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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,203 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,203
Reviews: 1,770
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.03%
Wants: 87
Gots: 342 | 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:
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: 4,203 | Reviews: 1,770 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kpoole25
2.3/5  rDev -37.2%
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
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
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 -13.9%
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
2.17/5  rDev -40.7%
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
3.68/5  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
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
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
3.93/5  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
4.1/5  rDev +12%
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
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
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.

Photo of FernMaster
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

I'm just going to begin by saying I love this beer. It easily has to be in my top ten favorite beers and if I lived close enough to a place to buy it on a regular basis it would be up there with Rogue Dead Guy Ale and Goose Island's Matilda in my most purchased beer category.

I bought this because of the absurdity promised on the label, beet sugars(?), green raisins(!), what's with this crap? Brown Ale or Belgian Dark Ale, call it what you will because I'm damn fine with it either way. Also it gives you the ability to make many cheap jokes based on the title; like this facebook status of mine, "Ah, my Raison D'Être's - how I have so few of you left."

Raison D'Être pours with two finger worth of head that stays around for a minute or two, long enough to enjoy but not too long as to get in the way. As you drink, several layers of lacing form, which equals cool. The smell on this one is currently faint, I blame it on the cold, but the smell (as I remember and can pick up) is peculiar. There's some definite sweet characteristics to it, brown sugar, a little bit of fruits - presumably the raisons - and possibly the last hard to identify smell is the freaking beets! I have to remember this was made with beet sugars, I love Dogfish Head. The taste is fully backed up by the smell! I hate it when I become fully enamored with the smell of a beer and the taste doesn't follow suit, fortunately that's not a problem with this beer. In the taste you get the malts, the raisons, the sweetness and some sort of other added spices. All of it works beautifully together and it's a freaking joy to drink. If you see this in your local beer stores selection and you haven't tried it yet, please do yourself the favor of purchasing this beer. It'll rock you from the pour to the final drink.

Photo of uno99
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Two things came to mind when I first sipped this: I Cant beleive this is classified as a belgian, and I cant beleive its 8%

A: I love that the color looks like the ingredients. Brown sugar and raisins. Nice foamy head when poured aggresively

S: very sweet and roasty. very little alchohol and virtually no hop presence. Dark fruits abundant

T: Definitly does not taste like any belgian ale Ive had. Its much more like a brown ale as the bottle suggests. Fruity up front with a sweet background. midle to end is smokey malt and raisins.

M: thick and chewy. sticky. slightly astringint finish.

D: I drank two of these the other night and I was fighting with it about half way though the second one. A nice night cap sipper however.

Overall a great ale - however its classified.

Photo of unclejimbay
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Raison D'etre
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 8.00 %
bottle > snifter style big beer glass

4.0 across the board in all catergories. Better than I anticipated, with subtle malt suggestions of DFH 60, 90 and Indian Brown Ale.

Appearance was a deep copper amber color. Acceptable 1 finger head with satisfactory retention and impressive lace. Aromas are more subtle than anticipated, roasty malts, molasses and maybe whispers of spicy raison/mulled cider spices or something like that.
Tastes follow smell with a brown sugar/molasses after taste, sweet/malty but complex with a wee bit of cloying whispers.
Mouthfeel is medium+ body & carbonation.

Photo of Anthony1
3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with little head and a tiny bit of lace. Smell is sweet, caramel, and of course the hint of raisen. Taste matches perfectly. Very rich and full flavored. The raisen taste is very nice, but this has a great malty fullness. Not overly carbonated, but it doesn't need to be. Very well rounded and very enjoyable.

Photo of MetalHopHead6
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dogfish Head Raison D'etre poured beautiful deep dark reddish brown, with no head. It left a crystal clear glass.

The smell and taste were dominated by brown sugar with a hint of dried fruit. The feel was thick, bitter, and bready. It was a smooth autumn sipper.

Raison D'etre does not have the strong raison taste I feared. It's really nothing more than a complex, sweet, slightly fruity brown ale with a ton of character. It was very tasty.

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

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,203 ratings.