Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

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Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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4,187 Ratings

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Ratings: 4,187
Reviews: 1,768
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.03%
Wants: 81
Gots: 318 | 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: 4,187 | Reviews: 1,768 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of IrishKevin
3.54/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle into tulip glass. Bottled 2/13/13. Fresh enough.

Poured a dark ruby red color. 1 finger head that disappeared leaving a ring around the glass that lingered.

Smell: got very little smell, swirled around and got a little fruity aroma.

Taste: fruit forward, plummy, raisiny. Definitely get that Belgian bubble gum taste, which I think is from the yeast.

Overall: decent beer, doesn't blow you away, but is tasty.

Photo of bishopdc0
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Amber brown with a decent head almost woody color 3.5

Sweet aroma almost wine like with a tartness and slight alcohol

The taste is of this is a brow initially sweet crystal malts. Come with the carbonation a sweet berry flavor enter as the carbonation exits and the berry taste remains. A slight alcohol on the palate lingers

Photo of oxmasterscream
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear reddish amber color (DFH calls it magogany but it's a tad light in color for that), head fell to a ring quickly. Aroma is fruity and lightly spiced - apples, pears, grassy (?)... not sure... very hard to call. Taste is the same... crisp, fruity (green apples) and really tart, finishes dry. This is really hard to describe. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with solid carbonation. Drinkability... I'm just not sure. It's definitely an interesting brew but I would probably not have it again.

Photo of spinrsx
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle

Appearance - The beer pours a hazy brown colour with an average size frothy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is a decent amount of lacing. The head lasted for only a few minutes before it was gone.

Smell - malts, toffee, dark fruits

Taste & Mouth - There beer has an average amount of carbonation but it feels very velvety on the tongue. It has a very full bodied taste and it is very sweet. Most of the taste is made up of toffee and malts mixed with raisins. The bottle mentions beets - I didn't pick up on that. The beer tasted much better once it got close to room temperature. It finishes with a malty and sweet aftertaste.

Drink - A nice beer that works well as a winter warmer. The alcohol is well hidden and it has a lot of taste. I'm not sure I could handle more than 1 of these in a night, but I'd drink it again for sure.

Photo of rdub
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into my favorite snifter. Light brown fluffy head quickly dissipated and minimal lacing. Lovely sweet malt smell with a tiny bit of fruit, but not necessarily raisin. The taste was delicious malt with a touch of hops and a nice sweetness. Mouthfeel was medium heavy with tiny bubbles. The drinkability was good. I didn't get any raisin until the aftertaste. This brew had a lot going on. Nice, unique.

Photo of jporf911
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've heard good things about Dogfish Head, so I decided to give this one a shot. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle with no freshness date. The label says "A deep mahogany ale brewed with Belgian beer sugars, green raisins, & a sense of purpose".

Appearance- 2.5 out of 5. Pours with hardly any head. I kept waiting for it to bubble up, but it never did. That was rather disappointing, as is the lacing on the sides. It looks a lot like a dark soda when held up to the light.

Smell- 3.5 out of 5. This beer smells better than it looks. I catch hints of rum, caramel malt, and raisins; oddly enough, my nose also detects that artificial kind of purple grape scent often seen in candy and gum.

Taste- 3.5 out of 5. A slightly syrupy taste of caramel malt initially hits the tongue (I suspect a sucrose-based syrup was used as part of the malting process), followed by a buttery kind of malt and a bit of fruity ester sweetness. There is an aftertaste of brown sugar and those green raisins mentioned on the label. Hardly any bitterness from the hops at all. The alcohol is only an undertone, not at all an 8% ABV sort of taste. I've heard a few people say that this beer has some phenolic (e.g. reminiscent of sanitizer residue, band-aids, plastic, etc.) taste, but luckily I cannot detect it. Not bad, but the taste isn't balanced. Belgian beers are usually experimental and unorthodox, but this one seems rather chaotic and unbalanced-- a result of trying to imitate the style without being an expert in it, I suppose.

Mouthfeel- 3.5 out of 5. Light at first, then fills out to medium. It's surprisingly smooth and light in texture for an 8% ABV beer. Wet and carbonated, not crisp, but not unpleasant.

Drinkability- 4 out of 5. It's far from being a great Belgian beer, but it's definitely drinkable-- almost dangerously so, considering its 8% ABV. Its drinkability is its saving grace. If you find this on tap, and there's not much else in your taste/price range, I'd recommend it, but take it slow. This is the kind of beer that sneaks up on you at the end of the night, when you lurch off your bar stool to stumble to the bathroom and realize you suddenly have four feet.

Photo of Genuine
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass

Had a 2 finger head, with very nice lacing that seemed to linger a while.

The smell was very figgy and sweet, I could tell that this was going to be a sweet beer. It was pleasant to the nose, though.

Taste - I could immediately pick up on the raisins/figgy taste, which seemed to dominate most of the flavor, along with the classic hops taste from Dogfish Head. Not too heavy and not light. A nice blend founded right in the middle.

Mouthfeel - I really enjoyed the carbonation of this beer and thought it helped with the taste of this one. A bit heavier than water.

