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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,059 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,059
Reviews: 1,766
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 71
Gots: 272 | 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:
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: 4,059 | Reviews: 1,766 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of hopmonkey

New York

1.23/5  rDev -66.4%

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.

03-26-2009 04:08:58 | More by hopmonkey
Photo of argock


3.74/5  rDev +2.2%

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.

03-21-2009 01:43:11 | More by argock
Photo of Brenden


3.98/5  rDev +8.7%

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.

03-20-2009 15:14:27 | More by Brenden
Photo of northaustin


3.35/5  rDev -8.5%

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.

03-17-2009 03:18:38 | More by northaustin
Photo of BirdFlu

New Jersey

4.03/5  rDev +10.1%

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..

03-16-2009 14:29:51 | More by BirdFlu
Photo of Newsman

New Jersey

2.98/5  rDev -18.6%

Interesting...very interesting. Not necessarily world-class awesome, mind you. Interesting in what was tried, what was achieved and what was missed.

Pours out a nice mahogany, minimal head. Smells very sweet and sugary, laced with alcohol and some raisin notes in there.

Tastes...sweet. That's the first impression, like a Belgian triple on steroids. Almost overpowering. After your tastebuds calm down some, you start to taste the raisin, a bit of hops that aren'd drowned out by the sugar. And the whole thing ends on a slightly sour note that may or may not work, depending on your palate.

The sugar sticks with you in the mouth, making me wish for some water to cleanse the palate. Given the sweetness and the high ABV, this is a one-drink maximum, and drinkability is an issue.

Overall, it seems Dogfish Head wanted to apply the extreme brewing philosophy to Belgian-style beers. The success is decidedly mixed.

03-16-2009 11:10:18 | More by Newsman
Photo of n00tz


3.8/5  rDev +3.8%

A - Mahogany body with a very reactive carbonation. Short tight head that diminishes at a visible rate.

S - Sweet bread with fruit. Slight cinnamon or clove scent.

T - Great fruity and breaded malts. Sweet natural sugar flavor undoubtedly from the Belgian beet sugars they use.

M - Medium bodied ale, with a fruit bread coating for the tongue. Goes down smooth.

D - Finally introduced myself to the Dogfish Head Brewery, with a new style. I'm not sure if I'd know what to pair this with for perfection, but I had a strong urge to eat freshly picked figs and pears afterwards.

03-16-2009 00:34:34 | More by n00tz
Photo of damienblack


3.45/5  rDev -5.7%

Pours a transparent mahogany-amber. Fluffy tan head, little bit of lacing. Appearance nothing groundbreaking. Smells incredibly yeasty, a bit of malt and sugar on the back of the news, but the belgian yeast strain overpowers.

Has a strong raisiny sweetness about it, but the wrong body type for that sweetness in my opinion. The strong raisiny sensation doesn't really have any balance. By the end, it has turned into a slightly sour raisiny flavor, and not sour in a real good way. Like an ascetic burnt bitterness. There doesn't seem to be much of a step B between steps A and C. Mouth is hugely cloying and coating, but there really isn't much carbonation to move things along, which in this case would help bigtime. Drinkability suffers as a result of all of the above.

03-14-2009 07:04:14 | More by damienblack
Photo of buschbeer


3.45/5  rDev -5.7%

I poured my Raison D'etre into a pint glass to very little head with no retention. It is dark amber in color. The aroma is caramel malt. The taste is similar to the nose. I taste burnt caramel. I also taste a slight alcohol presence. The mouthfeel is medium. It is a decent beer but not one of my favorite beers from this excellent brewery.

edited 8/22/10

03-14-2009 01:26:31 | More by buschbeer
Photo of chilly460


4/5  rDev +9.3%

A - Nice dark amber color, almost dark copper. Head was minimal.

S - Not particularly strong scent, nice bready malt.

T - I found this pretty interesting. Straight malty flavor turns to strong caramel flavor. Followed by some "banana" flavor typical of what I get from Belgians.

M - Clings to the mouth quite a bit, maybe a bit too much after the first beer.

D - Nice weight, balanced and unique taste would keep me coming back. Probably a little too sweet for extended sessions.

03-13-2009 23:53:27 | More by chilly460
Photo of Hoagie1973

New York

3.73/5  rDev +1.9%

The first thing I noticed about this beer is that it's crystal clear and doesn't sport much of a head. For a Belgian style ale these two things are a bit abnormal. Not much in the way of lacing; my glass was clean when I finished.

Smells malty & grainy with some chocolate and dark fruits. Touch of alcohol.

Bready malt flavor overall with a little caramel and noticeable rum-like alcohol. Some mildly spiced fruit. Fair balance, but definitely leans toward the sweet side.

Mouthfeel is smooth and full. A little sticky.

