1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. 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.

3,972 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,972
Reviews: 1,765
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 64
Gots: 236 | 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:
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:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Raison D'Être Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,972 | Reviews: 1,765 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of yeastsipper


3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours a bright amber with minimal head.

There are scents of roasted malt with a touch of smokiness that I find a bit surprising. Additionally, there are notes of brown sugar, and I really believe, tobacco.

The beer is more smoky than sweet, which makes it both a bit different than other strong dark ales and also a bit more interesting. As the beer warms, there are flavors of raisins and plums.

There is a slight alcohol warming on the back of the palate.

This beer is solid if not spectacular. I would be happy to have a couple in the fridge at any given time.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2009 23:49:02 | More by yeastsipper
Photo of themaxx76


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

I like Dogfish's IPA's so I decided to give this a try. Has a nice mahogany color, a deep malty taste but a decent mouth feel. It's even a bit sweet. It goes down really good and does not bite back, I really enjoyed it and I would get it again. Give it a try.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2009 02:23:38 | More by themaxx76
Photo of woemad


3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle purchased in Spokane at Huckleberry's for $1.89. Bottled-on date of 07/09/08 stamped on the neck.

Poured a mahogany color, with a good 1 1/2 inches of creamy, light tan foam. Lots of spotty lace.

Raisins, raisins, raisins in the nose. There's also a caramel sweetness and some vague, boozy notes, but the raisins are the stars of the show.

The taste isn't as complex as I had hoped for. The raisiny dark fruit flavor noted in the nose is matched with a caramel sweetness that is a little OTT. The flavors just don't meld together as well as they could.

Medium bodied. The mouthfeel, while not thick by any means, lacks that effervescence one expects from a Belgian-style beer. This is a problem I find in a lot of U.S. takes on Belgian beer styles.

This worked when used as a beer to take the edge off of digging countless people out of parking lots at work while being hectored by a frazzled, semi-worthless supervisor, and then not being able to buy ingredients for a planned dinner entree because the store I stopped at had a roof that was in danger of collapse due to no one clearing off the snow for three weeks (not that I'm venting). However, I'm thinking any beer would taste good in that light. Otherwise, while being a decent beer, I don't think there's enough here to bring me back to it.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2009 01:54:14 | More by woemad
Photo of dmamiano

West Virginia

3.13/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This one has a "bottled on 8-5-08 om it. I like the dating of beers.
Actually does pour a mahogony. Clear with minimal head but has some sticky lacing.
Smell is malty, sweet with a metallic note coming out.
Taste is warming, alchohol burn warming the inners. Malty, raisins, figs and woodiness.
I am tasting the mettalic aftertaste in this.Good beer if I could get paste the metal.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2009 17:39:05 | More by dmamiano
Photo of gabe23

North Carolina

3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A - Clear amber color with a very little head or lacing.

S - Sweet raisins, caramel, malt, and alcohol.

T - Deep flavor of roasted malt with a lot of sweetness and fruit tones. Raisins and brown sugar dominate with a bit of heat from the alcohol on the finish.

M - Low carbonation, thick and dry.

D - I enjoyed one, but I don't know that I'd be able to finish two. It's a rich beer meant to be savored slowly.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2009 04:31:40 | More by gabe23
Photo of dakid618


2.58/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours with virtually no head in a pint glass. Smells like sugar and chocolate oddly. Deep mahogany color just like the bottle says. Taste is sweet, only thing that's hints at being beer is the malt. Overall not very drinkable. Too thick and complex to drink more than one.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2008 01:23:09 | More by dakid618
Photo of hoplover82


3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is a very complex beer. Very malty and fruit like. The raisins shine thru everything else.

It pours a dark dark brown color with a dark caramel head that sticks around till your ready to retire.

I taste raisins, caramel, alcohol, and something else. The only thing I don't like with this great off-centered beer is the alcohol sting. Too boozy! It's a little harsh on my palate, but hay, it's still one of the greatest dessert beers Iv'e had.

