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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,847 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3847
Reviews: 1760
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%

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)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Ratings: 3,847 | Reviews: 1,760 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of IPAlot

New York

3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, 50-55 deg. in a belgian bowler with a finger of head.

A very interesting beer. I am not sure I've ever had green raisins before, which the brew includes. Dogfish is a brewery that might help temper my anathema to straying from Reinheitsgebot. The flavor is only a suggestion, another added layer to the quality of the brew itself.

Appearance: a luscious mahogany-orange, quite clear.

Smell: Not very assertive, but balanced and malty.

Taste. The hops are understated, malts hold the forefront, and a spicy gremlin lurks behind the curtains.

I'd buy it again. Not because it is a beer I love, but because of its innovation and mystery.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2003 14:35:15 | More by IPAlot
Photo of francisweizen


4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A very delectable brew and believe it or not, my first from Dogfish Head! This beer pours out a dark brown, murky red colour with a decent head to it that lasts for the life of the beer and leaves a nice belgian lace on the glass as well. This beer has wonderful aromas, of dark fruits, raisons, figs, currants, sugars, maklts, and some earthy flavors as well. This tasted great. Like a cross between a belgian dark a grand cru and perhaps an old ale...very well done combination of flavors and a good balance as well. This beer had a mouthfeel that was a little thin for my tastes but the drinkability is still 'through the roof'

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2003 06:26:35 | More by francisweizen
Photo of avylover


3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer is wierd one, even by dogfish head standards. It truly tastes like "golden delicious" apples. Aroma is nice & malty but a sip reveals the fruitiness of this beer. It's not overbearing by any means but there's not much else going on here so the appple taste stands out. This beer is warm going down....nice. easy to drink but I don't think I'd want more than one of these. A nice novelty but not something i'd get down with.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2003 18:11:42 | More by avylover
Photo of WVbeergeek


4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Anytime I see the huge Dogfish Head tap handle, I have to try it. This beer was an inviting amber brown, complemented by a decent white head. The first thing in the aroma that stood out was the fruit aroma (apples and raisins) along with some traces of mellow spice. The taste is the texture of a fine spiced rum, and there are also hints of the flavor in the brew. Very complex, yet utterly enjoyable, and refreshing. The high ABV of course gives the flavor a little bite, and there is also some candi sugar thrown in here for more sweetness. Alot of malt makes this a treat, along with a good medium body and a somewhat chewy texture. Drinkability is good, but it would be better if this weren't so drinkable with 8% abv one is enough. Not quite over the top like some of the Dogfish Head beers, but not a disappointment by any means. I did enjoy her.

Serving type: on-tap

02-19-2003 11:38:38 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of doho95fu


4.78/5  rDev +30.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I really enjoyed this brew, obviously alot more than some of my fellow BA's. The beer pours reddish copper with a thin off-white head and no lacing. There is little or no visible carbonation. The smell is of some fruit with clear malt flavors. The flavor was malty as well, but with some sweet fruit characteristsics as well. I don't know that I rate malty brews so high, this may be the highest malty brew I have rated. I just found it to be highly drinkable and enjoyable for a high ABV brew with some experimental characteristics.

Serving type: bottle

02-07-2003 19:22:10 | More by doho95fu
Photo of AudioGilz


4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The aroma of this beer hit my nose even before I poured it out of the bottle; and a pleasant aroma it was. The color is of a darker iced tea and pretty much no head at all.
Initial taste is very sweet and caramelized. Then it's toasty, raisin sweetness of course, and a hint of chocolate as well. Alcohol is noticeable but not bothersome. The finish is dry and just slightly bitter, leading to a long and enjoyable sweet aftertaste. A six pack of this beer could last me a week or longer because I didn't find it too easy to drink one right after the other. The richness is fulfilled in my stomach after one, as well as 8% ABV taking effect. Overall, it's a very tasty beer that I will buy again as a dessert beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2003 16:02:55 | More by AudioGilz
Photo of allboutbierge


2.9/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A relatively attractive beer--Rich light brown with copper hue. Quick disapating off white head is poured. Very light carbonation and slightly gummy body. Aroma is very musty and not very alluring. Flavor is disapointing too. No balance of flavors or much a direction to style either. What style is this? Dogfish has successfully pushed the limits of a beer style before but alas, they failed here. Rough malt flavors and some flavor reminscent of a bad cheap white wine in there, but nothing to make the drinker want another. With that in mind Im gonna have a Bigfoot to cap off my evening...

