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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,079 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,079
Reviews: 1,767
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 73
Gots: 277 | 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: 4,079 | Reviews: 1,767 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BranfordBound
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a nice slightly hazy amber with ruby highlights. A two finger light tan head forms and there is abundant carbonation. Good lacing.

Smells of caramel, molasses, fruity malts, slight brandy.

Tastes very sweet at first. Lots of malt give the beer a big sweet, caramel note. Then it transitions into a dark fruit flavor similar to raisins. After that there is a touch of a tea like hop flavor. No alcohol in the flavor but you feel it in your chest.

At the upper end of medium bodied. Has an oily feel to it that is very clingy. Not too much carbonation is felt.

Fairly drinkable on a cold day, very sweet and fruity, with the alcohol to warm you up.

BranfordBound, Nov 20, 2010
Photo of FleeVT
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. brown bottle born on 1/4/08.

A: Beautiful clear light mahogany, as advertised. It looked like an extended brew iced tea with a tan head.
S: Malty sweetness dominates the nose, what little there is. No alcohol or hops to speak of, the malt reminds me of maple syrup.
T: Yeasty malt flavor fades to a raisin sweetness with a slightly astringent back drop. This beer could use more balance.
M: Smooth with a mild carbonation, great.
D: Worth a try as it is a Dogfish Head, but I probably won't buy another sixer. Went well with my blackened chickend.

FleeVT, Mar 10, 2008
Photo of soper2000
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Jumped right in with a six pack instead of getting a single. Pours with very little head, but an agressive pour of half the bottle left a small but quickly disappating head. Smell is of dark fruits and a little bit of candi sugar. Nose isn't as assertive as I would've liked but oh well, what's there is pleasant. Taste is suprisingly yeasty but with a strong maltiness and a nice fruity middle. Alcohol presence is notable. Not terrible on it's own but I can pick up much more interesting Belgian darks for about the same price. Interesting but won't be revisiting again after I finish my six pack. (why can't I get Midas Touch in my area???)

soper2000, Mar 27, 2005
Photo of QXSTER1
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I couldn't get excited about this beer. Everything is there but not put together in a sophisticated fashion. Deep copper color, and a non-existent head. Nose is sweet and phenolic with some fruitiness. The taste is one dimensional, a bit grapey but nothing jumps out to grab your attention. A wouldn't call this a Belgian style, the complex yeast notes and intense flavors just aren't there. It didn't improve with warming either.

QXSTER1, Nov 13, 2002
Photo of HopHed
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

APPEARANCE: A dark burgundy, slightly rusty brown brew with just the slightest of head, and almost no lacing.

AROMA: An extremely malty, sweet smell, with a slightly spicy rum or sweet/spicy "alcohol" smell like brandy or something.

FLAVOR: A definitely malt front note, with wonderfully smooth sweet caramel, date, and molasses notes. Also a a very noticeable flavor of grape or raisins, green raisins? This is not too sweet, but it is sweet, with little to no hop bitterness here.

PALATE: A medium bodied brew, that is pretty well balanced. No bitterness, no notes of alcohol, all about the sweet malts and fruit flavors.

MOUTH FEEL: A somewhat thick almost syrupy brew. This beer is extremely lightly carbonated, but is still rich and flavorful.

NOTES: The beer is a rich, creamy, lightly carbonated 8% ABV beer that I have to say I think would be best as a desert beer. I am a big IPA, DIPA, DIIPA hop-bomb beer drinker, but I could easily take a couple of these down as an end to a meal. I think this would go particularly well after a steak or the like. Something hardy!

HopHed, Jun 28, 2009
Photo of RomaniIteDomum
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured as advertized, "deep mahogany". Not bad looking at all, could use more head.

I smell raisins and a slightly coffee-like malt. Pretty sweet with a slight bitterness from the soffee aroma.

The taste is good, if not a little underwhelming. It's good, has well-balanced flavors and a nice complexity. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something not quite right. The flavors seem to muddle a little bit.

They definately got the mouthfeel right. The carbonation and body feel great and are quite refreshing.

Eh, I guess it's drinkable, but I'm just a little disappointed. The beer was a little underwhelming, but still good. I would like to give the beer another try, but I have other things higher on the list.

