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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,183 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,183
Reviews: 1,768
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.03%
Wants: 78
Gots: 307 | 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: 4,183 | Reviews: 1,768 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of heidelbeerg
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a nice mahogany color with a small off white head. The smell was malty/sweet. The taste was a little odd . It is sweet and still somehow sour . The raisins are very pronounced in the flavor. The mouthfeel is almost syrupy. I little too thick. The drinkability was good even though the ABV is high. I enjoyed my second one better. Had it two days later. Maybe this is the kind of flavor that grows on you and gets better and you aquire a taste for it.

Photo of cbl2
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Reddish-orange with inch thick head.


The raisins shine through here, along with an intense sweetness, including some beet characteristic.


Sweet with raisin undertones (like the label promises) just masking strong alcohol flavors, a long smooth sweet finish(supposedly brewed with belgian beets).

Photo of NEhophead
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Brewed with (among other things)...a sense of purpose"

Very carbonated, off white head that takes a minute or two to settle. Deep reddish/orange color that is a touch cloudy. Nice thin, intricate lacing.

Sweet, tart nose. Bouquets of raisins, dates, and possibly oranges. An overall sweet and sour smell.

A mouth puckering tartness that overides the beer's natural flavors. The peach, sweet raisin, and orange/citric flavors are there but not nearly as overwhelming as the ale's sourness. It's like drinking one of those sour Air Head candies.

Just an unbalanced ale. Too tart for the style: it just doesn't fit for a strong belgian dark in my opinion. The 8%abv is very well hidden and very well balanced with the flavor.

Easy to consume from a high abv standpoint, but the unbalanced sourness numbs the palate. More than one of these a night could lead to one of those annoying headaches the next morning due to the beer's sweetness.

All in all, not a bad beer, but just very unfitting of the style. Again you have to give the brewers at Dogfish Head credit for throwing out tradition and creating a unique concoction in its own right. The label reads that it's brewed with a sense of purpose...I'm just not sure what that purpose is.

Photo of Sixpack595
2.78/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not a very good beer. Harsh and astringant taste with a syrupy feel. Sweet and malty with a carmel taste and a touch of diacetyl. Low carbonation with minimal head and a muted aroma. Not very Belgian flavor, not very tasty either. I had to force this one down, now what am I going to do with the other 5?

Photo of Skidz
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out light brown and sits light mahogony in the glass with a small off-white head that fades to the sides and leaves a little bit on the surface.

Smell is spicy with unripened raisins, of the golden color. Some strange spicy sweetness, probably related to the raisins picks up in the back.

Taste is sweet and malty with a mild alcohol presence up front. Nice hop bitterness at the finish and some light twists of diacetyl.

Smooth in the mouth, bosting a medium carbonation level. A good sipper, very sugary and is a good way to finish off an evening.

Photo of Hibernator
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had the Dogfish Head Raison D'etre out of a bottle and it was labeled packaged in and the month 10 was notched. I served the beer in a snifter as suggested by the Dogfish Head brewery on their website.

The appearance of this strong ale is a semi-dark, deep brown. There was a minimal head, rather an off-white lacing around the edges of the snifter.

I tasted a very sweet and malty character initially with hints of plum & an alcohol presence in the finish. I also noticed an oaky, wine-dryness at points of the finish, almost like a Chardonnay.

Make no mistake about it, this is a strong beer (8.0% ABV). There are present complexities of flavor and sweetness.

I am pleased that I picked up a single of this to sample.

Photo of Jarod
4.25/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled in 12/03

This beer poured a fairly clear some what cloudy a golden brown color, where it was darker in the middle and more orange on the edges, and was decently carbonated throughout. The head that was produced was an off white/creamy tan color. Its consistency was fairly creamy and fluffy but was not long lasting as it fell to a ring on the edges and no center. The lace was there at times, creamy in texture and in sheets, but not lasting. The aromas were sweet, rich and deep to the back of the nose, tones of dark fruits, plums, raisons, sweet dark malts, a light spice tone, and intermixing throughout were alcohol esters and fruit soaked in alcohol notes. The flavors were a little more complex then the aromas, it was sweet and rich. I tasted in the first sip, hops (floral and spice) and dried leafs, then some dark fruits and malts. After the first sip passed, the other tastes that became noticeable along with the aforementioned were more dark malts, fruits (plums, raisons, maybe a hint of dark cherry?), some alcohol soaked fruits but subtly mixed in with the other fruits, an earthy tone throughout and finished with a hop and a bready yeast note. Also noted was that as it warmed the alcohol became more prominent near the finish. It left an aftertaste of dark malt, slight alcohol and the earth tones. The body was on the full side. The words of creamy, full and rich come to mind when drinking this beer.
Side: This was bought as a case a few months ago, and the flavors were richer and more pronounced through the first bottle drank, as it aged, it declined slightly in flavors which surprised me considering the style based on which ages well IMO, but still a good drink. Also as it warmed, it became more rich and creamy and full in the mouth.
This review is based on notes from the first bottles consumed and side notes from the last bottle drank.

