Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States | website

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
A deep mahogany, Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins and Belgian-style yeast.

25 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-09-2001

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,774 | Ratings: 4,274
Photo of Immortale25
3.96/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a Corona Extra pint glass. Says Bottled on 7/28/11.

A- Pours a deep mahogany color (yeah, I know it's on the label) with a very thin head that dissipates to scattered bubbles on the edge of the glass and surface. Hardly any lacing.

S- Sweet, Belgian-y aroma with the raisins in there as well. Musty and a bit of banana.

T- Malty, strong taste with the Belgian characteristics taken down a notch. Fruity esters that are anything but light. A smooth finish with an aftertaste that I've only been able to describe as "murky" like pond water but not in a bad way.

M- Low-medium carbonation but not much is needed since the combination of flavors stand well on their own. Judging by the color of the beer, you wouldn't think the consistency would be as thin as it is.

O- One of the first craft brews I ever had. Though, after years of research, this isn't one of my favorite Dogfish brews, it's still a good one to have every once in a while.

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Photo of rfgetz
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

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Photo of glid02
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Revisited this beer courtesy of daryk77 - much obliged!

Pours a perfectly clear chestnut brown color with a one-finger tan head. The head dissipates into a patchy layer on top leaving almost no lacing.

Smells of caramel malt with hints of brown sugar. The alcohol becomes more noticeable as the beer warms, but it's never overpowering.

Tastes good. More caramel malt kicks things off, then brown sugar and light raisin flavors join in. I'm not 100% sure what green raisins are supposed to taste like, but the raisin flavors I get taste a lot like normal dark raisins. A solid bitter ending sends the sip off.

Mouthfeel is good. It's a bit on the thin side, but the carbonation is good and it goes down pretty smoothly.

Drinkability is good. The ABV is well-hidden in my opinion, and the flavors are interesting enough to keep enticing me to take another sip.

Overall this is an interesting beer, but it doesn't do a whole lot to excite me. Still, it's worth a shot.

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Photo of RBorsato
3.89/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown to mahogany with very low off white head, low carbonation (almost flat), and left no lace. Malty Dark Brown Sugar aroma and flavor with alcohol on both nose and throat... raisins are evident but overwhelmed by malt and alcohol. Medium to full bodied (leans full) and smooth with a warming alcohol finish.

Can only be summarized as a Strong Dubbel... not nearly enough dark fruit character that I normally associate with this style.

Label states: "Brewed with Belgian Beet Sugars and Green Raisins"

Packaged in: 03 (month notched)-- '02' emb on bottom of bottle
Tasted: 05/25/04

($7.99 / 6-pack)

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Photo of Gusler
4.42/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer after its disinterment from the 12-ounce brown bottle sets in the glass a brilliantly clear burnished copper color with a personable creamy light tan head, that erodes rather quickly, leaving a blanket of lace to obscure the glass. Nose has a nice malt sweetness with under tones of fusel alcohol, raisins and a slight musk smell also present, quite a treat for the old schnozzle, start is somewhat sweet with a big malt presence, the top is moderate in its feel to the palate. Finish is benignly acidic and the hop pertinent in their spicy bite, aftertaste has a wine like dryness, a yummy beer that I finally have available at all times, “Hell Yeah”!

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Photo of tigg924
4.19/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: dark amber/caramel in color--no head, minimal carbonation

Smell: raisin, cinnamon, alcohol, and sugar

Taste: raisin, cinnamon, caramel, alcohol-especially towards the end, and sugar

Mouthfeel: medium body, smooth and sweet, then a harder alcohol tasting finish

Drinkability: This is a another unique tasting beer that needs to be drunk slow because of its high alcohol content. I would be excited to pick this one up again, although I think two is my limit per sitting due to ABV...This one won me over

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Photo of Jwale73
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 9/17/07. Poured into my Maudite tulip. Beautiful mahogany color (just like the label says ;) Foamy, off-white head dissipated into little more than a ring around the glass within seconds. Thin, inconsistent lacing during the tasting. Nose presented with scents of beglian yeast, malt and dark fruit sugars. Flavors consistent with nose. Lively on the tongue initially, with a nice full-bodied mouthfeel at the finish. Very complex brew, although I can't see myself having more than one or two in a sitting.

