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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,226 Ratings

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Ratings: 4,226
Reviews: 1,775
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 15.07%
Wants: 93
Gots: 377 | 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:
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: 4,226 | Reviews: 1,775
Photo of sinstaineddemon
4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - this DFH offering pours a cherry cola reddish brown with a yellowish tan head that laces slowly, moderate carbonation, but no sediment is visible

S - hmm...i expected this to smell darker, but the raisin aroma is much lighter and golden, very inviting, you can definitely tell that the raisin's are golden

T - wow, what balance, a dark sweetness that finishes with a smoky bitterness, the raisin sweetness is smooth, man this is tasty

M - again, very smooth with a bitter finish that balances it out nicely

D - high, this brew is balanced, smooth, palatable, a fine brew

Photo of veggiemafia
4.07/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle complements of a friend who brought the DFH Boom Box to my Cinco de Mayo dinner.

Nice color and everything, but only a small head is formed and it almost immediately disappears to nothing, like, NOTHING at all in terms of bubbles.

Smells really good, sugar, caramel, raisins and dark fruits, malty sweetness.

Taste is more of the same with a kind of tart spine that keeps this from being overly sweet.

Mouthfeel is thick and rich and excellent.

I could drink this all night, really well done beer.

Photo of plaztikjezuz
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

bought a bottle at world market in lansing, michigan. ($1.49 for 12 oz)
pours a light mohogany hue some burnt hues, very slight head.
the aroma is very malty hint of alcohol.
the flavor is malty, little rasiony, some candy sugar.
mouthfeel is a littel thick

Photo of silver0rlead
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bought sometime in early fall 2005 (likely in september): Pours a slightly murky deep amber color with a thin tan head that retains well. The aroma is intensely malty with notes of caramel, grapes, candy sugar, toasted bread, belgian yeast, floral and mineraly hops and some slight ethanol. The flavor starts off with sweet notes of caramel and maple syrup, along with grape, fig and plum fruit flavors, belgian yeast, candy sugar, floral and herbal hops, toffee and honey. Mouthfeel is medium light with light carbonation; drinkability is good. When i first tried this beer fresh i was not particularly impressed, but with 7-8 months a transformation has ocurred. This beer has become a good to great belgian style beer, off-dry but complex and delicious.

Photo of rodrot
3.28/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer poured a clear reddish brown with a small head that went away rather quickly. Aroma was malty and slightly fruity, but other than that, not much smell wafting from the glass. Taste was malty and sweet with some flavors of dark fruit, syrup and caramel and a touch of hop bitterness. As the beer warmed I noticed it had thin mouthfeel and became too sweet. Overall, a pretty boring representation of a Strong Belgian Dark and a major disappointment from a brewer where much more was expected.

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

12oz single, obtained from WeymouthMike via NoBSbif

bottled 6/24/05...had many many bottles (and drafts) of this one but apparently never rated

appearance: pours a glowing ruby-mahogany into an unmarked chalice, no head, absolutely no lacing, very calm, has a wine-like appearance from a distance

smell: lightly floral hop presence, raisin, toffee, light alcohol, brown sugar, honey rum, buttery malt, heavy sweetness, light sugar

taste: better than the aroma...very complex, very floral palate, slightly bitter hops, sweet buttery malt, raisin, toffee, honey, brown sugar, rum, candy like sweetness, herbal, fig....ahh quite a tasty brew, not my fav from dfh but an old reliable

mouthfeel: medium body, alcohol warming, slick

drinkability: pretty drinkable

Photo of rabsten
4.24/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The last bottle from a Boom Box ( eight each of 60 minute IPA, Shelter Pale Ale, and these), poured into a pint glass. Ince thick head that doesn't stick around, some lacing, deep amber color.

Smells wonderful: flowery hops, caramel, and some kind of fruit: maybe apple. Nice.

Taste is above average. Sweet, raisin flavor to the malt; there are supposed to actual raisins used in the recipe. Similar to Arrogant Bastard, but sweeter and more mild . An approachable beer.

Feels good on the palate. Lighter mouthfeel than you expect from the color and aroma.

Very drinkable beer, but the alcohol can really sneak up on you.
Watch out

Photo of bahumutx
3.7/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours dark amber with a small head that dissipated slowly.

Smell: Rum, Raisons, Brown Sugar, malt and slight alcohol

Taste: Roasted Malt, Raisons/Dark Fruits, and alcohol. There is definitely an alcohol warming that is present.

Mouthfeel: Smooth but slightly thin Mouthfeel

Drinkability: Good beer but low Drinkability due to the high ABV.

Another good beer from Dogfish Head.

Photo of Metalmonk
3.92/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Always ready for anything by Dogfish Head...

This pours a thin soda-pop head that quickly scatters to a halo around the edge. Abundant effervesence inside that deep mahogany body. No real lace forming as the glass emptied.

Smells bring to mind figs, raisins, and brown sugar. Aromas are pretty laid back.

