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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,846 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3846
Reviews: 1760
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%

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)
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Photo of omokoro

New York

3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a brown color with a thick three finger head. Smells of Belgian yeast and chocolate. Tastes pretty good. There are chocolate, pepper, clove, and coffee notes. It does finish a tad hot, that is the biggest fault I can find with this beer. It has a good amount of carbonation, not enough to over power the flavor of the beer, which is substantial. Overall, this is a pretty good beer. I have had it before, years ago on draft, picked based upon the interesting name. I feel good about my decision then, and even better about it now. Quite a different beer than what I have recently been drinking.

Serving type: bottle

07-01-2012 01:21:05 | More by omokoro
Photo of jpro

South Carolina

4.53/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from Total Wine Park Rd in Charlotte. Poured into a DFH snifter...

A: Pours a bright, mahogany-amber with an off-white, one-finger head; no lace.

S: Very rich, sweet aroma; plums; molasses; brown sugar; nutmeg; very nice.

T: Dark, sweet bread; raisin / plum notes; candi sugar; delicious and complex... would make for a great Thanksgiving beer.

M: Full mouthfeel; high carbonation; velvety and a touch tingly.

O: A deliciously complex ale; a Dogfish Head classic.

*from notes (6-11-12)

Serving type: bottle

06-25-2012 03:27:30 | More by jpro
Photo of BostonHops


3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a snifter.

pours a reddish amber tone while yielding a frothy 1" head; average retention and lacing. nose is a bit on the mild side with notes of caramel, raisin, and some brown sugar evident.

taste follows the aroma but is more pronounced than the nose leads you to believe, especially with the raisins and some other dark fruity notes. good dose of sweet malts. good beer. not crazy good, but enjoyable enough. medium bodied mouthfeel with average carbonation.

overall i thought this was a decent, reasonable tasty, above average beer. nothing i would go out of my way for, and definitely not the best DFH has put out, but solid.

(originally reviewed: 07-26-2011)

Serving type: bottle

06-19-2012 22:08:41 | More by BostonHops
Photo of Murphious


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

This is a nice nutty brown ale. Smell a little vanilla/banana. The raisin flavor is subtle, but expected that. It has a nice balance of hops, not too bitter, dark copper color. Some malt/molasses overpowers as it warms, but tastes really good at first pour!

Serving type: bottle

06-15-2012 00:55:39 | More by Murphious
Photo of Thickfreakness

New York

3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a rusty, mahogany brown into my Ithaca Excelsior glass. Sidewalls of Cherry Dr. Pepper shine thru fairly clear brew. It poured with a thick cherry/tan head that quickly faded to near nothingness. Barely a trace of lacing, but the carbonation is really alive and bubbly.

S- Raisins, figs, prunes, banana's, sweet caramel and whisps of alcohol. The banana's really open up as this one warms up. Lots of fall pie spices round out the nose.

T- Deep and sweet dark caramel, dried figs, raisins, over-ripe banana, sweet dark malt, brown sugar, molasses, and pumpkin pie spices. Big notes of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger as it warms up.

M- Kind of thin and wimpy. Really wish it was as sticky as the nose tells you it could be. The carbonation completely fades after a short time and leaves the tongue kind of dull and limp. The booze wakes and warms you, but this is a low point for this brew.

O- It's nice, and I'll certainly try it again... but I was expecting more from this Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Nothing to write home about, but certainly not bad at all. Nice nose, flavor and look... but the thin mouth was a let down on this. Too bad.

Serving type: bottle

06-14-2012 21:14:54 | More by Thickfreakness
Photo of DrinkSlurm


4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into NB globe. Pours a mnaple syrup looking brown with ruby red hue. No head and ever so small lacing. Smells of amber malts, sweet dried fruit, and a hint of vanilla. Taste is of very malty dried raison. Some boozey vanilla notes. Seemingly hidden flavors at fist taste, but they really develop on the tongue in the aftertaste. Its fantastically smooth and really full of hidden flavors that linger. Overall, this is a great brew. Not sure if id classify as a belgian though. Its taste a little closer to a a Strong Ale, but either way, its a great brew and worthy of a try. Im gonna age one in my closet for a few months and report back...

Serving type: bottle

06-14-2012 02:41:06 | More by DrinkSlurm
Photo of midworken


3.18/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep brown amber colored body with a creamy head that dissipated rather quickly.
Raisins, caramel and figs with a bright citrusy hop profile dominate the smell. Cinnamon, vinalla and other spices are somewhere in the complexity of this brew's aroma as well.

A very malty, syrapy taste with a little bit of hop character near the front of the taste. The raisins and smooth caramel/vanilla are definately still there, but the complexity loses once you begin tasting it.

It's a very thick and syrapy beer, with low to medium carbonation. Very mellow sort-of brew, would be good on a chilly fall evening.

