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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,005 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,005
Reviews: 1,766
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 68
Gots: 248 | 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:
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:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Raison D'Être Alström Bros
Ratings: 4,005 | Reviews: 1,766 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of granger10


3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This one pours a ruby woody crimson color with a small head that fades abruptly. The color is one I have never seen before but it sure looks pretty. Lots of bubbles racing to the top on this beer. The smell is really strong with alcohol and has a slight brown sugary sweetness. The taste is malt heavy on top. It's sweet but not residually sweet. Maybe thats the belgian beet sugars coming into play. There's a base of caramel malt in here also but it only hints at coming out never really becoming a strong flavor. Alcohol is present the whole time and becomes exceedingly strong towards the end. Belgian yeast provides a slight offset to the alcohol but not enough and is different in its own right. The body is rather thin, maybe because of strong alcohol precense or lack of carbonation, and it's not the smoothest beer. But the complexity and originality of this beer make it something unusual and well worth trying. What style is this anyways?

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2004 18:09:45 | More by granger10
Photo of CRJMellor


4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours somewhat hazy maroon with gold highlights and a minor head with some lace. Aroma has a yeasty, bread-like smell to accompany mild dark fruits. Candy sugar is very dominant in the taste. Malty but with a yeasty tint, almost Tripple-like quality as far as mouthfell goes. Hint of alocohol and sweetness on the finish. Very nice beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2004 17:24:40 | More by CRJMellor
Photo of WesWes

New York

4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a hazy redish color with a lacey white head. The aroma is quite plain. There is a bit of malt scent and a little belgian yeast aroma. The taste is excellent. It is sweet and a bit tart. It has a nice malt flavor and raisin taste. This is a good beer no doubt. The mouthfeel is good. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This beer is an awesome drinker. Another great beer from Dogfish Head.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2003 01:04:57 | More by WesWes
Photo of guinness33

New Jersey

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

pours a cloudy amber colour with an off-white head that has minimal stickiness to it. the smell here is rather nice. it is mainly earthy with rasin, malt, hop and wood notes throughout. the taste is similar to the smell but a bit sweeter, which is a welcome touch. there is a bitter/sour-ish finish here that is also slightly dry at the same time. a different take on the style but enjoyable nonetheless. nothing overwhelmingly good but solid overall.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2003 19:22:51 | More by guinness33
Photo of RoyalT


3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – Syrupy orangish-brown in color and very clear with little head. This one looks serious.

Smell – Big, beautiful BSDA aroma here. The dark yeast is very abundant and can be smelled from arm’s length away. The ripened fruits are full and complex. I can easily pick out cherries, apricots, some orange, and a little melon. There’s also a modest warning of alcohol to this one. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ABV was higher than advertised.

Taste – The fruits came out more in the taste. This was very nice but I would have liked to have seen a little more yeast at the tongue. This has an excellent flavor though, and the dark mark is still noticeable.

Mouthfeel – No carbonation and somewhat thin for a BSDA. I would have preferred something a little more lively.

Drinkability – Very drinkable example of the style. The emphasis on fruits and the rather strong alcohol taste didn’t bother me at all, but others may find it a bit too much.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2003 01:44:38 | More by RoyalT
Photo of DagFishHead

New York

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

Appearance: Slightly hazy, copper/bronze-amber body, considerable frothy tan-orange head fades quickly to a thin, broken cap with creamy lace.
Smell: Foxy grape, earthy, musty, sweet caramel/toffee malt, rum-raisin and a huge whiff of alcohol.
Taste: Sweet carmelized sugars with tart vinous grape/raisin, full at the top with yeasty tartness and carbonation fizz at the top, impressive bitter hopping leaves a dry fruit afterteaste.
Mouthfeel: Full-bodied malt, tingly/crisp but low level carbonation. Warm alcohol glow.
Drinkability: Straight marks. A good choice if you're looking for a one-off ale to think about while sipping, as opposed to a session.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2003 21:10:58 | More by DagFishHead
Photo of Maestro


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

I have been curious about this beer. I am not a fan of Belgian-style beers but have heard good things about this beer. It is good but not anything to write home about. There is a sweet aroma that is very much in tune with the name. There is no head. The taste is somewhat layered with lots of fruitiness and maltiness. There is a citrus undertone that is quite a balance with the sweetness. The beer's alcohol content is warming and cheerful. That is the strong point, and that is not much of one. I won't seek this one out again but would choose it over many other things.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2003 05:29:15 | More by Maestro
Photo of jed


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

Appearance: Pours a dark, mahogany, reddish brown color with one finger of light, white head. Weak head retention, not much in the way of lacing.

