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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: 276 | 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 thirdeye11
2.58/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Presentation: Poured from 12oz bottle into a thick 22oz pint-style glass.

A: Pours a deep brown color that has hints of rust and molasses. The beer has a nice 1 1/2 finger almost white head that disappears pretty quickly. Not much lacing in this one. The beer is also completely clear which for me Belgians should not be. No yeasty floaters either, also a detractor for me personally.

S: Smells like roasted malt, caramel, and molasses on the back. These are all very prominent. Verging on burnt toast smells in some cases. Fairly complex nose, but not necessarily in a great way. This may be the best aspect of the beer though.

T & M: Not EXACTLY what I expected from the nose, but close. The roasty malts are so in your face and dominate the flavor profile almost completely. There is some caramel and molasses sweetness, but without any real weight to them. Taste doesn't match the mouthfeel as it feels like it should be thicker in body. Doesn't really coat my mouth as I'd like. No creaminess either which is a huge detractor in this heavy on flavor beer. Not complex either which most Belgians are.

D: I felt myself wanting to drink this less and less as it warmed up which is converse to almost every Belgian beer I've ever had. I couldn't finish but about 60% of it. I have 4 left at home too so they will probably be drank over time.

Not a good example of a Belgian at all, and this beer says it is brewed with green raisins but I don't taste it at all. Unbalanced, hard to drink, and not recommended unless you just like to try "new" things. For that reason you may want to check it out. It's unlike anything I've had to date.

thirdeye11, Apr 21, 2009
Photo of iuhoosier336
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another great beer from Dogfish Head. Poured from the bottle into one of their glasses. A nice head and a dark color, darker than I was expecting. The nose is of strong mahogany and hops. The taste is also very strong on mahogany. Its an 8% beer and the alcohol is hidden very well. Don't know if I would drink more than two though in one sitting. All around a great beer.

iuhoosier336, Apr 18, 2009
Photo of Maxax
5/5  rDev +36.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I absolutely LOVE this beer. It has a real different flavor to it...almost a coffee flavored beer...to me at least. Its best VERY cold...but is a very unique beer, and definitely one of my all time favorites.

I would say though...that you probably need to develope a bit of a taste for it...it doesn't usually come right out as a smash hit on the first try. But it will stick in the back of your mind...and you'll return for another one someday...and that's when you'll realized how good it is.

Maxax, Apr 18, 2009
Photo of Atlas1
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Perhaps this entry was inspired by the Beer Wars movie I watched last night. Either way, it's one of the few DFH beers I can get regularly that I haven't reviewed yet.

Poured into belgian snifter, the Raison D'etre is a pretty beer. Hues of mahogany and orange beneath a bubbly head of off-white that dissipates a bit over time. Some lace. The nose is multi-layered with raisins, fig, candied apple, bread pudding, and other aromas less discernible. Taste is nice, but a bit funkier than the smell. Sweet malts are strong, and there are some dulled-down dark fruit flavors. Again, bready. But there is also a strange metallic kick in the finish that detracts a bit. Not enough to really bother me, but it's noticeable. Not sure where that comes from, because it doesn't remind me of hops. Mouthfeel is firm and just fine until the very end, where that metallic twinge hits.

On the whole, this beer is just fine with me. Complex, but not too busy. Not great, for sure, and I would rather have any number of DFH beers over this one, but this is a good beer. I revisit this one once or twice a year, and I don't see that changing. Not a great example of a Belgian Strong Ale, in my opinion, but a good enough beer to drink.

Atlas1, Apr 18, 2009
Photo of cnjohn19
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I understand the reviews on here do not seem to be the best, but i enjoy this beer...much different than the hop dominated brews i typically search for...

Pours a dark brown with a minimal white/yellow head...very clear and looks a tad amber in the light...Smells of chocolate, white grapes, and almonds...A rich taste with its distinct raison-ish aftertaste...Give it a second, at first you may not enjoy it, but it gets better once the brew warms slightly in the glass...This beer is slightly bitter, and I'm not sure it's supposed to be...