Was really getting excited when I was smelling this, but the excitement turned to a slight disappointment when tasting it. Still, it's a good beer especially at the right time and place.

Serving type: bottle

06-13-2012 17:28:57 | More by midworken
Photo of elNopalero


2.65/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Not sure how to classify this beer exactly so I’ll just report on what my impressions are without the style getting in the way.

Poured this from a bottle into a stemmed glass. I was rewarded with an amber-ruby hued beverage capped by a dose of billowy foam.

I get a … conflicting aroma, one that’s musty, murky, with notes of stone fruits colliding with a cloying malt backbone. There’s a faint green apple (or dried apple) hint on the back met with caramel… why am I thinking of caramel apples here?

Unfortunately or not the flavor follows suit, with a thick caramel apple malt profile and some more of that cloying caramel sweetness. I get a boozy imbalance that’s far too pronounced for an 8% ABV beer. Finishes tacky without being chewy, and makes me think of a run-of-the-mill amber ale.

At the end I think of an out of balance Belgian quad. This is all over the place, and not in a way that I like. One of the few Dogfishhead beers that I can say was truly awful.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2012 18:47:36 | More by elNopalero
Photo of imasloth


4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Medium brown ale with hints of red and amber in light. Orangish and cream-coloured thin head that dissipates quickly leaving fine lacing. Persistent ring of suds and etching at bottom of goblet continues to funnel carbonation upward through beer.

S- Alcohol and sweeteness ... brown sugar, caramel, malt. As the beer warms the alcohol becomes even more prominent.

T- Dry with a nice bitterness. Hops and some brown sugar, not present in the smell, come out. A slight hint of raisins. I paired the meal with some grilled foods, finding lamb drew out the raisin flavor and a finishing bitterness while corn brought out the dryness.

M- Medium-bodied and dry, yet smooth.

)- Very good but has its flaws. I selected this beer for its pairing quality with red meats (is lamb red?) and it didn't disappoint. Not a regular go-to beer but one that has its moments.

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2012 21:16:14 | More by imasloth
Photo of MeowTom


3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Amber Red in color with a very condense light tan white head.

S- A very hoppy scent and some fruity overtones.

T- smooth with some heavy alcohol at the end.

M- I think this should of mellowed a lot more. It taste angry with the alcohol in it. I have had others a while back and do not remember this the last time.

O- A nice ale that is interesting and fruity. I would like to let some of these age a little longer and see what will happen with them.

Serving type: bottle

05-25-2012 20:18:33 | More by MeowTom
Photo of BrownNut


3.74/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Dark mahogany like they say, but you can see through it. Light tan head.

S - Smells like yeasty malty pastry with something fruity

T - Taste is pleasantly rich dark caramel, like it's been reduced a bit, so it has more mature character than just straight sweet caramel would have. Somebody else mentioned toffee. Maybe that's it. The slight beginnings of a bitter tang in the back of the throat in the aftertaste but not quite. It's almost like there's a hint of wood tannin in there.

M - Light-medium and finishes, if not quite dry, then on the edge of crisp.

O - Really not what I was expecting and not as complex as I was expecting, but really solid, pleasant, and satisfying. This is a rich and tasty beer that I would welcome anytime. I know it's not a sessioner, but that's how I'd want to drink it. A solid flavorful simple beer to throw back while focusing on chatting with friends.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2012 23:49:45 | More by BrownNut
Photo of lancecenter


3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Nice thick head with good retention, rich brown color, solid lacing.

S - Buttery malts, raisins, and some spiciness.

T - Malts, raisins, alcohol, and nuttiness. I don't really taste the sweetness and phenols as others have. The high alcohol content is well hidden IMO as well.

M - Medium body and carbonation. Dry finish.

O - I really like this beer, but I really like BSDAs period. It would be hard to recommend this over something like Chimay.

Serving type: bottle

05-16-2012 05:23:15 | More by lancecenter
Photo of ngeunit1


4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark mahogany red with a finger of frothy tanish head. The head fades down fairly slowly leaving behind some lace.

S - Aroma is a mix of raisin and other sweet dark fruits, Belgian candi sugar, and some spicy belgian yeast.

T - Starts off with a mix of sweet raisin and plum with some dark Belgian Candi sugar and a bit of spicy yeast character. Through the middle, some more earthy dark fruit flavors come through with some stronger Belgian yeast flavors and spices. The finish is a mix of sweet dark fruits, candi sugar, Belgian yeast, and a bit of booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nice take on the BSDA flavor with lots of raisin and dark fruit flavor. The overall balance is really nice.

Serving type: bottle

05-15-2012 06:04:59 | More by ngeunit1
Photo of socon67

New York

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

A caramel color pour. No lacing. Thin foam that disappears.

