1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. 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.

3,992 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,992
Reviews: 1,766
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 66
Gots: 241 | 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:
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:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Raison D'Être Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,992 | Reviews: 1,766 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DoppleJock


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into Unibroue tulip glass.

A: Poured a deep amber with 2 inches of foamy caramel head. Lots of carbonation pitting and good lacing along the sides of the glass. Good head retention.

S: Some dark fruits and sugary malts. Couldn't find much else...

T: Started out with dark roasted malts. Mildly peppery. Semi-sweet. Was expecting a lot more out of a Belgian strong dark ale....

M: Medium-bodied. Alcohol hidden well.

D: A decent beer but not top on my list for Belgian SDA's. Poured it at room temperature but the complexity didn't develop over the life of the glass. Left something to be desired...

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2010 03:33:30 | More by DoppleJock
Photo of TehAnkh


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'm drinking this beer as I'm writing this review.
I bought a sixer and I'm about 3 beers in (obviously it's drinkable enough).

A: Pours with a 2 finger medium tan head that recedes quickly to fine layer of bubbles. Dark red/amber color, very woody-brown/red and crystal clear. A few stray bubbles rise from the bottom. Leaves a nice lacing that seems to cling to the glass nicely.

S: The alcohol really comes through on the nose, but there are lots of nice subtle hints of fruits, brown sugar, a little pear and raisin, and perhaps a bit of a woody scent coming through. Lovely, but mild.

T: Woah! The alcohol bites you in the boo-boo on the first sip! But I'm not entirely sure if this is a bad thing, as it seems to work very well with the brown sugar coated raisin taste on the back end. Lots of fruity and malty notes. I like it.

M: Nice, medium body. Definitely not too thin or too thick for my tastes. Just a touch of bitterness, mild carbonation, pretty refreshing, albeit a "sipper". Glides right over my tongue with absolute ease, quite enjoyable.

D: I'm on my 3rd one of these as we speak, and I would not be surprised if I moved on to a 4th. Quite drinkable, and although the alcohol stands out it doesn't seem to deter me from wanting to crack another one open.

Overall a pretty good brew, I've had several of DFH's other offerings and don't think I'll be shelling out 12 bucks for a 6 pack of this ever again, but I'm not disappointed in my purchase. I will be gladly finishing off the 6 pack tonight. Pretty average, while the belgian sugars are obvious in the flavor, it just is not what I would expect from a belgian style ale.
Delicious in it's own way, but nowhere near similar to any others in it's class.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2009 01:12:06 | More by TehAnkh
Photo of Tromba


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an imperial pint glass.

A: Pours a beautiful deep red/brown - great clarity. White head dissipates quickly, and only leaves a slight ring. No lacing.

S: Roasted malts, a little bit of raisin.

T: Complex. Got better as I went. At first, alcohol flavor was very apparent as well as a slight iron-like flavor. It was not plesant. But after a few sips, those elements faded almost totally away to reveal a rich chewy maltiness, balanced by a subtle hop bitterness. The raisins come through, but very much in the background.

M: Medium to medium-heavy body. Not as thick or dense as I thought it might be. Finish leaves a bit on your palate - a little syrupy.

D: At 8%, watch out. As you go it gets easier to drink, but foght the urge and drink slowly! Overall, a good beer.

Serving type: bottle

08-09-2009 21:51:43 | More by Tromba
Photo of dedrinker


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber - kinda brown with a light tan head. Faint aroma of sweet and roasted malts. Tastes first kinda smokey and roasty, then sweet like caramel. A little oxidized too perhaps. Full bodied with soft carbonation. Minimal hops is good to let the malt and "offbeat" ingredients stand out more. Still not quite my thing though.

Serving type: bottle

09-19-2008 04:30:59 | More by dedrinker
Photo of Gobzilla


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: poured a dark amber brown in color with pale yellow highlights and a very thin head that left very little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: lots of sweetness oozing out of the aroma consisting of belgian yeast, dark fruits, burnt sugars, plenty of caramel with signs of booze, ever so slight hop presence and mild apple fruit notes.

T: the raisin dark fruit character was more dominant on the palate alongside belgian yeast, burnt sugar, carmel sweetness, well balanced booze heat, a touch of apple notes, and a hint of hops.

M: the brew was medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a dark fruity, sweet,slightly hoppy, boozy and sticky finish.

