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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.

4,113 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,113
Reviews: 1,767
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 72
Gots: 288 | 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: 4,113 | Reviews: 1,767 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of markaberrant
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in an oversized, stemless red wine glass.

Appearance - clear grape juice, a very nice purplish hue. Nothing but a ring for head. No lacing.

Smell - out of the bottle, it's almost like grape juice. Once poured in the glass, it's got a lot more boozy caramel, toffee malt, with some dark fruitiness. Quite strong. Good.

Taste - Nice spicy complexity. Hop bitterness really rounds out the sweet malt profile. The overall combination is fantastic.

Mouthfeel - Not a lot of carbonation. Full bodied and smooth. Soothing alcohol warmth. When I poured it, I was dissapointed with the low carbonation, but it seems to work well.

Drinkability - I am quite enjoying this, but I'm not sure I could drink too many at a time due to the sweetness and alcohol.

Overall - This was my first taste of Dogfish Head, and I am very impressed. I wasn't sure what to expect, this seems to be a love or hate kind of beer... and I am on the love side.

Thanks to demcorhip for the bottle!

markaberrant, May 18, 2007
Photo of Flyer
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful mahogany color with a good head and lots of fine bubbles. The aroma is malty, with some vegetable notes (not always a good thing, but here it's very pleasant). The flavor is best described as a great everyday amber/dark ale (including caramel notes) but with some raisiny tartness overlaying it all. Like all DFH beers, the mouthfeel is wonderfully full and rounded. Just a "kiss of the hops" leaves the palate feeing cleansed. Recommended.

Flyer, May 16, 2007
Photo of jwc215
2.98/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottled on 04/19/07. Poured into a tulip glass.

Pours mahogany with a one-finger head that descends to a very thin cover.

The smell is of sugar candy, raisins, rum and caramel under a blanket of alcohol.

The taste is of sugar candy, bubblegum, a touch of raisins, and caramel. Raw alcohol partially covers the taste - unfortunate, as it is close to rubbing alcohol - more noticeable than even the abv level should have. Borders on too sweet. There are some fruity hops, but rather muted. Something of a flatness in the finish.

Thinner than expected, but that is not my main complaint about the feel - it's more that the flavors (outside of some alcohol) are quite fleeting and leave a "flat" feeling in the mouth (though the beer was by no means flat).

An "interesting" brew that doesn't live up to the hype. Nothing particularly special, other than unusual combo of flavors. Skeptical that mellowing by aging it would help, as it doesn't seem to be worth it, IMO. One of those to try once to have, I suppose, and certainly a slow "sipper".

jwc215, May 14, 2007
Photo of cichief
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on draft at Friscoe's Grille, Columbia, MD.

A- Pours a medium-dark brown, with a thin, off-white head.

S- Fruity, slight spice-yeast aroma.

T- Sweet, ripe fruit, slightly spicy, little dry hops.

M- Not too carbonated, medium body, sweet-dry flavor.

D- Not an especially drinkable beer, but a decent dessert beer.

cichief, May 12, 2007
Photo of cktison
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle with BOD of 2/26/07 into a snifter

A: Dark red amber - definitely a "mahogany" ale. 1 finger head that dissipates very quickly. NO lacing.
S: Sweet sugars, fruits and alcohol. VERY LIGHT aroma - not much there.
T: This is an interesting one for me - maybe it grows on you. It'll by neat to see how the next five go over the next couple weeks. Hoppy and fruity with lots of sweet sugars and even some syrupy flavors. Alcohol is very evident here.
M: Syrupy, sweet and light carbonation. Very smooth.
D: This is an interesting beer. Lots of flavor there, but I find it a bit odd I think. We'll see if the next 5 change my mind.

cktison, May 10, 2007
Photo of jongillin
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep red brown as bottle says: mahogany ale

Aroma: First thing is grapes almost like a Chardonnay (dare I even mention it) Carmel malts and noble hops.

Taste: Sweet darker malts of caramel give way to lighter malts and citrus flavor with minimal bitterness and finishes with the tang of ripe green grapes.

Mouthfeel: thick for a standard brown or red ale not much carbonation.

Drinkablity: very drinkable, very tasty, lively and complex. However the high ABV and complexity does not make it a great session beer.

jongillin, May 10, 2007
Photo of Mickelswit
4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I tried this one several times in an oversized wine glass. The first time, I drank it cool, not cold, and the flavors and aromas came across better. The next time, I drank it colder, which produced some chill haze and masked the fruity, smoky flavors.

