Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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BA SCORE
83
good

1,770 Reviews
THE BROS
73
okay

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,770
Hads: 4,241
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 9.02%
Wants: 101
Gots: 420 | 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
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Reviews: 1,770 | Hads: 4,241
Photo of NoBeerSnob
3.91/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I hate the fru-fru name, but I like the beer. The brew is sweet and heavy with raisins, dried plum and cherry, becoming a little “boozy” with some additional malty breadiness as it warms. It’s not something I’d have every day, but I’d enjoy it as a dessert drink on a cold winter's evening (when I had a designated driver). (333 characters)

Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a Dogfish Head snifter. The pour is a very nice looking clear mahogany with a thin lacing of foam on top. Lots of sweet fruit notes on the nose. Grape juice comes to mind. There is also a nice rich bready component to the aroma as well.

Nice medium body and a deliciously rich, sweet flavor. Lots of fresh bread and sweet fruit up front, most notably grapes, pears, and plums. The flavors dry out a bit at mid-palate and finish mild with just a touch of herbal spice. Very drinkable, but a bit bland on the back of the palate.

I don't know how many times I passed on this one. Finally, it was offered at my weekly beer tasting. I liked it and decided to take some home. Very glad I did. I assumed it was categorized as a fruit/vegetable beer. When I tried it, I thought it's flavor profile reminded me a lot of a dubbel, only lacking some of the rich maltiness. When I saw this was a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, I definitely agreed. It's a very nice beer and I'm glad we have a brewer like DFH who is willing to constantly try new things. (1,063 characters)

Photo of zvir21
3.57/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a really great beer to drink by itself. If I just want to sit down and have a beer this is a goto of mine. The beer is tasty and has a complex flavor to it. It can be enjoyed like you would enjoy a good wine. It pairs will with steak. I haven't had it on tap yet, but look forward to when I will. (304 characters)

Photo of polloenfuego
3.42/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

A: pours a ruby brown with little to no head. All one gets is a small swirl of foam.

S: Cherry and licorice. Malts and some yeast.

T: a distinct cherry licorice taste come forward. Then one gets a warm alcohol flavor.

M: medium body and carbonation but a definite alcohol profile is present.

O: I didn't know what to expect from this beer. This style is not one I would have expected from DFH, but I was intrigued. It seems to miss the mark a little. It is not a beer a beer I will revisit, but I am glad I gave it a try. DFH has almost always been a go to brewery for me, but I will pass on this in the future. (662 characters)

Photo of jhawth
3.84/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured into a DFH snifter. Pours a murky dark brown with orange-ruby edges, and a finger-and-a-half head of fine bubbles that quickly diminishes to a half-finger cap. Visible carbonation.

Aroma: Sweet, bready malt notes dominate, slight roasty character, sugary and yeasty notes noticeable as well.

Taste: Mostly the same dark, bready, almost puddingy malt notes that were present in the aroma, followed by a slight spiciness. Finishes sweet.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, light but lively carbonation. Dangerously drinkable for 8%.

Overall: An enjoyable if somewhat simple take on the Belgian Strong Dark style. (624 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
3.11/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard Dogfish Head label and branded copper pry-off pressure cap acquired as part of a 6 pack at me local HEB Grocery and served into an Independence Brewing pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are below average given the brewery - which tends to disappoint. 8% ABV confirmed per the label. Reviewed as a Belgian style brown ale because it identifies as such on Dogfish Head's website.

Served cold, straight from me fridge, and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as I pour.

Pours a one finger wide head of light khaki colour. Okay thickness and creaminess. Lackluster frothiness. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes. Head retention is average - about two minutes.

Body colour is a clear dark amber of above average vibrance. No yeast particles are visible. Translucent and transparent. By no means brown in colour, nor is it as dark as most Belgian style dark ales. Not sure what to make of that, but it's appealing in a general sense.

Nonstandard for the style. Not unique or special, but there are no obvious flaws here. I'm optimistic.

