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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,846 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3846
Reviews: 1760
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%

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)
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Ratings: 3,846 | Reviews: 1,760 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of obywan59


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

Pours a deep mahogany like the bottle says. 1 1/2 finger head that quickly dissipates.

Smells of sweet raisins. Distinctive Belgian aroma as well. A bit of coffee.

Burnt, sweet, and burn (from the alcohol). Not much subtlety here. A little tartness. Did I mention burnt?

Moderate mouthfeel. It helps keep that burnt flavor on the tongue.

A bit tough to drink until the 8.0 ABV kicks in. I'd have been upset if this had been a only a 4.0.

In the end, it's the ABV that saves this beer. By the end of the first glass, your'e only just a bit wistful that there isn't more flavor.

This knocks off Delirium Noel as the least favorite of the BSDAs that I've sampled this season, but I still enjoyed it in the end. It's way better than Guiness Draught in a can.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2010 06:26:50 | More by obywan59
Photo of seanyfo

United Kingdom (Scotland)

2.78/5  rDev -24%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

12oz bottle bottled on 15 dec 2009

Poured into my Hofbrau willibecher

A- Chestnut brown body with excellent clarity, 2 finger head that reduces quickly producing average to poor lacing.

S- A metallic note, faint belgian yeast, maybe a hint of vinegar. No real feel of malt richness as expected for the style

T- Very faint belgian yeast sweetness, a little roasted note, maybe a little caramel and wholemeal bread. Slightly syrupy finish. This is more like a higher abv brown ale! Some alcohol heat is an unwelcome afterthought

M- Medium body, low carbonation, cask ale-like!

D- Its easily drinkable but this is not a very good example of the style, it makes a better brown ale. Flavour profile is faint and underwhelming with a lifeless body. No thanks!

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2010 22:29:16 | More by seanyfo
Photo of dontpanic5

2.78/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

It pours a muddy amber with barely any head. In the nose it's fruity, bananas are what I immediately thought of, and there's the smell of chewy malts. The taste is dominated by the strange taste of beets. Off the bat I'm not really a fan. The deep malt taste isn't offensive but it can't do much to save this beer from my judgement. It has a nice carbonation and a light body. Overall I can't say I'm really enjoying this beer at all. That's Dogfish Head for you, it can be really hit or miss!

Serving type: bottle

10-04-2012 22:47:08 | More by dontpanic5
Photo of PatYoda


2.8/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Definitely not impressed. Pours an ugly clear copper color with absolutely no head after 30 seconds. Taste was metallic and alcoholic with some dark fruit and syrupy sweetness. A nice spiciness at the end is tasty though. Hardly any carbonation. Maybe this was a bad bottle. I have some more and will rereview if different.

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2005 01:23:23 | More by PatYoda
Photo of muddyriverduck


2.8/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Hmmm. I expected more.

First off, it looks more like a pinot noir than it does a beer. No head whatsoever and very little carbonation.

It smelled like sweet rum. Where's the raisons?

Very dry, in taste and mouth feel. Thin and watery.

I'll make it through one, but will not be having another tonight. At $10 a sixer, I will not be purchasing again. Maybe Frazbri and BrotherFraz2 can come over and help me with the other five.

Serving type: bottle

06-28-2007 01:22:53 | More by muddyriverduck
Photo of dfillius


2.8/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Served in a goblet. I tried this beer 5 years ago and did not like it - this is my attempt to try again now that my palate has changed.

A: aggressive pour yields 2/3 finger of off-white head which quickly subsides to a ring of thick lace. Clear dark brownish-red (mahogany as the bottle claims - I stand corrected).
S: Sweet and fruity, raisiny, red wine-iness comes through, though this is definitely beer as it has a strong malt character, roastiness and spicy hops.
T: A sweet flavor up front with an off, flavor blocking presence in the center of my tongue (wacky and tannic). Kind of bitter, some cooked veggie DMS apparent.
M: Too carbonated. Bright but syrupy, Tannic bitterness at end.
D: Not good. I'm struggling to get through this one.

Apparently though my palate now likes super-hoppy things, it still does not like raison d'etre.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2009 19:37:33 | More by dfillius
Photo of StaveHooks


2.8/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Pours a dark red amber. An off-white head sinks quickly

S - Woody roasted malt, toasted toffee, earthy bark.

T - Super sweet candy malt, dark fruit preserves, spice towards the middle. I keep getting NyQuil. The alcohol is there and doesn't play well with the rest of the components.

