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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: 92
Gots: 365 | 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:
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 lovindahops
3.42/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured from 12oz bottle into glass

A- dark appearance with virtually no head. Lacing is very stong on sides

S- some sweet malt tones with bananas and raisins. Alcohol arises in the final scents

T- toasted malt flavor and the sweetness of raisins. The alcohol warming on the way down.

M- full bodied with decent carbonation. The alcohol tingles the mouth

D- not really my cup of tea. The raisins do keep it interesting. I think one to two is enough in a sitting because of the alcohol. If you are seeking DFH brews... I would stay with their other offerings.

Photo of jnelson54
3.42/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is a big belgian style brew. Not for everyone as its finer tastes might escape some(trying not to sound like a beer snob). Poors with a white head and golden color. The belgian beet sugar and raisons mellow this one out so that you forget about the high abv nearly 8%!!! If you see it pick it up as it is a rare example of a heavy belgian pale.

Photo of Bowdoinbeerboy
3.42/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured with no head whatsoever and only minimal lacing.

This beer has a light, sweet smell, almost like dates.

For an 8% ABV beer this one is VERY well balanced, the alcohol is really well hidden and is not over-powering. Dark malty notes are the defining feature here, some mild candied fruit, fairly light.

This beer is a little light in this regard, almost watery. Palate coverage is poor and the flavor fades as soon as you swallow.

Not a bad beer overrall, it is an interesting flavor with its date-like sweetness and almost no hop notes, not sure I'd buy it again.

Photo of SkunkWorks
3.42/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a tuliped pint glass. Beautiful red color. Light head formation. The aroma is very pleasant and the raisins are very pronounced here. The front end of the taste is good but after a few seconds in my mouth, the overpowering taste of raisins really made it very difficult to drink. The after taste is also very overpowering and really ruins the beer. I had a hard time finishing the glass. I would recommend against.

EDIT. Updating my review. Previous score was 4.5/4.0/1.0/1.0/1.0

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Look: crimson, mahogany colored beer with a single finger tan head that doesn't have the best retention. Some lacing is left but not much.

Smell: dark caramel and dark fruit like raisin. There's some alcohol smell. Surprisingly, its lacking any kind of yeast smell or spice smell to it. Aren't Belgian Dark Strong Ales supposed to have those characters? I won't count that against it because I don't know if Belgian Dark Strong Ale is the category for this one.

Taste: alcohol is obvious. I think that might be why I originally did not like it. There's toasted malt flavors with dark fruits intermingled. The raisins are also fairly front and center. Very strange but interesting all at once. Like the nose, I can't taste any spices or things that would make me think "Gee, this is a Belgian beer."

Feel: very dry, carbonation is light and not incredibly noticeable, and medium bodied. Its a little sticky.

Drink: probably the low point. Though its an enjoyable beer to drink, I would not want to drink more than one in a sitting. The dryness is what would keep me away.

Overall, I'm glad I gave this one a second try and its fair shake. I think its interesting to revisit certain beers and see how your perception of them have changed over time. This beer went from being utterly undrinkable to being somewhat decent, albeit not exceptional.

Photo of TommyW
3.42/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Clear, dark-red/brown body with a thin white head.

S- Notes of alcohol and molasses with some very slight biscuity malts.

T- Notes of alcohol seem to be present through most of the taste; though not in an overpowering way but rather no other flavor seems to push it aside. Not much of a malt base detected; hops come in toward the middle and end but very sporadic.

M- Medium body with a rather awkward carbonation; flat upfront with a little bit more towards the back.

D- A very unique brew. One can either like the unique nature or hate it. I enjoyed the six pack I bought, but I'm hesitant to buy anymore soon.

Photo of nomad
3.42/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A very muddy burnt umber color, not very appealing as it was quite hazy and a strange color between orange, brown, and ruddy red. Poured with little head that was thin and even, consisting of small tight bubbles. Lace was negligible. Nose was slightly fruity, on the side of bananas, cooked apples, and freshly dried raisins. Also had a woody undertone to it.

