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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,150 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,150
Reviews: 1,767
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.03%
Wants: 77
Gots: 300 | 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
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Ratings: 4,150 | Reviews: 1,767 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Viggo, Dec 01, 2004
Photo of GodOfBeer
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark mahogany with a thin yellowish head, barely any lacing.

Smells of brown sugar, nutty caramel malts, raisins and some barely noticeable alcohol in the background.

Tastes sweet and sugary upfront, caramel, raisins and dark fruit, finishes somewhat nutty with some molasses. Kind of like a mix between a BSDA and a Doppelbock or something, somewhat strange, not too crazy about it, covers the alcohol very well though.

Average mouthfeel, not too thick or syrupy and somewhat drinkable. Definately not the best Dogfish brew, and one of the least exciting Belgian Ales I've had...

GodOfBeer, Sep 26, 2009
Photo of DaggerEyes
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

brown 12 oz bottle poured into a chalice

Dark brown with some golden ruby hints when held up to the light. A small fizzy head rises and disappates into decent soapy looking lacing on the surface.

Nose of grape, bubblegum

Carmel, raisin, bubblegum and alchohol are present on the taste. Not anywhere near as tasty as I remember this being a few months back...perhaps since I've been experiencing a a lot more the world of craft brewing has to offer I've become a far harsher critic.

Nice amount of carbonation active on the tounge but the body feels a bit thin. Nice finish.

All in all not a bad beer to kick around with, have with a burger, but nowhere near as good as it was when I was newer to the craft brew scene and not the "best beer in america" as it claims on the six pack carton.

DaggerEyes, May 17, 2006
Photo of droomyster
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear mahogany with an off-white head. Smell is not attractive: noes of sweet malts and an almost locker-room scent that is a bit startling. Taste, on the other hand, is pretty good: brown sugar and toffee maltiness with a woodsy bitterness. Medium body is spot on the money. An interesting beer whose aromas are incongruous with its taste.

droomyster, Jan 21, 2009
Photo of ngandhi
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Raison D'etre has no reason for being a Belgian strong dark ale. While styles can run into each other, I identified this as a doppelbock before I checked BA. The amber/mahogany beer is medium-bodied. Though a touch overfizzed in the mouthfeel, the head is still pathetic and subsides very quickly to a splotchy ring with some lacing.

As I bring the pint glass to my mouth, I take in very alcoholic fruits. The smell of alcohol -- straight, grain alcohol -- begins to overwhelm. Yet, when the beer is brought to the lips, those green raisins (or is it just the power of suggestion?) sideswipe the phenols and leave me with a Belgian meets doppelbock palette. The heavy brown sugar flavor (I'm guessing this is the beet) suggests malty doppelbock. Tons of pear. Considering Trois Pistoles is about as good as this style gets (even though it's made in Canada), DFH falls embarassingly short. Compared to Salvator, however, it holds ground. What's a BA to do?

The ultimate taste of this beer, though confused, is in the Belgian Strong Dark family -- the strong phenols, less than robust malt, gritty yeast, and bittering demand it; Raison d'Etre is a bastard child.

I like what the raisins do here, and I appreciate the use of natural sugars. Over the course of a glass, this beer grows on me (perhaps it's the alcohol talking). Nevertheless, it seems quite lost; drinking it is chaos, like the world's greatest clam chowder to a man lost in the Sahara.

As it warms, it mellows significantly -- I start to think dark Belgian. A lot of the hop bite and carbonated sting dissipates. Dark fruits flash their sweet, rich bodies and each sip finishes dry but fruity, almost like boxed red wine. Not bad. Not beer of the year.

Relax, relax.

ngandhi, Sep 04, 2003
Photo of ColdWaffles
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Looks as it said it would. A nice looking "mahogany" colored ale. Started with a nice head that died pretty quickly. Not much lacing.

Smell: Sweet smell, I can pick up some of the raisin along with what is almost a "soft" apple cider smell.

Taste: Raisin, beet sugar, yeast, booze. A lot of flavor here, just might be trying to do a bit much.

Mouthfeel: Medium to light body with a sweet richness that demands your attention.

Not something I'd personally go back to, but an interesting beer none the less.

ColdWaffles, Dec 29, 2012
Photo of Gyle41386
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip.

Pours a dark mahogany. Lots of foam during the pour led me to believe a giant head is on the way. Not quite. Small head doesn't retain well. Doesn't look like there's any lacing anywhere on the glass.

