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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,217 Ratings

(view ratings)
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 thefireman
3.18/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark amber with a slight head that dissapates quickly. Real sweet, malty, raison. Slight carbonation and a bit of aftertaste. Really malty.

Not a bad mouthfeel, but you can really taste the alcohol. Sort of woody strong. While not their best effort, will do once in a while.

Photo of bashiba
4.15/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my glass a slightly hazy Amber in with a very thin little head that was gone in a second, however little carbonation bubbles continued to rise through the glass from start to finish.

Scent of sweet malts and a woody cedar odor with a slight toastyness to it as well.

The taste was very complex with fresh bread like maltiness flavor with subtle woody overtones with a slight hint of plums, followed by a very nice spicy earthy hop flavor.

Mouthfeel is very full and pleasant with a nice fuzzy carbonation and alcohol warming going on.

Drinkability is very good on this one, the high abv is completely hidden except in the mouthfeel. This is a great beer!

Photo of ThreePistols
3.87/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Raison D'etre by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery poured a handsome dark amber. Short head with no lacing.

The aroma was sweet, rich, winey and malty filled with raisins, plums and yeast.

The taste was sweet, winey, raisiney, malty with a touch of spice. The alcohol was very well balanced by the sweetness.

This is a moderately complex beer with a lot of flavors going on with 8% ABV which might make it less drinkable for some.


Photo of scottum
4.11/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ambered brown with a huge off-white headskie. Taste sweet, almost but not too sweet. The beet sugar and raison flavors are kickin' it in style and 'tude. Not quite as good as the hype on the beer would lead you to believe, but a damn fine brew none the less. Certainly worth checking out. I hadn't had this beer in a couple years and tried it again and I still like it.

Photo of beerceller99
3.6/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle. Pours a clear dark copper color with a thin head. Has a slightly earthy sweet caramel alcohol smell. Medium bodied with light carbonation. Taste is caramely and cotton candy sweet with a spicy sweet alcohol bitterness to finish.
This brew is all about the malts. Not bad.

Photo of mgdeth
3.98/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Deep amber, with ruby-brownish tinge. Even just slightly orange-ish. Nice head, but it dissipated (I blame my glassware).

Smell - The smell is not strong. Reading the label, I expected a big nose on this one. Slightly malty smell, with a tiny hint of alcohol. What will this one taste like?

Taste - Awesome. Malty sweetness hits the tongue and is followed by alcoholic warmth on the aftertaste. I also detect what seems to be a raisin flavor (the label says the beer is made with green raisins). The flavors of this beer linger for a long time. As the beer warms up a little, the beer presents itself better and the flavors intensify.

Mouthfeel - Hearty. The mouthfeel is accentuated by the alcoholic strength of this beer. Seems to be appropriate for the style.

Drinkability - "Alcohol" keeps coming to mind. Decent drinkability, but more alcohol taste than I prefer. Maybe a good beer for sipping in front of the fire on a cold night. All philosopher kings rejoice!

Comments - Raison d'être (noun): reason or justification for existence. I don't know if I would go that far, but I give a tip of my hat to Dogfish Head for this creative beer. Definitely purchase this one and try it out. This is no casual beer drinker's beer. I suggest something else to wean your macro-swlling buddies off their bad habit.

Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very unique, and hard to classify. Not quite a Belgian, not an American-styled ale. Fruity and reasonably complex. I did not notice the alcohol as much as some others did, and the balance is actually more on the subtle side (my wife had an Ommegang while I was drinking this, and the Ommegang's flavor was much more pronounced - and sweeter). Pours a dark ruby shade, with little head, no lacing. Raisons certainly come to mind. For those who enjoy a dark Belgian-styled ale, (and also fans of Baltic porters?)it's worth trying. I'm glad I have more, as this is a very different beer.

Photo of rousee
4.05/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours a deep caramel-like amber and forms a 1/2 finger head that drops to a thin 1-2mm foam right after. A fruity cherry almond type smell is what I am getting.

Taste is chewy nuts and raisins with some buttery diacetyl taste but not in an overdone way. It also has elements of another fruit which strikes me as cherry.

Mouthfeel is fuzzy and warm --very nice. Drinkability is about average. One or two of these is enough. I think it might be more drinkable on a real cold day.

Extra note: I should mention that this beer has grown on me. When I first tried it, I thought ok--nice but I don't even want a whole pint. It has since grown on me in both the taste and drinkability department.

Photo of alexgash
3.97/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Golden amber body with some particulates happily floating. Pillowy, very light-tan head.
Aromas of sweet, sugary malt are impossible to miss. Whiffs of rum and ripe fruit accompany, along with some spicy hops.
Taste starts with sugary sweet candy, and malt. Some plum/raisin mixed with cooked vegetable doppelbock flavor too. Slight bitterness ekes its way in, but doesn’t do too much. Finish is long and more sweet than bitter. Mouthfeel is big, mouth-coating, and syrupy—almost cloying. Well made and enjoyable, but a touch sweet for my everyday quaffing.

