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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,204 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,204
Reviews: 1,770
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 15.07%
Wants: 88
Gots: 342 | 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: 4,204 | Reviews: 1,770 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of wingnutter
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good beer.

Dates, raisins, dates, figs...with a nice sweetness. Feels a bit spritzy on the tongue, but its a quality American made Belgian style beer.

Easy to drink, and is a nice change when you want a Belgian fix but dont want to spend for the usual suspects.

Will revisit this one again soon and add more to the review.

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

Pours a dark brown/copper color, not much carbonation, very small head which dissappeared quickly, not much lacing at all. Scents are sweet, grapes, and caramel. Nice sweet caramel taste with a dry kinda flat finish though, the alcohol is hidden pretty well. Medium body. This brew is very drinkable, another excellent brew from dogfish head.

Photo of Backer2004
4.29/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Here's another great one from Dogfish Head, I have yet to be unimpressed with a single beer I've tried from them so far. Nice copper color with average head. Smells and tastes just fantastic, if you like white grapes. I needed to pace myself when drinking this one, the alcohol doesn't come into play at all.

Since I was in a bar last Saturday and this was on the menu but not available, I was even more excited to get my hands on it. Very impressive.

Photo of Mitchel
3.2/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hmmm….I am not by and large impressed with this beer.

The head is small and leaves little lacing. The color is auburn brown.

The smell first and foremost is alcohol, but what do you expect with a beer of 8%? It has a fragrance of fresh green raisins, grape and brown sugar. The malt is very apparent.

The taste reminds me of grape bubblegum and alcohol. Not a really balanced beer. I am not really sure what to say about this beer; it is a fairly crisp beer with a kick.

Well, this is not DFH’s best endeavor, but it is not bad. DFH seems to have set the bar pretty high and it would be hard to make every beer a winner. I wouldn’t suggest that you buy a sixer, just try it on tap if you can.

Photo of NiceGuyMike
4.45/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark amber with medium light tan head. Head clings to the side in a desparate attempt for survival, but is eventually beaten down. Light lacing remains as memorial. Smells a bit of figs, molassas (specifically brown sugar) and I guess rasins. Tastes similar with no one flavor dominating (well..perhaps the brown sugar stands out). Belgian yeast give it that Belgian quality of flavor, but again, not overpowering. Next to Allagash Odyssey I'll say this is the best Belgian Strong Dark Ale I've had. Full bodied with decent carbonation. So enjoyable, something to drink slowly and one to enjoy at home or without the need to drive.

Very sweet...no...extremely sweet, but in a good way. Dangerously easy to drink. Strong alcohol sneaks up on you easy. I went through two bottles without breaking a sweat early Thanksgiving afternoon. Wow, I must admit it hit me hard a few minutes after I finished the second bottle.

Photo of sinistermadman
3.51/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear cherry color while producing a decent head. Smell is subdued, I can barely detect some fruit along with some malt.

Taste is different to say the least. A bitter twang resonates throughout the drink making it difficult to pick up on any constituent ingredients. It kind of tastes like water from an old lead pipe, but with chocolatey malt and a residual fruit note. This brew's body is smooth with a low to moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is syrupy and sticky. Not terrible, but not desirable either. Definitely seems like a beer that I would have to try a couple times before I could figure it out.

Photo of sinistrsam
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a red-amber color with a small tan head. The head quickly dissapated and left moderate lacing around the glass.
I tried my best to really get my nose into the beer but it wasn't as aromatic as I had expected. Still, there were hints of some sweet fruits, yeasts and raisins.
The taste began as a semi-sweet, crisp smack in the face but ended up finishing subtle but dry. Lots of flavor, lots of alcohol taste. It was suprisingly smooth, clean and refreshing, and balanced very well.

Photo of mynie
3.12/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Rather mundane pour. Off-burgandy, translucent with a small, quickly-dying head.

Semi-Beligan yeast mixed with solvent alcohol zing and spice. Decent strength, decent complexity. Nice, but nothing special.

Plums and raisins soaked in liquid tin upfront, followed by brown sugar, ending on alcohol zippitiness. Very complex, but not all that complexity is good.

Nothing impressive here.

Photo of nlmartin
3.1/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served from a bottle into a pub glass.

Appearance: This beer has a hazy ruby coloration. No head to speak of and leaves no lacing behind.

Smell: It smells like raisons have been added to an alcohol base. Malty goodness drifts by the nose.

Taste: This has got the funk. There is alot going on here lots of unidentifieable fruits. Some definate yeasty malty clashes. Doesnt taste bad I just cant tell what the taste are.

Mouthfeel: This beer is medium to full bodied with minimal carbonation.

Drinkability: An ok beer to try once or twice. Dont buy the whole 6.

Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.05/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

This is another rather strange beer (I’ve had a bit of a run of them lately). It’s not quite dark enough and certainly not lively enough on the carbonation/head end of things for my tastes. I will admit, however, that it is rather drinkable considering the ABV.

The aromas are gummy or syrupy and consist mostly of caramel, raisons, and orange peal. The taste reflects this. It’s also quite sweet giving it a rummy sort of mouth feel. By that I mean that the feel is a rough blend of sugar cane and alcohol.