Let this beer warm a bit and you'll enjoy it more...

cnjohn19, Apr 16, 2009
Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Unibroue tulip. 8% ABV, Bottled on 06/12/09. [Rereviewed 01-19-10. Really minor changes.]

A - The color of this beer is a beautiful amber brown that's totally clear. It's too bad the beautiful beer isn't topped with a good head. A vigorous pour released only half a finger of off-white foam with poor retention and no lace.

S - Toasted and roasted malts make up the majority of this aroma. Hints of chocolate and caramel within. A little bit of candi sugar gives the aroma a sweetness while the hops add a low grassy nose. A bit of black cherry and raisin fruitiness too.

T - Toasted malts give off a bread-like biscuitiness with caramel malts and sweetness. A subtle cocoa neutrality is there with raisins and black cherries. The beet sugar adds both sweetness and earthy flavor that's accented by dry, grassy hops.

M - This is a smooth, rich ale that's near full-bodied but held back by a higher level of carbonation that jumps all over your tongue. The finish is sweet and dry.

D - The alcohol is no where to be found in flavor or nose making it pretty easily drinkable. The flavor and sweetness get slightly cloying though. Great overall. Another DFH success.

BeerFMAndy, Apr 11, 2009
Photo of beertunes
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into goblet. Poured very still, had a miniscule head that immediately dissipated, leaving a slight trace of lacing. Poured a light mahogany color.

A slightly sweet malt aroma without any outstanding notes. A slight fruit taste floats over the malt background, leaving a hint of sweetness on the back of the tongue.

The body is a little thinner than expected, but enjoyable nonetheless. Average drinkability, you could drink a couple of these in a row, I'm just not sure you'd want to. This beer is sort of boring and uninteresting. I'm not sure what the brewers were aiming for with this beer and I'm not sure this is the proper style category either. I should rate this beer lower because it doesn't fit the style, but I did enjoy it, to a point, and will drink it again.

beertunes, Apr 09, 2009
Photo of donkeyrunner
2.9/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Translucent, dark caramel color. Off-white head leaves sticky lace up top but then fades and the beer looks dead.

Smells of caramel coated raisiny booze. Very faint however.

Tastes similiar to the smell. Sugary (perhaps the Belgian beet sugars?) raisiny caramel with some spiced rum. Monotonal. No lingering aftertaste to speak of. Mouthfeel is syrupy.

Not one of Dogfish Heads best or more interesting. I expect more from them.

donkeyrunner, Apr 09, 2009
Photo of JBogan
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a beautiful dark ruby with a nice creamy slightly off white head which leaves moderate lacing.

Aroma is of malt, bread, and dark fruit.

Taste is somewhat muted compared to the aroma. Raisins, malt, and yeast, but it all seemed somewhat flat tasting compared to what the aroma led me to anticipate.

Mouthfeel was smooth, yet very thin. Decent amount of carbonation. Would have liked more body in this.

This was an interesting brew, yet I can't say it made me want another. It's worth a try, but just needs a bit more oomph in the flavor profile and perhaps a thicker body.

JBogan, Apr 09, 2009
Photo of carp420
2.6/5  rDev -29%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

12oz->pint glass

nice dark brownish red, burgandy with a two finger tall head that tried to stick around for a minute but couldn't although it did leave a thin layer of foam on top, layered the glass nicely

smells very fruity and sweet, raisins and brown sugar permeate with a little malty smell

taste really sweet, lots of brown sugar and malts, too much malt really, lots of fruit obviously raisins the green tarty kind, with a little yeast to try and balance it all out. once it warms the alcohol becomes overpowering

too much carbonation and malt, too thick for an ale

not gonna be able to drink many of these in a sitting, it's just too sweet and too much malt to even try to be an ale, totally different beer when cold, it'll turn your stomach when warm

carp420, Apr 08, 2009
Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.2/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12oz brown pop top bottle, thanks to Matt for sharing his six-pack of this

Appearance: Dark golden amber beer with a thick fluffy off-white head with great retention.

