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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,004 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,004
Reviews: 1,766
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 68
Gots: 248 | 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: 4,004 | Reviews: 1,766 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of becktone


3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes 12-4-08

Eye: Nice looking brew as it is poured into the glass. Color is a rusty brown and the brew is pretty clear. When light passes through it the beer turns a beautiful red tinged with orange and yellow highlights. Head is a creamy looking thing that has real nice formation and retention. Lacing is real nice forming rings round the glass connected by sheets of lacing.

Nose: Dark candied malts, dark fruit-raisins and prunes. Some notes from alcohol also come through, a warm spicy type of aroma from alcohol. No hops present, or at least detectable. Nice aroma overall, but I think that it could be a bit stronger and have a little more depth...it would just make it better.

Tongue: Some toasty flavors and some slight almost coffee/cacao flavors are in here, but I'd describe them as very light and not quite typical of that description. Usually, as in stouts or porters, those flavors are pretty heavy, this is just a hinting at them, just slightly there, accented by some alcohol notes. Overall big malt sweetness in this brew. Raisin character along with other dark fruits are present. Some nuttiness and caramel as well. The beer is balanced and not overly sweet, its the darker malts though that balance it out with their toastiness. Overall the beer tastes good, its just that there really isn't much here in the way of complexity. Alcohol is hidden pretty well, that and what is preceived works well with the rest of the brew to add to its flavor.

Feel and Drinkability: The beer leaves the tongue feeling thick and heavy, almost the way the palate feels when parched. Carbonation is low and suits the beer. Hints at a warming sensation when swallowed. This beer is full bodied and leaning towards thick on the palate, I feel like alot of residual sugar gives it this feeling....it does however work for the beer. This one is easy to drink, however, I'm not sure how readily I'd pick it up again. I'm sure I'll eventually be buying this and drinking it again, but I can't see myself doing it anytime soon. It's a good beer but nothing all that great. Don't get me wrong, its great, but for me it just doesn't have anything that pulls me back tot the beer, nothing that I truely love about it.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2009 22:35:06 | More by becktone
Photo of BigIrishman

New Jersey

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

Had at Porter's in Easton, PA

Poured into oversized wine glass. Poured a dark brown with a big white bubbly head. Smell is mostly dominated by dried fruits and a bit of yeast. Taste mimics the smell, very fruity even for a belgian. Mouthfeel is a bit too light for the style, about medium bodied. I probably wouldn't reach for this again, but I wouldn't complain if it were given to me.

Overall a decent, but not great, example of the style.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2009 01:56:22 | More by BigIrishman
Photo of mgp80


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

A - Mahogany (as the bottle suggests), with a fine white head.
S - Sweetness up front, some fruitiness and a wood-like quality. Interesting, but not amazing.
T- Distinctly raisin-like flavor throughout. Very little hop presence until some bitterness at the end. The same wood-like character from the aroma is there in the aftertaste. Sweetness lingers on the tongue.
M - Lively carbonation.
D - The sweetness makes it a little tough to take too many in a row without some kind of break.

It's nice. I like to keep it around. Is it on the same level as the 90 minute? Not for me. Certainly worth a try, though, as it is fairly unique and interesting.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2009 23:13:23 | More by mgp80
Photo of JohnQVegas


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

Pours slightly hazy brown. Thin, whispy light tan head that disappears quickly.

Aroma is hint of brown sugar, bready yeast, dark fruits. Hard to pull out.

Taste is sweet, brown sugar and malt up front move to yeasty breadiness and dark fruits, raisins. Finishes with the slight bitterness of dark fruits and a hint of breadcrust.

Mouthfeel is medium body, with crisp but light carbonation. Little bit dry on the finish as a result. A bit heavy on the raisiny-dark fruitiness in the overall balance.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2009 14:39:22 | More by JohnQVegas
Photo of jujubeast6000


2.35/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed 6/13/2007 (12oz bottle):

Pours an amber red colored body, clear, not very fizzy. Has a small tan head, diminishing. An aroma of dark fruit, and raisins maybe. Strong sugary malty. Malty salty taste, dark roasted malt aftertaste. Sweet carmelized taste.

Serving type: bottle

02-14-2009 17:27:31 | More by jujubeast6000
Photo of gonzo46and2


3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a medium brown with a small head. Laces the glass nicely.

Aroma is of figs, raisins, bread, and spice. The smell could have been more pronounced in my opinion. It was very hard to get any aromas at first when the beer was very cold.

Taste was ok but nothing spectacular.

