Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

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Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,189 Ratings

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Ratings: 4,189
Reviews: 1,768
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.03%
Wants: 80
Gots: 319 | 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: 4,189 | Reviews: 1,768 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Tone
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, dark amber color. 1/2 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and slight lacing. Smells of sweet malt, grain, wood, slight hop, some vanilla, yeast, and slight citrus. Fits the style of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp with an average carbonation level. Tastes of smoke, roasted malt, sweet malt, yeast, slight alcohol, slight hop, and some dark sweet citrus. Overall, a good body, complexity, blend, aroma, and mouth feel.

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

Attractive reddish-brown color with minimal head. Mild, fruity aroma. It had an off-putting metallic taste on the first sip, but it dissipated quickly. It's a bit chewy. I taste raisins and brown sugar. Pleasant finish. Anyone wanting a "Belgian beer" should go elsewhere. But not a bad American craft brew.

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

Pours a dark amber color. It is very clear, no hazyness. There is a light cream-colored head.

There is a delicate sweet smell with the alcohol coming through.

There is not a great deal of flavor here. There is a mild sweetness up front with lots of malt. There is a bit of a vanilla aftertaste.

I was not impressed the first time I had this beer. However, as I worked through my six-pack, I discovered that this beer needs to warm quite a bit to experience the complex flavors. I may have this again as it is quite unique for the price.

Photo of hardy008
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish brown color with a large tan foamy head which leaves a nice lace on the glass. The aroma and taste are of brown sugar and fruit. Has a sweet flavor as expected. This is a full bodied beer with good carbonation. The drinkability is good. I have not been disappointed with anything from Dogfish Head yet.

Photo of wesbrownyeah
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dogfish Raison D'etre... fancy name with 8% alcohol.

A- Pours a brown amber colored fluid with small to none head that leaves a touch of floating froth.

S- Nothing to impressive just a little dark roasted malts, light raisons and alcohol esters. Also sweet brown sugar can be noted.

T-M- First taste to come to mind is a thick metallic flavor that lingers on the tounge. After the harsh metals are gone comes a mild toasted carmel malt flavor followed by a warming alcohol bite. Leaves a herbal tint on the tongue. Mouthfeel is good with little carbonation to even out the heavy flavor this one packs.

D- Not a bad beer overall just not balanced enough to enjoy more than one.

Photo of hossua34
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark, woody brown - clear but dense. Medium-small head, with average retention. An average amount of lacing.

S - A light smell of sweet, woody, fruity malts. Raisin and grape notes are present.

T - First impression is not good: like sucking on a penny. Serious metallic taste issues - not cool. Once you get past that, the dominant flavor is a sticky-sweet flavor approaching that of artificial rum raisin. Some spices present. A strong alcohol taste is present too, sweet and warm, but overall a bit too heavy.

M - Mouthfeel is affected negatively by the alcohol taste. Carbonation level is good, but the thickness if questionable.

D - Heavy, sticky, sweet. I'm glad I tried it, but I doubt I'll buy this one again.

Photo of spartanfan
3.03/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a bright, clear, bronze color with a fluffy white head, that really wants to stick around.

S: This beer has a very complex aroma as it warms. I smell dark chocolate, cinnamon, Belgian sugars.

T: Taste is not as sweet as I was expecting. It does have that taste of Belgian sugar, Somewhat bitter finish tastes of raisins.

M: The mouthfeel is meduim to full and leaves a mouth-coating residue behind.

D: I can't put my finger on the exact taste, but something about the lingering aftertaste of this beer is not to my liking. I don't think I'd have another.

Photo of aristeros
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a six of these because I went out looking for Punkin Ale and there wasn't any, and I figured that Dogfish was better than no Dogfish. This is the last of the six, and I was somewhat surprised to learn that it was supposed to be a Belgian Strong Dark. It explained a few things, but this beer takes some liberties.

