1. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

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)
View: Beers (138) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Ratings: 3,846 | Reviews: 1,760 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of cinemadust


4.8/5  rDev +31.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My favorite that I've had from Dogfish Head so far. It almost has a taste of tea and beer mixed together. Kind of like a spice and fruit. When I drank this from the bottle I had an almost smokey aftertaste. Drinking it from tap at the Dogfish Head brewery restaurant, was served a beer at the perfect temperature. Which made it very easy to taste all the wonderful flavors of this beer. Had barley any head at all, but that's what I like. Goes well with spicy foods. Just be VERY careful. Don't forget it's a 8% ABV. You can't knock them down like regular beers. But you can't taste the extra ABV so again, be cautious.

Serving type: on-tap

09-28-2009 22:02:22 | More by cinemadust
Photo of manwich


2.63/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured out of a growler into a chalice. Not much of a head on top, dark but clear body. Rather unusual smell, kind of smoky. Not at all a fan of the taste, syrupy and smoky, reasonable mouthfeel but an otherwise unenjoyable drinking experience. I found myself trying to down it before it got warmer, as I could tell that the unpleasant flavors were getting stronger as the glass warmed up, yet at the same time I wasn't inclined to finish the beer at all. I'm very open minded with beer and have rarely found a craft beer that I legitimately didn't want to finish, but this had to be as close as I've come. I wound up letting my housemates finish the rest of the growler.

Serving type: growler

09-22-2009 06:16:04 | More by manwich
Photo of drabmuh


3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on draft from the Dogfish head pub in Gaithersburg, MD. Beer is clear, dark red, thin fine head rests on top, low carbonation. Sweet odd flavor, almost some smoke in the aftertaste, there is a second aftertaste that is better than the frist. Almost no aroma, some sweetness. Flavor is weak. I'm not really impressed. Mouthfeel is fine, full beer. Not sure this is one of my favorites from DFH.

Serving type: on-tap

09-20-2009 03:12:33 | More by drabmuh
Photo of jgasparine


3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured a pretty red-brown color, but with almost no head at all... certainly no lacing here... although there were some nice bubble trains working their way up the center of the glass...

S- At first I got nothing off the nose... perhaps the beer was poured too cold... as the beer warmed, it opened-up to reveal sweet notes of malt, raisins, some vinous notes and a touch of unidentifiable spiciness.

T- Definite malt bomb. Sweet brown sugar, caramel malt and yellow raisins dominate the palate. Almost seems a touch mapley at times. Almost cloyingly sweet. Finishes with some alcohol booziness and nary a hint of hops.

M- Slightly oily, almost syrupy. I suppose this compliments the smell and taste quite well. Just the right amount of carbonation rounds out the mouthfeel.

D- Drinkable, yes. Could I have several in a session... probably not... the sweetness would get to me and become too much. I would, however, readily reach for the D'etre when I'm in the mood for something sweet and reasonably priced...

Serving type: on-tap

08-07-2009 03:07:08 | More by jgasparine
Photo of rfgetz

New Jersey

3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a- dark reddish copper with thin head

s- Faint sweet, dark fruit, red wine and grainy scents

t- nice malty flavor with a dark fruit/red wine taste with alcohol bite to finish

m- thicker coating texture, slight lingering flavor and feel

d-alcohol hidden well but comes out while finishing and lingers slightly.

Serving type: on-tap

07-08-2009 21:22:20 | More by rfgetz
Photo of soupyman10

District of Columbia

3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Well I've never been a fan of this one in the bottle - basically, it's one of those DFH experiments that just didn't quite work for me. Too many weird flavors. But I've realized that on-tap some of the DFH beers take on a totally different life, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Unfortunately, it still didn't really do it for me. Poured a deep dark brown color with a really weak head and no lacing to speak of. Aromas are those same meaty, chocolatey maltiness with some strange over-ripe fruit. Body was alright, but still. The beer's not a total mess (I mean, I'm talking relative to other DFHs, not to macro sludge), but it's just not my thing.

Serving type: on-tap

06-16-2009 21:04:09 | More by soupyman10
Photo of rtratzlaff

North Carolina

2.48/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Raison d'etre "Reason for being" pours a deep ruby reddish color with a thin white head that sticks around and sticks to the glass here and there. The aromas are sticky sweet maltiness with dark fruit. There's not much spice in the nose. It seems a bit simple for a BSDA in the nose. The flavor is pretty much the same, not bad, but just lacking in complexity. No clove, no spice. Prunes are there in full force. A bittering in the finish with a slight hint at anise but nothing much more than a thought. Green raisins? Yeah.
The mouthfeel is full and fluffy. To style, this beer falls far short; however, as a beer in general, its not bad. I would recommend this for someone with a thing for malt forward beers with a slight Belgian quality.

