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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,203 Ratings

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Ratings: 4,203
Reviews: 1,770
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.03%
Wants: 87
Gots: 341 | 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: 4,203 | Reviews: 1,770 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SilentSabre
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not bad. A lovely American attempt at the style. Poured crystal clear reddish brown in colour with a monster slightly off-white tightly knit head which seems to be hanging around. Very nice sticky lacing. Looks fantastic. Has a damp, musty smell to it. Slightly raisin like. Not as good as I'd hoped, but definitley isn't offensive in any way. Taste is a bit sweet with a bit more raisin in the taste than was present in the smell. As this warms, the alcohol becomes ever so slightly more noticeable, but not overpowering. This is quite good, so far. The mouthfeel is fantastic!! Great weight and exquisite level of carbonation. I hesitate to hand out a 5.0. Just wonderful. Drinkability, while good, is still limited to 4.0 at best. This is starting to cross the threshold into "big beer". Having said that, I feel it is important for me to state that they did do a fair job at concealing the 8.0abv, even though, as this warms, it is becomming more and more apparent. Many thanks to my dear friend and fellow BA Ding, for affording me the opportunity to try this lovely American representation of the style.
Blessed Be

Photo of JMD71
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured a deep brown, date-like color. No apparent head. Carbonation visible on sides of the glass.

Smell: Earthy, malty, fruity smell with traces of dates, prunes, figs & raisins. Slight mild alcohol aroma detected.

Taste: Wow! This has a deep, rich flavor that is wonderfully sweet, but not overly so. Tons of fruit on the palate - again raisins, dates, & figs. Alcohol apparent in the finish. Very little hop flavor detected.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth in the mouth. Full bodied & rich, but not cloying. Finished clean once swallowed.

Drinkability: This is a wonderful sipping Belgian Strong Dark Ale. A good beer as an apertif perhaps or to accompany a dessert possibly. Not something you'd have more than one of in a sitting due to its rich, strong flavor, but wonderful to enjoy as an occasional selection.

Comments: I thoroughly enjoyed this ale. Really wonderful aroma & flavor. Excellent beer for those times you are looking for something to sip slowly rather than for thirst quenching. The care that went into the presentation of aroma & flavor deserves to be savored....

Photo of ColForbin
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Raison D'etre pours a clear deep red with a thick tan head. Aroma is molasses, sour fruit and malt. Taste is more of the same, with some spicy clove notes and an off-dry hoppy slightly hot alcoholic finish. Fairly carbonated. Would be a bit more drinkable if it hid the alcohol a bit better. A tasty and unique brew.

Photo of TheEclecticGent
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this one up in the sleepy little town of Sylva, NC.

A - It pours into a pint glass a rich raisin brown with a decent off-white head that lasts about half the session with moderate lacing. Good carbonation.

S - The nose is malty and sweet with perhaps a few light spices.

T - Very nice and tasty. Sort of like a cross between a winter warmer and a Belgian Ale. Has a smooth caramel, dried berries, and dark bread taste.

M - A medium mouthfeel and somewhat fizzy.

D - I will be having more of this beer when I can get it. One is not enough.

Photo of ColoradoBobs
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle pours a clear dark amber under a very thin but solid light tan head. Smell is light vinous with malt, brown sugar, grapes and lots of figs. In fact, this smells like a fig newton bar, cookie wrapping and all. Taste is sweet malt and red wine, with cracked pepper on figs. Hops are not there until the aftertaste. Fizzy alcohol warmth in the mouth, with a sticky roundness. I like it. This is not quite a "sipper," but not one to drink very fast: the flavors round out as the beer warms in the glass. Definitely worth the $1.99 at Liquor Max, and thanks to Nick ("Crosling"), the beer side manager there, for the recommendation.

Photo of tweeder263
3.13/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

pours out a dark brown\red beer with little head that dissipates quickly.Has a sweet coconutty type smell. Taste is sweet that turns a bit tart,,no hops to speak of and a taste i cant figure out. Alcohol taste is present but isnt too overbearing.Mouthfeel isnt bad,,drinkability is low i couldnt deal with a few of these in a row.

Photo of jameaterblues
4.38/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Raison poured a dark amber color with a tint of red, with a thin but extremely bubbly white head, that left a thin to nonexistant lace.

The smell of this beer is great. It really reminds me of a wine. You smell the sweetness of the raisin, but I'm also getting some citrus fruit as well maybe grapefruit...nice sweet malts...delicious...

The taste is sweet with fruit and malt at the forefront. I am really seeing the sweet raisin, but I even pick up some of the citrus as well in the body. Right before the finish you get light hops, as well as a little alcohol taste....the alcohol is very mild...I think the alcohol gives it just the slightest bit of a bitter after taste(almost non-existant). The fruit helps to hide the the alcohol very well.

Mouthfeel/drinkability: On my last beer run out of state I bought this blind. I had only had a couple dogfish beers, and I ended up bringing four back. I am really impressed. The beer is extremely drinkable(if you dig malty beers). Watch out for the alcohol it might catch up on you being that it is 8%

Photo of bkett01
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

After reading other reviews I did my best to pour this one with a healthy head on it, but couldn't do it. Very minimal white/tan head that died away within a minute. Appears a very dark and rich amber color that is possible to see through.

