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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,771 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,771
Hads: 4,259
Avg: 3.66
pDev: 23.22%
Wants: 103
Gots: 452 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Raison D'Être Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,771 | Hads: 4,259
Photo of Slatetank
4.11/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decanted from the growler which gave a resounding POP! as I opened it. Poured cold into a DFH shaped pint glass.

A - A deep caramel brown w/ a full 2 finger cream head which is very smooth and the bubbles are tightly formed. A goodly amount of lace stays as large gulps are taken.

S - Caramel, brown sugar, bready yeasty aromas and maybe a hint of raisins.

M - Full and malty, yet crisp and sweet. Creamy, dry and roasted all at the same time. A slightly sweet finish as the malted flavors coat the inside of my mouth. A moderate amount of carbonation keeps the taste from getting cloying.

T - Such a complex beer, where to start? Rich and roasted w/ a dark bread flavor. Tastes like a fresh baked whole wheat loaf. A sweetness of overripe apple w/ a doughy belgian yeast seeps into the flavor. Rich sweetness like having a mouthful of raisins overtakes the taste. Much like a desert w/ raisins, the taste of raisins becomes dominant after half of the pint is swallowed. Very well balanced though and the sweetness is kept in check.

D - A full bodied and strong ale w/ great complexity. The best raisin flavored ale I have had and twice as fresh and sweet from the brewpub. I recommend having this on draft, since it seems more dry and less round and malty in the bottle. Not great drinkability, but for the abv, very good.

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Photo of Jason
3.44/5  rDev -6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer certainly has some chill haze problems, the head was not much better either. Smelled of rum, caramel, raisins, solvent alcohol and some other odd fruit.

The taste was the same with more of an expressive solvent alcohol that bordered on a rubbing alcohol flavour. Syrupy and slick with sweet malty and alcohol flavours, a bit softer and more palatable than in the bottle.

Not too bad, you just have to remember that it is 8.0% abv and not to suck it down like any other beer that is on-tap.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at World Cafe Live, Philly, PA

Made with raisins, Belgian rock candy, brown sugar... Dogfish Head brews just have to be tasted to be believed. Seriously, the Reinheitsgebot can head home with its tail between its legs for all I care!

Poured reddish-brown, hazy with a bit of a head. Fruits and sugars in the nose. Dried fruits (raisins, of course) on the tongue right up front. Light sugars, and sweet malt, graininess in the background, and somewhat of a phenol or alcohol taste, even though the ABV is not that high. Medium mouthfeel with a syrupy sensation. Definitely drinkable, but not something I'd want to drink all the time.

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Photo of russpowell
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours ruby red to chestnut with a 3 fingers+ sand/pink colored head in my La Chouffe wine goblet style glass. Good lacing & minimal head retention

Smell: Some barely discernable slighlty musty & leather notes

Taste:Malty caramel notes folowwed by choclate, leather & yeasty flavors Finishes with fruitty wine-like notes & dryness

MF: A little thin for the the style, but very good carbonation

Drinks easy for the strength, dut doesn't quite pull together for me

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.94/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark and clear brown with ruby tones. Head is crème colored. Nose is basically nothing. I know I should be getting some raisin there, but I am not getting anything. Flavor is smooth raisins that are not overly powerful. Firm malty tones with what seems like mild hop character. Feel is very smooth on the liquid and with a pretty smooth bubble. Definitely drinkable. Smooth and even, it could easily be a session brew if the sweet tones don't bother you.

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Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip, bottled 12/13/2011. Pours slightly cloudy red orange color with a nice 2 finger fairly dense khaki head with great retention that reduces to nice cap that lingers. Some spotty thick lacing on the glass. Aromas of big molasses, raisin, candi sugar, plum, caramel, herbal spiciness, chocolate, toasted malt, biscuit, yeast spices, and a touch of alcohol. Nice and well balanced aromas with some good complexity. Taste of big molasses, caramel, herbal spice, chocolate, raisin, candi sugar, biscuit, toasted malt, and yeast spices. Lingering notes of caramel, biscuit, dark fruit, molasses, toasted malt, and spiciness on the finish for a bit. Nice balance of flavors with good malt balance without being cloying. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a fairly creamy and slick mouthfeel. Alcohol is well hidden with only a warming on the finish present. Smooth drinking for the alcohol level, but is still a sipper. Overall this is a very nice Belgian dark ale; with nice complexity and good flavor balance. Really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.04/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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Photo of smcolw
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"A dark mahogany ale brewed with beet sugar, green raisins and Belgian yeast."

Clear, brown liquid with a thin ring of bubbles as a head--no lace.

The aromas are primarily caramelized sugars...close to a brown sugar smell. It does not have the common earthy/barnyard aromas of a Belgian ale.

The flavor is closer to a brown ale with lots of chocolate/cocoa notes. Very little hop flavor. This is thinner than I expected.

The taste doesn't reflect the creative description above, but still this is an interesting and delicious offering from the Dogfish people.

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Photo of chinchill
3.44/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

undated 12oz bottle served in a pint glass.