First taste was quite tart with a fizzy mouthfeel whose activity gives way to a partly yeasty, partly hoppy bitterness. The session showed it to give way to a consistently tart flavor that balances fruity tartness and a woody (like a oak-aged wine) tartness - for me, reminiscent of a oud bruin or red ale. The fruity sweetness is similar to the nose - a roasted apple and grape type. Subtly long finish as the sweet fruit, tart after-punch, and woody bitterness interchange back and forth on my mouth.

In all, like a toned down triple with more hearty ale-like features: same fruity and floral hop characteristics mixed with a strong earthy side peppery yeast and woody malts. Interesting, but I wouldn't get it again until they've mastered how to mix this experiment with the ratio of it many parts.

Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.42/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear mahogany with a dense tan head. Smells of raisin, hops and sweet molasses malt.

Taste is of fruity sweet maltiness. Very sweet. Sticks to your whole mouth. Lightly bitter and raisin flavors. Spicy. Did I mention very sweet? Very still. Long sticky molasses and light bitter aftertaste. This is ambitious to be sure but just too sweet for me. Beyond that, a good beer.

Photo of rajendra82
3.42/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

When poured into a Pilsner glass, the body was murky reddish brown with almost no head to speak of. The carbonation lasted for all of three seconds and then left the room. Aroma was complex and interesting. There were notes of rum, raisins, licorice, and candied apples on the nose. The taste was similar to the aroma: fruity, peppery, vinous, and dry. The alcohol content is high, but very well hidden. I think they went overboard with the adjuncts and neglected the malt in this beer. The result is a thin, watery, and disappointing mouthfeel. I have had better from Dogfish Head.

Photo of BrewerMike
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I typically really enjoy Dogfish Head's brews and am equally as intrigued to learn about their unique creations and efforts to "push the envelope." I've tried this one several times and liked it, but had not made the effort to actually evaluate the different components. So, here goes nothin':

A: The bottle reads, "deep mahogany ale." Well, they got that part right. Pours with a nice tan head that dissipates after a short time and maintains some lacing after each sip. Crystal clear appearance through the rich, mahongany/chestnut color. Does not appear to have much carbonation.

S: Has somewhat of a burnt molasses aroma, as well as some dark, dried fruits. I'm not getting much hop aroma. Perhaps some pepperiness. Does not necessarily make my mouth water, but interesting nonetheless.

T: Moderately malty, with notes of molasses, dried fruits (fig, raisins), slight brown sugar. It goes down with some bitterness on the back of the throat. Tastes much better after it's sat a bit and warms. I initially tasted some metallic flavors up front when I first poured it, but as it warmed those went away, and a richer, more malty flavor took over.

M: Mouthfeel is quite nice. Has good body, even a bit chewy (especially as it warms). A bit sticky on the tongue/throat, which forces you to drink it slowly. Not very carbonated, so it allows you to really enjoy the maltiness and flavors without much distraction. [I'd be curious to taste this one brewed on cask.]

D: Particularly as this sat, I found it very drinkable. It is smooth, well balanced, and nothing about it is overpowering or shocking. The 8% abv is difficult to notice while sipping; I don't taste any heat with the beer. This is a relatively complex beer so I would not choose to drink many at a time, but could definitely enjoy two.

Overall, this is not my favorite from Dogfish Head by far, but it's definitely a really nice, interesting beer to warm you during the chilly winter months. I can imagine drinking this along side a stew, hearty soup, or a rich meal like mac/cheese or even a nice burger or meatloaf!

Photo of Shumista
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a clear plastic clup.

A- The beer pours a dark red-brown (mahogany maybe), with a slowly rising 1 inch head, that stuck around for a while.
S- The aroma is not as full as I expected. I noticed dark fruits and sweet malts.
T- Very sweet, too sweet for me actually. Dark fruits are very noticeable in the taste, as well as sweet malt and a little bit of sourness.
M- Not quite as thick as I had expected. Somewhere between medium and full-bodied I would say. The alcohol is unnoticeable except for a slight warming feeling.
D- Goes down easy for 8%.