The color of the beer is a rich red with a hint of brown. The head is about a finger thick, white, and fleeting. It left no lacing to speak of.

Smell is of sweet malts and overripe fruits, mostly figs. I guess this could be the raisins advertised on the label.

Taste is rich and involving. Sweet malts are up front, like a doppelbock, then the fruit flavors. Especially as the beer warms, smoky and alcohol notes come across, as well as some brown sugar. The finish is warm and lingering.

Mouthfeel is fairly syrupy, balanced by a bit of prickly carbonation.

The rich flavor and malty sweetness prevent this from being too drinkable. It insists on being savored slowly.

Mickelswit, May 06, 2007
Photo of jtslay
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours with minimal head and begins to fill the air with a sweet aroma that, so far, I have found common to Dogfish Head brews. The appearance is excellent with a very dark amber pour that look beautiful in the light. The taste is sweet like the aroma and is followed by a slight taste of raisins. The drinkability is moderate due to the sweet nature of this beer. This can fill one's palate completely.

jtslay, May 05, 2007
Photo of theWrkncacnter
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle. Small head that fades to pretty much nothing, no lacing at all. Appearence is a nice deep brown, very clear. Smells of some raisons, a bit of sweetness, and a touch of alcohol, more alcohol comes through as it warms. Tastes of a brown with some extra alcohol. A strong earthy taste that hangs on the tongue for a while. Alcohol comes through a bit too much as it warms, which hurts the drinkability. A little acidic and undercarbonated as far as mouthfeel.

A decent brew, didn't really knock my socks off or anything, but still good. I could drink it if there was nothing else around and be perfectly happy.

theWrkncacnter, May 04, 2007
Photo of Brad007
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 3

This beer pours a reddish brown color with a nice thick head. Aroma is thick and malty with a few undercurrents of raisin. Flavor is strong and malty with an aftertaste that tastes almost like a rusty pipe. But, that alone does not diminish the character of this beer. It starts out well intentioned but the aftertaste is a turn off. I know personally that this beer would taste better fresh. I had it a few years ago and did not like it but as with other beers, my tastes have improved somewhat.

Brad007, May 04, 2007
Photo of smurphy77
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Interesting beer, with very distinct flavors. Appearance is a dark reddish-brown color with a moderate head. Smells as sweet as it tastes, and make no mistake about it, this is one sweet beer.

Can't say that I could distinguish raisin flavors per se, but certainly the dried fruit character is there for sure. Personally, I tasted more of a dried apricot. This beer possesses some seriously, caramely sweet roasted malts. The sweetness is constrained by the body, which flows smoothly over the tongue, rather than sticking and unduly prolonging the sweetness.

Definitely worth a try, although I can't say I'd ever drink more than one at a time. The sweetness could be a bit overwhelming on a second go round.

smurphy77, May 03, 2007
Photo of jhu1995
2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown with reddish tones and tan head. Smell had a faint sweetness and some mild hop character - nothing special. Taste was mostly raisins and plums, slight sweetness and some burnt flavors. Somewhat syrupy mouthfeel. Not that bad to drink but nothing really special about it. Not really worth the effort to seek out.

jhu1995, Apr 28, 2007
Photo of Fugazme
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

from notes:

Pours dark red with a fluffy, white head... excellent clarity and nice head retention.

Aroma: sweet and yeasty... doughy... hints of molasses and dried fruit with apricots, raisin and cherry.

Palate is smooth... nice woody undertone with some dried fruit characters throughout... very sweet.

Overall: Drinkable? yes... great? not great... good.

Fugazme, Apr 27, 2007
Photo of 0tt0
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1/4 inch head, ruby red and almost brown in the center of the glass. Nose suggests plums, cherries and raisons, obviously. The aromas is wonderfully sweet and rich, with perhaps a bit of bittersweet chocolate in there...

Tasting reveals a rich raison and plum base and a toffee malt middle. The finish is what makes this one special: crisp, dry, and LONNNGGG lingering. Very nice. The moutfeel is creamy and smooth with that terrific carbonation. Drinkability is impressive for a dubbel-like beer. I always wondered how this one was sold in 6'ers, but I can see why now. I'd have no problem knocking back a half-dozen of these. Reminds me (fondly) of Ommegang's Abbey-style.

