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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,079 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,079
Reviews: 1,767
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 73
Gots: 277 | 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: 4,079 | Reviews: 1,767 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jculler82
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

One of my first craft experiences way back when. This review is actually a semi-vertical, a 2003-ish bottle and a late 2009 bottle, side-by-side. Both bottles poured to Duvel tuplips. Review is based on the 2009 bottle.

Pours, as the bottle says, a mahogany color that, when held to light, is a nice red. 2003 bottle has more sediment, 2009 has none really. No head from a semi-gentle pour. A touch above average looking really. Other than the sediment, they look identical.

Smell is mainly brown sugar for both beers. Maybe some background dark fruits. In the 2009 bottle there is a background coffee note, think coffee grounds more than cup of coffee. I'm amazed that the 2003 bottle didn't develop some complexity. For the style, for either beer, the beer is one dimensional. Just kinda average. When I think stong dark Belgian, or whatever this beer really is, I think complexity.

Taste is almost identical again for both vintages. Brown sugar overwhelms, a hint of some dark fruits. The difference is mainly in the finish. The 2009 finishes with a smokey flavor, mostly bacon-y. That smokiness is not apparent in the 03' vintage. The beer isn't bad, but it isn't amazing, it just isn't complex. Sort of a one trick pony. Nice medium full mouthfeel.

Drinkability? One bottle is enough, kinda disappointed I poured both at the same time.

Overall, I wanted to love this beer. Probably because of the nostalgia of being one of my first craft beers. But while it isn't bad, and if I was at a bar and this was my only craft option I'd be OK with it, it isn't a mind blower.

jculler82, Jul 18, 2010
Photo of PZuke
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Looks like a nice mahogany almost a little redish color with a little head. It had a little fruity smell that seemed to be raisins maybe even a little sweet smell to it. It had a nice taste of fruit and a little caramel. You can taste the malts and hops but neither is to overpowering. It was not overly carbonated. The high ABV could turn some people off but it does not bother me. It is a very interesting beer. It’s hard to describe but not really my favorite. I would say that this beer is kind of like a Belgian but at the same time its not.

PZuke, Sep 08, 2003
Photo of Naugros
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's dark amber or garnet in color. It pours with a bit of a head, but that knocks down quickly, leaving behind floaters and a ring of loose foam.

Uh, smells like a standard beer. Caramel malt sweetness, with a bit of floral hops presence. Nothing impressive in the smell...either that or I have a cold and don't know it.

The taste is unimpressive. This tastes no better than a Beck's Dark with more alcohol. The caramel sweetness and floral hops overtones continue on into the taste and are just as unimpressive. I had someone else try it without letting on what I thought and their reaction was the same, "Now what I expect from Dogfish Head".

Drinks like an imported dark beer with a bit more heat. It has a clean wash, but almost has that Heineken metallic funk at the back of the tongue.

If I'm going to drink something from DFH, it's not going to be this and I glad I had a friend give me one rather than springing for a whole 6-pack.

Naugros, Jun 08, 2010
Photo of BradLikesBrew
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a: Dark Amber body with an off-white head. Good retention and lacing.

s: Brown sugar, sweet caramel malt, some light belgian spiciness, and alcohol.

t: Brown sugar, hops, raisins, alcohol, pretty chaotic, flavors are all over the place.

m: Medium body, medium carbonation, dry finish.

d: A lot going on, not much balance, unique for sure, but I don't think I'll pony up $9.49 for another 6-pack. In my opinion, this is one of Dogfish Head's lessor beers.

BradLikesBrew, Jan 31, 2008
Photo of
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured this into a wine glass to have with dinner.

Almost no head, with some fome around the edges of the glass. Very thick.

Smells like sweet strawberries and watermelon. The fruit hides the alcohol very well.

Tastes like grape, lemon zest, strawberries and plum. This is very sweet, but the sugar is backed up by rich flavors.

Mouthfeel and drinkability are OK. I don't think I would enjoy this as much by itself. However, this was a perfect compliment to peanut sauce and curry.

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

Keeping in mind that 3.0 equals a good average beer and not a Macro, we shall proceed.

What an interesting beer! Pours a mahogany body with an off-white head that I found dissipates rather quickly (a couple minutes) while the lacing retains its thin form throughout the experience, so that's good.

The smell is sweet and the abundant carbonation is also apparent in the smell, kinda metalic. Also mild hops give this beer a lager-ish smell. One can definitely smell the larger than average amounts of sugar from fruit (raisons, duh.)

