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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,153 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,153
Reviews: 1,767
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 15.07%
Wants: 77
Gots: 299 | FT: 5
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
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Ratings: 4,153 | Reviews: 1,767 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cinemadust
4.8/5  rDev +31.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My favorite that I've had from Dogfish Head so far. It almost has a taste of tea and beer mixed together. Kind of like a spice and fruit. When I drank this from the bottle I had an almost smokey aftertaste. Drinking it from tap at the Dogfish Head brewery restaurant, was served a beer at the perfect temperature. Which made it very easy to taste all the wonderful flavors of this beer. Had barley any head at all, but that's what I like. Goes well with spicy foods. Just be VERY careful. Don't forget it's a 8% ABV. You can't knock them down like regular beers. But you can't taste the extra ABV so again, be cautious.

cinemadust, Sep 28, 2009
Photo of jera1350
3.73/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Coppery brown color with only a trace of suds.

Very faint smelling. Some malt, yeast, rum, banana and dark fruit, but all only lightly.

Surprisingly stronger tasting than what the nose suggests. Matches up with the nose, but a little more assertively. A bit of booze and some coffee and chocolate peek through as well.

Smooth with a lightly carbonated yet soft feel. About medium bodied, but a little thin for the style.

Needs a little boost in the flavor department, but still an okay beer. Lacking for the style though and there are better choices at similar or cheaper price points. I'll pass again on this one.

jera1350, Sep 28, 2009
Photo of j37geogaddi
3.93/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured this bottle into a Sam Adams glass...Clear copper color with almost no head or lacing to be seen.

Smell is a bit faint but definitely of sweet raisins and little else.

Tastes like the smell, but not quite harshly. Again the sweet raisins come in but not as much as you'd like. But its still tasty and very pleasant.

The mouthfeel is very similar to Dogfish's IBA and is very nice. Good carbonation and heavy enough mouthfeel without being syrupy...Just my kinda beer

The 8% ABV is definitely well hidden so you can drink a few for sure without realizing its so high in alcohol but it can get a bit boring after while.

Overall I do like this beer. It almost reminds me of a really light barleywine. It is missing a few characteristics that keep it from being really outstanding however. A little more flavor and complexity would do this beer wonders. I still have to say that I sometimes crave this beer because it reminds me of a barleywine but its much easier to drink when I'm not in the mood for something so powerful.

j37geogaddi, Sep 27, 2009
Photo of GodOfBeer
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark mahogany with a thin yellowish head, barely any lacing.

Smells of brown sugar, nutty caramel malts, raisins and some barely noticeable alcohol in the background.

Tastes sweet and sugary upfront, caramel, raisins and dark fruit, finishes somewhat nutty with some molasses. Kind of like a mix between a BSDA and a Doppelbock or something, somewhat strange, not too crazy about it, covers the alcohol very well though.

Average mouthfeel, not too thick or syrupy and somewhat drinkable. Definately not the best Dogfish brew, and one of the least exciting Belgian Ales I've had...

GodOfBeer, Sep 26, 2009
Photo of BierFan
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a cervoise. Bottled on 3/13/09.

Appearance: A thin light tan head. Dark reddish brown body. Not much lacing at all.

Smell: The smell can best be described as an awesome combination of green raisins and brown sugar.

Taste: Perhaps a little too sweet. The dark savory sweetness reminds me of a porter. I really like it, but a little bottle conditioning would have made it a bit better and added some complexity, in my opinion.

BierFan, Sep 24, 2009
Photo of manwich
2.63/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured out of a growler into a chalice. Not much of a head on top, dark but clear body. Rather unusual smell, kind of smoky. Not at all a fan of the taste, syrupy and smoky, reasonable mouthfeel but an otherwise unenjoyable drinking experience. I found myself trying to down it before it got warmer, as I could tell that the unpleasant flavors were getting stronger as the glass warmed up, yet at the same time I wasn't inclined to finish the beer at all. I'm very open minded with beer and have rarely found a craft beer that I legitimately didn't want to finish, but this had to be as close as I've come. I wound up letting my housemates finish the rest of the growler.

manwich, Sep 22, 2009
Photo of wonderbread23
3.03/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear reddish brown hue. Small head quickly retreated to the rim providing a medium amount of lacing.

Smell: Sweet nose that was a little musty. A little caramel, a little clove and cinnamon. Very understated aroma.

Flavor: Caramel sweetness balanced by a little bitterness. A bit of fruit and raisin with a smidge of alcoholic structure.

Mouthful: Lively carbonation at first. Medium body and finish.