0tt0, Apr 21, 2007
Photo of Rudgers73
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I enjoyed this beer at The Old Toad in Rochester, NY last night. I'm not sure what it was, but coming out of the tap was much better than the bottle I had in November of last year. The smell was more mild and rich than the bottle, the taste was crisp and clean with a lot of rum-ish, nutty, and dried fruit tastes. It was good until the last drop and I think it also helped that it was served at the perfect temperature. (around 55 degrees I think)

So, maybe I was really harsh on it from the bottle, or maybe I served it too cold, not really sure, but I liked it a lot this time around

Rudgers73, Apr 16, 2007
Photo of lehows
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a wonderful dark amber color with a fine off-white head. Robust aromas of sweet fruit and sweet malt. Flavors are again very sweet upfront with a tangy malt in the background. Fruity with some mild caramel sugar in here as well. Nice mouthfeel and fine carbonation bubbles. Overall, I found this to be an interesting brew but the sweetness got to me after a while, I wouldn't drink many pints of this.

lehows, Apr 16, 2007
Photo of tapman
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Keeping in mind that 3.0 equals a good average beer and not a Macro, we shall proceed.

What an interesting beer! Pours a mahogany body with an off-white head that I found dissipates rather quickly (a couple minutes) while the lacing retains its thin form throughout the experience, so that's good.

The smell is sweet and the abundant carbonation is also apparent in the smell, kinda metalic. Also mild hops give this beer a lager-ish smell. One can definitely smell the larger than average amounts of sugar from fruit (raisons, duh.)

First thing I noticed was that the alcohol taste was a bit strong, not too bad for me, but my less knowledgeable friends had a hard time with this one and its 8%ABV. The flavor imitates raisons in that you get the real taste after its been consumed. During the drinking I taste alcohol, mild hops, and a hint of sugar, but once its down the throat is when the real fun begins. Finishes sweet and dry with a nice snap to it (you know, when you drink something and then make that smacking sound followed by a sigh, "*smack* aahhhh"). Definite raison aftertaste, subtle and dark. Note of beet-root for this drinker in the aftertaste as well...maybe other fibrous fruits as well.

Texture is more than a lager, less than a stout. In other words feels like an ale. Good carbonation adds crispness.

Definetly a strong ale, after 2 of these its pointless to review since the inebriation takes away some of the taste. Cheers to DFH for another unique beer. I'll stick to my stouts, but not a bad departure for those of us looking for flavor and variety.

tapman, Apr 12, 2007
Photo of Beertron
2.53/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Got a nice set of samples from the distributor...figured I'd review them.

I was excited about this beer because I've never tried it but I've had enough beers from DFH to know that their stuff is going to either be fantastic or fascinating -- sometimes both. Poured from bottle to pint glass.

A - Medium golden hue with a soft red tone (R242G177B65). Light white head with orangish tint. Nice big lacing. Soft-to-barely-noticeable carbonation.

S - Raisins, big time. There's a yeasty and syrupy scent going on here with a bit of dark spice a la clove in the background. It also carries a faint aroma of bad coffee (not poorly brewed coffee, just bad -- like Folger's or gas station coffee).

T - Again, raisins. Also, prunes and black currants. There's a syrupy quality but its not outright sweet. It's like the dark sweetness of brown sugar or, more accurately, sorghum syrup. That coffee shows up here in the flavor profile but this time it comes across more like the bitterness of straight coffee grounds. Despite every indication from the appearance, this beer has a lot in common with a dry Irish stout. It's a little more drinkable than I'm making it sound and its very interesting but I'm still having a bit of trouble finishing this one. However, there's some good food pairings to be made here for sure though.

M - It seems like the raisins brought their own sticky astringency to this party. That lightly bitter, syrupy quality is just shy of overbearing. The tastes in this one really just stick to your mouth. Yikes!

D - Sorry. While I could certainly see myself drinking this sometime again just because its so interesting, I couldn't drink more than one of these in any given setting.

F - This would go well with cheese; especially softer, riper cheeses like chevre, brie, camerbert, etc. It would also match well with the right chutney or compote and could really contrast nicely with some great cured meats like prosciutto, salumi or cullatello.

O - One of the reasons this beer suffers in my review is that I'm not a huge fan of raisins. At the same time, I don't hate them or anything. I guess this experiment just showed the answer to a question I had never before asked, "Would I like raisin flavors in my beer?" And thanks to DFH for asking these bizarro questions and attempting all of these unique beers. I'm always a fan of boundary-pushers in food/beverage world.

