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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,847 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3847
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)
View: Beers (138) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Ratings: 3,847 | Reviews: 1,760 | Show All Ratings:
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-17-2011 02:01:31 | More by mountsnow1010
Photo of clefoodandbrews


3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a very dark brown with a thicker creamy head that left significant lacing for the first half of the drink.

The smell was full of sweet scents...Caramel Malt and Yeast mainly dominated the smell. This had me a little worried!

The initial flavors to hit you are sweet too. Dark sweet fruits, toffee and raisins coat your palate at first and continue during the drink. They are well balanced and not too overpowering as the nose might have suggested. The aftertaste is what surprised me. A slight hint of citrus hops came through to add a little bitterness that totally changed my opinion of this beer. Without this ending this beer would have been too sweet from start to finish for my taste, but with the added bitterness it made this a very well balanced and drinkable brew.
Mouthfeel was light as was carbonation.
I found this beer to be quiet drinkable. I could have seen myself easily sitting back and enjoying a few of these!

Serving type: on-tap

12-21-2010 04:59:47 | More by clefoodandbrews
Photo of arboristfish


4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is a dark amber color with a white head. The aroma is of caramel malt, a hint of chocolate malt, and raisons. The flavor is sweet, a hint of chocolate malt and sweet caramel malt. Also there is a flavor like belgian candi sugar. The mouthfeel is medium light. Overall this is a drinkable beer.

Serving type: on-tap

12-06-2010 22:40:51 | More by arboristfish
Photo of afksports

New York

3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the brewery back at the end of August on my Dogfish trip. Reviewing it from notes.

I actually wasn't a huge fan of this one. As much as I loved the trip, this was a bit underwhelming. Overly sweet nose is what you notice. Figgy maybe. Sweet. That smell sits on top of the amber beer, which is good because there's not much head. It's a dark ale that runs smooth through the mouth, but you do notice the alcohol. The mouth does sustain nicely as it goes down though, as there's plenty of carbonation. Overall it was a great first taster, but nothing I'd come back to.

Unless presented with a Miller Lite sans vortex.

Serving type: on-tap

11-09-2010 05:50:53 | More by afksports
Photo of BeerCon5


3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a slightly hazy dark amber color with a small amount of off white bubbly head.

The scent is not very strong, some spice, a little alcohol, maybe a little sugar.

The taste is also quite faint, raisen is dominant, some roasty malt, notes of brown sugar and spice, alcohol is very noticeable.

Medium bodied, pretty smooth and crisp, moderate carbonation.

This was an ok Belgian, the flavor was a bit weak, I'm not sure if I will revisit this one. There are plenty of other Belgians I would prefer.

Serving type: on-tap

10-29-2010 19:49:58 | More by BeerCon5
Photo of vandemonian


3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had the Raison D'etre at the Dogfish Head in Gaithersburg. It has a nice dark orange colour and once it was bought to our table it had very little head. It mainteained a light lacing around the edge of the glass though. The smell is mostly of yeast with a hint of sweet caramel. The main taste here is a sweet, dark caramel flavour which I assume is from the beet sugar and the raisons. There is also a nice roasty malt flavour in there too. This beer feels great in the mouth sue to the nice thick texture and the good carbonation. I really interesting and tasty beer.

Serving type: on-tap

10-11-2010 01:04:05 | More by vandemonian
Photo of jrallen34


4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at whole foods, nothing like drinking while pushing the cart. Dare I say I finally a dfh beer that is not gimmicky and actually tasty? I dare! This is a really good beer, listed as a strong dark ale but I think this is a dubbel. Taste and aroma are both lots of raisin, dark caramels, dark fruits prunes, but inverted sugar sweetness. Easy to drink, and great at 8%.

Try this beer.