O; I thought it was an OK belgian strong dark but had great dark fruity character

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2012 22:31:14 | More by Gobzilla
Photo of Apellonious

North Carolina

3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- dark ruby, almost no head disappearing into a thin to non existent lace

S - Bananas, bread, alcohol

T - dark fruit, malt and sugar. Warming brings out the alcohol, some vanilla and bitter notes.

M - The mouthfeel is good, but odd ,as the carbonation sizzles on the back of the tongue, but is still syrupy. Sticky.

O - This ale packs a punch. An interesting twist on the Belgian ale, some may not dig it, some will love it. Try it and find out.

Serving type: bottle

08-28-2011 00:37:33 | More by Apellonious
Photo of JBogan


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a beautiful dark ruby with a nice creamy slightly off white head which leaves moderate lacing.

Aroma is of malt, bread, and dark fruit.

Taste is somewhat muted compared to the aroma. Raisins, malt, and yeast, but it all seemed somewhat flat tasting compared to what the aroma led me to anticipate.

Mouthfeel was smooth, yet very thin. Decent amount of carbonation. Would have liked more body in this.

This was an interesting brew, yet I can't say it made me want another. It's worth a try, but just needs a bit more oomph in the flavor profile and perhaps a thicker body.

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2009 23:18:50 | More by JBogan
Photo of Fugazme


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

from notes:

Pours dark red with a fluffy, white head... excellent clarity and nice head retention.

Aroma: sweet and yeasty... doughy... hints of molasses and dried fruit with apricots, raisin and cherry.

Palate is smooth... nice woody undertone with some dried fruit characters throughout... very sweet.

Overall: Drinkable? yes... great? not great... good.

Serving type: bottle

04-27-2007 15:46:32 | More by Fugazme
Photo of Nipitato


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bottle at Julio’s in Westborough, MA.

A: A wicked dark amber hue. No head. Good clarity. The beer has legs.

S: Sweet malt aroma – bready, caramel, sugar. Earthy. I am also picking up some grape like esters. Chocolate as well.

T: Chocolaty sweet malt. Esters are dark fruit – obviously raisins. Sugary. Hop bitterness finishes. Plenty of boozy flavors.

MF: Smooth medium body. Surprisingly no alcohol warming.

D: A decent beer. Highly drinkable – no. Not many Dogfish Head brews are. Is this a good beer, yes. Complex and interesting.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2008 17:47:33 | More by Nipitato
Photo of Minkybut


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 50 degrees. I have been looking at this beer for some time and was afraid I would not like, but I was surprised. It has a nice mahoganny color. Lacing and head not that great though. The beer had a bit of a smoky taste and smelled like an old barn. I think I will try again.

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2007 15:33:12 | More by Minkybut
Photo of SaCkErZ9


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle with no freshness. There are some tabs that would indicate a bottling date but no holes or notches in the tab.

Smell is mostly bubble gum and raisins. Actually smells like a rum raisin ice cream I had after dinner tonight. No hops are really detected. Mostly malts and the aforementioned raisins.

Taste is more of the same. Sweet, alcoholic. Bubble gum.

Creamy and smooth mouthfeel with a medium to heavy body. Very pleasant drinking 8% beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2006 00:45:01 | More by SaCkErZ9
Photo of Mitchster


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours to a clear dark-auburn with a slight chill-haze, requiring a very vigorous pour to form a tall light-tan latte-type head with a spongy texture. Retention is very good and lacing is average. Carbonation is mild. Aroma is fruity with dark fruit hints, black cherries, slightly vinous, sticky amber malts. The taste is rather mild...raisins, prunes, dust, brown sugar, caramel, port, peppery alcohol...there are fusels and acetaldehyde here, but my nasal congestion prevents it from being a burden. The solvent alcoholic esters are very prominent, like acetone/nail polish remover, as well and a bit stinging, interfering with the malts, though a bit of husky grain comes in towards the end. Bitterness is minimal, just leaving a hint of menthol/pepper sensation on the tongue about 3 minutes after my last sip.

Is this what candy-corn dipped in nail polish tastes like?

The mouthfeel is really smooth with a mellow finish. Brewed with Belgian sugars, but certainly not Belgian-style.

Despite all it's shortcomings, it's actually easy to drink owing to it's smooth mouthfeel and low carbonation. I can't normally stomach beers with this much fusel/acetone/isopropyl/solvent alcohol, but this doesn't seem to bother me. Again, it's my nasal congenstion, but the warming feeling is nice, and hey, it's opening my sinuses. I know, on any other day, the fusels would take off a point on taste, so I'll do that tonight despite the fact that my stuffy nose doesn't care. One bottle gives me a pleasant buzz on an empty stomach.

