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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,217 Ratings

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Ratings: 4,217
Reviews: 1,774
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 15.07%
Wants: 91
Gots: 363 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-09-2001

A deep mahogany, Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins and Belgian-style yeast.

25 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,217 | Reviews: 1,774 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of objectivemonkey
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Into my new Dogfish Head glass, courtesy of drseamus, pours a ruby mahogany, an inch head gives way to a nice film, some bubblies, and decent lacing. The aroma is rich with candied sugars, some sweet fruity malt oozes forth and has some warmth to it. The taste is good, but hard to describe. I suppose one could say its Belgian-ish. There is malt and spices and warm alcohol to be sure, but I can't quite name any of it, something like toffee, something vaguely like raisins... There is some nice taste to it, but it just is a bit too perplexing. Moderate carbonation and a medium body, its quite drinkable, utterly confusing, pretty much unique. I'm still scratching my head.

Photo of blazin5050
3.64/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's a good beer, will definitely buy again, unless I find a new Raison ale to try. A reddish amber in color, or mahogany as they call it, with a eggnog colored head. A lot of pit fruit going on as you could imagine. Very malty, a nice well balanced Belgian style ale.

Photo of Ryanbob
3.66/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I didn't really know what to expect from this ale. It looks like your average brown ale, but I guess its more of a strong dark ale with the 8.0 ABV. The beer appears light almost reddish brown with very little head and no lace.

The first whiff is boozy, smells like lots of fruity alcohol in this beer.

The most obvious taste is the alcohol, followed by malty and fruity flavors. Beer syrup anyone? There is a bit of bitterness in the finish, but nothing astounding.

Mouthfeel is carbonated and syrupy.

I was a little let down by this beer. It is decent, but not something I'd would want to shell out that much money for often. I think there are better strong ales out there that are just as unique, but also more satisfying.

Photo of ffejherb
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle into Mad Elf challice on 1/9/08.

A - Poured a clear, deep ruby red body with sparse beige head and some cascading bubble of carbonation. Minimal lacing and head retention.

S - Belgian yeast with dried dark fruits, reminiscent of prunes, dates and raisins, as well as sugar cane. Very sweet and fruity aroma. Some bready/doughy malt in the back, as well as a whiff of alcohol as the liquid warmed up. Not much of a hop presence in the nose.

T - This is a sweet brew with lots of fruity and spicy aspects. The dark fruit, especially the raisins, comes out in the finish.

M - Medium to full body with creamy, almost syrupy, texture and pretty lively carbonation. Heavy, sweet finish that almost numbs the tongue.

D - Quite an interesting and unique brew. I wouldn't necessarily drink this in mass quantities. It's definitely an "in the mood for" beer. But leave it to DFH to come up with this one!

Photo of therica
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The best raisin-beer I have ever tasted.

A= pours an almost brandy or liqueur-appearance, a bit glassy and yet rather blood-tinted brown. Little head or foaming whatsoever.

S= like a fruitcake, good raisin scent, musty malts and a just plain curious scent like bleached fresh laundry.

T= sweet raisin, yet a bitterness more like currants than just the slight bitterness of the hops. Delightful if you're in this sort of mood.

M= light sweetness, light fruity currant-raisin bitterness, a bit of a taste-bouquet to savor for more than the usual aftertaste.

D= although one or two of these should be very drinkable if you're in the mood, I think it's also a bit of a special-moment beer worthy of savoring in small quantity. Plus, at the 8%ABV I think it would be more than most would want in great quantity. This stuff really does have a reputation for catching up with you in hasty surprise!

Photo of jeonseh
3.85/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The color of this one is cherry wood with hints of amber and gold filtering through it, and it has a small carbonated head on top. The head as I keep drinking goes away and there is nothing left of it. Also does not leave any lacing down the glass. Definitely could see how the bottle says that this is deep mahogany.

