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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,118 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,118
Reviews: 1,767
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 73
Gots: 290 | 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
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Ratings: 4,118 | Reviews: 1,767 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ski271
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Medium-dark copper with a small, off-white, fully diminishing head and hardly any lacing.

Smell: Mild and sweet. Lightly nutty, brown sugar and caramel.

Taste: A quick, tiny stab of bitterness early before turning sweet. It is moderately malty, but it’s the underlying fruitiness that gets your attention. More so than raison, I taste prune and apricot. The finish is short-medium in duration, turning dry but remaining sweet.

Mouthfeel: Oily texture, medium body, low carbonation.

Drinkability: The slick mouthfeel is a little odd at first, but does start to become more pleasant toward the end. Drinkability is surprisingly good. It goes down easy and hides its ABV well.

ski271, Mar 14, 2005
Photo of theo871
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an orange/amber color with small white head.

Smells sweet, with a hint of citrus.

Taste is sweet and fruity, and surprisingly smooth

Mouthfeel is smooth and light, which is also surprising.

Drinkability would be higher, but at 8% i'm not sure I could take more than a couple in an evening. As I eluded to earlier, this brew is very easy to drink, and you would have no idea the ABV was so high if you didn't see it on the label yourself.

theo871, Mar 12, 2005
Photo of BurghBrewPSU
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper color. Smell is sweet, candies and some hints of fruit. Tastes of candies, figs, raisons, and a light hint of molasses. For being 8% abv, this is very drinkable. The sweet taste definatley masks the alcohol. Overall another great beer by Dogfish Head.

BurghBrewPSU, Feb 27, 2005
Photo of whartontallboy
2.9/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Copper pour with little head. Smells like candied fruit, molasses, some sweetness, and a bit of malt. Taste is very sweet and raisiny with other fruit flavors shining through as well. The flavor didn't really do it for me, I felt it was just this side of cloying, and it needed a spicy kick to balance it out that, for me, never arrived. Moreover, I felt the alcohol was way too pervasive in the flavor. It almost reminded me of sweetened raisins if they'd been soaked in vodka. It's an interesting beer, but not one that I have any desire to try again soon. I'm going to put the rest of the six in the cellar for six months to a year and see if I'm more excited to try it.

whartontallboy, Feb 18, 2005
Photo of Billolick
4.3/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ouncer sampled, freshenss dating notched on to the label. Pours clear, almond amber, with a tad of egg shell colored head, limited lacing. nose is alcohol, raisins, rum and candi sugars. Strong flavorful brew, notes of alcohol, figs, rum soaked raisins, apricots. Complex, heady creation. Wrap your tongue around some of this stuff.

Billolick, Feb 02, 2005
Photo of mntlover
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a amber brown color with small off white head that falls quickly. No lace to speak of.
Aroma is dark fruit raisin, plums and dates mixed with candy like sweet sugar.
Taste is good candy sweet, sugar plums dance across my tounge and peak in flavor with the carbonation. Some date and figs mixed with some light herbal like flavors and spice. Overall enjoyable brew.
Mouthfell is nice medium little syurpy but not a negative.
Drinkability is good a nice strong dark ale one of my first after finding this site, still find it enjoyable and good.

mntlover, Jan 24, 2005
Photo of bruachan
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

clear orangy mahogany with minimal head. no lacing
musty, alcoholic nose with dark fruit. i'm not sure if i like the idea of smelling the alcohol
real fruity taste. more dark fruit with some caramel and a touch of bitterness. alcohol is evident but not offensive. tart finish. warming
feels good. doesn't slide around too easily

tasty. i like the affect of the raisins (inspired me to throw some in my own belgian homebrew), but not sure how many of these i could whack back

bruachan, Jan 22, 2005
Photo of bloberglawp
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My my my... this is a good beer

Cabonisation is weak, head was quick to disipate, but I care not. Taste a little like dried fruit (raisins, dates and prunes) blended to 100% dark belgian goodness. Alcohol is domanant once the sip has been deliciously savoured, almost feels like a good dark rum.

