1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. 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.

4,092 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,092
Reviews: 1,767
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 72
Gots: 283 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Raison D'Être Alström Bros
Ratings: 4,092 | Reviews: 1,767 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of belgbeerdrinker
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

a: dark, clear amber color, decent head that disappears quickly, little lacing
s: smoky aroma abounds, like burnt molasses and slight coffee
t: burnt molasses dominates along with sweet dark fruits (raisins), finishes with bits of alcohol
m: moderate carbonation, medium body,
d: not a bad beer from the folks at dogfish -- decent balance and packs more punch than the 8% suggests. worth a try but nothing great

belgbeerdrinker, Nov 21, 2007
Photo of NitroGen
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

P: 12 oz. Brown longneck bottle, 8% Alc. By Vol.

P: Deep mahogany pour with a 1 inch loose tan head that quickly levels to a scant cover.

S: Slight sweet fruity with a crisp grain finish

T: Carbonation brings an explosion of slightly sweet .(ok I looked at the bottle)..taste of raisins and brown sugar then a subtle taste of roasted grains and remains on the palette.

M: Really interesting tasting event as I found it really invigorating, not overly sweet, very balanced in the mouth with a great aftertaste.

D: Not a session beer but one to have when available and to offer to friends who think that a ‘big beer’ is 16% and black and sludgy. I recommend as a definite try.

NitroGen, Nov 19, 2007
Photo of tayner
2.93/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

poured dark amber with red highlights when held to light

smelled sweet, brown sugar, raisen, roasted malt. slight hop smell, but very slight.

tasted of brown sugar, cut with not so much raisen but more of a green, sour grape flavor. it almost tasted like i was eating green sour grapes while i was drinking my beer, that sort of flavor combo in my mouth. Not bad, just unusual.

It had enough hops to cut the brown sugar sweetness and leave a relatively clean palate.

I rated drinkabilty a little low as the alcohol burn was evident to me which makes this more of a sipper for me. I think a few more months of aging on this one and the drinkability would go up.. perhaps i will sit on the other 3 bottles i have for a few months.

tayner, Nov 17, 2007
Photo of redneckchugger
4.6/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz pour into my brand new duvel tulip
poured a dark brown witha tawny head about two fingers high
smells of brown sugar, and raisins
taste is malt, yeast, brown sugar and raisens, like a mouthfull of raisins. A totally unique taste for me, quite good.
Mouthfell is smooth, slight alcohol burn, but smooth a really rich.
drinkable, but made for sipping.
Overall a great beer, i don't feel it s a true belgian style beer as they claim, but thatsnat really a big deal to me. Excellent beer.

redneckchugger, Nov 17, 2007
Photo of mdm4584
1.65/5  rDev -54.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Got this at AJ's Scottsdale.

Anticipated a completely different brew.

This beer is awful. The style according to BA is off. I don't know what DFH was brewing here. Be prepared to throw away.

Smell was peculiar and taste was disgusting.

Never again.

mdm4584, Nov 10, 2007
Photo of twbrewer
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Poured a deep red color with 1\4" head with little lacing,comes back with a quick swirl of the glass.

S-Smells sweet,very malty with a slight smokey background.Slight smell of alcohol.

T-Sweet right upfront,from the raisins?Can taste a little alcohol,but has a beautiful slighty bitter smokey finish.Very complex.

M-Full bodied nicely carbonated.Smooth mouthfeel over the palate.

D-At first taste I didn't think too much of this beer, however,it started to grow on me and I ended up loving the smokey sweet aftertaste.Its a pretty big beer but it's so smooth you forget about the 8%.This is my 3rd sampling from DFH,and everyone is so unique and intriguing I will try as many as I can find!

twbrewer, Nov 05, 2007
Photo of superswing123
4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Here D-Fish has created another outstanding beverage for us. Smooth, malty and flavorful, time after time.