Serving type: on-tap

08-28-2010 00:27:06 | More by jrallen34
Photo of mdfb79

New York

3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 8/13/10 notes. Had on tap at the Iron Horse in DC.

a - pours a dark brown color with light carbonation evident and one inch of tan heAd

s - Smells of dark fruits, especially dates, prunes, and raisons, fruity malts, grapes, sugar, and alcohol.

t - Tastes of dark fruits, primarily dates, fruity malts, licorice, alcohol, and caramel malts.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - An ok dark ale, but wasn't the biggest fan of the taste. Probably wouldn't seek out again.

Serving type: on-tap

08-14-2010 21:58:47 | More by mdfb79
Photo of oglmcdgl


3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at landmark americana. Thanks to brandon for the nice time.

A- pint comes to me with a cm or two of off white head that settles instantly to a simple skin. Hazy dark orange brown in color.

S- raisins and dates with a hint of booze. Dark malts with some toffee and caramel.

T- dark malts and some mild sweetness but never cloying. Dates and raisins with some dark bread.

M- medium in body with about the same in carb.

D- well for 9 abv is rather drinkable. Good stuff but in the big world of bsda its not one that shines.

Serving type: on-tap

06-06-2010 22:44:21 | More by oglmcdgl
Photo of boss302


3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dogfish Head, Raison D'etre, draft, 7.5abv.

A A nice clear brown color. Absolutely no head at all. There was just a hint of head around the edge of the glass. Came in a frosted thick goblet; probably too cold for this beer.

S There was hardly any aroma on this beer aside from a very faint raisiny sweet note.

T Sweet, raisins, a litle peppery. Complex, clean, no big lingering aftertaste. There is a sweetness at first, but it fades quickly. I am not able to detect any distinct hop flavor. This beer is well balanced. It is really hard for me to pick out individual flavors.

M It appears as though it would be heavier, but is medium body and is thined by the relatively high 7.5abv. There is a little warming, but not very noticeable. It is a little sticky, so there must be some unfermented sugar left.

O Tastes a lot like Belgian darks that I have had, although sweeter. A complex brew that changes as it warms toward the end of the glass. Recommend.

Serving type: on-tap

05-31-2010 03:21:47 | More by boss302
Photo of josefnewsong

New York

3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark amber brown, almost opaque, with very little tannish head
S - raisins, prunes, alcohol, yeast, sweet malts
T - raisins and prunes with some alcohol warmth and belgian yeast flavors, molasses and maybe some brown sugar as well, tasty but not very cohesive or balanced
M - medium bodied and sticky, could be a little smoother but it's nice especially as it warms. a little watery.
D - definitely drinkable just slightly underwhelming overall

Serving type: on-tap

02-25-2010 15:56:57 | More by josefnewsong
Photo of TMoney2591


3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in DFH Alehouse pint.

Pours a deep crimson with a strong head of khaki that stood for several minutes (without starch, no less!) before settling away into the bloody sea. The waves smell rollingly of raisins, dark malts, and figs, each progressively smashing the olfactory rocks throughout the sniff. The figgy waves, though, are the ones that hit the hardest once the tasting begins, the malts and raisins rowing ashore bedecked in full ninja regalia. This covert crew and their more ostentatious front-line compatriots sit somewhat heavily on the tongue, almost languishing there, but are saved by the grace of a very smooth texture, keeping them from malingering in Limbo with Virgil and his cohorts, but not raising them too far up the purgatorial mountain.

Serving type: on-tap

02-02-2010 18:59:09 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of atigerlife


4.38/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark mahogony with a thin light brown head that dissipates rather quickly. No visible carbonation.

Aroma of malts, raisings, sweetness and hints of rum.

Taste is malts...like WOW that's malty! Dark, sweet fruits [raisins], alcohol. Slightly woody. Very, very tasty.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, creamy and cleansing.

Overall, very drinkable. Outstanding for the style. Quite impressive.

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

01-11-2010 01:12:39 | More by atigerlife
Photo of mklinger

North Carolina

3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this at the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Fairfax, VA.

A rich brown/amber color with a tan head that quickly dissipated. Nicely carbonated.

Aroma was complex and interesting. The raisins were certainly detectable along with some clove spice and yeasty character.