S scent of raisins, and Belgian yeast. Has a slight acidic smell.

T sweet fruit flavor, along with Belgian yeast and finishes with a acidic burn. Slightly tart.

M easy drinking beer. Feels lighter than the ABV.

O a fun belgian style Id try again. Another good option from DFH.

Serving type: on-tap

05-10-2012 17:20:00 | More by socon67
Photo of Greywulfken

New York

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

A: somewhere between amber brown and ruby brown, nice tan two-finger head to start

S: noticed the sweet raisin aromas, maltiness

T: bright yeast flavors make the raisin notes take on a wine-like character; relatively dry tasting considering the fruitiness, which makes for a very pleasant drinking experience

M: nice and crisp, clean and light - very drinkable

O: I shouldn't be surprised by any Dogfish Head ales at this point, but I didn't expect to like this as much as I do - an extrememly enjoyable beverage with a great flavor and feel profile. though it falls into the BSDA group, it was lighter and crisper than others I've had (which I liked)

Serving type: bottle

05-04-2012 23:24:20 | More by Greywulfken
Photo of julian89


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

Drank on 05/02/2012
Poured from bottle to pint glass.

Appearance: A dark brown, close to maroon, body, minimal head and retention.

Smell: Sweet dark belgian smell of raisin and plum.

Taste: Very sweet but a little more alcohol in taste than others. Strong similarity in taste to a traditional belgian in regards to the raisin and plum taste. Finishes with a warm and roasty feel.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied.Little carbonation.

Drinkability: I like darker belgians, I like this, very easy and not as complex as others I have had.

Serving type: bottle

05-04-2012 21:34:31 | More by julian89
Photo of jegross2


3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewing the Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.
Score: 83

Bottled on 08/09/11, served in a pint glass at Merkles Bar & Grill in Wrigleyville and enjoyed on 03/31/12 with my good friend Bryan Hernandez.

Appearance: Pours a murky, blood orange colored core that fades to a dull late sunset colored outline. Minimal head at pour, just a little bubble tan layer that quickly settles. Minimal oily lacing, below average retention. 3/5

Smell: Brown sugar, Belgian yeast, cinnamon and nutmeg. Raisin, fig, banana, creamy vanilla, and doughy bread (Hernandez swears it smells like the Guinness bread he baked the other week). The menu says there is "beet sugar" in the aroma, but I would not have guessed it if the menu did not tell me that. 3.5/5

Taste: First impression is yeast and doughy bread with a modest vanilla twist. There is a dry and nondescript earthy bitterness (hops?) on the back half of the palate. Malty wheat, banana bread and an earthy nuttiness on the midpalate. Some light raisin flavor, without the sweetness, mixed throughout. None of the brown sugar or cinnamon from the aroma is seemingly present in the flavor. Finishes with a lingering Belgian yeast flavor that is a bit sugary. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Smooth, slightly oily mouthfeel. Very dry, and a little acidic upfront. 3.5/5

Overall: Most DFH brews, given their experimental approach to craft, tend to be hit-or-miss, but this one falls somewhere between. I enjoyed this beer, and it was solid, but I would not have ordered another. I doubt I would buy this at the store in the future either, having previously tried it. DFH makes much better beers (e.g., Miles Davis Bitches Brew) than this, but they also make plenty that are way worse (e.g., Faithfull Ale).

Recommendation: Worth trying, but not worth seeking out.

Pairings: Roasted chicken.

Cost: $5 for a 12 oz bottle at the bar.

Serving type: bottle

05-01-2012 06:41:24 | More by jegross2
Photo of RickS95


3.03/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Doesn't remind me of a Belgian dark ale. It's brown, but it's a loose looking, almost clear brown. The head is a letdown, there one second and gone the next.

I pick up some malt and caramel in the nose, with only the slightest bit of raisin when I agitate the glass.

The tongue picks up some raisin and malt, but little else. I still have a hard time considering this a Belgian strong dark ale. Maybe in another category it would score better, but it's a sloppy tasting Belgian.

Very malty from beginning to end, so there's a slight creaminess to it. But the beet sugars take over with an aggressive feel that doesn't really go with it. Has an Earthy finish.

I'm not a fan of most Dogfish Head beers and this is very average at best. I don't think it fits the style very well, but regardless, it's only a very average beer in every which way.

Serving type: bottle

04-28-2012 02:38:24 | More by RickS95
Photo of WesM63


3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a tulip/snifter

A: Pours a clear-ish amber brown color and a nice 2finger off white head. Very minor lacing.

S: Malty, dark fruits (fig or raisin's)

T: Boozy up front, with some sweet sugars in the middle (maybe a hint of dark fruits) and a sweeter finish.

M: Medium body with low carbonation.

O: Not a terrible brew, but an extremely poor example of the style. As other have said, it is indeed a boozy mess. IMO, It's missing that huge malt backbone that defines a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but to each their own I suppose.