First thing I noticed was that the alcohol taste was a bit strong, not too bad for me, but my less knowledgeable friends had a hard time with this one and its 8%ABV. The flavor imitates raisons in that you get the real taste after its been consumed. During the drinking I taste alcohol, mild hops, and a hint of sugar, but once its down the throat is when the real fun begins. Finishes sweet and dry with a nice snap to it (you know, when you drink something and then make that smacking sound followed by a sigh, "*smack* aahhhh"). Definite raison aftertaste, subtle and dark. Note of beet-root for this drinker in the aftertaste as well...maybe other fibrous fruits as well.

Texture is more than a lager, less than a stout. In other words feels like an ale. Good carbonation adds crispness.

Definetly a strong ale, after 2 of these its pointless to review since the inebriation takes away some of the taste. Cheers to DFH for another unique beer. I'll stick to my stouts, but not a bad departure for those of us looking for flavor and variety.

tapman, Apr 12, 2007
Photo of BlackBelt5112203
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a wine glass at cellar temperature.

L – Deep amber color with a 2-finger bubbly tan head. Decent retention but not really any lacing. Clear with a good amount of bubbles. Head characteristics aren’t really up to par for something that calls itself a Belgian-style ale.

S – Caramel, brown sugar, toasted malt, figs, raisins, and peppery yeast.

T – Sweet nearly all the way through with caramel malt, brown sugar, and dark fruits like raisins and figs. Toasted malt shows up mid-taste and spicy, peppery yeast comes in at the finish. Tasty, but just not as complex as good Belgian strong dark ales.

F – Medium-bodied with decent carbonation, a sticky and mouth-coating feel, and a sweet, spicy, and slightly dry finish. Surprisingly, peppery yeast flavors linger rather than malty sweet flavors.

O – This is a pretty good beer. Unfortunately, it runs the disadvantage of belonging to a style with some of the best beers out there. As I said above, it’s tasty but just not as complex as it needs to be to graduate to the plus-4 tier. Still, I’m glad I tried it.

BlackBelt5112203, Dec 20, 2012
Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is another nice brew from DFH. A nice effort a Belgian style and one that is interesting to drink. The deep amber to bronze body is fairly hazed to cloudy and is capped by a decent tan head that retains well and laces with gusto.

The nose is heavily caramel malt and this carries in to the sweet malt flavor that is dedicated fairly substantially to the sweet side of beer. Notes of pungent fruitiness seem to also come through here, perhaps a bit like dried friuts such as apple. The alcohol is noticeable and also limits, to some degree, the drinkability.

AtLagerHeads, Sep 16, 2003
Photo of BretSikkink
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice rich mahogany brew, good measure of chill haze, but okay. Disappointingly weak head, with soapy large bubbles and very little action.

Solvent alcohol aroma, major rum raisin flavor along with some off brand fruit and sweet caramel malt. A little too sweet.

The flavors are more of the same, extra helping of strong alcohol with a concomitant spice flavor. A little much on the brown sugar, though I like the raisin. Background of smoky flavor, a little carnivorous, but adds some depth. This feature actually brought up Taste from 3.0.

The Raison is just not that smooth, the low carbonation doesn't cleanse any of the syrupy sweet flavors. I might score these characteristics higher if there wasn't a claim to BSDA..simply using a Belgian yeast strain does not a Strong Dark make. Pass.

BretSikkink, Jul 19, 2007
Photo of BEERMILER12
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 03/23/11 101

A: Pours a reddish mahogany color with a fingers worth of tan-ish head

S: Some malts along with dry fruits. Pick up something with Belgian qualities, but it definitely isn't in the front of the nose. Certainly not Belgian yeast, thats for sure. Kind of like unripe fruit... I'll assume that it's from the green raisins

T: A sweeter version of the smell along with some alcohol. If I were to take a stab at the alcohol content, I'd say it was more along the lines of a 10%er... I certainly don't mind it, but it kind of feels off

M: Medium-full body with moderate carbonation. Fairly smooth, I'm guessing the alcohol sort of mellows the carbonation out a bit

D/O: As a beer by itself, it is decent. Pair it up with some burgers or a steak with spices, and it becomes a different, better beer. Gotta knock it again for the alcohol, though. It just isn't hidden as well as it could be

BEERMILER12, Apr 30, 2011
Photo of LordAdmNelson
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- A nice dark raison brown-purple. Appropriate. Half-inch tan head that laces and retains well.