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

12oz single, obtained from WeymouthMike via NoBSbif

bottled 6/24/05...had many many bottles (and drafts) of this one but apparently never rated

appearance: pours a glowing ruby-mahogany into an unmarked chalice, no head, absolutely no lacing, very calm, has a wine-like appearance from a distance

smell: lightly floral hop presence, raisin, toffee, light alcohol, brown sugar, honey rum, buttery malt, heavy sweetness, light sugar

taste: better than the aroma...very complex, very floral palate, slightly bitter hops, sweet buttery malt, raisin, toffee, honey, brown sugar, rum, candy like sweetness, herbal, fig....ahh quite a tasty brew, not my fav from dfh but an old reliable

mouthfeel: medium body, alcohol warming, slick

drinkability: pretty drinkable

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Unibroue tulip. 8% ABV, Bottled on 06/12/09. [Rereviewed 01-19-10. Really minor changes.]

A - The color of this beer is a beautiful amber brown that's totally clear. It's too bad the beautiful beer isn't topped with a good head. A vigorous pour released only half a finger of off-white foam with poor retention and no lace.

S - Toasted and roasted malts make up the majority of this aroma. Hints of chocolate and caramel within. A little bit of candi sugar gives the aroma a sweetness while the hops add a low grassy nose. A bit of black cherry and raisin fruitiness too.

T - Toasted malts give off a bread-like biscuitiness with caramel malts and sweetness. A subtle cocoa neutrality is there with raisins and black cherries. The beet sugar adds both sweetness and earthy flavor that's accented by dry, grassy hops.

M - This is a smooth, rich ale that's near full-bodied but held back by a higher level of carbonation that jumps all over your tongue. The finish is sweet and dry.

D - The alcohol is no where to be found in flavor or nose making it pretty easily drinkable. The flavor and sweetness get slightly cloying though. Great overall. Another DFH success.

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Photo of champ103
2.81/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A: This has a great color. Deep amber/brown with some reddish hints. A small white head forms with poor retention and almost no lace.
S: Malty and earthy with some dark fruits and raisins. Some brown sugar as well. Though, there is also an odd musky and metallic aroma that I do not like.
T: There is a bit more malt flavor than in the nose. I like what the raisin characteristic brings, but that metallic flavor that was in the nose is present and big.
M/D: a very harsh crispness in the mouth and to much carbonation for my tastes. The harshness is not from the alcohol, but rather a rough metal fell on the mouth. This needs to be much creamier and rich. This actually drinks just fine. The high alcohol is not detectable, but the metallic stuff going on does not make this particularly smooth to drink.

I am not a fan of this beer. Some sort of metallic characteristic seems to show up in in very aspect of this beer. This is not something I will try again.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pilsner glass.

A: Beautiful colour. The label claims mahogany, and so it is until held up to light where it assumes a ruddy hue. Light head that dissipates quickly, few bubbles and no lacing.

S: Strangely, it smells of coffee. Also sugars and maybe a trace of alcohol.

T: Bitter, fruity, and somewhat alcoholic. Coffee makes an appearance, but is subsumed by alcohol-soaked raisin (surprise, surprise) and sweet malt. Bitterness and coffee notes fade with time as fruit rises to the forefront. The aftertaste is mild and fades away a bit too quickly.

M: Very good. Sweet fruits dance over the tongue without being oppressive, due mayhap to light carbonation.

D: Solid. A little sweet and a little strong too have more than one, but I definitely enjoyed it. Word on the street is that it's being discontinued, so I urge you to grab some while you can!

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into pint glass

Appearance- Poured a light brown or dark mahogany color. A light tan billowy head with big carbonation bubbles was formed upon pouring. The head had a decent retention and upon fading gave moderate lacing.

Smell – Sweet dark fruit and caramel aromas are up front. The dark fruit is mainly raisin and a bit of cherry in nature. The smell finishes off with a more white wine like aroma of white grapes and alcohol.

