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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,842 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3842
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: 3,842 | Reviews: 1,760 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Alextricity


3.84/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 2/04/13 ... drank three months later on 5/04/13. Poured into a Samuel Adams Perfect Pint Glass.

Appearance: Super good looking beer. A crystal clear ruby color with about three fingers worth of a silky head -- I had to wait for it to go down a bit before adding the last ounce or so of beer. The head's a light tan, and the lacing's above average. Nice start.

Smell: Quite a bit of sweetness -- I get a lot of the raisin and sweet malts. Hay. Maybe some traces of hops there, as it does have a somewhat grassy note.

Taste/feel: Not QUITE doing it for me. On one sip it's overly sweet, then on the next I get an unfortunate kind of aftertaste that reminds me of artificial sweetener... and it lingers, like a Diet Coke would. I really do like the overall flavor, though. I like the taste of the grape on the front, and the seemingly roasted malt quality on the finish. My sister told me this beer was a mess and overly sweet, but I had to try it anyway. As it turns out, I'm glad to have tried it. The aftertaste is a bit "bleh", but I have had far worse. The ABV doesn't come through at all in the nose, taste, or feel at first, which is a good thing. As the beer warms, the alcohol warmth comes through a bit, and the sweetness boots out that mild roasty character I was getting. The feel of this beer can be guessed just by seeing the head after the pour -- silky smooth, but with a bit of prickly carbonation. Weird combination, but it works.

Raison D'Etre (No idea how to pronounce it...) is a beer that I'd have to recommend. I hadn't had a Belgian Strong Dark Ale before this one, so I don't know how they normally are, but this is a pleasant beer. Looks great, smells good, feels good. Like I said a couple times though, the aftertaste is a bit much. Still, pick this one up -- but maybe only a single if you can, since this really isn't a beer you won't be wanting to drink more than one of, more than likely.

Serving type: bottle

05-04-2013 22:52:29 | More by Alextricity
Photo of tbeckett

Ontario (Canada)

3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from a grocery store in Dade City, Florida. From notes.

A - Deep amber pour with a nice two finger fluffy light brown head. Good carbonation, spotty lace anda a film of retention.

S - Lot' sof raisins. Sugar, dark fruit, light yeast, vinous, port. Aroma became quite grapey later.

T - Sugar, raisins, a little yeast, nice dark malty richness. A little port and vinous notes. Sweet. Flavour gets a bit dull with time. It doesn't seem to have much drinkability for the laung haul. Flavour doesn't carry through from the initial sips.

M - Medium carbonation, light-ish body, sweet and dry finish. Body is a bit lacking.

O/D - A nice BSDA. Complex and tasty, but with a weak body. Otherwise a good example of the style, and a good intro to Belgian-styles from North America. A touch too sweet.

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2013 17:08:27 | More by tbeckett
Photo of Bosoxfan20


4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep mahogany with some violet hues. Aggressive pour leads to a 2 finger light tan head. Quite dense with terrific lacing. Retention is average, but a respectable thin crown persists.

S- the sweet malty base leads the way. Very sweet as the sugar and molasses comes through with a powerful kick. Dark fruits and raisins. Touch of floral hops. My only complaint is that the yeast went undetected and the malt base slightly drowns out other aspects of the beer.

T- Sweet as the nose indicates. A few different layers to this one. Dark fruits, dates, and raisins as smelled, along with caramel. Crisp. Almost harsh, but not quite. Some alcohol present in the wonderfully warm finish. A nice level of sweetness remains with each sip

M- Mid body, well carbonated. A little thin, but very smooth and drinkable. Almost too drinkable as the booze will creep up on you.

O- Not sure I detect a lot of Belgium character, but well done. Something different results in something really well put together. I had my reservations on this one based on reviews that I had seen, but it proved to me that opinions vary and to always drink with an open mind.

Bottled on 9/10/12
Consumed on 4/26/13

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2013 21:22:07 | More by Bosoxfan20
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-27-2013 00:22:09 | More by JamesMN
Photo of Jeffreysan


4.54/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Dogfish Head’s Raison D’ Être

12 oz bottle poured into a goblet

Appearance: Deep brown/mahogany with a nice 1 to 1½ finger cream/oatmeal colored head, that faded to a thin crown around the edge of the glass. Great lacing.

Smell: Nice carbonation to awaken the aromas of dark bread, dried fruit (raisins/prunes)

Taste: Nicely balanced beer. Starts out malty, which I love, with hints of plums, toffee and caramel, and subtle hops bitterness at the end to round everything out. Finishes with just a little alcohol warms due to the 8.% ABV.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and easy to drink. The nice carbonation helps wake up the taste buds.

