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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Educational use only; do not reuse.

4,226 Ratings

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Ratings: 4,226
Reviews: 1,775
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 15.07%
Wants: 93
Gots: 377 | 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: 4,226 | Reviews: 1,775
Photo of FanofHefe
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 1/18/11, poured into a pint glass. Deep amber-colored body with a bit of ruby red tint. Very carbonated, but settles into a two-finger light tan head. The head quickly dissipates, leaving a small amount of sticky lacing.

The aroma begins with simple caramel malt, but adds just a touch of spice from the yeast and a note of light fruitiness.

Sweet flavor overall, with the Belgian beet sugars dominating. The spice and small note of floral hops give a bit of balance.

Medium mouthfeel and very little notice of the alcohol. A little too sweet overall for my liking, but a very interesting and worthy effort overall from DFH.

Photo of CHADMC3
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep mahogany with ruby hues and an off white bubbly head that hangs around a while before dissipating and leaving a thin sticky lacing in its wake.

Aromas of brown sugar, faint raisins, other faint dark fruits, yeast, and caramel malt are most noticeable. There is also a very slight roastiness present.

Nice sweet palate, again brown sugar, and caramel malt, sweet nuts, and again faint raisins. There are also some vanilla/milk chocolate flavors as the beer warms.

Medium body with medium carbonation, very sweet, yet diverse palate.

Not sure what to make of this brew. There's a lot going on in terms of tastes which on one sip I find delightful, and the next slightly off. Certainly not a traditional Belgian Strong Dark (as if DFH brews fall into categories). Certainly worth a try.

Photo of haddon
3.54/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

pours a translucent cola color with lots of carbonation bubbles flowing throughout. hardly any head even with an aggressive pour. no lacing down the goblet

dark fruits, raisins, & brown sugar that dominates with molasses on the nose

tastes of figs, molasses, & sweet raisins. as the drink approaches room temperature, it becomes boozy like a warm brandy.

thought the feel was a little light with heavy carbonation

for a dark belgian ale, I would expect it to be more rich, creamy with a deeper complexity. seems to not blend well... a little imbalanced.

Photo of jporf911
3.54/5  rDev -3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've heard good things about Dogfish Head, so I decided to give this one a shot. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle with no freshness date. The label says "A deep mahogany ale brewed with Belgian beer sugars, green raisins, & a sense of purpose".

Appearance- 2.5 out of 5. Pours with hardly any head. I kept waiting for it to bubble up, but it never did. That was rather disappointing, as is the lacing on the sides. It looks a lot like a dark soda when held up to the light.

Smell- 3.5 out of 5. This beer smells better than it looks. I catch hints of rum, caramel malt, and raisins; oddly enough, my nose also detects that artificial kind of purple grape scent often seen in candy and gum.

Taste- 3.5 out of 5. A slightly syrupy taste of caramel malt initially hits the tongue (I suspect a sucrose-based syrup was used as part of the malting process), followed by a buttery kind of malt and a bit of fruity ester sweetness. There is an aftertaste of brown sugar and those green raisins mentioned on the label. Hardly any bitterness from the hops at all. The alcohol is only an undertone, not at all an 8% ABV sort of taste. I've heard a few people say that this beer has some phenolic (e.g. reminiscent of sanitizer residue, band-aids, plastic, etc.) taste, but luckily I cannot detect it. Not bad, but the taste isn't balanced. Belgian beers are usually experimental and unorthodox, but this one seems rather chaotic and unbalanced-- a result of trying to imitate the style without being an expert in it, I suppose.

Mouthfeel- 3.5 out of 5. Light at first, then fills out to medium. It's surprisingly smooth and light in texture for an 8% ABV beer. Wet and carbonated, not crisp, but not unpleasant.