Pours a deep walnut color, turns a lighter cola in the light. Very active carbonation. About a finger of off-white head with decent lacing and retention. Aroma was heavy on the malt, with dark fruit, just as advertised, and a bit of caramel. Some yeasty notes--banana--squeeze out but are faint.

Caramel and sweet malt up front, with a moderate raisin presence in the middle. Very smooth, with a light-moderate body. Very slight warming presence at the end, slightly creamy mouthfeel. Doesn't have the weight or heavy warming alcohol presence I expect of a Belgian Strong Dark, which is why I was surprised to read here it was supposed to imitate the style.

It's light for the style, and needs a bolder aroma. The elements are there in the taste, but it's not a big enough beer.

However, it is a good beer. All the pieces are there.

If I wasn't taking style into account or had never had a Belgian--I've had better at the same price point--I'd have given it a 4.5 in taste and 4.0 in mouthfeel. This does not have to be tweaked much to make it an exceptional BSD and I would definitely buy it again.

Photo of SkunkWorks
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a tuliped pint glass. Beautiful red color. Light head formation. The aroma is very pleasant and the raisins are very pronounced here. The front end of the taste is good but after a few seconds in my mouth, the overpowering taste of raisins really made it very difficult to drink. The after taste is also very overpowering and really ruins the beer. I had a hard time finishing the glass. I would recommend against.

EDIT. Updating my review. Previous score was 4.5/4.0/1.0/1.0/1.0

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Look: crimson, mahogany colored beer with a single finger tan head that doesn't have the best retention. Some lacing is left but not much.

Smell: dark caramel and dark fruit like raisin. There's some alcohol smell. Surprisingly, its lacking any kind of yeast smell or spice smell to it. Aren't Belgian Dark Strong Ales supposed to have those characters? I won't count that against it because I don't know if Belgian Dark Strong Ale is the category for this one.

Taste: alcohol is obvious. I think that might be why I originally did not like it. There's toasted malt flavors with dark fruits intermingled. The raisins are also fairly front and center. Very strange but interesting all at once. Like the nose, I can't taste any spices or things that would make me think "Gee, this is a Belgian beer."

Feel: very dry, carbonation is light and not incredibly noticeable, and medium bodied. Its a little sticky.

Drink: probably the low point. Though its an enjoyable beer to drink, I would not want to drink more than one in a sitting. The dryness is what would keep me away.

Overall, I'm glad I gave this one a second try and its fair shake. I think its interesting to revisit certain beers and see how your perception of them have changed over time. This beer went from being utterly undrinkable to being somewhat decent, albeit not exceptional.

Photo of earthboundagain
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From Notes

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter, looks are a reddish brown hue with a nice head that did not stick around.

Smell: Brown sugar with a nutty woody undertone?

Taste: Brown sugar is upfront followed bye some nice maltiness that turns too a woody and nutty aftertaste. There is also a burnt quality throughout. There is some boozieness too this beer but not super high.

Mouthfeel: Sticky and syrupy upfront but the finish dries off a lot.

Drinkability: The booze in this hits you at the end. It not as easy to drink as a Chimay, but what is.

Overall: This is no Chimay blue, but it is a nice stab at the style. I am going to age the rest of my six pack to see if this beer melds together a bit.

Photo of taxguyjase
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dogfish Head Brewing puts out some...interesting beers. I really enjoy their 60 and 90 Minute IPAs, but I've heard of some of their brews where they use some gold dust or something. I saw this one at BevMo! and figured, it can't possibly be awful, so why not?

The beer pours really well - a nice rich mahogony/amber color. Expect some nice oaky, malt aroma with a hint of sweetness. Nothing that special, but good. The taste was different too - you definitely had a smooth roasted malt flavor, with this hint of sweet raisin and banana. Definitely a punch of alcohol in the taste too, so take that or leave it, it's what you're going to get. The aftertaste has more malt to it, which was nice. A good beer, but not one I'd probably go and get a lot, given it's pretty pricy (I think it was $10 a six pack).