S- A rich aroma that's heavier on the malts than the raison. A refreshing change form the d'extra. Roasted malt, some alcohol, and some dark fruit (raison?).

T- Toasted malt with some caramel and lingering dark fruit in the background. Slight metallic twinge. Not bad, but not really that Belgian to me--it's missing the clove/spice notes that normally come with BSDAs. Not bad, though... I like it more than most from DFH.

M- Smooth and creamy with a dry finish. Good stuff here.

D- ABV holds it back, but definitely an enjoyable and interesting brew.

LordAdmNelson, Aug 04, 2009
Photo of Bockrules
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured from the bottle into a snifter

A - Pours a slightly hazy orangish-amber. Curtains of small bubbles rise to the two-finger, dense, off-white head. Head stays intact as a thin layer of bubbles nearly all the way down the glass. Leaves several sizable splotches of lacing.

S - Fairly weak nose of sugar cane and a hint of green raisins.

T - Caramelized brown sugar upfront. More caramelized sugar in the body, but a fair amount of tangy green raisin taste comes out as well. The raisin flavor crescendos as the beer passes over the back of the tongue, then the brown sugar resumes control in the finish.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Fairly delicate, but not nearly as good as other examples of the style.

Definitely a unique brew here using belgian beet sugars and green raisins. Some may find it extraordinary, I found it to get on my nerves after about half the bottle. It hides its alcohol well enough and has a decent mouthfeel, but the caramelized brown sugar and green raisin notes didn't work together. I suspect this will be a highly polarizing brew, but I'll pass and opt for Trois Pistoles in the future.

Bockrules, Apr 09, 2012
Photo of remllof
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this beer into my favorite Duck-Rabbit glass. This beer poured a nice head that didnt disapate too quickly, with a nice deep red color. The smell was nothing too impressive. The taste is slightly sweet, also with a hint of hops. The mouthfeel is not too thick and smooth. Overall an aright beer but nothing sticking out too much.

remllof, Jan 24, 2009
Photo of Longhorn22
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - It had a small tan head that dissipated in about 30 seconds. The color was a dark brownish, only partially opaque.

S - Sweet raison scent with some hop scents too. Pretty good aroma, but a little bit strong.

T - I enjoyed the taste more than I thought that I would. It has some raison and malty flavor, as well as a bit of a hop bite. The flavor that I wasn't expecting was the wood flavors. They are light hints, but they really pull the whole taste together.

M/D - This beer feels viscous in your mouth, without compromising the smoothness. It is a pretty easy beer to drink, and it packs a pretty good flavor as well.

Bottom line: This beer is a sweet little treat. I would gladly buy a 6 pack of this stuff. It is nice and easy to taste and has a correct amount of hops and wood accents to round out a raison flavor.


Longhorn22, Feb 10, 2010
Photo of cproioi
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a mahogany body with such a weak head the it faded into nothing very quickly. The aroma of the beer was very sweet with a dried fruit hints coming throught. The taste was sugary sweet with a raisiny taste. The taste was also malty with a sugary sweetness to it. The mouthfeel was lingering dry finish with no real alcohol notes I could detect. This was a slow drinking beer due to the complex tastes. It was an interesting beer that didn't leave me wanting another.

cproioi, Oct 01, 2006
Photo of Godot
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a rich mahogany color with good clarity when held to the light. A two finger head drops to a solid cap that laces nicely down the glass. The smell is sweet, with notes of prunes and not surprisingly raisons, as well as a dark malt. Seems slightly cloying in the nose, and this translates to the flavor, cutting back on drinkablity. Though otherwise the flavor is nice, with sweet dark fruits up front going into a rich and coffee/espresso malty finish that finishes nicely. As said before it is a bit too sweet, but an interesting beer for sure. My only real complaint is that there is very little Belgian about this beer to me. I don't know what style to call this beer, but where Belgian strong dark ales have a refined complexity this beer has a loose impressionistic flavor that seems to fall in with american craft brews. I guess balance is what I am pointing towards, this beer doesn't really have it. Though it is still very enjoyable.

Godot, Jul 24, 2008
Photo of BeerNemesis
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy shade of maroon with about a one finger head. Retention is decent, but not great. It smells earthy. There are notes of dark fruit, molasses, and spices. Malt and dark fruit taste. It becomes more complex with 6 months of aging. It's medium bodied, with medium to low carbonation. The mouthfeel is not great, a little oily. It's not the most drinkable beer out there, and I would stick to no more than 2 or so a night.

