfish Head's Raison D'Etre, this is not the case. Dogfish has a reputation for brewing some very interesting beers and raison d is no exception. 'Raison D'Etre' is a French phrase meaning 'reason for existence'. While this may not be MY reason for existence, I did enjoy and would recommend giving it a taste!

Photo of trippnwo
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of theboozecruise
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of peck95
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of erikm25
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
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 Kuromaru
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of FattyJLE
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

A - A viscous pour of muddy/copper with a thin off-white head.

S - Sweet malts, honey, lots of caramel malt. Raisins emerge as the beer warms.

T - Strong earthy bitterness balanced by a mead-like sweetness. Strongly sweet but not overly cloying. The earthy hops reign this beer back in. The combination of sugary malts and booze give this beer an almost wood-aged quality.

M - Moderate carbonation, medium bodied with sticky mouthfeel and a sweet finish.

O - My first experiences with this beer were not positive; however, the more I examine characteristics the more I appreciate the brew. I would not openly seek this beer out, but its definitely worth a try. Definite points for uniqueness, but this beer is trending away from classic styles in typical Dogfish Head fashion. Still an interesting experiment for jaded beer drinkers.

Photo of thespaceman
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Dark mahogany in color, poured an off white head with little lacing on the glass. Head dissapted shortly.

Smell: Dark fruit, raisin, some malt, and a bit of some plum as well.

Taste: Although an 8% ABV for this isn't much, you can still taste some nice esters in the finish which is quite inticing. This has a great malt profile, very sweet from the sugars, the raisin and spice is shown nicely, and it's pretty warming considering the maltiness and the alcohol. Tasty.

Mouthfeel: Pretty carbonated on the tongue, a off balanced body throws it in a couple different directions, malty and then bitter. It stays up well but gets wet quickly.

Drinkability: I found this beer to be a good winter choice with it's excellent warming properties, the raisins are in there shining and the dark fruit tinge is great. A nice Belgian offering from the best at DFH!


Photo of pbr85
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice brown color with little head which quickly disappears.
S: Smell is mostly caramel with some sourdough bread mixed in.
T: Taste is pretty good. Alcohol is surprisingly present for a 8% ABV. Roasty malts are present, but I'm having a hard time picking out what. Hops are hardly detectable.
M: A little carbonated for my tastes, but considering that it goes down remarkably smooth.

Notes: Another decent offering from DFH, though not quite my favorite. I'd look for this if the store is out of 60 Minute and I'm craving something a little different.

Photo of CMW
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
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 twelvsies
3.76/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Having only tried one Dogfish Head brew before this one I was anxiously anticipating trying this one. A medium dark amber color, but almost totally transparent. Not much of a head to speak of on this one at all. The smell on this one is very subtle. I almost can't smell a thing, but with a deep whiff I can pick up on a Belgiany maltiness. Smells sweet and nutty. Tastes better than any other American "Belgian Beer" I've had. Sweet, but not too sweet. Fruity characters in there somewhere. Very thick mouthfeel, clings to the tongue. Smooooth. Drinkability... well, I say this in just about every review, but; I could drink this all night. Hmmm. Maybe I just like beer too much. Is that possible? Anyway, a very tasty brew. Go out and get yours.

Photo of magnj
3.76/5  rDev +3%
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.

Photo of wac9
3.76/5  rDev +3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

what a wonderful tasting beer it dances on your tongue makes you feel alive but itsa strong beer so be careful fig raisins dark fruit and other wonder things not too dark thats what i think but a beer that you can get lost for a while in enjoy it dont let it destory you happy drinking

Photo of ghettobooty88
3.76/5  rDev +3%

Photo of dreadnatty08
3.76/5  rDev +3%
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.

Photo of aforbes10
3.76/5  rDev +3%
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.

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,219 ratings.