Appearance - 4.5/5.0 - nice rich mahogony color, amber
Smell -3.0/5.0 - oaky malt smell - nothing that special about the aroma
Taste - 4.0/5.0 - smooth, malt, raisin, banana, little bit of roasted flavor, crisp, aftertaste is malty and very nice; lots of alcohol taste (a bit overpowering)
Feel - 4.0/5.0 - aftertaste is very refreshing and malty, - 4.0
Drinkability - 3.5/5.0 - very good beer, but maybe not what I would spend 10 bucks on regularally

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.

Photo of jera1350
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Coppery brown color with only a trace of suds.

Very faint smelling. Some malt, yeast, rum, banana and dark fruit, but all only lightly.

Surprisingly stronger tasting than what the nose suggests. Matches up with the nose, but a little more assertively. A bit of booze and some coffee and chocolate peek through as well.

Smooth with a lightly carbonated yet soft feel. About medium bodied, but a little thin for the style.

Needs a little boost in the flavor department, but still an okay beer. Lacking for the style though and there are better choices at similar or cheaper price points. I'll pass again on this one.

Photo of j37geogaddi
3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured this bottle into a Sam Adams glass...Clear copper color with almost no head or lacing to be seen.

Smell is a bit faint but definitely of sweet raisins and little else.

Tastes like the smell, but not quite harshly. Again the sweet raisins come in but not as much as you'd like. But its still tasty and very pleasant.

The mouthfeel is very similar to Dogfish's IBA and is very nice. Good carbonation and heavy enough mouthfeel without being syrupy...Just my kinda beer

The 8% ABV is definitely well hidden so you can drink a few for sure without realizing its so high in alcohol but it can get a bit boring after while.

Overall I do like this beer. It almost reminds me of a really light barleywine. It is missing a few characteristics that keep it from being really outstanding however. A little more flavor and complexity would do this beer wonders. I still have to say that I sometimes crave this beer because it reminds me of a barleywine but its much easier to drink when I'm not in the mood for something so powerful.

Photo of GodOfBeer
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark mahogany with a thin yellowish head, barely any lacing.

Smells of brown sugar, nutty caramel malts, raisins and some barely noticeable alcohol in the background.

Tastes sweet and sugary upfront, caramel, raisins and dark fruit, finishes somewhat nutty with some molasses. Kind of like a mix between a BSDA and a Doppelbock or something, somewhat strange, not too crazy about it, covers the alcohol very well though.

Average mouthfeel, not too thick or syrupy and somewhat drinkable. Definately not the best Dogfish brew, and one of the least exciting Belgian Ales I've had...

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

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a cervoise. Bottled on 3/13/09.

Appearance: A thin light tan head. Dark reddish brown body. Not much lacing at all.

Smell: The smell can best be described as an awesome combination of green raisins and brown sugar.

Taste: Perhaps a little too sweet. The dark savory sweetness reminds me of a porter. I really like it, but a little bottle conditioning would have made it a bit better and added some complexity, in my opinion.

Photo of manwich
2.63/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured out of a growler into a chalice. Not much of a head on top, dark but clear body. Rather unusual smell, kind of smoky. Not at all a fan of the taste, syrupy and smoky, reasonable mouthfeel but an otherwise unenjoyable drinking experience. I found myself trying to down it before it got warmer, as I could tell that the unpleasant flavors were getting stronger as the glass warmed up, yet at the same time I wasn't inclined to finish the beer at all. I'm very open minded with beer and have rarely found a craft beer that I legitimately didn't want to finish, but this had to be as close as I've come. I wound up letting my housemates finish the rest of the growler.

Photo of wonderbread23
3.03/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear reddish brown hue. Small head quickly retreated to the rim providing a medium amount of lacing.

Smell: Sweet nose that was a little musty. A little caramel, a little clove and cinnamon. Very understated aroma.