I just altered my BA profile last night to conclude that Belgian Strong Dark Ale deserves listing as my favorite style not so much because several of my favorites are this style but because every beer in this style I had reviewed had received a high A- or better) rating. Well, less than 24 hours later I'll need to revise my profile thanks to this Dogfish Head.

The DH gets off to a good start, with a lovely reddish amber color and a lasting, creamy looking light tan head. The liquid is clear and the head is multi-density.

The aroma is pleasant but rather mild and lacks depth and complexity being mainly the aroma of various ripe and dark fruits with some alcohol esters, grape bubblegum and a just hint of hops. The alcohol aromas become more pronounced with warming, leading me to lower my rating of this aspect.

This is an exceptionally fruity beer, with a flavor profile dominated by prunes, plums, raisins and generic sour fruits. The tartness nicely contrasts with the sweetness of the aroma. The ABV is not only apparent, it actually seems higher than 8%, as if someone sprinkles some light rum in my beer (no, I'm home alone at the moment).

M - medium body; smooth, but with a tad too little carbonation.

O - Well, I can still say I haven't had a Belgian Strong Dark Ale I disliked. This one departs from the admittedly highly variable flavor profile of this beer style. Where's the malt? It is still a moderately enjoyable if disappointing offering from DH. I'll buy another bottle but try aging it first.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 8/13/10 notes. Had on tap at the Iron Horse in DC.

a - pours a dark brown color with light carbonation evident and one inch of tan heAd

s - Smells of dark fruits, especially dates, prunes, and raisons, fruity malts, grapes, sugar, and alcohol.

t - Tastes of dark fruits, primarily dates, fruity malts, licorice, alcohol, and caramel malts.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - An ok dark ale, but wasn't the biggest fan of the taste. Probably wouldn't seek out again.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.73/5  rDev +29.2%
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.

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Photo of jwc215
3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottled on 04/19/07. Poured into a tulip glass.

Pours mahogany with a one-finger head that descends to a very thin cover.

The smell is of sugar candy, raisins, rum and caramel under a blanket of alcohol.

The taste is of sugar candy, bubblegum, a touch of raisins, and caramel. Raw alcohol partially covers the taste - unfortunate, as it is close to rubbing alcohol - more noticeable than even the abv level should have. Borders on too sweet. There are some fruity hops, but rather muted. Something of a flatness in the finish.

Thinner than expected, but that is not my main complaint about the feel - it's more that the flavors (outside of some alcohol) are quite fleeting and leave a "flat" feeling in the mouth (though the beer was by no means flat).

An "interesting" brew that doesn't live up to the hype. Nothing particularly special, other than unusual combo of flavors. Skeptical that mellowing by aging it would help, as it doesn't seem to be worth it, IMO. One of those to try once to have, I suppose, and certainly a slow "sipper".

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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.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Beer was presented in a pint glass, dark brown in color, small off white head that dissipates quickly, leaving a ring of white around the beer. Not much lacing.

S: Very sweet and sugary. The grape aroma is obvious.

T: Dominated by grapes and the malt bill. There is a sugary/sweetness to the flavor profile as well. A little bit of hops and a hint of alcohol.

M: Medium bodied, not a lot of carbonation, but slick and sweet.

O: Not my favorite, overly grapey and sweet. Glad there are plenty of other DFH brews I can get instead.

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Photo of tdm168
3.31/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich reddish amber with one finger of head that quickly dissipates to a thin lacing. There are carbonation bubbles rising to the top. Smell is sweet with the beet sugar coming through quite pungently; there is a slight yeastiness to it as well. Taste is rich and sweet. The beet sugar dominates here, I can't really detect the green raisins over the beets' sweetness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied but highly carbonated with bubbles breaking across the palate.

Overall, it's a nice change of pace from your typical Belgian beer, but DFH has better to offer.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.11/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer is auburn hued. Autumnal colors of ruby, crimson, russet. Small off white head that fades pretty quickly to a thin, wispy layer atop the beer. The aroma offers sweet malt, toffee, raisins, brown sugar, clove, a touch of holiday spice. Really sweet throughout. Bitter kick in the finish. Sweet raisins soaked in the booze. Fun to try, but best in small quantities. Too sweet. I don't consider this in the Belgian style at all. Where is the yeast and bread character that is so appreciated and associated with a Belgian strong dark ale? I appreciate the fact that Sam brews interesting beers, but I won't return to this one.

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

The beer pours a hazy redish color with a lacey white head. The aroma is quite plain. There is a bit of malt scent and a little belgian yeast aroma. The taste is excellent. It is sweet and a bit tart. It has a nice malt flavor and raisin taste. This is a good beer no doubt. The mouthfeel is good. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This beer is an awesome drinker. Another great beer from Dogfish Head.

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Photo of billab914
3.49/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

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

06/13/05- Received via trade with Connecticutpoet and Steinlifter.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with a born on date of October 2005. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Brandy colored pour with a 1/2 inch head and average lacing.

Smell- Serious malt scents as well as some raisins and alcohol.

Taste- Heavy malt with some brown sugar thrown in. Figs and raisins abound along with a heavy tobacco leaf flavor.