Appearance: Fine copper/gold color into a 12 ounce tumbler. Some moderate lacing around a quickly diminishing head of 1-2 fingers. With a few swills and tumbilng, the head restores to 1 inch. Very appetizing and appealing.

Aroma (Smell): Smokey, deep and full of good brew, something you want to dig into to. A bit of the alcohol comes through but not all that heavy. This one won't kick you too bad. But don't dirve anything but the lawnmower, buddy, after two or more.

You'll get busted, flat out.

(Hate those DWI laws...)

Taste; Full-bodied, rich and infused with the raisens and a good deal of hops. A bit malty, barley and spices coming through. This is a complex brew worthy of consideration...

Flavor: Full of all that can be good. Lively, vervacious, outstanding.

Drinkability: Great. I could have several several of these and still enjoy the next or send out for more.

Here's a fine craft-brewed ale from Dogfish, who has become my favorite, especially since the 120 pale ale the other nite....these folks really know what their doing with beer.

Just hope they keep it up.


superswing123, Nov 05, 2007
Photo of PlaywrightSam
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle into snifter. A: Deep amber brown, the head went down after a couple of minutes, some lacing. S: Raisins, burnt malts, caramel, something vaguely metallic. T: Really thick and sweet up front, the hops are only faint. Lots of malt, caramel, raisins. I'm still tasting something a little metallic... M: Very thick, carbonation a tad high for my taste. D: I really like this beer. It's got a great malt profile, and the finish is really lingering and delicious. I could definitely go through a few of these. The high abv is almost unnoticeable.

PlaywrightSam, Nov 05, 2007
Photo of marcpal
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled, was expecting more from this beer- perhaps a bit low down. Was still a quality brew from dependable DF but not quite what I was hoping for.

A: Reddish, amber color with little to no head. No complaints here, waiting on the raisins.
S: A little bit of alcohol but a nice aroma with a bit of roastiness.
T: Far more sweet and less alcohol than I expected. The roasted malts and nuts came through here. Didnt pick up on raisins, but not that Ive ever really drank a raisin before. Good taste but nothing I was in love with.
M: Smooth, very nice.
D: Nothing here to write home about but the alcohol was well hidden and it went very well with a hearty ceviche.

This one is worth a try and will look forward to some more, but not really anything completely out of the ordinary. worth a grab.

marcpal, Nov 04, 2007
Photo of bboven
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Copper/brown clear body without much head or lacing, which seems odd for a Belgian.

All the typical Belgian aromas are present, which certainly pleasant, but there's also a great roasty aroma which is not typical. Very interesting and nice. Even if I didn't know there were raisins in there, that aroma is fairly obvious as well.

BElgian with a great twist. just enough roast to throw something different in there and the raisins add to the fruitiness off the yeast. It's a darker, more bitter fruit that balances with the sweet, sour yeast very well.

Not as smooth and creamy as most Belgians as far as cabonation, carbed more like an amber ale or something. It's a mellow carbonation, but more sharp than smooth and creamy.

Very tasty, very aromatic, but when I want a Belgian I look for a more true-to form beer. In and of itself, very tasty, however.

bboven, Nov 02, 2007
Photo of alexskovan
3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a deep amber with a minimal fizzy head that dropped at once. Rasin and plum in the nose, sweet and inviting. Taste is fizzy and chalky, with the sweet rasin and a puckering feeling in the mouth.

Typical of the Belgian ales I've tried. Ok. No big deal.

alexskovan, Oct 30, 2007
Photo of jjboesen
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted this beer at the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg, which has no on-site brewing; nevertheless, I have never had a beer here that I did not truly savor.
First of all, it is served in a goblet and begins with a light head that quickly fades. Mouthfeel indicated a sweetish malty taste that improves as it sits. As all BAs know, storage, temperature and proper glassware is vital in manipulating the sensory enjoyment of any good beer - particularly Belgian styles. A premier style from a first-class brewer. Reason to be .... indeed!

jjboesen, Oct 27, 2007
Photo of littleshamrocks
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle with the "bottled on" date stamped on the neck. Served in a snifter.