Sweet smells of butterscotch and spices dominate the first whiff. The taste is a malt dominated sugary sweet rush with hints of the aformentioned butterscotch as well as an interesting banana/raisin finish. This reminds me of an incredibly toned down version of Sam Adams Utopia. I repeat, this is not like the Utopia, but some of the flavors do bring back memories of it. Difficult to detect any hops, which dissapoints me, but overall a good tasting brew here. Carries a medium mouthfeel that goes down easy.

Photo of skillerified
2.78/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours almost as dark as soda. Dark red tones poke through when light hits it at certain angles. Very little head, but it lasted a long time.

Smells very sweet. There's a floral fragrance first, followed by a little malt and a little fruit (banana). Maybe just a touch of spice. It could use more of that really.

Taste is heavy on the malt. There seems to be very little hop character at all. Just a dash of hop flavor on the finish. It's a strong and sweet biscuit or bread flavor that dominates. There's a sweet caramel hint in the background too. Doesn't seem to be particularly complex. The flavor is just dominated by the sweet malt. It's not particularly bad, but not really notable by any means. It seems to be getting worse as it warms though

Mouthfeel is fairly creamy. Medium to heavy bodied. There's just no balance though. It's all sweet and all malt flavored. I prefer a good contrast of sweet and bitter and a more complex mix of flavors.

It's not undrinkable, but there doesn't seem to be that sense of purpose that DFH mentions on the label. I suppose if you wanted an all sweet strong dark Belgian, then this fills that purpose, but few others. Grab a Unibroue instead.

Photo of bennetj17
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark amber/copper in color, slim head, no retention. Subtle nose of raisin, cherry, caramel, slight alcohol. Malt flavor is lightly sweet, with notes of raisin and caramel. The taste is slightly dry and nutty with a bit of a spiced alcoholic finish. Medium thick, decent carbonation, fair smoothness. Drinkablity is nice, the sweetness is subdued making a nice balance from the spiciness. Alcohol flavor is present but I don't seem to mind it in this one. Not bad, but it doesn't really come across as a true Belgian-style ale.

Photo of DuqTroops
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Brownish / Mahogoney in color. Little to no head stays atop the body

Smell: Caramel and yeast in scent.

Taste: Little to no hops in flavor. More malt than anything else. Very good.

Mouthfeel: The lack of foam atop the body must mean there is little to no carbonation within the beer.

Drinkability: Very good. Must have.

Photo of pbr85
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice brown color with little head which quickly disappears.
S: Smell is mostly caramel with some sourdough bread mixed in.
T: Taste is pretty good. Alcohol is surprisingly present for a 8% ABV. Roasty malts are present, but I'm having a hard time picking out what. Hops are hardly detectable.
M: A little carbonated for my tastes, but considering that it goes down remarkably smooth.

Notes: Another decent offering from DFH, though not quite my favorite. I'd look for this if the store is out of 60 Minute and I'm craving something a little different.

Photo of MSchae1017
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer was tasted in a goblet from the bottle.

This beer poured a dark amber-brown with a niced sized head that only leaves a little lace and only leaves a small film as the beer goes down. The smell is mostly dark berry fruits (maybe raisins!). The taste is also the same fruity tastes you normally get from a belgain without the yeast flavor and overall its just a weak flavor but still pretty good. The mouthfeel is good on carbonation and above average on thickness but still a little more watery than I would like from a Belgian. Overall a better than average Belgian but still not the best. It was a good crossover Belgian for my roomate who would not normally try an agressive beer.

Photo of bodybyadam
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Into an open goblet it pours a lite red without any head. My first experience was young and I noticed just mild fruity tones. My more recent glass had a fruity nose with 1/4" head. The sweetness with of course the raisons sugar (actaully the beet sugar). I enjoyed its distinct flavors and that hint of alcohol that reminds you that more than one will leave you with that warm feeling a bit longer than usual.


Photo of jslot38
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz Bottle into an American Pint Glass

Appearance: Deep transparent mahogony with amber tones, an off white / egg shell frothy top covering head. Lacing is non existant... however, this wasn't really expected with the abv level and lack of hops.

Smell: Deep roasted malts, nuts, touch of smokiness. Candied sugars similar to classic belgian dark brews.

Taste: Great level of sweetness. Sugars up front rounded out by deep malts. No hop presence, with the exception of an oily slickness rushing through the earth flavour touches. Molasses, touch of vanilla, ground coffee malts back up the beer.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation level is high, and the sugars really create an onrush of that spritzer feeling.

Drinkability: Couldn't drink too many of these... a little too sweet, and pretty high in abv, although you can't really taste it.

Photo of lackenhauser
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very nice deep chestnut brown color. Aroma of malt, Belgian yeast. Somewhat sulfury. Traces of raisens and dates. Big malty flavor. Some bitterness. Sugary, slick sweetness. Slight alcohol presence. Plenty of body though still retains a mellow softness. A damn fine beer. Batches seem to vary at times in flavor or consistency but I have enjoyed this one since it first came out. In my all round top 10 for sure.

