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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,215 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,215
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: 4,215 | Reviews: 1,774 | Display Reviews Only:
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....

Photo of ColForbin
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
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
3.89/5  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
4.02/5  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
3.15/5  rDev -13.7%
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
4.37/5  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
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%
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
2.84/5  rDev -22.2%
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
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
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 -4.1%
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
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
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 -4.1%
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.

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,215 ratings.