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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: 87
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 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.

Photo of kegerator
4.18/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very nice offering.
Poured a deep brown with a nice 1 inch head that left very nice lacing.
Smell was as the name suggests, malty, raisin and a hint of spice.
The taste was spice up front with a nice raisin quality. The spice was more of a sweet spiciness rather then the dried fruit quality. Very nice
Mouthfeel was medium to medium full. It was a bit thin for a big belgian style but very enjoyable

Photo of kmpitz2
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a golden amber color with 3 fingers of head that drops to about a finger with little to no lace. Not as dark as I would like or expect. The nose is mostly sweet malt with raisin. Not quite as strong an aroma as I would like. The taste is a little flat for a belgian strong dark. Its lacking some of the heavier fig characters I associate with the style. The mouthfeel is also a little on the weak side for me. It is thick, but not quite thick enough for me. As far as drinkability, this one goes down easy, but too easy in my opinion for the style. It should be a more sipping beer than a drinking beer, so it loses a bit there. Overall, it's not bad, but nothing to sing about.

Edit: Trying it again. The beer is a lot better than I gave it credit for earlier. The nose and flavor are very nice. I can't look at it in style, as I don't agree where it is placed.

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

I know there were some less than spectacular reviews of this brew, but my botlle was excellent. First, it poured a dark amber with a long lastling creamy head. The smell improved as it warmed, with a definte malt and hop presence....hops had grassy and fruity notes. Taste was initially sweet and upon first taste, somewhat metallic. The metallic quality ebbed as the brew warmed and I noted what seemed like cherries?....it took on an almost wine like quality and ended with a lightly carbonated finish that was somewhat refreshing. Drinkability for the style is good....fairly smooth, but the warming quality reminds you of the ABV. Mouthfeel is suprisingly smooth and has a dry finish. I was pleasantly surprised by this offering.

Photo of trancefishy
3.16/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

this brew looks a bit viscous when pouring it, and has a 5 second tiny head that disappears completely very quickly. sweet malt smell wafts up quickly, with what smells like artificial grape flavour following closely behind. tastes of alcohol and yeast, some apple flavour is also present. alright overall, but i am curious to see what else this brewery has to offer.

Photo of Ahhdball
1.99/5  rDev -45.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

This is from Dogfish Breweries? Somethings wrong. Jeeeez.
Nice beet red in color and when held to the light it produced a good amber reflection. No head and no lace.
Smelled bread and even more yeast, maybe some fruit, but faint. Alcohol was very present.
Alcohol presence came and stayed, raisons and, ready? Feet. Very thick, chewy not good.

Photo of RenoZymurgist
3.08/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a deep red with a fine white head that takes it's cue to exit soon after being poured. The aroma has a hint of sweet malt and a fruitiness that is either contributed by esters or from the green raisins. The flavor is definetly Belgian as it reminds me of a good tripel yet the color throws me off as i keep tasting for sweet malt and carmel flavors. The carbonation of this ale lends more credibility to the Belgian qualities as it just has that Belgian feel that is hard to describe unless you have tasted hundreds of Belgian beers and talked about many of them. Flavor has a slight carbonic bite followed with sweet malt and with a clean finish but with a lingering flavor of malt. I can't taste the green raisins but i do think that the beet sugar gave it that belgian candy sugar quality. I love the innovation that DFH brings to the craft brew scene and i hope to try more of thier strange and interesting beers.

Photo of assurbanipaul
3.79/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark amber with a thin off-white head. Nose is fruity and pungent, strange sour musty aromas mixed with the usual malts and hops. No lacing but thick enough to coat the sides.

Taste is like a strong, strong red ale. Caramel malt character dominates but is rounded out with some sweet non-citrus fruity elements like raisins, grapes or figs. Traces of tea, light tobacco or even whiskey-soaked wood, although it doesn't taste of whiskey. In fact, there's not a trace of alcohol in the taste at all.

Medium mouthfeel, smooth and oily with little carbonation. Finishes clean with no unpleasant aftertaste. My palate doesn't quite know what to do with this but it isn't bad. Unsure of how it matches up with the style but impresses me as sort of a hybrid lambic, sitting halfway between a gueuze and a Corsendonk. I would be real curious to see how this ages. Many thanks to spiritdeus for sharing this curious brew.

Photo of coasterfreak75
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The pour was dark copper red with a short white head that quickly dissapated and left a thin white lace around the top of the beer throughout the glass.

The smell was very heavy in malt and raisons.

The drink started with a thick heavy kick of malt followed by a wine like grape flavor. The finish was a lingering grape and hop flavor followed by alcohol warmth.

All and all a very drinkable beer but I don't think it would go good with food. Still a great beer to sit with friends.

Photo of filabrazilia
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a semi-clear orange amber with a small white head. Good lace drapes the glass.

A sweet malt aroma mixes with a faint fruity nose.

The malt is the dominant flavor in the taste but it's balanced by a grapelike presence. They are both balanced by a touch of alcohol.

This is a pretty thick and chewy brew that finishes with a nice alcohol warmth.

This is a good beer that I would recommend. Interesting.

Photo of heidelbeerg
3.67/5  rDev +0.5%
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
3.97/5  rDev +8.8%
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 -3.3%
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
2.8/5  rDev -23.3%
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?

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