A woody flavor hits the tongue first, and makes me think this would be best as a deep-winter drink. The 8% alcohol is there but not cloying, very much warming and cozy. There's also a slightly burnt flavor happening, with dark fruits giving some sweetness to the huskier sensations. A speaking of sweetness, this one has a weird sweet element, like the bittersweet flavor of brown sugar melting on the tongue.

I appreciate the uniqueness of this ale, but I've had about 4 or 5 in the past couple years and they always impress something different upon me each time. So I guess you could call this one elusive and/or complex. Still haven't put my finger on it. Would love to try this fresh from the brewery or on-tap, as a matter of comparison.

Photo of jj21
3.43/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle thanks to chadbrew
Pours a deep mahogany, just like the label states. Good, thich head with very small bubbles. Aroma had a mineral undertone. Tasted somewhat brandy-like with the mineral undertone as the aroma did. Wasn't much of a fan at first. Thinking that I had it too cold, I let it sit for a while which helped a lot. Still not the most impressive from DFH I've had, but still a good brew.

Photo of daliandragon
3.35/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Another single I picked up today at the Boehrum Market on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Still looking for my go to beer from Dogfish Head.
Burgundy color with short head and bell-clear body disguised only by lots of carbonation Nose is sweet and malty with caramel and chocolate flavors.
Flavor is strong in alchol and heavy malts which don't detract from the former taste. Texture is silky but also oilier and slightly lighter than I'd like for a Belgian. Still, this isn't a bad interpretation of the style but needs to give its alcohol a little more cover.
I don't love this beer but I could see giving it a shot for a sixer in a pinch but not something I'll hunt for again.

Photo of oolite
3.66/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I am glad I bought a 6-pack of this, because I have had a slightly different impression of this beer on each successive bottle.

I first tried this in an oversized wine glass, but had the rest in a chalice - not much of a difference. Even with a fairly vigorous pour I was not able to produce virtually any head, which was a bit disappointing. The color looks similar to a bock until you hold it to the light and see that it is actually a bright red.

The nose had strong bread notes for me; sort of a slightly burnt crust. I do not recognize any grape/raisin notes, despite the intention - in fact, most bocks have much more present raisin notes. Alcohol flavor is also strong.

Despite these criticisms, it is a nice belgian style dark ale. The rich malt character comes through in the end, with just a slight bitterness, which gives the beer its ultimate strength.

As far as mouthfeel and drinkability, it is fairly heavy and fairly strong - not atypical of its style.

Definitely worth a try, and I appreciate the inherant adventuresome quality of Dogfish Head. However, I just do not think that the more adventurous path sought really paid off in this case.

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

Dark-brown mahogany color, clear with a small head. Malty, caramel, dark-fruit aroma. Strong malt backbone, with notes of caramel and light chocolate, along with quite strong dark-fruit flavors, ripe plum and grapes. Low-moderate hop-presence balancing out things, making for a warming but clean finish.

Photo of SethB2
3.4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a Chalice.

Pours a deep redish brown with a tiny head that disipates very quickly. Not a whole lot of lacing to speak of. Smells of raisins, plumbs and other dark fruit. Tastes of fruit and berries, though not very complex. More tasting don't offer a different perspective. Mouthfeel and drinkablity are both decent, but not great.

For me this was average for its style. Worth drinking, but not exceptional.

Photo of Freshie
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very nice dark amber hue, with small head.

Smell of dark malt, sweet fruit, and a hint of coffee or espresso.

The taste is refelctive of the smell, with rich malt, and raisin flavour.

Hop, bitter aftertaste that gives way to mild alcohol burn.

Very well done. Sweet and to the point, but does not mask the alcohol as well as other Belgians. But the extra kick is characteristic of Dogfish Head, and is not necessarily a bad thing.

Photo of dogfooddog
4.24/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into a pint glass at 50f....

this dark red beer has a very sweet malty odor. pleasant and attractive, hoping the taste will match.

It is close. the beer is sweet, and roasted malt notes are very notable. A strong taste of almost sugary sweetness dominates the initial taste. Maybe some hoppy notes with that or maybe some adjunct this beer might have (not sure).

the aftertaste is very sweet. it fades into a malty finale. this beer isn't a complexity giant but the taste is fabulous and it is very drinkable, and at 8% as well!

I enjoyed dfh's India brown ale and I also enjoy this beer. I continue to be impressed by the quality of products DFH produces.

Photo of Tupperwolf
4.15/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had I know that this was supposed to be a Belgian Strong Dark, I would have poured it into a more appropriate glass; But, seeing as the only thing DFH sees fit to say about it is that it's mahogany and brewed with a bunch of weird stuff, I went ahead and poured it into my curvy thick-bottomed DFH pint glass.

It pours a deep, almost chocolatey brown with a yelllow-tan head that stands over two finngers high, and falls over a couple of minutes.

Now the smell actually is somewhat Belgian, with a bit of wackiness thrown in that I can't help but subliminally attribute to the add-ins used when brewing. Belgian yeast alcohol, apple peels and dark fruitiness - then a light cocoa powder or roasty caramel smell. I'll let it warm some.

