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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Educational use only; do not reuse.

4,219 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,219
Reviews: 1,774
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 15.07%
Wants: 91
Gots: 364 | 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: 4,219 | Reviews: 1,774 | Display Reviews Only:
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?

Photo of thistle3189
3.15/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle

A: Nice dark color, little head to start

S: Yeast and some fruit

T: Some of the fruit is coming through Raison or other dried fruit and some alcohol heat. Not what is was expecting

M: full and with a little spice in the end, I'm not yet sure what that means. I am just learning this style

D: Not to bad, I think it may be growing on me as I reach the end of the glass. I will give it another try, but not right now.

I am now very curious about this style and to read the other reviews.

Photo of spencerw
2.18/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I tried this to continue my advocacy for Dogfish Head and this particular beer sounded interesting.

A- Poured a nice mahogany, rich looking brew with a 1 inch head that dissipated quickly leaving very little lacing.

S- Raisiny and sweet malty. I also smell alcohol...but not in a good way.

T- Smooth, thick, sweet malty with a shallow hop finish. And again, I'm tasting the alcohol...almost rubbing alcohol taste. Not real impressive for a Dog Fish Head brew.

M- Thick and a little off. Maybe syrupy?

D- It is a good beer to be had if you're in to trying new ones. Every brew deserves a try. It didn't do it for me though. It wasn't bad...just not a real great brew. For me it's like cooked carrots. If you serve then to me, I will eat them and say thank you...I'll never eat them otherwise. The same hold for the Dogfish Head Raison.

Photo of RJUGA03
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A-Poured into a typical bar style pint glass.... it had a mohogony light permiable body with a scant off white head.
S-Raisiny and sweet.
T-Smooth sweet draw working into a burntish carmely body with a hop tingled lasting finish/ aftertaste.
M-A bit syrup-like maintaining a voluptuous body throught the sip.
D-It is a good beer to be had in rotation with other beers of it's style....and the 8% abv. makes this a nice slow sipper.

Photo of Duhast500
3.45/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass.

The color is a reddish gold with a slight white head with no lacing.

The smell is a bit sweet with some dark fruit flavor. Some fig and raisin flavor as well as some grape.

The taste is a bit sugary with dark fruits like the smell. Some raisin, fig and some slight banana as well.

The feel of this beer is light. It is not very carbonated but feels that way with the slight aftertaste. This is pretty drinkable with a nice body as well.

Photo of kurp001
3.92/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a reddish amber with a thin layer of off-white head that recedes very quickly, leaving a scant lace on top.

Smell is malty and rich, with a faint raisin presence.

A faint sweetness upfront is overtaken by richer brown sugar notes midway. The raisin notes are generally muted and pull through a bit more on the finish; I was glad to see that flavor in more of a background role as opposed to front and center.

Mouthfeel is full and rich without being too syrupy; nice balance here.

This is a reasonably drinkable beer, but not necessarily my favorite from Dogfish Head. If you're a fan of their beers or raisins, however, this is definitely worth checking out.

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

Review is from notes taken on 10/6/2009. Pour is from the bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful deep toffee brown with ruby highlights; comes with a 1 finger off-white head that fades to a loose and thin skim that does not cover the surface; body is pretty clear and shows strong carbonation; slippery and foamy lacing slides back in to the drink and doesn't hold long.

Smell: Wonderful, caramel sweetness combined with dark fruity esthers (fig and raisin); slight alcoholic vapor but pretty well masked; slight candied sugars and a toasty graininess comes out as it warms.

Taste: Very similar to the smell; slightly bready quality and the caramel sweetness is a bit more subdued in the mouth, as are the dark fruits; a mild bitterness sneaks through as well in the back; overall, it's pretty good but I feel a little misled by the smell as I felt it would be a bit sweeter.

Mouthfeel: Strong carbonation; body feels a little oily and slick, leaves a very thin coating but overall it finishes dry; belly is left quite warm.

Drinkability: Not bad overall, I would drink it again, but I don't think I'd go out of my way to pick up another bottle. If it was on tap though, I'd be excited to give it a shot.

Photo of HopsGirl7
4.22/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Raison D'etre is one of my favorite beers.

It is sweet, as it is brewed with raisins, but the sweetness is well balanced and not overwhelming.

The beer pours a nice rich brown color and has a lighter tanish head.

It smells like raisins.

It tastes delicious. You get a malty sweetness at first and then a kick of the raisin notes and then it finishes with a little bitter reminder of the potency.

This beer is great with a peanut butter sandwich.

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,219 ratings.