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2003 16:05:30 | More by allboutbierge
Photo of the42ndtourist

Ontario (Canada)

4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The label makes a claim of being mahogany in colour. This is a pretty good comparison, although I might be drawn more towards a lighter-coloured indian rosewood. Head is off-white, and well-proportioned. Very nice to look at. The nose brings out typical strong Belgian ale aromas, with a light pungent sourness. Taste is very malty (nice!), sweet, with again a little sourness which goes over well. I also thought I could detect the raisins in the finish. A very well made beer: Is this truly Dogfish Head's Raison D'etre?? (rough translation: "reason of being")

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2003 09:49:10 | More by the42ndtourist
Photo of PatandDavid


3.13/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This poured a deep brownish/red, smell wasn't too overwhelming.

What struck me on drinking this beer was that it was very, very malty. That's the primary taste to be found here. While not unpleasant, I don't think I would go for this again unless I wanted to try it again to see if it was still tasting the same.

Not a bad beer, but a bit of a one note beer.

Serving type: on-tap

01-29-2003 16:49:59 | More by PatandDavid
Photo of SchmichaelJ


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

This Belgian specialty had a clear orange appearance with noticeable bands of carbonation. A decent foamy head topped the glass, but I was somehow not as impressed with the visuals here. The smell was very malty sweet, with a touch of alcohol scent. After a while I did notice a fruity, raisin-like smell, as mentioned on the label. Nice complexity. The taste surprised me somewhat. The expected maltiness was there, but the alcohol and an indescribable furity / smoked taste battled for my attention. Also very complex and hard to isolate the flavors. I see why this is labeled a Belgian specialty ale...rather uncharacteristic, but not bad. Very dry taste at the end, too. The mouthfeel was pretty average for the style, though...medium body with a nice tingle, but nothing little else worth mentioning. This is an interesting Belgian derivative that is worth trying. I doubt I'll clamor for it in the near future, but I wouldn't refuse it, either.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2003 18:32:56 | More by SchmichaelJ
Photo of goz


4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reddish brown pour. Malty sweet nose, maybe some alcohol on the nose. Taste is very complex - sweet, then bitter, slight alcohol in there, too. Too many different flavors to pick them all out. Maybe more like a wine or brandy than beer, in terms of complexity.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2003 09:26:12 | More by goz
Photo of kunzbrew


4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew pours a sexy copper with a nice creamy head that last the duration, leaving a lace behind that is to die for. Plums and raisons fill the nose as I grow very excited to try this beer. Not a strong hop aroma, ehich is not bad. Raisons hit the palete very hard, man my mouth was watering at this point. Nutmeg is another taste that hits the palate quite hard during the entire beer. The nice clean finish after every sip until the end.


Serving type: bottle

01-18-2003 19:08:44 | More by kunzbrew
Photo of HossMcGraw


3.1/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is a beer with barely any carbonation whatsoever. If I'm drinking a barley-wine or a more full bodied beer, I don't mind that, but this is just weird. I like the fact that like all Dogfish brews, this one doesn't easily fit into any category, but the sample case I bought was very disappointing. Hopefully some day I can get some 90 min IPA or WWS to change my mind, but the Tackle Box sampler is wack. The Raison is cloyingly sweet. Smells weird and as the name would suggest, tastes like raisins. Anyway, it's worth a try, but I won't be buying it again.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2003 19:49:23 | More by HossMcGraw
Photo of Myk


4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance was a rich golden amber with a small bubble bone white head poured rather aggressive, head depleted rather fast. the aroma was of malt, floral hop and champaigne (sp). the taste was so sweet. warming malt and super complex. fruity, sour apple mixed with grapes and raisin. bitter hop bite. it was of medium body with a long lasting fruit aftertaste. alcohol is present as it warms.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2003 00:45:05 | More by Myk
Photo of aaronh