Taste was similar though there was a balance missing. The beer was fairly dry and the malt and spice-like characteristics didn't really seem married in their flavor. It seemed like there were multiple flavors here that just didn't go together well.

This was an extremely easy to drink beer for an 8% abv beer, one I might order again to give it another try, but one that I wasn't super excited about drinking.

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

01-05-2010 15:36:34 | More by mklinger
Photo of Augustiner719

New York

3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at LionHeart Blues cafe in Albany NY

Appearance: Dark clear brown color with a nice 1 finger head that recedes to nothing.

Smell: Smells like sweet raisons and a nice hoppy beer. Good combination.

Taste: Tastes like raisons as well. Nice rich brown malty flavors melded with raisons and caramel. Not overpowering and the alcohol was hidden as well.

Mouthfeel: Nice carbonation. A bit cloyingly sweet and sticky on the palate. Noth a good beer to have inbetween a session.

Drinkability: Pretty good high abv session beer. Really flavorful and easy to go down. High abv limits a lot of these though.

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

01-05-2010 03:22:14 | More by Augustiner719
Photo of Daniellobo

District of Columbia

3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice malty and somewhat fruity brew, with a nice if distant Belgium touch in particular in this draft serving.

Presentation: 16 oz draft serving at a Dogfish Head Ale House. Menu has a small and fair description of the brew. Shows Alc. by Vol. (8.0%) Served in a pint shaker glass.

A - Amber brown pour with a brief head (liquid almost touching the rim) that leaves a fain ring.

S - Malty-raisiny, with sweet caramel and a boozy rum backbone.

T - Sweet and malty with a sticky note and a couple of notes of dried fruits, raisins, figs... Rather subdued.

M - Minimal carbonation on a medium to light body.

D - It is nicely drinkable. Not as much as some of its reputation would suggest but under the right mood is a malty/boozy brew that goes down well.

Notes: Still nice, but loses a bit of touch on a glass like this, and maybe a tad to cold to make it justice but the supposed tap freshness does not make me forget its bottled version.

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

12-05-2009 00:01:55 | More by Daniellobo
Photo of cinemadust


4.8/5  rDev +31.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My favorite that I've had from Dogfish Head so far. It almost has a taste of tea and beer mixed together. Kind of like a spice and fruit. When I drank this from the bottle I had an almost smokey aftertaste. Drinking it from tap at the Dogfish Head brewery restaurant, was served a beer at the perfect temperature. Which made it very easy to taste all the wonderful flavors of this beer. Had barley any head at all, but that's what I like. Goes well with spicy foods. Just be VERY careful. Don't forget it's a 8% ABV. You can't knock them down like regular beers. But you can't taste the extra ABV so again, be cautious.

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

09-28-2009 22:02:22 | More by cinemadust
Photo of drabmuh


3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on draft from the Dogfish head pub in Gaithersburg, MD. Beer is clear, dark red, thin fine head rests on top, low carbonation. Sweet odd flavor, almost some smoke in the aftertaste, there is a second aftertaste that is better than the frist. Almost no aroma, some sweetness. Flavor is weak. I'm not really impressed. Mouthfeel is fine, full beer. Not sure this is one of my favorites from DFH.

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

09-20-2009 03:12:33 | More by drabmuh
Photo of jgasparine


3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured a pretty red-brown color, but with almost no head at all... certainly no lacing here... although there were some nice bubble trains working their way up the center of the glass...

S- At first I got nothing off the nose... perhaps the beer was poured too cold... as the beer warmed, it opened-up to reveal sweet notes of malt, raisins, some vinous notes and a touch of unidentifiable spiciness.

T- Definite malt bomb. Sweet brown sugar, caramel malt and yellow raisins dominate the palate. Almost seems a touch mapley at times. Almost cloyingly sweet. Finishes with some alcohol booziness and nary a hint of hops.

M- Slightly oily, almost syrupy. I suppose this compliments the smell and taste quite well. Just the right amount of carbonation rounds out the mouthfeel.