Serving type: on-tap

06-16-2009 20:30:54 | More by rtratzlaff
Photo of atsprings

North Carolina

3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Woody's City Market served in a New Belgium tulip glass a crisp ruby red with a nice frothy khaki head that slowly diminishes to a thin layer and leaves decent great lacing. Aroma is a bit of dried fruit and slight spice. The taste is an interestingly complex blend of dried fruit, dark malt and a hint of spice with a hint of sourness and a touch of dryness. The beer is medium bodied with a refreshing dryness. I've had this one before and remember not liking it, but I guess my palate is much more developed since then.

Serving type: on-tap

05-26-2009 18:44:23 | More by atsprings
Photo of IBUnit63


4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ Silvertone into pint glass...

Good, buttery finger of head that sticks with good lacing. Very bready. Body is crystal clear dark bourbon amber that's virtually still. Nice package!

Nice dark fruit renders usual Ringwood earthiness neutral - good raisin and dark malt texture with nice burnt caramel. Hop grass is well-represented

Oooh, I like this more than the usual DFH suspects. The earth of the Ringwood strain is still there but the big raisins and mild oaky booze neutralize it nicely. Deep caramel/molasses/brown sugar sweetness with only a hint of booze burn. Well-done.

I'm digging the palate on this one. Nice heat that's blended well with malt and brown sugar sweetness. Hop grass is mild complement. Even finish.

Good, almost sessionable. Excellent for cold weather.

Serving type: on-tap

03-05-2009 21:20:25 | More by IBUnit63
Photo of BeerLover729

New York

3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: A dark cloudy translucent brownish brew with minimal head.

S: Roasted malts come through with a coffee like aroma. Sweet malty background rounds out the nose.

T: Nice medley of flavors: espresso and cloves, with malt sweetness pervading in the end.

M: Big malty body but not syrupy or overwhelmingly thick.

D: Well hidden alcohol content. Too sweet for my tastes really. More of a slow drinking beer.

Serving type: on-tap

11-17-2008 17:17:24 | More by BeerLover729
Photo of UDbeernut

New York

3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had on Tap at Ballentine Resturant in Willoughby, Oh

a: dark copper color with a milky 3/4" head

s: hint of carmel, to me the acholol can be smelled too.

t: roasted malt flavor with a strong after taste.

m: decent mouthfeel for a beer on dark side

d: definatly not a session beer. Have one with dinner.


Serving type: on-tap

08-29-2008 18:19:05 | More by UDbeernut
Photo of auxiliary

Rhode Island

4.3/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

appearance - Brownish color with a small head.

smell - Smells of dark fruits and alcohol here.

taste - Fruits and dark malt taste here.

mouthfeel - Medium body.

drinkability - Very nice sipper for late night. Lots of flavor of malts here. I have had this on tap and in a bottle. Both great everytime.

Serving type: on-tap

07-19-2008 23:47:41 | More by auxiliary
Photo of Reagan1984


3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The description of this beer has always intrigued me. As a devout 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPA fan, I have been looking forward to trying this unique member of the Dogfish Head line-up.

The beer appeared deep brown with amber highlights and I saw no visible carbonation. There was a thick head that did fade quickly and lots of clumpy lacing when consumed.

Aroma was sweet and reminded me of figs along with the roasted malts. I got a quick sense this was going to be a sweet one.

Taste was an initial sweet punch that then combined with some roasted malt flavors. After this it faded to a smooth (lack of hops) yet grainy finish. Almost a bit dry towards the end.

Mouth feel was almost sticky and a bit viscous due to the sweetness. slightly slick

Drinkability was good, but this is a thick one!

If I'm in a MALT mood then this is a good one.

Serving type: on-tap

07-11-2008 13:56:18 | More by Reagan1984
Photo of riboflavin88


3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Overall, a good beer. I think its strong point was its appearance. It had a yellow-reddish tint to it, sort of hazy. Had a good nose, and you can definitely notice the raisins. The taste was citrus based with raisin undertones, and left a smokey after taste. Not a session beer, but worth trying.

Serving type: on-tap

02-09-2008 21:11:47 | More by riboflavin88
Photo of clayrock81


3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this before and decided to try it on draft at the Tap House in Maryland. Mistake, sort of, on my part. Came a tad colder than it should've w/ no real head and no lacings, but I didn't hold it against the beer. Had a nice dark copper/mahogany color but in the smell all I could really pick up was some spices and malts. It almost had a coffeeish or roasted malt taste when it first hit the tongue, and the hops and alcohol aren't hidden to well. On the plus side, however, it is a very smooth, thinish drink w/ mixed tart fruits in there. I just think I'll stay with the bottle over the draft though.

