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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,039 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,039
Reviews: 1,766
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 70
Gots: 261 | 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
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Ratings: 4,039 | Reviews: 1,766 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of lpayette


4.35/5  rDev +18.9%

While browsing BA, happened to come upon this beer just as I was drinking some. To my surprise I hadn't reviewed it yet...

Appearance is a deep and clear mahogany with about a finger of head. Not bad but nothing overly exciting. A bit of lacing.

Smell is not overly complex, but does contain some interesting notes of belgian candy sugar, sweet malts, hints of raisins (though honestly, I probably wouldn't have got that one if I didn't know it was in the recipe). Hops are very mild and way in the background as they should be.

The taste is much the same as the smell but enhanced by a creamy mouthfeel and more subtle complexities of clove, banana, and a slight hop bitterness at the finish. Damn near a weizenbock in taste really- but with a belgian-american twist. very good.

I must say, I think this beer is grossly under-rated. An excellent and inspiring example of how American brewers have pushed the traditional boundaries of specific beer styles.

05-16-2008 06:32:02 | More by lpayette
Photo of mobyfann


3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Paid around $1.79 for a single...

Poured into a snifter, appeals a dark brown base, with a medium white head, moderate head retention, and no lacing. The aroma is earthy fruit, like dates and grapes coupled with a mild malt character, nothing fancy yet pleasant.

The taste is a little bitter, but in the good way, followed by a spicy malt character with limited carbonation, medium-bodied and no sign of the fruit like the aroma?!? M&D both fit the bill, the spicy tone was a little harsh on the palette, at 8% its very drinkable, if these spices do it for you and this is what you expect from a Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

Final Thought: Haven't played around too much with the style, but it is a solid offering from a great brewery.

05-10-2008 23:53:34 | More by mobyfann
Photo of Shonkers


4.45/5  rDev +21.6%

This is my first review, so excuse me while I pop my cherry....

The other disclaimer here is that I'm a fanboy of Dogfish Head beers--I love their offerings, I love their style, I love their off-centered theme....

Drinking from a Tulip glass after pouring from a bottle bought in Dayton, Ohio for the princely sum of $9.99/six pack.

Color is a beautiful cherrywood hue, minimal head due to my insistence that beer should be imbibed at temperatures near freezing (sue me).

Smell reminds me of molasses.

Taste is almost overly sweet, but then again, I like sweet. Molasses, with a following bite of alcohol.

Mouthfeel is near perfect. Daddy likes.

In addition to liking cold beer, I like high alcohol content. I'm in the military, and I like my beers like I like my women: intoxicating. Sessionable? Hells yes!

05-09-2008 22:25:20 | More by Shonkers
Photo of GFSchwab

New York

4.18/5  rDev +14.2%

Poured a dark brown with a thin, off white head.

WHat I really loved about this beer was how layered an complex the flavor really was. It comes on with a very chewy, toffee like taste, giving way notes of port, and maple.

Then on the way down, a clean hoppy finish finish, tied with a little bit of an ethanol bite.

An citrus marinated fowl woould go great with this beer.

05-09-2008 15:28:01 | More by GFSchwab
Photo of Redwood21


4.22/5  rDev +15.3%

I put off trying this beer because it has the word raison in it...i hate them...but this beer is actually really good. Its not a wow factor beer, it wont bowl you over, but you know what it just tastes clean and good.
A: the head could be better but at 8 % its hard to complain. i actually really really dig the color. it has this almost red amber oak stain hue that glows...good stuff

S: sweet, not sugary sweet, ripe dark fruit sweet plum almost with an almost caramel finish, maybe its roasted something, but it finished more simmered

T very clean i have read some notes of it being offensive or too much of one thing, but i actually really like it. its sweet but in a dried fruit (dare i say raisin) way...no it does not remind me of raisins which for me is a good thing. it even has an almost smoke in the back to bolter the sweetness...is this not what we call balance ppl? i was going to give the taste a 4, but as i sip and enjoy it i bumped it to 4.5....its not groundbreaking so no 5, but it does nothing wrong and just makes me so happy i tried it.

Biggest surprise in a while...i expected to hate this beer, the name put me off, reviews weren't favorable....but you know what this is a damn tasty brew worth trying.

05-06-2008 06:11:05 | More by Redwood21
Photo of SchmoTerp


3.8/5  rDev +3.8%

This staple of DFH pours a deep mahogany (as described on the bottle) with medium to low head. Not surprisingly, it smells and tastes strongly of raisons. It's fairly easy and smooth enough to drink with a good mouthfell, but I think drinking several of these would get old due to the raison taste - towards the end of the drink it started to taste more bitter than sweet.

I'd certainly recommend this one, but not something I'd get everyday.

