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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,849 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3849
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)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Ratings: 3,849 | Reviews: 1,760 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of madvermin


2.75/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a crystal clear, dark amber with a thin, quickly dissipating head that left no lacing at all. Looks borderline watery to me.

Smells of sweet fruit, with dates and raisins coming to mind the most. A sugary note pervades the aroma all the way through. Almost like a fruit-jam type smell.

Taste is thankfully not as pungently sweet at the front, with the raisins a nice, semi-sweet flavor. Malts come out after initial taste to sweeten the deal, though not in a way I like. Tiny bit of date character that resembles a sweet rind of a citrus fruit (very strange, but think about it). Alcohol offers its own flavor as well with a bit of warmth. Sourness arrives as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is quite thin and bubbly, with a corrosive element to it. Feels a little bit too much like pop. Drinkability saved from disaster by the late-arriving sourness, but still isn't great. Overall it's an interesting beer, but not one I particularly enjoy.

Serving type: bottle

10-18-2012 01:30:24 | More by madvermin
Photo of MRclean


4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dogfish Head
Raison D’Etre

Vessel: 12oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass

A: Pours a reddish brown with one finger of slightly off-white head. The head dissipates slowly and will be gone ½ way through the beer.

S: Not a strong aroma, has slight earthy and bread note.

T: Nice richness with sweet caramel notes. This beer has a medium body and is very drinkable. Frankly, it is a bit difficult to describe, but it is enjoyable for sure.

M: Smooth almost creamy.

I recommend trying this beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-10-2012 22:44:23 | More by MRclean
Photo of Brubaker


3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank this late last night down by the fire. So i'm do this review from memory and expert witnesses.

A- Poured nicely to a beautiful clear red-amber (mahogany). The head was 2 fingers in size and lasted a little while before dropping to a nice lacing.

S- Sweet with dark sugars. pleasant.

T- Very sweet. Good body. There's an earthy tone i assume comes from the beats and a dark sweet that must come from the raisins. The bitter shows up after that to clear away some of the sweetness. Leaving a light but clean earthy fruity taste that lingers away.

M- Smooth feel with a fine texture. Medium in body.

O- Very enjoyable beer. I would like it for high Summer or around a smoky fire in Winter.

Would Drink
Would Buy
Wouldn't Make

Serving type: bottle

10-06-2012 16:30:18 | More by Brubaker
Photo of dontpanic5

2.78/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

It pours a muddy amber with barely any head. In the nose it's fruity, bananas are what I immediately thought of, and there's the smell of chewy malts. The taste is dominated by the strange taste of beets. Off the bat I'm not really a fan. The deep malt taste isn't offensive but it can't do much to save this beer from my judgement. It has a nice carbonation and a light body. Overall I can't say I'm really enjoying this beer at all. That's Dogfish Head for you, it can be really hit or miss!

Serving type: bottle

10-04-2012 22:47:08 | More by dontpanic5
Photo of Dwtucker90


4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed from a bottle and out of a North Coast Brewing tulip glass. Beer bottle on 2/19/13 and drank on 5/1/13.

Look: The color is a deep cherry wood/mahogany. Can't see through it. Only thing really lacking here is a nice head. It poured with only about 2 centimeters of white head which quickly dissipated.

Smell: some spicy alcohol esters. Mild dark fruits with that typical Belgian yeast and malt nose. Nice but not a very strong nose. Have to really look for the nose on this one until it warms and opens up. Once you let that happen it is very pleasant.

Taste: lots of Belgian yeast and malt similar to most strong Belgian beers. A good bit of warming alcohol which is spicy in the front and warming going down. Dark and sweet fruits and picking up some of that green grape after taste that lingers and sticks to your mouth.

Mouthfeel: not much to the head but this beer's carbonation really comes through once you get it into your mouth. Just the way I like my strong Belgians, slick but bubbly and spicy.

Overall: Not my favorite of the style but an interesting and delicious entrance by Dogfish Head. Definitely worth trying and enjoying.

Serving type: bottle

10-03-2012 01:39:00 | More by Dwtucker90
Photo of Oakenator


3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This raison beer doesn't disappoint - lives up to its name. Belgian strength and flavor. Pours a deep amber with a decent head at pour that disappates. Nose is strong raisons and some alcohol despite its 8% ABV. Sweeter malts linger on the back end and some sour raison flavor on the front. This beer is about a year old and has aged decently despite its middle ABV (have also had it fresh and consistent with my memory).