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2008 18:12:30 | More by hoplover82
Photo of LilBeerDoctor

New York

2.35/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Reviewed on 8/4/08. Bottle. Pours a dark orange/light brown with a thick light tan head. Aroma and flavor are the same and rather odd. Roasted malt, bitter coffee grounds, and an odd sweetness (not quite raisiny, maybe it's the beet sugar?). The odd sweetness and odd bitter coffee grounds do not work well together for me. This beer was downright undrinkable and ended up being a drain pour. Another disappointing beer from DFH.
5/4/5/3/10 (2.7/5)

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2008 15:04:51 | More by LilBeerDoctor
Photo of VaTechHopHead

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

A - Pours a nice dark brown with an off white/brownish head which the lacing stick all the way through...like most Dogfish Head products.

S - At first there's a deep chocolate aroma, pretty strong. It finishes with a sweet sugary scent with a hint of fruit.

T - Again a very roasted flavor up front, like dark coffee/espresso and chocolate. The after taste is slightly sweet with hints of raisins/grapes and sugars.

M/D - It is a heavier beer with a heavy body. Not much carbonation but it is very creamy on the tongue and goes down smooth.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2008 23:54:25 | More by VaTechHopHead
Photo of StarlightSeraph

North Carolina

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

Poured this into a glass

Appearance: Pours a deep, reddish-brown, deep copper color (mahogany even, like the bottle says). Very thin white head that dissipated quickly. A tiny bit of lacing was left. Some haze.

Smell: Maltiness, musk, raisins, and a definite sweetness I couldn't place.

Taste: First sip got some chocolate/coffee notes, which I definitely wasn't expecting. Balanced out by a heavy malt flavor, and a frutiness in the background. Raisins, maybe. After the first few sips, the flavors began to blend together. For an 8% APV, I didn't taste too much alcohol, but it left a very nice warming sensation going down. Leaves an aftertaste that's a mix of coffee and fruit. Lots of malt, and faint hops come through in the background. Almost like a fruity-bock beer is the best way I can think to describe it.

Mouthfeel: Highly carbonated, and felt thick, almost syrupy on the tongue.

Drinkability: It's an interesting beer. Definitely not a session beer, but it's a beer worth savoring every sip. It's different than anything I've had so far. This is something I'd definitely have to be in the mood for to drink. It's a beer that it's hard for me to tell if I like or not.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2008 22:59:54 | More by StarlightSeraph
Photo of bonkers

New Jersey

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

I poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a standard pint glass. The beer pours a dark caramel and is very clear when held up to a light. The head is somewhat thin and does nto stick around long. The aroma is of ripe fruit, because green raisins are in the ingredients, and raisins. The taste is sweet and malty up front. The finish is fruity with a slight alcohol kick. This is less boozy than some of the other dark Belgians I have had, which is not a bad thing. The beer is medium bodied and goes down way too easily. Not the best of the style I have had. Perhaps a bit more drinkable than most.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2008 21:12:58 | More by bonkers
Photo of Brewlore


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured a dark hmm, amber color that had very nice red hues against light. Small head formed that disappeared all to quickly but thankfully left a nice little ring around the glass.

The aroma is pretty yeasty and malty. The esters are here and fairly attentive. A nice toasty malt aroma backs up those esters.

The taste is a mixed bag. It surely tastes Belgiany (obviously) so there's a slick sweet malt flavor going on. Given the types of ingredients, I feel their lost (or it could be I just can't pick them out).

Mouthfeel is quite nice, medium bodied and damned smooth.

It's drinkable, but I wouldn't reach for another one.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2008 09:53:04 | More by Brewlore
Photo of cleeze


3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Another crazy brew from Dogfish...

Poured a beautiful dark, rich mahogany with a nice frothy caramel colored head, and to top it off, DAMN GOOD LACING. Appearance is deffinatly my favorite aspect of this brew.

Smell was was kind of sweet. Maybe some syrup or molasses. Dark fruits and malts (Yummmy) with some stong raison aromas and a hint of alcohol notes.

Taste was very MALTY. Some dark coffee up in the mix with again, some dark fruits. Very rich overall.

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2008 20:55:16 | More by cleeze
Photo of thekanna


4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark, syrupy maple color with no head and carbonation that sticks stubbornly to the side of the glass and doesn't budge to the top.