Overall it's pretty good for what it is, I enjoyed it, but not the best representation of a Belgian Strong Dark.

03-13-2009 22:52:36 | More by Hoagie1973
Photo of Pauly2X


3.98/5  rDev +8.7%

A- Ruby/mahogany body with a quater finger head.

S- Smells of allspice and dried fruits with an underlying rum note.

T- Rich caramel interlaced gracefully with the fruity flavors. There's a little rum/alcohol note at midpoint, then it lends to a smooth warming finish.

M- Medium bodied and rich with smooth carbonation.

D- Very drinkable for 8%

Dispite the unusual addition of raisins, the subtle complexities of this beer still excell.

03-13-2009 19:59:57 | More by Pauly2X
Photo of tosshin


3.7/5  rDev +1.1%

a : Great auburn color. Pour resulted in a bout a half inch of dense foam. The head disipated slowly with some lacing.
s : I like the aroma, but I am having a hard time describing what is going on in it. I can smell some alcohol and some dark fruits. But other than that can't smell too much.
t : The beer doesn't taste well balanced. Strong alcohol taste, you can taste the malts. Also, I can taste red wine, like a Pinot Noir. Was I get used to the taste I really enjoy it.
m : Malty, carbonated, a bit chewy. This beer has excellent mouthfeel.
d : A couple for a night is possible with this beer, but I think that it would be better paired with a steak or something from the grill. This isn't a beer that you drink by itself.

I like this beer, but it doesn't represent the style well in my opinion. I think that DFH can do better.

03-13-2009 00:09:22 | More by tosshin
Photo of alkemy


3.58/5  rDev -2.2%

Poured a slightly cloudy, dark copper with a small cream colored head. I got a sense of dried fruit, but not necessarily raisin. You get a sense of the high ABV, yet this brew is pretty easy drinking. There seem to be alot of flavors going on here, but they meld together quite pleasantly.

03-12-2009 23:21:28 | More by alkemy
Photo of Arbitrator


1.93/5  rDev -47.3%

Chilled bottle into a glass, courtesy of Uwftke26.

A: Pours a translucent, dark brown / purple color with amber highlights when held to the light. Slow carbonation up the side of the glass. Half an inch of head on the pour recedes to a ring around the glass, with light trails of lacing down as I drink.

S: Some raisin, dark rum, and caramel/biscuit malt notes, but a fairly weak nose. Agitation mostly brings out an alcohol aroma and not a lot of flavor.

T: As the nose suggests, rum, raisin, and caramel and biscuit malt. No hops detected. A fairly sweet taste, with a sweet finish and a little alcohol warming effect.

M: Thin-bodied and watery, which nicely offsets what would be an otherwise too-sweet taste. The booze is noticeable, but not a deal-breaker.

D: Just got the one, and don't want a second. It's an interesting experiment, and my first raisin beer -- although I've seen a couple of Lost Abbey attempts at the store -- and I'm glad I tried it. I just don't think it's worth seeking out again.

03-11-2009 04:44:46 | More by Arbitrator
Photo of OtherShoe2


2.93/5  rDev -19.9%

Pours a reddish brown with a decent head and a couple of decent lace rings.

Sweet fruity scents, some burnt sugar notes. Malt is in there somewhere.

Bunch of layers here. This reminds me of raisin sauce you'd have with ham. Sweet burnt/caramelized sugars, some candy qualities, deep malt, some bitter bite there too (but is a hop bitterness or a burnt bitter?), as is the chemical alcohol. Funny, I've described this in other beers in a positive light, but for this one, it isn't cutting it for me.

A mouth coater for sure. The alcohol helps clear the palate, but not enough.

This was the second time I've had this, and on both occasions I bought the single beer. Glad I didn't shoot a pile of money on a six. This is a one and done at best. Even on a bitter cold day I'd have trouble getting more than one down (even one complete one down). Did not like this at all. Lots of good things going for it, but the complete picture is not there.

03-09-2009 12:10:16 | More by OtherShoe2
Photo of azorie


3.23/5  rDev -11.7%

A: mahogany with a one finger head

S: maple syrup, rock candy, raisins, rum and caramel. Way too much alcohol also. no hops detected

T: maple syrup, bubblegum, currents, and caramel. alcohol partially covers the taste but not in a good way here. Way too sweet. Very little in the way of hops in this.

M: thin and flat, no carbonation period

D: well its a sipper if you can stand it, I got 3 left and it hard to get it down.

I hate to review this because I hate to do negative reviews, but someone must like it, but as much as I love Belgian beers, and the American attempts at Belgians this one is a loser period.

glad the folks at publix did not have this one in the computer and she only charged me 7 bucks for the 6 pack so I can live with it. But I can only drink 1 at a time and that's only when i already half crocked.

