Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...
Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest BeerAdvocate updates delivered to your inbox.

Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

1,771 Reviews
THE BROS
73
okay

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,771
Hads: 4,245
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 13.93%
Wants: 102
Gots: 428 | FT: 6
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-09-2001

A deep mahogany, Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins and Belgian-style yeast.

25 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Raison D'Être Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,771 | Hads: 4,245
Photo of VelvetExtract
3.33/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Orange/copper color with a lean head that fades a bit. Leaves minimal lacing.

S-Quite light in the nose. The clearest aroma I detect is brown sugar.

T-Heavier on the tongue than in the nose. I get more fruits here. I don't love raisins so I was a bit nervous of the beer. I am a bit happier with the taste than I had expected to be. Quite sugary.

M-Medium body. Well carbonated. Slick.

D-The %8 is hid quite well. That beings said, I do not consider this to be a beer I would ever purchase (received a sixpack as a gift). Happy to try it for free, other than that, I won't be throwing money towards more of this. (619 characters)

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. (594 characters)

Photo of tbeckett
3.54/5  rDev -3.3%
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. (802 characters)

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. (313 characters)

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. (517 characters)

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. (964 characters)

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. (896 characters)

Photo of barczar
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Can't believe I've never reviewed this. Should be interesting, as it's almost 4 years old.

Pours a murky medium brown with copper highlights and a frothy khaki head that lingers as a thin layer of foam.

Raisins, prunes, and plums leap from the glass, along with brown sugar sweetness. Almost has a Belgian yeast nose to it.

Flavor is much less sweet, with slightly tart raisins and prunes underlying a lightly toasted, bready malt character. The finish reveals prunes and slightly earthy and bitter notes. The sour character is somewhat disappointing. Belgian yeast notes emerge late.

Body is on the full side, with moderate carbonation and noted alcohol warmth.

This one held up well. There's a touch of oxidation in the form of cardboard, but that was minute. Wish the flavor matched the aroma more. That tangy character is just too present. (849 characters)

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. (391 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
3.29/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. Bottled on 6/12/09.
Thanks to BeerFMAndy for the trade.

(A)- Pours a copper amber color that produced an immediately dissipating off-white head. A dark ale? Doesnt look like one.

(S)- Mountains of molasses coated raisins. A touch of butterscotch sweetness.

(T)- Lightly sweet raisins coated with a nutty sugary caramel / butterscotch maltiness.

(M)- Good carbonation level & balance for what it is/has. A little too sweet.

(D)- An interesting beer with some good things going for it. My only complaint is how sweet it was. It should be better fresher. (605 characters)

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. (1,318 characters)

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. (859 characters)

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. (664 characters)

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. (1,273 characters)

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.57/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light brown / copper color with an off white head. Aromas of grapes and a sweet malt. In the taste, dry grapes and sweet caramel, weird combo but works well together. A caramel sticky sweet mouthfeel with a dry clean end. It is a big sweetness, personally, I could not have more than one of these, although it is good. (326 characters)

Photo of AgentZero
2.78/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A - Almost mohogany colored beer. Brown with some red hues and just a touch of orange. Yellows on the edges. Off-white head faded to a tight ring and partial cap.

S - Dark frui, bit of booze, some yeast, phenols, ethers. Smells a touch harsh, and sweet.

T - Taste is more harsh than the nose. A little boozy. Some harsh phenols and yeast. It's kind of sour and rough tasting. Really just kind of hard to drink. A bit boozy. You do get some raisins and a little burnt sugar. Wow, I really don't like this.

M - Kind of a lingering bitter finish. Fairly full bodied with moderate carbonation.

O - Yeah, didn't care much for this. Not really a winner here. Hard to drink. It's a bit rich, maybe some will ike this, but this one isn't for me. (741 characters)

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) (613 characters)

Photo of tavernjef
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Color is deep, deep reddish brown of mahoganey, slow carbonation bubbles flowing within its dark center. Finger high head of ivory colored tight froth that faded fast and leaves lots of tiny stringed lace. Aroma is a malty light caramel and dark fruit ensemble of softness - raisin, plum, and apricot with a fairly solid amount of alcohol in the nose as well. Taste is smoothly subtle and calm with an easy caramel malt start that flows into the dark fruits of mostly plum and raisin, slight molasses and banana, notes of cinnamon and sugared beets. Finish is a nice candy sweetness of caramel and yes, more raisins, quite nice in its subtlities throughout each sip. Smooth, light creamy body feel with a small warming alcohol kick in the finish. I really liked the subltities in the flavors of this beer but lacks in richness and some bolder character in the feel and smell. Its quite good none the less; and enjoyable in my book. (931 characters)

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! (893 characters)

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. (784 characters)

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 (518 characters)

Photo of RoyalT
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – Syrupy orangish-brown in color and very clear with little head. This one looks serious.

Smell – Big, beautiful BSDA aroma here. The dark yeast is very abundant and can be smelled from arm’s length away. The ripened fruits are full and complex. I can easily pick out cherries, apricots, some orange, and a little melon. There’s also a modest warning of alcohol to this one. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ABV was higher than advertised.

Taste – The fruits came out more in the taste. This was very nice but I would have liked to have seen a little more yeast at the tongue. This has an excellent flavor though, and the dark mark is still noticeable.

Mouthfeel – No carbonation and somewhat thin for a BSDA. I would have preferred something a little more lively.

Drinkability – Very drinkable example of the style. The emphasis on fruits and the rather strong alcohol taste didn’t bother me at all, but others may find it a bit too much. (969 characters)

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. (954 characters)

Photo of cosmicevan
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - poured a plum amber into my oversized snifter. the head was gone quick leaving oily islands on the surface of the brew. for this style, i usually expect a bit more of a head and a bit more lacing.
S - Wow. something different for sure. spicey, minty, orange peel. kind of quad like, but not overly strong smelling...i really have to pull to get a good sniff. grapes for sure.
T - alc is heavy on this one. aside from that, the dark fruit flavorings you'd expect from a BSDA. can pick up the raisons too which is a bit different.
M/D - soft alcohol sting, somewhat easy on the mouth. not too thick, not too watery...pretty even feeling. not my fav BSDA, but i do admire DFH for what they do and this brew is their take on it so it carries some sort of their general flavoring (a few breweries have this with all of their beers and DFH is one). (846 characters)

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. (325 characters)

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 1,771 ratings.