Not terribly great but not bad either.

One note, I purchased a six pack of this six months ago and at the time, I cared even less for the beer then I do now. My taste buds may be playing a trick on me but the drinkability seems to have gone up considerably with the brief aging period as has the orange in the nose…or maybe I’m just more in the mood for this sort of beer this week. Who knows?

Photo of waldowin
3.67/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep ruby, with a thin white head that fades immediately to nothing. Looks almost like brandy in the glass.

Smells of toasted malts, raisins, and a hit of vanilla rum. Very faint.

Tastes of a thin cognac up front, with plums, grapefruits and a blueberry tartness.

Mouthfeel is smooth, but not thin. Almost no carbonation. Leaves a cognac-like acridness in the mouth as an aftertaste, leaving you ready for the next hit of raisin sweetness.
This one seems a lot smoother and a lot more mellow than the last one I tried. I'm not sure if the last one was skunked, or this one was aged, but either way, it's good stuff. I'll probably try it again in the future.

This stuff is pretty smooth and fairly tasty, but I think 2 bottles would be my max for a night.

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

It pours a fundamentally clear lustrous amber. Two fingers of off-white head settles soon to a patchwork of thin froth. Hyphens of lacing punctuate the inside of the glass.

The aroma wafts a mellow malt sweetness studded with a fuzzy dried fruit tanginess. A distant creaminess, maybe vanilla, is mitigated by the sneaky aura of alcohol.

First sip grants a toasted malt, honeyesque sweetness, promoted by the rounded irony tang of raisins, sassy and briefly bright. There's a center of sugary candy sweetness which dulls very quickly to a vague hoppy dryness propped by a disguised but quite present stilt of alcohol. The finish is dry but carries a light memory of dried fruit. It's an interesting flavor, if a bit involved and at times disjointed.

Medium bodied, the presence of malt and fruit provide some toothiness, and a dry glow embers lightly on the palate.

It's got some muscle, not surprisingly, and the flavor, while rather segmented and busy, is also intriguingly unusual. The ABV is never glaring, but it becomes more apparent as the glass drains. It's reasonably drinkable, but common sense mitigates that a bit. It's a crafty, sly heavyweight, worth trying for sure.

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

Pours dark brown with a beige head and quite a bit of lacing. Smell is dark fruits and a woody hit that must be from the hops. Taste was rather disappointing, a little hint of Belgian yeast and candi and then a vinous finish that seemed incongruous to my taste buds. Mouthfeel was full enough but I don't think I would want more than one. I've had these before and never have I gotten very excited about them.

Photo of joedon
4.1/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark gold-amber with not much head. Not much lace either. Just a little bit of haze.

Aroma of fruit, malt and sugar.

Big taste: lots of malt, toffee, raisin and fruit. Nicely balanced with hops.
Flavor complexity almost like a barley wine but not nearly as hoppy.

Heavy body; very nice mouthfeel. Lingering aftertaste of malt and fruit.
Alcohol buzz in the aftertaste, too.

I really enjoyed this beer. Nice sipping on an Autumn afternoon.

Photo of stcules
3.52/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Mahogany color. White foam, but scarce, and quickly disappearing.
In the smell, beside the malt, there are vanilla, woody notes, and porto. A touch of rhubarb and red fruit (plum).
In the taste the raisins, already intuible in the smell, it is definite and well present. Again porto and plum.
Full and definite body.
Liqueurous and sweet aftertaste, with dry fruit.
Velveted and smooth.

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(Served in a chalice)

A- This beer pours a deep mahogany brown crystal clear body with a thin film of light tan head. The bubbles are very sluggish at rising to the surface.

S- The smell of dark fruit and toasted malt with a hint of sweetness are balanced by a vinous and slightly hoppy nose.

T- This beer has a smooth light malt flavor with finish that is vinous with a hint of hops. There is not much dark toasted malt base or much complexity to the taste. It finishes with a hint of alcohol and a bitterness.

M- Medium-light mouthfeel with a fizziness that makes the mouthfeel appear more full. No astringency but some alcohol warmth.

D- This beer is dry and has some interesting flavors but it is missing a lot of complexity. The raisins and beets just don't have the complexity that are needed in the malt bill to make this a good solid beer in this style.

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

Pours a deep amber with ruby highlights, topped by a half-inch of creamy tan head. Sweet nose of dark fruit, raisins, molasses, dark sweet malt, and a hint of both Belgian ale yeast and alcohol. Palate is understated at first - initially, the flavor almost isn't there. Some sweet malt, raisin, and Belgian yeast are present mid-palate, along with subtle notes of hops and dark wood. Some serious alcohol warming is present on the finish. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy, very pleasurable, then slgihtly dry on the finish. Packs quite a whallop, making it almost difficult to finish the bottle. Still, a pleasure to drink.

Photo of alysmith4
1.62/5  rDev -55.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Used to love this beer.. back when I had a raison to drink mediocre beers. I ordered one at a concert recently, and used it to hold down the program while I enjoyed the show. I'm sure the cleaning crew didn't enjoy taking care of the 16oz. (well ok, maybe 15) of liquid that I poured into the trash can. Sorry guys!