Drinkability- 4 out of 5. It's far from being a great Belgian beer, but it's definitely drinkable-- almost dangerously so, considering its 8% ABV. Its drinkability is its saving grace. If you find this on tap, and there's not much else in your taste/price range, I'd recommend it, but take it slow. This is the kind of beer that sneaks up on you at the end of the night, when you lurch off your bar stool to stumble to the bathroom and realize you suddenly have four feet.

Photo of suspect
3.54/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Samuel Adams perfect pint glass.

A: Deep mahogany in color as the label describes. Aggressive pour leads to a one finger head that disappears to a thin ring almost immediately. Lacing is minimal as the bubbles slip right down the glass.

S: Brown sugar, caramel, raisons, sticky sweet in the nose - leads me to believe the taste will follow.

T: Not as sweet as the nose but the raison/grape flavor hits first, followed by the brown sugar flavor. Hop bitter in the backend. Highly complex overall flavor that is really unique and yet satisfying at the same time.

M: Light carbonation, sticky sweet mouth coating. Alcohol is present here but not in the flavor. Nice feel but definitely a little on the thin side.

O: A nice attempt at a belgian dark with DFH's signature twists and turns. A unique take on the Belgian Strong Dark and one that I enjoy once or twice a year but not much more frequently than that.

Photo of
3.54/5  rDev -3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured this into a wine glass to have with dinner.

Almost no head, with some fome around the edges of the glass. Very thick.

Smells like sweet strawberries and watermelon. The fruit hides the alcohol very well.

Tastes like grape, lemon zest, strawberries and plum. This is very sweet, but the sugar is backed up by rich flavors.

Mouthfeel and drinkability are OK. I don't think I would enjoy this as much by itself. However, this was a perfect compliment to peanut sauce and curry.

Photo of BuzzLitebier
3.54/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at the 9:30 Club in DC poured into a plastic cup.

It was dark, and the cup wasn't clear, so I couldn't get a good indication of the true color. It did have a bit of head, though.
Smelled of concord grapes and dark fruit (dates, raisins). Sweet taste and definitely had the dark fruit taste with a bit of ketones and bubblegum that are reminiscent of a dark Belgian. It was almost a syrupy mouthfeel with a bit of carbonation.

It's definitely drinkable, but not my favorite. I'll have it when it's available but not seek it out.

Photo of mexikrainian
3.54/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz poured into a Orval chalice.

Appearance: ruby brown with non-existent head and lacing.

Aroma: raisins, spices, vanilla and cinnamon.

Flavor: sweet maltiness, molasses, plum, caramel and cloves.

Mouthfeel: bland light-medium body and light carbonation.

Overall impression: tasty and alcoholic but lacking in body. great for the price, though.

Photo of tbeckett
3.54/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from a grocery store in Dade City, Florida. From notes.

A - Deep amber pour with a nice two finger fluffy light brown head. Good carbonation, spotty lace anda a film of retention.

S - Lot' sof raisins. Sugar, dark fruit, light yeast, vinous, port. Aroma became quite grapey later.

T - Sugar, raisins, a little yeast, nice dark malty richness. A little port and vinous notes. Sweet. Flavour gets a bit dull with time. It doesn't seem to have much drinkability for the laung haul. Flavour doesn't carry through from the initial sips.

M - Medium carbonation, light-ish body, sweet and dry finish. Body is a bit lacking.

O/D - A nice BSDA. Complex and tasty, but with a weak body. Otherwise a good example of the style, and a good intro to Belgian-styles from North America. A touch too sweet.

Photo of Wonka
3.54/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 fl. oz.
8% Alc. by Vol.
Packaged in 1 (Jan)

Appearance – red/slight orange body; minor white head comes and goes; little in the way of lace

Smell – sugary sweet; ‘milked down’ coffee; roasted malt; solvent-like alcohol; some dark chocolate; certainly unique

Taste – unique tinge of alcohol strings on throughout and brings this ship down a notch; hoppy middle; some caramel; molasses-like flavor battles with alcohol and the strongest hops of the experience for an awkward close and aftertaste; the taste is all over the place; it’s a bipolar trip for the tongue

Mouthfeel – nice moderate to light feel with a crisp backend

Drinkability – the flavors didn’t exactly flow too well as a team

This is unlike any ‘Belgian Strong Dark Ale’ that I have imbibed. Strong fits, but Belgian? Strange. Weird. This was a tough review. Raison D’Etre just didn’t taste or feel right. Overall, it’s a bit better than average but not a beer that I’d recommend based on this sample.

