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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,850 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3850
Reviews: 1760
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%

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)
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Ratings: 3,850 | Reviews: 1,760 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of jbone78


4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one of my all time favorites. I drink this beer once a month or so. And every time I buy it makes wonder why I don't buy it more often.

A- Great! Pours just as the label says, Mahogany. Small head that leaves quickly. But the beer is clear.
S- Not alot to smell. You get a whif of hops and some very nice toasty malts, but you really have to try.
T- Very complex, I taste toasted malts, Belgian sugars and the hop flavor is mild. I guess the raisons are in there somewhere? My guess, the raisons are in the malty/sugary flavors? Very complex for me.
M- Mildly carbonated.
D- This is the best part. This beer is very drinkable for me. I am a fan of sweet Belgian beers and this one I could drink several in one sitting.

Great beer, in my book,

Serving type: bottle

05-14-2009 23:02:10 | More by jbone78
Photo of DrDemento456


4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep amber color with head the quickly disappears.
S - Smells of dark fruit an alcohol
T - Sweet raisin taste followed by bitter raisin taste which may have been from the grapefruit hops. Interesting
M - Really thin for 8 percent and smooth.
D - Man this is weird but I think this is the first dogfish head I actually liked! I had the 90 back in the day and may have it again because it was undrinkable and the peach flavor sour was a drain pour. Really solid beer and was impressed.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2010 07:07:43 | More by DrDemento456
Photo of jiggahertz

New Hampshire

4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Nice deep orange amber beer with a finger of foamy beige head, which dissipates slowly.

S: Sweet bisquity malts, toffee, caramel, good strength.

T: Roasted malts up front, nice and nutty spices some coriander maybe followed by some hops at the end. Alcohol is there but barely present on the tongue.

M: Full bodied, medium carbonation.

D: Highly drinkable for such a strong beer, sweetness is definitely there but not overpowering.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2010 21:41:11 | More by jiggahertz
Photo of AEK

United Kingdom (Wales)

4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

355ml brown bottle poured into a Delirium Tremens snifter.

A. Orange-red coloured beer topped by an off-white pillowy head.

S. Wine, plums and juicy malt.

T. Peppery, spicy and alcohol soaked fruit.

M. Full bodied, slightly chewy.

D. Drinks much stronger than an 8% ABV beer, having said that it is very drinkable indeed. Love its warming character.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2011 16:13:03 | More by AEK
Photo of ckollias


4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this 12oz bottle out of a pint glass.

A: Dark mahogany hue with a tan 1-1/2 finger head that quickly dissipates into a wispy lace.

S: Aromas of sweet caramel, raisins and spices. Alcohol scents also fill the nose.

T: More sweet than bitter, with heavy caramel overtones and hints of raisins.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: Another interesting brew by Dogfish head - they rarely dissapoint.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2011 00:50:12 | More by ckollias
Photo of Dwtucker90


4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed from a bottle and out of a North Coast Brewing tulip glass. Beer bottle on 2/19/13 and drank on 5/1/13.

Look: The color is a deep cherry wood/mahogany. Can't see through it. Only thing really lacking here is a nice head. It poured with only about 2 centimeters of white head which quickly dissipated.

Smell: some spicy alcohol esters. Mild dark fruits with that typical Belgian yeast and malt nose. Nice but not a very strong nose. Have to really look for the nose on this one until it warms and opens up. Once you let that happen it is very pleasant.

Taste: lots of Belgian yeast and malt similar to most strong Belgian beers. A good bit of warming alcohol which is spicy in the front and warming going down. Dark and sweet fruits and picking up some of that green grape after taste that lingers and sticks to your mouth.

Mouthfeel: not much to the head but this beer's carbonation really comes through once you get it into your mouth. Just the way I like my strong Belgians, slick but bubbly and spicy.

Overall: Not my favorite of the style but an interesting and delicious entrance by Dogfish Head. Definitely worth trying and enjoying.

Serving type: bottle

10-03-2012 01:39:00 | More by Dwtucker90
Photo of BeerandWhiskeyHQ


4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Wonderfully dark and has a deep copper color. The quickly dissipating head was light tan in color. The color does remind me of a dark rich mahogany which is what Dogfish referred to this ale as.

S: It smells sugary and sweet with a strong scent of raisins or grapes. There is a presence of oak and malt and slightly bitter overall. The presence of alcohol makes itself known.