Smell: Sweet Belgian candy sugar, mild east, and mild alcoholic notes.

Taste: Mild spice, candied fruit notes, almost like brandy.

Mouthfeel: Slick, oily, and medium-bodied

Drinkability: Medium

Conclusion: I'm not sure what it is about this that I'm not really into...it's a bit too sweet, one dimensional, and just honestly a bit dull for me...definitely not the best offering by DFH

BedetheVenerable, Apr 08, 2009
Photo of TheFightfan1
4.28/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into my BA tulip. Pours an auburn color with an off white colored heading. Globs of lacing present until about three quarter's of the way down in turns flat.

Smell is of dark fruits. It does have a heavy raisin smell and little bit of plum. I couldn't detect the beets they were speaking of but I did smell the molasses.

Taste is the same as the nose.A great taste of rich malts is immediate. A little resiny and oily. A nice sting of hops in the aftertaste along with a mix of a nice dark fruit taste.

Mouth is medium bodied with great carbonation. Very smooth and very slick a little stickey also.

Drink is exceptional for me. For an 8.5% ABV it is easily drinkable and I could drink a bunch more of this.

All and All I really couldn't find what most were dissapointed in. This is an exceptional beer. I would definetly buy this again.

TheFightfan1, Apr 06, 2009
Photo of webmanspidey
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours into chalice a purplish brown with small amount of tan head. Smell is grape and raisin.. fairly sweet and mellow.

Taste is very sweet and malty.. again grapes, raisins, and nuts. Very limited hop presence. Not overly alcoholic and fairly drinkable.

This isn't bad, but not too interesting or exciting. I really preferred its "big brother", Raison D'extra, which I thought was excellent.

webmanspidey, Apr 05, 2009
Photo of pittsburghfw
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Have been experimenting with Dogfish Head and, liking their IPAs, figured I'd try this.

Looks really beautiful in the glass, an amber color, like buckwheat honey, only brighter.

It's sweet and bitter and alcoholic. As others have noted, there's a honey flavor--it's the most noticable grace note to me.

I get cinnamon and cloves and maybe peppermint. Very strange in a "beer."

There are similarities to the experience I have had drinking the fruity Belgians.

The alcohol is strong. Not likely to want to drive after even one bottle at least not for an hour.

I prefer the hoppier IPAs and the Imperial Stouts, so this one stretches me a little. Won't buy it again any time soon, but it's a good beer.

pittsburghfw, Apr 04, 2009
Photo of sarahspat
2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

The color is a brownish burnt orange; very clear. Decent sized head, which quickly dissipates leaving a slight crown of near white foam.

The nose is roasted caramel malt, coriander and other spices; hickory smoke.

Spices overwhelm the palate... way too many spices for me. Honey, and caramel are also present. The caramel is very nice and almost makes up for the spice explosion.

The mouthfeel is thick, with heavy carbonation. The overpowering coriander flavor really hurts drinkability for me. It's just too much. To be honest, I could only deal with about 6 oz, before pawning the rest off on my friend.

I also had this on tap at the Falls Church "Alehouse" last summer. I remember it tasting much different than this. It had a much more assertive caramel malt presence. I really enjoyed it then, which is why I wanted to try it again. Unfortunately, things didn't work out so well the second time around.

sarahspat, Apr 04, 2009
Photo of BeanBone
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: The body is a rich dark brown, very nearly black outside of direct light, with reddish-brown highlights. On top, a two-finger caramel head that leaves decent lacing. This is a beautiful presentation.

Aroma: Slightly sweet and smoky deep-roasted malt dominates. It's accompanied by whiffs of dark fruit and a nice kick of booze in the back.

Taste: Roasty, smoky, and nutty malt with dark fruit and dark chocolate notes throughout. It's balanced with a good helping of bitterness in the end. Assertive alcohol compliments everything. The aftertaste is intense and roasty.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied with moderately-low carbonation. You can certainly feel the alcohol in your throat a bit. A nice dry finish.

