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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 Soneast
3.48/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clear, dark copper color, with some reddish hues, forms a small cream colored head, that dissipates quite rapidly.

The aroma consists of burnt caramel and brown sugar notes and a bit-o-nuttiness. There is also an almost smoky quality to it. Overall this smells quite sweet and rather rich.

The flavor, not unlike the aroma, is malt-centric, with those caramel and brown sugar notes coming through and once again I pick up some nuttiness reminiscent of a nut brown, and also an odd roasted quality. There are also some light green fruit flavors, more along the line of green apple than grape, but overall this beer is quite sweet, with little, to no bitterness, finishing rather sweet, never quite gets to the point of being cloyingly sweet.

Raison D'etre is not a beer I could drink more than one or two in a row. It's is quite rich, but feels more sugary sweet than the average BSDA that I am used to, which brings out their character in malt complexity, rather than sweetness.

Photo of blackenmn
3.76/5  rDev +3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle to snifter:

Appearance and Smell:Poured a clean copper with a tiny off white head which dissipated quickly. Smelled of brown sugar and ginger like scent, plenty of spice, and some sweet malt presence in the back.

Taste and Mouthfeel:Definitely tasted of raisins as stated. I think it was the beets that came through as pumpkin on the tongue, alot of similarities to a pumpkin brew. Various spice, some grassy notes and some malt comes through on the end with a little of extra sweetness beyond that which is probably added sugar. Finished sticky with lingering earthy hop bitterness. Nothing too overwhelming.

Drinkability:Was another interesting Dogfish brew. Seems like a pumpkin brew with the pumpkin replaced by beet and a bit more sweetness than spice. I'd definitely enjoy this again given the chance just wouldn't go out of my way to.

Photo of justincolts
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- A pale tinted dark beer, pours a very thin head that quickly disappears. Something of a hazy brown coloration.

Smell- A high alcohol smell is the first thing to notice, as rightfully it is an 8.0 abv. A pretty strong raisin or grape scent, with some possible juniper or mint around.

Taste- I was surprised that at 8.0 abv, and because of the strong smell, that I didn't mind the taste upon first sip. Pretty smooth, raisin and orange taste.

Mouthfeel- Could stand to have a bit more consistency, and texture to it. Doesn't have a lot of body considering its abv.

Drinkability- Surprisingly drinkable considering

Photo of jsdunlop
3.48/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This one poured a light amber hue with a minimal head that faded fairly quickly. The aroma of alcohol dominated the olfactory passageways and was followed by brown sugar, fruits, and a slight hop aroma. Upon first taste, it was sweet and sugary with a strong malty backbone that intermingled with the high alcohol content very nicely. Slight hints of plums and red grapes made their way into my senses as well. The mouthfeel was balanced well with carbonation and wasn't too thin despite the alcohol present in this one. Overall, it was a tad too sweet, though the underlying flavors were an enjoyment for sure.

Photo of irishking1977
3.03/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The last time I had this one, I found that the alcohol was really pronounced, and that the brew was highly unbalanced. Things might have changed, but that doesn't mean I like the brew any more than I did before. I thought the review needed some adjustment.

A: Opaque Brown/black/amber hue with no head at all. Mild lacing is evident.

S: I detect this unusual funky sweetness that might be in part by some sugar added and the Belgian yeast.

T: Malty and fruity but not a natural fruity sweetness. Alcohol is pronounced, but not as much as I remember. I don't really detect any characteristics of a Belgian strong dark ale; it reminds me more of a sweet funky Belgian type stout. Whatever it is, its an unusual combination, that's for sure.

M: Carbonation is on the low side, but not as low as I recall, which adds a .5 to the rating. Somewhat watered down, but also mildly thick and chalky. Not as unbalanced as I recall, but still a bit unbalanced.

D: For the sake of a proper and fair review, this is why I purchase a single; to remind myself why I didn't love this one. Not terrible, but not a brew I will have again. It just seems like this one isn't sure what it's supposed to be, because it sure isn't quite a Belgian ale. The high ABV, and unbalanced nature of this brew makes it a sipper, and certainly not an overly enjoyable sipper. Definitely not a quaffer or session. That could make someone violently ill, I'd imagine.