3.15/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Beautiful copper-orange color with amber highlights. This beer pours with a one-inch, light tan head that fades to a thin foamy film. The aroma is a little bit of sweetness mingled with some herbal and woody notes. Interesting, bordering on weird. The taste is also odd. The main taste is hard to pinpoint, but it is essentially a woody, slightly smoky malt taste. Throw in a pinch of herbal tea and a splash of vodka to get the idea of this taste. It's not bad, just odd. There seems to be a bit of spice in there as well, but it's hard to pinpoint. Soke residual sweetness on the finish, with just a touch of bitterness. The mouthfeel is very full and smooth. The alcohol warms a bit as it goes down, like a good smooth bourbon. The drinakbility is average due to the odd yet complex flavor profile. In general I like the Dogfish line, but this one is a bit too odd for someone as conservative as me.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2003 16:18:21 | More by aaronh
Photo of OatmattStout


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

This beer is different and I seemed to like it less the second time I had it and now more the third time.[ I think I have made up my mind] Some decent sweet matly flavors brought on by beet sweetness and raisons. The second time i had it I did poor this beer out of a cold fridge and never let it get to a good temp so the flavors seemed separate. When served right It has a velvety mouthfeel with great fine carbonation the really slamms the flavors into your bud's. Over all I like this beerjust fine and will drink it occassionaly but for all the hype and $10 a six pack it won't make the regular rotation.

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2003 09:13:20 | More by OatmattStout
Photo of maxpower


4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep clear brown in color, has a small fizzy off white head, smokey sweet brown sugar and caremel malty aroma. Chocolate fruity caremel flavors, has some sour bitterness. Medium body, has somewhat of a syrupy mouthfeel, well hidden alcohol content, good and different.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2003 12:09:31 | More by maxpower
Photo of comat0se


4.93/5  rDev +34.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked this one up in the bargain bin at Corral Liquors in Illinois. The bottle says bottled in April, but I'm not sure what year that it was. There is an 02 on the glass itself, so I'm guessing April 2002.

Unlike some other reviewers of this beer, this beer poured with a massive 1 inch, small bubbled, frothy head. This head had some of the best retention I've ever seen. The last sip still had at least a half inch of foam left. Amazing.

The first aroma I picked up coming out of the bottle was a winey, champagne-like aroma. Closer examination of the aroma from the glass reveals heavy malt and fruits. The appearance of this beer is outstanding: a deep, crystal-clear, ruby/mahogany color. I was expecting a lighter colored beer, and lighter in body (not sure why). This is not what this beer is about. It's a bright, and bold beer. Some might not agree with the beers sweetness, and think it diverges too much from "what beer should be." But I think not... I'm continually amazed by what beer can be. This beer has all sorts of things going on. You taste dark fruits, black cherries, chocolate, maybe even cherry coke, followed by a hint of roasted and a bit of pencil flavor (yes, wood pencil) and wisps of hot alcohol. The drinkability is almost soda-like, and it goes down fast, easy and refreshingly so. But this isn't any soda... and the mouthfeel immediately gives that away. It is moderately thick and luxurious, not impeded by a heavy carbonation, but yet having the perfect balance of carbonation. This hides its alcohol very well, only traces emerging from time to time remind you that this is no 3.2% beer. There are very little hops present in this beer. I couldn't detect any hop flavor, but yet the finish of the otherwise sweet beer was dry.

A very nice beer... I want another! Hope I can find it again.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2002 14:11:23 | More by comat0se
Photo of ElGuapo

New Jersey

3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours to an amber with a very minimal head atop, but the bubbles that are there are there to stay for a while. you will get sweet malts, caramel, and a little spice in the aroma.

the beer is very smooth with carbonation in check. the body is medium with nice rich consistency. the malts are arranged well, and it is very easy to drink. you will get flavors of caramel, alcohol, and raisons. yes definitely raisons. i didn't expect this, but it was a really unique characteristic. definitely a new experience.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2002 06:46:03 | More by ElGuapo
Photo of TheLongBeachBum


3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dogfish Head – Raison D’Être, wow - quite a mouthful.
Well the 6-Pack Box says that this beer was American Beer of the Year 2000. Hmm.