Photo of TheBungyo
4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This pours red from the bottle, almost scarlet. A tight creamy looking head caps it off. It begs you to drink. This smell is so complex I don't even know how to begin but to say it has a fruity sweetness to it. The taste is sharp fruit, like pears or white grapes followed by just the smallest hint of grain. Me? I love it. The mouthfeel is nice and creamy, something I feel like I could drink for days. This is one complex brew. It may not be perfect from every angle but it covers enough bases to be irresistable. I will buy this again and again. Its even better on tap!

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I'm reading the label on this beer and thinking I'm not sure I'm gonna like it, so I was probably prejudiced from the start. It was a nice brown beer with a thick coffee-colored head. It had a fruity molasses smell to it, and a very sweet fruity taste. It looked robust, but was rather bland. Still, fairly pleasant to drink.

Photo of kevin62
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured out a deep reddishbrown color with a nice large head.The smells were of raisins and molassas and the taste had that as well.It was sweet and very enjoyable and you hardly even notice the alcohol.This is another fine offering from Dogfish.

Photo of clabaugh
4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Clear cherry with brown hues. Pasty white head that dissipates rapidly. Lacing is watery and impermanent.

Smell: Oak bark, roasted nuts. Roasty, roasty, roasty. Bready malts, honey, and some coffee bean. Vinous fruits reflecting a steady hop presence.

Taste: Baked bread, syrup, and more grape than raisin. Spice and sweetness. Some floral hops. The malts are dominant, with the hops being a sidenote. Coriander, nutmeg.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and lightly syrupy. Displayed a thickishly rich body. A lot of zest on the tongue.

Drinkability: Despite the high ABV, this proved to be a very drinkable beer. Rich, often quizical taste that really keeps you guessing. Fine craftsmanship. Highly recommended.

Photo of loren01
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Beer pours a reddish mahogany color with slight whitish head that dissipated rather quickly.
S: Had a funky metallic smell, not really in a bad way or anything just kind of a sharp aroma. Other than that it smells sweet like raisins/dates.
T: Tastes of dark fruits (dates/rasin), you can taste the alcohol pretty easily as well. For the most part just malty, not much hop spiciness to it that I noticed.
M: Very mellow, goes down real easy. Slightly dry finish.
D: Very interesting beer, never heard of one brewed with rasin before. Goes down very easily for being slightly high in ABV, would recommend for sure.

Photo of VoodooBrew
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

True to style, this beer starts off with a complex aroma, featuring a rum-like sweetness, along with pit fruits and pineapple.

True to name, the flavor starts off with raisin, followed by a maltiness that doesn't seem to linger very long, and then tropical fruit. Raison D'etre finishes neither too tart nor too bitter. If anything it falls slightly on the tart side.

Raison D'etre might be just a little too fruity for my tastes, but overall it's another quality entry from DFH.

Photo of heyitsbyron
4.43/5  rDev +21%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a single from Woodman's in Madison into a tulip glass.

Poured a pretty red chestnut color with a very minimal head that left an oily foam slick on the top. Visually, it was a browner version of an imperial stout.

Smelled sharp and sour, but in a good way. It said something about raisins on the bottle, and I can definitely smell those. Smelled like boozy raisins, a mild wine.

Taste was good but I don't have much to compare to since this was my first Belgian Ale. Sweet, malty, boozy and a little bit more hoppy than I expected. Fruity, but not as deeply so like an imperial stout, which I guess makes it just a little less "flavorful".

Slippery at first in my mouth, and then kind of a lingering stickiness. Not a bad at all, but something I didn't expect. Perhaps too much sugary fruit in the brew?

This reminds me an American brown ale without any nutty component. A touch pricey and hard to find but I'd swill these all day long if I could. Goes down easy, but provides a pleasant lingering element that prolongs satisfaction. Lots of booze is always a plus. It comes strongly recommended from me though it's unlike any beer I've had before.

Photo of Gagnonsux
4.25/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Raison D'Etre is a dark reddish brown with a small, off-white head. Retention is pretty weak. Aroma has plenty of Belgian sugary sweetness with an edge of fruity yeast. A tiny trace of alcohol is also noted. The primary taste is of mild, dark fruit malt meeting Belgian sugar. An earthy, almost burnt malt flavor is also present. A spicy, peppery yeast flavor weaves nicely through the dominate malt. The overall complexity here is quite nice, there is quite alot here to enjoy. This is one of my favorite Belgian-styled beers of the few I've sampled.

Photo of akajimmyd
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Deep rich copper. No real head or lacing. Clean and not cloudy.

Smell – Bready malts and sweetness. Hints of dark fruits.

Taste – The alcohol comes through fairly strong. Dark fruit, maybe raisins, but that a bit of a reach. Some big malts. Candy or caramel sweet.

Mouthfeel – Sticky sweet from the sugars, almost syrupy. Still it feels rounded and not overpowering. Many different flavors and textures.

Drinkability – I really like this one. Good drinkability given the high ABV but it will catch up to you. Interesting and enjoyable even if it is not the most classic interpretation of the style.

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,203 ratings.