Taste –An interesting combination of tastes. It starts out with more roasted malty flavors with mixed with a bit of sugary and caramel sweetness. Toward the middle, a more dry white wine taste of grapes comes to fruition. This starts to overshadow the more grainy-malty tastes, which towards the end dominates the taste profile. At the very end of the taste your mouth is left with a light tannin taste that lingers for quite a while.

Mouthfeel – A medium body with a moderate level of carbonation. Very average for a beer of this strength.

Overall – Not really my type of beer. It had a bit too much of a wine like flavor, almost as though a white wine was mixed with a brown ale. If I want wine I will drink wine and if I want a brown ale I will drink one; the two together don’t meld too well in my opinion.

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

Bottled 11/29/10.

A- Dark red with an off-white, fizzy cap. Retention is decent. Nice spotty lace as I sip on this.

S- Raisin and cinnamon/spice atop Belgian candy brown sugar and caramel malt. Some sort of fruit presence.

T- Once again raisin and spice saturated with a general strong Belgian yeast-influenced feel. Some alcohol notes, which grow a lot with time. Slight apricot and caramel.

MF- Creamy body with smooth carbonation. Pretty warm from the alcohol.

DB- With warmth, the raisin and alcohol flavors just keep building. I find it to be a bit one dimensional in that sense and a one bottle thing.

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Photo of maximum12
3.12/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Picked up on one of our frequent trips to donate our hard-earned money to our friends across the border in Wisconsin.

A distinct amber in color with little to no head. Swirling the beer brings our a smell of...well, since this is a family site, I won't say, but it's rather foul. That doesn't bode well.

Tastes better than it reeks! This thing has malts upon malts with some malts running along the back of my throat right up until the malts hit my tummy. There's a warm hint of alcohol, and a bit of acrid, sour fruit, perhaps the raisins noted in the name?

Not real drinkable. Interesting brew, but I won't be needing another anytime soon. I can't always count of Dogfish for something eminently drinkable, but I'm never bored. Glad I tried this one, just like all the others.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.41/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This ale is a beautiful deep reddish brown and has a thick, fine-bubbled, persistent head. Aroma is strong and hoppy but not overwhelming. Flavor is mainly hoppy, but it has some maltiness and hints of molasses. The sweetness and bitterness balance each other nicely and add up to a very enjoyable beer.

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Photo of Durge
3.08/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

The color roughly lived up to its Mahogany Ale name. Dark reddish-brown with a whispy lacing, barely any head at all. The aroma is not so strong as I expected, the raisin is notable with a spicey touch to the nose. The first taste is pretty heavy, almost syrupy and is similar to some barley wines I've had. I taste a little bit of vanilla and malt in the sweetness but it is most powerful in it's fruit wine-like qualities and it's a little too strong in that way for my tastes. It's quite a mouthful with some interesting tastes going on but I don't think I will sample this again right away.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I'm reading the label on this beer and thinking I'm not sure I'm gonna like it, so I was probably prejudiced from the start. It was a nice brown beer with a thick coffee-colored head. It had a fruity molasses smell to it, and a very sweet fruity taste. It looked robust, but was rather bland. Still, fairly pleasant to drink.

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Photo of stcules
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Mahogany color. White foam, but scarce, and quickly disappearing.
In the smell, beside the malt, there are vanilla, woody notes, and porto. A touch of rhubarb and red fruit (plum).
In the taste the raisins, already intuible in the smell, it is definite and well present. Again porto and plum.
Full and definite body.
Liqueurous and sweet aftertaste, with dry fruit.
Velveted and smooth.

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Photo of Brenden
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The color is brown but when held to the light is a clear coppery red. An off-white head pours nicely, settling within a couple of minutes. Carbonation dances and lacing clings a little but drops later.

The sweetness is up front in the smell, and it's backed up by malt (which further enhances the sweet aspect). To round it out, there's an herbal smell I can detect and not citrus but fruit (I'm assuming the green raisin).

The taste is interesting; the malt is more up front than the sweetness, which comes in as more of a helper than a competitor. There's a smokiness to it that I didn't detect in the smell, but that's more in the background and the finish. Some sort of sugars contribute (beet sugars, I suppose?) apart from the natural malt sweetness. It tastes like a good brew to me.

