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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,217 Ratings

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Ratings: 4,217
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: 4,217 | Reviews: 1,774 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of burnstar
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
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
4.65/5  rDev +27.4%
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
4.37/5  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
4.67/5  rDev +27.9%
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
3.72/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

Photo of akorsak
3.97/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am drinking a cold 12 oz. bottle poured into a Three Philosopher's goblet.

Appearance: Dark brown in color, this beer allows some light to pass through. It poured with little head that is now a fleeting white ring around the top of the beer.

Smell: The aroma of grapes and sugar are evident immediately. The grapes do not have a winey smell to them, making this beer smell unlike most any other beers you may encounter.

Taste: Grapes and malt are the dominant taste here. The sugars added to the ale are noticeable immediately upon sipping. After the sugars, the aforementioned grapes and malts appear and leave a lasting finish.

Mouthfeel: The ale sits very nicely on the palate. The combination of sugars and grapes give a somewhat sweet taste that lingers.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. The 8% abv is a little tough, so beware.

Photo of Litterbean
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I would say this is one-of-a-kind, and an interesting experiment. Minimal head, this one pours out brown with orange hues. Smells somewhat of leather and vegetables, if that makes sense. Odd smell, to say the least. Not bad though, just not what I'd expect. A very warm taste. The alcohol is forefront, with a sweet tartness behind it. The "green raisins" used in the brewing impart a fruity taste. Mouthfeel is good, non-slick, smooth. Drinkability is about as good as you can get from such an strange beer. Glad I tried it, might buy again.

Photo of LarryV
2.63/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This was my first and last six pack of this brew. Pours with nary a head, just a thin white film. Malty aroma with burnt overtones and a bit of bubblegum. Taste is sweet, malty, burnt tasting - don't care for it at all. Very little hops presence, just a cloying sweetness. Definitely not one of Dogfish Head's better beers, but a step above Saint Gootz (this tastes rather similar to SG).

Photo of deBeers
4.13/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Note this is for an aged Raison D'etre that is a little over TWO years old. I had a six pack and shared five out of the six bottles with a few other people over Christmas eve.

This beer was made with Belgian beet sugars and green raisons amongst other things. Not all beers aged as well as others. The third beer opened was the star of the show. I'll review that one off the top of my head.

Poured with a finger, almost two of creamy light beige/off-white goodness. Lots of small bubbles with the initial pour and carbonation seemed to meld very well with the overall aspects of this concoction. Beautiful clear/light mahogany color and the carbonation died down to a beautiful swirling top that never really left the surface of your glass. Watching the lacing as you drank this was very beautiful and lively.

This was best served slightly chilled and letting it warm as you drink it. Aerating the glass helped mellow out the sweetness and bring more flavor and smells from this brew. Very tasty, almost smelled like green olives in a good way probably due to the raisins. Sweet brown sugar, crisp yet mellow carbonation.This ale was way to drinkable for 8% alcohol. I know this because I'm still feeling it a little from last night. Hi oh!

I will rereview this when I drink the last bottle alongside its fresh counterpart and do a proper review.

I recommend aging a few of these and although I haven't had it...I might just have to lay down this beer's bigger brother Raison D'extra.

Happy Holidays!

Photo of kkipple
3.81/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ok, before I go any further, "Raison D'etre" means, according to dictionary.com, "reason for being". I just learned a word definition on account of a bottle of beer. Wonders never cease.

So, Raison D'etre pours a rich looking rust color with a massive head that settles down to 2cm all round my goblet. Some lacing. Looks wonderful.

Smell is hops, yeast, fruit (white grapes?) and malt. Sweetness & alcohol round it off.

Taste: initial malty, aleish taste gives way to hops, mild bitterness, and a sweet brown sugar aftertaste. Yummy! Trying to taste the "green raisins" the bottle advertises, but can't. It's smooth and lightly carbonated. This is 8% ABV? Who knew?

Dangit though, I want to taste raisins! Alas, maybe the next bottle will come through for me. Ahh, it's beginning to warm my stomach. Might be the 8% kicking in.

I really enjoyed this one. Make sure you don't serve it too cold as you'll lose a lot of the subtle flavors. Raison D'etre is very tasty and complex, and I'd be glad to have one again. In fact, seeing as I bought a 6 pack, that's all but certain. Green Raisins, if you're in there, beware, I'm hunting for you!

Photo of MurphyMacManus
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz. brown longneck into snifter.

Appearance: Deep brown with an off-white head that sticks.

Aroma: Fruity, almost vinous, some higher alcohol, malt in there somewhere.

Taste: vinous character, sweet, but not cloyingly so, mild alcoholic flavour, especially as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Thick enough to coat the vocal cords, but not so heavy that it's hard to drink. Carbonation helps to accent the complexity of the flavours.

Drinkability: By no means a bad-tasting beer, but would not be suited to long sessions because of its high alcohol content.

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

Appearance: Fantastic looking maroon body, many slow rising bubbles making their way to a fantastic looking huge tan foam head, which initially billows over the top of the glass.

Smell: Plums, spices, lots of raisins, alcohol. The raisins really stand out in this one, I am curious how it will be in the d'extra.

Taste: Woody and sweet, grapes and raisins everywhere. There is also a slightly buttery flavor, imparted by the raisins, most likely. Hops and alcohol are present, but do not provide much of a bite, this is a smooth drinker.

Mouthfeel: Full carbonation, very creamy mouthfeel. Pretty much spot on for the style.

Drinkability: A good and interesting BSDA, but not among the elites of the style. Thanks to LuckySevens82 for the sample.

Photo of Jcdolan
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

bought a six pack of bottles from this excellent store down the street, Chase St. Market. NH

Poured into a mug. Poured a nice dark amber with a tint of red. Had a pleasing light brown head that lasted only a few minuites leaving a nice ring around the outer edge.

I can smell a nice nut sent. Also some syrup maybe coffeeish with a very minimal hint of some type of fruit.

Tastes unlike anything I have ever had. The initial taste is a smokey wood taste. Gives off hints of molasses and coffee. But mostly a smoke taste.

Feels nice and hevy on the tounge. Goes down very smooth. This is a nice beer for the winter. I wouldn't prefer to drink this all night long but a six pack would me more than satisfying.

With this one and the many others, dogfish head is slowly becoming my favorite brewery. Job well done!

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.

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,217 ratings.