Drinkability: With a good dose of alcohol and a complex profile, this is in the fast part of sipper territory.

Verdict: Another solid and unique offering from Dogfish Head. Raison D'Etre has a complex flavor profile, with a hell of a lot going on in just one glass. This is a great beer to sip in the evening and ponder over.

BeanBone, Apr 03, 2009
Photo of CampusCrew
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dogfish is mostly a miss for me but this one was drinkable and I would have it again. Not my favorite but not bad.

appearance: deep brown copper color, little lacing and head retention for a belgian

smell: slight coffee, rasin characters

taste: beautiful, mild bitterness, rich deep dark flavor

mouthfeel: decent carbonation

drinkability: easy and smooth. but not my favortie.

CampusCrew, Mar 30, 2009
Photo of Magpie14
3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: scarlet mahogany body with some burnt orange hues. This beer also displayed an invigorating presence, a bubble factory. The soft yellow cap disappeared quickly to a fizzy ring leaving some spider webbing lace. I like the color

S: plenty of roasted malts with brown sugar, figs, and raisin bread. Nothing to brag about, the nose needs to step up a bit

T: the taste holds brown sugar crusted malts with some butter rum raisins. Light spicy notes clean the sweetness up and hold a dry character. After giving a few seconds to let my tongue analyze other flavors, I gather a weak earthy toasted caramel soaked coffee bean or two. The sweetness has a Belgian feel, but leaves some room for improvement. Seems that most of the flavors are lost amongst dry alcohol notes popping through

M: medium body with ample carbonation. It finishes rather well

D: a bit on the boring side. I felt fuzzy and warm rather fast with only half the glass gone. One and done for this guy

Magpie14, Mar 28, 2009
Photo of GatorBeerNerd
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz single that somehow got lost in the shuffle of my fridge. I do not even recall when or where I got this beer. According to the stamp on the neck of the bottle it was bottled on 7/23/08. So it has a bit of age on it. Poured into a standard pint glass.

A: Pours a dark copper like color with a thin off-white head that dissolves away relatively quickly. There is no lacing at all that I can see.

S: There is a dark malt aroma mixed in with some other kind of sweetness that I can't put my finger on. It isn't a terribly interesting aroma, but its smells OK.

T: Luckily the taste is more interesting than the appearance or aroma. Its doesn't make me say wow, but it does have an interesting flavor. It is definitely on the malty side. The initial flavor is sweet from all that malt. It continues on with dark fruit tastes, specifically raisins, which make sense due to the name. The finish has a bit of an odd chalkiness to me.

M: A little bit a tingling from the in mouth carbonation. Its medium in body.

D: I want to drink it a little faster than I normally would due to the chalky aftertaste. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean its more drinkable. I like the flavor, but for some reason its still a bit of a struggle for me.

GatorBeerNerd, Mar 28, 2009
Photo of Trappistfan1
1.93/5  rDev -47.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

A - Deep amber color with thin head, no retention
S - Not much but alcohol hit my nose; pretty mild, though.
T - Alcohol seemed pronounced, some hops and other flavors that all seem to cancel each other out, but just well...not good.
M - Meh. I didn't leave it in my mouth long, to be fair.
D - slim to none IMO.

OK, I know that Belgian Strong Dark Ale is a broad category with lots of variation, but this seems like a weak entry in the field. Not in any way knocking DFH, most of what I've tried of their stuff is world class, but this was a drain pour for me.

Raison D'etre is, of course, French for "reason for living". To quote Norm McDonald, "Note to self: I don't want to live!".

Trappistfan1, Mar 27, 2009
Photo of hopmonkey
1.23/5  rDev -66.4%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

An all-around revolting little beer. Oily and thin with strange fruit like it was in an old cheap wine bottle. I guess we have the raisins to thank for that. The first second is the best with this beer, which opens up into a strange, sick-sweet flavor and finishes leaving you wanting no more. I generally love Dogfish Head beers, but c'mon, beer and raisins? This one never had a chance.

hopmonkey, Mar 26, 2009
Photo of argock
3.74/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into an oversized wine glass. No freshness date. Single purchased from World Market for $1.89.