The aroma is pretty average. I'm sure there's plenty going on in there, but it's not assertive by any means. After much agitation, it offers up toffee, dark fruit, and booze.

Well, the flavor is of dark fruits (raisins...green raisins according to the label) soaked in rum and caramel. Big malt character. Unmasked alcohol.

Medium body. Very smooth drinker. I'm not really that impressed.

Gyle41386, May 06, 2009
Photo of Hibernator
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had the Dogfish Head Raison D'etre out of a bottle and it was labeled packaged in and the month 10 was notched. I served the beer in a snifter as suggested by the Dogfish Head brewery on their website.

The appearance of this strong ale is a semi-dark, deep brown. There was a minimal head, rather an off-white lacing around the edges of the snifter.

I tasted a very sweet and malty character initially with hints of plum & an alcohol presence in the finish. I also noticed an oaky, wine-dryness at points of the finish, almost like a Chardonnay.

Make no mistake about it, this is a strong beer (8.0% ABV). There are present complexities of flavor and sweetness.

I am pleased that I picked up a single of this to sample.

Hibernator, Jun 26, 2004
Photo of zvir21
3.56/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a really great beer to drink by itself. If I just want to sit down and have a beer this is a goto of mine. The beer is tasty and has a complex flavor to it. It can be enjoyed like you would enjoy a good wine. It pairs will with steak. I haven't had it on tap yet, but look forward to when I will.

zvir21, Oct 13, 2013
Photo of BranfordBound
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a nice slightly hazy amber with ruby highlights. A two finger light tan head forms and there is abundant carbonation. Good lacing.

Smells of caramel, molasses, fruity malts, slight brandy.

Tastes very sweet at first. Lots of malt give the beer a big sweet, caramel note. Then it transitions into a dark fruit flavor similar to raisins. After that there is a touch of a tea like hop flavor. No alcohol in the flavor but you feel it in your chest.

At the upper end of medium bodied. Has an oily feel to it that is very clingy. Not too much carbonation is felt.

Fairly drinkable on a cold day, very sweet and fruity, with the alcohol to warm you up.

BranfordBound, Nov 20, 2010
Photo of FleeVT
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. brown bottle born on 1/4/08.

A: Beautiful clear light mahogany, as advertised. It looked like an extended brew iced tea with a tan head.
S: Malty sweetness dominates the nose, what little there is. No alcohol or hops to speak of, the malt reminds me of maple syrup.
T: Yeasty malt flavor fades to a raisin sweetness with a slightly astringent back drop. This beer could use more balance.
M: Smooth with a mild carbonation, great.
D: Worth a try as it is a Dogfish Head, but I probably won't buy another sixer. Went well with my blackened chickend.

FleeVT, Mar 10, 2008
Photo of soper2000
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Jumped right in with a six pack instead of getting a single. Pours with very little head, but an agressive pour of half the bottle left a small but quickly disappating head. Smell is of dark fruits and a little bit of candi sugar. Nose isn't as assertive as I would've liked but oh well, what's there is pleasant. Taste is suprisingly yeasty but with a strong maltiness and a nice fruity middle. Alcohol presence is notable. Not terrible on it's own but I can pick up much more interesting Belgian darks for about the same price. Interesting but won't be revisiting again after I finish my six pack. (why can't I get Midas Touch in my area???)

soper2000, Mar 27, 2005
Photo of QXSTER1
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I couldn't get excited about this beer. Everything is there but not put together in a sophisticated fashion. Deep copper color, and a non-existent head. Nose is sweet and phenolic with some fruitiness. The taste is one dimensional, a bit grapey but nothing jumps out to grab your attention. A wouldn't call this a Belgian style, the complex yeast notes and intense flavors just aren't there. It didn't improve with warming either.

QXSTER1, Nov 13, 2002
Photo of HopHed
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

APPEARANCE: A dark burgundy, slightly rusty brown brew with just the slightest of head, and almost no lacing.

AROMA: An extremely malty, sweet smell, with a slightly spicy rum or sweet/spicy "alcohol" smell like brandy or something.

FLAVOR: A definitely malt front note, with wonderfully smooth sweet caramel, date, and molasses notes. Also a a very noticeable flavor of grape or raisins, green raisins? This is not too sweet, but it is sweet, with little to no hop bitterness here.

PALATE: A medium bodied brew, that is pretty well balanced. No bitterness, no notes of alcohol, all about the sweet malts and fruit flavors.

MOUTH FEEL: A somewhat thick almost syrupy brew. This beer is extremely lightly carbonated, but is still rich and flavorful.