Photo of ramrod666
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was given to me as a sample from Vecenie Dist. when I was picking up my beer order.
this beer pours a dark amber color with a beige 1" head that quickly disappeared. there was very little lacing through the ingestion of this tasty brew. sour grapes and alcohol dominate the palate but, with a bitchin' warming effect that follows all the way to the belly. I enjoyed this beer and would recommend and try it again. maybe not a beer that i would wack down a 12 pack of but, a great sipper nonetheless.

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

Brown to mahogany with very low off white head, low carbonation (almost flat), and left no lace. Malty Dark Brown Sugar aroma and flavor with alcohol on both nose and throat... raisins are evident but overwhelmed by malt and alcohol. Medium to full bodied (leans full) and smooth with a warming alcohol finish.

Can only be summarized as a Strong Dubbel... not nearly enough dark fruit character that I normally associate with this style.

Label states: "Brewed with Belgian Beet Sugars and Green Raisins"

Packaged in: 03 (month notched)-- '02' emb on bottom of bottle
Tasted: 05/25/04

($7.99 / 6-pack)

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

Guest tap at Barley's smokehouse, served in a snifter. This is an outstanding beer on draught. My wife ordered it and drank it, instead of just trying my beer as usual and I think that says it all. Pours a ruddy dark amber/copper color with a medium thin and fluffy off-white head. Thin and sticky lacing. The aroma is a complex blend of sweet fruit (raisins), malt, caramel and brown sugar. Medium-bodied and well-nuanced flavors that are alternatingly sweet and tart. It kind of reminds me of a sweeter version of Arrogant Bastard, with the fruit, hops, malt and other underlygin flavors. The finish is sweet, with creeping alcohol. Overall this is a great beer.

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

This copper-brown ale pours with a sizeable head, although it leaves little lace. The sugar aroma my have hints of other notes, but it lacks complexity. The flavors blend sugar sweetness, caramel malt, and raisin flavors with a a mild alcohol flavor. The mouth feel is medium to full bodied but there are times when it felt like I was drinking sugar water. There was a peculiar texture to the fluid. For a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Raison d'etre is quite drinkable.

Photo of pio
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

ruddy honey colored liquid with a little activity. an orange tinted cream head of foamy and bubbly composition that is, poured a bit roughly, is a dieing inch. i needed to keep after it to keep a head, eventually it stands down at a 3/4 moon blanket and leaves a scanty amout of lace.
scents. green grape and sweet pear stick out prominantly. a light caramel malt scent and just a hint note of floral and corriander. not enormously complex but inviting with a thin whiff of the alcohol tickeling. a light scent overall.
mmm. that is nice. sweet grapy start dries immeadiately and bitters up a touch with an herbal lingering and vegetable (oh my, it is beets...just like the bottle said!) a taosted oat cereal flavor abides in the finish with herbal bitters and a residual sweetness balancing precariously.
the mouthfeel is juicy on the body and mellow on the effervescance, very nice.
like a belgian but obvoiusly done differently, lacking the big yeasty and phenolics but it does have the fruitiness, strange beer. seems to reveal something about the belgian style in it's lack of complexity when compared to other belgian or belgian styled brews.

Photo of TagoMago
2.58/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Presentation: 12 oz. longneck bottle.

Appearance: Hazy amber brown. Pours with a very faint head. Lacing is also very faint.

Aroma. Pungent and solvent-like with an overpowering fusal alcoholic stench.

Taste: Up front alcoholic punch - very fusal. The alcohol seems to be overpowering. There is some and hops and malt with some funky raisin and plum-like overtones

Overall: This is one of the worst offerings from Dogfish Head - completely unbalanced in every way. I won't be buying this again.

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

The beer poured clear amber brown. The head was just off-white and lasting at the edges of the surface to lace the glass.

The aroma was malty with caramel and dark fruits.

The flavor was malty and sweet with caramel. The sweetness was lasting and was eventually replaced with a dryness. Slight chocolate flavor and perhaps a hint of cinnamon.

The finish was dry and caramel into the aftertaste. The body was medium to medium full.

Nicer that I remember from my last tasting. More sweetness than prior tastings.

12 ounce bottle. Packaged in 4 (cannot be 2004 based upon when I purchased it)

Photo of garthwaite
3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a magnificent dark amber. Scent is crazy complex & rich with banana, brandy, & sweet malts. Flavor is malty & sweet as well, but even more interesting. I'm detecting & enjoying hints of liquor & some mild acidity. Finish is a little watery, but the sweet is balanced beautifully by a kiss of bitter. Most enjoyable.

Photo of Crosling
4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light burgundy. The head is thin, creamy, mostly diminishing, eventually falling into only a ring around the glass and leaving nothing behind.

The nose reminds me of sniffing Westveleteren 8. Green apples, rum raisins, sharp alcohol, cellar mustiness, toffee and other fruit.

Very smooth, very complex, very well rounded flavor. The palate is slighty tart, full of raisins, slightly spicy, slightly bitter and quite enjoyable. Peppery spicyness and sweet sugars are present as well. I am really enjoying this.