Pours a medium brown with ruby hues around the edges. Average sized, off-white, foamy head quickly diminishes, leaving only faint wisps of lacing. Fairly clear with noticeable carbonation. The smell is a complex mix of fruits, wine, dark bread and alcohol. Taste is much the same with copious doses of fruity esters, ranging from grapes to raisons to plums. Also, hints of wine, dark bread, pepper and a mild floral hoppiness. The sum total comes out moderately sweet tasting. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a somewhat oily texture, fizzy carbonation, and a lightly alcoholic finish.

Overall, I like how the flavors come together in this one. It has the distinct fruitiness of a Belgian, which I also enjoy. Although it does ring in at 8%, to me, the alcohol is pretty well hidden. Good job DFH on yet another quality made, fine craft beer.

littleshamrocks, Oct 26, 2007
Photo of kimcgolf
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle to a translucent dark brown, with medium-thick tan head that lingered to mid glass and left okay lacing. Aroma was a very complex blend of sweet malty fig, raisin and dark fruit, with the 8% alcohol making itself present in the nose at mid-glass. Mouthfeel of this full bodied beer was somewhat tingly, and the flavor was more of the sweet fig-raisin-dark fruit combination, again with alcohol becoming more dominant as the beer progressed.

This all led to a very long, sweet and well rounded finish. All and all, a most excellent offering from DFH.

kimcgolf, Oct 24, 2007
Photo of scottyshades
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very nice beer. Picked one up at ABC knowing that I could expect another good beer from Dogfish Head, and I was correct.
A: Nice dark amber color with a 1/4 inch head that dissipates quickly, leaving a little lace
S: Roasted nuts, alcohol, earthy smell
T: Very sugary, toffee, roasted nuts, grass...i personally couldnt notice the raisins, but then again i am not sure what green raisins taste like...the alcohol is somewhat noticeable
MF: Nice and clean, slightly bitter, medium bodied
D: I could drink about 4 of these straight before gettin tired of them, although at the finish of the beer, the alcohol becomes prevalent

Overall a very good selection...it is a little lighter than other BSDAs and definitely is balanced a little different, but if you come across this beer, grab one or two

scottyshades, Oct 24, 2007
Photo of JamesS
3.18/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Nice off brown coloring, with just a bit of head and no lacing. It has a wonderful mahogany scent with hints of spices. Good taste, a nice mixture of spices, along with raisins and mahogany, a nice sweet taste, although a bit too much hint of alcohol. Goes down a little rough, but not horribly so. A very unique beer, it‘s worth a try if you can find it.

JamesS, Oct 24, 2007
Photo of biggmike
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This wasnt anything like I expected. Poured a brownish/red color with small head that dissipated rather quickly. Aroma is fruity and a bit malty. Flavor is fruity. Mouthfeel is great; this beer is as smooth as it gets. This beer hides it alcohol content very well. Good stuff and very unique.

biggmike, Oct 22, 2007
Photo of Deus1138
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass. Small amount of head.

Cloudy red color with a fair amount of carbonation.

Smells sweet, but not a very strong smell.

Tastes very good. Sweet, but not too sweet. Very faint hops flavor.

Very smooth, light in the mouth.

I'll definitely buy this again. Last night I enjoyed the Chimay Reserve, which is of the same style. I really enjoyed both brews. The Chimay is sweeter and heavier. It's definitely a sipping beer. The Dogfish Head brew is a little easier to drink.

Deus1138, Oct 19, 2007
Photo of 51mmz0rz
4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a 20oz English pint glass.

A: Slightly cloudy redish brown, with a small tan head. Good lacing on top, and the sides.

S: Slight fruit on the nose, but mostly sweet, slight alcohol tinge.