Flavor: Caramel sweetness balanced by a little bitterness. A bit of fruit and raisin with a smidge of alcoholic structure.

Mouthful: Lively carbonation at first. Medium body and finish.

Drinkability: Understated complexity makes this a nice easy drinker.

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.

Photo of shivtim
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this a few time, but time to finally review it.

Nice clear rich rusty brown color. A small but dense white/tan head. Not too many bubbles; looks still.

Nose is sweet sugary caramel, good malt backbone, and tinges of ethanol. Slightly earthy.

Taste is chocolate malts, lingering peat/molasses, and gentle euro hops.

Great mouthfeel. Full and nicely carbonated, with just a bit of balancing syrupyness. Fits the beer well.

Photo of mikel52588
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a deep brownish-amber hue, has small head, about 1-1.5 finger length head that dissipates quickly, leaves a thin lacing for the first pour.

Smell: like fresh bread, sweet caramel malts, theres also a thick earthy scent, with fruits..beets? its pretty complex.

Taste: Interesting. Smooth, semi-sweet, bittertaste follows a somewhat faint malty flavor. The first thing that's kind of surprising is the thinness of it..not expected. Has almost a tea consistency.

Mouthfeel: very thin, it's a little watery in my opinion and has an unusual almost dark coffee like short-lived aftertaste.

Drinkability: I'm a little disappointed with this beer, it's a little watery in my opinion. However, it is surprising that it has 8 abv, but the taste just doesn't do it for me..smells and looks nice though. It may be an decent compliment to something bitter-sweet. Cheers.

Photo of craftaholic
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint. Pours a nice somewhat hazy reddish brown hue with a 1.5 finger length head that dissipates and leaves behind no lacing.

Smell: The smell is that of brown sugar, chestnuts with an oak backbone and a hint of peach. Not very strong overall but the nutty aroma sure shines through.

Taste: Really sweet with some maltiness and even a bit of sweet fruits off the bat that turns to a woody and nutty aftertaste that tastes almost burnt. Has some alcohol presence but nothing overpowering.

Mouthfeel: Syrupy sweet and then transforms to some zest that finishes off like motor-oil as it crawls past your palate and leaves your mouth feeling dry.

Drinkability: Somewhat underwhelming but enjoyable none the less.

Overall: Not my favorite from DFH nor does it seem that it's really fitting in their lineup of brews. Not very complex nor would I seek it again but it was a decent 'once around'.

Photo of BatsforBeer
3.43/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12oz bottle poured into oversized wine glass

A: Light Mahogany, 1 finger off-white head dissipates moderately, little lacing that shimmers in the light.

S: initial brown sugar malt followed by fruity peach like esters; very pleasant.

T: Carmel fades into toasty malt accompanied fruity notes which are hard to place (I assume it's the green raisons), ends very sweet and slightly bitter.

M: Medium bodied, creamy

D: This is where this beer falls short, It is much better when it is cold and as it warms it gets sweeter, too sweet in my opinion, after one, I'm moving on to something else, but I will come back someday!

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

Out of a 12 ounce bottle and into my basic snifter glass. The ale appears a clear medium chestnut color with about two inches of light ecru foam. The head lingers for a bit before settling to a thin layer. Aromas and flavors are of brown sugar, caramel, alcohol, nuts, mild hints of dried dark raisins, sweet malt. Maybe a notch better than medium bodied with ample carbonation for the style. Worth trying if you spot it.

Photo of curasowa
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm starting a week of DFH - this is beer #1 in my custom mix sixer. Poured a clear, brilliant copper color with just a touch of head that faded quickly. Smells of roasted malt and molasses. The taste starts off bitter, but with a lot of body and then fades out into a nice, mellow, lingering finish roasted character. This beer definitely has a lot of body and some sweetness, but isn't sticky and it hides the alcohol very well. This is one I'll try again.

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,189 ratings.