RomaniIteDomum, Aug 31, 2009
Photo of stride28
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Drank out of the glass bottle. The smell was pleasant, with a soft aroma that carried a thick sweetness, with definite traces of raisin carried throughout. In terms of taste, the beer is very sweet, almost overpoweringly so. The raisin and sugar are apparent, masking the alcohol until the aftertaste. Overall, the sweet mixture gives this beer a unique and strong character that can at times be overwhelming. Consuming a single bottle of this beer, in my opinion, is enjoyable for its unique and sweet flare; anything more would be a bit too much sweetness.

stride28, Feb 05, 2013
Photo of andjusticeforale
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The owner of my usual package store let me know about this beer a few months ago, but I was too busy buying Belgian's to notice this one. He described it as a big dark Raisin flavored beer. He wasn't that far off.

Let me first say that I do like big trappist style quadrupel and strong dark ales so I once I tasted this I knew what to expect. I bought a six of this stuff for $6.99 which really wasn't too expensive at all( I once bought a 4-pack of Dogfish Aprihop for $8.99)

It poured into a ballon type glass without much of a head. The clor was blueish black with tight carbonation. The smell was sweet grape and Belgian sugars. I was impressed with the nose and the begininning of this beer and I thought to myself- they must use Belgian malts here, to get this smell. This was 8.00 abv, and to their credit- you could taste no alcohol, except perhaps a warming finish. The mouthfeel was good, at least as good as Unibroue's "Trois Pistoles" In fact, it is very similar to this beer.

Here's the rub, for me anyway, there was a way too strong Raisin aftertaste. It left a cloying, unpleasant type film on the palate, almost like a bad shiraz. I also like to swirl the glass and savor each sip, that wasn't the thing here either. This is a disappointment but then I thought, Dogfish must be going for this. If this is the case, and you love the raisin taste of shiraz,(try "Jake's Fault Shiraz" out of California) you will love this and think it is the best beer ever. For me, It started great but finished with the aftertaste.

andjusticeforale, Jul 17, 2005
Photo of theghost3
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, dark brown with ruby highlights. There's a 2-finger head that quickly disappears. Minimal lacing.

The smell is strong of raisins, molasses, & roasted malts. The taste is mainly raisins, cherry, and molasses, but there's also a trace of coffee malts. The mouth feel is fairly smooth, but it's a little flat.

This is a drinkable beer, but I'm not sure it's a Belgian Strong Dark. It has some of that style's qualities, but it also has some qualities of the American craft styles.

theghost3, Jun 29, 2009
Photo of rdrummer
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I found Raison to be a good beer but not a great beer. The color is a hazy ruby red to brown, which looks good. The head, though, was smaller than expected and disappeared quickly. I loved the way it smelled with the rummy, raisin aroma with a background of alcohol. The taste wasn't quite as good but still okay. Compared to other Belgian Dark Ales, it would not make the list of favorites. As a beer, it feels good in the mouth and was drinkable despite the 8% alcohol content. I know that this was supposed to be a Belgian Dark Ale, but it misses that mark somehow, even though the beer is good.

rdrummer, Mar 19, 2004
Photo of metter98
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured dark mahogany brown with a small head that disappeared quickly, leaving just a few bubbles around the edge of the surface. There's a low- to moderate level of carbonation visible.
S: Dark fruits and sweetness dominate the aroma.
T: Flavors of raisins, dark fruit and brown sugar stand out in the initial taste, followed by the underlying malts and sweetness. The alcohol leaves a bit of heat in the finish, along with a bit of bitterness from the hops.
M: The beer feels medium bodied on the palate and the level of carbonation seems just right and does not make it taste too heavy or syrupy.
D: This is a good beer to sip but I can't see having more than one of these in one session. The alcohol starts hitting you after a while.

metter98, Apr 09, 2010
Photo of lehows
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a wonderful dark amber color with a fine off-white head. Robust aromas of sweet fruit and sweet malt. Flavors are again very sweet upfront with a tangy malt in the background. Fruity with some mild caramel sugar in here as well. Nice mouthfeel and fine carbonation bubbles. Overall, I found this to be an interesting brew but the sweetness got to me after a while, I wouldn't drink many pints of this.

lehows, Apr 16, 2007
Photo of JayS2629
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Best thing about this beer. Dark mahogany copper color with off white thick creamy head that dissipates quickly. Nice foamy wall of lacing.

S- Faint belgium yeasts, spicy, sweet caramel and dried apple, dam tea bag smell with sweet malt overtones.

T- Toffee and white raisins with mellow hints of tea and caramel. Apple and and a touch of honey. faint sweet pineapple. Much more subtle than expected.

M- Thin with creaminess. Slight bite. Dry finish.

D- Very drinkable. Medium body with nice flavor profile. Simple and refreshing.