Mouthfeel was fine.

Drinkability is so/so. I'd much rather have other offerings from DFH and a true Belgian when craving Belgian.

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2009 01:34:03 | More by gonzo46and2
Photo of ocelot2500


3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy, opaque brown. Not a lot of carbonation, but a lot of lacing.

Smells mostly of fruit and sweetness. A little spice can be found if sought after.

Tastes really sweet with an apple, raisin, and fig flavor really coming through. A little spice thrown in there and the alcohol comes through a little in the end.

Mouthfeel is a little lighter than I would expect, more creamy.

This very drinkable for the style.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2009 00:46:32 | More by ocelot2500
Photo of meatmallet


3.43/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Ruby colored with a thick tan head.

Smell: Not very strong and a little stale. Dark fruit, raisin, some malt, and a bit of plum.

Taste: Rasins and plum again and a little alcohol feel. I can also detect a bit of coffee and hopps. There is also a hint of the staleness again.

Mouthfeel/drinkability: Feels smooth and creamy in the mouth. Its also sweet and bitter which is interesting. I like it but I dont get this beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2009 03:51:55 | More by meatmallet
Photo of TMB0424

New Jersey

4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured an amber/mahogany body with a somewhat small tan-ish head that receded pretty quickly. Scattered, minimal lacing throughout. Pretty good carbonation rising up.

Smells of sweet toffee and ripe, darker fruits, sugar. Little bit of yeast in there as well. Not a strong aroma by any means, but it's very pleasing.

Tastes of sugar dipped raisins (and other dark fruits) with toffee and candy sugar. Definitely a sweet beer. The Belgian yeast appears somewhere in the middle, adding a nice element to it. Finishes with a nice little spice.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, somewhat light for this style. Has a good crispness to it though. I enjoyed this bottle but the sweetness would definitely stop me from having more than one serving. Good, though.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2009 16:12:58 | More by TMB0424
Photo of Atricapilla


3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

Beer had a light to medium mahogany color, with a white head that slowly left...light to medium carbonation persisted.

Smelled of raisins and malt.

Tasted a little sweet, again heavily with fruit, particularly raisins, malt and light yeast.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2009 22:10:54 | More by Atricapilla
Photo of cvfish


3.15/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Poured a reddish brown color that produced a white head that retained and left some lace

S - Bready malts, raisins

T - Malty, with strong flavor of raisins, along with some brown sugar

M - Medium bodied, light carbonation

D - Not the best DFH that I have had, but still an interesting beer to go along with their others

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2009 05:07:25 | More by cvfish
Photo of rye726


3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice mahogany color with a tan head. Nose has sweet malts, and spicy Belgian yeasts. The taste also has a nice malt profile, but is not super complex. A good beer, but I'd like to see more Belgian characteristics. Medium body is well carbonated and drinks well.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2009 00:52:54 | More by rye726
Photo of DmanGTR


3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My third of the beers had earlier this evening at Monk's Cafe in Philly.

A - poured a clear mahogany red with a very slight ring of bubbles in a pilsener glass. No lace, very short lived head.

S - caramel, light carob, raisiny fruitiness, a light waft of alcohol. Interesting.

T - molasses, lightly roasted malts, quite sweet in terms of malts and fruits. This reminded me strongly of a doppelbock. The sweetness was almost cloying but not quite. Light alcoholic tones in the finish. Pleasant yet strange.

M - medium bodied, smooth and creamy. Carbonation complemented it nicely. A bit chewy too.

D - very good. No complaints here.

Overall - I thought this was some sort of dark amber ale with a lot of malts and raisins. The balance seemed a little off centered, but then again, this is made by an off centered brewery for off centered people. Then I found out that it's a Belgian strong dark ale... hmm, I don't think this one fits the bill. Sorry DFH, although this was tasty, I really can't see this fitting into the category. A good beer, nonetheless. Enough with the labeling. This is one I shall revisit in the future.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2009 06:24:10 | More by DmanGTR
Photo of u2carew


3.43/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(A) Amber colored with light carbonation. Minimal head foam collects around the edge of the glass.
(S) Notes of malt and dark fruit sweetness
(T) Sweet foretaste, slight bitterness on the back side and in the aftertaste. Just a bit of smokiness to the overall flavor.
(M) Mild fizziness on the tongue. A full body brew with light syrupy characteristics.
(D) This took a few swigs to get use to, but then I was into it. This brew has some interesting flavorings going on.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2009 18:46:16 | More by u2carew
Photo of tigg924