Photo of henrysunset
3.03/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

at 9.99 per six pack I was only willing to try one.

L - Deep brown, slightly red, but not cloudy. Pretty wimpy head of medium sized tan bubbles.

s - clear even when pouring it, this is storngly scented. The raisin smell is gone now but was present when poured. reminds me of other dark storng ales with a malty hoppy scent. Not that great smelling IMHO.

t - hmm. I don't recognize the flavor as familiar. It is not very strong and as such not very offensive. A tiny coffelike flavor, a hint of what must be the raisins, and some malt flavours. Not very dry or very sweet.

m - pretty thick and lingers in your mouth. The aftertaste is better than the main taste, but still not outstanding. Certainly the most redeeming attribute of this beer.

d - It's not offensive and quite strong so I would consider it reasonably drinkable. I don't want another, but not because it's bad, but because there are better thigns to drink.

Photo of Sammy
4.03/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice yeast creamy yummy two dimensional Belgian style. Lower than expected aroma but delivered in beverage experience, fullmouth yeast delivery. Beautiful mahagony dark with mocha colored head, much cream that dissipates into lace. Masterfully done, like Ommegang with extra angles. Better than an average Belgian.

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

Packaged 8/2004. Pours a orangy chestnut color with a short-lived light beige head. Bready, biscuity and malty; vinously wine-like nose. A fair bit of yeastiness in the aroma, too. Rather sweet right of the bat, then mild fruitiness kicks in and the finish is light, hoppy and estery. Pretty interesting and unique. You can tell this beer is 8%, there's a slovent-like burn to it. Not too bad, but it is noticable. Worth a try.

Photo of dauss
3.82/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The label is copyrighted 1999, with the 7 etched off. So I don't know how old this beer is. Pours a very hazy dark amber copper. Small head fades quickly into a lace on the edge of the glass. Nose is very malty, the darker ones because I'm picking up a hint of coffee. Dark fruits and the alcohol is quite noticable. First sip, light-moderate carbonation. Wow this beer is interesting. Very malty, pretty strong sweetness. It is also hopped just right. Light bitterness is present in the entire sip. Finishes dry and lightly bitter, and you can definitely feel the alcohol evaporate off the inside of your mouth when you exhale. It definitely warms me up. Great for a desert beer, but I don't think it classifies as a Belgian ale.

Photo of BrewMaster
4.12/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Leffe goblet. The color is a rich red to orange and is a bit cloudy. The aroma is of yeast and spicy malts. I smell a good scent of cinnamon in it.

The beer opens with a poignant hops grassiness and a sharp alcohol flavor. it then tails off without much fanfare on the taste buds. It ends with a weaker malt flavor than the aroma suggests. The alcohol/hops combination gives it the sensation of being spicy, which is nice. But it does lack a bit in the flavor department.

Photo of SeanChouffe
3.86/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled this beer at the GABF on 10/2/04, but this review is from the bottle on 10/3/04.
A transparent ruby/mahogany color with plenty of fine co2 and a full light yellow head that reduces to decent layer. Lacing is sticky. Smells earthy and malty with some fruity esters, light hops and a tannic background. Flavor is of dark fruits, malt, caramel; kind of like a double bock. Palate is full bodied and syrupy with some creaminess, an effervescent middle and a metallic finish.
IMHO: Better on tap. Not as well balanced as I had expected.

Photo of santoslhalper
3.73/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice chocolate brown with an impressive head. Head's gone quick with no lacing though. Smells of sweet malts, chocolate, raisens (obviously), and a hint of alcohol. Now this is an interesting tasting beer. Had to take a few more sips to figure out what I'm tasting. First the obvious - prunes, raisens and dates, OH MY! Under that, lots of alcohol with little to no carbonation. Hops are not used to the best of their ability. Nice malt flavor on the finish, but a bit too dry. Not enough carbonation in the mouth for me. And, alas, not an incredibly quaffable beer. All in all I'd say a bit too complex without having any focus. Tastes all over the place. Still a very nice brew indeed, but overrated.

Photo of oxmasterscream
3.56/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear reddish amber color (DFH calls it magogany but it's a tad light in color for that), head fell to a ring quickly. Aroma is fruity and lightly spiced - apples, pears, grassy (?)... not sure... very hard to call. Taste is the same... crisp, fruity (green apples) and really tart, finishes dry. This is really hard to describe. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with solid carbonation. Drinkability... I'm just not sure. It's definitely an interesting brew but I would probably not have it again.

