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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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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)
View: Beers (137) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Ratings: 3,842 | Reviews: 1,760 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of nsheehan


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

Raison d’etre
12oz to libbey Belgian
8% ABV
Bottled on 05/03/2013

A – Clearish yet dark amber color, not very translucent due to the dark color. Billowy yellowish-khaki head. Bubbles excitedly rising from the tulip’s bottom. The lacing as I drink is thick where it sticks.

S – Belgian candy sugars and some dark fruits, with some earthiness and spices. Very nice. Dark cherry and licorice, perhaps some fig; also a bit of alcohol. The smells mingle together nicely.

T – The Belgian dark ale flavors are all there, and the only thing that’s in excess for me are the spices (at first). It’s quite sweet, this sweetness and the dark fruit being the main flavors. It doesn’t quite taste full Belgian because it doesn’t have the breadiness I associate with Belgian ales, but it’s close. The alcohol doesn’t start biting till it warms a bit more, and it’s like a love nip. As it warms, some breadiness comes out; it had previously been hidden by the sweetness. I can easily see people thinking this is too sweet. While it approaches too sweet, it’s still fine by me. At the end of the glass the alcohol does bite, but if you drink this in its sweet spot (like I mostly did) it’s great.

M – A tingly softness during the sip but sits pretty soft on the palate, though it’s not velvety. Nearly heavy-bodied, I’m guessing from residual sugars. In the cheeks it’s a little pointed, I think from alcohol. Slightly dry finish, more so on the tongue.

D – This is a great substitute for a Trappist beer, and the mouthfeel makes it somewhat refreshing despite being a BSDA. Even though it’s quite sweet, I could see myself having 2 or 3 in a night. It’s a nice break from the hoppier beers I’ve been drinking lately.
Caveat: Once it passes the sweet spot the alcohol come out and alters it quite a bit negatively. Let warm for 13 minutes (from fridge) before opening.
4.5, 4.5, 4.25, 4.25, 4.5; 4.35.

Serving type: bottle

08-26-2013 23:22:33 | More by nsheehan
Photo of ale1


4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

picked up a sixer from Moe's on center street ,jupiter ,fla

pours a nice 3-4" head with fine carbonation , belgian candies,cherry, raisin nose
and some hops i can't identify that are very mild
is it a chimay or ommegang ? no but it's right up there with them
the brewmaster knows his stuff at Dogfish head nothing to overwhelming , and as you drink it you'll notice the various barleys and belgian candies /yeast they do took good care in selecting, go on by as one flavor arrives and previous leaves, with a good belgian candy finish.
It has been awhile since i have had a different belgian style ale from another brewer who is what it claims, so many have claimed they are Belgian Ales and they are not, this is,and expensive to make !
This is a very good ale
will i buy another ? yes

Serving type: bottle

08-25-2013 00:43:54 | More by ale1
Photo of mpyle


3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Rich amber color, brilliantly clear. Pours a fairly large, tan colored head. Creamy and with good retention.

Bit of a toffee, plum kind of aroma. Sweet, but with a little extra. Liquorice.

Rich tasting and sweet. Big malt with some malt complexity, a bit of spiciness (pepper), turns slightly bitter and much drier in the finish. Flavors of the finish are somewhat unpleasant, with an out of place bitterness

MF - Medium body and carbonation, no astringency. Some alcohol warming. A bit drying on the tongue.

Overall - has some nice elements, but the flavors lingering in the finish detract.

Serving type: bottle

08-11-2013 00:17:46 | More by mpyle
Photo of Fear4Beer


3.29/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3

Its too sugary for me and I usually like sweet things. I love me some dogfish head but the taste could have used a little less sugar. The alcohol is pretty well masked by the flavor. You will feel the 8% hit you after you finish your beer. :)

My reviews are more mental notes for me. I don't really care about smells, appearance, etc. Just the overall taste.

Serving type: bottle

08-10-2013 02:26:20 | More by Fear4Beer
Photo of Chaney

District of Columbia

3.71/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I had this on-tap at the Falls Church Alehouse.

Served in a DFH pint.

A: Poured a ruby red color, pretty clear, and with a slight head but not much.

S: Smelled like cherry lollipop with a bit of Belgian funk. Nice, and devoid of anything boozy.

T: Definitely beet sugar upfront, however, can't say DFH didn't warn me. This sorta reminded me of Troegs "Mad Elf." Despite the Belgian character here, it didn't overwhelm in any way.

M: Mild prickle, sweet but not offensive, and with a yeasty flair overall.

O: This one took me a while to get use to I guess because I used to tell people I hated it. It's been a couple of years.

Serving type: on-tap

08-03-2013 03:47:09 | More by Chaney
Photo of 1sophrosyne1


2.95/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

From the tap, tasted over 15 minutes.