Smell: Like a good doppelbock. Definitely strong notes of yeast, Toffee, alcohol, sugars, molasses, corn syrup, some faint cloves and coffee roasts.

Taste: Burnt coffee roasts, spice, and a sharp spike of carbonated alcohol give way to a smooth espresso aftertaste and dark, dark bitter chocolate-coated hops.

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2008 08:49:25 | More by thekanna
Photo of lamarr04


3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip glass

A: Very dark brown, with almost no head

S: Faint coffee, sweet/dark fruit

T: Faint coffee again, caramelly sweetness, dark fruit

M: High carbonation, odd slick feeling on tongue

D: Drinkability is pretty average, I've had belgian dark ales that went down easier.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2008 22:14:58 | More by lamarr04
Photo of yesyouam

New York

3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a beautiful, crystal-clear amber ale with a small, fading white head. The aroma is subdued and of spicy hops and sweet malt. It has a smooth and slick medium body. It is well bittered-- a bit top-heavy, which I enjoy. The flavor has more hops than malt; more malt than yeast. Decidedly American and quite good! (I didn't taste any raisins)
(rated Apr 26, 2007)

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2008 04:20:37 | More by yesyouam
Photo of Jayli


2.88/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

The best thing about this beer is it's coloring. The beer pours a rich light brown with copper hue. There is a quickly disapating off white head. Aroma is very musty and not very alluring. Flavor is disapointing too. No balance of flavors or much a direction to style either. There are rough malt flavors and some flavor reminiscent of wine. This beer leaves a sweet bitter aftertaste to it. Very light carbonation, slightly gummy or chewy ...muddy body. I've enjoyed other brews by Dogfish, but this one isn't for me.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2008 01:48:17 | More by Jayli
Photo of DoctorDog


3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12 oz bottle poured into an oversized wine glass.

A: A rich, clear, reddish/mahogany color. Sturdy pour produces only an incomplete covering of head, which dissipates to nothing but a nearly non-existent, partial ring in a flash. No lacing noted.

S: Boozy, raisiny, fruitiness, with a touch of dark brown sugar.

T: I am struggling a bit to pin these flavors down. A bit of malty sweetness and dark fruitiness, which finishes fairly dry. Perhaps a bit of burnt orange that others have opined, or even orange peel. Bitterness is minimal. The relatively high ABV is very well concealed. Despite my confusion, reasonably enjoyable flavor.

M: Carbonation is moderate/low. A bit syrupy, but goes down smooth.

D: Decent. ABV is hidden well enough, but it would be unlikely that I'd want to down more than one of these.

Future outlook: Well, it's a decent enough beer, but with so many great choices out there, I probably won't meddle with this one again anytime soon.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2008 04:18:28 | More by DoctorDog
Photo of Vendetta

New Jersey

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

Original Rating Date:
July 26, 2008

Dark mahogany with a slight purple tint. Smells good but not a strong nose. Tastes of raisins and dark fruits. Overall decent but this is the first DFH I've had that didn't completely knock my socks off. I find myself wishing for a lineup from DFH more in line with that of other craft brewers. But then they wouldn't be DFH, would they?

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2008 22:10:25 | More by Vendetta
Photo of magictrokini


3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ahh, it a pun. Pours hazy gold with a tiny white head. Plenty of green raisins in this one. Aroma of a box of the things upon opening. Some honey and grain as well. The sugar gives it a trappist aroma and taste, but with more sweetness. Silky mouthfeel with a sticky finish. Enjoyable beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2008 23:27:14 | More by magictrokini
Photo of eweneek83

West Virginia

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

Appearance - Pours dark amber, almost a reddish brown with a 2 finger tan head.

Smell - a slight metallic smell, brown sugar too... a wee bit o malt.

Taste - I've tasted this before but I don't remember where. A strong belgian-like malt taste. This one is bold but I can't quite tell what I'm tasting here. Burnt orange taste... Raisins, spices, clove-like mild sting. High abv makes itself known. very good though.

Mouthfeel - This one is robust and bold, decent carbonation but not too big to drink. pretty good mouthfeel.