Photo of PorterLambic
4.47/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly opaque orange-copper color with a 1 1/2", tight, cream colored head that drops slowly & evenly to a thick film and leaves good lacing..
Smell is malty, fruity (orange & raisin) & spice. A wonderful pleasure for the nose.
Taste is malty, fruity (apple/orange/raisin), hops (light & late), very complex, an extremely tasty brew.
Mouthfeel is very smooth, full bodied, warms the throat nicely without any harshness from the alcohol.
Drinkability is nearly as high as it can get. Often a beer with this much alcohol can be hard to drink more than one of, but this libation does not suffer that problem. I recommend this beer without any reservations.

Photo of FFudnam
3.67/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a medium mahogany into my (gasp) pint glass. Beeswax-colored head has no intentions on staying long, with 8% alcohol to fight against. Smell is of sweet, flowery esters, rum, overripe plums, and raisins. Some malt is apparent, but not emphasized. Taste is more of the same, with a bit more malt coming through now. The beer appears harsh and sharp yet soft and cunning. I'm confused, but intrigued. I will try this again. Perhaps a 6 month cellaring will round this brew out a bit.

Photo of kindestcut
3.18/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The Raison D'etre poured a deep, dark amber...brown with a red tint as the light hit my glass. For a Belgian-style ale, the head was disappointing.

The aroma was not strong. The alcohol was quite evident as was a fruity combination of raisins, plums mixed with a hint of caramel. Otherwise, I'd say this beer doesn't have a verydistinct aroma.

The taste is even more confusing. There doesn't seem to be an obvious balance of flavors. I detect all of the flavors from my sniff but nothing is really in the foreground...except the alcohol. I can taste all 8% of this beer. Most of the better Belgian-styles I've had don't flaunt their high alcohol but I guess sometimes you have to go with your strength. I just wish the strength of this beer was its flavor.

Translated literally (at least one translation), Raison D'etre means "reason for being." As a phrase, it is used to represent a guiding principle or philosophy. I only wish the beer was as deep as the name.

In the end, this is yet another beer I wanted to like far more than I did. Kind of sad, really.

Photo of twelvsies
3.76/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Having only tried one Dogfish Head brew before this one I was anxiously anticipating trying this one. A medium dark amber color, but almost totally transparent. Not much of a head to speak of on this one at all. The smell on this one is very subtle. I almost can't smell a thing, but with a deep whiff I can pick up on a Belgiany maltiness. Smells sweet and nutty. Tastes better than any other American "Belgian Beer" I've had. Sweet, but not too sweet. Fruity characters in there somewhere. Very thick mouthfeel, clings to the tongue. Smooooth. Drinkability... well, I say this in just about every review, but; I could drink this all night. Hmmm. Maybe I just like beer too much. Is that possible? Anyway, a very tasty brew. Go out and get yours.

Photo of apintofknowledge
4.36/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What an amazing surprise! Tried this on a whim... made with raisins and beet sugars, I was hoping for an interesting experiment, but ended up finding one of my favorite recent discoveries, and the best so far by the amazing brewers at Dogfish Head.

The color alone is an experience. I would paint my apartment with that rich, warm, brown-red color. And the taste compares to some of my favorite true Belgians (certainly a worthy American tribute to the masters), with just a little something extra and different... must be coming from those raisins.

I'd recommend seeking this out on tap... after trying both bottle and tap, there's something in the taste missing from the bottle.

Photo of hobbes2112
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle.

Pours dark amber with medium offwhite head. The retention is very short and the lace is minimal. Smell is sweet raisin and malt both with an earthy tinge. Taste is very similar to the smell, sweet raisin, malt, belgian (beet?) sugar, and alcohol. I am actually reminded a lot of Vinho Verde wine (Portugese white made from under-ripe grapes)

At first when the beer is still with head, the flavors are really vibrant and layered but as the carbonation goes away so does some of the complexity.

This beer is good, but it is a little too sweet to have more than one at a time.

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

OK. Let me start by saying that I was a bit put off by the use of green raisins in this beer as well of the fact I am not big Belgian strong ale person. This beer was very much a suprise.
Pouring a brilliant beet red color with little foam to speak of it almost looks like a wine.
The aromas are malty and fruity.
The flavor again a bit like sherry with hints of fig like grandmas fruitcake around christmas time.
The finish was sweet and lingering with a date aftertaste.
This beer would be an excellent choice for a dessert beer or a light after dinner beer.

Photo of anders36
3.92/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I bought this bottle in a beershop in London. Iy pours a hazy mahogany colour with a off-white head. The head disappears quickly though, leaving just a thin rim. It has a malty and sweet smell. Some hint of alcohol in the smell aswell. The taste is malty and sweet from the sugar and some hints of raisins. The mothfeel is smooth and warming. But you can not taste the alcohol. This is a good beer even if i don't like raisins.

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