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2012 02:02:50 | More by Oakenator
Photo of jimilayne

New York

2.73/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I'm a huge fan of Dogfish Head and this is the first 'swing and a miss' I've had from them. There's just too much going on here. I'm not sure exactly what the goal was with the taste but it confused the H out of me. It's just not up to par with the rest of their fine products that I've had (60, 90, 120 min IPAs, Bitches Brew, Hellhound Ale, Pearl Jam Twenty Ale).

Drank a few out of the bottle and really don't have much to say. Too spicy and while the raisins come through, they're not balanced well enough with anything else to bring out the best of them.

Had to try it on principle but won't be going back.

Serving type: bottle

09-29-2012 21:21:39 | More by jimilayne
Photo of Pjev11

New Jersey

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

Dark copper pour, semi translucent. Half inch off white head that leaves quickly, no lacing to speak of. Sweet in the nose. Bold flavors on the first sip, slightly alcoholic but well balanced. Definitely get that raisin in the taste and the nose.

A nice different flavorful ale from DFH. They often go too far with their flavor profiles but this one works for me.

Serving type: bottle

09-11-2012 03:08:47 | More by Pjev11
Photo of kartoffel

4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a really good beer for the style and would no doubt be strange to most. It is a bit thin and fruity but for a Belgian style it really hits the spot with it's American craft brew twists. It does taste a bit wild and the smell is awesome. I think it would be better as a sour beer but it's very complex as is.

From a bottle into a tulip/snifter. Low easily fading head typical of some true Belgian beers.
A: looks great like a sour red and even smells like it could be one but it does look great in a glass
S: smells phenomenal. Fruity with a hint of that Russian imperial stout smell but very subdued.
T: Tastes great if you don't expect it to be something else. It is a great saison/farmhouse with a Belgian roots and an American twist.
M: it is thin but not hot or alcohol at all comes off as about 5.5% in the mouth. Very drinkable even chug-able but I wouldn't recommend. The beer does have lacing but very little thin head more like juice but not in a bad way still without a doubt 4.5/5 beer.

Serving type: bottle

09-10-2012 20:34:34 | More by kartoffel
Photo of confer


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

Just a plain muddy water brown with no head whatsoever.
Smell like a boozy Belgian.
Taste is much better than the smell. Definitely has a dark fruit finish.
Very watery for the style and the abv.
I will have to revisit this later , since I'm not sure I am giving it a fair rating, but I was surely underwhelmed.

Serving type: bottle

09-03-2012 01:31:35 | More by confer
Photo of FlemingVSKing


4.6/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Simply a perfect blend of a deep rich ale with a brilliant lighter background of unique fruit tones.

Upon first tasting it, I immediately thought it was the best new brew that I have tried in months. I would gladly buy cases of this stuff. It's really good.

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2012 14:58:22 | More by FlemingVSKing
Photo of PHSCAPT


3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: A good deal lighter than I expected for a BSDA. Note: those of you who think this is supposed to be a stout - it isn't.
S: Nothing overt. Typical Belgian fruit-ishness.
T: Raisin and fig notes; slightly sour finish
M: Not overly carbonated as one would expect from a BSDA
O: Good but not jaw-dropping awesome BSDA for an American firm. Needs to be darker with more alcohol. It's not St Bernardus, but then, it isn't the price of St Bernardus either.

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2012 19:56:21 | More by PHSCAPT
Photo of CheezyBlaster


3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not bad at all. Dark, brown, and robust pour. Shades of red/ruby. Short finger of a head fades over a minute.

Smell: a dark Belgian ale. Hint of dark fruit, but mostly a mild sweet-beet aroma, brown sugar, molasses, touch of raisin.

Mouth follows similarly. (All 5 I've had over the week start off with a tin/stainless steel-like taste that fades after 2 sips) Classic Belgian yeasts, but very subdued, relatively. The malt guides the flow. The beets and raisins advertised on the bottle show up and shape the piece, but do not dominate. Mildly spicy -probably the hops? Mild is a good word for this brew. Very dangerous 8% beer. If I loved the flavor and feel, I'd get into trouble, fast.

Good American take on this style. Not a fan of the style, but I appreciate the work; raisins with beet sugar are a good addition. I mean, I don't want to slim this down to a one-dimensional review, but it's like a mild, alcohol-hiding, dark Belgian ale with hints of beet sweetness and genuine raisin.

Now, my score might not add up, but this is my favorite dark Belgian, ever. So, numbers don't mean everything. If you like the style, please try this.

Serving type: bottle

08-20-2012 00:18:11 | More by CheezyBlaster
Photo of JDizzle


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

Pours a dark dirty brown with not much head. Looks like cola with its bubbles and Color.

Smells really great with dark fruits, sweet Malt, and brown sugar cane.

Taste starts with a sweet brown sugar and dried fruit medley. Really rich, but could get tiring if drinking more than one.

