1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,091 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,091
Reviews: 1,767
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 72
Gots: 283 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Raison D'Être Alström Bros
Ratings: 4,091 | Reviews: 1,767 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of PeatReek
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dunno if this one changes by season; my glass was bottled in Nov. '05.

Appearance: Very clear amber/copper with yellowish off-white head.

Smell: Yeasty. Maybe some very mellow goldings or fuggles. A bit of sulphur? I could be making that up.

Taste: ah, there are the esters. Attack is a nice rounded malty sweetness, followed by subtle bready/malty tastes. The alcohol makes an appearance in there somewhere, but it's not "hot" for an 8.0.

Mouthfeel: a little thin considering how bold the tastes are; feels somehow insubstantial. Carbonation burns a little at the end, but again I just don't feel the high alcohol.

PeatReek, Jan 14, 2006
Photo of Bootscraper
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my second Dogfish Head type that I have had the privilege of enjoying.The first was their pumpkin ale, which I can say is up there as one of the creamiest beers I have had. Whenever this brewery ever got mentioned at another forum, someone in particular always raved about this brew. So, I thought it was about time I reviewed one.
Served between 45 and 50 degrees F in my trusty pint glass, listening to Nachtmystium's "Instinct:Decay".
First things first... the off-white, bubbly head got up to about 2cm, settled to 1 cm after a couple minutes, a very thin layer after 5 mins, and nothing when I got to the bottom of my glass. However, this was the result of a vigorous pour, so my opinion is not stellar. The color was a very deep bronze/rust color in the shade, and a dark brownish red when held up to light. The lacing (when it was around) fell very slowly, but was quite minimal and patchy.
The last beer I reviewed was a belgian style very similar to this one, and shared some of the same rum-soaked fruit scents. This, however, was much more mellow and quite subtle.
In many reviews I have read, people claim this beer is a bit too alcoholic in flavor. I don't see it though. Yes, the warmth is certainly here, but it seems to be disguised by an indistinguishable pallet (to me, anyways) of dark fruit. The taste started off as a crisp, refreshing sweet (I would say like soda, but again... "mellow" is the name of the game here) that was overcome by the signature darker fruits and slight spiciness towards the finish. However, I want to say that somewhere in there I acutely detected something "brighter", more along the lines of Banana. Throughout the duration of each sip there was also both roasted and slight brown sugar flavors. Tiny bit of bitterness, not too bad though. very rich... I can actually see how this may be an acquired taste.
I like the stickiness of this beer. It wasn't too much where it leaves the candy-like syrupy feeling in back of your throat lingering for too long, but was still enough to please me. It also was not too heavily bodied, which means that even though the flavor is pretty unique, it doesn't hurt the overall drinkability too badly. Can't wait to have something else by this brewery in the future.

Bootscraper, Jan 10, 2009
Photo of airheadmtrcycle
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pilsner glass, which is blasphemous, I know. But they're new (my wife bought them for me), they look really cool and I like drinking from them. Poured a beautiful brown with a thick, frothy head that left a skim of crema-like head on top. A quick swirl brings back the thick head. The ale has a nice clarity without any visible carbonation.

The aroma is sweet like a dark fruit, perhaps figs, dates or, as it claims, raisins. There's something else there that I don't identify as alcohol until I taste it. The taste is very sweet, but not cloyingly so. I think I would have been able to identify it as Belgian without having to read it's a Belgian dark strong ale. The only other guess I can think of would have been a very unusual brown ale. I'm not experienced enough to distinguish a Belgian dark strong ale from a dubbel. Perhaps the Belgian dark strong ale lacks a hop presence. This ale definitely lacks a hop presence. There is an alcohol presence, but again not too much. The alcohol offers a spice that tries to balance the sweetness. The sweet fruity taste hits me first and then the spiciness follows through to the finish. Raisin D'Etre is a sipper, for sure.

The mouth feel is more carbonated than it looks and is pretty heavy on the palate. The extra bit of unexpected carbonation helps this along and contributes to its overall enjoyment.