Raison d'être reminds me a little of Unibroue's Trois Pistoles minus the trademark Unibroue yeast taste + a little more alcohol mouthfeel.

I loved it and will enjoy many more!

bloberglawp, Jan 09, 2005
Photo of oelergud
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear deep ruby body, decent carbonation and a light tan head with good retention and lace.
Sweet raisin scent with a hint of alcohol and extra sweet molasses and prune.
Double bock like sweetness with big caramel flavors and some burnt sugar. Very sweet with almost no trace of hops anywhere. Aftertaste good and strong like the initial taste.
Good coating and fullness of body. Very enjoyable brew and highly drinkable.
Another good offering from dogfish head.


oelergud, Jan 08, 2005
Photo of wailingwench
4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Eye Candy: Brilliant deep dark brownish-red. Thick off white bubbly 2 finger head. Multiple rising lines of carbonation.

The Nose Knows: Mostly sweet dark fruit, dried figs, with a touch of alcohol which suprised me due to the low (for DFH) ABV. Sweet malts.

Tongueland: My 2nd warm brew !!! Refreshing, sweet malts with underlying dark fruit. Slight nuttiness. Belgian yeast is underlying. Finishers crisp and dry. The alcohol somehow stands out.

Bender: A 6 pack of this is clearly in order. I think that this could sway the parents to switch from Manhattans to this.

wailingwench, Dec 31, 2004
Photo of JISurfer
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is another interesting brew from DFH. Appearance was kind of a bummer. It was a brown color with a very small tan head. The head died out very fast, which is a big bummer in my book. I favor the bigger headed brews. Smell was pretty nice. Had elements of various spices(one of which smelled like cinnamon), alcohol, and grapes. The taste was similar, but also had a tinge of a dark liquor, something like a whiskey or bourbon, as well as the presense of cinnamon. It is quite drinkable, just something you wouldn't pound down. Good fer a sippin' brew.

JISurfer, Dec 29, 2004
Photo of walleye
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured amber ith a white head that did stay around very long. aroma fruity, raisins, malts, hints of choc. flavor aout the same os aroma but with hints of honey I like the way the alcohol came out.left the mouth a little dry. not to bad will drink again

walleye, Dec 29, 2004
Photo of baiser
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark amber colour, hazy, with a cream coloured head. Nose is bready, raisins and a bit of alcohol. Taste was well balanced. Plum, raisins, tart, dry, some wine like qualities and a sweet fruitiness. Got a yeasty taste to it too. Mouthfeel is a bit syrupy. Aftertaste is grainy. A great beer.

baiser, Dec 20, 2004
Photo of PossumJenkins
3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I just finished one of these, and I still haven't really decided whether I liked it or not. Poured from a bottle into a brandy snifter. 1/2" head, nice lacing. I really like the color. Deep reddish-brown, almost like a port wine. Smell is also very "winey." Taste is ok, with strong hints of red wine (Shiraz?) and raisins. As others have mentioned, however, it's too sweet. Maybe with a little less sugar this could be an outstanding beer. Mouthfeel ok... pretty creamy actually. 8% ABV as well as the sweetness hurts this one on drinkability. Like I said, I'm still not sure what exactly to think of this beer. I supposed I'd certainly drink another if it was offered to me, but I doubt I'll buy any more.

PossumJenkins, Dec 18, 2004
Photo of Zraly
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

What's that song by Cream...Strange Brew? Perhaps that could be taken in reference to this selection by Dogfish Head.

Pours a tawny red with relatively no head, but clings like a mofo. The lacing ultimately reminds me of the way wine laces down a glass, smooth and viscous. It even smells much like a red wine.