Beertron, Apr 10, 2007
Photo of JDK
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark amber with a 1/4" head that quickly disappeared.
Minimal, if any, lacing and it quickly disappeared
Nice smell, somewhat fruity with a hint of malt
Medium mouthfeel with no hint of alcohol, even at 8%, which was surprising
The taste is of fuits apples, raison's and a toasted malt. Minimal carbonation and no aftertaste.
Overall a decent dark ale and definately worth trying (as are all the brews from Dogfish Head!)

JDK, Apr 10, 2007
Photo of meadhead
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

an american strong dark ale
with the listed
beet sugars / green rasins
hints of caramel malt and
a dry finish on exhalation

Pours a clear tan mahogany
with a nice non-sticking lace

taste is not categorical
a dogfish head™ original baste

mouthfeel is a little too sweet
and just a tad bit syrupy

yet drinkability is good
something too sip
that doesn't cause burping

meadhead, Apr 08, 2007
Photo of Nesued
3.33/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a 12 oz bottle.

Appearance - Poured a clear amber color. A small head formed upon pour, but not much. A thin tan/white head remained. Small carbonation kept this thin head fed.

Smell - Carmel and sweet spicy aroma. Not an overwhelming presense

Taste - Raisins and sweet alcohol/esters. There is a sharp bite of alcohol that masks alot of the malt taste.

Mouthfeel - I will agree with others suggesting that more carbonation would have brought my opinion of this beer a bit higher. The lack of a robust carbonation makes for a dull mouthfeel.

Drinkability - I wouldn't put this up near the top of my list of Belgian Strong Dark Ales. There are many more that have a better balance and more complexity.

Nesued, Apr 07, 2007
Photo of asabreed
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: A dark amber, some touches of brown in the light, and a nice head once it warms to stay thicker at the edges, leaving nice hints of round lacing throughout along with a lot of bubbles floating to the top.

Smell: Sugary bubblegum, hints of molasses, raisins, bread crust, sweet chocolate, and a bit of sour earthiness.

Taste: Very sweet, but not overly sweet, and when the finish hits it becomes complex and some of the flavors seem to certainly come out a bit more. Flavors of raisins, molasses, bubblegum, sour phenolic mustiness, grapes, dark chocolate and dart fruit come out the most. Not overbearing and pretty complex overall.

Mouthfeel: I wish there was more of a carbonation presence, as this seems a bit syrupy, though not as cloying as I thought initially. Still, I also feel that the coating nature allows the flavors to come out as well as they do when the finish happens during tasting.

Drinkability: Certainly an American take on the style, and a pretty singular one at that. It still doesn't match the intensity of a true Belgian, as this has the sugars but lacks the phenolic qualities and interesting funkiness and complexity that could be brought along with it. That said, a tasty beer and one I like to sample every now and again.

asabreed, Apr 07, 2007
Photo of BBM
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours a deep amber color with an off-white head that sticks around for most of the time. There is a dark fruity smell, combined with big malts and an alcoholic tinge at the back end.

I wasn't sure what type of beer this was when I tried it, but I would not have guessed a Belgian Dark. It doesn't seem to have the Belgian spice character or the earthy hops. That's not to say it's a bad brew though, because I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a huge malt character up front, with rich, dark sweetness coming through, and a mild hop presence to balance it out. Then there is a big, warming alcoholic finish to prove this beer means business.

Mouthfeel is medium, somewhat creamy and very smooth. However after even one, the sweetness and alcohol start to wear down your tastebuds. Overall this is another winner from DFH, but not quite on par with other Belgian dark ales out there.

BBM, Apr 06, 2007
Photo of Duster72
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a ruby amber into a tulip glass with little to no head on aggressive pour. No lacing to speak of. Aroma is buttered rum, carmel malts, and alcohol. Taste is primarily sugary malts. Strong alcohol presence on finish. Mouthfeel is on the syrupy side. Drinkability is hurt by big alcohol presence. Not a bad beer at all, but nothing I would seek out.

Duster72, Apr 04, 2007
Photo of athensbeermaster
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This beer may not stand up to other belgian strong ale's, but I give credit for the most strange american beer I've ever tried!
color: amber/ brown
Appearance: A modest head with some small lacing
Smell: Figs, raisins, wet tree bark, carmelized sugar
Taste: Highly malt driven with good acidity and semi-sweet finish.
Mouthfeel: medium body
Drinkabilty: The first beer was to strange to enjoy, Then the second
one kinda grows on you. If your palate is bored try this one!

athensbeermaster, Apr 02, 2007
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,113 ratings.