Overall, I liked this beer. It's different, but based on the reviews I read I thought I would hate it. It turns out to be a pleasant surprise. I like the choice of malts and the way the roasting highlights them. I can imagine some might find this a little too sweet, but for me the spicy alcohol balances it enough that I enjoy it. Thankfully, I have another bottle; I would like to try this on-tap.

airheadmtrcycle, Jul 26, 2011
Photo of edskirk3
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, bottled December 30, 2005, apparently. I like when I can remember what I was doing the day that a beer was bottled. This has no effect on my rating but I just wanted to mention that. I was at work at the library, entering an audio verison of To Kill A Mockingbird into the catalog....

"A deep mahogany ale, brewed with Belgian beet sugars, green raisins, and a sense of purpose."

And in case anyone was wondering, Raison D'Être is a term for a sense of purpose. Literally translated from French, "reason for existence," or something like that.

OK, enough pretentiousness. It pours a deep, rich mahogany, good enough for Ron Burgundy's apartment (sorry, couldn't resist). Head is thin and white and doesn't get comfortable.

Smell is weakly of alcohol. Palate is same with undertones of dark malts, and dates/raisins. The alcohol is pretty dominant. Afterwards, a creamy sensation lingers, which I happen to like.

Not what I expected, but I'm not complaining. If I have one complaint, it's that the alcohol is pretty obvious. What I like about this beer is the creaminess, and the stickiness of my lips that results from drinking it. I'm a sucker for stuff like this.

edskirk3, Mar 27, 2006
Photo of jasonjlewis
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer wasn't bad, a hint of raisins in the back round with some caramelized malts. Nicely complex and balanced. very interesting and a little different. Has decent head and retention. Has a nice smell, but it's faint. Mouthfeel is nice and crisp, but could be a little bit thicker. This beer is easy to drink, but I don't think I'd make a sessionout of it. It's ok to have a couple of though. this is the most popular dogfish beer in lubbock, but it's no where near my favorite of their brews.

jasonjlewis, Nov 07, 2006
Photo of Zorro
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed through the miracle of BIF 43 NC Lotto and hoppedup.

Pours a clear brown ale with a very slight head formation. When held up to the light this is bronze colored ale with maybe a little extra red to it.

Smell is sweet malty and bready yeast to the nose. Fair whiff of coffee aroma from dark malt and apple and grape aromas. Toffee, butterscotch and some scorched sugar aromas are also in this. Alcohol is detectable in the smell, but it carries pepper, roses and peach aromas to the nose.

Taste is sweet and a little bready at the start. A mild flavored ale the first thing that gets my attention is a little coriander and coffee and smoke flavor. Fairly malty but this seems a bit under flavored.

Mouthfeel is good.

This is certainly a drinkable beer but I really expected more from DFH. The flavor is just too mild for my tastes.

Zorro, Jun 24, 2006
Photo of BBM
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours a deep amber color with an off-white head that sticks around for most of the time. There is a dark fruity smell, combined with big malts and an alcoholic tinge at the back end.

I wasn't sure what type of beer this was when I tried it, but I would not have guessed a Belgian Dark. It doesn't seem to have the Belgian spice character or the earthy hops. That's not to say it's a bad brew though, because I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a huge malt character up front, with rich, dark sweetness coming through, and a mild hop presence to balance it out. Then there is a big, warming alcoholic finish to prove this beer means business.

Mouthfeel is medium, somewhat creamy and very smooth. However after even one, the sweetness and alcohol start to wear down your tastebuds. Overall this is another winner from DFH, but not quite on par with other Belgian dark ales out there.

BBM, Apr 06, 2007
Photo of mooseisloose
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Smells of many things..hints of coffee and brown sugar and butterscocth. Poured into..what else..a Raison D'Etre goblet. Had it for a while but never tried the beer. Pours to an opaque medium brown that lets slight light through. Taste is very complex. Heavy texture and sweet but also sour. Malty with only trace hops evident. The AC is evident but not overly so. The lacing is incredible, looks like wine, the best i've ever seen. This is a delight in a goblet. Dogfish continues to delight.

mooseisloose, Apr 11, 2008
Photo of cyclonece09
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Pours a nice deep maroon color with a small white head that dissipates quickly but leaves a little lacing. Smells of fruit dominated by raisins. Tastes of raisins and slight grape taste with some wine-like hints. Beer is carbonated correctly, goes down smooth with only a slight taste of fruit aftertaste. Overall, a very good beer.

cyclonece09, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of movingtrain
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle sampled form a Piraat glass.