Drinkability - Not bad on a cold night (or morning) like this... I could drink about 2 or 3 and be done. This is a good beer to go to bed on.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2008 09:30:52 | More by eweneek83
Photo of MrHungryMonkey


4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12.02.08 3rd try. Bottled 10.28.08.

Nose is malty - kind of English with toast, nut, chocolate, coffee, and bread crust. Slight sour fruitiness. Smells very coffeeish. Notes of brown sugar. Smells quite good.

Pours a light brown into a dark brown body, minimal clarity through the darkness, mild head with milder retention. Looks pretty good.

Lots of dark roast malt on the palate. Dry roasted bread crusts and dark bread, semisweet-to-dark chocolate, strong heavy-roast coffee. Beneath lies a playful sweetness just shy of the threshold of being too sweet for me. Oily nuttiness similar to a nut brown kind of ale. Beneath all that is a dark, sour fruit similar to - strangely enough - raisins. (I know it says green raisins, but it feels more dark and ripe to me; given the sourness though, it could be more of a bright fruit character... all how you look at it I suppose.) Alcohol is invisible. Finishes a little sweet, a little oily. Tastes good. Feels good.

This is a malty beer. The layers of malt unfold continually displaying new flavors. It's well balanced and highly enjoyable. It's oddly similar to India Brown Ale (sans hop), perhaps in that they are both lovely brown ales on steroids.

3.4 4.2 4.0 4.0 4.4

03.01.07 2nd try. Bottled on 01.18.07.

Deep ruby almost orange color, clear. Mild 30 second head, no lace. Mild carbonation.

Sweet roasted raisins and chocolate. Belgian candy sugar vibe. Sweet dried fruits. Floral and spicy hops. Caramel/toffee nut base.

Medium-full bodied and smooth. Sweet sugar and quite tart. Caramel/toffee nut base, hints of biscuit. Dark and roasted. Hops poke through with floral, citric, spice, and bitterness. Tastes like grapes or dried apricot. Mild warmth. No carbonation, but nice and thick. Finishes slightly tart and bitter, and significantly dry.

Last time I had D'Etre I didn't like it. I like it better now. Definitely a slow drinker: strong, bitter, really sweet, and tart.

3.0 4.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2008 03:21:15 | More by MrHungryMonkey
Photo of Patrick999


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

Can't believe I never reviewed this. I'd had this before I even knew what a "Belgian Strong Dark Ale" was.

A - A solid brown, fluffy head. No complaints.

S - Plenty of raisin, and some chocolate.

T - There's no mistaking the raisins, along with a big old, sweet, slightly smoky (to me) malt profile. This one is big on the malts. Cloves and other spices that would be contributed by an authentic Belgian yeast are absent...but I don't really want to judge this as a true Belgian Strong Dark.

F - More than almost any other beer I've tried, this one leaves a stickiness in my mouth, and makes me quite thirsty.

D - As I said, I've put a few of these back in my day. I'm good for one or two, and it works very well with food. If we're rating as a strict Belgian Strong Dark, it fails miserably, but I really just think DFH wanted to make a strong brown brewed with raisins and beet sugar. In that respect, it's a very good beer. If we're judging it against Chimay Blue or Gulden Draak, it's a failure. I prefer to think of it in terms of the former - a nice strong, malty American Brown brewed with raisins. In that context, it's a success.

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2008 16:25:22 | More by Patrick999
Photo of beckje01


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

A- Golden color and see through with a light head.

S- Light malt but inviting nose and no hops.

T- Nice calm malts and some raisin flavors. Very tame and nice to drink this isn't a super aggressive beer.

M- Good thickness and nice activity

D- Very drinkable and would love it as a standard at the pub, but since DFH isn't around here it's just another good beer to have while traveling.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2008 15:13:09 | More by beckje01
Photo of FordBrewing

South Carolina

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

Pours a small head with a mostly clear brown body. Heavy on the malt and light on the hops. A plethora of smells make up this brew including cherry, wood, coffee, brown sugar, and maple sugar, but most especially the raisins which give it it's name. It is medium bodied with a creamy texture and carbonation that leans to the softer side. Very sweet! A decent beer but one that at 8% abv makes me want to drink something else after having just one.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2008 19:36:51 | More by FordBrewing
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 3,972 ratings.