Review below from 12/19/09
I've had Rasion D'Etre before, but directly from the bottle. I figured I would give a second try, even though it seemed to be a bit unrefined the first time.

A: Surprised that it poured a dark garnet/black with a thick head and quite a bit of lacing. Very nice indeed.

S: Mostly alcohol, fruit and malt. Not bad, but a bit over the top when it comes to the alcohol.

T: Alcohol does dominate the taste just a bit. Malt and fruit (raisins) and candy sugar is also present.

M: Fairly carbonated with an oily background. Not creamy per say, but has a decent feel to it.

D: A bit of a wild one, Rasion D'Etre is labeled as a Belgian strong dark ale but it's more of a hybrid belgian dark ale/barleywine, IMHO. It's kind of all over the place with it's tastes and the pronounced alcohol. Veteran beer drinkers don't normally want the alcohol to be so upfront on certain kinds of beers. When a brewer is able to hide the ABV, the better the brew is, on most occasions.

Photo of Flightoficarus
3.68/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Serving type - 12 oz bottle into Chimay goblet.

Appearance - pours a deep mahogany, as the bottle label suggests. Very little head, and minimal lacing, which seems strange for a BSDA, since many of those seem to be gushers.

Smell - Heavy on the malts. Brown sugar, candied raisins.

Taste - Much like the smell. Lots of raisin, brown sugar, and very little hop presence. A malt bomb for sure.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied. Different than the other BSDA's I've had though, it's less complex.

Drinkability - The alcohol is very well silenced in this beer, making it pretty drinkable for an 8% beer.

Overall - Less complex than the Belgian (and some of the other American) examples of this style, but still a pretty good beer, and very reasonably priced for what it is. Worth trying. Malt fans will enjoy it.

Photo of mjw2808
4.22/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A brownish mahogany color that pours a small head and doesnt leave much lacing. The smell is pretty sweet, there's a lot of flavor going on in this beer and they kindof mesh together. However, in the smell i mostly get caramel, raison, and maybe brown sugar? The taste is pretty sweet as well. It is dominated by malt and i cant sense much hops. It tastes pretty much like the smell but i also taste slight alcohol as its going down. Overall, this is a very unique beer and a very good one. One of my favorites from Dogfish.

Photo of luchris80
3.7/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tasting Notes: Stored in the fridge and served in a goblet.

Aroma: Malty, sweet aroma that is brown sugar or molasses-like. Strong dark fruit notes (raisins in this case)

Appearance: Deep copper to brown color. One finger, light tan head that quickly dissipates with some trail. Very clear with some visible rising bubbles.

Flavor: Malty with a slight sweetness underneath. No noticeable hops, tipping the overall balance to the malt side. Somewhat dry at finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with pretty high carbonation having a slight bite. Some noticeable warmth. Slightly smooth on the palate.

Overall Impressions: Flavor is similar to aroma, though not as full. Better as it warms closer to room temperature. Nice slow-drinking beer.

Photo of billab914
3.49/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a caramel brown color with a slight red tint. Poured with a small white head that disappeared quickly only to leave a little lacing.

Aroma is malty and sweet with some fruit characteristics. Also detect some wood aromas.

Taste is sweet and malty with some fruit flavors. Slightly tangy and bitter with a little spiciness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodies with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is average. I could enjoy one of these but not something I want to have much more of.

Photo of CMW
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep reddish/brown color with a foamy white head. The head disappears quick;y and leaves just some slight lacing.

S - Malty and boozy. There is also a mixture of dark fruits, syrup, and wood.

T - Heavy malt upfront that mixes with molasses and honey. Raisins, figs, and dates provide and muted sweetness. The alcohol is noticeable in the finish but not as boozy as I would have expected from the nose.

M - Carbonation is high and provides a little sting on the tongue.

D - DFH makes beers that you usually love or hate. This one is different for me as I see it as middle of the road. However, it is goof enough that I would like to drink more than one.

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 Daniellobo
3.45/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

Photo of mbudner
2.87/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottled on 9/30/09. Poured from bottle into a snifter.