T: The taste is sugary and sweet much like it smells, there is an underlying taste threaded throughout the complexity of the beer that might be coming from the beet sugars. I get a spice note in there as well. The scent and smell translates nicely to the taste. To me I get more of a grape taste than raisins (yes I realize the correlation between grapes and raisins), but it has the taste of a lot of other Dogfish beers that specifically mention that grapes were included in their ingredient bill.

O: I really enjoy this beer, but isn’t something I see myself enjoying on a very regular basis, it is rich, complex and very enjoyable which makes me want to keep it for an “every once in a while” sort of occasion. This is a beer that is a must try for sure.


Serving type: bottle

01-20-2014 15:54:56 | More by BeerandWhiskeyHQ
Photo of beergeek279


4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served as a sample at the Penn Festival. The color was dark amber with a bit of head. The smell was sweet, with a hint of malt. The taste was very sweet, with hints of the raisons. The mouthfeel was fairly smooth, and the alcohol wasn't apparent at all. This is definitely a beer I'd have several of.

This is Dogfish Head's attempt to do a Dubbel. I enjoyed this one and think that it's one of the better Belgian-styles produced in America, and hope to see DFH do more!

Serving type: on-tap

06-10-2003 17:41:56 | More by beergeek279
Photo of PorterLambic


4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly opaque orange-copper color with a 1 1/2", tight, cream colored head that drops slowly & evenly to a thick film and leaves good lacing..
Smell is malty, fruity (orange & raisin) & spice. A wonderful pleasure for the nose.
Taste is malty, fruity (apple/orange/raisin), hops (light & late), very complex, an extremely tasty brew.
Mouthfeel is very smooth, full bodied, warms the throat nicely without any harshness from the alcohol.
Drinkability is nearly as high as it can get. Often a beer with this much alcohol can be hard to drink more than one of, but this libation does not suffer that problem. I recommend this beer without any reservations.

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2004 19:38:58 | More by PorterLambic
Photo of BEERchitect


4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This brewery is incapable of brewing a bad batch. I passed on this beer for a while because I didn't think that I would fully appreciate it. I was wrong. An extremely complex and fruitful beer. Pours with a medium to high viscocity. Brown with some burgundy and purple violet tones. Tan / burgundy head falls to a trace, laces well, nice oily cling to the glass. Smells of cocoa, deep dark friuts, all hidden behind a malt base. Lightly hopped and tart. Tastes fruity sweet with pruned, dates, raisons, figs. All the goodness that you'd like from these fruits with only a mild tartness. A red wine-like muskiness in the body. Silky smooth rich body that nicely fades into the finish. Very consistant flow down the throat. Mild cherries show up in the finish. Mildly drying and mildly sweet. Dangerously easy to drink. I don't particularly like dark fruits, but I love the beers that exhibit their flavors--go figure.

Serving type: bottle

07-03-2005 14:57:40 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of NiceGuyMike

New Jersey

4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark amber with medium light tan head. Head clings to the side in a desparate attempt for survival, but is eventually beaten down. Light lacing remains as memorial. Smells a bit of figs, molassas (specifically brown sugar) and I guess rasins. Tastes similar with no one flavor dominating (well..perhaps the brown sugar stands out). Belgian yeast give it that Belgian quality of flavor, but again, not overpowering. Next to Allagash Odyssey I'll say this is the best Belgian Strong Dark Ale I've had. Full bodied with decent carbonation. So enjoyable, something to drink slowly and one to enjoy at home or without the need to drive.

Very sweet...no...extremely sweet, but in a good way. Dangerously easy to drink. Strong alcohol sneaks up on you easy. I went through two bottles without breaking a sweat early Thanksgiving afternoon. Wow, I must admit it hit me hard a few minutes after I finished the second bottle.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2005 04:27:50 | More by NiceGuyMike
Photo of Halcyondays


4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark brown, with ruby-red highlights when held up to the light. Nice head, with fair retention, with no real lacing that I like in a Belgian-style beer.

S: Lighter than I expected, but I picked up notes of dark fruit, brown sugar, and rum.

T: Very sweet, heavy notes of dried fruit and baking sugar, with a delectable molasses finish. A bit of an alcohol burn is detectable as the beer warms, but it doesn't seem out of place, it mixes well with the flavours. A very tasty beer overall.

M: Smooth, creamy and rich, slightly warming, nice on a cold November night.