Serving type: on-tap

01-28-2008 00:29:26 | More by clayrock81
Photo of RblWthACoz


3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark and clear brown with ruby tones. Head is crème colored. Nose is basically nothing. I know I should be getting some raisin there, but I am not getting anything. Flavor is smooth raisins that are not overly powerful. Firm malty tones with what seems like mild hop character. Feel is very smooth on the liquid and with a pretty smooth bubble. Definitely drinkable. Smooth and even, it could easily be a session brew if the sweet tones don't bother you.

Serving type: on-tap

12-31-2007 09:04:52 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of jjboesen


3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted this beer at the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg, which has no on-site brewing; nevertheless, I have never had a beer here that I did not truly savor.
First of all, it is served in a goblet and begins with a light head that quickly fades. Mouthfeel indicated a sweetish malty taste that improves as it sits. As all BAs know, storage, temperature and proper glassware is vital in manipulating the sensory enjoyment of any good beer - particularly Belgian styles. A premier style from a first-class brewer. Reason to be .... indeed!

Serving type: on-tap

10-27-2007 22:58:54 | More by jjboesen
Photo of schoolboy


4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have also had this bottle and disliked it. On tap it is a totally different drink - lovely. Somehow, what I got a six pack of bottles and it just wasn't very good, but on tap I loved this. And I am not a fan of heavy flavors but I am a fan of Belgians. The raisin taste is all over it.

I can't recommend the bottle, but I do recommend trying a glass of this at the bar. Nice

Serving type: on-tap

09-09-2007 19:07:33 | More by schoolboy
Photo of Slatetank


4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decanted from the growler which gave a resounding POP! as I opened it. Poured cold into a DFH shaped pint glass.

A - A deep caramel brown w/ a full 2 finger cream head which is very smooth and the bubbles are tightly formed. A goodly amount of lace stays as large gulps are taken.

S - Caramel, brown sugar, bready yeasty aromas and maybe a hint of raisins.

M - Full and malty, yet crisp and sweet. Creamy, dry and roasted all at the same time. A slightly sweet finish as the malted flavors coat the inside of my mouth. A moderate amount of carbonation keeps the taste from getting cloying.

T - Such a complex beer, where to start? Rich and roasted w/ a dark bread flavor. Tastes like a fresh baked whole wheat loaf. A sweetness of overripe apple w/ a doughy belgian yeast seeps into the flavor. Rich sweetness like having a mouthful of raisins overtakes the taste. Much like a desert w/ raisins, the taste of raisins becomes dominant after half of the pint is swallowed. Very well balanced though and the sweetness is kept in check.

D - A full bodied and strong ale w/ great complexity. The best raisin flavored ale I have had and twice as fresh and sweet from the brewpub. I recommend having this on draft, since it seems more dry and less round and malty in the bottle. Not great drinkability, but for the abv, very good.

Serving type: growler

09-04-2007 23:29:12 | More by Slatetank
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.

Serving type: on-tap

09-04-2007 21:01:49 | More by OWSLEY069
Photo of cichief


3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on draft at Friscoe's Grille, Columbia, MD.

A- Pours a medium-dark brown, with a thin, off-white head.

S- Fruity, slight spice-yeast aroma.

T- Sweet, ripe fruit, slightly spicy, little dry hops.

M- Not too carbonated, medium body, sweet-dry flavor.

D- Not an especially drinkable beer, but a decent dessert beer.

Serving type: on-tap

05-12-2007 03:02:46 | More by cichief
Photo of Rudgers73

New York

3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I enjoyed this beer at The Old Toad in Rochester, NY last night. I'm not sure what it was, but coming out of the tap was much better than the bottle I had in November of last year. The smell was more mild and rich than the bottle, the taste was crisp and clean with a lot of rum-ish, nutty, and dried fruit tastes. It was good until the last drop and I think it also helped that it was served at the perfect temperature. (around 55 degrees I think)

So, maybe I was really harsh on it from the bottle, or maybe I served it too cold, not really sure, but I liked it a lot this time around

Serving type: nitro-tap

04-16-2007 22:01:03 | More by Rudgers73
Photo of lehows

New York

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.

Serving type: on-tap

04-16-2007 15:23:06 | More by lehows
Photo of BBM

New York

3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours a deep amber color with an off-white head that sticks around for most of the time. There is a dark fruity smell, combined with big malts and an alcoholic tinge at the back end.

I wasn't sure what type of beer this was when I tried it, but I would not have guessed a Belgian Dark. It doesn't seem to have the Belgian spice character or the earthy hops. That's not to say it's a bad brew though, because I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a huge malt character up front, with rich, dark sweetness coming through, and a mild hop presence to balance it out. Then there is a big, warming alcoholic finish to prove this beer means business.

Mouthfeel is medium, somewhat creamy and very smooth. However after even one, the sweetness and alcohol start to wear down your tastebuds. Overall this is another winner from DFH, but not quite on par with other Belgian dark ales out there.

Serving type: on-tap

04-06-2007 18:41:58 | More by BBM
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
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 3,846 ratings.