The appearance is the highlight of this product--a showy leather brown--truly lovely in color. Not much head, though, nor does the thin beret stay in place long.
The smell is musty and isopropanolic with soft raisins.
There is obvious raisin in the taste profile, too, with an off sour back half.
Drying bronze tongue heavy on carbonation. It's difficult to separate from the gangly flavor experience, but this brew lays out very nicely over the tongue and teeth with a nice splash of warmth.
I wish I could get excited, but once again, it's style above substance in Milton--this is certainly not the reason why beer exists.

Serving type: on-tap

07-27-2013 04:20:48 | More by 1sophrosyne1
Photo of FLima


3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Brown amber color with a thin head with low retention.
Fruity aroma of figs, raisins, molasses and caramel. Hints of earthy hops, booze and condiments.
Flavor of grapes, brown sugar, raisins which are quite predominant here, dates, Caribbean rum, plums and toasted malts. Hints of pepper, earthy hops and cinnamon. Dry aftertaste with a relatively good bitterness.
Medium body with good carbonation. Alcohol of 8% ABV is completely hidden in its taste.
Complex with a very unique flavor, it felt to me like a mix of an English Bitter, a Brown Ale and a Belgian Dark Ale. Interesting beer, especially if you are in the mood for trying something different.

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2013 00:56:22 | More by FLima
Photo of SSS

Quebec (Canada)

3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A-Amber color, dark, almost no head retention for me.
S-Fruity, musty smell. I can smell the alcohol.
T-It tastes strong, slight fruit, a hint of wine-like grape
M-Carbonation is a little much for me, lots of bubbles
O-I remembered this beer to be better than I thought. Try it, I don't think it is for everyone.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2013 15:44:41 | More by SSS
Photo of Roguer


4.11/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - One finger off-white head. Very foamy and thick. Glowing garnet dark liquid filled with tons of bubbles. Head retention is nice, and lacing is OK.

S - Cherries and dates you can smell from across the room while pouring. Dark fruit and Belgian candi sugar, but lighter smelling than a double. Mild toast.

T - Darkly sweet, with a tiny hint of sourness. Cherries, dates, raisins, candi; tastes like the nose, really. A bit of a nuttiness present, as well.

M - Lovely medium feel. Small amount of alcohol warmth.

O - Sometimes, I just don't agree with the ratings; this is one of those times. I was thoroughly impressed with this beer the first time I tried it, and nothing has come along to change my mind. This is a lovely and balanced brew - if slightly one-dimensional.

Serving type: bottle

07-18-2013 22:25:12 | More by Roguer
Photo of json83


3.11/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

The aroma is the only thing that I found slightly attractive. The immediate taste is strong raisin taste, almost like eating a handful of raisins that have been sitting out in the sun all day. 240 calories per bottle with 8% ABV. Not an IPA fan at all and this has a similar strong bitter flavor.

Serving type: bottle

07-15-2013 23:13:09 | More by json83
Photo of Caj1


3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I had been wanting to try something from Dogfish Head for a while, and, not in the mood for a bitter IPA at the time, I went ahead and got a six-pack of these brews, party because I wanted a brown ale and partly because I was lured in by the claim on the package which said it was the American beer of the year for the year 2000. My experience below.

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, I ended up with about a finger of off-white head which foamed up and then dissipated in the span of about thirty seconds. What's left is some thin but persistent lacing. The beer itself is a nice dark copper/amber that is crystal clear with minimal carbonation. When held to the light it looks almost like strongly brewed iced tea.

With smelling I got an immediate whiff of grapes, somewhat reminiscent of a wine, which makes some sense since this is brewed with raisins. I also get some caramel and butterscotch and a little bit of malt, and the ghost of an earthy smell. The smell translates quite well to the palate; raisins are the first thing I taste, and after holding the beer in my mouth for a little bit I can taste alcohol just a bit, since this is a relatively high alcohol beer (8% ABV, wowzers.) After swallowing the flavor becomes more complex, leaving a nice caramel and just a tiny bit of chocolate, and also a nice hint of earth and bitterness from the hops. This beer definitely prefers to overpower the palate at first and then slowly reveal its character. Mouthfeel is nice, smooth and clean immediately, but after a few moments it foams up and becomes less smooth, while also burning a little bit from the alcohol and carbonation.

Overall this is a pretty nice beer, but I feel like they could have toned down the abject sweetness just a tad and it would have worked a little better; that raisin flavor is just too much to handle when it smacks you in mouth, but this beer is also a grower. I was very off-put on my first bottle, but after subsequent drinks I've come to like this a little more. I would drink it if offered, but probably won't be buying again. That said, I appreciate what the guys at Dogfish Head were trying to do; I just feel like they could have executed a little bit better.