Smell: Initially, green raisins provide immediate fruity smelly. Strong ester alcohol smell quickly evident and a bit unpleasant.

Taste: Very sweet, fruity nose — raisins, caramels, plums — with mild carbonation makes this fairly smooth. Again, almost overpowering alcohol content kicks in, with warm boozy aftertaste. Raison D'Être almost tastes like beer with some rum dropped in. Not much in the way of hops, although some malt is noticeable. Mouthfeel is slightly above average, although it could use more carbonation.

Drinkability: The huge, noticeable alcohol content of this beer detracts from drinkability.

The first few times I had this, it was almost undrinkable. I can now appreciate the flavor more, although the strong, unbalanced alcohol still detracts from the taste of the green raisins. An interesting beer and definitely worth trying, but not something I see myself going back to frequently.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2003 00:12:02 | More by jed
Photo of UnionMade


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

The beer is a chill hazed mahogany brown, topped with a dissipating mist of sandy colored head. The beer takes on a greenish cast when viewed through light. Interesting. The head dies to a thin ring almost immediately.
The aroma is definitely complex. Lots of caramel malt, with a strange candi sugar sweetness and belgian yeast. Lots of esters, with heaps of pear, plum, cherry, and fig. The green raisin is apparent, with some vague herbal hops. A bit of coffee and chocolate.
The flavor starts out malty sweet, with a slight burnt toffee taste and that wierd candi sugar. (I look at the label in my collection and apparently it's beet sugar) Slightly phenolic esters kick in towards the middle, providing loads of fruity flavors. Hints of clove, fig, plum, and lots of green raisin carrying into the finish. The beet sugar carries through as well, plowing through the hops, which make a whisper of an appearance before they retreat, allowing the raisin sweetness to carry through. The beet sugar and raisin flavors linger into a long finish, and stick around for a while in the aftertaste. Medium to full bodied, with moderate, unassuming carbonation.
Definitely an interesting and complex beer. The beet sugar, while strange, proves to be tasty. The beer is certainly drinkable, although I don't think I could drink more than a couple pints before wanting to switch it up to something else.

Serving type: on-tap

12-02-2003 22:24:11 | More by UnionMade
Photo of BitteBier


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

Slightly hazy copper-amber pour topped off with a small amount of brown foam. Thick, rich smell with notes of caramelized brown sugar. The substantial alcohol content is detectable in the nose as well, though not offensively. An interesting combination of taste and mouthfeel--silky sweet malts at the onset with a taste that thins out (bringing the alcohol to great prominence) while a powdery texture remains. The texture and chocolately notes are vaguely reminiscent of a glass of cocoa. This is the first Dogfish offering I've had that I would buy again.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2003 18:38:15 | More by BitteBier
Photo of BillyBrew


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

Another Dogfish Head is lost on me. I do appreciated the effort on this brew, but it took a while to finish a sixer.

'Deep mahogany' colour, yellowy brown, not tan. Almost no head, but a fine ring with no stick.

Odd weak fruit nose, the raisons, I guess. Very light nose.

That malty taste conglomeration from Belgium beers that I cannot comprehend. Silky smooth, but 'off' tasting to me. No hop flavour, but not unbalanced (?). I can imagine raisons, but might be just my mind. I understand the appeal, but not up my alley.

Very smooth, silky medium body with a quickly fading aftertaste.


