1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Educational use only; do not reuse.

4,228 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,228
Reviews: 1,775
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.03%
Wants: 93
Gots: 379 | FT: 6
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
to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Ratings: 4,228 | Reviews: 1,775
Photo of chunkylover53
3.21/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was surprised to find this at the local LCBO. I've tried a few others from Dogfish Head, but I've only found them at Smokeless Joe's.

Sadly, this didn't measure up to some of this brewery's other products.

It looked great: cloudy, dark brown with red highlights. Small off-white head. But the smell was almost non-existant. Some malt. Some dark fruits (Like maybe raisins? Duh.) and some anise.

As for the taste... it was... OK. The anise was very strong, but the beer was really sweet. Maybe they added a bit too much of those Belgian sugars they mention on the bottle.

Overall, it was OK. I wouldn't turn down another if someone else was paying. But I won't be going out of my way to get another.

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark murky brown with a wispy tan head and patches of lace. The aroma is of raisins, bran, bready malts and a wiff of hops. The taste is an intricate amalgam of different malt flavors. There are dark fruit, chocolate and bran flavors that get breadier as they mingle with the hops. Hop flavor is perceptable though very subdued. Hop bitterness is evident in the finish. The alcohol is definitely noticable, though its pretty modest for its ABV. The mouthfeel is thick and slightly creamy, with a silky smooth carbonation.

Photo of slitherySOB
2.02/5  rDev -44.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

First Rogue, now DFH. I seem to be getting the lower end beers from the breweries I'd like to try. Anyways, Raison D'etre was poured into a goblet. I'm thinking belgian style deserves a belgian glass. Was I wrong? Beer pours a red wine and brown colour. Pretty much no head. Violently poured, it comes with maybe a double fingernail thick that quickly disipates to nothing. Not a very good appearance. Smells of brown sugar, wine, alcohol, caramel and butterscotch. Not too bad, but a bit off with the sugar. Taste is too sweet. It's like red wine. Actually, it reminded me of Jewish wine. Very, very sweet. Raisins, sugar, malt, caramel, sugar and raisins. Mouthfeel is harsh from the alcohol, and actually quite thin for something so syrupy tasting. Drinkability is low. It's just not a good beer.

Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured copper color ale with a very small head that disappeared a tad too fast. Aroma is quite sweet with alcohol soaked raisins being quite noticeable. Body is quite full and carbonation is very low. Taste is very interesting resembling more like a barley wine (sweet raisins, warming alcohol) then anything else. The Belgian yeast must have been covered because I had a hard time detecting it. Overall, this is quite ‘’different’’ but very enjoyable. Wouldn’t mind laying a couple of them down to see the evolution of this beer.

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

Poured from a bottle, a kind of dark orangy red colour with absolutely no head. Smells interesting, caramel and raisin type smells. Has a sweet taste, buttery with some caramel and fruit. Burns a bit on the way down. Mouthfeel is pretty thick and creamy. Decent beer, kind of disappointed by it though, had been waiting a while and it let me down. But give it a try.

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

Pours a brilliantly clear copper-amber color, and is topped by a thin tan head. The aroma is rich with notes of brandy alcohol, rich raisin, some notes of tropical fruit. The beer is lightly sweet, yet rich and creamy, with perhaps a hint of butterscotch. There is a lot of great fruit flavors here, there is some definite raisin notes here as well as Muscat, and flower nectar. There are also some subtle spice notes here that seem to be yeast/ fermentation derived. This beer is quite interesting, and in some ways quite light, yet it is still quite rich tasting. This is quite tasty, and is certainly proof that Dogfish Head certainly likes to push the boundaries a bit.