JayS2629, Dec 17, 2010
Photo of Gasp100
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow, this brew definitely took me off guard. I like the fact these guys take chances and are always trying new combinations (and they are local) but this one was a little to rough for my taste. The appearance was a deep mahogany color and the pour did not produce much of a head. A clingy lace hung down the glass till the bitter (and I mean bitter) end. A heavy scent of raison, figs, etc... were a change for me but overall it was a little heavy handed for me --- the ABV was way high and actually took over the taste of the brew overall. I couldn't drink a lot of this, but every once in a while on a cold winter night, this could be a good companion.

Gasp100, Oct 25, 2003
Photo of zoso493
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle made on 12/28/10 into a Dogfish signature glass.

Appearance: Raison D'Être pours a very light mahogany color that is a touch less brown than the stereotypical BSDAs. When held to the light, it takes on a bright garnet hue. Only a thin one-finger head emerges at the top of the glass, and it recedes quickly to form a film above the beer.

Smell: The smell on this brew has a very alcoholic quality to it, as well as a decent scent of sourness. Other than that, I can get a very faint scent of raisins and hints of a less-than-great Belgian yeast strain. There isn't much complexity to the nose either, as the alcohol sort of blurs any distinction between the scents.

Taste: The taste mostly resembles the scent as the raisin, dark fruit and tinge of Belgian yeast are the most prominent tastes. The alcohol comes on fairly strong in the finish, though it's not overpowering. I could almost swear that there are some bittering hops in there around the end, too. Once, again the taste lacks the complexity and depth of flavor to be a really good BSDA.

Mouthfeel: Raison D'Être is a decidedly medium-bodied beer and might be just a bit thinner than a good BSDA should be. It is, however, a refreshingly crisp and well-carbonated beer.

Drinkability: This is a fairly nice drinking beer, as it's not over the top in alcohol content or flavor profile, but I probably would only have one of these, given the prevalence of the alcohol in the taste.

Overall, Raison D'Être is a decent attempt at reproducing a BSDA, but it lacks a lot of components that the best of them have. It's too alcoholic and it lacks the complex flavor that is characteristic of BSDAs. It does become a bit more laid back as it warms, though it's still not up to snuff. I'm glad I tried it, but there are other BSDAs I'd reach for before I had this again.

zoso493, Feb 01, 2011
Photo of granger10
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This one pours a ruby woody crimson color with a small head that fades abruptly. The color is one I have never seen before but it sure looks pretty. Lots of bubbles racing to the top on this beer. The smell is really strong with alcohol and has a slight brown sugary sweetness. The taste is malt heavy on top. It's sweet but not residually sweet. Maybe thats the belgian beet sugars coming into play. There's a base of caramel malt in here also but it only hints at coming out never really becoming a strong flavor. Alcohol is present the whole time and becomes exceedingly strong towards the end. Belgian yeast provides a slight offset to the alcohol but not enough and is different in its own right. The body is rather thin, maybe because of strong alcohol precense or lack of carbonation, and it's not the smoothest beer. But the complexity and originality of this beer make it something unusual and well worth trying. What style is this anyways?

granger10, Jan 07, 2004
Photo of Brynn
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful color when poured, a wonderful garnet--it immediately filled my room with the scent of delicious beer.

Smell was very interesting; very similar to an Irish Red, but with a hint of something cold and quiet behind it all. The flavor itself mimics the smell, not overpowering, but present and unique. Pleasantly made a path down to the stomach, leaving a nice glow behind. I can't really taste the raisins, but it's more of a feel of raisins than an actual flavor.

Brynn, May 14, 2010
Photo of kmo1030
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this is a pretty beer in my opinion. it's got nice brown color with pale quarter inch head. It's smells like no beer i've ever encountered. there is a heavy raisin smell, almost like grape juice. i think there are some other fruity smells in there, but i can't identify them. It's taste is what i would expect from the smell of it. it tastes like a beer/wine hybrid almost. the raisins are again apparent along with some sweet malt flavor. the 8% alcohol is masked well as it does not taste that strong. it has a slight coffee/chocolatey finish. it's mouth feel is nice and pretty thick. overall a decent beer, but nothing i'm going to run out and get again right away.

kmo1030, May 30, 2003
Photo of jlindros
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Light fizzy head, hazy reddish brown color.

Nose is musty herbal hops, sweet brown malts, brown sugar, caramel, s weet syrups, toasty malts.