Serving type: bottle

11-26-2003 01:19:21 | More by BillyBrew
Photo of mschofield


3.08/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Medium red with a small white cap, no real head.
An almost vegetable aroma with isopropyl alcohol.
Molasses, rum soaked raisin, and again the vegetable in the taste.
Medium body, very sweet.
It feels like a lot of things were thrown together and not allowed to blend. Unfinished - they need to go back to the books and tweak this one.
I could take or leave it, but I wouldn't buy again.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2003 17:43:21 | More by mschofield
Photo of putnam


4.9/5  rDev +33.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Aromas of molasses, brown sugar, rum and whipped cream. As I rock it back toward my mouth my sinuses are filled with an impression of smoky hard wood.
The texture is fluffy and creamy...nearly Rochefort-like...with Superb balance of chewy, cocoa-dusted candied fruit, vanilla, brazil nuts, steel shavings and pepper.

One of the best damn Belgian...er...American beers I've ever had!

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2003 19:20:20 | More by putnam
Photo of erica


4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A good one by Dog Fish Head. It was a nice amber color with a sweet aroma- almost too sweet I thought. It tasted good, sweet again but too sweet, a touch of spice, and some fruitiness. And I did taste that 'sense of purpose' that it's brewed with! The mouthfeel was not too thick or too thin, which I like in a beer. I dont like to feel like I might have to chew it, and if I had more than one at the time I drank it, I would've had more- great drinkability.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2003 18:16:39 | More by erica
Photo of jeffboo


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

This beer pours with a very nice deep ruby color with a light tan head. Aromas of smokey, dark fruit, leather and wood, oh yeah, throw in some alcohol into the mix. It has a full sweet body that finishes alcohol dry. Flavors of caramel, raisins, and even some ripe plums. It has almost a red wine aged in oak thing going for it. A nice, interesting brew.

Serving type: on-tap

11-17-2003 20:22:00 | More by jeffboo
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

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

Pours a one-fingered white head leaving a good lace, Nice amber color. Very good carbonation. Sweet raisin nose. Starts sweet - mouthfeel is fizzy and finish is somewhat dry but good. The high ABV is not noticeable so be wary of this. A very good spiced beer.

Serving type: on-tap

11-17-2003 00:01:34 | More by jdhilt
Photo of merlin48


3.2/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought a 6 pak of these yesterday, at Blacksburg, Va's Vintage Cellar, for today's initial tasting session. Can't say I'm impressed with this brew, but it's up against some topnotch competitors.

It poured into the glass a beautiful mahogany colour, but the minimal head quickly dissipated without any lacing.

Aroma of dried apricots and raisins raised expectations, but initial mouthful was of carbonation, hops,and yeast. Better let this one warm up a bit. Somewhat nicer nearer room temperature, but just not my style. Bitter aftertaste left me disappointed that I've got 5 more of these to cellar.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2003 20:25:34 | More by merlin48
Photo of RockyTopHeel

North Carolina

3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shimmering copper color with suspended sediment - yeast and a thin, off-white head. Scent is soft with hints of candied fruit. The flavor has sweetness of golden raisins, with prevalent influence of a malty softness and intermittent hops, with a sweet kiss of alcohol in the finish. Underneath these more noticeable flavors is a bitterness--almost chocolate or coffee like in a stout, but closer to caramel in depth--that emerges as the beer warms. There's a definite richness to this one, but it's still drinkable, and the sediment I first noticed was a nice touch of yeast.

I like it.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2003 04:34:37 | More by RockyTopHeel
Photo of Gasp100


3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow, this brew definitely took me off guard. I like the fact these guys take chances and are always trying new combinations (and they are local) but this one was a little to rough for my taste. The appearance was a deep mahogany color and the pour did not produce much of a head. A clingy lace hung down the glass till the bitter (and I mean bitter) end. A heavy scent of raison, figs, etc... were a change for me but overall it was a little heavy handed for me --- the ABV was way high and actually took over the taste of the brew overall. I couldn't drink a lot of this, but every once in a while on a cold winter night, this could be a good companion.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2003 00:52:56 | More by Gasp100
Photo of saltydog

New York

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

The beer seems to me to be seriously underrated by many of the other writers here, but here goes, anyway. Appearance: Reddish orange, clear, prominent head which leaves some very nice lace. Smell: Sweet, some fruitness and spiciness from the fermentation. Flavor: Very smooth. There is a complex flavor, with a mixture of malty, spiciness, the sugars and raison add up the a dense mixture of dates, figs, and fruitcake like flavors, but the overall effect is clean and uncluttered, amazingly enough. I remember this beer when it first came out, and it was quite tasty but much rougher than it is now. It is clearly a model in eccentric brewing these days. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, and the overall drinkability is very high.