M - Low carbonation, thin watered down syrupy feel.

I wanted to like this more than I did. It is an interesting beer but I couldn't help thinking of NyQuil the whole time. The syrupy malt drowned out everything except the alcohol.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2010 23:59:47 | More by StaveHooks
Photo of Jimmys


2.8/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A: a slight hazy on this bright red/brown hued body. big fluffy head turns to a slight rim of retention.

S: some sweet candied syrup (im assuming this comes from the beet sugars), a little roast/caramel. hard to identify the raisins.

T: some caramel. soft fruit similar to banana. perhaps some of that raisin in there as well. cant pick up any any hop attributes. a little, tiny bit of alcohol.

M: medium body. moderate carbonation that finishes with some fizz on the tip of my tongue.

D: doesnt taste like an 8%'er. much lighter in my opinion. not really a strong bel. dark. just missing something. not quite enough in the nose or on the palate.

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2011 02:45:47 | More by Jimmys
Photo of scotorum


2.8/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Poured into a tulip glass from the 12 oz. bottle.

a. Deep translucent amber forms a finger thick head which quickly dissipates to a ring of foam around the edge. Abundant bubbling. Looks more like red wine as it's consumed

s: Mild fruit.

t: Fruity, no doubt the raisins are responsible for some of the dark color and impart a wine-like taste.

m: Moderate bitterness. Rather harsh.

o: Since I prefer beer to wine, and this tastes like some kind of hybrid, it's not a favorite.

Serving type: bottle

06-14-2013 05:54:36 | More by scotorum
Photo of Beerandraiderfan


2.81/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Dark brown, hints or amber color underneath. Smells like a mess. Another collection of DFH hodgepodge ingredients. Not really my favorite style, nor brewery, lots of sugar, but at least not overly sweet, just a bunch of strange adjuncts to give the impression of being "complex".

Not a desireable taste left, and a struggle to keep drinking it to the end. Try this one with friends, that way you don't end up drinking all 12 oz. by yourself.

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2010 18:59:43 | More by Beerandraiderfan
Photo of TXHops


2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

-ABV: 8%
-IBU’s: 36

Mmmm—beet sugar…. Nothing beats beet sugar as a non-malt fermentable, except maybe green raisins… DFH’s Raison D’etre refuses to compromise, and includes both… The beer pours a solid, clear, deep amber and supports a better head than the 8% ABV would suggest, though it’s not great. An aroma of alcohol and cider do not make a promising first impression. The flavor is more beery than the aroma suggests—brown sugar and cinnamon mingle with fluffy carbonation and no hop character to create a Belgian flavored, spiced English strong ale-type concoction. I tried this beer on tap once while in Delaware and thought it was too cidery and thin to merit any further tasting. The bottled version appears to taste less cidery (though still more cidery than most beers) and slightly more complex. Some of the other flavors seem to add a degree of Belgian spiciness and depth in the flavor that even the slightly vegetal finish doesn’t detract too much from.

All in all, I’d chalk this one up as Dogfish having pushed the envelope a little too far beyond the “beer boundaries” and into the experimental, novelty category. The concept is way more intriguing than the flavor. The beer finishes long, fluffy, slightly sour and fake. It tastes exactly like I’d expect a beer with a large percentage of non-malt fermentables would taste—cidery (again). Oh well, there’s still the continuously hopped beers….

Serving type: bottle

06-30-2003 20:13:42 | More by TXHops
Photo of Stimack

New York

2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This brew poured to a cloudy red-brown color with a small light tan head that did not have much retention.

The brew smells of rum, very noticeable once poured, fruit (mostly raisins) and caramel. An interesting brew, but not one that smells really great.

The taste is upfront is pretty good, seems to be under carbonated but not bad. The finish reminds me of stronger alcohol as I have a taste in the back of my mouth that reminds me of rum.

Over all not a bad brew, can see why it is 8% ABV. Can’t say that it is one that I would go out of my way to get again. Interesting but not my cup of tea!

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2004 02:35:14 | More by Stimack
Photo of beachbum1975


2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bought a single of this beer to try it out.

Served around 60 degrees, this definitely has a unique smell immediately after the pour - can't pin it down.

It poured a gorgeous, clear, dark amber color with hints of orange on the edges of the glass, no foamy head remained after the initial pour and very little to no bubbles.