T: I get most of the smell, but more complex flavors come through. The sweetness isn't overbearing. I don't find the alcohol noticeable, except a slight warmth in the throat.

M: Mouthfeel is good, if not a little thin I thought.

D: I really like to have many of these, even with the high abv. Nothing deters me from wanting another.

51mmz0rz, Oct 17, 2007
Photo of cetae
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured a nice dark mahogany with a head that settles to around 1/2 inch.

S - Sugary smell, but not a sweet sugary smell. As well as a slight alcohol scent

T - Can immediately taste the green raisin then a slight amount of alcohol, though not over powering at all, followed by a slightly bitter dark chocolate / malty taste. I have never tasted a beer like this before.

M - Medium bodied, airy and very smooth

D - This beer is drinkable, however I wouldn't want to drink more than 1 to 3 in one sitting. When I drank the first one I didn't lik it very much, but that night I had a few various other beers before trying this. I decided to try it again the next night and I had a different opinion. I have a whole case of this stuff (bought in PA) and it will probably last a while. I definitely wouldn't buy an entire case again, but I would pick up six-pack down the road.

cetae, Oct 15, 2007
Photo of BravoTwo
2.68/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bought a mixed 6 of Dogfish Head, and selected this item. Poured into a goblet, and was very impresed with the initial apearance.

A - Nice dark brown coloration, with no appreciable head.

S- Smelled slightly of grapes, dark wine. Alcoholic smell, which was not unpleasant.

T - Not impressed here. Way too face forward with the alcohol in this beer, and not really well balanced with any other flavor, taste, or anything else to grab your attention. Could have done with a more balanced taste

M - Too thin, with no real substance here, which suprised me given the punch of the alcohol.

D - split this beer anyway, which was a good thing since I am sure I could have not have finished the whole thing.

I was not impressed with this beer, and would not repurchase it. That being said, this beer may personally satisfy you, if you enjoy a more in-your-face alcoholic tasting Belgian .Try Unibroue's Trois Pistoles, if you are looking for an exceptionally balanced Begian Strong.

BravoTwo, Oct 13, 2007
Photo of Biscuit033
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a nice mahogany with very little head.

S: Sweet malty/candi smell that is true to the style.

T: There is a bitterness that hits the back of the tongue. But the main tastes are dried fruit and dark bitter chocolate. There is a pleasing sweet maltiness as well.

M: Light and airy over the tongue.

D: Nice sipper. Alcohol is hidden well for this 8%. The flavors and taste tell you to slow down and enjoy.

Biscuit033, Oct 11, 2007
Photo of BucBasil
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: A perfectly clear deep red color with a finger of off-white head on top. Poured into a tulip glass from the bottle.

Smell: Raisins are immediately evident, along with a faint sugary smell and some unidentifiable spices.

Taste: This one is off the wall. Soft fruity character with brown sugar in the middle. Syrupy character then comes through, carrying with it a crazy sort of bready malt taste? Finishes with a buttery smooth character that was strangely pleasant.

Notes: Probably won't be picking this one up again, but I guess it was worth it to try to work out the palate a bit.

BucBasil, Oct 09, 2007
Photo of sirpsycho
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a glass. Was sceptical at trying a "flavored" beer, but was pleasantly surprised. Nice dark pour into the glass. Very little head. Nice flavors, detected raisins and carmel / toffee, but not too sweet, could drink more than one without getting sick of it. Will order again.

sirpsycho, Oct 06, 2007
Photo of ruleof72
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer pours a dark mahogony(sp?) color with a medium head that settles down to a thin ring and stays there. The smell was pine/citrus with a hint of raisin, slightly sweet and toasty. The taste backs up the smell as there is a good amount of sweet fruit and hops. Mouthfeel is good as well as drinkability.

Another good effort and definitely worth drinking.

ruleof72, Oct 04, 2007
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,092 ratings.