Sm: Raisin, prune, amber malts, and beets - but I only notice beets because I'm looking for them; if I had this blind I wouldn't have thought to say beets. Caramel. Light floral hop character is present and seems to complement the malts nicely. I do get a clean tannic Belgian yeast. Lots of residual sugars bring this beer to the sweeter end. A buried hint of murky cherry. Toasted sugars. I like the fruity notes. Raisin is dominant. Sugarcane imparts a note redolent of rum.

Overall, it's a pleasantly sweet aroma of mild strength.

No alcohol or other off-notes are detectable.

T: Rum-soaked fruits: prune, dates, raisin. Plenty of sugarcane and other residual toasty sugars. Amber malts, caramalt, and Belgian malts fill out the body nicely. Beet sugar definitely comes through - though I wouldn't have been able to identify quite what that note was blind. Vague burgundy/red wine hints. Clean Belgian yeast. It's definitely sweet, but it never quite becomes cloying. As it warms, I get a buried grape note. It has nice cohesion and decent balance, but it's certainly not gestalt. Overall, it has some limited complexity, but would benefit from more. Not the most subtle flavour profile either.

Average depth, duration, and intensity of flavour for the style.

No alcohol off flavours come through, aside from a vague alcohol presence - which passes the point of being simply a pleasant warmth and does start to annoy.

It's not really a Belgian dark ale, nor is it a Belgian brown. It's sort of a Belgian dark amber, if you please.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Overcarbonated. A bit too thick and full for the flavour profile; it's not an ideal marriage of texture to taste by any stretch. But it's passable and suits the flavour profile passably. Decent body and presence on the palate.

Not oily, harsh, gushed, or hot.

Dr: A drinkable beer, but the alcohol presence does hold it back. I wouldn't have more than one in a night, but I'm enjoying this one for what it is. I will say that while it's not unique, I can't readily think up a beer I've had that is exactly like it. I'd like to see the brewers commit more to the rum aspect of the beer; barrel aging would be an obvious approach, but there are probably more subtle ways of emphasizing the strength of the flavour. The more I drink of this, the more the sweetness annoys me. It's a decently priced beer, but I won't be buying it again, nor would I recommend it to friends. Above average overall; it's got unfulfilled potential.

I'd like to try it with 1-5 years of age on it; it's got plenty of residual sugars that would develop over time - though I'm not sure if it's got active yeast.

C+ (3,941 characters)

Photo of brurevu
3.96/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The Raison D'Etre poured a deep mahogany with a fruity, malty aroma. It tasted like a sweet Belgian Dubbel with a rich and deep flavor that hints at raisins, sweet dark fruits, and a bit of caramel malt. I enjoy a good Belgian Dubbel and the Raison D’Etra hit all the right notes for me. It is a unique and complex brew that I have no trouble enjoying. (354 characters)

Photo of Act25
2.77/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

I came back to try this after a year of reading and writing reviews on BA. I dont like it any better now that I have a smarter palette. It's nothing like a true belgian strong ale.

A: Poured bottle into pint glass. Head rose up tan over a brown ale body, didnt last, didnt lace. Not loving the color or the vitality of the pour.

S: Some wrote gum and candy, with solvent. I just dont get any real organic, fruit or grain off this beer. It's a bit industrial. More toward a badly made scotch ale (not my fave style) and nothing like a delicious strong belgian ala Chimay.

T: Follows the smell down the hole. bubble gum, candy rack, spray and wash. (ie a solvent). Industrial more than organic/ natural. Dont even think about it with food. A bit of dark fruit and raisin, prune, spice. No real sense of malt and hops, and syrupy, cloying.

M: sticky, doesnt leave mouth in a great place.

Y! answers wrote: "Golden raisins and green raisins are often bleached with sulfur dioxide Both sulfuric and tartaric acid may induce electrical currents.... A sort of "metal-and-acid battery" effect."

Acid battery - took the words out of my mouth.