Photo of bishopdc0
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Amber brown with a decent head almost woody color 3.5

Sweet aroma almost wine like with a tartness and slight alcohol

The taste is of this is a brow initially sweet crystal malts. Come with the carbonation a sweet berry flavor enter as the carbonation exits and the berry taste remains. A slight alcohol on the palate lingers

Photo of spinrsx
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle

Appearance - The beer pours a hazy brown colour with an average size frothy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is a decent amount of lacing. The head lasted for only a few minutes before it was gone.

Smell - malts, toffee, dark fruits

Taste & Mouth - There beer has an average amount of carbonation but it feels very velvety on the tongue. It has a very full bodied taste and it is very sweet. Most of the taste is made up of toffee and malts mixed with raisins. The bottle mentions beets - I didn't pick up on that. The beer tasted much better once it got close to room temperature. It finishes with a malty and sweet aftertaste.

Drink - A nice beer that works well as a winter warmer. The alcohol is well hidden and it has a lot of taste. I'm not sure I could handle more than 1 of these in a night, but I'd drink it again for sure.

Photo of rdub
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into my favorite snifter. Light brown fluffy head quickly dissipated and minimal lacing. Lovely sweet malt smell with a tiny bit of fruit, but not necessarily raisin. The taste was delicious malt with a touch of hops and a nice sweetness. Mouthfeel was medium heavy with tiny bubbles. The drinkability was good. I didn't get any raisin until the aftertaste. This brew had a lot going on. Nice, unique.

Photo of Brewlore
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured a dark hmm, amber color that had very nice red hues against light. Small head formed that disappeared all to quickly but thankfully left a nice little ring around the glass.

The aroma is pretty yeasty and malty. The esters are here and fairly attentive. A nice toasty malt aroma backs up those esters.

The taste is a mixed bag. It surely tastes Belgiany (obviously) so there's a slick sweet malt flavor going on. Given the types of ingredients, I feel their lost (or it could be I just can't pick them out).

Mouthfeel is quite nice, medium bodied and damned smooth.

It's drinkable, but I wouldn't reach for another one.

Photo of 57md
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a reddish brown with at least a finger of head that dissipates relatively quickly. The notable notes in the nose are both raisins and Belgian yeast. As for the flavor, a light essence of toffee joins the malt. The maltiness grows more defined as this offering warms. The finish is dominated by an alcohol burn that is fairly potent considering the ABV is not terribly high.

All-in-all, this beer is thin for the style. It is tasty, but nothing very special.

Photo of jaxon53
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served chilled in a pint glass. A little bit too cold for my liking. Poured a deep mohaogany (stolen from the bottle), with little head that dissipated rather quickly. No lacing. Smelled faintly of alcohol, grapes, and brown sugar. Tasted of grapes, wood, sugar with a sweet beginning and a tart , dry wine like finish. Pretty decent brew but i prefer the 'Extra.

Photo of foogerd
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- deep amber pretty clear body with hardly any head some lacing
S- booze ,chocolate powder, red grapes/raisins/ some dark candied fruits, a real mess of a medley of flavors that somehow swim together in a somewhat harmonious fashion
T- lots of brown sugar and baked dark breads at first definite sugary raisins in there, the sugar seems a bit too much and throws off the other flavors that this brew has to offer, i feel it has more potential if not for the sweetness overload.
M- decent carbonation nice full feel to the brew
D- if you could handle all the sweetness it drinks decently
I was expecting more from this beer, it appeared more interesting than it actually tasted.