Mouthfeel is superb. Its so easy to drink, although tiring if multiplies are consumed.

Overall its solid and would be good to cook with.

Serving type: bottle

08-15-2012 02:09:09 | More by JDizzle
Photo of dexterk1


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

Had this one at the alehouse in Gaithersburg. Color is nice dark brown and head seems strong.
Odor is sweet and fruity. Raisin, malt, and brown sugar.
Taste is raisin as well. Sweet and malty. Spices come through a bit too. It may be a bit too sweet, but seems to work well throughout. Alcohol sneaks in as well and seems to take away something a little bit.
Mouth feel is good and smooth. The abv does not make it harsh. The fruit helps with that.

Serving type: on-tap

08-12-2012 20:51:56 | More by dexterk1
Photo of rickyleepotts


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

This beer has roots in wine. Hey, that’s OK with me. I just started a part-time job at Total Wine, and we don’t carry this… maybe we should! Anyway, the beer has a cool name and I am excited to try it. Just this week I grabbed a bottle of 120 Minute IPA. That beer is so hard to come by, I think I am going to leave that in the cellar for a while. But this one has been in the fridge for quite some time, and I am curious what it tastes like.

In the Glass: It looks like a barleywine in the glass. Speaking of barleywines, the Firestone website lists the Firestone Walker Double DBA as a barleywine. It’s not… the label even says “imperial special bitter”. Anyway, this beer is dark, ruby red and looks like a barleywine. The beer doesn’t have any head at all, and no lace to speak of. Maybe this beer really does taste like a wine.

Nose: Whoa… that beer smells incredible. It’s sweet, and again reminds me as a barleywine. I have never heard of Belgian beet sugar… but whatever it is, it makes this beer smell incredible. I am sure it packs a punch on the palate as well. I wonder if anyone has ever released a beer called the Palate Puncher… a double IPA would make sense!

Flavor: And it tastes like a barleywine. It has a very smooth, almost flat consistency across the palate and packs a punch of flavors. It is somewhat complex, starting smooth and sweet and finishing strong and somewhat malty. The beer is very enjoyable, and for the advanced flavors that I am experiencing, I am shocked at the price. Sipping this makes me wonder what foods would pair well with it.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is nice. It start smooth and flat, and stays that way until the finish. The fact there is no head and basically no lace makes sense with how this beer goes down. I bet this would taste incredible on cask. I did swish it around in my mouth a little bit, and that opened up some new flavors. Nothing crazy. The sweetness really overwhelms the entire palate.

Aftertaste: The aftertaste, for such a powerful beer, isn’t as impressive. It is sort of there and gone again. When I struggle to get some flavors from the swallow, I am tasting fig and some sweet maltiness toward the finish of the swallow. But the aftertaste is nothing to write home about.

I must say, for a beer that I had no idea what to expect… I am pleasantly surprised. The flavors are incredible, and the aroma is wonderful. Look at me… using all these big adjectives. Anyway, I am a big fan of sweet malty beers, and this one fits that realm. I would totally buy this again. I wonder if this tastes better closer to room temperature… yeah, I am sure it does. Bottoms up, people!

Raison D’Être – The bottle says: “A deep mahogany ale brewed with Belgian beet sugars, green raisins, & a sense of purpose”

Serving type: bottle

08-08-2012 04:18:27 | More by rickyleepotts
Photo of scootny

New York

3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Light ruddy brown with an off white head. Gentle carbonation, not much lace. Aroma has lots of sweetness. Sugar, caramel malt, dark fruits, banana, alcohol. Belgian yeast funk as well.
Taste is full of complexity. Dark fruits and banana with a cocoa and coffee flair. Think mocha with a light shot of banana syrup. Dry chalky finish with a pleasing pucker that while not hoppy gives a similar clean crispness. Light syrupy feel and mild carbonation. A very nice take on the style and quite drinkable. Indeed the drinkability is one of the best qualities of this beer. It is the closest thing to a session BSDA I have had. Not a standout but a definite regular on my shopping list from now on.

Serving type: bottle

07-31-2012 03:24:15 | More by scootny
Photo of UCLABrewN84


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

Pours a clear dark brown with a 1/2 inch foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small patches of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, brown sugar, and some slight dried fruit aromas. Taste is of roasted and toasted malt, burnt sugar, spice, and some fruity flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roasty and spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer flavor wise but I think I like the aromas I am getting over the flavors.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2012 04:16:27 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of SouljaSaia17


3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A pleasant surprise to find this and the Indian Brown ale in my mix a six choices.

A: Nice dark, amber color with a 1-finger creamy nut colored head.