Bad bottle???? (I don't know. It doesn't taste infected, I just really don't like it...at all. I can't see how anyone has given high reviews)

A- Pours a reddish-brown color that can be seen through when held up to the late. Off-white, 1-finger head that dissipates rather quickly. Leaves a spotty film over the surface.

S- Booze (slightly sour), sweet/sugary flavor. Honestly, it smells like an amplified BMC...sort of metallic, bland, that awful aroma I associate with a bud light.

T- Sweet, maybe raisins, but I can't really say for sure. Overly sugary. Doesn't taste as bad as it smells, but I am very unimpressed. I haven't had this beer in 4 years or so (when I first got into craft beers) and I have VASTLY different memories of this beer.

M- Kind of thin, decent carbonation. Nothing really making this good or bad.

D- Taste isn't great, but it goes down fairly easy and for 8% abv. it goes down remarkably well. Not a good beer overall though.

I have to assume I got a bad bottle? If not, then reviews I have read are extremely far off.

Photo of kingcrowing
4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Pours a clear deep brown with a one finger slightly off white head. Nose is very rich, malty and sweet, nice.

Taste is very rich & smooth with a really nice malt profile with some nice raison hints with light belgian sugars. A light hoppiness that almost evens it out t's a very awesome and drinkable for 8%.

Photo of mmva321
3.97/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter, pint glass, tulip.

In my opinion, best served in a pint glass.

A: Snifter: 3.5 - The 12 oz. only fills to a part of the glass where the circumfrence is still very wide. So, a bit of a problem with the head, or lack thereof. About a finger that dissapears quickly. It leaves a quick dissolving lace.

Pint glass: 3.5 - The 12 oz. fills the pint glass. There's a little more head and it has much better retention. It appears creamy and full in the pint glass, but the color is a little inconsistent, being rich at the top and a little thin at the bottom. Lace is still insignificant.

Tulip: 3.5 - The 12 oz. fills the tulip. There's little head and very little retention. I poured a little slower here, so that may be a contributing factor.

S: An earthy, alcohol auroma comes through above all else. But his is pretty well balanced, with the sweeter smells (fruit and sugars) being allowed to have a boastful presence. (I like the smell better in the pint glass and tulip. The sweeter smells come through much more. But a little less strong).

T: On the front of the bottle it says, "mahogany ale," and that's what I get. This is a bitter but woody and earthy beer with a significant alcohol flavor. But there's also a sweet and tangy raisin flavor that hits the back of the tounge. That is really the treat of drinking this beer.

**Many people here have been complaining about the alcohol flavor being too strong, if that's the case for you, and if you have more, age the beers for a month at a time. My pack was way too strong at first, but I just had one 3 months after purchase and the alcohol had backed off revealing a sweet raisen and dried fruit flavor that really compliments the mahogany taste very well.**

M: Robust and full but not overbearing. Good enough for me. Perhaps a tad too carbonated.

**Becomes a little more thin and watery upon aging but still a solid 4.**

D: This is a beer that demands you take it slowly and patiently due to its up-front flavors and high alcohol content, but when done so, this is a real treat. While not as "great" as I remember, this is a fun and playful beer from a playful company. It's worth your tastebuds.

Photo of slickmick22
4.13/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into pint glass. Red/copper color with minimal head and lacing.

Smell is faint fruit and malt. Definitely a little raisin as well as alcohol.

Lightly sweet with fruit, raisin and a little alcohol (8%). Very tasty and full bodied with average carbonation.

Alcohol is well hidden.

Enjoyed this beer and will have again.

Serving type: bottle

Photo of JordanEllwanger
3.92/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A very dark burgundy almost brown. Thin head, almost none very slick appearance leaving no lace. Smells strong and fruity with subtle hints of grainy malts that I would come through more with age. Tastes much mellower than the smell. The strong sent comes through in taste only if searching for it. Much roasted malt flavor, gives this an English style taste. There is a tone to this beer that lends towards a bitter feel, but it seems in place. A good beer.


Photo of Mavajo
2.05/5  rDev -43.8%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1

Pours an amber color with a moderate white head. Fades quickly, settling into a thin crown and even thinner film.

