1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

4,116 Ratings
THE BROS
73
okay

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,116
Reviews: 1,767
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 73
Gots: 289 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Raison D'Être Alström Bros
Ratings: 4,116 | Reviews: 1,767 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JAHMUR
3/5  rDev -18%

JAHMUR, Dec 20, 2011
Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Beautiful clear mahogany in color. A gentle pour into a wide-mouthed goblet produced almost no head. Still a great looking beer, however.

Smell: Smells largely of overripe fruit (figs, plums) and brown sugar. A bit of toast appears as it warms along with a hint of yam.

Taste & mouthfeel: Flavors of caramelized sugar, dates and raisins at the forefront with an undertone of toasted malt. The low/moderate carbonation was initially a surprise, but it works fine here; I was just expecting something closer to the crisp effervescence of most Belgian examples of this style. This certainly isn't a traditional Belgian style beer though, more of a Belgian/American hybrid. The finish dries up nicely, leaving a hint of alcohol on the palate. A touch more hop bitterness may benefit this beer to cover up the slight alcohol presence, but it's by no means harsh.

Notes: Nice stuff, glad I had the chance to try this. Got this as an extra from Azurelimits. Thanks!

largadeer, Jul 10, 2008
Photo of TMoney2591
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in DFH Alehouse pint.

Pours a deep crimson with a strong head of khaki that stood for several minutes (without starch, no less!) before settling away into the bloody sea. The waves smell rollingly of raisins, dark malts, and figs, each progressively smashing the olfactory rocks throughout the sniff. The figgy waves, though, are the ones that hit the hardest once the tasting begins, the malts and raisins rowing ashore bedecked in full ninja regalia. This covert crew and their more ostentatious front-line compatriots sit somewhat heavily on the tongue, almost languishing there, but are saved by the grace of a very smooth texture, keeping them from malingering in Limbo with Virgil and his cohorts, but not raising them too far up the purgatorial mountain.

TMoney2591, Feb 02, 2010
Photo of biboergosum
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The last of an assortment of DFH 'souvenirs' from my last trip south of the 49th parallel...the 4th of July seems a decent occasion as any to polish it off.

This beer pours a clear, dark ruddy brown colour, with minimal head, and no lacing. Quick out of the gate, I suppose. It smells of subtle roasted caramel malt, bittersweet chocolate, a little vinous essence, and a bit of bitter coffee. The taste is lightly roasted caramel malt, a tad chocolate candy-like, a bit of booze, dark fruit, and earthy hops. The carbonation is moderate, the body thick and viscous, with the booze well-integrated, and an off-dry sweet candy malt finish. This seems much more like a brown ale, a style I don't usually care for, but is also more of a ramped-up American version, and is thus quite tasty.

biboergosum, Jul 07, 2009
Photo of zeff80
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an orange/amber color with a soapy, foamy, tan head that left some trails of lace.

S - It smelled of malt, raisin and other dried fruits.

T - It tasted very malty, with hints of fig and raisin.

M - It was fairly soft and smooth. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good Belgian style beer. Interesting flavors and quite drinkable.

zeff80, Jun 23, 2008
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An unusual and interesting beer, but then aren't all of the Dogfish Head beers? It took a long time for this beer to grow on me. It pours a deep crimson-mahogany with a creamy light tan head that drops quickly to just a collar (probably from the high alcohol). I like the aroma of dark caramels (toffee) and fruit. The flavor offers up a lot of alcohol, some dark fruity (raisins) maltiness, and some balancing bitterness. The flavor is actually quite toasty with a fig-like fruitiness. The finish is dryish and not nearly as complex as the flavor but does have a lingering sweet raisin-like note that's quite nice. The high level of alcohol is quite hidden. Overall, this is an expansive beer that doesn't reveal itself at first and deserves some extra attention and a few re-visits. It's a beer that I drink when I know I'm not having another but I still want something unusual and rich. Very well done and certainly worth a try. I've also noticed that this ages exceptionally well with bottles that are at least 6 months old becoming much smoother, and bottles that are a year or more old revealing a deeper character.