Serving type: bottle

10-20-2003 02:56:38 | More by saltydog
Photo of philipt

North Carolina

3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Originality is truly a virtue that should never go un-noticed or un-applauded. DFH is a brewer that is not afraid to pull out all the stops. Even though I don't rate this specific beer particularly high, I do give them credit for a truly interesting and original beer.

Raison D'etre pours with out a head. I egan to question the carbonation of this beer (no worris in that department though). Very little to no head. It has an amber-orange body with a very, very, thin head clinging to the glass.

An interesting and unusual, as far as the beers I've sampled, aroma. Smells incredibly sweet and malty. Almost comparable to sweet apples, plums, and (I hesitate) raisons. There is a subtle alcohol qualities in the aroma (I meant incredibly subtle).

The taste is, without doubt, sweet. Malty and decently fruity. Very little bitterness but the hops and alcohol succeed in balanceing the sweetness quite well. There is no single flavor that really stands out in this beer.

I genuinely like and appreciate this beer.

Serving type: on-tap

10-12-2003 20:23:15 | More by philipt
Photo of silks636

New Jersey

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

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle. Bottled on date notched on label.

Pours a deep reddish amber, almost copper hue... weak light pinkish head. Little retention and light lacing. Aroma is fruity with some serious spice and alcohol. Rather intriguing, and a word of caution for what is about to come. Starts out thick and syrupy. Little to no carbonation. Tangy fruit and alcohol tastes overwhelm the palate. Almost medicinal in flavor. Spice and sweet caramel malt become more present. Hops are barely detectable. Aftertaste is dry and still heavy with alcohol.

This one kind of grew on me as I drank it. Maybe this is so because it warmed slightly? Nah, probably just the alcohol talking. Raison D’etre is certainly an interesting brew. Would rate higher if it could hide it’s 8.0% better.

Serving type: bottle

10-02-2003 00:13:42 | More by silks636
Photo of TerryW

Ontario (Canada)

2.03/5  rDev -44.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Well, I'm afraid that this one just didn't work for me. No head, no lace. Nice red leather colour though.

Aroma was malty but dominated by alcohol. I couldn't make out any Belgian beet sugars, green raisins (or sense of purpose). The taste of the beer was also dominated by alcohol. Not particularly flavourful. Came across as quite astringent. Reminded me some of taking a mouthful of cocoa powder. Too dry and too alcohol harsh.

Serving type: bottle

09-17-2003 00:10:13 | More by TerryW
Photo of AtLagerHeads


3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is another nice brew from DFH. A nice effort a Belgian style and one that is interesting to drink. The deep amber to bronze body is fairly hazed to cloudy and is capped by a decent tan head that retains well and laces with gusto.

The nose is heavily caramel malt and this carries in to the sweet malt flavor that is dedicated fairly substantially to the sweet side of beer. Notes of pungent fruitiness seem to also come through here, perhaps a bit like dried friuts such as apple. The alcohol is noticeable and also limits, to some degree, the drinkability.

Serving type: bottle

09-16-2003 20:21:20 | More by AtLagerHeads
Photo of clvand0


2.98/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Had this in the 12oz bottle. Pours a red/brown color with a nice moderate head that leaves a little lacing on the glass. The aroma was sweet and the raisins were the most obvious part of it. The flavor was reeeaaaly sweet. It was a little malty and hoppy, but not very carbonated. The alcohol is very present in the taste, but the sweetness seems to take a little off of the 'kick' that it would normally give. Not a bad beer, but a little too sweet for my taste buds.

Serving type: bottle

09-15-2003 14:39:45 | More by clvand0
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,005 ratings.