This is an interesting beer for sure so I am glad that I tried it, but it is probably not something I would buy again.

Photo of u2carew
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(A) Amber colored with light carbonation. Minimal head foam collects around the edge of the glass.
(S) Notes of malt and dark fruit sweetness
(T) Sweet foretaste, slight bitterness on the back side and in the aftertaste. Just a bit of smokiness to the overall flavor.
(M) Mild fizziness on the tongue. A full body brew with light syrupy characteristics.
(D) This took a few swigs to get use to, but then I was into it. This brew has some interesting flavorings going on.

Photo of Nachojon
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Quite the name. I am a fan of Dogfish Head in general and this is a very good, not great beer. Pours a nice brown maple color.

Smooth drinking, I love browns and this is a good one. The taste is a bit too one dimensional for my liking. Missing aroma and spice to put it over the edge.

Mouthfeel was pleasant not too much of the sticky sugar feel that will turn me off of any beer

Photo of mpyle
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Rich amber color, brilliantly clear. Pours a fairly large, tan colored head. Creamy and with good retention.

Bit of a toffee, plum kind of aroma. Sweet, but with a little extra. Liquorice.

Rich tasting and sweet. Big malt with some malt complexity, a bit of spiciness (pepper), turns slightly bitter and much drier in the finish. Flavors of the finish are somewhat unpleasant, with an out of place bitterness

MF - Medium body and carbonation, no astringency. Some alcohol warming. A bit drying on the tongue.

Overall - has some nice elements, but the flavors lingering in the finish detract.

Photo of Phelps
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed from the tap at the Southwest Festival of Beers during the Scottsdale Culinary Festival. Poured into a small tasting glass. Raison d'être is a French phrase meaning "reason for existence."

Perfectly clear honey-orange, with a frothy half-finger head the color of beach sand.

The aroma is pretty light. I get raisins and wheat,mostly.

Nice sugary sweetness in the flavor. Bubblegum, raisins, brown sugar, some lightly toasted bread, marmalade and hints of earthy hops.

Medium carbonation stabs the tongue as the smooth medium body rolls about, creating moderate fizz. I get some alcohol in the nose and throat.

I appreciate how the dark, raisiny sweetness was kept in check here. It’s not complex, but it’s decent.

Photo of dchester
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a golden mahogany with an off white head that quickly dissipates and has little to no lacing. Smells very lager like with a bit of malt and raisin. Taste is kind of similar. The raisin hits you up front, but then fades off into an off putting bitterness. Not a bad beer, but definitely not one of there better offerings.

Photo of Onibubba
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This review is for a March 06 bottle. Poured a reddish tinted dark brown into a tulip. An inch of frothy head quickly falls back into the glass. Aroma is not so intense. Reminds me a bit of a Chimay Red or a Belgian Dubble. Not picking up any raison at all. Taste is more of the same. That spicey tast of a Dubble or even a Triple. A bit of bitterness hampers the drinkability - it just does not go along with the overall taste to me. Mouthfeel is fine, just the right level of carbonation for my tastes. Alcohol does not seem very assertive. Not bad, but not a first choice beer either.

Just for shits and grins, I followed this with a 2 year old (at least) bottle, notched 6 on the neck. The scores are for the fresh bottle. Appearence is the same as the fresh, but that's it. The smell is much stronger - you pick up the raisons in a bit of a spatlese bouquet. The taste also exhibits more of the raison/spatlese taste, but unfortunately the bitterness has been enhanced to almost an unshakeable sourness that is not at all pleasant. Mouthfeel and drinkability are also different. No trace of carbonation at all - very smooth and more like a port wine or a brandy. This is the second Dogfish I have aged over 2 years, the other being an Immort Ale. Both have taken on this smoother, more brandy like taste and texture. If the sourness were absent, I would say that I prefer this one aged just for the other qualities it seems to bring out.