BeerNemesis, Jan 26, 2010
Photo of jfro
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- deep amber/brown, thin head

S-sweet smell, light fruit

T- malty sweet, light fruit flavors, one bottle in the group had a metallic nature

M- thin. Actually much more thin that I expected

D- well the ABV is well hidden in this. If I did not know better I would think it was a much lower ABV beer.

Overall. Ok, not gonna be one I search out. This was my first DFH beer.

jfro, Jul 04, 2010
Photo of ChugginOil
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Just as the label says, mahogany in color with a thin layer of fast dissipating head. After a few seconds there is zero head remaining. No lacing either.

The nose is full of candied sugars, raisins, and some plum.

The taste is pretty sweet and full of a poweful raisin flavor. Some butterscotch lingers a bit in the back.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and lacks carbonation.

Overall, decent Belgian Strong Ale but there are some areas that could use some work.

ChugginOil, Nov 21, 2011
Photo of iamsemigloss
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 12/21/10, taken from notes.

Appearance: Pour yielded an average head that was creamy in texture. The drink was clear and mahogany in color; lacing was good.

Smell: Deep caramel and toffee notes mixed with a fruity aroma. You can smell the raisins but the "fruit" isn't exactly defined -- it's not citrus but more like a dry fruit. Slight whiff of alcohol. Very sweet smelling.

Taste: Huge toffee and caramel blast with the raisins kicking in on the finish. Sweet and creamy with a nip of bitterness at the end. Nice flavors but not overly complex.

Mouthfeel: You'd think this may be somewhat thick but I found it rather thin to be as creamy as it was.

Easy drinking but it's too sweet to session. Very good but not excellent.

iamsemigloss, Feb 25, 2011
Photo of EPICAC
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I got this at Downtown Wine & Spirits, as mentioned in my last post. I let this warm to around 45-50º F and served it in my Westvleteren chalice.

Appearance: Pours a clear brown-ruby, with a beige one-finger head that thins quickly to a patchy layer and then disappears completely leaving no lace.

Smell: Spicy notes of dried fruit, sweet malts, caramel, and a hint of roastiness. Juicy fruitiness upon swirling.

Taste: Sweet caramel malts, sugar and fruitiness upfront. The finish is lightly spicy with a fruity tartness and light bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, medium-bodied, smooth.

Drinkability: Easy to drink with well hidden alcohol.

Overall: A decent, but not great attempt at a Belgian Strong Dark. The aromas could be stronger and more vigorous carbonation would do quite a bit for the appearance and mouthfeel. The taste is good, though perhaps overly sweet without enough spice and bitterness to balance.

EPICAC, Jul 28, 2006
Photo of alkemy
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a slightly cloudy, dark copper with a small cream colored head. I got a sense of dried fruit, but not necessarily raisin. You get a sense of the high ABV, yet this brew is pretty easy drinking. There seem to be alot of flavors going on here, but they meld together quite pleasantly.

alkemy, Mar 12, 2009
Photo of mjl21
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a pint glass. Bottled on 11/20/09. Comes in at 8%.

A-Pours a color I would best describe as copper. It has a very thin head that dissolves to a tiny ring.

S-I pick up on a large amount of sweet malt and some stone fruit. There is also a roast malt component to this one.

T-It begins with sweet stone fruit. There is plenty of sugary sweet molasses in the middle. The roast malt comes out in the middle and back. Lots of sweetness in this one.

M-Medium bodied, smooth, and sticky.

D-Too sweet for me.

This is a classic not good, not bad beer. I seem to remember enjoying it more two or three years ago; looks like my palate has changed.

mjl21, Jan 27, 2010
Photo of rtepiak
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

a really terrible nose of grit, protein finger nails raisins, booze at first. then brown sugar and rose water. there is a nice mild sweet sugar quality to it though. palate is quite base with a rich sweetness but a poor body. that booze sort of comes through even. a bit smooth sweet and earthy nothing that is in the nose... good or bad. just solid and sort of soft on the tongue for the expected range... really do like the sugar quality though.

rtepiak, Aug 02, 2010
Photo of ultralarry2006
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. Leaves a one finger head that quickly dissipates, no retention, no lacing. Body is red amber.

Smell - dark crusted malt bread.

Taste - dark crusted malt bread with caramel. Sugary sweetness on the finish and aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, fluid, semi-dry.

Drinkability - this is good, but not great. Also, high abv limits sessionabilty.

ultralarry2006, Nov 06, 2006
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,079 ratings.