Even still, it tastes like a wine, most likely due to the use of raisins. I'm beginning to think this ale is having an identity crisis. Alas, there are some very sweet caramel flavors along with plum, cherry and a hint of alcohol. The finish is dry and pleasant, with a hint of peppery spice. That, in turn, reminds me of drinking Shiraz/Syrah. The flavor is rather good but the experience is altogether a bit confusing. I must remind us all that there are worse things in life than confusion.

Sip away and enjoy with some fresh greens, balsamic, black pepper and sheep's milk feta.

Zraly, Dec 11, 2004
Photo of chunkylover53
3.2/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was surprised to find this at the local LCBO. I've tried a few others from Dogfish Head, but I've only found them at Smokeless Joe's.

Sadly, this didn't measure up to some of this brewery's other products.

It looked great: cloudy, dark brown with red highlights. Small off-white head. But the smell was almost non-existant. Some malt. Some dark fruits (Like maybe raisins? Duh.) and some anise.

As for the taste... it was... OK. The anise was very strong, but the beer was really sweet. Maybe they added a bit too much of those Belgian sugars they mention on the bottle.

Overall, it was OK. I wouldn't turn down another if someone else was paying. But I won't be going out of my way to get another.

chunkylover53, Dec 07, 2004
Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark murky brown with a wispy tan head and patches of lace. The aroma is of raisins, bran, bready malts and a wiff of hops. The taste is an intricate amalgam of different malt flavors. There are dark fruit, chocolate and bran flavors that get breadier as they mingle with the hops. Hop flavor is perceptable though very subdued. Hop bitterness is evident in the finish. The alcohol is definitely noticable, though its pretty modest for its ABV. The mouthfeel is thick and slightly creamy, with a silky smooth carbonation.

CAMRAhardliner, Dec 05, 2004
Photo of slitherySOB
2/5  rDev -45.4%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

First Rogue, now DFH. I seem to be getting the lower end beers from the breweries I'd like to try. Anyways, Raison D'etre was poured into a goblet. I'm thinking belgian style deserves a belgian glass. Was I wrong? Beer pours a red wine and brown colour. Pretty much no head. Violently poured, it comes with maybe a double fingernail thick that quickly disipates to nothing. Not a very good appearance. Smells of brown sugar, wine, alcohol, caramel and butterscotch. Not too bad, but a bit off with the sugar. Taste is too sweet. It's like red wine. Actually, it reminded me of Jewish wine. Very, very sweet. Raisins, sugar, malt, caramel, sugar and raisins. Mouthfeel is harsh from the alcohol, and actually quite thin for something so syrupy tasting. Drinkability is low. It's just not a good beer.

slitherySOB, Dec 05, 2004
Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured copper color ale with a very small head that disappeared a tad too fast. Aroma is quite sweet with alcohol soaked raisins being quite noticeable. Body is quite full and carbonation is very low. Taste is very interesting resembling more like a barley wine (sweet raisins, warming alcohol) then anything else. The Belgian yeast must have been covered because I had a hard time detecting it. Overall, this is quite ‘’different’’ but very enjoyable. Wouldn’t mind laying a couple of them down to see the evolution of this beer.

Phyl21ca, Dec 03, 2004
Photo of Viggo
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle, a kind of dark orangy red colour with absolutely no head. Smells interesting, caramel and raisin type smells. Has a sweet taste, buttery with some caramel and fruit. Burns a bit on the way down. Mouthfeel is pretty thick and creamy. Decent beer, kind of disappointed by it though, had been waiting a while and it let me down. But give it a try.

Viggo, Dec 01, 2004
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brilliantly clear copper-amber color, and is topped by a thin tan head. The aroma is rich with notes of brandy alcohol, rich raisin, some notes of tropical fruit. The beer is lightly sweet, yet rich and creamy, with perhaps a hint of butterscotch. There is a lot of great fruit flavors here, there is some definite raisin notes here as well as Muscat, and flower nectar. There are also some subtle spice notes here that seem to be yeast/ fermentation derived. This beer is quite interesting, and in some ways quite light, yet it is still quite rich tasting. This is quite tasty, and is certainly proof that Dogfish Head certainly likes to push the boundaries a bit.