Smells are rather sweet coming off it; a bit like brown sugar and raisins mixed together. Can also smell the 8% alcohol coming off of it a bit.

Taste is rather sweet as first; A mixture of fruit, mostly raisins, plums, and a bit of the cinnamon as well; also a bit of honey and brown sugar i would say. Definitely are hit with a lot of malt at first but It seems to fade away into nice earthy feel on the mouth after the initial sweetness goes away. Hit with a slight hint of bitterness and alcohol taste, which leaves the mouth with a warm feeling, as well which actually goes nice to offset the sweetness a bit.

The mouthfeel at first is rather carbonated and then that fades away into stickiness. In a way, the sides of my mouth after drinking this make me feel like I ate something sweet and I think this goes well with the malty dominance of this brew.

Overall, a pretty good Belgian that I could see myself drinking a lot of and possibly picking up to share with friends. Seems in a way to be a bit of a starter Belgian for those who don't drink the style too much. It is not overly complex not overly simple but a nice standard example of what the style can be.

Photo of Nipitato
3.62/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bottle at Julio’s in Westborough, MA.

A: A wicked dark amber hue. No head. Good clarity. The beer has legs.

S: Sweet malt aroma – bready, caramel, sugar. Earthy. I am also picking up some grape like esters. Chocolate as well.

T: Chocolaty sweet malt. Esters are dark fruit – obviously raisins. Sugary. Hop bitterness finishes. Plenty of boozy flavors.

MF: Smooth medium body. Surprisingly no alcohol warming.

D: A decent beer. Highly drinkable – no. Not many Dogfish Head brews are. Is this a good beer, yes. Complex and interesting.

Photo of Tilley4
2.86/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Man, this one was way too sweet. I'm not a big Belgian guy anyway but i just thought this one was too sweet.

The beer actually poured a lot darker than most of the style but smelled and tasted very similar. I just can't get into the style. I have a Raison D Extra that I will probably be getting rid of.

Photo of armock
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured a brown color with a thin tan head

S - Malt raisins and dark fruit

T - Much like the smell malt and raisin

M - Medium bodied not too much carbonation

D - A good beer not a great beer but overall a good beer to relax with if you like DFH beer this is worth a try

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.94/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark and clear brown with ruby tones. Head is crème colored. Nose is basically nothing. I know I should be getting some raisin there, but I am not getting anything. Flavor is smooth raisins that are not overly powerful. Firm malty tones with what seems like mild hop character. Feel is very smooth on the liquid and with a pretty smooth bubble. Definitely drinkable. Smooth and even, it could easily be a session brew if the sweet tones don't bother you.

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
3.31/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer pours a deep brown/red mahogany. The nose is basically non-existent. But what there is of it is crisp cold malt. The first taste is very dark fruitish raisins and candy sugars. Clean finish but doesnt linger very long. the mouthfeel is very thin but thick enough. a bit of copper flavor on the aftertaste. The drinkability is very high. good beer. mediocre by belgian standards, but very very drinkable. a great belgian style for session drinking.

Photo of jeffmonarch
4.17/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle in a Dogfish Head snifter.

A - Nice reddish brown color with a little head that stayed for a while.

S - Malts and sweet fruits.

T - A strong malt flavor with no bitterness. Sweet and slightly fruity.

M - Full bodied with good carbonation.

D - Great beer. It's beers like this that make DFH one of my favorite breweries.

Photo of Dalem
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good dark red color with a head that didn't get big at all (1/4 inch total) but held it's retention for a good long time. Brewed with beet sugar and green raisins the scent is on the slightly on the sweeter end of things but not artificial or too much of a candyness to it. It's not overbearing-You can smell the yeast and malts. It definitely smells like beer but Dogfish Head prides itself on doing things offbeat/off center and it's an usual aroma but piques the interest on how it's gonna taste.
Full bodied but not thick. The dark sugars and slightly grape flavors blend well with a malty dryness. Very smooth and not bitter-unless one is made aware that this is a 8% abv they'd never have an idea. It's a proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove story. As it warms in the glass it takes on more of a spiced wine taste but still holds a distinct character. It finishes with a creamy and caramel like flavor. I wouldn't suggest it as something when the months get warmer and the days get longer but in the cold times were in right now, this is an enjoyable beer to curl up on the couch with the wife, a big quilt and a movie.