05-04-2008 13:30:32 | More by SchmoTerp
Photo of PatrickJR

North Carolina

4.43/5  rDev +21%

Poured from 12 oz nonic pint glass.

A - Deep, transparent brown with one finger head that receded into thin collar. No lacing.

S - Roasted malts, with a coffee-like overtone. Dark fruit and some vegetal characteristics as well.

T - Amazing. Sweet malt upfront, but over-ripe fruit follows, with a slight sourness like a good porter. Coffee as well with a little chocolate thrown in. Ample hop bitterness in the finish. Alcohol is well hidden, with only a minute appearance near the end.

M - Medium bodied, smooth, and lightly carbonated.

D - A great beer to have a few of. The ABV certain sneaks up, but otherwise I could drink these all night.

I'm actually surprised to see that this beer is rated as low as it is, because I find it one of the most engaging beers from the American craft circuit. This beer combines some of the most desirable aspects from a good pale ale, porter, and mild stout.

05-02-2008 09:53:03 | More by PatrickJR
Photo of generallee

New York

4.25/5  rDev +16.1%

This poured a lovely mahogany, reddish/brown color. On top is a thick white head that faded off quickly to just a thin ring around the glass. The aroma is full of sweet roasted malts and raisins. The flavor is full of roasted malts, caramel, toast and green grapes. A light hop bitterness balances out the sweetness. Its medium to full body and soft carbonation gives it a velvety smooth mouth feel. This is a good Belgian ale that I will be enjoying again real soon.

05-01-2008 12:13:40 | More by generallee
Photo of barleywinefiend


3.38/5  rDev -7.7%

Poured a nice mahogany with a very disappointing head. Aroma is full of sugar, alcohol, and caramel and dried fruit..myabe raisins. Quite nice. The taste is nice as well, fruity, with roasted malt flavors all thru it. Maybe the sweetness is a little run in it. The mouthfeel is quite different to say the least. The ABV is 8 and it shows. No way I could or would want to drink more than one.

04-26-2008 02:37:19 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of Rzzzzz


4.2/5  rDev +14.8%

Poured into a Chimay glass and hoisted in celebration of the Sharks Game 7 victory over Calgary.

Dark copper with good clarity and very little head. Aromas of Malt, raisins, toffee, chocolate, wood. Taste is sweet malt and caramel up front followed up with some raisin, butterscotch and a touch of hop bitterness at the end. Medium to full bodied, slightly sticky with a velvety mouthfeel.

In a nutshell, sweet as a game 7 victory. And there's a shark on the label.

04-24-2008 15:16:49 | More by Rzzzzz
Photo of Portertime


3.83/5  rDev +4.6%

I love the names of Dogfish Head's brews. I enjoyed this one chilled in my Duvel bubbler. Poued a fine, clear amber color. Smells if dried raisons and mild cancied sugars. Tastes of sweet green raison with a tad alcohol dryness. This was a pretty decent brew.

04-22-2008 19:49:51 | More by Portertime
Photo of Lexluthor33

New York

3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

Poured a copper brown with a small head. The smell was rum,raisin,fruits and alcohol. The taste was of raisins,caramel and alcohol. It was sweet,but the alcohol dominated and it had a metallic taste. The feel was sticky and syrupy. I feel this was a non session beer and it was fine to have one, but did not desire anymore.

Notes: Good intentions all around,but this one missed it's mark and needs some fine tuning. By no means is this a bad beer,just not a good one. Too much alcohol dominance and not well balanced. It supposedly won best American beer. Go figure.
Final thought is I will not purchase this for some time. I expected more.

04-21-2008 05:26:22 | More by Lexluthor33
Photo of Ben4881


4/5  rDev +9.3%

Raison D'Être
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

This brew pours translucent amber with red highlights. The head is maybe half an inch somewhere between cream and white. It hangs around momentarily, and then retreats to the amber glow below leaving no trace of lace behind it.

Raison D'Être has a very sweet and subtle aroma. The scent is rather faint and I have to really get in there to get a good whiff. Malt and caramel notes emerge leaving me with intense curiosity for the taste.

Coinciding with the smell, the taste begins on a sweet note. Then things get more complex. I can taste molasses and maybe a hint of fruit up front. Then the taste begins to turn and the delicious hop bitterness slaps the back of my tongue and the flavor of alcohol hits the back of my throat. Upon swallowing, the fruity sweetness returns to my lips while the hop bitterness lingers at the back of my tongue and the roof of my mouth. This is an intriguingly complex flavor that begs for another sip.

The appearance does not suggest a very thick mouthful. While Raison D'Être is by no means as thick as a stout, it has more body than I anticipated, a welcome surprise. I would classify the carbonation level as comfortable. There is certainly carbonation present and is easily detected, however, it does not overwhelm the senses and destroy the taste buds.