Overall: Great beer and an excellent American example of one of my favorite beer styles, the Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2013 19:28:55 | More by Jeffreysan
Photo of fitzy84


3.41/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bought a six pack at Table and Vine. Poured with a high head that quickly dissipated. Has a slightly amber, brown color. Aromas were a mix of sugars, a syrup-like flavor, malts, and raisins. The taste and flavoring was sweet with a slight fruit flavor and caramel. Surprisingly sweet. The drink has a medium carbonation, giving it a crispness but also not making it too strong. Overall, not too bad.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2013 01:35:53 | More by fitzy84
Photo of Swedgin_Wu


4.4/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

bottle poured into a tulip.

Appearance - Deep mahogany with a nice 2 finger creme colored head.

Smell - Raisins, dark fruit, malts. very nice smell

Taste - very smooth. great american rendition of a belgian strong. the raisins and dark fruit dominate, with the alcohol hardly detectable (resminiscent of my favs like Rochefort and St Bernardus). candied sugar presence there as well. very drinkable

Mouthfeel - medium-heavy carbonation, medium bodied.

Overall - one of the first craft brews i tried back in the day, i bought it again to review recently and it was better than i remember (probably due to a more developed palette and experience with other belgian strongs). IMHO it's rated a little low overall. it holds its own with Belgian born strongs. Love the raisin presence

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2013 22:25:31 | More by Swedgin_Wu
Photo of BareFeetPete


3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

I wasn't nearly as impressed by this as I expected to be, having always had a fairly healthy respect for Dogfish Head beers. To be fair, this was a bottled sampling of it whereas most of my experiences with there IPA's have been tapped, but all the same I've always been able to drink those same beers poured from the bottle and enjoy them. Anyway, here's my take on it.

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into a standard pint glass. I was slightly disappointed I didn't have a bulb on hand, because I think that would have helped, but we college students tend to make do with what we've got.

A - Pours a real deep brown, kind of reddish around the edges. Head is cream colored but is pretty thin and dissipates quickly. I do like the lacing the head leaves behind because it complements the main color nicely, but overall the appearance didn't exactly wow me.

S - The smell is my favorite part of the beer. It's not subtle (though to be honest I'm having trouble picking out exactly what the distinct aromas are) but it isn't too harsh or overwhelming, even when I go to take a sip. It smells very sweet and flowery, and if I had to pick something that jumps out at me I'd say it smells like burnt fruits and vegetables, but I can't really explain why it's a pleasing aroma in this case.

T - I'll be honest, I didn't like the first sip. It was like the beer couldn't decide whether it was sweet or bitter and while I generally prefer ales to lagers because there are (in most cases) more flavors to talk about, in this case the sheer amount of stuff going on in every sip was more distracting than engaging. I will say that the beer grew on me throughout, but nobody buys a beer thinking "gee, half way through, this stuff is supposed to be pretty decent." As far as the taste goes though there's really nothing offensive here.

M - Meh. Nothing to talk about here. Definitely not over-carbonated but the alcohol is more prominent in the mouthfeel than the taste and it wasn't exactly pleasant going down.

O - I probably wouldn't buy it again. I enjoyed the second bottle I drank, but by the end of the six-pack I was really just clearing fridge space. In fact I gave the last bottle to my roommate and opted for an alternative I had on hand. It wasn't the worst thing I've tried this year but it certainly didn't inspire me to add it to my shopping list.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2013 07:01:14 | More by BareFeetPete
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2013 23:03:35 | More by IrishKevin
Photo of Efay


3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served into a snifter

A- Dark ruby red with a hue of brown for the body. When served, there was about a finger worth of tan foam that receded into nothing. There is only miniscule amounts of foam on the sides of the glass, and almost no lacing at all.

S- When swirled I got some sweet grape, but the roasted malt was dominant. Also some sweet burnt sugar

T- Sweet grapes that dominate the palate. And it doesn't really die down that much throughout the drink. Taste a lot of sugar, and a little booze, and lastly some dark malt that inst that apparent.

M- Moderate body that goes down a little on the heavy side. not much carbonation and is somewhat sticky.

O- A unique beer from a unique brewery. I really do enjoy dogfishhead a lot and i can say the same about this beer. Maybe a tad more dark malt would add some bitterness that is missing. Maybe tone down on the raisins as it's a little too sweet for the style.