Mouthfeel- Started off very carbonated, but ended on a light note.

Drinkability- Tasty brew, original taste for me with the tobacco leaf added in. I've had many better dark ales, but this one isn't bad at all. Thanks for the sample guys!

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours an amber color with a white head. The aroma is candi-sugar, raisins, caramel malt and some other dark fruit. The flavor is raisins, brown sugar, toffee, caramel malt, yeast, alcohol and dark fruit. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

I have had this beer multiple times and I really enjoy it. The raisins are dominant in the aroma and flavor and the additional elements such as brown sugar compliment the raisins well.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.4/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

It's been a long road. It's time to revist this beer from such a long time ago. Dated October 28th 2011, poured into an official Dogfish Head Raison D'etre goblet. Loved this so much back in the day I bought the glasses for it.

Not much head produced barley a finger through a center punch, what is there is a faint caramel/tan that falls and leaves a good collar and slight puck. What a gorgeous body color this is though, red amber and clear with these brown edges. It really looks like a ruby.

Nose is slighty raisin, but it smells like baked fresh fruitcake. Cherries, carmalized sugars, fresh baked bread. Topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Real impressive.

I am going to knock my taste and mouthfeel score down slightly here. Slightly wetter palate than most Belgian Strong Dark Ales, but misses the viscosity angle. Bready tasty action in the fore front, but not much of the sweetness or fruit character comes through. Finish is a little citrus like, with a little carbonation prickly sting and raisin, it's still quite neat as I remember it.

Overal I still really like this, I think my enthusiasm for this beer though has gone down having tried more of this style from other producers in Belgium. However, I still really enjoy it, strangely I use to be able to get it more often but I rarely see it around as much. Too bad.

Old Review (Feb 6th 2010)

Hands down my go to beer, Raison D'etre is a perfectly bodied, complicated aroma of raisin and somewhat dark bread bouquet. Has a thick mouthfeel and has a wonderful lingering finish as well.

Had on tap and in bottles and both manage to be downright refreshing when well.

I say well, because the beer does have a SHORT shelf life and it's very easy to get a bad one, or have one from a tap that has been sitting too long. When you do, it becomes extremely sour tasting and the bouquet is dead.

Even still I absolutely love this beer. (4,4,5,4.5,4.5)

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Photo of Billolick
4.29/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ouncer sampled, freshenss dating notched on to the label. Pours clear, almond amber, with a tad of egg shell colored head, limited lacing. nose is alcohol, raisins, rum and candi sugars. Strong flavorful brew, notes of alcohol, figs, rum soaked raisins, apricots. Complex, heady creation. Wrap your tongue around some of this stuff.

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Photo of Gavage
3.29/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a dark copper color with a surface foam for a head. No lacing develops. The aroma is of strong malt and alcohol. The flavor is dominated by the thick malt tones, as some prunes, green grapes, light bitterness, alcohol, and faint caramel tones round it out.

Medium-heavy in bidy. Mouthfeel was smooth and mildly syrupy at the start and finish. The aftertaste was long lasting on the malt. Drinkability is only average for this brew.

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Photo of BARFLYB
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12oz bottle into a Dogfish pint glass. Pretty fresh at 2 months old.

A- Raison D'Etre pours a medium brown color with red highlights while up towards light. A very clean brew as there is not much, if any sediment. A 1/2 inch head comes through then disappears leaving a slice of off-white head. A whole lot of rising bubbles.

S- A good smell consisting of a lot of sugars (including brown) and caramel. Roasted malts with some syrups maybe. Under that the raisin shows up with a layer of yeast also creating an earthy scent.

T- The raisin is apparent and sugars are up front creating a sweet assault on the mouth before leaving. After that some smoky qualities arise while some dark fruits and a dash of coffee and even less chocolate. The caramel and roasted malt stays throughout each swig with some alcohol presence. Overall, this really isn't my thing with the set of ingredients chosen, leaning towards the yeast.

M- Reminds me of a smooth bock. Not as thick on the mouth as some DFH offerings but leaves it's mark. A nice bit of carb going for this as well. A bit of a hassle to get through. Not a pleasing aftertaste.

D- Not my favorite DFH offering honestly & i love their experimentation but not this one.. I had trouble with even this 12oz serving. Maybe this would be better in a cask, but i don't see myself having that in the future. I will look out for this on tap and compare.

I am going to try the D'Extra but if it's double the taste of this then forget about it.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brilliantly clear copper-amber color, and is topped by a thin tan head. The aroma is rich with notes of brandy alcohol, rich raisin, some notes of tropical fruit. The beer is lightly sweet, yet rich and creamy, with perhaps a hint of butterscotch. There is a lot of great fruit flavors here, there is some definite raisin notes here as well as Muscat, and flower nectar. There are also some subtle spice notes here that seem to be yeast/ fermentation derived. This beer is quite interesting, and in some ways quite light, yet it is still quite rich tasting. This is quite tasty, and is certainly proof that Dogfish Head certainly likes to push the boundaries a bit.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 1,771 ratings.