Yes sir, I would like another. Two would definitely be my limit. 8% ABV is not particularly high, but Raison D'Être has a sweet flavor that could turn on my stomach if I had a few too many. I would highly recommend as a night cap any night. This is a fine creation and I applaud the efforts going on in Delaware.

04-20-2008 23:46:44 | More by Ben4881
Photo of Kendo

New York

3.48/5  rDev -4.9%

Bottled on 10-15-07, consumed in March of 2008.

A: Poured into an Augustijn chalice. Body is dark amber with orangey-red highlights. Small beige head settles fast. Very little apparent carbonation.

S: Sweet and sugary. Brown sugar and candied sugar.

T: Like the nose, the sweetness dominates the taste -- caramel malt and candied sugar, along with brown sugar. Also some fruity sweetness that reminds me of apple skins. Alchohol heat shows up at the back of the sip and down the throat.

M: Medium-bodied in heft, some prickly carbonation and an overall smooth experience.

D: OK. Too sweet for my taste.

Notes: But for the smooth mouthfeel and prickly carbonation, I would not have been shocked if you'd told me this was an English Barleywine. Too sweet for me and not what I expected for the style.

04-18-2008 18:32:09 | More by Kendo
Photo of BoitSansSoif


3.9/5  rDev +6.6%

Drank this one in Chicago too...it rained for a long time. Chilled in toilet tank of fancy hotel beyond my means. I didn't pay for it, so I contributed generously to the beer-tasting menu.
A-Poured brown amber with decent off-white head and very nice lacing. Drank out of wine glass.
S-Green raisin, malt, diacetyl, toffee.
T-Rich malt w/nuts and toffee, butterscotch diacetyl, toffee, raisins, and candy sugar molasses.
M-Rich robust body. Very harmonious balance of sweetness and dry roast.
D-Smooth and tasty. Alcohol is well-hidden. I would buy this again.

04-17-2008 18:52:17 | More by BoitSansSoif
Photo of kurtissellen


2.38/5  rDev -35%

Poured into an oversized wine glass which produced a small ½ finger head that immediately disappeared. Nice reddish brown color with some carbonation. It had a strange aroma that smelled a little like bacon not too impressive. The taste was similar with hints of bacon, decomposing leaves, and campfire smoke. I really didn't care for this one at all and came close to just dumping it out. I'm not sure if I just got a bad batch of this or what because I have enjoyed all the other Dogfish Head beers I've tried. I'll have to try this one again in the future to see if something was wrong with the bottle I tried.

04-13-2008 23:27:04 | More by kurtissellen
Photo of jdubjacket


3.13/5  rDev -14.5%


Had over at my parent's house on Thursday night before dinner. Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Pours a light brown with moderate head. Nothing in the smell or taste. A relatively mediocre beer that didn't really deliver from Dogfish Head. Probably wouldn't purchase this one at my own will.

04-13-2008 23:15:35 | More by jdubjacket
Photo of mooseisloose


3.78/5  rDev +3.3%

Smells of many things..hints of coffee and brown sugar and butterscocth. Poured into..what else..a Raison D'Etre goblet. Had it for a while but never tried the beer. Pours to an opaque medium brown that lets slight light through. Taste is very complex. Heavy texture and sweet but also sour. Malty with only trace hops evident. The AC is evident but not overly so. The lacing is incredible, looks like wine, the best i've ever seen. This is a delight in a goblet. Dogfish continues to delight.

04-11-2008 00:27:57 | More by mooseisloose
Photo of thirtysixbelow


3.88/5  rDev +6%

a - dark reddish brown with a tan head

s - caramel, chocolate, yeast, grapes, alcohol

t - caramel and chocolate again but I think I get some raisins this time. very sweet. alcohol very present.

m - slippery and oily, not incredibly heavy or carbonated

d - this was interesting. As a belgian strong dark ale, it's not something I would compare to a chimay blue. The alcohol is very present and the mouthfeel is a little unappetizing. It is also very sweet to the point of almost unenjoyable. I had this experience with the sam adams double bock, and this beer was running on the thin ice that the sam adams fell through. I can say I had it, but if I want a belgian strong dark ale I'll have a chimay.

04-10-2008 03:07:20 | More by thirtysixbelow
Photo of SIRIUS2

North Carolina

3.83/5  rDev +4.6%

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

A: Mahogany brown, clear, with a light foaming head. Moderate head retention and no lacing to speak of. The head reduced to an uneven fat ring of bubbles that stayed with the drink.

S: Subtle but complex. Some nice aromas of fruit, perhaps dates or figs, and some malty undertones that matched nicely with it. Nothing overwhelming that stood out on its own, just a light subtle understated aroma.

T: A rather light flavored brew for the weight and color. The tastes mingle well and are very balanced, almost too balanced as nothing stands out to give it a specific character. Like the smell, the flavors are complex but subtle, which makes you keep looking for something in the flavor profile that you just know is there. The finish is quick and clean, with just the slightest linger of malt.