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2012 01:22:41 | More by WesM63
Photo of MacEnvy


3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass. Served at ~40 degrees, 5 weeks after stamped bottling date.

A: Pours with a nice 2 finger head that sticks around for maybe 3 minutes. Minor lacing. Nice red-amber color?

S: Mostly candy-malt and fruit. Lots of raisin and black currant aroma.

T: Raisiny with some alcohol bite (subdued by malt) and light end-bitterness on the back of the tongue. Not very roasty, but the dark Belgian candi syrup is apparent and there's some toffee in there too. Sweeter than it is bitter.

M: Full bodied and smooth. A little alcohol bite but it's nicely buffered.

O: This is really a nice dubbel. There are enough flavors to keep you busy in the tasting but it's also accessible. My wife happily drank one of these tonight and she doesn't like most beer styles. This is a great beer to analyze with friends and it's got me wondering if I can make one half as nice myself. However, two of these may be my limit for an evening - between the high alcohol, complex flavors, and full body it is very filling.

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2012 01:45:10 | More by MacEnvy
Photo of WMEugene


3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours a reddish brown color with an off-white head and some lacing.

S - Notes of brown sugars, yeast, and other dark fruit flavors. A bit of alcohol notes as well.

T - Dark fruit flavors, some spicyness and a sort of boozy alcohol flavor. Definitely has that dark Belgian flavor.

M - Medium bodied, low carbonation - smooth drinking at first, but quite boozy and eventually a little harsh.

O - Raison D'Etre is an interesting, but ultimately a little disappointing and it doesn't live up to its potential. It ends up being a bit of a boozy mess. Not half bad, but not what I would reach for in the DFH repertoire.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2012 03:54:36 | More by WMEugene
Photo of AmericanGothic


3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a New Belgium globe.

A: Pours a translucent, copper color with 1/2 finger of pale tan head. Some retention and lace.

S: Bubblegum, straw and a little cinnamon.

T: A little hop bite up front leads to bubblegum, brown sugar and cinnamon, with some tea on the finish and light molasses in the aftertaste. As the beer warms, some nutty almond joins in, then later light black pepper.

M: Not too heavy, carbonation is slightly prickly.

O: I really like this beer. While the flavor doesn't quite make it to a 4.5, there is something about it that's really satisfying. Will definitely buy again.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2012 00:16:41 | More by AmericanGothic
Photo of Bockrules

New Mexico

3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured from the bottle into a snifter

A - Pours a slightly hazy orangish-amber. Curtains of small bubbles rise to the two-finger, dense, off-white head. Head stays intact as a thin layer of bubbles nearly all the way down the glass. Leaves several sizable splotches of lacing.

S - Fairly weak nose of sugar cane and a hint of green raisins.

T - Caramelized brown sugar upfront. More caramelized sugar in the body, but a fair amount of tangy green raisin taste comes out as well. The raisin flavor crescendos as the beer passes over the back of the tongue, then the brown sugar resumes control in the finish.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Fairly delicate, but not nearly as good as other examples of the style.

Definitely a unique brew here using belgian beet sugars and green raisins. Some may find it extraordinary, I found it to get on my nerves after about half the bottle. It hides its alcohol well enough and has a decent mouthfeel, but the caramelized brown sugar and green raisin notes didn't work together. I suspect this will be a highly polarizing brew, but I'll pass and opt for Trois Pistoles in the future.

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2012 05:09:55 | More by Bockrules
Photo of MrMegaton09


4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured in Tall Pilsner to serve.

I had purchased this beer from a local craft brew shop after trying to track this particular brew for quite some time now locally.

First pour you can immediately notice a beautiful dark amber/slight red hue from this beer, very good looking beer. Aroma is very interesting and you can immediately pick up on the sweetness.

Medium to above average quality lacing. Head reduces fairly quickly.

For taste, kind of hard to draw an opinion on the first few sips, but after a while you can start to pick up on the beet sugars and a little bit on the raisins as well. Very smooth finish, no bitterness and finishes sweet.

Overall a very good extremely drinkable blend that was well worth the wait for me. If you see this brew around anywhere do not be afraid to give it a try.


Serving type: bottle

04-04-2012 05:29:51 | More by MrMegaton09
Photo of bth86


3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Brown with a thin head, fads quickly, retains a bit of lacing

S: Fruit, Raisins, Rum?

T: Malty sweetness, fruit, A roasted malt finish, leaves a sweet alcohol aftertaste

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation

O: I liked it quite a bit. I bought this in a 4 pack and it really warmed up to me compared to the first few times I tried it. Certainly a very complex brew with a lot going on. I would definitely recommend it again!

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2012 01:14:05 | More by bth86
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 3,846 ratings.