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2004 01:09:48 | More by Mitchster
Photo of jettjon


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Highs: Nose
Lows: Subdued flavor

Pours a medium-dark chestnut brown with few bubbles and no sediment evident. Head is one finger of brownish-tan foam that fades at a rapid pace leaving a thin sheet and little lacing behind. Underwhelming so far. The nose hints at something better: grapes, dark fruit, sweet plums or raisins mask a faint but definite alcohol presence. Taste is quite a bit lighter and less sweet than the nose leads one to believe. There’s a moderate alcohol presence and light hops bitterness. Finishes with a bit of alcohol and a dry malty flavor. I was a bit disappointed in the taste. Mouth is on the borderline between watery and syrupy, a little too thin for me. Drinkability is not bad, but since overall the beer is nothing special, I wouldn’t drink too many.

Overall: Not bad, but not my favorite. Seems a bit subdued. Give it a try.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2006 01:25:08 | More by jettjon
Photo of kiddynamite920


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Appears a bit flat and murky, has an amber color and very little head retention.

S: Smells quite nice, nice big malt backbone with all of the essential Belgian yeast characteristics. Bubble gum and banana, good spice note. Some vanilla and caramel.

T: Flavor almost exactly follows the aroma. Malty with the banana and clove type flavors. Quite sweet actually, would like some sort of bitterness here. Banana lingers around for a bit too long.

M: Not full bodied enough, thin. Carbonation seems to completely die by the end of the glass.

D: Eh, most BSDA's aren't highly drinkable, but this beer doesn't make you want to have another. I'll be sure to make my way through this six pack over time and probably won't be revisiting it.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2010 01:55:22 | More by kiddynamite920
Photo of Shaw


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Just like the bottle's label says, this is a deep mahogany in color. The head is white but very, very small.

The smell is nice and complex, per the style. I smell lots of sweet notes like caramel and malt. Nice.

The taste isn't as sweet as the smell lead me to expect. At first there's lots of complex malty, beet sugar goodness. But the back end flavors don't hold up as well. The strong notes of alcohol make the aftertaste a little light for my tastes.

The body is a bit light, too, making the overall drinkability of this beer above average, but not great.

This is a decent Belgian Strong Dark Ale. There are just better examples out there.

Serving type: bottle

09-17-2005 06:52:50 | More by Shaw
Photo of rarevos

New York

3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Poured a deep reddish-brown. Very temporary head, little to no lacing.

S: Prunes, malt, toffee. Perfectly balanced.

T: A hint of chocolate in the finish, particularly as the beer warms. Enjoyed the last half of the beer more than the first because of this. Somewhat invigorating, no bitterness to speak of. Despite the high alcohol content, no alcohol flavor (or aroma).

M: Not syrupy despite the sweet aroma and flavor. A bit flat by the end, but I drew this one out, so that's my own fault.

D: Pretty filling, actually. Not a beer I'd have several of in a row, but still very pleasant.

Notes: Frankly, for the price, I prefer the Ommegang, which also happens to be more easily available in my region.

Serving type: bottle

06-15-2006 23:04:08 | More by rarevos
Photo of Bobikel


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a deep copper with red hues when held to light. A thick clunky head dissipates fairly quickly. Lacing is descent.

Smell - Alchohol hits pretty strong here, but is imediately followed by cinnamon, rason, and bready malts. No noticable hops.

Taste - Very smooth and "dark" tasting, almost like a stout. Must be the raisons. Slightly metalic, and no noticible hops.

Mouthfeel - Wery smooth and a little thick. Perfect carb.

Drinkability - I really want to like this beer, due to the fact it's so different. Unfortunately, it's just to sweet to drink more than one.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2007 20:23:05 | More by Bobikel
Photo of Duster72


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

Pours a ruby amber into a tulip glass with little to no head on aggressive pour. No lacing to speak of. Aroma is buttered rum, carmel malts, and alcohol. Taste is primarily sugary malts. Strong alcohol presence on finish. Mouthfeel is on the syrupy side. Drinkability is hurt by big alcohol presence. Not a bad beer at all, but nothing I would seek out.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2007 22:42:57 | More by Duster72
Photo of mattster


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

12oz. bottled on 5/15/07 Poured into a Snifter Glass.