03-07-2009 19:12:13 | More by azorie
Photo of GregPearson33


3.35/5  rDev -8.5%

Poured dark reddish brown with a real small head that receded to the edges after about 30 seconds. Great brown malty smell, but undeniably sweet. Definitely a little thicker on the mouthfeel. Strong nutty/sugary malty tones, and the booze (8.0%ABV) definitely shows through a little at end -- but just fine with me. Good brew, but wouldn't grab more than one or two without switching it up.

03-07-2009 06:51:17 | More by GregPearson33
Photo of delmarnate


3.83/5  rDev +4.6%

First time trying non IPA from Dogfish Head. It has a very nice color and head. first taste is sweet with spicy finish. The beer gets sweeter as it warms. Very good initial taste, but gets too sweet after a while. Good beer to have one of, but not a six pack.

03-06-2009 20:48:04 | More by delmarnate
Photo of IBUnit63


4.05/5  rDev +10.7%

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.

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


2.8/5  rDev -23.5%

Served in a goblet. I tried this beer 5 years ago and did not like it - this is my attempt to try again now that my palate has changed.

A: aggressive pour yields 2/3 finger of off-white head which quickly subsides to a ring of thick lace. Clear dark brownish-red (mahogany as the bottle claims - I stand corrected).
S: Sweet and fruity, raisiny, red wine-iness comes through, though this is definitely beer as it has a strong malt character, roastiness and spicy hops.
T: A sweet flavor up front with an off, flavor blocking presence in the center of my tongue (wacky and tannic). Kind of bitter, some cooked veggie DMS apparent.
M: Too carbonated. Bright but syrupy, Tannic bitterness at end.
D: Not good. I'm struggling to get through this one.

Apparently though my palate now likes super-hoppy things, it still does not like raison d'etre.

03-04-2009 19:37:33 | More by dfillius
Photo of BigMike


2.75/5  rDev -24.9%

Bottled on date of 12/31/08

I just recently tried my first offering from DFH (90 minute ale)
so i figured i'd sample another.
Unfortunately this one doesn't hold a candle to 90minute.

Pours a golden red color with a one finger head.
I can almost smell a grape popsicle.
Theres little to no carbonation in this one.
I'm having trouble pinpointing the flavors here. I can taste a grape flavor like it smells but after that nothing really stands out.
Not much sweetness and not much bitterness.
This is a pretty uneventful one in my book.
On a positive note, the 8% abv is well hidden and the beer is actually pretty easy to drink.

Overall, not one i would recommend or even try again myself.
I was slightly disappointed. I should have gone with the 60 minute from DFH.

03-03-2009 23:15:02 | More by BigMike
Photo of fingerlaker

New York

3/5  rDev -18%

Overall disappointing. Not terrible, but not great.

I poured it into a goblet, the dark liquid swirled around and left a good head that stayed for a while... tells me that this is a rather active brew. Look is quite nice.

Smell is sweet, of good malt, raisons, and a bit of... mango? Hard to tell. The smell was quite nice.

Taste was... underwhelming. The malt was balanced nice with the hops and there was a definite raison taste but what the hell was that metallic aftertaste about? We're talking SERIOUS metal flavor. The 8% alcohol warmed nicely and added a sophisticated grown-up feeling to the end. But that metal flavor! WHere did it come from? Terrible!

In the end, this beer is a letdown... nothing terrible, but I wanted more.

03-01-2009 20:31:59 | More by fingerlaker
Photo of unitas3


2.65/5  rDev -27.6%

Poured a deep amber body with no surprises. On the nose it was a bit sweet, the beet sugar and the raisin scent was a bit reminiscing yet seemed to be over powered by a pure sugar and alcohol front. The taste was not as pleasing as expected. The alcohol dominated with little or no balance on the finish, after warming up a bit the taste seemed to separate and oil out with a heavy to thick syrup body. Dried fruit was present but the alcohol was still to forward to allow a good harmony. I could see pairing this with a meal, maybe even braising a piece of meat with it furthering its unique crafting. I am glad I tried but probably won't drink again.

03-01-2009 03:32:45 | More by unitas3
Photo of fosterific


3.23/5  rDev -11.7%

I am not terribly familiar with the style, but this one feels a little on the featherweight side of things.
Poured ruby brown with a slight head into a snifter glass. The color is very nice.
The smell is of sweet candi and caramel.
The flavor, to say the least, has variety, depth and complexity. I enjoyed the different parts; the dried fruit - sweet and a little tart.
It felt smooth at first and sticky in the end.
The 4 pack will take me a few weeks I would guess, not something I really am craving after having one. So I gave it kinda a low score on drinkability.

02-27-2009 00:59:57 | More by fosterific
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,059 ratings.