S: Some Belgian yeast, dark fruit, and some spice start of this high alcohol brew. Also get some hints of brown sugar, raisin and molasses.

O: Overall feel is very sweet and spicy, light bodied and doesnt hid the alcohol content. A very strong tasting beer which could throw some people off. If you know Dogfish Head, you will grow to appreciate it!

Serving type: bottle

07-24-2012 05:13:28 | More by SouljaSaia17
Photo of obrike


3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wow...this one's interesting. Bought a single at HEB Round Rock for 1.99.

Like the color a lot...a rich reddish brown, a rich head that disappears fairly quickly...not too much lacing on this one at all though.

Dig the smell..sugary sweet malt, a light touch of Belgian yeasts and fruits...maybe rum drenched raisins? Taste follows...this is a brew with big sugar and full malty flavors with fruit to round it off. The Belgian aspects are pretty backseat. Quite an odd, but good beer.

The sweetness of this one kind of makes it a one and done beer for me tonight, but I think I'd get it again....almost a fun treat beer...probably would go really well with dessert.

Serving type: bottle

07-24-2012 03:18:04 | More by obrike
Photo of SolipsismalCat


3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Slightly hazy red-brown with a two-finger, off-white, creamy head that lasted a few minutes. Good lacing.

S: Sweet malt, dark fruit and molasses. Kind of a funky aroma too.

T: Strong sweetness and light bitterness. Same sweet malt and dark fruit as in the nose. A little too sweet in my opinion.

M: Medium bodied with lively carbonation. Crisp and refreshing. Warm going down.

O: Despite it being a bit too sweet, I actually did enjoy this beer. It something different.

Serving type: bottle

07-19-2012 22:58:58 | More by SolipsismalCat
Photo of optimistictour


4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On par with (especially American made) dark Belgians, with a smaller head receding into a wisp with some lacing on the sides.. but it smells like a champ. Well at least a really promising beer. None of that super-upfront pungent sourness which many American dubbels and darks get wrong when it comes to Beligans. It tastes like the hops mean business but are perfectly tempered by the sweetness of the malt and creamy texture.

I think the components - looks decent, smells appetizing, tastes yummy, feels good - appear to add up to a solid but uninteresting beer. It's actually an interesting swirl though these territories with its own distinctive feel. At under $12 a six pack it's almost a steal.

Serving type: bottle

07-15-2012 05:40:12 | More by optimistictour
Photo of AwYeh


2.43/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12 oz glass into snifter. Bottled April 2012.

A: Pours a foggy ruby red color with half a finger of frothy off-white head. Some lacing remains.

S: Above all, this is SWEET. I'm getting dark fruits, brown sugar, and molasses. Not much of the yeast or other flavors that I would expect from this particular Belgian style.

T: Likewise, the taste is quite sweet. I get a lot of butterscotch, raisan, and plum. Dark, fruity, and sweet. Hints of molasses and spices come through too. A decent amount of alcohol makes it through.

M: Fairly thin-bodied for the ABV, a bit of carbonation lends it a light creaminess. Unfortunately, it does nothing to add to the beer's finish.

O: A very sweet, fruity beer. It hides its alcohol well, but compared to others in the style, doesn't necessarily offer the complexity of flavor that I expected. Not sure that I'll be seeking this one out again.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2012 09:31:50 | More by AwYeh
Photo of thebeerarchitect

4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm still new to the beer tasting seen so bare with me. I'm typically a whisky connoisseur when I have a real meaty meal but the other night I decided I was going to branch out. I was at as small plate restaurant called "girl and the goat" which I highly recommend in Chicago. Any ways I told the waitress I wanted a full body beer that had somewhat of a bitter/sweet finish, she recommended the Raison D'Etre. Needless to say this beer did not disappoint. The brew was full of flavor and match quite well with my steak and fish. This has become my new favorite beer when I only want one or two drinks with a nice steak. I hope this review was helpful.

Serving type: bottle

07-05-2012 09:37:49 | More by thebeerarchitect
Photo of ummswimmin

New Jersey

3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Happy 4th of July! My first beer to celebrate the American spirit is coming kind of late today.

I poured Raison into a snifter glass to hold in the raisin smell. It looks really good with about two fingers of head and a dark brown/red coloring.

I like the smell coming off the top. You do really easily pick up the raisin smell. I also get that rich dark ale presence. It works well.

The flavor really falls off. I don't get much balance in my glass. The raisin presence drops off unless you pull air across it.

I'm a little disappointed in how this turned out. I am a big DFH fan, and this really missed the target for me.

Serving type: bottle

07-04-2012 23:31:27 | More by ummswimmin
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 3,849 ratings.