D- Drinkable, yes. Could I have several in a session... probably not... the sweetness would get to me and become too much. I would, however, readily reach for the D'etre when I'm in the mood for something sweet and reasonably priced...

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

08-07-2009 03:07:08 | More by jgasparine
Photo of rfgetz

New Jersey

3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a- dark reddish copper with thin head

s- Faint sweet, dark fruit, red wine and grainy scents

t- nice malty flavor with a dark fruit/red wine taste with alcohol bite to finish

m- thicker coating texture, slight lingering flavor and feel

d-alcohol hidden well but comes out while finishing and lingers slightly.

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

07-08-2009 21:22:20 | More by rfgetz
Photo of soupyman10

District of Columbia

3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Well I've never been a fan of this one in the bottle - basically, it's one of those DFH experiments that just didn't quite work for me. Too many weird flavors. But I've realized that on-tap some of the DFH beers take on a totally different life, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Unfortunately, it still didn't really do it for me. Poured a deep dark brown color with a really weak head and no lacing to speak of. Aromas are those same meaty, chocolatey maltiness with some strange over-ripe fruit. Body was alright, but still. The beer's not a total mess (I mean, I'm talking relative to other DFHs, not to macro sludge), but it's just not my thing.

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

06-16-2009 21:04:09 | More by soupyman10
Photo of rtratzlaff

North Carolina

2.48/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Raison d'etre "Reason for being" pours a deep ruby reddish color with a thin white head that sticks around and sticks to the glass here and there. The aromas are sticky sweet maltiness with dark fruit. There's not much spice in the nose. It seems a bit simple for a BSDA in the nose. The flavor is pretty much the same, not bad, but just lacking in complexity. No clove, no spice. Prunes are there in full force. A bittering in the finish with a slight hint at anise but nothing much more than a thought. Green raisins? Yeah.
The mouthfeel is full and fluffy. To style, this beer falls far short; however, as a beer in general, its not bad. I would recommend this for someone with a thing for malt forward beers with a slight Belgian quality.

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

06-16-2009 20:30:54 | More by rtratzlaff
Photo of atsprings

North Carolina

3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Woody's City Market served in a New Belgium tulip glass a crisp ruby red with a nice frothy khaki head that slowly diminishes to a thin layer and leaves decent great lacing. Aroma is a bit of dried fruit and slight spice. The taste is an interestingly complex blend of dried fruit, dark malt and a hint of spice with a hint of sourness and a touch of dryness. The beer is medium bodied with a refreshing dryness. I've had this one before and remember not liking it, but I guess my palate is much more developed since then.

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

05-26-2009 18:44:23 | More by atsprings
Photo of IBUnit63


4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ Silvertone into pint glass...

Good, buttery finger of head that sticks with good lacing. Very bready. Body is crystal clear dark bourbon amber that's virtually still. Nice package!

Nice dark fruit renders usual Ringwood earthiness neutral - good raisin and dark malt texture with nice burnt caramel. Hop grass is well-represented

Oooh, I like this more than the usual DFH suspects. The earth of the Ringwood strain is still there but the big raisins and mild oaky booze neutralize it nicely. Deep caramel/molasses/brown sugar sweetness with only a hint of booze burn. Well-done.

I'm digging the palate on this one. Nice heat that's blended well with malt and brown sugar sweetness. Hop grass is mild complement. Even finish.

Good, almost sessionable. Excellent for cold weather.

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

03-05-2009 21:20:25 | More by IBUnit63
Photo of BeerLover729

New York

3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: A dark cloudy translucent brownish brew with minimal head.

S: Roasted malts come through with a coffee like aroma. Sweet malty background rounds out the nose.

T: Nice medley of flavors: espresso and cloves, with malt sweetness pervading in the end.

M: Big malty body but not syrupy or overwhelmingly thick.

D: Well hidden alcohol content. Too sweet for my tastes really. More of a slow drinking beer.

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

11-17-2008 17:17:24 | More by BeerLover729
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 3,847 ratings.