Drinkability: Understated complexity makes this a nice easy drinker.

wonderbread23, Sep 21, 2009
Photo of drabmuh
3.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on draft from the Dogfish head pub in Gaithersburg, MD. Beer is clear, dark red, thin fine head rests on top, low carbonation. Sweet odd flavor, almost some smoke in the aftertaste, there is a second aftertaste that is better than the frist. Almost no aroma, some sweetness. Flavor is weak. I'm not really impressed. Mouthfeel is fine, full beer. Not sure this is one of my favorites from DFH.

drabmuh, Sep 20, 2009
Photo of shivtim
3.7/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this a few time, but time to finally review it.

Nice clear rich rusty brown color. A small but dense white/tan head. Not too many bubbles; looks still.

Nose is sweet sugary caramel, good malt backbone, and tinges of ethanol. Slightly earthy.

Taste is chocolate malts, lingering peat/molasses, and gentle euro hops.

Great mouthfeel. Full and nicely carbonated, with just a bit of balancing syrupyness. Fits the beer well.

shivtim, Sep 19, 2009
Photo of mikel52588
3.25/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a deep brownish-amber hue, has small head, about 1-1.5 finger length head that dissipates quickly, leaves a thin lacing for the first pour.

Smell: like fresh bread, sweet caramel malts, theres also a thick earthy scent, with fruits..beets? its pretty complex.

Taste: Interesting. Smooth, semi-sweet, bittertaste follows a somewhat faint malty flavor. The first thing that's kind of surprising is the thinness of it..not expected. Has almost a tea consistency.

Mouthfeel: very thin, it's a little watery in my opinion and has an unusual almost dark coffee like short-lived aftertaste.

Drinkability: I'm a little disappointed with this beer, it's a little watery in my opinion. However, it is surprising that it has 8 abv, but the taste just doesn't do it for me..smells and looks nice though. It may be an decent compliment to something bitter-sweet. Cheers.

mikel52588, Sep 12, 2009
Photo of craftaholic
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint. Pours a nice somewhat hazy reddish brown hue with a 1.5 finger length head that dissipates and leaves behind no lacing.

Smell: The smell is that of brown sugar, chestnuts with an oak backbone and a hint of peach. Not very strong overall but the nutty aroma sure shines through.

Taste: Really sweet with some maltiness and even a bit of sweet fruits off the bat that turns to a woody and nutty aftertaste that tastes almost burnt. Has some alcohol presence but nothing overpowering.

Mouthfeel: Syrupy sweet and then transforms to some zest that finishes off like motor-oil as it crawls past your palate and leaves your mouth feeling dry.

Drinkability: Somewhat underwhelming but enjoyable none the less.

Overall: Not my favorite from DFH nor does it seem that it's really fitting in their lineup of brews. Not very complex nor would I seek it again but it was a decent 'once around'.

craftaholic, Sep 12, 2009
Photo of BatsforBeer
3.43/5  rDev -6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12oz bottle poured into oversized wine glass

A: Light Mahogany, 1 finger off-white head dissipates moderately, little lacing that shimmers in the light.

S: initial brown sugar malt followed by fruity peach like esters; very pleasant.

T: Carmel fades into toasty malt accompanied fruity notes which are hard to place (I assume it's the green raisons), ends very sweet and slightly bitter.

M: Medium bodied, creamy

D: This is where this beer falls short, It is much better when it is cold and as it warms it gets sweeter, too sweet in my opinion, after one, I'm moving on to something else, but I will come back someday!

BatsforBeer, Sep 10, 2009
Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Out of a 12 ounce bottle and into my basic snifter glass. The ale appears a clear medium chestnut color with about two inches of light ecru foam. The head lingers for a bit before settling to a thin layer. Aromas and flavors are of brown sugar, caramel, alcohol, nuts, mild hints of dried dark raisins, sweet malt. Maybe a notch better than medium bodied with ample carbonation for the style. Worth trying if you spot it.

ClockworkOrange, Sep 09, 2009
Photo of curasowa
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm starting a week of DFH - this is beer #1 in my custom mix sixer. Poured a clear, brilliant copper color with just a touch of head that faded quickly. Smells of roasted malt and molasses. The taste starts off bitter, but with a lot of body and then fades out into a nice, mellow, lingering finish roasted character. This beer definitely has a lot of body and some sweetness, but isn't sticky and it hides the alcohol very well. This is one I'll try again.

curasowa, Sep 09, 2009
Photo of flagmantho
3.4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 12 oz bottle into a wine goblet.

Appearance: deep tawny color with no head to speak of.

Smell: big malt with a bit toastiness aroma. There's also a hint of chocolate in there.