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

This poured an orangish-brown brown color with an off white 3/4 finger head that dissipated very quickly, yet had an overall appearance of and mouthfeel of a highly carbonated ale. The aroma is of candied sugar with hints of alcohol in the background, but overall sweet smell and maybe some fruit. The taste is also sweet and a little musty. Reminds me of a brown ale, but more complex with maybe a little fig and tobacco. Sweet but not too sweet, bitter but not too high a hop presence. The alcohol content is more pronounced in the aroma and completely subdued while drinking the ale. Very drinkable and overall this is a great ale, and with the relatively low ABV could be a session ale.

Photo of LuckySevens82
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle.
Pours a clear dulled-ruby color with a nice side head, with lots of carbonation.
The ABV is high in this beer and you can definitely tell by the high alcohol scents. After you get past all of that though, this is a rather complex beer... There is a certain amount of spiciness and fruit scents as well.
The hop content in this beer is low, but still present in the taste. Among the flavors of this complex brew are dried fruit (apricots) grapes, and plums.
This is a lot smoother than you would think for such a high gravity brew.
Another solid offering from DFH.

Photo of FormatKid
4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked up a single of this from Riverside Beverage in Chattanooga. I’m a big fan of the brewery so I’m looking forward to this one.

It pours out a deep, slightly hazy, mahogany brown. The color is somewhat light but opaque. There is no head or lacing at all to speak of honestly, beyond a little swirl of spittle in the middle of the glass and a thin ring around the edges.

The nose is very big and upfront with brown sugar, brandy-soaked raisons, and over-ripe plum. The brown sugar smell is very deep and rich and binds everything together. The slightest evidence of a musty yeast is detectable here as well. The alcohol smell is there, but seems to meld into that syrupy sweet aroma.

Taste is very astringent at first. This however flattens out into a smooth, sweetness (there’s that brown sugar presence again). I honestly believe I can pick up the flavor of the green raisons in the middle. Hops ring about the edges and back of my tongue, and a vinous after taste like grapeskins is left in my mouth along with an ever so slight musty yeast flavor. The alcohol is present in the flavor but not as overpowering as some people seemed to have found it. Mouthfeel is medium and I detect little carbonation to speak of.

Dogfish head defies stylistic conventions again, and in my humble opinion..it’s a winner! For something that is brewed with Belgian yeasts I look forward to more of that musty characteristic but it’s forgivable. I definitely look forward to having this beer again.

Photo of BadBadger
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Yum. This fine beer lacked a head, even though I poured for affect. A nice deep copper coloring. A slightly sweet smell but definitely not in anyway overwhelming. A wonderful taste-somewhat sweet but very pleasant. No hint of alcohol, although it is certainly there. Give it a go.

Photo of AbePhroman
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I do enjoy Dogfish Heads brews and this is no exception. Not much of a head when I poured it. Smelled strong of malts and fruits. An excellent taste. Malty flavors with a hint of wheat maybe? It is very drinkable for an 8%. The alcohol is very subdued.

Photo of Bierguy5
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pale golden brown liquid with a white thick creamy/foamy head that was white. The head disappeared quickly which was disappointing. Smells spicy to me, like cinnamon? Hard to pick up anything else. Taste begins with a decent malt sweetness, followed by a fruit flavor like banana. There was a slight spicyness to the finish. It was thin, I thought, but it was pretty smooth. This beer seemed to be drinkable, but it just didn't do it for me. Still, good to see beer like this. Nonetheless, I am glad I gave it a try.

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

Dark amber color with very small head after the pour. Head disappears quickly, but leaves a nice lace 3/4 of the way through the glass. Musty, fruity flavor with a nice, but hard to pinpoint aftertaste. Finishes strong with the taste remaining consistent all the way to the bottom. Highly recommend this one.

Photo of BeerAngel
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear medium mahogany with a nice smooth cream-colored head that shrinks to a 1/8" long lasting layer. From the foamy head billows a musty fruit aroma with faint spicing in the background. The taste is again a musty fruit, more specifically grapes and raison flavors, with a non-stick yeast in the background and has a unique abrupt halt to the richness that just starts to poke through. It comes up a little short in the wave of flavors as the rug is yanked out from underneath your tastebuds. It still has the making of a good beer in this medium bodied offering that finishes slightly sweet.

Notes: Quite drinkable at 8%, but I think it is lacking in the finish department. Perhaps that's what increases the drinkability because the taste ends too soon. This one is hard to explain, but it's an overall decent offering. Cheers!

Photo of rajendra82
3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

When poured into a Pilsner glass, the body was murky reddish brown with almost no head to speak of. The carbonation lasted for all of three seconds and then left the room. Aroma was complex and interesting. There were notes of rum, raisins, licorice, and candied apples on the nose. The taste was similar to the aroma: fruity, peppery, vinous, and dry. The alcohol content is high, but very well hidden. I think they went overboard with the adjuncts and neglected the malt in this beer. The result is a thin, watery, and disappointing mouthfeel. I have had better from Dogfish Head.

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,183 ratings.