Dismiss Notice

Site Performance Updates: We're aware of the nightly site outage, and working on resolving the issue.

Follow our progress ...

Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
83
good
1,774 Reviews
THE BROS
73
okay
Read the review
BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,774
Ratings:
4,276
Avg:
3.66
pDev:
15.03%
 
 
Wants:
104
Gots:
479
For Trade:
5
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States | website

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
A deep mahogany, Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins and Belgian-style yeast.

25 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-09-2001

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,774 | Ratings: 4,276
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.

 1,068 characters

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.

 1,574 characters

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.

 769 characters

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.

 1,329 characters

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.

 505 characters

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

 474 characters

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.

 571 characters

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.

 486 characters

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.

 853 characters

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.

 540 characters

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.

 484 characters

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.

 463 characters

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.

 631 characters

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".

 1,055 characters

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.

 768 characters

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.

 563 characters

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)

 1,922 characters

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.

 400 characters

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.

 335 characters

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!

 665 characters

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.

 418 characters

Photo of WoodBrew
2.49/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

I am not a fan of the Raison d'Etre, I should also point out that I am not a fan of Belgium Strong Ales, so please accept my review as more of a personal opinion than as an afficionado of Belgium Strong beers. The appearance is a slightly hazy light brown with a one finger tan head. Some lacing left on the glass. Smell includes alcohol, coffee, fruit, mostly raisins.
Taste includes alcohol, heavy malt, sweet dark fruit. Mouthfeel is tough...lots of alcohol and much flavor to try and mask it. To me the balance is a bit off. Overall I am glad I tried it but I am not a fan.

 577 characters

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured on-tap into a tulip, the beer is an auburn-brown color with a thin layer of off-white head. There are aromas of grape sweetness, with a sweet malt highlight. Very rich on the nose. The beer's flavor is strong, with a merlot character, and a tangy, sour fruit undertone. The aftertaste is minimal, with a bit of the fruit sweetness again. The finish is dry, and it keeps the flavors from being overpowering or cloying. Deep, dark, and heavy flavors make this one a sipper. Unique and interesting beer.

 507 characters

Photo of Gobzilla
3.62/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: poured a dark amber brown in color with pale yellow highlights and a very thin head that left very little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: lots of sweetness oozing out of the aroma consisting of belgian yeast, dark fruits, burnt sugars, plenty of caramel with signs of booze, ever so slight hop presence and mild apple fruit notes.

T: the raisin dark fruit character was more dominant on the palate alongside belgian yeast, burnt sugar, carmel sweetness, well balanced booze heat, a touch of apple notes, and a hint of hops.

M: the brew was medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a dark fruity, sweet,slightly hoppy, boozy and sticky finish.

O; I thought it was an OK belgian strong dark but had great dark fruity character

 754 characters

Photo of tempest
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I can see where some people might not get or enjoy this beer. It's called a belgian but it's different. But this is Dogfish Head we're talkign about here, of course it's different. Call it a belgian with a good american twist.

The flavor is rich and smooth, but a bit dry. There are hints of coffee-like roasted grains and brown sugar with mellow fruit flavors of grape and cherry to name a few. The moderate amount of hops used adds a grassy and earthy taste while expertly balancing the sweetness of the malt, sugar, and raisins.

Overall, if I see this reasonably priced, I will buy again. Really reminded me of red wine and I look forward to pairing this with dinner.

 677 characters

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 1,774 ratings.