Taste: some tree fruit, some toastiness. The maltiness is toned back from the aroma, which I appreciate. There is a little more bitterness than I expect with this style, which is not bad, just different. Altogether it's an OK experience.

Mouthfeel: medium with some carbonation but not enough to really entice me. OK.

Drinkability: while this beer is definitely not bad, it just doesn't happen to suit me too well. I'll enjoy this glass, but that will be it for me.

flagmantho, Sep 07, 2009
Photo of washburnkid
3.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep beet red and maroon with a small beige head that dissipates quickly, leaving momentary smatterings of lace. A small cap of head and ring sticks around for about half an hour, but it took me twice that amount of time to drink the beer, so the latter half had little retention to speak of. I'm knocking the score up a bit for the gorgeous hues this ale displays.
S: Sweet and malty. The candied toasted sugar is very prominent in the aroma. A bit of woodiness gives me the sense that this beer is barrel aged, but I don't think it is. Dark fruit and berry esters. This sure smells like a Belgian dark.
T: Really sweet, and that's the only thing I can think of for a while. Candied sugar dominates, making it hard for much else to come through at first. Cherry and other pitted or stone fruits. Raisin reminds me of (and makes me crave) Raison D'Extra. There's a burnt sense, and the last note is a mix between fruity and metallic. The metal seems to dominate the back of my mouth until the beer warms substantially. A lot of other reviewers have noted the big presence of alcohol, but I'm not getting any notable heat in this beer.
M: Medium body and syrupy consistency. The carbonation is higher, but the only way it really affects the beer is by bringing out the berries in the flavor, making them "zing" (for lack of better word?) just a bit more.
D: Like I said, I cradled this one for a while. The sweetness was overwhelming in moments. I would suggest letting it warm substantially (30-45 minutes after taking it out of the cooler or fridge). I'm laying another of these bottles down for a couple of years to see how the fruits evolve.

washburnkid, Sep 06, 2009
Photo of redzone3120
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear deep brown color with a slight reddish tinge. The head is not very deep and has a brownish color. Carbonation is minimal with only a few streams of bubbles floating to the surface.

S - Has a slightly sweet malty smoky smell. Could be some nutty caramel notes mixed in. Overall, the smell is not very powerful.

T - This is a very different kind of beer. The taste is complex and reinforces the smoky sweet malts noted in the smell. There are hints of some kind of fruitiness but fades into the aftertaste. A mild alcohol taste is also present but does not distract from the flavors.

M - It has a sharp coarse feeling with a good body. The carbonation starts slow but builds up to a nice fresh feel.

D - Quite a drinkable beer but not more than two at a time. I will definitely have again and recommend to others.

redzone3120, Sep 03, 2009
Photo of RomaniIteDomum
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured as advertized, "deep mahogany". Not bad looking at all, could use more head.

I smell raisins and a slightly coffee-like malt. Pretty sweet with a slight bitterness from the soffee aroma.

The taste is good, if not a little underwhelming. It's good, has well-balanced flavors and a nice complexity. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something not quite right. The flavors seem to muddle a little bit.

They definately got the mouthfeel right. The carbonation and body feel great and are quite refreshing.

Eh, I guess it's drinkable, but I'm just a little disappointed. The beer was a little underwhelming, but still good. I would like to give the beer another try, but I have other things higher on the list.

RomaniIteDomum, Aug 31, 2009
Photo of jdklks
2.55/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

pours a deep amber/brown with a fizzy white head that retreats quickly into nothing but a thin ring around the glass. smells hoppy, malty, belgian yeasty. raisins, figs, and brown sugar are also present.

i dont drink a whole lot of belgian style beers, and this is perhaps why. they tend to taste badly. not terrible up front; sweet, and nothing else. hardly any complexity, just dullness. maybe some raisins through the middle. the finish is by far the worst part of the beer. an unpleasant burnt sugar flavor, made a little less unpleasant by the fact that it is simply dull. there is really nothing here to taste. my least favorite DFH beer ive tried.

mouthfeel is overly carbonated, but has a decent medium body. drinkability is damn near nil. i wouldn't buy it again, and i may drain pour this one, so as to be able to salvage my beer experience for the night.

jdklks, Aug 29, 2009
Photo of cdpike
3.25/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into snifter.