NeroFiddled, Jul 15, 2002
Photo of StonedTrippin
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a very very unique ale. this one pours a mahogany brownish with a patchy tan head an inch thick. nose is quite interesting, fruity, with that belgian yeast complexion, slightly sweet, rich. taste matches the nose, with the flavor of the raisins coming through nicely. as far as i know, there is nothing like this anywhere else on the market. worth seeking out. definitely grows on you over time, only the high ABV and high price tag keep this one from being a daily go to for me. endless food pairing potentials as well...

StonedTrippin, Oct 17, 2011
Photo of nickfl
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with under one finger of tan head on top of a perfectly clear, amber-brown body. The foam collapses quickly and leaves moderate lace on the glass.

S - Dark, fruity notes of raisin, plum, and caramel with a hint of clove.

T - Woody raisin notes up front with some plum and toffee. The yeast comes out a bit more in the middle with notes of clove, anise, and caramel coated red apples. The malt character reasserts itself at the finish with more caramel, toffee, and red apple. Notes of semi sweet chocolate and dark caramel linger in the aftertaste with red apple as well as some warming alcohol.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - The aroma is a bit weak, but the favor of this beer is surprisingly spot of for the style. The raisins bring a musty fruitiness that works well with the rich, dark caramel malt. There is an excellent yeasty note of red apple that floats throughout the experience and enhances the malt character substantially. The hops are handled nicely as well and manage to provide a light balancing bitterness without obscuring any of the malt or yeast. A very nicely drinkable belgian with an American twist.

nickfl, Oct 29, 2010
Photo of Jason
3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

Jason, Aug 25, 2002
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.

WVbeergeek, Feb 19, 2003
Photo of TheManiacalOne
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of roasted malts, chocolate, raisins and some hops.

T: The taste is malty up front with sweet flavors of raisins, chocolate and caramel. There's a mild background of Belgian yeast and spices. The malt character is hearty and there's a decent hops presence all creating a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, nice representation of style but like most DFH beers, it's not your typical beer in its style. This is a good beer to drink for a long time if you're in the mood for some thing with a little strength and a lot of substance.

TheManiacalOne, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of RblWthACoz
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

RblWthACoz, Dec 31, 2007
Photo of Slatetank
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
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.

Slatetank, Sep 05, 2007
Photo of russpowell
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
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

russpowell, Jun 17, 2006
Photo of jlindros
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Light fizzy head, hazy reddish brown color.

Nose is musty herbal hops, sweet brown malts, brown sugar, caramel, s weet syrups, toasty malts.

Taste herbal hops, musty, earthy tones, sweet brownish toasty malts, brown sugar, caramel, toffee, light spices, raisins, hazelnut, nutty, light minerals, chewy, finishes still a bit sweet, malts, light bitter herbal hops,

Mouth is med bodied with decent carb,

Overall meh, the herbal hops hit quite a bit, little minerality, plenty of malts, sweet

jlindros, Mar 29, 2011
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.

feloniousmonk, Dec 07, 2002
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.

drabmuh, Sep 20, 2009
Photo of Rifugium
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

Rifugium, May 03, 2011
Photo of mendvicdog
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

mendvicdog, Jul 09, 2013
Photo of WesWes
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
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.

WesWes, Dec 31, 2003
Photo of mdfb79
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

mdfb79, Aug 14, 2010
Photo of MarkyMOD
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

MarkyMOD, Apr 07, 2012
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.

Mora2000, Nov 29, 2010
Photo of jwc215
2.98/5  rDev -18.6%
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".

jwc215, May 14, 2007
Photo of DrunkinYogi
4/5  rDev +9.3%

DrunkinYogi, Apr 12, 2013
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,116 ratings.