The aroma on this...well, is there an aroma? I detected virtually nothing. I then decided to let it warm for a while. At best, perhaps a slightly grainy smell? I'm really confounded by this thing - I can't recall the last time I smelled a beer this devoid of flavor. It's not off-putting, so I won't give it a 1 - but geez, no aroma at all?

The taste isn't much better. There's a raisin character here with maybe a bit of yeastiness. Perhaps the slighest hint of butter as well? Aftertaste is very unpleasant - coats the tongue and causes a bit of a face-scrunching, tongue-smacking reaction afterwards.

Mouthfeel is pretty much spot on. No complaints in the department. Medium to full bodied, with good carbonation.

I don't really know what to say about this beer. It's the damnedest thing - no aroma to speak of, with a fairly mediocre taste and down right unpleasant aftertaste. Will not be trying again.

Photo of ryanonline
3.72/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark brown with tinges of ruby. nice off white/light tan head, rocky moderately lasting. so so lacing.

the aromas are of candied fruits and sugar, as well as a distinct raisin scent. small whiff of alcohol too.

slightly bitter start with a nicely sweet body throughout, i can definitely taste a beet flavor (no doubt from the beet sugar), also an earthy flavor is present. and raisins *gasp*.

the mouthfeel is thin with light carbonation and almost a creamy finish down the throat.

for an 8% abv this is very drinkable, not too heavy but sometimes a few of them can sit in your stomach like a stone.

overall I like this beer it's really different, but not in a bad way. And on top of it all it has a higher abv, so fewer to drink to get a nice buzz going, and that's all I can really ask for.

Photo of berley31
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured with an average-sized, off-white head that diminished to 1/4-finger. Body is a very nice deep-ruby color, and clear.

S: Very sweet aroma of light malt and some fruitiness that seems to be made up mostly of grapes.

T: Interesting... comes across as lightly sweet and fruity, and then finishes lightly bitter. A few seconds after sipping, the dryness hits and stays with you for a while.

M: Full-bodied and very creamy... almost chewy. Average carbonation.

D: Once again, a very interesting beer from DFH. Something that would probably be great paired with certain foods, but not something I would probably want more than one at a time.

Photo of slaintemhor
3.97/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This dark ale was amber with no head. The aroma was malt city and sweet to boot! On the palate, there was loads of sweet malt as well as dark raisins, currants, unsulphered molasses and dark corn sirup. Think I'd like to get a bottle of this an sit on it a while, then see how it tastes. Nice!

Photo of shoude
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into sam adams glass, deep red color, light head that dissipated quickly, I found the flavor to be very complex and layered with a nice well rounded mouth feel. A good beer but not something you'd want to drink a lot of in a row, well you could but ...

Photo of bigdeuce
4.12/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was pleasantly surprised at this one. Pours a nice, tight white head, leaving some tracing down the glass. Scents of raisin, nuts, cherries, and candi sugar on the nose. A bit sweet, very plummy, nothing offensive. Washes down with a smooth exit, a faint touch of hops and extremely fruity. This one was well worth it and less expensive than other Belgian Strongs.

Photo of kpoole25
2.35/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I didn't care for this beer, and I like most of what DFH makes. I only drank about 6 oz before pouring the rest out. I'd say this is the first beer where I really tasted the alcohol, and it wasn't the warm, sweet kind, it was the medicine cabinet type. The appearance was fine, a nice dark brown. Aromas had a little zing, almost tangy, I was thinking this might be a bit sour. Then the taste, initally sugary sweet that turned just gross. Pass on this one.

Photo of Docer
3.61/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Snagged a 12 oz. bottle just to try because it sat on a shelf near work in WA... and because I have never had it!

- Dark clear bourbon colored brew... fizzy... let it sit, and now like a bubbling cidar. Not bad.. for whatever style it may be! Let's see!

- Grainy, barley. Not much more! Very light, even stuck my nose all the way in trying to get more!... Light, mild, sweet... grain.

- Sweet and smooth barley oat sweetness... smooth, sugar... and smooth... not too special. But held its place... different, and it works.

- Sweet sugary sticky... leaves a bit of cheerio milk aftertaste...

- Very drinkable... but sweet. I am surprised this got bottled, but I give them credit at the same time for doing so! Strange eh?

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