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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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3,846 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3846
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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Ratings: 3,846 | Reviews: 1,760 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of SkullFission


4.58/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Contrary to what seems to be popular opinion, this is my favorite of Dogfish Head's offerings, having tried almost all of the beers they offer regularly, and a few limited ones.

The smell is very indicative of the green raisins used in the brewing process, though it is a little light. Not a very strong smell, but a good one nonetheless.

The taste is absolutely wondrous; the green raisin character comes through flawlessly, and the malts balance perfectly with it. I do, however, harbor a suspicion that this brew would be better off bottle-conditioned, as I always seem to enjoy it more after a particularly yeasty beer (In this case, after a Koningshoeven Quadrupel, with pita chips to cleanse the palate).

The mouthfeel is great, very smooth. The carbonation is there and perceptible, but it is not aggressive and has virtually no bite to it.

This beer is very, very drinkable for an 8% ABV brew. Only the malt flavor reminds me that I am drinking a beer. I could drink these all night if I were so inclined, or had the money. I tend to finish off a 6-pack without blinking an eye, and end up fairly drunk afterwards (This review is being written during my first, so no worries of it being tainted by inebriation).

All in all, this beer is great just for taste, or to get intoxicated as hell. A "reason to be" indeed.

EDIT: It is also worthy of mention that I had poured this into a crystal goblet prior to consumption, and did not drink it directly from the bottle.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2006 23:39:17 | More by SkullFission
Photo of Micahman

New Hampshire

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

I should note that I have a bit of a head cold as I review this beer, so my olfactory sense is a bit muttled.

Rich, deep mahogany color, moderate carbonation, yet nice long columns of bubbles after a pour.

Small (~1.0 in) head, dissipating quickly to leave sparse lace around the top of the glass. I tried a tall hefeweizen glass (not recommended), and a large red wine glass, which drank much better.

The taste is delicious. At first I wasnt awestruck, but after a couple the rich, carmel and raisin tones came out on top, with a warm, dark aftertaste that belied it's 8% abv. Slight hints of spice. The more I drank this beer, the more that warm, fall taste grew on me. Excellent late fall or early winter beer. Packs a good punch.

Decent mouthfeel, but this beer really shines in it's immediate aftertaste. All the flavors come out.

Fairly drinkable, but i wouldnt have more than 3 or so in a sitting. Recommended beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2007 02:15:47 | More by Micahman
Photo of phergy


4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a nice, dark, reddish brown. The head is light cream, and fads quickly leaving a thin ring around the glass. It was poured into a standard pint glass, and is about 50°.

It does not have a strong nose, but I did catch a hint of malt and almost a coffee smell. I'm not noticing some of the other more subtle scents others are.

The beer has a nice malty flavor. I'm also picking up the belgian sugars and just a hint of sourness. The finish is smooth. Mouthfeel may be a little weak, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it watery.

I actually enjoyed this beer more than I thought I would, and would definitely drink it again if available.

Serving type: bottle

05-23-2008 02:21:28 | More by phergy
Photo of Boofshavik


3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the local HEB, poured into a DFH glass.

Appearance: A nice amber color, pours well into the glass and builds to a decent 1.5 inch head which dissipates over the first minute or so to a central patch on the surface that sticks around a while.

Smell: Some higher alcohols (dark rum, solvent) are immediate in the nose with faint spice and some dark fruit.

Taste: The raisin character is there, along with other dark fruit but it's masked by the heat of the alcohol. The sweetness on the front of the tongue is welcome.

Mouthfeel: Slick but not heavy. Nice prickle of carbonation. Sticks to the tongue nicely as I think the style should.

Drinkability: This beer lets its 8% be known. It's something you'd have one or two of in an evening, but is a little heavy for more serious consumption.

Overall: There is something about Raison d'Etre that has always appealed to me. It was one of the first craft beers that made me think about an adjunct as something not inherently evil. It gets a few extra points for nostalgia and spirit from me (and my bias is noted here!)

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2009 03:35:41 | More by Boofshavik
Photo of capps24

New York

2.88/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I am a big dogfish fan so I had to try this one even though I am not a big belgian fan. At first taste it was not too bad. Nice malty character, but then you get the belgian taste.

You can taste the alcohol in this one though, that adds to the taste for me. If you like dark blegian beers, this is up your alley, just not for me, though it is drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2010 02:24:08 | More by capps24
Photo of danriverbrew


4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

APPEARANCE: A beautiful deep deep gold color with a good half inch head.

SMELL: This is one thing that I was alittle disapointed in. While it had a nice sweet kind of nutty smell, it wasn't very strong. Not something that really roused the couriosity.

TASTE: A fantastic sweet mahogany taste, with what I detect is a little smokey note.

MOUTHFEEL: An awesome lingering taste that reminded me of the smoke from a camp fire. That rustic feel. At the end alittle spice note, not sure of the ingrediant. A fantastic balance.

DRINKABILITY: Not so much a casual drink but a great compliment to a meal. Something heavy like venison.