I'd say this is medium to full-bodied; it feels pretty thick. It's also smooth and the carbonation is that nice balance of lively but not overbearing.

Note: given its high ABV, I was pleasantly surprised to feel that nice warm feeling afterward without having been kicked in the face with it. However they figured that out, well done.

This is a very pleasant brew. I've seen reviews saying it's too sweet or sticky, but I wasn't hit with that at all. Maybe the way it was stored? Anyway, I've got to rate this up a little.

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Photo of williamjbauer
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled, served in a weizen glass

Clear mahogany with 1 finger thin bubbly khaki head with a head that quickly fades minimal stringy lacing and a touch of alcohol legs.

Mild aroma of green raisins, alcohol, earthy malt

Initial flavor is bready, toasted malts, followed by a weird sour transition that floods my palate and confuses me a bit, raisins, green apple, with very presence booze taste and warming at the back palate. Very mild herbal and earthy hops near the end. Never very sweet. Mild bitter finish

Medium body, moderate carbonation, wet mouthfeel

Overall this beer didn't not impress me, I was really hoping the raisins or malt would be highlighted but overall I didn't enjoy the taste from beginning to end and was just left a bit confused at the inspiration for this brew. The alcohol is out of balance and nothing in the flavor profile of the beer left me wanting to try more.

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Photo of mynie
3.12/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Rather mundane pour. Off-burgandy, translucent with a small, quickly-dying head.

Semi-Beligan yeast mixed with solvent alcohol zing and spice. Decent strength, decent complexity. Nice, but nothing special.

Plums and raisins soaked in liquid tin upfront, followed by brown sugar, ending on alcohol zippitiness. Very complex, but not all that complexity is good.

Nothing impressive here.

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Photo of thagr81us
4.07/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 03/25/10. Served from bottle into a Duck-Rabbit snifter. Poured a deep ruby red with a one finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. There was no lacing evident throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, dark fruit, and sugar. The flavor was of sweet malt, dark fruit, brown sugar, and slight alcohol. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. The flavor was very well balanced with no sign of alcohol anywhere to be found. Not sure if it was the ~1 year of age in my cellar or what, but I found this one to be very subtle on alcohol and all of the other flavors were very nice and robust. Never would have guessed at the 8% ABV. This one is definitely worth trying now and putting a few back for a year or so as I did if you have the patience that is.

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Photo of Dogbrick
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Guest tap at Barley's smokehouse, served in a snifter. This is an outstanding beer on draught. My wife ordered it and drank it, instead of just trying my beer as usual and I think that says it all. Pours a ruddy dark amber/copper color with a medium thin and fluffy off-white head. Thin and sticky lacing. The aroma is a complex blend of sweet fruit (raisins), malt, caramel and brown sugar. Medium-bodied and well-nuanced flavors that are alternatingly sweet and tart. It kind of reminds me of a sweeter version of Arrogant Bastard, with the fruit, hops, malt and other underlygin flavors. The finish is sweet, with creeping alcohol. Overall this is a great beer.

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.62/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours bright clear amber with no trace of brown, minimal off white film and what looks to be a not very viscous body. Nose is roast, caramelized sugar and some vinous barrel. Spice muffin cakeiness up front with cherry juice, coffee icing sweetness and yes, some raisin hints, and clove and pumpkin pie spice to end. Tingly finish, dry linger. Light to medium, crisp, some cling, bit of cream.

OK, not sold on this one. Not enough there to be a BSDA but a bit revved up to be a straight brown ale. Don't know where it was aiming, but it missed.

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

Vigorous pour into Duvel tulip yields 1.5 fingers of head with lacing; beautiful clear reddish brown.

Smell is sweet, green raisins and mild alcohol aroma.

Taste is up front vinous fruit and mild sweetness; dryness on the finish that lingers for awhile; interesting and somewhat enjoyable.

Grabs the tongue and lingers for awhile.

Sweet but not overly so; the sweet/dry combination is very nice; alcohol a little too out front.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 1,774 ratings.