Pours a brown, deep amber, color, which has a coppery-red hue. Minimal carbonation gives a thin collar like off-white head. Nose is quite funky at first, but I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Try again. A very deep inhalation gives Malt with some fruit and a freshly cut damp woody odor. Wee-aard. Tastes reveal a strange brew, akin to not much else that I have tried, like no other. Rather unique then. Warm malts introduce the beer, leading to a confused middle that is quite complex, or is it muddled? It has fruity traits with a mildly warming alcohol effect to which I am very partial. Sticky Toffee residuals are present in the finish. I wonder, if this beer ages well for a year or two, tastes like it would. I am struggling to understand this, and therefore adequately describe this beer. I keep tasting it hoping to clarify the situation – nope, it’s like as soon as I have drunk it, I forget what it is. A Twilight Zone beer, perhaps!

So this is supposed to be a Belgium-Style beer right?? Well OK, it has some claims I suppose, yeah and I am Howard Hughes love-child.
For me, it is much more of an “experimental beer”, with a cheeky hint of Belgium. However, strange as it is, I think it works.
Quite Good in a Weird Way actually.

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2002 23:36:57 | More by TheLongBeachBum
Photo of ethosx19


2.48/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I got a six pack and was excited to try this. As much as I wanted to like it, I just can't. It poured a dark rich amber with very little head. The aroma was a mix of raisons and alcohol - they don't mix well. It tasted of malt and raisons with a creamy alcohol finish. I didn't like the raisons and I didn't like the alcohol taste. I'm going to age these a few months and hope they improve. On the plus side, one beer at 8% did give me a buzz on an empty stomach.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2002 19:16:37 | More by ethosx19
Photo of mickeymac


4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Specialty beer, indeed. It's a nice brownish red with a smallish head. The smell is funky-fruit with a trace of hops and definitely unique. Green raisins? It sounds odd, but it works. The fruity flavor dominates, but it doesn't overwhelm the beer. The smell and taste of alcohol are noticeable but appropriate for an 8.0% abv beer. The drinkability is good, although this is certainly not a session beer. It seems to be a love it or hate it beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2002 15:41:30 | More by mickeymac
Photo of IrishRedRock


3.43/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is an odd beer. I like Dogfish Head in that they are a somewhat adventurous brewery, but I don't really know whats going on with this brew. It pours a clear tan with no head at all really. Not much of an aroma either, some mild malt, caramel, and alcohol.

Taste has some malt character, but sadly there are not many hops to be found. Smooth mouthfeel backed with a kick of alcohol that is quite warming and pleasant, with a bit of a dry finish. Has kind of a cheap beer flavor to it, and unfortunately it almost tastes like a fine malt liquor. Anyone seen a 40 oz of this around? ;)

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2002 21:58:29 | More by IrishRedRock
Photo of MJR


3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear, garnet/mahogany color with a small tan head that, like all of Dogfish Head's beers, disappears quickly.

Smell: Brown sugar, caramel, and a wierd sweetness I can't put my finger on.

Taste: A mixture of alcohol, brown sugar, caramel, sweet fruit, and malt. Not much in the way of hops. Finishes with a strong alcoholic bite.

Mouthfeel: Fairly light body with a dry finish. Strong alcohol presence from start to finish.

Drinkability: Well...it's not a bad beer. The flavor is certainly interesting, but I don't see myself coming back to this one. To me, this is one of those 'try it once and move on' beers.

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2002 13:13:10 | More by MJR
Photo of feloniousmonk


4.78/5  rDev +30.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Small head, deep garnet color. Soft aroma, very subtle. "Brewed with Belgian beet sugars, green raisins, and a sense of purpose."
Taste this beer and happiness follows! This is beautiful and unique!
Low carbonation, high hops, little malt that I can detect, but just the right amount of sweetness, and an utterly original flavor. This is a special occasion beer, for when you need a special reward.Light texture, soft and sweet, it's the flavor that makes this a standout brew.
Time and again, I turn folks on to incredible beer like this and they are amazed that there's great beer coming out of Kalamazoo or Pennsylvania or Delaware. Proof again that "you can search the world over and never find a better beer" than those made by craft brewers here in the U.S.A.

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2002 15:46:43 | More by feloniousmonk
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 3,847 ratings.