Nice brown (mahogany) ale that has an excellent body. Smell is a faint grapey smell, maybe some rye bread.

Excellent taste. Very much like a fine wine. Hints of dried fruit and sweetness that makes for a nice finish. Very clean in glass. I don't think I'd have more than one or two of these in an evening - would be a great beer for a sirloin steak in a Bordelaise sauce. May also hold up to sharp cheeses or even some blue veined cheese.

Raison D'etre’s 8% ABV makes it an excellent candidate for aging. I plan on purchasing a six pack and consuming at 6 month intervals to see the differences in taste. As a red wine drinker, I feel that Dogfish Head was looking out for my interest. This beer is proof that you pay for good Beer – but well worth it.

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2007 10:22:41 | More by mattster
Photo of FFudnam


3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2004 06:00:54 | More by FFudnam
Photo of sterstar1


3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a deep red amber color with no head. The Aroma speaks of raisins and malts. The initial taste is sweet but has a slight (not hoppy) bitter bite as an aftertaste. It's pretty solid. This is the first of the six-pack I just bought and I'm glad after finishing this one that I've got five more of these beauties in the fridge. :) Dogfish Head makes some great beers and this one's no exception. Well done.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2006 00:02:25 | More by sterstar1
Photo of Docer


3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Snagged a 12 oz. bottle just to try because it sat on a shelf near work in WA... and because I have never had it!

- Dark clear bourbon colored brew... fizzy... let it sit, and now like a bubbling cidar. Not bad.. for whatever style it may be! Let's see!

- Grainy, barley. Not much more! Very light, even stuck my nose all the way in trying to get more!... Light, mild, sweet... grain.

- Sweet and smooth barley oat sweetness... smooth, sugar... and smooth... not too special. But held its place... different, and it works.

- Sweet sugary sticky... leaves a bit of cheerio milk aftertaste...

- Very drinkable... but sweet. I am surprised this got bottled, but I give them credit at the same time for doing so! Strange eh?

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2009 05:35:44 | More by Docer
Photo of joeysmokedporter


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

Served in a pint glass on draft at DFH's Gaithersburg restaurant. Appearance was a dark reddish brown with some head. Aroma was complex raisiny/spicy, with Belgian ale yeast evident. Taste reflects the aroma, with the raisin flavor distinctly present along with the Belgian character, balanced toward the sweet side with little hops detectable. Feels a bit heavy on the palate even for a strong Belgian; perhaps an effect of the sweetness. Not a bad beer but not my favorite from this brewer.

Serving type: on-tap

03-31-2007 20:47:03 | More by joeysmokedporter
Photo of BuxMontBeerLover


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

Enjoyed on Easter 2011. Bottle dating is 1/18/11.

Served in a DFH Signature Glass.

A-Pours with a one to one and a half finger head that disapates to to a half finger head in a minute or two. Dark, rather opaque copper color. Good amount of carbonation bubbles rising from the bottom. Decent lacing on sides of the glass.

S-A slightly tangy, fruity smell. Almost like a fig. Probably the raisons.

T-A rather malty, slightly fruity taste. There is a background of spices and the finish is rather sweet. The alcohol is well disguised.

M-A rather thick beer. For all the carbonation bubbles, the beer has a rather flat mouthfeel.

O-A good beer. I've had this many times before and I do recall having 5-6 of these when we were partying but this really is a 1-2 a night beer. Rather heavy. I appreciate the beer but much prefer the IPA's that DFH produces.


Serving type: bottle

04-24-2011 18:19:31 | More by BuxMontBeerLover
Photo of cktison


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

12 oz bottle with BOD of 2/26/07 into a snifter

A: Dark red amber - definitely a "mahogany" ale. 1 finger head that dissipates very quickly. NO lacing.
S: Sweet sugars, fruits and alcohol. VERY LIGHT aroma - not much there.
T: This is an interesting one for me - maybe it grows on you. It'll by neat to see how the next five go over the next couple weeks. Hoppy and fruity with lots of sweet sugars and even some syrupy flavors. Alcohol is very evident here.
M: Syrupy, sweet and light carbonation. Very smooth.
D: This is an interesting beer. Lots of flavor there, but I find it a bit odd I think. We'll see if the next 5 change my mind.

Serving type: bottle

05-10-2007 21:06:56 | More by cktison
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 3,992 ratings.