Drinkability - I could definitely knock back a few. It's not heavy enough to not have more than one. Might be able to be a session beer.

Photo of Shiloh
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Very nice product, glad that we met...could drink a lot more of this brew if the ABV was lower.
Even with 8% ABV, there is no alcohol taste, so be careful!!!!!!
Appears like dark tea, smell is lightly of burnt almonds.
Body is medium as is the carbonation.
Taste starts medium sweet and stays there with a minor hoppy expierience in the background that seemingly tries to salute but falls a tad short.
Mouthfeel is a bit heavy. Any brew with an ABV this high deserves respect and caution.

Photo of JamesMN
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 7/19/12. It's been sitting in my fridge a long time.

Appearance: Super murky brown sugar color with a thin cap of light tan head.

Aroma: Nice mix of belgian candi sugars and a general malt sweetness. Don't smell the green raisins per-say, but that might be for the best.

Taste: Starts with the complexion of an Amber Ale and then increases in sweetness from there giving definite belgian sugar notes. The raisins are very hard to find in the flavor but most likely just add to the general sweetness. Even though the first half is a bit one dimensional it's still very enjoyable. The finish and aftertaste are where it hits its peak. A great warming quality from the 8% ABV combined with a nice balance between a high sweet note and a low dark malt character. No real hop flavor in this one and not much bitterness (25 IBUs). There is one slight off flavor of copper that comes in right before the finish and lingers a tad in the aftertaste but it is pretty easy to ignore and may have just developed because of the age of this bottle.

Mouthfeel: Just above medium in body but never feels overwhelming. Smooth carbonation and average drinkability.

Final Thoughts: Not a style I'm crazy about but a good beer none the less. If you enjoy Belgian Ales or unconventional ingredients in beer then this one is for you. Would I drink it again? Yes, if fresh.

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light brown / copper color with an off white head. Aromas of grapes and a sweet malt. In the taste, dry grapes and sweet caramel, weird combo but works well together. A caramel sticky sweet mouthfeel with a dry clean end. It is a big sweetness, personally, I could not have more than one of these, although it is good.

Photo of SchmichaelJ
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This Belgian specialty had a clear orange appearance with noticeable bands of carbonation. A decent foamy head topped the glass, but I was somehow not as impressed with the visuals here. The smell was very malty sweet, with a touch of alcohol scent. After a while I did notice a fruity, raisin-like smell, as mentioned on the label. Nice complexity. The taste surprised me somewhat. The expected maltiness was there, but the alcohol and an indescribable furity / smoked taste battled for my attention. Also very complex and hard to isolate the flavors. I see why this is labeled a Belgian specialty ale...rather uncharacteristic, but not bad. Very dry taste at the end, too. The mouthfeel was pretty average for the style, though...medium body with a nice tingle, but nothing little else worth mentioning. This is an interesting Belgian derivative that is worth trying. I doubt I'll clamor for it in the near future, but I wouldn't refuse it, either.

Photo of BabySnakes
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very little head which fell very quickly.

Ruby-brown color looks great. Very clear.

The beet sugars hit 1st followed by raisin in the aroma. Smells very sweet and inviting with a little complexity.

Very sweet upfront. Tastes like it smells. Sugary, raisiny, malty. Something to be said for truth in advertising. Slight bitter hop bite in in the finish is nice to cut the sweetness.

Mouthfeel is very nice and the slight carbonation works well for this beer.

Overall I'm enjoying this beer. I havent had it in about 4 years. The color and aroma are very appealing and I think I was looking for more complexity in the glass. That being said, this beer is what you would expect from the label.

Photo of foogerd
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- deep amber pretty clear body with hardly any head some lacing
S- booze ,chocolate powder, red grapes/raisins/ some dark candied fruits, a real mess of a medley of flavors that somehow swim together in a somewhat harmonious fashion
T- lots of brown sugar and baked dark breads at first definite sugary raisins in there, the sugar seems a bit too much and throws off the other flavors that this brew has to offer, i feel it has more potential if not for the sweetness overload.
M- decent carbonation nice full feel to the brew
D- if you could handle all the sweetness it drinks decently
I was expecting more from this beer, it appeared more interesting than it actually tasted.

Photo of hellomcfly
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours hazy dark amber with minimal head, about half a finger from an aggressive pour.

S - Raison, brown sugar, faint roasted malt aroma and boozy sweetness.

T - Roasted malt, raison, has sort of a bitter aftertaste but not really a hoppy bitterness.

M - Medium bodied and smooth.

D - Not a overly heavy beer but the 8% abv is obvious and not at all masked.

Had some sweet golden raisins with this. Paired pretty well.

Photo of paterlodie
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

No head and brownamber beer. Nose is very malty but also lots of cardboard, candy carramellic candy. Good chocolate hint also and sweet overall caracter. Taste is also very carramellic and chocolate, sweet carracter that hides alcohol content well. Still to me an overall very oxidated impression and could well be that this one was a litle over the top. Full and thick mouthfeel though that is enhanced by low carbonisation and feels like a thick soup. Low bittered but clean. Well drinkable but nothing special IMO.

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.

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...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,187 ratings.