NOTES: The beer is a rich, creamy, lightly carbonated 8% ABV beer that I have to say I think would be best as a desert beer. I am a big IPA, DIPA, DIIPA hop-bomb beer drinker, but I could easily take a couple of these down as an end to a meal. I think this would go particularly well after a steak or the like. Something hardy!

HopHed, Jun 28, 2009
Photo of RomaniIteDomum
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured as advertized, "deep mahogany". Not bad looking at all, could use more head.

I smell raisins and a slightly coffee-like malt. Pretty sweet with a slight bitterness from the soffee aroma.

The taste is good, if not a little underwhelming. It's good, has well-balanced flavors and a nice complexity. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something not quite right. The flavors seem to muddle a little bit.

They definately got the mouthfeel right. The carbonation and body feel great and are quite refreshing.

Eh, I guess it's drinkable, but I'm just a little disappointed. The beer was a little underwhelming, but still good. I would like to give the beer another try, but I have other things higher on the list.

RomaniIteDomum, Aug 31, 2009
Photo of stride28
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Drank out of the glass bottle. The smell was pleasant, with a soft aroma that carried a thick sweetness, with definite traces of raisin carried throughout. In terms of taste, the beer is very sweet, almost overpoweringly so. The raisin and sugar are apparent, masking the alcohol until the aftertaste. Overall, the sweet mixture gives this beer a unique and strong character that can at times be overwhelming. Consuming a single bottle of this beer, in my opinion, is enjoyable for its unique and sweet flare; anything more would be a bit too much sweetness.

stride28, Feb 05, 2013
Photo of andjusticeforale
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The owner of my usual package store let me know about this beer a few months ago, but I was too busy buying Belgian's to notice this one. He described it as a big dark Raisin flavored beer. He wasn't that far off.

Let me first say that I do like big trappist style quadrupel and strong dark ales so I once I tasted this I knew what to expect. I bought a six of this stuff for $6.99 which really wasn't too expensive at all( I once bought a 4-pack of Dogfish Aprihop for $8.99)

It poured into a ballon type glass without much of a head. The clor was blueish black with tight carbonation. The smell was sweet grape and Belgian sugars. I was impressed with the nose and the begininning of this beer and I thought to myself- they must use Belgian malts here, to get this smell. This was 8.00 abv, and to their credit- you could taste no alcohol, except perhaps a warming finish. The mouthfeel was good, at least as good as Unibroue's "Trois Pistoles" In fact, it is very similar to this beer.

Here's the rub, for me anyway, there was a way too strong Raisin aftertaste. It left a cloying, unpleasant type film on the palate, almost like a bad shiraz. I also like to swirl the glass and savor each sip, that wasn't the thing here either. This is a disappointment but then I thought, Dogfish must be going for this. If this is the case, and you love the raisin taste of shiraz,(try "Jake's Fault Shiraz" out of California) you will love this and think it is the best beer ever. For me, It started great but finished with the aftertaste.

andjusticeforale, Jul 17, 2005
Photo of theghost3
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, dark brown with ruby highlights. There's a 2-finger head that quickly disappears. Minimal lacing.

The smell is strong of raisins, molasses, & roasted malts. The taste is mainly raisins, cherry, and molasses, but there's also a trace of coffee malts. The mouth feel is fairly smooth, but it's a little flat.

This is a drinkable beer, but I'm not sure it's a Belgian Strong Dark. It has some of that style's qualities, but it also has some qualities of the American craft styles.

theghost3, Jun 29, 2009
Photo of rdrummer
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I found Raison to be a good beer but not a great beer. The color is a hazy ruby red to brown, which looks good. The head, though, was smaller than expected and disappeared quickly. I loved the way it smelled with the rummy, raisin aroma with a background of alcohol. The taste wasn't quite as good but still okay. Compared to other Belgian Dark Ales, it would not make the list of favorites. As a beer, it feels good in the mouth and was drinkable despite the 8% alcohol content. I know that this was supposed to be a Belgian Dark Ale, but it misses that mark somehow, even though the beer is good.

rdrummer, Mar 19, 2004
Photo of metter98
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured dark mahogany brown with a small head that disappeared quickly, leaving just a few bubbles around the edge of the surface. There's a low- to moderate level of carbonation visible.
S: Dark fruits and sweetness dominate the aroma.
T: Flavors of raisins, dark fruit and brown sugar stand out in the initial taste, followed by the underlying malts and sweetness. The alcohol leaves a bit of heat in the finish, along with a bit of bitterness from the hops.
M: The beer feels medium bodied on the palate and the level of carbonation seems just right and does not make it taste too heavy or syrupy.
D: This is a good beer to sip but I can't see having more than one of these in one session. The alcohol starts hitting you after a while.