Photo of BeaBeerWife
4.22/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice off-centered beer. Unique smell. Malty, and I didn't think it was too sweet. Whole family enjoyed this one. Multiple flavors well rounded together. This one would probably go very well with a variety of exquisite meals. Drank this one at room temperature, and would recommend trying that.

Photo of TheTrevor
3.94/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a dark copper with a two-finger light tan head. The smell is sweet and reminds me of raisins and brown sugar. The taste is sweet and fruity, you can definitely tell that they added raisins and sugar I can also detect some other fruit such as plums . There's a tiny bit of alcohol warming that makes for a nice rich mouthfeel. This is a great beer and I can definitely see myself picking it up again sometime in the future.

Photo of SargeC
4.08/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep brown-red with a compact, tan head.

Smell: Malt, subdued fruit and coffee.

Taste: Sweet malt with a mineral undertone. This brew has a barleywine quality to it.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Thick, oily finish.

Drinkability: Another tasty brew from Dogfish Head. Very well crafted and satisfying.

Photo of Jwale73
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 9/17/07. Poured into my Maudite tulip. Beautiful mahogany color (just like the label says ;) Foamy, off-white head dissipated into little more than a ring around the glass within seconds. Thin, inconsistent lacing during the tasting. Nose presented with scents of beglian yeast, malt and dark fruit sugars. Flavors consistent with nose. Lively on the tongue initially, with a nice full-bodied mouthfeel at the finish. Very complex brew, although I can't see myself having more than one or two in a sitting.

Photo of MMAJYK
3.67/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- In my Chimay chalice, this one pours a mahogony/maroon brown color. It is totally transparent. The head is minimal and left shortly after my semi agressive pour. What head was there was bright white.

S- I catch aromas of, of course, raisins first, followed by plums, brown sugar, and hoppy scents bringing up the rear.

T- First taste is caramelized raisins. Then, I get a molasses taste, but not sweet molasses, it is more bitter. Middle way to finish, I catch a sugary roasty taste and alcohol on the end.

M- Thin to medium in the mouth. Not much on the malt and not creamy for sure. Carbonation is just right to me.

D- Not a very drinkable beer since it is so sweet. However, the first one (and probably the only one for me today) is very nice and quite enjoyable.

I tried this beer a while back before I really got in to beer. I appreciate what DFH has done with this one. They always push the envelope and this one is no different. I like it in moderation, and would advise anyone who likes different beers to definitely try this one.

Photo of Halcyondays
4.4/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark brown, with ruby-red highlights when held up to the light. Nice head, with fair retention, with no real lacing that I like in a Belgian-style beer.

S: Lighter than I expected, but I picked up notes of dark fruit, brown sugar, and rum.

T: Very sweet, heavy notes of dried fruit and baking sugar, with a delectable molasses finish. A bit of an alcohol burn is detectable as the beer warms, but it doesn't seem out of place, it mixes well with the flavours. A very tasty beer overall.

M: Smooth, creamy and rich, slightly warming, nice on a cold November night.

D: One of my favourite beers from Dogfish Head, Raison D'Etre is a class act, one of the best American-made Belgians on the market in my opinion. However, since its not distributed here, I can't enjoy it as often as I'd like to.

Photo of pavandal
4.31/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer poured into my tulip glass a clear, deep amber color with a creamy, frothy, thick and soft head. Awesome looking brew.

The scent had a bit of a rusty kind of smell, but not in a bad way. It also smelled of grapes and had a very strong caramel backbone.