This beer should be retired. I havent liked DFH across the board so far. Has a refined, industrial trend with not really inviting aromas that this beer is most guilty of. (1,317 characters)

Photo of nsheehan
4.38/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Raison d’etre
DFH
20130808
12oz to libbey Belgian
8% ABV
Bottled on 05/03/2013

A – Clearish yet dark amber color, not very translucent due to the dark color. Billowy yellowish-khaki head. Bubbles excitedly rising from the tulip’s bottom. The lacing as I drink is thick where it sticks.

S – Belgian candy sugars and some dark fruits, with some earthiness and spices. Very nice. Dark cherry and licorice, perhaps some fig; also a bit of alcohol. The smells mingle together nicely.

T – The Belgian dark ale flavors are all there, and the only thing that’s in excess for me are the spices (at first). It’s quite sweet, this sweetness and the dark fruit being the main flavors. It doesn’t quite taste full Belgian because it doesn’t have the breadiness I associate with Belgian ales, but it’s close. The alcohol doesn’t start biting till it warms a bit more, and it’s like a love nip. As it warms, some breadiness comes out; it had previously been hidden by the sweetness. I can easily see people thinking this is too sweet. While it approaches too sweet, it’s still fine by me. At the end of the glass the alcohol does bite, but if you drink this in its sweet spot (like I mostly did) it’s great.

M – A tingly softness during the sip but sits pretty soft on the palate, though it’s not velvety. Nearly heavy-bodied, I’m guessing from residual sugars. In the cheeks it’s a little pointed, I think from alcohol. Slightly dry finish, more so on the tongue.

D – This is a great substitute for a Trappist beer, and the mouthfeel makes it somewhat refreshing despite being a BSDA. Even though it’s quite sweet, I could see myself having 2 or 3 in a night. It’s a nice break from the hoppier beers I’ve been drinking lately.
Caveat: Once it passes the sweet spot the alcohol come out and alters it quite a bit negatively. Let warm for 13 minutes (from fridge) before opening.
4.5, 4.5, 4.25, 4.25, 4.5; 4.35. (1,946 characters)

Photo of ale1
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

picked up a sixer from Moe's on center street ,jupiter ,fla

pours a nice 3-4" head with fine carbonation , belgian candies,cherry, raisin nose
and some hops i can't identify that are very mild
is it a chimay or ommegang ? no but it's right up there with them
the brewmaster knows his stuff at Dogfish head nothing to overwhelming , and as you drink it you'll notice the various barleys and belgian candies /yeast they do took good care in selecting, go on by as one flavor arrives and previous leaves, with a good belgian candy finish.
It has been awhile since i have had a different belgian style ale from another brewer who is what it claims, so many have claimed they are Belgian Ales and they are not, this is,and expensive to make !
This is a very good ale
will i buy another ? yes (795 characters)

Photo of mpyle
3.41/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Rich amber color, brilliantly clear. Pours a fairly large, tan colored head. Creamy and with good retention.

Bit of a toffee, plum kind of aroma. Sweet, but with a little extra. Liquorice.

Rich tasting and sweet. Big malt with some malt complexity, a bit of spiciness (pepper), turns slightly bitter and much drier in the finish. Flavors of the finish are somewhat unpleasant, with an out of place bitterness

MF - Medium body and carbonation, no astringency. Some alcohol warming. A bit drying on the tongue.

Overall - has some nice elements, but the flavors lingering in the finish detract. (596 characters)

Photo of Fear4Beer
3.36/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3

Its too sugary for me and I usually like sweet things. I love me some dogfish head but the taste could have used a little less sugar. The alcohol is pretty well masked by the flavor. You will feel the 8% hit you after you finish your beer. :)

My reviews are more mental notes for me. I don't really care about smells, appearance, etc. Just the overall taste. (359 characters)

Photo of Chaney
3.71/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I had this on-tap at the Falls Church Alehouse.

Served in a DFH pint.

A: Poured a ruby red color, pretty clear, and with a slight head but not much.

S: Smelled like cherry lollipop with a bit of Belgian funk. Nice, and devoid of anything boozy.