Pours, as it says, "a deep mahogany" with modest foam that hangs around with just the slightest lace. Aromas are very thick of molasses and some alcohol sweetness with no discernible hop characteristics. The feel is pretty slick and very coating with barely enough carbonation to balance the heavy syrupy body. Flavor is very chewy with lots of molasses, brown sugar, and the SLIGHTEST bit of raisin (though if you weren't looking for it, it could be pretty hard to find). The finish has a very modest bitterness that is not really from hop character, but mostly from a roasted barley character. Above all, however, the lasting finish is really a continuation of the wave of thick chewy flavors from earlier. I guess I don't particularly perceive this as very complex, just big really and I have a very difficult time categorizing this as a Belgian strong dark ale. It's really more like, Dogfish Head strong dark ale. Overall, it's not as balanced as I would I like and it seems a bit heavy handed. It's great in many ways, and is definitely worth a try, but it's by no means among my favorites of this style.

cdpike, Aug 25, 2009
Photo of benclimbs
3.25/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

pours a red mahogany with some lacing present and a small head

Nose is Belgian yeast, brown sugar andjust a hint of coffee

Taste is also brown sugar with some walnuts and a little raisins and alcohol...and then, yuck what is that unmistakaly metalic finish? Tastes like sucking on a penny or drinking oxidized wine it mellowed out a bit as it breathed, but still there

Mouthfeel is good, thick with medium carbonation

Notes: probably the worst dogfish I've had, not very interesting and certainly nothing I'd buy again...Some good characteristics, but not well excecuted at all

benclimbs, Aug 24, 2009
Photo of rootbeerman
4.3/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: one finger head for a few seconds after pour, going down to minimal surface layer. good dark brown color

S: raisins, and very slight coffee, caramel. sweet

T: sweet raisins, caramel and coffee, very light hops,

M: creamy, coating..cant explain it

D: could drink a few and would recommend to others

rootbeerman, Aug 23, 2009
Photo of lhaqq
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Can't say too much; had it out of the bottle. Presumably a brown body.
S: Not too much out of the bottle. Some doughy malts and roasted barley.
T: Tastes like a porter. Roasted malts and coffee and some caramel. Pretty good but seemed odd for the style.
M: Same feel as a porter, but a bit lighter.
D: Masks the abv pretty well, would be a good party beer.

lhaqq, Aug 23, 2009
Photo of HansBlix
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a pint Glass

Appearance - This beer yielded a two finger head that dissipated to a 1/2 finger head with a respectable amount of lacing. Minimal carbonation. The color was an amber, almost red color that got some attention from the people around me.

Smell - Roasted Malt is on the top of the list followed by fruit (raisins were detectable), carmel, and an undetermined spice,
with hints of alcohol.

Taste - Malt is the backbone of this brew. Hints of dried fruit and alcohol soon followed. Had a "dark" quality to the taste that I enjoyed very much and the hints of dried fruit complemented this very well. The alcohol did come through on this a little bit, but for me was invited and almost expected from initial pour. At 8% they did well.

Mouthfeel - I enjoyed this aspect very much. It was almost thick, to be honest, for this beer, it was perfect, not to thin, yet not to thick. Light to medium carbonation, all in all, perfect for this brew.

Drinkability - I personally could drink this all day. Someone who I was with said that it was "too dark" to which I promptly replied "you are a pussy". Not everyone's cup of tea, but it sure was mine. I want another now thinking of it.

I enjoyed this beverage very much and to date is one of my favorites from DFH (thought I havent had many). There isn't too much they could improve with this beer, in a good way. If you like a strong, dark ale thats on the untraditional side, I would defiantly recommend this.

HansBlix, Aug 21, 2009
Photo of Reaper16
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle served into a tulip

Pours a burnt amber (nearly red) with perfect, translucent clarity. The white head was pretty freaking huge at first before dying down to a 1/2 finger ring after three minutes or so.

Brown sugar dominates the nose at first before giving way to raisins. Not the generic sort of dark fruit smell that you get in so many beers, but very specifically raisins. I get a quick whiff of port wine on occasion that I wish would come up more prominently to break up all of the sweetness.

A very interesting malt bomb... unlike any particular beer I've had before. Coffee, which I didn't get in the aroma, sort of blasts my palate on the front end. Raisins follow too, along with some fig. But the dark fruits don't make this a fruity beer by any means. Malty finish, and surprisingly dry at that. Kind of like tobacco. This is my kind of brown ale.

Mouthfeel seems fine. its in that medium body range that carries the flavors well without making itself noticeable. Myself, I'm not one to session brown ales (I know this is slotted as a BSDA but this is pretty damn Brown Ale-y to me. In fact, I'm rating this AS a brown ale) so the drinkability is just ok to me. I can see someone inhaling half a six pack though.

Yet another superbly crafted beer from Dogfish Head. This one isn't exactly exciting or anything, its just very well executed. If you like easy-drinking malt bombs, then this is a fine choice.

Reaper16, Aug 14, 2009
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,153 ratings.