D: One of my favourite beers from Dogfish Head, Raison D'Etre is a class act, one of the best American-made Belgians on the market in my opinion. However, since its not distributed here, I can't enjoy it as often as I'd like to.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2007 17:49:51 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of greg202stewart

Rhode Island

4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really liked this beer. It's a red color with no head. Its very smooth and you can taste the mahogany and raisin. I feel like Ron Burgundy, my beer smells of rich mahogany. This is one of the best American ales I've had with a great balance of malt, hop, raisin and yes mahogany. Surpised it's rated so low. I think it's one of the more mild DFH offerings, but so what not everything is extreme

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2009 23:11:49 | More by greg202stewart
Photo of Teeter

New Jersey

4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a 12oz. bottle into a La Fin Du Monde tulip glass.

A-After a brisk pour a small and quick to disapate head apeared. Aside from the lackluster head the color is beautiful amber/ruby.

S-The aroma of seasoned grape and well fermented I might add has my mouth watering.

T-This is in a taste catagory all it's own. Although definately beer it has an almost burgandy or port wine flavor but without that tart dry thing that most wine seems to have.

M-Unexpectedly creamy in spite of the carbonation. It seems to find away of touching every part of my mouth.

D-I find it verry drinkable. Not so much for session.

I've been told this is excellent as a steak marinade. Although I havn't used it myself as of yet I can see how it could work.

My only negative comment on this product would be the lacking head and there is no lacing to speak of.

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2009 16:38:20 | More by Teeter
Photo of Tolnik


4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this dark ruby brown beer into a pint glass. The head that was poured into the pint glass was a good half an inch of head. It then reduced down to faint wisps of lacing. The aroma of smell that wafts from this beer is that of a malt and raisin. The taste follows suit in the taste but follows a sweeter taste of raison. Yet there is also a hint of plum taste as well. Overall a great beer by the brewers of Dogfish Head.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2010 07:56:47 | More by Tolnik
Photo of elcapness17


4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a great beer. 8% abv, but it drinks very easily. It has a very unique flavor, and as an earlier person noted, the taste is that of a dark fruit. You can definitely taste the green raisins and beet sugars, but it's rounded off nicely with a bit of astringency. It gets more drinkable as it warms, and although the smell isn't phenomenal it is certainly not bad. I would recommend this if you are looking for something unique. I have a feeling that I could drink a six pack of these in one night, which is foreboding in the best way.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2010 03:32:12 | More by elcapness17
Photo of danriverbrew


4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

APPEARANCE: A beautiful deep deep gold color with a good half inch head.

SMELL: This is one thing that I was alittle disapointed in. While it had a nice sweet kind of nutty smell, it wasn't very strong. Not something that really roused the couriosity.

TASTE: A fantastic sweet mahogany taste, with what I detect is a little smokey note.

MOUTHFEEL: An awesome lingering taste that reminded me of the smoke from a camp fire. That rustic feel. At the end alittle spice note, not sure of the ingrediant. A fantastic balance.

DRINKABILITY: Not so much a casual drink but a great compliment to a meal. Something heavy like venison.


Serving type: bottle

01-29-2011 01:27:31 | More by danriverbrew
Photo of Andy


4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very different on tap than in the bottle. Here is a bottle review: Pours with a quickly dissipating head. Dark ruby color. Aroma is big alcohol, sweet sugar, and some nutty like cashew with spicy, yeasty hints. Complex flavor, sometimes mellow, with deep peppery hints and some yeast bite. Finish is smoky like true scotch ales.

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2002 07:48:48 | More by Andy
Photo of JamesBerry


4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This came out a thick reddish brown, topped with a strong head. Full, creamy mouthfeel, sweet and malty taste with hints of raisins and pineapple in the aroma. No noticeable traces of alcohol in the taste, despite its high abv. Overall, a wonderful beer that keeps pulling me back to it time and time again.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2004 00:54:44 | More by JamesBerry
Photo of clabaugh


4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Clear cherry with brown hues. Pasty white head that dissipates rapidly. Lacing is watery and impermanent.

Smell: Oak bark, roasted nuts. Roasty, roasty, roasty. Bready malts, honey, and some coffee bean. Vinous fruits reflecting a steady hop presence.

Taste: Baked bread, syrup, and more grape than raisin. Spice and sweetness. Some floral hops. The malts are dominant, with the hops being a sidenote. Coriander, nutmeg.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and lightly syrupy. Displayed a thickishly rich body. A lot of zest on the tongue.

Drinkability: Despite the high ABV, this proved to be a very drinkable beer. Rich, often quizical taste that really keeps you guessing. Fine craftsmanship. Highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2006 16:50:28 | More by clabaugh
Photo of rohrbachsfan

New York

4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep reddish amber/brown color with a small head that disappeared into a light lacing on the surface.