T: Definitely beet sugar upfront, however, can't say DFH didn't warn me. This sorta reminded me of Troegs "Mad Elf." Despite the Belgian character here, it didn't overwhelm in any way.

M: Mild prickle, sweet but not offensive, and with a yeasty flair overall.

O: This one took me a while to get use to I guess because I used to tell people I hated it. It's been a couple of years. (631 characters)

Photo of 1sophrosyne1
3/5  rDev -18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

From the tap, tasted over 15 minutes.

The appearance is the highlight of this product--a showy leather brown--truly lovely in color. Not much head, though, nor does the thin beret stay in place long.
The smell is musty and isopropanolic with soft raisins.
There is obvious raisin in the taste profile, too, with an off sour back half.
Drying bronze tongue heavy on carbonation. It's difficult to separate from the gangly flavor experience, but this brew lays out very nicely over the tongue and teeth with a nice splash of warmth.
I wish I could get excited, but once again, it's style above substance in Milton--this is certainly not the reason why beer exists. (663 characters)

Photo of FLima
3.72/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Brown amber color with a thin head with low retention.
Fruity aroma of figs, raisins, molasses and caramel. Hints of earthy hops, booze and condiments.
Flavor of grapes, brown sugar, raisins which are quite predominant here, dates, Caribbean rum, plums and toasted malts. Hints of pepper, earthy hops and cinnamon. Dry aftertaste with a relatively good bitterness.
Medium body with good carbonation. Alcohol of 8% ABV is completely hidden in its taste.
Complex with a very unique flavor, it felt to me like a mix of an English Bitter, a Brown Ale and a Belgian Dark Ale. Interesting beer, especially if you are in the mood for trying something different. (655 characters)

Photo of SSS
3.67/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A-Amber color, dark, almost no head retention for me.
S-Fruity, musty smell. I can smell the alcohol.
T-It tastes strong, slight fruit, a hint of wine-like grape
M-Carbonation is a little much for me, lots of bubbles
O-I remembered this beer to be better than I thought. Try it, I don't think it is for everyone. (312 characters)

Photo of Roguer
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - One finger off-white head. Very foamy and thick. Glowing garnet dark liquid filled with tons of bubbles. Head retention is nice, and lacing is OK.

S - Cherries and dates you can smell from across the room while pouring. Dark fruit and Belgian candi sugar, but lighter smelling than a double. Mild toast.

T - Darkly sweet, with a tiny hint of sourness. Cherries, dates, raisins, candi; tastes like the nose, really. A bit of a nuttiness present, as well.

M - Lovely medium feel. Small amount of alcohol warmth.

O - Sometimes, I just don't agree with the ratings; this is one of those times. I was thoroughly impressed with this beer the first time I tried it, and nothing has come along to change my mind. This is a lovely and balanced brew - if slightly one-dimensional. (778 characters)

Photo of json83
3.19/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

The aroma is the only thing that I found slightly attractive. The immediate taste is strong raisin taste, almost like eating a handful of raisins that have been sitting out in the sun all day. 240 calories per bottle with 8% ABV. Not an IPA fan at all and this has a similar strong bitter flavor. (296 characters)

Photo of Caj1
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I had been wanting to try something from Dogfish Head for a while, and, not in the mood for a bitter IPA at the time, I went ahead and got a six-pack of these brews, party because I wanted a brown ale and partly because I was lured in by the claim on the package which said it was the American beer of the year for the year 2000. My experience below.

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, I ended up with about a finger of off-white head which foamed up and then dissipated in the span of about thirty seconds. What's left is some thin but persistent lacing. The beer itself is a nice dark copper/amber that is crystal clear with minimal carbonation. When held to the light it looks almost like strongly brewed iced tea.

