Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,187 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,187
Reviews: 1,768
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.03%
Wants: 81
Gots: 317 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Raison D'Être Alström Bros
Ratings: 4,187 | Reviews: 1,768 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of geexploitation
2.9/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Like a lot of the Dogfish Head stuff, this is one weird beer. Pours the color of burnt caramel, with a decent head that fades quickly. The aroma is full of overpowering candi/beet sugar, with just a hint of golden raisin that comes through for me only with some very deep inhalations. Someone else actually pointed that out to me; the candi sugar is really, really strong. The taste follows up, with lots of sweetness and some fruits in the background, though they're once again overpowered by the sugar. The mouthfeel is syrupy; it sticks in your mouth and lingers for a while. Had to rinse with some water before trying other beers. This ain't a beer you want to drink a lot of. One, once in a while, and done. Dogfish Head beers are often like this: interesting to try, but not necessarily something to keep going back to. It's a good thing for them they've got the 60- and 90-minute IPAs...

Photo of Citadel82
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is as good a Belgian strong dark ale as any I have tried from Belgium. Warming and complex, it fits the bill nicely as Winter blows its last gasps here on Sandy Hook Bay.

Pours a dark ruby with a short-lived off-white head,

Aroma of malty sugars, dried fruit and candy.

Taste is vinous, alcohol medicine fruity yeast and some dry hops.

Mouthfeel is medium with a subtle stickiness and a short dry finish that can be re-kindled by swirling your tongue around your palate.

Drinkable? I think so, and I am going to grab one for a night cap.

Photo of Dukeofearl
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I bought a sixer of this almost exactly a year ago, and just did not like it at all. I decided to experiment, and put one away to see if some time made any changes. So here is my review of a 1 year old 12 oz bottle.

Pours a medium reddish brown, fairly clear, with virtually no head or carbonation. The end of the pour surprised me with a huge slug of yeast/sediment.

Rich aroma of brown sugar molassas and maple syrup. Definite raisin profile.

Flavor is much more mellow than a year ago. It originally was a huge syrupy chewy beer that had no interest to me at all. Alcohol at the end was way too strong. Now, the alcohol profile has mellowed dramatically, the raisins dominate, and some sugary sweetness remains. The end of the swallow now has almost a sour Flemish Ale woody/cherry bite- much improved. Still an alcohol ending. Chewy mouthfeel is still present.

Based on my original thoughts of this beer, I thought nothing but bad. After a year, it has improved greatly. But it still is to me only an interesting diversion.

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

Pours deep, ruddy brown and amber into my goblet with a slight, white head on top. Smell is mainly fruit esters, lighter fruit scents...then almost raisin effects.

Taste, starts out sweet and then turns into a full tongue dark fruit caress. The raisins from the smell seem to be heading up the dark fruit flavour. There are also sugary tones in evidence and the lightest hint of spice lingering in the background. The finish is the only place the alcohol is really evident, as a minor burn is in evidence. Not bad.

Mouth is decent, not a lot of tingly action, but this is pretty full bodied in the mouth. Drinkability, solid as well. Belgian style beer is usually easy to put down, and this is no exception.

Overall a solid Belgian style beer from Dogfish. It's not as complex as some of my favourites, but it is an easy drinking, smooth flavoured beer that is enjoyable in the mouth.

Photo of acrawf6
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured out a deep clear brownish amberish red. Light tan head rose, but went down quick, might have opened while it is still too cold.

Smells interesting. A nice sweet fruity smell. I read before, and i have to agree, i get a grape bubble gum aroma to this. I also get some apricot and roasted sugar smell, like roasted marshmellows.

Tastes nice. not exactly as sweet as i expected, but is malty. I do get an artificial grape flavor to this. seems a little peppery. not a bad flavor though, certainly a nice change up to the style.

Mouthfeel is good. Nice carbonation and a good balance.

Overall an interesting beer. Not, by any means, a prime example of the style, but i think this one should get a lot of credit. I would love to drink this beer anytime, no matter what they called it.

Photo of jnelson54
3.43/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is a big belgian style brew. Not for everyone as its finer tastes might escape some(trying not to sound like a beer snob). Poors with a white head and golden color. The belgian beet sugar and raisons mellow this one out so that you forget about the high abv nearly 8%!!! If you see it pick it up as it is a rare example of a heavy belgian pale.

Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle with no freshness. There are some tabs that would indicate a bottling date but no holes or notches in the tab.

Smell is mostly bubble gum and raisins. Actually smells like a rum raisin ice cream I had after dinner tonight. No hops are really detected. Mostly malts and the aforementioned raisins.

Taste is more of the same. Sweet, alcoholic. Bubble gum.

Creamy and smooth mouthfeel with a medium to heavy body. Very pleasant drinking 8% beer.

Photo of WMBierguy
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This beer was labled as "The best beer of 2005" at a local beer shop. That piqued my interest. The label stated that it was brewed with Belgian beet sugars and green raisins (that's definately not passing the Reinheitsgebot!). The beer sounded pretty unique, so I decided to try it. The biggest surprise, however, was that this tasted pretty much like any other ale that I've had. What makes it impressive is that it's 8% abv. You can't tell that by taste (I didn't even realize it until I looked it up here). A very drinkable beer when you consider that it's stronger than Colt 45! Try it if you can find it.

Photo of maddamish
4.88/5  rDev +33.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had this at the Winking Lizard in Fairlawn Ohio.

After having two mediocre beers I had to find something that I knew to be good. What better way to break up a losing streak than to look to Dogfish?

This BSD Ale was just what the doctor ordered.

When pouring this ale I noticed a syrup consistancy to it. I knew right then that this was going to be something special. There was a slight alcohol smell to it but it was accompanied by raisin and sugar notes.