Smell: Sweet and fruity. I swear I could actually smell the raisins.

Taste: Lots of complex layers of flavors. I tasted sweet malt and nutty flavors and subtle winey notes.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and prickly from the carbonation with a somewhat dry after finish. Warming sensations follow soon after.

Drinakbility: At first I wasn’t sure I liked it, but it’s a very complex tasting beer and it grew on me. Goes down easily but packs a punch. Goes well by itself on a fall or winter night, but would definitely taste great with prime rib, roast beef, or a roasted turkey (could definitely take the place of a bottle of wine at the dinner table). This is probably one of the most interesting beers that I have tasted so far. Liked it a lot and would definitely buy it again.

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2007 16:14:01 | More by rohrbachsfan
Photo of Shonkers


4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is my first review, so excuse me while I pop my cherry....

The other disclaimer here is that I'm a fanboy of Dogfish Head beers--I love their offerings, I love their style, I love their off-centered theme....

Drinking from a Tulip glass after pouring from a bottle bought in Dayton, Ohio for the princely sum of $9.99/six pack.

Color is a beautiful cherrywood hue, minimal head due to my insistence that beer should be imbibed at temperatures near freezing (sue me).

Smell reminds me of molasses.

Taste is almost overly sweet, but then again, I like sweet. Molasses, with a following bite of alcohol.

Mouthfeel is near perfect. Daddy likes.

In addition to liking cold beer, I like high alcohol content. I'm in the military, and I like my beers like I like my women: intoxicating. Sessionable? Hells yes!

Serving type: bottle

05-09-2008 22:25:20 | More by Shonkers
Photo of ExMachina1


4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I bought this beer before realizing that it had FRUIT in it. Normally, I avoid fruit-containing beers as, said fruit tends to dominate the character of the beer and, frankly, if I wanted fruit I'd have bought a peach.

However, the investment in the six pack (and it IS and investment!) warranted a tasting and I was flabbergasted by the result. Simply put, this beer is exceptional.

Color is as described (by Dogfish Head), ie, mahogany. It's also got a good dose of protein in the head and the lacing hangs around for the duration. Beer is crystal clear.

Aroma is mysterious but very rich. I think the last reviewer got it right when he said that if he hadn't known that there were raisins in the beer, he wouldn't have know what was going on here. As it is, the beer smells inviting, al beit a bit intimidating. After all, who's well-versed in the quaffing of dried fruit?!?

The flavor is great. Complex, like a (barley) wine though w/o the alcohol punch. Very deep.

Finish is clean. There's a noticeable sticky sweetness on the lips, but nothing cloying on the palate. Other than that, you are simply left with the memories of the fruit, and a nagginig invitation to take another sip.

Overall, a singular and outstanding beer!


PS, Brothers, what the hell were you drinking? (cuz it certainly wasn't THIS beer!)

Serving type: bottle

05-17-2008 21:29:55 | More by ExMachina1
Photo of farrago

New Jersey

4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clear brown-amber color with minimal effervescence, average head foam, dark orange rims. Roasted dark chocolate and coffee in the nose, the raisin and dried fruit character comes through clearly, texture is smooth and malty without giving up a fresh and lively feel. Medium-bodied, sweet and sugary with rum raisin, plum, molasses and candied orange flavors. Heavy, not in a pure weight sense per se, just clings like syrup. Not much carbonation, this allows the flavors to all sink in completely. Notes of cinnamon mulled cider. Not for everyone but very captivating.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2009 23:11:10 | More by farrago
Photo of Radome


4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Tasted on tap at DFH Alehouse in Falls Church, VA.

A - Deep amber to red. Very clear. Off-white head lasts in a thin layer. Some lacing.

S - Noble hops and bready malt, almost like a Dopplebock aroma. However there is an unusual edge to the smell that foreshadows sweetness and alcohol.

T - Malt hits first, mixed with moderate noble hops. Then brown sugar, plums, raisins and licorice come in. The flavor keeps lingering and changing long after the swallow.

M - Light to moderate body, hops bitterness is moderate but blends in well. Alcohol well-hidden.

D - Very complex and shifting flavors. A great sipper that is better even than the sum of its outstanding parts. Almost like a Belgian abbey ale, but hops and body give a lighter and easier-drinking impression. I have enjoyed this beer from the bottle, but on tap its true genius comes out.

Serving type: on-tap

10-11-2011 21:08:39 | More by Radome
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 3,850 ratings.