M&D: Looking at this you would think you are about to embark on a rather heavy drink but in reality this comes off rather light. The carbonation is also light, and goes well with the rest of the personality of this brew. It's smooth drinking and sort of easy going in its own way. I liked it, but there isn't anything that jumps out at me and screams "this is great!" I would drink it again though.

04-10-2008 00:02:26 | More by SIRIUS2
Photo of msubulldog25


3.65/5  rDev -0.3%

A 12 oz., poured to a standard pint. "Bottled on: 02/06/08 D" printed on the neck. I recall having a few of these on a trip a couple years ago to Illinois, made a fun family reunion even better. Don't think I've had one since...

"...brewed with Belgian beet sugars, green raisins & a sense of purpose."

A: Clear, deep amber showing an abundance of fast-rising carbonation to a sandy tan head, 1/2 finger at best. Head drops to a spotty cream, thicker at the ringing edge. Flecks of creamy lace.

S: Caramel & cocoa aromas with hints of smoke. Sugary cereal-grain maltiness, perhaps some molasses, and an interesting fruit aroma with hints of raw wood.

T: An intriguingly sweet, malty blend of toasty grains and sugars, with that puff of smoke, subtle fruits (the raisins?) and hints of leather and milk chocolate.

M: Medium body. Despite the vast number of bubbles in the glass, this doesn't have an overly carbonated mouthfeel. It's a bit surprising how smooth, bordering on velvety, this is. A little alcohol warmth sneaks in; it's notable flaw is a sticky starchiness that really gloms onto the entire mouth, making me yearn for a toothbrush.

D: DFH may not make the most drinkable brews - on this I'm definitely 'one & done' - but they certainly craft unique flavors. Be curious and give this a try - appreciate the creativity of the craft of brewing because this one definitely pushes the boundaries.

04-06-2008 21:37:35 | More by msubulldog25
Photo of Jerico

New York

2.95/5  rDev -19.4%

I poured this into a Bordeaux wine glass.

A - Deep reddish cooper color, pours with a airy head that disappears quickly.

S - Not much there - a bit of raisins maybe, but nothing really jumps out at me.

T - Smooth, a touch spicy and the raisin taste is noticeable, a bit malty. But there isn't much "wow" here.

M - Light carbonation, slightly creamy.

D - I found this to be a boring beer. Not bad, but nothing overly exciting either.

04-06-2008 00:53:02 | More by Jerico
Photo of cvstrickland

North Carolina

3.28/5  rDev -10.4%

From a 12 oz bottle into a seidel;

Pours a rich, dark reddish-amber with an eggshell-colored head of a finger or so that settles into a nice ringed sheet.

Smells sweet, with alcohol, brown sugar, butter, and brown malt evident.

Taste is sweet, more sugary than malty, lightly hoppy, maple syrupy with lingering raisins in the finish. A little cloying with a hint of nail-polish remover. Alcohol is evident, but not overpowering.

Syrupy smooth in the mouth. Very little carbonation.

Very tasty, but really sweet and raisiny. A nice occasional, but heavy with an ABV that makes it a sipper. Not my favorite Dogfish Head offering or style of brew, but not bad, either.

04-05-2008 01:39:59 | More by cvstrickland
Photo of halfP1NT


3.73/5  rDev +1.9%

Had this on 3/27/08.

Poured into a tulip glass. Deep golden brown with ruby highlights, thin, off-white head that dissipates to a very thin ring around the outside of the glass. Very minimal lacing.

Smell is a bit musty, malts hit my nose first, like coffee. Alcohol comes through, hint of dark fruit like raisins.

Taste is Dark roasted malts, just enough hop balance. The alcohol is very evident throughout the entire sip and lingers for a long time. As it warms, sweetness comes through a bit more in the malts, and I pick up a bit of a dark fruit taste.

Low to medium carbonation. The alcohol taste is not very well hidden and is a bit much in this beer, but I did enjoy slowly sipping it with a big slice of Sicilian pizza. The alcohol warming would makes this a nice wintertime sipper. There was nothing really special that made this beer stand out, but I'd recommend at least trying it.

04-04-2008 12:40:39 | More by halfP1NT
Photo of philbe311


3.78/5  rDev +3.3%

A - Dark redish amber... Transparent, but looks quite thick... Nice head...

S - Sugar w/ mild hops... A little underwhelming...

T - Expected sweet... Got the bold hoppiness of a very unique blend...

M - Great balance and texture... Coats the mouth very well... Thick...

D - A unique well crafted and complex brew... A would drink again because I think I could find new complexity each time I indulged, but not a session beer...

04-03-2008 01:57:06 | More by philbe311
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,039 ratings.