A: Beautiful chestnut with disappointing thin cap of off-white head with only a single thin crust of lacing.

S: Very vinous and raisin aroma with a bit of brown sugar and leafy hops

T: Distinctive flavors that don't mix very well. Act 1 is very candy sweet, act 2 is vinous and grapey, and act 3 is leafy, earthy hops. Unfortunately, melding these three flavor components is not accomplished with much deft. Warming makes the alcohol presence a bit heavier but by no means overwhelming. The bitterness is low overall.

M: Reasonable in body with a silky initial feel and carbonation is medium-high. Aftertaste is grapes and earthy, spicy hops.

D: Not the most easy to drink due to the blocky flavor composition. I'm going to cellar some and see how it turns out since the fresh version doesn't do much for me.

Addendum: Cellared for a year, this is much smoother and more cohesive. I would think of this as a strong Dubbel rather than a BSDA myself with the vinous sweet aroma and strong rum raisin overtones. I adjusted a couple of scores upward.

argock, Mar 21, 2009
Photo of Brenden
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The color is brown but when held to the light is a clear coppery red. An off-white head pours nicely, settling within a couple of minutes. Carbonation dances and lacing clings a little but drops later.

The sweetness is up front in the smell, and it's backed up by malt (which further enhances the sweet aspect). To round it out, there's an herbal smell I can detect and not citrus but fruit (I'm assuming the green raisin).

The taste is interesting; the malt is more up front than the sweetness, which comes in as more of a helper than a competitor. There's a smokiness to it that I didn't detect in the smell, but that's more in the background and the finish. Some sort of sugars contribute (beet sugars, I suppose?) apart from the natural malt sweetness. It tastes like a good brew to me.

I'd say this is medium to full-bodied; it feels pretty thick. It's also smooth and the carbonation is that nice balance of lively but not overbearing.

Note: given its high ABV, I was pleasantly surprised to feel that nice warm feeling afterward without having been kicked in the face with it. However they figured that out, well done.

This is a very pleasant brew. I've seen reviews saying it's too sweet or sticky, but I wasn't hit with that at all. Maybe the way it was stored? Anyway, I've got to rate this up a little.

Brenden, Mar 20, 2009
Photo of northaustin
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

pretty flavorful but everything else is just standard. not very good for drinking in the sun. it is pretty thick and it leaves you feeling pretty good feeling for its abv. because it comes in six packs and alot of dogfish brews dont, id recommend purchasing it over any of the other dogfish brews.

northaustin, Mar 17, 2009
Photo of BirdFlu
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ok... first off, I have no idea why this beer has such a low rating, I think its awesome.. However I do notice it is listed as a Belgian strong dark.. Never would I have assumed this was a belgian dark (I dont even like Belgian darks! Ever!!) I know Dogfish says they used Belgian-style yeast, but, again, I would say this is more of a sweet hybrid-brown ale or something... Anyway.. The appearance is a beautiful ruby, almost burgundy when light passes through it reminiscent of the beet sugar in the ingredients (not that I know if a beet's sugar is the same color as a beet).. The aroma is bit of a weak point, its definitely nice with malt and a bit raisiny with a presence from the grapes used, but its sort of subdued and would be nicer if a bit more prominent. The taste has a lot of malt but, like aroma, in a more subdued way.. It doesn't have a huge presence like a doppelbock or Dogfish's Palo Santo or such, but thats sort of nice for this beer, giving it a bit more drinkability in a social setting. There is brown sugar in the taste and a bit of dryness in the clean aftertaste. Mouthfeel is really nicely balanced, a lighter moderate with carbonation thats not biting. I think its pretty great, maybe the characteristics could be a bit bolder, but their subtlety may be the beer's strength..

BirdFlu, Mar 16, 2009
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,079 ratings.