Taste wise there were grape, sugar (brown) and some alcohol notes to the ale. They blended together nicely and seemed to compliment each other well.

If you are looking for a complex and sweet tasting beer that challanges the palate then put this one on for a try. You will be glad you did!

Photo of PeatReek
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dunno if this one changes by season; my glass was bottled in Nov. '05.

Appearance: Very clear amber/copper with yellowish off-white head.

Smell: Yeasty. Maybe some very mellow goldings or fuggles. A bit of sulphur? I could be making that up.

Taste: ah, there are the esters. Attack is a nice rounded malty sweetness, followed by subtle bready/malty tastes. The alcohol makes an appearance in there somewhere, but it's not "hot" for an 8.0.

Mouthfeel: a little thin considering how bold the tastes are; feels somehow insubstantial. Carbonation burns a little at the end, but again I just don't feel the high alcohol.

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

When this beer poured in to my glass, I first thought it looked like fresh engine oil that was very clear and a brownish gold. But, in my glass, it took on a dark cherry amber. The head consisted of small gold bubbles that fell to mere wisps of foam that were sustained by tight lines of miniature bubbles crawling up the sides of my glass.

Smells of green grapes, prunes, brown sugar, a slight musky smoked malt and a slight pervasive sourness with a touch of alcohol.

Tastes much smokier than I had expected. There are some sweet fruit flavors around the edges of my tongue like green grapes and plumbs along with a citrus sourness, but the flavor is dominated by a woody, brown ale-like malt with a bit of chocolate mixed into it. The yeast makes itself know in the finish with a dry bite. The finish also releases some smooth fruity sugars.

Mouth feel is light with an intense small bubbled carbonation.

Photo of burnstar
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a deep amber/red with niced thick white head that dissipates quickly. Aroma is very sweet, fruity, and a bit yeasty. Taste is extremely sweet initially with malt and fruit flavors. There is also a distinct tart flavor present and just a bit of bitterness in the finish. It is full bodied and somewhat syrupy. This beer is quite good but it's a bit too sweet for me to drink any more than a single bottle at once.

Photo of dalherring
4.7/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have had this both on tap and from a bottle, and it far better on tap. It has a rich amber color with a creamy head. You can smell the fruity aroma which is like unto the Corsendonk Abbey Brown Ale and the Chimay Rouge. The alcohol content is high, which can be tasted and felt immediately, but this brew will disarm you with its remarkable smoothness.

I am a huge fan of Dogfish for its fine microbrews, and I dare say that the Raison D'etre is its capstone. I love it's sweet, smooth aftertaste, and regard drinking it on tap as one of my favorites. It is hard to find in bottles, much less on tap. So if you do see it on a menu or in a cooler, indulge yourself.

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

Bottled on 11/15/05 and today is 1/10/06. Bottle reads "A deep Mahogany ale brewed with Belgian Beet sugars and a sense of purpose."

Served in my snifter glass at just above fridge temperature.

Pours a mahogany copper color that is barely transparent. Small one finger head (tight little bubbles) that disappears very quickly. Significant lacing.

Smell: I popped the cap and smack! Sugar! Smack! Raisins! The aroma stands right up and shouts notice me; before I even pour the beer. In the glass again I notice the brown sugar, sweet malts and raisins, calling for me to dive in.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Wow. Now here is a sugar kick! After the sugar/syrupy flavor, I immediately move on to notice the texture. I noticed how smooth the beer feels in my mouth. It is all sweet up front with sugar, malts and raisins. In the middle there is a subtle tartness that stands out. It is not blended with the sweet; it’s separate from it but serves to slightly tip the scale back towards the tart side, in a balancing effort. But at this point it is still the mouthfeel that is grabbing my attention. It's an interesting stickiness character that stands out about the mouthfeel. It has very minimal carbonation and is so smooth and syrupy, mmm it is a sweet treat. On the swallow there is a distinct wallop of tart flavor to the palate. The tartness hangs on for a few moments. As you lick your lips the tart fades and the sugar reemerges to finish off the aftertaste. DFH tends to make unique and extreme beers and this is no exception.

Drinkability: This is a great beer, and ONE goes down VERY easily. I have 3 in the fridge but this is a 'one at a time' beer for me. There is too much, sugar tart sugar tart sugar tart sugar tart; to be able to handle a number of them. It is too extreme to be sessionable, but quite tasty and an interesting experience. I would never have thought, raisin beer, hmm? I recommend giving it a try and see what you think.

Hope this is helpful.

Photo of Hautacam
4.7/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass.
Forms a one inch head that quickly settles down to a slight collar. It barely looks carbonated at this point, but is a warm amber color that smells great....fruit, vanilla, alcohol, malt.
Taste is really complex...a lot going on here....sweet, just the right amount of alcohol, balanced with the raison, plum and malty yeast flavor.
Mouthfeel is great...medium to slight syrupy feel...just a light carbonation. Perfect.
Very drinkable; I always want more...but the 8%....depends on whether it's a weeknight or weekend.
Think I'll keep some on hand.
Another great ale from Dogfish Head.

Photo of jaluria
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A burgundy colored brew that remains somewhat translucent and has a nice head that leaves behind a bit of lacing. Aromas of plums, raisins, alcohol, and burnt sugar seem to come out nicely. The raisins were a bit unexpected for this style, but a welcome discovery. The taste is mild for this style with the interplay between fruity bitterness and specialized candy sweetness not as well as could be. The raisins definitely dominate the brew as it warms to such an extent, it detracts from the overall taste and texture. Though the alcohol was well concealed, when mixed with the raisins, it created a sour taste in my throat, hence the reduction in drinkability. Worthy of trying for it's unique take on this style.

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,187 ratings.