Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,191 Ratings

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Ratings: 4,191
Reviews: 1,768
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.03%
Wants: 81
Gots: 323 | 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: 4,191 | Reviews: 1,768 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cnjohn19
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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...

Photo of brentk56
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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

Photo of Onenote81
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of theboozecruise
3.78/5  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 soulfly1492
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of kneeland
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of canucklehead
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of dreadnatty08
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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 larryi86
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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 rye726
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of peck95
3.78/5  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 philippehb
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of Kuromaru
3.78/5  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 BeerAngel
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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!

Photo of mattbk
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

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

A - Pours a clear ruby red with a little bit of a loose tan head.

S - Fruity and sweet smelling, some roast and molasses.

T - Indeed, very sweet. Kind of buttery and very fruity. Bitterness is muted in the finish. Fruitiness is bright and sweetness stops short of being cloying.

M - Body is creamy, and on the heavy side. Chewy even.

D - Not a guzzler by any means. A slow sipper I would say, maybe as an aperitif. Good desert beer.

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

Poured into regular pint glass.

A - Poured hazy dark brown color with reddish hints when held to light and a minimal head with slight lacing when settled.

S - Sweet malts, yeasty, dark fruits, bananas and slight earthly aroma.

T - Sweet and malty to start with figs, raisins, bananas and other dark fruit flavors coming through. Has a slightly dry finish.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

O - Very good dark ale that I would highly recommend.

Photo of arnoldosu1
3.76/5  rDev +2.7%
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 ghettobooty88
3.76/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of fureousangel
3.76/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of sprestridge
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of JacobMutberg
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of danthehopslamman
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of csmartin6
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,191 ratings.