Sweet! That's the first thing that comes to mind when tasting this brew. Grapes and a bit of an orangy tang were next, followed by a slight bitter hoppy bite, and a warm alchohol finish. This was <b>awesome</b>.

A very easy drinker, so smooth that I bet you could slam a bottle of this and not flinch. Don't do that, though. Enjoy this one! And enjoy it at home, or when you're not driving, because at 8% ABV, it'll definately get you buzzed.

All in all, this is a truly great beer, I feel. Delicious, sweet, and awesome looking. I can see this one being enjoyed by the non-beer loving public, it's that tasty.

Photo of brdc
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks ddddeac for this one. Small capped bottle poured into a goblet.

Starts very nice, golden brown with some red highlights, a dense light brown head. The head, however, lasts less than two minutes, but leaves a decent collar and a small amount of lacing.
The aroma is faint, peculiar but ultimately nice. As it warms in my hands, a somewhat roasted, toffee like aroma slowly makes its way up. However, the dominating fruitiness is quite unusual, mostly bananas, with some other sweetish notes difficult to define.
Taste is much more pronounced than the aroma, but the bananas are still here, sweetish, somewhat toasted.
Reasonably rich, but strange, different. Not bad, but I might need a few more servings over a few weeks to make up my mind.

Photo of Minkybut
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 50 degrees. I have been looking at this beer for some time and was afraid I would not like, but I was surprised. It has a nice mahoganny color. Lacing and head not that great though. The beer had a bit of a smoky taste and smelled like an old barn. I think I will try again.

Photo of baos
5/5  rDev +37%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Von den Anmerkungen.

12 oz bottle into favorite Trappist glass.

First let me just say that this was the brew that got me back into drinking craft brews. I was really into this in the early nineties and kind of got burned out and just drank either Pabst in the bottle or High Life in the bottle when i wanted more maybe i would have a Dos Equis amber. This beer took me back to where I belong.

A: Nice copper color with 3 finger tan head.

S: Scorched caramel popcorn.

T: Awesome. A sweet caramel molasses taste, then rum, then a pleasant dry finish. The high alcohol content is masked perfectly. Gives you a nice wine flush in the face.

M: A very good medium body.

D: A one

Photo of Micahman
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I should note that I have a bit of a head cold as I review this beer, so my olfactory sense is a bit muttled.

Rich, deep mahogany color, moderate carbonation, yet nice long columns of bubbles after a pour.

Small (~1.0 in) head, dissipating quickly to leave sparse lace around the top of the glass. I tried a tall hefeweizen glass (not recommended), and a large red wine glass, which drank much better.

The taste is delicious. At first I wasnt awestruck, but after a couple the rich, carmel and raisin tones came out on top, with a warm, dark aftertaste that belied it's 8% abv. Slight hints of spice. The more I drank this beer, the more that warm, fall taste grew on me. Excellent late fall or early winter beer. Packs a good punch.

Decent mouthfeel, but this beer really shines in it's immediate aftertaste. All the flavors come out.

Fairly drinkable, but i wouldnt have more than 3 or so in a sitting. Recommended beer.

Photo of animal69
3.45/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

# 2 on the list of belgians is this one ; pours a clear, dark burgundy color w/ a slight head which dissipates quickly leaving a fairly light coating of indistinguishable lacing in my glass ; a smell of darker roasted munich-type malts and an almost smoky date-like undertone, not any hops noticeable ; a rather thick, sweet malty flavor more reminiscent of a wee heavy, or a bock maybe, than a dryer, more bubbly dark belgian, not a bad thing, a rich fig/raison flavor throughout w/ hint of nutmeg/clove(?) underneath, a good complex flavor, though i'm not sure i can rate it any where near style, it's probably closer to a specialty/spiced beer ; much too thick for what i think is the style , a rich, robust full bodied brew, mod. in carbonation, i like it & hate to rate it so low ; again the thicker, sweeter flavor makes it less drinkable for the style to me...

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,217 ratings.