metter98, Apr 09, 2010
Photo of lehows
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a wonderful dark amber color with a fine off-white head. Robust aromas of sweet fruit and sweet malt. Flavors are again very sweet upfront with a tangy malt in the background. Fruity with some mild caramel sugar in here as well. Nice mouthfeel and fine carbonation bubbles. Overall, I found this to be an interesting brew but the sweetness got to me after a while, I wouldn't drink many pints of this.

lehows, Apr 16, 2007
Photo of JayS2629
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Best thing about this beer. Dark mahogany copper color with off white thick creamy head that dissipates quickly. Nice foamy wall of lacing.

S- Faint belgium yeasts, spicy, sweet caramel and dried apple, dam tea bag smell with sweet malt overtones.

T- Toffee and white raisins with mellow hints of tea and caramel. Apple and and a touch of honey. faint sweet pineapple. Much more subtle than expected.

M- Thin with creaminess. Slight bite. Dry finish.

D- Very drinkable. Medium body with nice flavor profile. Simple and refreshing.

JayS2629, Dec 17, 2010
Photo of Gasp100
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow, this brew definitely took me off guard. I like the fact these guys take chances and are always trying new combinations (and they are local) but this one was a little to rough for my taste. The appearance was a deep mahogany color and the pour did not produce much of a head. A clingy lace hung down the glass till the bitter (and I mean bitter) end. A heavy scent of raison, figs, etc... were a change for me but overall it was a little heavy handed for me --- the ABV was way high and actually took over the taste of the brew overall. I couldn't drink a lot of this, but every once in a while on a cold winter night, this could be a good companion.

Gasp100, Oct 25, 2003
Photo of zoso493
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle made on 12/28/10 into a Dogfish signature glass.

Appearance: Raison D'Être pours a very light mahogany color that is a touch less brown than the stereotypical BSDAs. When held to the light, it takes on a bright garnet hue. Only a thin one-finger head emerges at the top of the glass, and it recedes quickly to form a film above the beer.

Smell: The smell on this brew has a very alcoholic quality to it, as well as a decent scent of sourness. Other than that, I can get a very faint scent of raisins and hints of a less-than-great Belgian yeast strain. There isn't much complexity to the nose either, as the alcohol sort of blurs any distinction between the scents.

Taste: The taste mostly resembles the scent as the raisin, dark fruit and tinge of Belgian yeast are the most prominent tastes. The alcohol comes on fairly strong in the finish, though it's not overpowering. I could almost swear that there are some bittering hops in there around the end, too. Once, again the taste lacks the complexity and depth of flavor to be a really good BSDA.

Mouthfeel: Raison D'Être is a decidedly medium-bodied beer and might be just a bit thinner than a good BSDA should be. It is, however, a refreshingly crisp and well-carbonated beer.

Drinkability: This is a fairly nice drinking beer, as it's not over the top in alcohol content or flavor profile, but I probably would only have one of these, given the prevalence of the alcohol in the taste.

Overall, Raison D'Être is a decent attempt at reproducing a BSDA, but it lacks a lot of components that the best of them have. It's too alcoholic and it lacks the complex flavor that is characteristic of BSDAs. It does become a bit more laid back as it warms, though it's still not up to snuff. I'm glad I tried it, but there are other BSDAs I'd reach for before I had this again.

zoso493, Feb 01, 2011
Photo of granger10
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This one pours a ruby woody crimson color with a small head that fades abruptly. The color is one I have never seen before but it sure looks pretty. Lots of bubbles racing to the top on this beer. The smell is really strong with alcohol and has a slight brown sugary sweetness. The taste is malt heavy on top. It's sweet but not residually sweet. Maybe thats the belgian beet sugars coming into play. There's a base of caramel malt in here also but it only hints at coming out never really becoming a strong flavor. Alcohol is present the whole time and becomes exceedingly strong towards the end. Belgian yeast provides a slight offset to the alcohol but not enough and is different in its own right. The body is rather thin, maybe because of strong alcohol precense or lack of carbonation, and it's not the smoothest beer. But the complexity and originality of this beer make it something unusual and well worth trying. What style is this anyways?

granger10, Jan 07, 2004
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,150 ratings.