Gueuzedude, Nov 30, 2004
Photo of HardTarget
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Standard 12 oz. brown bottle with 8% abv listed and a notch indicating it was packaged in, well, between 9 and 10, but no year listed.
Aroma: Rich malt extract and a hit of alcohol: a relatively simple smell in my book, but an enjoyable one.
Appearance: Deep clear amber with a strong carbonation feed picking up small dark particles in the beer. Looks like it is churning! Nice half finger creamy light tan head which is moving like a roiling pot. This beer looks alive! Left thick coats of lace and as the lace dried, tide marks.
Flavor: The green raisins come through the roasted caramel malt after a bit. This is rich. Alcohol is well hidden. Definite Belgian overtones, the purple grape/wine note of a dubbel or quad is present, but nicely fitting the Belgian dark category. Very rich and sweet malt, but doesn’t go too far, a beer has to know its limitations.
Mouthfeel: Medium heavy body that coats with a sugary persistent intensity. A bit fizzy but creamy, an odd combination
Overall Impression: This is a dangerous being; like most things with a true sense of purpose. Subtle but driven, creamy yet strong. Too drinkable, the flavor is heavy but not intense so I could probably do a few more, but the alcohol is about to put me on the floor. A little light for sipping, this is a good “I only have time for one beer” beer. Another offbeat beer from Dogfish Head and like the rest, worth seeking. So, SO glad they’ve made it to Texas!

HardTarget, Nov 29, 2004
Photo of connecticutpoet
3.03/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This was an amber ale that poured out with a 2 finger creamy head that dissipated a litle faster than I would have liked.

The aroma was difficult to characterize... not too sweet, and I could smell the raisins, and I could also tell they were not the dark raisins but light ones as they said. The malts were there, but as a minor player in the nose. Wasn't outstanding.

The taste was lightly bitter, and medium malt body, but there was a little funkiness caused by the raisins. This odd taste lasted into the aftertaste. Not totally pleasant. Better than macros, but not great in terms of a craft brew. And it really hurt me to grade it as low as I did, since several of the DFH brews are my favorites, but I think they left a 7-10 split with this one.

connecticutpoet, Nov 28, 2004
Photo of pootz
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz crown top bottle. nice looking ale...dark red-mahogany color.... smallish off white head that laces well...tiny bubbled carbonation. The nose is filled with a musty grape scent from the beet sugar/rasins and Belgian yeast...pleasant aroma. Started with an oily vinous mouthfeel like a port sherry...complex... tasted of molassass, spice, herbs, grapes but this gives way to an impression of a spiced brandy as the alcohol is detected...the finish is lengthy and warming as a drying bitterness takes over. A unique strong ale...sweet without cloying, complex and vinous yet drinkable. I will be putting a 1/2 dozen in my cellar to see what age will do to this wonderful ale.

pootz, Nov 23, 2004
Photo of DrJay
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear, red beer topped by a white head that thinned to lace rather quickly. The bottle claims it's mahogany... I'll buy that.

Smell: A combination of roasted barley and rich fruitiness, almost raisin-like. Light alcohol aroma is also present.

Taste: Starts very sweet with a strong mix of dried fruits (raisin, plum/prune) and a light alcohol taste. A light bitterness appears towards the end, but is still overpowered by the sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium/low carbonation that becomes evident on the tongue about halfway through. Medium/full, slightly viscous, syrupy body. Light alcohol warming on the palate.

Drinkability: The sweetness is quite prominent, and without some hop balance I wouldn't want to drink much in a single sitting. Also, the roasted aroma doesn't seem to blend that well with the sweet flavour. However, I'd definitly try it again.

12 oz. brown bottle with packaged on date clearly marked on the label.

DrJay, Nov 21, 2004
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,118 ratings.