Pours a light brown/amber color. From the bottle there is a good amount of carbonation, but as the beer settles, that head fades quickly to almost nothing.

The aroma is kind of winey. Lots of malt in the nose, cinnamon, brown sugar, grapes, plum, hard candy, and perhaps some hops in the background, but not too present at all...somewhat reminds me of spiced rum.

The up front is on the bitter/sour side with citrus puckering notes. There is also a rich sweetness in there as the beer warms and coats the palate. The sweetness seems to come in the form of sugar flavors, as well as some white grape juice. There is some spice there, too...cinnamon for sure.

Overall, a unique beverage, but not one that is particularly drinkable. The 8% ABV is masked quite well underneath the flavor of the beer, and is not overwhelming at all. The flavors linger for some time, and the beer finishes with some interesting elements.

movingtrain, Jan 23, 2011
Photo of magnj
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a - Deep Mahogany as the bottle suggests. 1 Finger head from a strong pour settles to a film, then a ring. Looks very nice.

s - Smokey, Raisin. A little different, a little funky, but intriguing.

t - The Raisins are there for sure. Hops are very subtle and there is a dry smokey flavor, a little grainy. Alcohol is detectable but not strong. Just like it smells, a little weird, different than anything I've tried but not unpleasant and quite complex. Tastes like a Belgian Dark Ale with a twist.

m/d - Not real thick or syrupy, not too thin. Tasty enough, but at 8% and with it being a little unique it's a sipper and I'd only have one. Not an all night session beer but I'd drink it again.

magnj, Jan 13, 2009
Photo of dauss
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

dauss, Oct 07, 2004
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.

ramrod666, Jun 01, 2004
Photo of ChrisBowers
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

You gotta hand it to the boys at DFH for trying new things. Sometimes they may go a bit too far, and I think this is one of those occasions. It is not a bad beer, but its novelty wears off quickly. Pours a medium brown with zero head. And I mean zero. Smell is of raisons and alcohol. Taste is pretty much the same. Very sweet. At first the melding of the raisons and the belgian beer sugars is interesting, but eventually it kinda overpowers your taste buds. The alcohol is very evident... not bad on a cold winters day, however. This stuff I've found is better on tap. Out of the bottles its just too syrupy.

ChrisBowers, Jan 11, 2004
Photo of cnjohn19
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I understand the reviews on here do not seem to be the best, but i enjoy this beer...much different than the hop dominated brews i typically search for...

Pours a dark brown with a minimal white/yellow head...very clear and looks a tad amber in the light...Smells of chocolate, white grapes, and almonds...A rich taste with its distinct raison-ish aftertaste...Give it a second, at first you may not enjoy it, but it gets better once the brew warms slightly in the glass...This beer is slightly bitter, and I'm not sure it's supposed to be...

Let this beer warm a bit and you'll enjoy it more...

cnjohn19, Apr 16, 2009
Photo of brentk56
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours a clear, relatively dark amber color with a head that disappears rather quickly; some strands of lacing are left behind

Smell: Caramel, figs and prunes with an edge of cinnamon

Taste: Relatively sweet caramel, up front, with the fig and prune flavors and hot cinnamon developing through mid-palate; after the swallow, just a little too alcoholic, but still shows off the dried dark fruit

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: For a Belgian dark, this lacks the caramel malt and dark fruit complexity that I associate with the style; an interesting experiment, but there are other Belgian darks that I prefer more

brentk56, Jul 03, 2005
Photo of Onenote81
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice mahogany brown with a nice reddish hue. Pretty small head on this one which was disappointing. Pretty good lacing along the edge after each drink though.

Smelled some grape, raisin, and maybe some plum? Definitely sweet smelling for sure.

Nice velvet-like quality to the mouthfeel; nice and smooth. Slight metal bite for the first few sips. This gives way to the taste of raisins and licorice. This brew reminds me of wine for sure. There is little burnt taste on the finish.

This beer is different than any thing else I've ever tried, for which I am very glad I did give this a go, but I will probably not visit this again anytime soon. Not bad, just different.