Now, it really might be my imagination, or this really does taste like grapes. DFH uses green raisins in the brewing, and I am sure I can taste them. The flavor hits with a blast of fruit sugars, like crystallized pineapple in trail mix - fruit, but condensed to the bare minimum of sugar and flavor. Quickly, it bitters up, balancing itself nicely, with a roasty-flavored middle and a light, lemony-citrus finish of hops. The finish is dry and delectable, leaving behind just a little sweet alcohol.

I think the mouthfeel is the best part. It begins very smooth and uncarbonated as you let it into your mouth, but a little agitation fluffs up lots of hidden bubbles; Swallowing sends a wonderful warming of alcohol all the way down - my belly is nice and warm! It's got a very dry finish save that little bit of flavor left behind - just flavor, no sensation of stickiness.

Would I have another? Certainly.

Photo of gmcfarre
3.45/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into St. Bernardus Chalice. Bottled on 12/30/05.

A - Deep ruby brown w/ 1cm light tan head that faded quickly. Minimal lacing effect with a bit of whispy head that remains throughout.

S - Intense sugars with a dark malt / fruit (raisin) combination. Mild hop presence, but it balances nicely. Slight hint of alcohol.

T - Caramelized sugar dominates this brew with notes of dark malt and raisin. A hop bitterness finishes. Alcohol is not very well hidden.

M - Slight carbonation that tingles at first sip, a full yet fluid feeling follows with an almost powdery finish.

D - Alcohol is too present and taste is not interesting or complex enough to drink several of these.

Photo of kdog630
3.23/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a rich dark copper with a half inch head. Left mild lacing throughout.

No hop in the aroma, but you can smell the raisins and the malt. Like others, that first sip caught me off guard. A little harsher than I had hoped. I was looking more at some of the smoother Belgian ales. It did get better as it warmed. I think it may have needed more of a snifter for serving, or a tulip. Probably won't get it again, but the object is to try as many different kinds as possible.

Photo of Enola
3.38/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured with a decent head that disapeared quickly. The color is a nice mahogony. The smell is semi-sweet with some fruity notes. The taste is a little fruity with some hint of caramel. The mouthfeel is fairly smooth. I could drink this again but I do not think it could be sessioned. A strange brew that I can't really compare to anything.

Photo of benito
3.93/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A light brown brew with a beautiful white head, Raison de'Etre's best asset may be its bouquet--a heady mix of (at different moments and in different combos) cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar, alcohol, glue, red wine, and raisin. Compared to the aromas, the flavor is rather straightforward and plain jane. There's a strong sweetness throughout with interesting hints of fruit and dark rum. The drawback is that it's almost too smooth--the sweetness needs a greater dryness, spiciness, or bitterness to match it and add less cloying length to the beer.

This is a interesting and easy-to-drink brew for something so strong. I'm going to try and cellar a bottle or two to see what happens in the next few months. Perhaps age will impart the dryer body that this beer needs to go from good to great.

Photo of orfeu
3.86/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

From a DFH "Boom Box" purchased in Waynesboro, PA. Glowing burnt sienna/copper; the thinnest of carbonation induced foam rings the circumference of the oversized wine goblet. Aroma is mostly sweet booziness -- dates and dried figs soaked in rum, but mostly just a vapor of alcohol. Prickly sweet alcohol flavors at first; cherries, prunes, and date sugar sweetness. A vanilla-marshmallow taste is also detectable. The finish is a pleasant toasty malt flavor -- unexpected and appreciated. Mouthfeel is definitely the strong point here: full, expansive, briefly fluffy, then chewy, and overall, at once both effervescent and smooth. Such a complex mouthfeel is always a high point for me. Not always in the mood for such a sweet beer, but this is a nice one.

Photo of edskirk3
3.73/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, bottled December 30, 2005, apparently. I like when I can remember what I was doing the day that a beer was bottled. This has no effect on my rating but I just wanted to mention that. I was at work at the library, entering an audio verison of To Kill A Mockingbird into the catalog....

"A deep mahogany ale, brewed with Belgian beet sugars, green raisins, and a sense of purpose."

And in case anyone was wondering, Raison D'Être is a term for a sense of purpose. Literally translated from French, "reason for existence," or something like that.

OK, enough pretentiousness. It pours a deep, rich mahogany, good enough for Ron Burgundy's apartment (sorry, couldn't resist). Head is thin and white and doesn't get comfortable.

Smell is weakly of alcohol. Palate is same with undertones of dark malts, and dates/raisins. The alcohol is pretty dominant. Afterwards, a creamy sensation lingers, which I happen to like.

Not what I expected, but I'm not complaining. If I have one complaint, it's that the alcohol is pretty obvious. What I like about this beer is the creaminess, and the stickiness of my lips that results from drinking it. I'm a sucker for stuff like this.

Photo of SilentSabre
3.96/5  rDev +8.5%
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
4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
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....

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,226 ratings.