Serving type: bottle

07-02-2013 02:28:34 | More by Caj1
Photo of DeFaz


3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

This is a big beer. Immediately you'll smell the strong alcohol and (excessively) sweet notes but with a touch of raison as promised. The taste is more of the same, with the alcohol not so well concealed and the sugar flavor a bit too dominant. However, the raison flavor lingers in the background and works. The mouthfeel is sticky and the beer is medium bodied. Overall, a pretty good sipping beer, and at 8% ABV you're going to want to sip it slowly.

The label states that the beer has a "sense of purpose", and I don't know what the purpose is, but whatever it is, this beer might have a bit too much of it.

Serving type: bottle

07-02-2013 01:38:51 | More by DeFaz
Photo of cdkrenz


4.3/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I popped the top on a brew I cellared for 3 years. This beer aged like a champ. I'm glad I have two more in the cellar. I've updated the numbers to reflect the beer I sampled after 3 years in the cellar.

Review below entered on 6/20/2010

A - Reddish brown with quick paced head. Carbonation appears minimal. (3)

S - Sweet aromas of plum and brown sugar. (3.5)

T - Deep rooted base of sweet malts. The finish is a little heavy on the sugared side. (3.5)

M - The feel is somewhat coarse. I think this is a brew that will age well in all aspects including the feel. (3.5)

~ I have four of these cellared and will re-review when the time is right. I truely feel this is one of those special beers that will increase in complexity and character as it ages. I guess I'll find out. (3.5)

Serving type: bottle

06-27-2013 01:25:18 | More by cdkrenz
Photo of IchLiebeBier


4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark mahogany; thick creamy beige head, long lasting, good lacing

Aroma: Malt; sweet dark fruit; citrusy hops

Taste: Creamy malt on start; dark fruit and candi sugar with light hops in the mid; finishes semi sweet with a lingering hop bite; a little syrupy, but tasty and balanced

Remarks: Did not score A, T, S, M at that time; disregard those scores

Serving type: bottle

06-15-2013 22:01:46 | More by IchLiebeBier
Photo of scotorum


2.8/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Poured into a tulip glass from the 12 oz. bottle.

a. Deep translucent amber forms a finger thick head which quickly dissipates to a ring of foam around the edge. Abundant bubbling. Looks more like red wine as it's consumed

s: Mild fruit.

t: Fruity, no doubt the raisins are responsible for some of the dark color and impart a wine-like taste.

m: Moderate bitterness. Rather harsh.

o: Since I prefer beer to wine, and this tastes like some kind of hybrid, it's not a favorite.

Serving type: bottle

06-14-2013 05:54:36 | More by scotorum
Photo of Hefeweizen

North Carolina

4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

My rose garden (over 265 fragrant varieties) was in need of some TLC, several hours worth so I crank up the CD player drop in some relaxing jazz and venture later onto some Van Halen. During the course of five hours and some intensive work later, I drank the entire six-pack and I was very satisfied. Most likely I will purchase it again and not work as hard as I did in the garden. Later on that week I would enjoy some Bells Two-Hearted Ale as well.

Serving type: bottle

06-12-2013 14:01:02 | More by Hefeweizen
Photo of wac9


3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

what a wonderful tasting beer it dances on your tongue makes you feel alive but itsa strong beer so be careful fig raisins dark fruit and other wonder things not too dark thats what i think but a beer that you can get lost for a while in enjoy it dont let it destory you happy drinking

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2013 01:46:02 | More by wac9
Photo of dar482

New York

3.74/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It comes in a red mahogany with tan head that quickly dissipates. In the light, the beer has a beautiful clear rich ruby color. Beautiful beer.

The aroma has that bready Belgian yeast, but starts with a big huge fresh raisins. There’s some clove and spiciness.

The flavor reminds me a bit of Maudite. It has that deep rich roasted raisin and breadiness then it washes away quite nicely with the carbonation. There finish is a bit dry and there’s a hint of alcohol there. However, the heavily tiny bubbled carbonation isn’t there for me.

It’s a very delicious beer and the adjuncts do not ruin this beer. So refreshing, reminds me a ton of Unibroue’s beers. This beer tastes like it could use some age and mellowing. It was bottled on 12/12/12.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2013 04:31:04 | More by dar482
Photo of ChrisKayler


3.66/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Glass: New Belgium Globe.

Appearance: An aggressive pour produced half a finger of off-white, medium sized bubbled head. Head dissipated after a couple minutes. Color is dark mahogany.

Smell: Dark fruits, raisins, caramel, a little boozy, a tiny bit metallic, perhaps a bit of bread ... almost like bread pudding.