Serving type: bottle

04-07-2013 19:20:42 | More by Efay
Photo of delta490


3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured a 12oz bottle into a Samuel Adams Glass. Poured a medium-deep brown with a light tan colored head. Most of the head disappears pretty quickly, but a little lingers on and leaves a little lacing on the glass. Aroma is mostly sweet malt notes (caramel, fruit) and a little bit of spice. The taste is very similar, with just s hint of hop bitterness on the finish. A little heavy on the carbonation and little thin on the mouthfeel but neither is really a detriment.

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2013 21:45:03 | More by delta490
Photo of scot_chale


4.64/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

bottled on 2/13/13, drank on 3/26/13, poured from a bottle into a snifter

A- one finger of bubbly off-white head. deep dark blood red body with adctive carbonation and beautiful clarity.

S- dark fruit and blunt malt cover the nose completely. slight yeast bi-product hidden underneath. mildly pungent.

T- the malt comes through with a sweetness and dark fruitiness that's very pleasant. faint bitter hop character but it's a balancing act. it's dancing around being sour but not quite there. very pleasant.

M- very dry, carbonation plays a big role in that. medium-to-light bodied. not too bitter, not really sour, just balanced out.

O- First beer from Dogfish. I must say I'm very impressed. It's very complex, yet very drinkable. The alcohol is hidden very well. Everything from the look to the taste has me happy. The only thing keeping me from giving it a 5 is what I read about this style and the fact that I've never had one in this category before.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2013 21:04:34 | More by scot_chale
Photo of arnoldosu1


3.76/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is my first official review, not only here on beer advocate but in general as well! This is however not my first time enjoying this "deep mahogany ale" as dogfish states right on the bottle, nor is this my first Belgian dark ale, far from it in fact. So this is my cup of tea (or beer in this case). Now, on to the review!

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz. bottle (45-50 degrees) into a tulip glass; Raison D'Etre impresses with a rich mahogany color. It is alive with a fair amount of carbonation, which stays consistent throughout the experience. On initial pour the head is brought to the top of the tulip. It dissipates rather quickly though, leaving behind a nice ring in its wake, with minimal lacing.

Smell: The aroma is of sweet Belgian deliciousness with maybe a hint of raisin. So yes the Belgian beet sugars and green raisons seem to be in play! Though the aromas are not overwhelmingly present, it does excite the senses and is rather inviting!

Taste: With the first drink, I am delighted with not only a fruity booziness, but to my surprise the taste of what?...Raisins! This is a true Belgian dark, so no disappointment in that respect. In time the raisins seemingly give way to the taste of booziness and Belgian beet sugars, though it is enjoyable through each sip.

Mouth feel: Once again it IS a true Belgian dark, and don't let the alcohol percentage of eight fool you. It feels heavier than eight percent, which is not meant as a negative or a positive. Carbonation is not an issue, with a good amount present. It has a full bodied, fruity and heart warming boozy feel that does not disappoint and sits fairly heavily on, but does not overwhelm the palate.

Many beers draw you in with exciting ingredients, of which often turn out to be more or less marketing. I am happy to say with Dogfish Head's Raison D'Etre, this is not the case. Dogfish has a reputation for brewing some very interesting beers and raison d is no exception. 'Raison D'Etre' is a French phrase meaning 'reason for existence'. While this may not be MY reason for existence, I did enjoy and would recommend giving it a taste!

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2013 04:24:27 | More by arnoldosu1
Photo of lsiberian


3.96/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A-This beer pours with a dark amber color and a light head.

S-This beer smells fantastic with a wonderful banana aroma

T-The flavor starts with banana and finishes with a malty hopiness that falls short on my palate the lingering flavor isn't pleasing because it lacks a definite flavor.

M-It starts with a tantalizing refreshing fizz that lingers long after the swallow. But again it seems caught between two places.

O-Good beer that has a fantastic smell, but seems to struggle in other areas. I've heard it's a beer that divides it's drinkers. This is definitely not my beer.

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2013 00:00:39 | More by lsiberian
Photo of 57md


3.54/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a reddish brown with at least a finger of head that dissipates relatively quickly. The notable notes in the nose are both raisins and Belgian yeast. As for the flavor, a light essence of toffee joins the malt. The maltiness grows more defined as this offering warms. The finish is dominated by an alcohol burn that is fairly potent considering the ABV is not terribly high.

All-in-all, this beer is thin for the style. It is tasty, but nothing very special.