I smelled lots of malt mixed with molasses scents. After sitting in the glass for a few minutes, the Belgian characteristics came out more prominently - richer and sweeter with very little alcohol taste in the mix.

The malty flavor remainded in my mouth minutes after tasting.

I had a Trappistes Rochefort 8 a couple days ago, and I am not certain of the age of this beer, but it tasted like a younger, more crisp Belgian beer.

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2006 02:53:26 | More by beachbum1975
Photo of jhu1995


2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown with reddish tones and tan head. Smell had a faint sweetness and some mild hop character - nothing special. Taste was mostly raisins and plums, slight sweetness and some burnt flavors. Somewhat syrupy mouthfeel. Not that bad to drink but nothing really special about it. Not really worth the effort to seek out.

Serving type: bottle

04-28-2007 02:31:03 | More by jhu1995
Photo of bearrunner44


2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: A deep, dark red, with unusual clarity for an ale. Abundant, somewhat clingy light tan head.

Aroma: Lightly sweet aroma. Smells of rum, sweetish raisins, and a light breadiness reminiscent of sweet rolls.

Taste: Very fruity, tasting strongly of raisins, prunes, and other sublimely sweet fruit products. The light and toasty character of the malt adds some slight balance to the beer, but this is a very sweet drink overall. The alcohol is pretty obvious from start to finish, eventually leaving a somewhat harsh medicinal aftertaste on the tongue. It sort of reminds me of the stiff, fruit juice-based mixed drinks we used to come up with in college; there's no nuance or complexity here. Just alcohol and sweetness.

Verdict: I'm always up for new and interesting takes on a style, but this is a swing-and-a-miss for me.

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2008 07:58:25 | More by bearrunner44
Photo of champ103


2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A: This has a great color. Deep amber/brown with some reddish hints. A small white head forms with poor retention and almost no lace.
S: Malty and earthy with some dark fruits and raisins. Some brown sugar as well. Though, there is also an odd musky and metallic aroma that I do not like.
T: There is a bit more malt flavor than in the nose. I like what the raisin characteristic brings, but that metallic flavor that was in the nose is present and big.
M/D: a very harsh crispness in the mouth and to much carbonation for my tastes. The harshness is not from the alcohol, but rather a rough metal fell on the mouth. This needs to be much creamier and rich. This actually drinks just fine. The high alcohol is not detectable, but the metallic stuff going on does not make this particularly smooth to drink.

I am not a fan of this beer. Some sort of metallic characteristic seems to show up in in very aspect of this beer. This is not something I will try again.

Serving type: bottle

03-22-2008 01:04:38 | More by champ103
Photo of Buebie


2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I purchased this at Chicano's in Hudson WI, not available in MN.

Poured a 12 oz bottle into a snifter
A: Color is dark ruby red with a little copper toneing. Lace not present, little head retention. At the pour I had a good finger of head that quickly vanshed into thin air.
Minimal bubble rise from the bottom of the snifter.

Smell: Smells like fruit, charred caramel, some toasted bread, alchahol. Very disatnt wiffs of chocolate.

Taste: Sweet upfront, then quickly headed south. Robatussin cough syrup like aftertaste. Just a hint of chocolate after the swallow.

Mouthfeel: Syrupy in the and on the front end entering my mouth, then changing to a more watered down consistancy. Moderate carbonation
This is an interesting beer. The acahol is way to strong, in the smell and on my tounge. The balance in this one is not there. I'd drink it again if it was free, but I wont buy it again.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2008 19:37:30 | More by Buebie
Photo of brewmudgeon


2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

2.5 A looks like cola after small head gone
3 S sweet malty, molasses, prunes
3 T like a mediocre homebrew resulting from attempt to make something heavy and
alcoholic. too sweet. actually reminds me very much of one of my own homebrewing experiments.
2.5 M like cola with less fizz. sticky.
2.5 D i do not plan on having more, but wouldn't completely dread

Serving type: bottle

09-08-2008 15:28:37 | More by brewmudgeon
Photo of sarahspat


2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

The color is a brownish burnt orange; very clear. Decent sized head, which quickly dissipates leaving a slight crown of near white foam.

The nose is roasted caramel malt, coriander and other spices; hickory smoke.

Spices overwhelm the palate... way too many spices for me. Honey, and caramel are also present. The caramel is very nice and almost makes up for the spice explosion.