Photo of HardTarget
3.99/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Standard 12 oz. brown bottle with 8% abv listed and a notch indicating it was packaged in, well, between 9 and 10, but no year listed.
Aroma: Rich malt extract and a hit of alcohol: a relatively simple smell in my book, but an enjoyable one.
Appearance: Deep clear amber with a strong carbonation feed picking up small dark particles in the beer. Looks like it is churning! Nice half finger creamy light tan head which is moving like a roiling pot. This beer looks alive! Left thick coats of lace and as the lace dried, tide marks.
Flavor: The green raisins come through the roasted caramel malt after a bit. This is rich. Alcohol is well hidden. Definite Belgian overtones, the purple grape/wine note of a dubbel or quad is present, but nicely fitting the Belgian dark category. Very rich and sweet malt, but doesn’t go too far, a beer has to know its limitations.
Mouthfeel: Medium heavy body that coats with a sugary persistent intensity. A bit fizzy but creamy, an odd combination
Overall Impression: This is a dangerous being; like most things with a true sense of purpose. Subtle but driven, creamy yet strong. Too drinkable, the flavor is heavy but not intense so I could probably do a few more, but the alcohol is about to put me on the floor. A little light for sipping, this is a good “I only have time for one beer” beer. Another offbeat beer from Dogfish Head and like the rest, worth seeking. So, SO glad they’ve made it to Texas!

Photo of connecticutpoet
3.03/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This was an amber ale that poured out with a 2 finger creamy head that dissipated a litle faster than I would have liked.

The aroma was difficult to characterize... not too sweet, and I could smell the raisins, and I could also tell they were not the dark raisins but light ones as they said. The malts were there, but as a minor player in the nose. Wasn't outstanding.

The taste was lightly bitter, and medium malt body, but there was a little funkiness caused by the raisins. This odd taste lasted into the aftertaste. Not totally pleasant. Better than macros, but not great in terms of a craft brew. And it really hurt me to grade it as low as I did, since several of the DFH brews are my favorites, but I think they left a 7-10 split with this one.

Photo of pootz
3.74/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz crown top bottle. nice looking ale...dark red-mahogany color.... smallish off white head that laces well...tiny bubbled carbonation. The nose is filled with a musty grape scent from the beet sugar/rasins and Belgian yeast...pleasant aroma. Started with an oily vinous mouthfeel like a port sherry...complex... tasted of molassass, spice, herbs, grapes but this gives way to an impression of a spiced brandy as the alcohol is detected...the finish is lengthy and warming as a drying bitterness takes over. A unique strong ale...sweet without cloying, complex and vinous yet drinkable. I will be putting a 1/2 dozen in my cellar to see what age will do to this wonderful ale.

Photo of DrJay
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear, red beer topped by a white head that thinned to lace rather quickly. The bottle claims it's mahogany... I'll buy that.

Smell: A combination of roasted barley and rich fruitiness, almost raisin-like. Light alcohol aroma is also present.

Taste: Starts very sweet with a strong mix of dried fruits (raisin, plum/prune) and a light alcohol taste. A light bitterness appears towards the end, but is still overpowered by the sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium/low carbonation that becomes evident on the tongue about halfway through. Medium/full, slightly viscous, syrupy body. Light alcohol warming on the palate.

Drinkability: The sweetness is quite prominent, and without some hop balance I wouldn't want to drink much in a single sitting. Also, the roasted aroma doesn't seem to blend that well with the sweet flavour. However, I'd definitly try it again.

12 oz. brown bottle with packaged on date clearly marked on the label.

Photo of KroMagnon
3.89/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The bottle says "mahogany", but I say it looks more like a reddish-orange, a tad dark. The head dissipated pretty rapidly, but that isn't uncommon for high-alcohol beers. The aroma has a lot of a kind of woody, higher-alcohol notes along with a pleasant caramel hint blended with a slightly musty note that is also pleasant although unusual. The flavor is nice, slightly malty sweet, but also a lot of alcohol noticable and touches of honey, dried fruit, and a slight bitterness at the end. This is good and interesting but I find it less drinkable than some higher alcohol beers, maybe because I think I can taste the alcohol. This is still a great sippin beer though.

Photo of thefireman
3.18/5  rDev -13.1%
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 +13.4%
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 +5.7%
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 +12.3%
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 -1.6%
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 +8.7%
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 +9.3%
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 +10.7%
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 +8.5%
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 -17.2%
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 +10.1%
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 -3.8%
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 +4.4%
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 +12.6%
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.

to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,228 ratings.