Onenote81, Aug 12, 2008
Photo of theboozecruise
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Chimay goblet. It pours a dark ruby color, smallish off-white head. It appears to be filtered as there is not cloudiness in the beer. It's alright, but nothing outstanding on the eye.

The smell is a little confusing, but I like it. Definite darker fruit smells, plums and raisins. There is also a little caramel malt in there, like there's some brown ale influence.

The taste is more of the same, raisins mixed with the malty flavors, but the hop presence comes out much more on the tongue than the nose. It tastes more like a Belgian ale than it smells. I like it, but still not top notch.

No complaints about the mouthfeel, but I can't see throwing these back. It's hard for me to define 'drinkability' with a beer like this, but it doesn't make me excited to dirnk another, I'd rather move on to something different, so I can't give it too high of a score.

theboozecruise, Feb 05, 2010
Photo of soulfly1492
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aroma: Chocolate, brown malt, esters in the form of raisins and prunes, brown sugar. Some alcohol mixes in with all the sugars.

Appearance: Dark, caramel color. Cloudy. Light brown head with a tint of orange. Great retention

Taste: Sweet and fruity, hard to pinpoint at first, this is definitely a bit different. Brown malt, some milder English malts, semi-sweet chocolate, raisins, brown sugar and coffee.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body. Foamy from the carbonation. Nice neutral feel, not oily, not drying. A bit warming though.

Overall: Complex for sure. Just enough bite to make this one a sipper, but a savory one at that. Like a combination of a brown ale, coffee stout, and Belgian dubbel.

soulfly1492, Jan 29, 2012
Photo of kneeland
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

I love the appearance, but the laced head does disappear before you're done. A lovely copper penny shade.

I taste a whole lot of malt, and caramel, and Belgian nuts. Very nut brown ale-like. Almost reminds me of Buster Nut by Ska.

Overall, this is a good one. I would definitely have another, but not too many. It is a heavy one for my American blood.

kneeland, Oct 09, 2011
Photo of canucklehead
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this beer in Washington State and was excited to finally
taste Dogfish Head's brews. This Belgian style ale was much
more subtle than I expected with a nice balance of sweetness and
complex fruit flavours. Dangerously drinkable at a fairly high abv ,this beer compares with similar offerings from Unibroue
Ommegang and Hair of the Dog. I can't wait to try Worldwide Stout.

canucklehead, Sep 08, 2003
Photo of dreadnatty08
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, dark mahogany color as its description implies. About a half inch of head is formed after an aggressive pour, staying around. Aromas are rich, chocolaty, sweet, oaky and vanilla. Flavor is almost stout like in texture and sweetness. Moderate carbonation floats heavy roasted flavors, sweet maltiness mingles with minimal hopping. An enjoyable beer, distinct for sure, but lacking a bit of complexity with an overall cloying sweetness surrounding it.

dreadnatty08, Jul 05, 2006
Photo of larryi86
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle dated 2/18/10 poured into a snifter

A- A nice brown with red tint and a small tan head.

S- Malts and brown sugar with a hint of raisin and alcohol.

T- Malts and dark fruits, it is a little on the sweet side.

M- Smooth and thick.

D- This is an enjoyable and drinkable beer. This is not a bad example of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but no where near the best. The reason I like this beer is the fact that it is a cheap Belgian, $8.99 a six pack compared to $13.49 for a 750mL bottle of Chimay, and the only thing it is missing is the complexity.

larryi86, Jun 18, 2010
Photo of rye726
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice mahogany color with a tan head. Nose has sweet malts, and spicy Belgian yeasts. The taste also has a nice malt profile, but is not super complex. A good beer, but I'd like to see more Belgian characteristics. Medium body is well carbonated and drinks well.

rye726, Jan 30, 2009
Photo of peck95
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

this beer is a dark copper color with a very thin head and a little bit of lacing
the aroma is of rum cake/ banana nut bread
has a nice earthy taste raisons, nuts, caramel, and bananas also a strong alcohol note
over carbonated and a big alcohol burn,
a solid beer that i would call a mood beer, good only when im in the mood for something a little bit different.

peck95, May 03, 2009
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,091 ratings.