The mouthfeel is thick, with heavy carbonation. The overpowering coriander flavor really hurts drinkability for me. It's just too much. To be honest, I could only deal with about 6 oz, before pawning the rest off on my friend.

I also had this on tap at the Falls Church "Alehouse" last summer. I remember it tasting much different than this. It had a much more assertive caramel malt presence. I really enjoyed it then, which is why I wanted to try it again. Unfortunately, things didn't work out so well the second time around.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2009 20:20:54 | More by sarahspat
Photo of grayburn

South Carolina

2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The beer pours a dark mahogony, nice creamy cap on top that laces very well.

The smell and taste both contain an unpleasant mixture of bell pepper like fresh flavor and dark ripe fruit. They both kind of fight for power, never blending together.

The mouthfeel is nice, medium bodied with just the right amount of carbonation.

This beer would be pretty drinkable, the alcohol is hidden well, the mouthfeel is very nice...but the taste and smell really just keep me from enjoying the experience as a whole. Odd, because I love the D'extra. I cannot complain at all though, it's their creativity that keeps me coming back.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2009 17:27:53 | More by grayburn
Photo of CityBoy1986


2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip from a 12 oz. bottle.

The pour is a fairly clear brown with little head and lacing. What little head is there quickly dissipates into just a film.

The nose is mostly of raisin with a hint of nutmeg. The taste adds a bit of wheat with some brown sugar and quite a lot of alcohol, which isn't hidden well at all.

Mouthfeel has a lot of carbonation and some dryness. Drinkability is okay; I wouldn't buy this often even if it were available.

I wouldn't have to be desperate to reach for this, but it wouldn't be a first choice. It's okay, but not great.

Serving type: bottle

03-23-2010 02:42:53 | More by CityBoy1986
Photo of jadpsu


2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours amber with an off tan head that has both superiorretention and side lacing.
Aroma is of molasses and raisens and to a lesser extent some mlatiness. Alcohol is definitly present and heavier than I like.
Taste is syrupy and sweet, but too sweet and any malts are lost in the sweet syrup.
Finishes dry but too sweet for me.

Serving type: bottle

06-12-2010 01:07:43 | More by jadpsu
Photo of IronDjinn

Alberta (Canada)

2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

From a 12 oz. brown bottle. Pours out a translucent amber hue, a quick splash of beige head.

Toasted caramel malt on the nose, currants and pears, light yeast character.

Tart dark fruit and esters dominate the flavour up front, sugary and slightly vinous notes in the middle, mild roasted coffee-like notes rise up after the finish already and linger in the aftertaste. Things get herbal, bitter and astringent later on in the aftertaste, difficult to pick out whether those are hops or some weird combination from the fermented raisins and yeast.

Medium-bodied mouthfeel, sticky texture.

Seems like a lack of cohesion here, some good elements present but they aren't working together in any semblance of balance or harmony.

Serving type: bottle

10-19-2010 02:33:45 | More by IronDjinn
Photo of Ricky1964


2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Amber with some copper hues. Head disappates quickly, some residual laciness across surface and and edges.

Smell is quite sweet; Carmel, toasted marshmallow, dried fruits, graham cracker, toasted malt, slight mocha note in background.

Enters palate rather flat. Takes a dip at the end of the midpalate, then finishes a bit dull and dry.

Probably won't be a repeat buyer of this...

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2010 22:02:17 | More by Ricky1964
Photo of travolta


2.85/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle

Apperance: The color is nice. It is a golden amber. Not very red, but right in the middle of gold and amber. The head was thick, but not creamy or rocky. The head was mostly flat, but well balanced. A head you would see on a TV commercial for beer. Head retention is acceptable, and lacing is nice.

Nose: Rum, carmel, and alcohol. I dont get any raisins. Alcohol is very present. Actually, maybe a little tiny bit at the end (raisin). Carmel and malt are nice to smell here. A simple, but hard to discover nose.

Taste: Very alcoholic at first. now that I have tasted it fully, it is alcoholic all the way through. i still get some malt and carmel, but the raisin thing is almost non-existant. It is crisp, but not from carbonation. It is crisp from the alcohol on the nose and tounge.

Notes: The apperance of this brew is the best part. To be honest, the head and color and lacing are not all that inpressive either. It's an 8%ABV, so I respect it. Money well spent if your looking for a clean buzz at a decent price from nice beer.

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2004 05:06:30 | More by travolta
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 3,846 ratings.