4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: dark amber/caramel in color--no head, minimal carbonation

Smell: raisin, cinnamon, alcohol, and sugar

Taste: raisin, cinnamon, caramel, alcohol-especially towards the end, and sugar

Mouthfeel: medium body, smooth and sweet, then a harder alcohol tasting finish

Drinkability: This is a another unique tasting beer that needs to be drunk slow because of its high alcohol content. I would be excited to pick this one up again, although I think two is my limit per sitting due to ABV...This one won me over

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2009 05:04:28 | More by tigg924
Photo of TehAnkh


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

I'm drinking this beer as I'm writing this review.
I bought a sixer and I'm about 3 beers in (obviously it's drinkable enough).

A: Pours with a 2 finger medium tan head that recedes quickly to fine layer of bubbles. Dark red/amber color, very woody-brown/red and crystal clear. A few stray bubbles rise from the bottom. Leaves a nice lacing that seems to cling to the glass nicely.

S: The alcohol really comes through on the nose, but there are lots of nice subtle hints of fruits, brown sugar, a little pear and raisin, and perhaps a bit of a woody scent coming through. Lovely, but mild.

T: Woah! The alcohol bites you in the boo-boo on the first sip! But I'm not entirely sure if this is a bad thing, as it seems to work very well with the brown sugar coated raisin taste on the back end. Lots of fruity and malty notes. I like it.

M: Nice, medium body. Definitely not too thin or too thick for my tastes. Just a touch of bitterness, mild carbonation, pretty refreshing, albeit a "sipper". Glides right over my tongue with absolute ease, quite enjoyable.

D: I'm on my 3rd one of these as we speak, and I would not be surprised if I moved on to a 4th. Quite drinkable, and although the alcohol stands out it doesn't seem to deter me from wanting to crack another one open.

Overall a pretty good brew, I've had several of DFH's other offerings and don't think I'll be shelling out 12 bucks for a 6 pack of this ever again, but I'm not disappointed in my purchase. I will be gladly finishing off the 6 pack tonight. Pretty average, while the belgian sugars are obvious in the flavor, it just is not what I would expect from a belgian style ale.
Delicious in it's own way, but nowhere near similar to any others in it's class.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2009 01:12:06 | More by TehAnkh
Photo of superdedooperboy


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

Poured into a snifter from a 12 oz. brown bottle with a "Bottled On" date clearly printed on the glass.

Pours a nice ruby-mahogany with a full two fingers of tan foam. Head retention is so-so, and lacing is scattered and light.

A malty, slightly fruity aroma lightly brushes the nose, with some notes of raisins pushing through.

The medium-full, minimally-carbonated body washes caramel malt flavor across the front of the tongue, with waves of sugary sweetness in tow, filling itself out with raisin and fig notes and a foundation of roasty chocolate. Drains away with an excessively sweet flavor that coats the back of the tongue and lingers for a long while after the finish. A bit of herbaceousness appears somewhere in the middle and keeps the brew from being overly cloying, but the finish is perhaps a bit too much.

This one drinks rather easily, and is really quite tasty, but the 8% ABV sneaks up and sets heavy on the head without much warning. Alcohol presence is very well-hidden.

Perhaps not quite the Raison d'Etre, but a Raison de boire? I'll buy that one.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2009 16:48:36 | More by superdedooperboy
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2009 03:43:50 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of remllof

North Carolina

3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this beer into my favorite Duck-Rabbit glass. This beer poured a nice head that didnt disapate too quickly, with a nice deep red color. The smell was nothing too impressive. The taste is slightly sweet, also with a hint of hops. The mouthfeel is not too thick and smooth. Overall an aright beer but nothing sticking out too much.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2009 02:29:58 | More by remllof
Photo of bgjohnston


4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

If you are looking for a review of this beer in terms of whether it is true to the style under which it is classified in BA, feel free to disregard this review. I have bought this beer a number of times, and my comments are about a beer I find to be tasty and enjoyable, rather than how it deviates from Belgian ales such as Chimay Blue Label. It would be very difficult for me to write that type of a review, as I don't really perceive this beer to be similar at all.

This beer poured a medium, clear amber color, with good carbonation and a creamy white head. The smell does not give you much of a clue as to what to expect. Once I took a sip, I get the impression of a beer that is not very hoppy, but rather hints more of fruit such as raisins or cherries. That said, it is not strongly sweet, but does have a hint of alcohol heat behind the fruit.