Photo of thekevlarkid
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

What a great tan, two-finger head this beer displayed when I poured it! The same medium size bubbles showed great retention and clung nicely to the glass leaving some nice, albeit broken lacing. Robust mahogany color. Sweet malts like malted milk balls (candy) on the nose. This persists one the tongue but the sugars quash the other flavors. I have trouble getting past the raisins, what else is there? Otherwise a smooth beer with a pleasant mouthfeel. But sadly, the head is the best part (and sometimes head is just a tease)!

Photo of whisperjet
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark caramel color. One finger of well retained head laces the glass nicely.

S: really almost empty in the nose. Not impressed

T: Nice rich flavors here. Very woody and smokey. Sugary sweetness and some biting alcohol

M: Kind of thin with a biting carbonation

D: Has some interesting flavor notes but nothing unbelieveable. Completely underwhelming in the nose after the pour leaves nothing to compare the flavors too

Photo of uustal
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a redish brown. Aroma isn't too pleasant. Dominated by the scent of alcohol with a whiffs of chocolate and sweet candy as well. Low carbonation and medium body. Dark fruits start off the flavor profile. Plums, dates and a bit of raisins shine through. Not enough raisins to justify the name. Sweet chocolate creates an enjoyable finish. Alcohol is a little strong and unpleasant for an 8% ABV, really shines through as the beer warms. I actually prefer this one colder than suggested.

Photo of meatmallet
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Ruby colored with a thick tan head.

Smell: Not very strong and a little stale. Dark fruit, raisin, some malt, and a bit of plum.

Taste: Rasins and plum again and a little alcohol feel. I can also detect a bit of coffee and hopps. There is also a hint of the staleness again.

Mouthfeel/drinkability: Feels smooth and creamy in the mouth. Its also sweet and bitter which is interesting. I like it but I dont get this beer.

Photo of riboflavin88
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Overall, a good beer. I think its strong point was its appearance. It had a yellow-reddish tint to it, sort of hazy. Had a good nose, and you can definitely notice the raisins. The taste was citrus based with raisin undertones, and left a smokey after taste. Not a session beer, but worth trying.

Photo of Popsinc
3.4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I'm reading the label on this beer and thinking I'm not sure I'm gonna like it, so I was probably prejudiced from the start. It was a nice brown beer with a thick coffee-colored head. It had a fruity molasses smell to it, and a very sweet fruity taste. It looked robust, but was rather bland. Still, fairly pleasant to drink.

Photo of gopens44
3.4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Ginourmous foamy head that sticks around a little while. Coppery in color with a slight haze happening there.

S - I know it's based on the raisin, but I could smell a sweet cherry thing going on. After I spent a little more time sniffing around, I could sense some raisin, but it may have been the suggestion of the fact that it was a raisin beer doing a mental trick on me?

T - Here, the raisin makes its appearance. Also tasted molasses and roasted malt. Not nearly as complex as I would have hoped, but it seemed very well balanced.

M - Smooth, creamy and not overly carbonated. Mouthfeel reminded of the 90 Minute.

D - I could handle one every now and then as a departure from the IPA's and RIS' that I usually drink.

Photo of arguemaniac
3.4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

When I first tried this beer. I hated it, the tastes were too weird and it was simply too thick and rich (mind you, this was a time when I thought Grolsch, Newcastle, and Pete’s Wicked Ale were the World’s best beers). But after months of expanding my palate, I tried this one again and, for a long time, it was my favorite DFH brew.

Now, unfortunately, I’ve sort of gone back to not liking it anymore, but for different reasons; it’s been a while since I last tried it, and I have to say that I find to be thinner than I remember and just not as rich.

Still, it’s a solid brew with a good level of complexity. It features a fruity sweetness that is nicely balanced by some vinous, slightly oaky tartness. The alcohol is well hidden among the fairly thick, syrupy flavors.

Like I said, I don’t like it as much as I once did, but it’s a pretty solid brew from a brewery that is still on the cutting edge (if only because of their other beers). Recommended.

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