With smelling I got an immediate whiff of grapes, somewhat reminiscent of a wine, which makes some sense since this is brewed with raisins. I also get some caramel and butterscotch and a little bit of malt, and the ghost of an earthy smell. The smell translates quite well to the palate; raisins are the first thing I taste, and after holding the beer in my mouth for a little bit I can taste alcohol just a bit, since this is a relatively high alcohol beer (8% ABV, wowzers.) After swallowing the flavor becomes more complex, leaving a nice caramel and just a tiny bit of chocolate, and also a nice hint of earth and bitterness from the hops. This beer definitely prefers to overpower the palate at first and then slowly reveal its character. Mouthfeel is nice, smooth and clean immediately, but after a few moments it foams up and becomes less smooth, while also burning a little bit from the alcohol and carbonation.

Overall this is a pretty nice beer, but I feel like they could have toned down the abject sweetness just a tad and it would have worked a little better; that raisin flavor is just too much to handle when it smacks you in mouth, but this beer is also a grower. I was very off-put on my first bottle, but after subsequent drinks I've come to like this a little more. I would drink it if offered, but probably won't be buying again. That said, I appreciate what the guys at Dogfish Head were trying to do; I just feel like they could have executed a little bit better. (2,208 characters)

Photo of DeFaz
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

This is a big beer. Immediately you'll smell the strong alcohol and (excessively) sweet notes but with a touch of raison as promised. The taste is more of the same, with the alcohol not so well concealed and the sugar flavor a bit too dominant. However, the raison flavor lingers in the background and works. The mouthfeel is sticky and the beer is medium bodied. Overall, a pretty good sipping beer, and at 8% ABV you're going to want to sip it slowly.

The label states that the beer has a "sense of purpose", and I don't know what the purpose is, but whatever it is, this beer might have a bit too much of it. (613 characters)

Photo of cdkrenz
4.28/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I popped the top on a brew I cellared for 3 years. This beer aged like a champ. I'm glad I have two more in the cellar. I've updated the numbers to reflect the beer I sampled after 3 years in the cellar.

~~~
Review below entered on 6/20/2010

A - Reddish brown with quick paced head. Carbonation appears minimal. (3)

S - Sweet aromas of plum and brown sugar. (3.5)

T - Deep rooted base of sweet malts. The finish is a little heavy on the sugared side. (3.5)

M - The feel is somewhat coarse. I think this is a brew that will age well in all aspects including the feel. (3.5)

~ I have four of these cellared and will re-review when the time is right. I truely feel this is one of those special beers that will increase in complexity and character as it ages. I guess I'll find out. (3.5) (791 characters)

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

Appearance: Dark mahogany; thick creamy beige head, long lasting, good lacing

Aroma: Malt; sweet dark fruit; citrusy hops

Taste: Creamy malt on start; dark fruit and candi sugar with light hops in the mid; finishes semi sweet with a lingering hop bite; a little syrupy, but tasty and balanced

Remarks: Did not score A, T, S, M at that time; disregard those scores (369 characters)

Photo of scotorum
2.85/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Poured into a tulip glass from the 12 oz. bottle.

a. Deep translucent amber forms a finger thick head which quickly dissipates to a ring of foam around the edge. Abundant bubbling. Looks more like red wine as it's consumed

s: Mild fruit.

t: Fruity, no doubt the raisins are responsible for some of the dark color and impart a wine-like taste.

m: Moderate bitterness. Rather harsh.

o: Since I prefer beer to wine, and this tastes like some kind of hybrid, it's not a favorite. (481 characters)

Photo of Hefeweizen
3.99/5  rDev +9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

My rose garden (over 265 fragrant varieties) was in need of some TLC, several hours worth so I crank up the CD player drop in some relaxing jazz and venture later onto some Van Halen. During the course of five hours and some intensive work later, I drank the entire six-pack and I was very satisfied. Most likely I will purchase it again and not work as hard as I did in the garden. Later on that week I would enjoy some Bells Two-Hearted Ale as well. (451 characters)

Photo of wac9
3.76/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

what a wonderful tasting beer it dances on your tongue makes you feel alive but itsa strong beer so be careful fig raisins dark fruit and other wonder things not too dark thats what i think but a beer that you can get lost for a while in enjoy it dont let it destory you happy drinking (285 characters)

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 1,770 ratings.