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2013 20:04:11 | More by 57md
Photo of Nick_Foltz


4.36/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer really took me by surprise. A velvety texture, with a unique finish - the Raison does not disappoint. It has a slightly tangy and subtle white grape linger with a slight sweetness to it. Definitely a conversational piece and well worth trying.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2013 07:07:49 | More by Nick_Foltz
Photo of ronniebruner


3.04/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Beer has an overpowering aroma of sugary raisins, sugars and malts. Has a very earthy body, light coloring, and a nice lace. Beer is a bit pungent and has a strange tinge to it. I expect much better from Dogfish Head, but this is not exactly he worst beer on the planet. Try it because it is a Dogfish, but stick to one bottle versus a 6 pack.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2013 04:09:03 | More by ronniebruner
Photo of Chickenhawk9932


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

Pours a dark amber with a slight tan head.

Smells of raisin, earthy beet notes, and malt - burnt sugar.

Taste raisin up front backed by caramelized sugar notes. Body is a bit thin and it is woody and dry like a wine. Not a bad beer, but not great either - it is a little confusing to the palate.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2013 17:56:21 | More by Chickenhawk9932
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2013 02:58:35 | More by stride28
Photo of mattbk

New York

3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Deep ruby/light brown. Clear. Apeears fairly thick, lightly carbonated.
S: Dark fruit, all the way. Reminds me of a dubbel. Raisins, yes. Maybe a bit of chocolate. Pretty one dimensional, but still good.
T: Hmm, yes, the dark fruit, but the carbonation is actually higher than I would have thought, scrubbing flavor off my tongue. Additionally, it's a bit drier than I would have expected, which leads to a papery sort of flavor. It is possible this suffered from a bit of oxidation, no date on bottle. Still, not bad, lacking in flavor a bit. There is also come chocolate in this flavor profile as well. The chocolate is just a bit out of place. No alcohol in taste.
M: A bit drier than I would have liked, and more carbonated as well.
O: Definitely not a bad beer. Just a bit lacking in terms of complexity and flavor.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2013 02:26:56 | More by mattbk
Photo of Huhzubendah

District of Columbia

3.09/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer is auburn hued. Autumnal colors of ruby, crimson, russet. Small off white head that fades pretty quickly to a thin, wispy layer atop the beer. The aroma offers sweet malt, toffee, raisins, brown sugar, clove, a touch of holiday spice. Really sweet throughout. Bitter kick in the finish. Sweet raisins soaked in the booze. Fun to try, but best in small quantities. Too sweet. I don't consider this in the Belgian style at all. Where is the yeast and bread character that is so appreciated and associated with a Belgian strong dark ale? I appreciate the fact that Sam brews interesting beers, but I won't return to this one.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2013 03:10:48 | More by Huhzubendah
Photo of M_C_Hampton


4.16/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: poured from a 12 oz bottle into a goblet, pours a rich brown with a short tan head that dissipates quickly leaving some lacing, clear

S: Belgian yeasty smells up front mixed with raisins, plums, prunes, figs, heavy on sweetness

T: sweet malt flavors with notes of prunes and raisins, sour cherry, bready yeast

M: full bodied, alcohol is there, aftertaste is subdued and malty, good carbonation

O: not a bad American made take on the style, flavors are a little light, nice as it warms up, would be a good into to the style as the taste is less aggressive

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2013 00:21:53 | More by M_C_Hampton
Photo of beerme626


3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from Good Foods in Lexington, poured into a tulip glass.
A: A nice one finger head on a dark, syrup-colored beer
S: Lots of raisins and malt. Nice, but not enticing.
T: Yummy, but not stellar.
M: Could be more. Sits pleasantly, but just sits.
O: A good beer that could be more.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2013 01:50:50 | More by beerme626
Photo of cindyjeffsmith


4.43/5  rDev +21%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: clear bronze. Wispy off white head.
Smell: rich, sweet, yeasty, fruity, and some floral as well. In a word, great.
Taste: more of the same. Not quite as complex as the nose but rich and bold and full.
Overall: just outstanding. Unusual and fantastic. One of the first 'big' beers I had some 6 years ago when I was turned onto craft. Seems small compared to the monsters I've had since, but this, unlike many beers that early on seemed top tier and later disappointed, is great with every revisit.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2013 23:57:34 | More by cindyjeffsmith
Photo of SlothB77


3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a mug from a 12 oz bottle

A: Amber-brown, almost scarlet, thin light tan head.

S: Very weak smell of raisins and cranberries.

T: A smooth, sweet and sour taste. Not bitter at all. A subtle but distinctive flavor. Maybe a little shoe polish or leather.

M: Light carbonation, light acidity, light-bodied.

O: A very nice beer. Because the flavor is subtle, this is one beer you can have several of in a night and not be overwhelmed. I think this beer gets better as the night goes on (no, that isn't the case with all of them, haha.)

Serving type: nitro-bottle

01-05-2013 23:07:46 | More by SlothB77
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 3,842 ratings.