Photo of paterlodie
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

No head and brownamber beer. Nose is very malty but also lots of cardboard, candy carramellic candy. Good chocolate hint also and sweet overall caracter. Taste is also very carramellic and chocolate, sweet carracter that hides alcohol content well. Still to me an overall very oxidated impression and could well be that this one was a litle over the top. Full and thick mouthfeel though that is enhanced by low carbonisation and feels like a thick soup. Low bittered but clean. Well drinkable but nothing special IMO.

Photo of neonbrown82
4.27/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is one of the better DFH beers I've tried. Pours to a the color specified on the bottle: "a deep mahogany ale." Little to no head to speak of, not even a film on the surface after a few minutes of sitting.

Smells very curiously sweet. Perhaps it is the belgian beet sugars that give it the interesting [non-DMS] veggie smell. Has some rum characteristics in the aroma. Lots of caramel and grapes as well. Very nice aroma.

The taste has a bit of a biscuity malt profile to it, but the sweetness balances that out quite nicely, along with the fruits. Very refreshing for such a strong beer. Little to no hops detected. This is like drinking a juice, but it's still distinctly beer. Nice job DFH. I must try the D'Extra now.

Photo of ikats
2.95/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Cloudy, ruby in color. Minimal off-white head full of large bubbles that goes away almost instantaneously. Aroma is full of sweet, sticky grapes. The taste is not as sweet as you'd expect. The finish is actually quite dry. Even though I do not find alcohol too apparent, the bite is there.

Interesting try, but I don't find the mouthfeel to be very pleasant. Reminds me of spiked grape juice (which I dislike very much - that's about "grape juice" portion, I really don't mind "spiked"). For me the value of this beer is in experimentation. I'll try it again if I see it on tap. Worth a try just for a taste of something different.

Photo of sacfly
4.08/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, brownish red. Brown/tan head with small to medium bubbles. Smell is of raisons and some type of spice. Cinnamon? Nutmeg maybe? In the background.

Taste mimics the aroma with mild alcohol notes reminiscent of rum. Great mouthfeel. Finishes dry. Don’t expect any hops in this one. At most, the dryness in the aftertaste may contain some mild hop bitterness.

Overall, a very good easy drinking beer even at 8%. Maybe not my reason for living, but I will buy this again.

Photo of Shovelbum
3.02/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured with a 1cm head into a snifter. Head retention was minimal with little to no lace. The body of the beer was red-orange hued.

Smelled of grapes, rum and alcohol with sweet malty undertones.

The taste of this monster fights between grapes/raisins, malt and just straight booze—the hops weren’t even in contention. This is pushing the boundaries of the classification that it has been thrown into. But then again pushing boundaries ‘off-center’ is what Calagione and the other folks at Dogfish Head do best--- although to varying results as evidenced by this particular offering.

The carbonation was light and the body was medium.

This is unlike any Belgian-style ale I’ve encountered. I am generally a huge fan of Dogfish Head’s work, but I must admit that after my first one of these little babies I had to question my perception of this brewery. After familiarizing myself with the ‘raison’ of this beer I came to appreciate it a bit more. I think the key to enjoying it is drinking it on its own terms. It’s not Belgian. It is strong. It is definitely drinkable--- still, I won’t be purchasing another six pack in the near future.

Photo of Bumpon10s
4.06/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a very reddish color with a small head that falls quickly but leaves a little floating.

S - Smells of deep fruits, but not very strong, I was expecting a potent nose given it's class.

T - Not bad, very strong in the fruits. Malts and a dominating kick of raisins with a touch of alcohol round out the mix.

M - Keeps it light on the mouth with ample carbonation, very pleasing.

D - Not exactly my favorite style, but I sure liked it. It goes down very smooth, and lightens the mood with an 8% ABV.

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

Poured from bottle into a Potrsmouth Brewery snifter.
dark dark amber, beautiful looking beer, a puffy head that receded to reveal little to no lacing.

The first smell was of triamenic which I have to say, made me a little bit nervous. I let it breathe while I ate dinner, I didn't think it would blend well with Subway's Chicken Parm sub.

The first sip was wonderful. Not too much in the hops depertment, but just enough to JUST underbalance the beautiful sweetness of this beer. Any more and this sweetness may have been masked.

The aroma is nice, about what I would expect. The taste is really great. Sweet, reminded of belgium with this one. The alcohol is definitely warming and the finsh is great...like an overcooked, but not burned cookie. A bit of a medicine in the aftertaste, all characteristics I enjoy very much. The rasins are there, but they don't beat you over the head with them.

Great body, soft and almost pillowy in my mouth, the carbonation could not be better, light and tight, it pricks the tongue and soft palatte.

Drinkability? One is very drinkable, maybe two, but at 8% and being that it is, by comparison very sweet, 3 may be pushing it.

5 minutes later, a pleasant bitter feeling (not really aftertaste) still haunts the mouth. Great beer, looking forward to the Raison D'Extra

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,204 ratings.