Photo of hellomcfly
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours hazy dark amber with minimal head, about half a finger from an aggressive pour.

S - Raison, brown sugar, faint roasted malt aroma and boozy sweetness.

T - Roasted malt, raison, has sort of a bitter aftertaste but not really a hoppy bitterness.

M - Medium bodied and smooth.

D - Not a overly heavy beer but the 8% abv is obvious and not at all masked.

Had some sweet golden raisins with this. Paired pretty well.

Photo of paterlodie
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

No head and brownamber beer. Nose is very malty but also lots of cardboard, candy carramellic candy. Good chocolate hint also and sweet overall caracter. Taste is also very carramellic and chocolate, sweet carracter that hides alcohol content well. Still to me an overall very oxidated impression and could well be that this one was a litle over the top. Full and thick mouthfeel though that is enhanced by low carbonisation and feels like a thick soup. Low bittered but clean. Well drinkable but nothing special IMO.

Photo of Viggo
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle, a kind of dark orangy red colour with absolutely no head. Smells interesting, caramel and raisin type smells. Has a sweet taste, buttery with some caramel and fruit. Burns a bit on the way down. Mouthfeel is pretty thick and creamy. Decent beer, kind of disappointed by it though, had been waiting a while and it let me down. But give it a try.

Photo of GodOfBeer
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark mahogany with a thin yellowish head, barely any lacing.

Smells of brown sugar, nutty caramel malts, raisins and some barely noticeable alcohol in the background.

Tastes sweet and sugary upfront, caramel, raisins and dark fruit, finishes somewhat nutty with some molasses. Kind of like a mix between a BSDA and a Doppelbock or something, somewhat strange, not too crazy about it, covers the alcohol very well though.

Average mouthfeel, not too thick or syrupy and somewhat drinkable. Definately not the best Dogfish brew, and one of the least exciting Belgian Ales I've had...

Photo of sevopie
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance - Mahogany in color with a cream colored head. Laces Well

Smell - Smells of wood and raisins, with a touch of bready yeast.

Taste - Again, Smoky raisins, a lot like the taste. Very malty, and a slightly sweet finish with a ghostly hint of a spice.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, slightly heavy on the carbonation.

Drinkability - The smokiness starts to overwhelm the more you drink it, but its still a solid easy drinking concoction.

Photo of DaggerEyes
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

brown 12 oz bottle poured into a chalice

Dark brown with some golden ruby hints when held up to the light. A small fizzy head rises and disappates into decent soapy looking lacing on the surface.

Nose of grape, bubblegum

Carmel, raisin, bubblegum and alchohol are present on the taste. Not anywhere near as tasty as I remember this being a few months back...perhaps since I've been experiencing a a lot more the world of craft brewing has to offer I've become a far harsher critic.

Nice amount of carbonation active on the tounge but the body feels a bit thin. Nice finish.

All in all not a bad beer to kick around with, have with a burger, but nowhere near as good as it was when I was newer to the craft brew scene and not the "best beer in america" as it claims on the six pack carton.

Photo of dedrinker
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber - kinda brown with a light tan head. Faint aroma of sweet and roasted malts. Tastes first kinda smokey and roasty, then sweet like caramel. A little oxidized too perhaps. Full bodied with soft carbonation. Minimal hops is good to let the malt and "offbeat" ingredients stand out more. Still not quite my thing though.

Photo of kbub6f
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The head is small, beige-white and dense, but dies fast. The beer is dark, clear, toffee-brownish. Nuts and sweet fruit in the nose. The front is sweet, rich caramel. Thick and sweet through the middle: toffee, malt and butter. Alcohol in the finish with sweet ripe fruit and more peanuts. Sweet after taste reminds me of baking ingredients... fruitcake? nutbars? Anyway, overall, not bad. I like the nuts. The malt is good and butter, but on the whole it's a little too sweet for me.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,226 ratings.