Taste: Very sweet. The slightest tinge of funkiness and metallic taste in the very first sip, transitioning quickly to bread and even more quickly to a sweet overall raisin, dark fruit, caramel sweetness that lingers for quite some time.

Mouthfeel: light-medium body, with low carbonation. Sticky syrup lingers.

Overall: A good dessert type beer, and perhaps it would be excellent paired with certain foods. However, this one is just a bit too sweet for me. Would drink again, but would not seek it out.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2013 01:48:20 | More by ChrisKayler
Photo of mattkoon

South Carolina

4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

the label describes this beer as "mahogany" which pretty much nails the color. the smell is ok, nothing stands out that much in the nose, just slight dark sweetness. the taste is full and sweet full of dark fruitiness. the finish is warm, this beer feels like christmas time to me. over all i like it a good bit. i still hate that i have to go out of town to get my hands on dogfishhead....someone in my area needs to get their shat together.

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2013 17:50:08 | More by mattkoon
Photo of emd


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

Typical Dogfish Head bottle, nothing particularly special.

Pour & Appearance:
Raison D'Être pours a dark brown, slightly golden, ale with little to no head that subsided very quickly. There were no unfiltered particles to be found even after settling.

The aroma has an alcohol scent with hints of sweetness teasing at the flavor.

A thin and moderately carbonated feel.

Wonderfully sweet taste without being overwhelming. Green raisin at the forefront followed by the beet sugar. The taste is the highlight of this beer in my opinion. The flavor gives no indication of the 8% ABV.

While certainly well above average, this beer isn't anything I would go out of my way to find. It is enjoyable and I would drink it again, however I don't feel like it is something I will find myself randomly desiring in the future.

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2013 23:13:46 | More by emd
Photo of thegodfather1076


3.84/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Presentation: Typical DFH label with DFH logo, ABV info, small desc of the beer, a bit of brewery info, web info, bottled on date(9-11-12).

Appearance: Poured from 12oz bottle into a 16oz snifter. Poured out a deep hazelnut brown color with a 1½ finger tan airy foam head. Retention was 2min 12sec before fading to a thin coating and ring. Lacing was just OK.

Smell/Aroma: Smells of molasses and sweet dark fruit. Has a definite raisin or grape scent.

Flavor/Taste: Taste if of sweet raisin on the front-end along with hints of dark fruit, caramel, and molasses. This turns to a nice toasty malt back-end and a bit of a dry finish.

MouthFeel/Drinkability: On the full side of medium bodied with a smooth slightly creamy mouthfeel. A bit overly carbonated to be highly drinkable.

Overall: I had no idea what to expect going into this and came away pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed this and while it is different and may not appeal to the masses it is def worth checking out. Classified as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale @ 8% ABV. Consumed 5/23/2013.

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2013 19:40:01 | More by thegodfather1076
Photo of RonaldTheriot


4.21/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre has an extremely thin, off-white head, that fizzes right away. The appearance is semi-clear, brilliant, reddish-brown, with no lacing left behind and chunky pieces floating about. The aroma is of sweetness, turnip, slight caramel, and odd fruit. Taste is of raisins, turnips, brown bread, vegetable-like sugar, iced tea, and mold. There is an underlying hop bitterness, but this is mild. Mouthfeel is medium and somewhat prickly, and Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre finishes dry, rich, and not alcohilic. Certainly, this beer is unique, and I score it most excellent. It is one that is not to be missed.


Serving type: bottle

05-26-2013 15:52:04 | More by RonaldTheriot
Photo of WallingBrew


4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This is the Belgian (dark) strong ale that got me hooked into the category. The beer has a terrific complexity ranging from a caramel toffee to spiced banana and each sip finishes with a welcoming alcoholic punch and smooth mouthfeel. Hard to describe but certainly worth seeking out at under $10 for a 6-pack. Well done DFH.

Serving type: bottle

05-24-2013 03:21:42 | More by WallingBrew
Photo of Kunstman


4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a New Glarus proprietary tasting glass. Bottled 7/20/2012.

A: Brown with copper hues, no haze. One finger tan head, no lacing. Let's say 18 degrees SRM.

S: Sweet molasses, brown sugar, dark fruit - mostly raisons. Grape, maybe? For 8% ABV no alcohol detected.

T: Dark fruit, brown sugar, prune/raisin. Sweet and malty with no hops detected - in true fashion for this style.

M: Full, thick body. Not as much carbonation as I am used to with this the few examples I have had in this style. However, I enjoy the lack of ‘over carbonation'.

O: An excellent beer. I haven't had a bad Belgian Strong Dark yet, and this one is arguably my favorite.

Serving type: bottle

05-17-2013 02:51:41 | More by Kunstman
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 3,842 ratings.