I find the different flavors to be harmonious and to balance each other out, and could happily drink more than the 2 I limit myself to on any single evening, due to the substantial ABV. If not for the alcohol level of this brew, I would call it an excellent daily beer, and enjoy it frequently on a weeknight after the kids are in bed.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2009 17:12:33 | More by bgjohnston
Photo of BARFLYB


2.85/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12oz bottle into a Dogfish pint glass. Pretty fresh at 2 months old.

A- Raison D'Etre pours a medium brown color with red highlights while up towards light. A very clean brew as there is not much, if any sediment. A 1/2 inch head comes through then disappears leaving a slice of off-white head. A whole lot of rising bubbles.

S- A good smell consisting of a lot of sugars (including brown) and caramel. Roasted malts with some syrups maybe. Under that the raisin shows up with a layer of yeast also creating an earthy scent.

T- The raisin is apparent and sugars are up front creating a sweet assault on the mouth before leaving. After that some smoky qualities arise while some dark fruits and a dash of coffee and even less chocolate. The caramel and roasted malt stays throughout each swig with some alcohol presence. Overall, this really isn't my thing with the set of ingredients chosen, leaning towards the yeast.

M- Reminds me of a smooth bock. Not as thick on the mouth as some DFH offerings but leaves it's mark. A nice bit of carb going for this as well. A bit of a hassle to get through. Not a pleasing aftertaste.

D- Not my favorite DFH offering honestly & i love their experimentation but not this one.. I had trouble with even this 12oz serving. Maybe this would be better in a cask, but i don't see myself having that in the future. I will look out for this on tap and compare.

I am going to try the D'Extra but if it's double the taste of this then forget about it.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2009 05:59:17 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of Clydesdale

District of Columbia

3.05/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: A reddish, orange-brown with some haze. Moderate, foamy, off-white head with solid retention and very good lacing.

S: Subdued sugar, some raisins and alcohol. Perhaps some herbal hops. A bit spicy and vaguely phenolic as it warms.

T: Wow, this is all over the place. Sugars, fruity esters, and yes, green raisins. I guess they get credit for putting them in there. Some grainy, caramel malt around as well. Alcohol is spicy and quite noticeable.

M: Somewhat thick, syrupy, and prickly. A riding, alcoholic finish. A coating, borderline cloying aftertaste.

D: This one grew on me as I drank it, but it was still one of the most scatterbrained beers I've had in a long time. I appreciate it and find it interesting, but I'll probably not seek it out in the future.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2009 04:42:55 | More by Clydesdale
Photo of sprucetip


3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gorgeous, clear, light mahogany with reddish brown highlights. 1 finger white head with decent retention and lacing.

Nose is faint, generally, but better later in the sample, but this may have just been sugar sticking to the glass. What I did get was nice. Some sweetness and a hint of dark fruit, presumably the raisins mentioned on the label.

Slightly grainy malty sweetness, dark fruit, and woody. Very well balanced, with a mostly clean, slightly dry finish. The 8% is well hidden.

Slight fiz, pleasant coating texture, and a warming presence with a bite.

Strong work by DFH overall. More in the nose would be nice. But deceptively smooth and drinkable for a relatively big beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2009 19:28:05 | More by sprucetip
Photo of droomyster


3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear mahogany with an off-white head. Smell is not attractive: noes of sweet malts and an almost locker-room scent that is a bit startling. Taste, on the other hand, is pretty good: brown sugar and toffee maltiness with a woodsy bitterness. Medium body is spot on the money. An interesting beer whose aromas are incongruous with its taste.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2009 05:32:45 | More by droomyster
Photo of erikm25


3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a solid crispy brown. Maybe the slightest hint of dark amber tinting but overall mahogany as the bottle states. The head was minimal. Lacing and retention could have been better especially after an aggressive pour.

S: Definitely has some strong caramel hints. Hints of raisin and plums. Brown sugar sweetness in the back. Little tinge of alcohol but nothing overwhelming.

T: Caramel taste at the front though relatively light. Dark ripe raisins and dry roasted malts with a sharpened sugar finish. Pinch of buttery toffee. I picked up on a very subtle coffee taste with hints of chocolate. The nose and the taste almost match up perfectly. Not very complex but still very straight forward and nice.

M: Mouth feel is decent though a little more thin. Low carbonation.

D: Grabbed this on a whim for about $2.50 for a 12oz. I had once before and remember liking it a little more. A solid offering but DFH has many other offerings I would try again over this one. Figured it was a historic day thus making it as good of a day as any to have a beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2009 04:15:32 | More by erikm25
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,004 ratings.