Taste herbal hops, musty, earthy tones, sweet brownish toasty malts, brown sugar, caramel, toffee, light spices, raisins, hazelnut, nutty, light minerals, chewy, finishes still a bit sweet, malts, light bitter herbal hops,

Mouth is med bodied with decent carb,

Overall meh, the herbal hops hit quite a bit, little minerality, plenty of malts, sweet

jlindros, Mar 29, 2011
Photo of OldSchoolGamer
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is probably one of the least talked about Dogfish Head brews. While somewhat lacking compared to others in their lineup, this is still a quality beer. Here is my review:

A: Pours a hazy brownish amber color. Head dissipates rather quickly, but there is some really nice lacing action.

S/T: The aroma is full of dark fruit along with a nice malty sweetness. Maybe some brown sugar in there. Taste is pretty good. The dark fruit is the very first thing you get. Mostly plum and raisin. Then the sweet malt comes through with hint of toffee and brown sugar. There is also a touch of green apple in there as well. A nice, complex Belgian Ale. Not my favorite, but still very good.

M/D: Mouthfeel is on the medium side. Carbonation is good and is slightly bubbly in the mouth. Drinkability is fine. This is a type of beer I drink on occasion. Not something to session or have everyday.

Of all the year-round beers from Dogfish Head, I think this is probably my least favorite. Not a bad beer by any means, this is definetly worth checking out, especially if you like Belgian Ales and raisins.

OldSchoolGamer, Feb 05, 2010
Photo of objectivemonkey
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Into my new Dogfish Head glass, courtesy of drseamus, pours a ruby mahogany, an inch head gives way to a nice film, some bubblies, and decent lacing. The aroma is rich with candied sugars, some sweet fruity malt oozes forth and has some warmth to it. The taste is good, but hard to describe. I suppose one could say its Belgian-ish. There is malt and spices and warm alcohol to be sure, but I can't quite name any of it, something like toffee, something vaguely like raisins... There is some nice taste to it, but it just is a bit too perplexing. Moderate carbonation and a medium body, its quite drinkable, utterly confusing, pretty much unique. I'm still scratching my head.

objectivemonkey, Jan 12, 2008
Photo of Dawkfan
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- An attractive looking ale in my tulip glass. A translucent mahogany with some light red tinges. Creamy off white head. Modest lacing as this one settles out.

S- Let this warm up! Definitely picking up the Belgian sugars. Dark fruits, hard time pulling out the green raisins though, if anything I'm getting more of the darker variety. Sweetness from the malt and a hint of alcohol.

T- Not really all that complex for a Belgian styled ale. Sweet up front from the malt and fruit sugars. Finish is somewhat hot and I also get a little bubblegum. A fruity sweet flavor lingers with the alcohol.

M- Feels nice going down. Medium bodied ale, carbonation a touch prickly.

D- Not bad, I can appreciate what Dogfish does with their ales.

Dawkfan, Mar 03, 2011
Photo of GarthDanielson
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured on-tap into a tulip, the beer is an auburn-brown color with a thin layer of off-white head. There are aromas of grape sweetness, with a sweet malt highlight. Very rich on the nose. The beer's flavor is strong, with a merlot character, and a tangy, sour fruit undertone. The aftertaste is minimal, with a bit of the fruit sweetness again. The finish is dry, and it keeps the flavors from being overpowering or cloying. Deep, dark, and heavy flavors make this one a sipper. Unique and interesting beer.

GarthDanielson, Aug 08, 2011
Photo of JayQue
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wasn't that impressed. It had Belgian-like aspects to it, but without the complexity. Seemed a bit too sweet and the alcohol was noticeable. Poured a nice mahogany and amber color with a large off-white head that faded quickly to a ring. Didn't notice much lacing. Smell was about average for a big beer, certainly didn't match any of the few Belgians I have tried. The taste was ok, definitely knew it was a Belgian style, sweetness, maltiness, a somewhat astringent quality and dark fruit...the label says raisins. The sweetness was not balanced against anything like the variety of flavors experienced with several sips of a good Belgian.
Mouthfeel was rich. Drinkability about average. The sweetness and lack of variety got boring....not a beer I would be tempted to drink 2 of at a session.

JayQue, Apr 01, 2007
Photo of mountsnow1010
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Gaithersburg Alehouse

A - Amber with a thin white head.
S - Hard to pick stuff out. A bit of caramel and slight pruny smell, interesting grassiness as well
T - Raisins (unsurprisingly), other darkish fruits, a bit of maltiness. An interesting solvent-like taste that I typically associate with crappy beers. Not too strong though.
M - Relatively clean...
D - Could have a few, not too alcoholic.

mountsnow1010, Jan 17, 2011
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,079 ratings.