Serving type: bottle

01-29-2011 01:27:31 | More by danriverbrew
Photo of HESSLER500


3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Have been looking at this beer for a long time on the shelf and finally bought a six yesterday; wish I hadn't - have 5 more to go. As a fan of most RIS's, scottish & Belgian ales with higher abv's, i definitely think this is a fairly bland brew. The notes i sensed were the raison's, and maybe plum and some 'tangy' aftertaste. The so called "8% burn" wasn't really noticed. Overall, won't buy again, but will have when the good stuff is gone.

Serving type: bottle

06-11-2011 13:25:28 | More by HESSLER500
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 CudOfCow


1.3/5  rDev -64.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Dogfish makes some great beers. This is not one of them.

It smells like microwave burned sugar with prune juice and bootstrap molasses. Very alcoholicy smell.

Pours a thickly brown it does have a nice foamy head and leaves foam on the inside of the glass. The head goes well with a moustache.

Tastes the same. Sugar, prunes, raisins, molasses, all burned, complicated and powerful. The taste lingers forever and ever.

This is the only beer i've ever had that I couldnt finish. I tried really hard to finish the bottle and man up, but this is now my number 1 least favorite beer. To each their own. I gave the other 5 away for friends to try.

Serving type: bottle

08-20-2008 19:15:35 | More by CudOfCow
Photo of dakeller80


3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance--nice creamy 1-2 cm head dissipates quickly. Good clarity, ruby-brown color

Smell--sticky sweet plum smell. . .alcohol evident. Let's you know up front the you're in for lots of residual sugars, fruity esters.

Taste--plum and raisins hit you you first and hard. . .very sweet, alcohol is there but warming and smooth. . .not harsh. Fruity maltiness is become even more dominant as it warms. Almost no hop bitterness to speak of which is appropriate, of course.

Mouthfeel--big body. Not very highly carbonated but enough to lighten the mouthfeel in spite of the sweetness so it doesn't get to thick and chewy.

Drinkability--excellent after dinner beer. Or breakfast. I think this would be a better beer with a slightly drier finish, but a good buy if you see it in your beer store.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2008 20:37:29 | More by dakeller80
Photo of DFHAle


4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Amber color with little head and spotty lacing

S - Not much in terms of aroma with this beer

T - Moderate carbonation with a slight sweetness on the finish. Minimal aftertaste.

M - Light to medium bodied

D - The finish is sweet with little to no aftertaste.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2010 22:12:49 | More by DFHAle
Photo of jazzmanblue

New York

3.15/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle into a Dogfish Head Signature Glass

Poured a deep reddish brown, and I purposely went for a pronounced head. It dropped after a few minutes, but lingered nicely even after the glass was empty. Looks promising out of the bottle.

The smell surprised me. I picked up some unusual fruit aromas, dark fruit, including prune. Not what I expected or wanted. Nice malty aroma was underneath the fruit, and wish this was more pronounced. Not a bad smell at all; just not what I expect from a strong dark ale.

A Dogfish brew where the flavor did not jump out at me. Surprising, to say the least. Dark fruit and malt, much like the aroma. There is that prune like sense again. Not bad; just not what I'm looking for. Carbonation is surprisingly subdued. Pleasant.

Mouthfeel is fine; wet, but not watery; smooth and full but not rich. This beer feels better than it tastes. It appears to be quite drinkable, but the ABV will prevent that. Two at most for a bloke like myself that wants to have an evening taste from a favorite glass.

I can't say this brew is bad, but as a Dogfish drinker I don't believe I'll be purchasing another sixpack after this one's finished. Give it a chance if your curious, as this taste is different. Different is not always good, but this one is worth a try.

Serving type: bottle
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

06-17-2010 00:33:34 | More by jazzmanblue
Photo of jims4210


3.08/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this based on the recommendation of a friend. He said it was his favorite beer ever. He's still my friend although I now question his taste in beer.

Poured a bottle into a Guinness pint glass...

A: A dark amber color with minimal head which disappeared almost immediately.
S: Raisons, a whiff of alcohol, not surprising considering the ABV.
T: Sweetness dominates. Way too sweet and syrupy for me.
M: The best part of this beer. Nice carbonation. The beer lingers on my tongue, giving a longer than usual aftertaste.. A little hot, with the alcohol clearly noticeable.
D: I'd be one and done with this one. Not my favorite example of a BSDA. I'm a fan of DFH, but not too impressed with this one.

Serving type: bottle
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

02-21-2011 01:00:30 | More by jims4210
Photo of bth86


3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Brown with a thin head, fads quickly, retains a bit of lacing

S: Fruit, Raisins, Rum?

T: Malty sweetness, fruit, A roasted malt finish, leaves a sweet alcohol aftertaste

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation

O: I liked it quite a bit. I bought this in a 4 pack and it really warmed up to me compared to the first few times I tried it. Certainly a very complex brew with a lot going on. I would definitely recommend it again!

Serving type: bottle
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

04-04-2012 01:14:05 | More by bth86
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
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

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


3.91/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I hate the fru-fru name, but I like the beer. The brew is sweet and heavy with raisins, dried plum and cherry, becoming a little “boozy” with some additional malty breadiness as it warms. It’s not something I’d have every day, but I’d enjoy it as a dessert drink on a cold winter's evening (when I had a designated driver).

Serving type: bottle
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

10-31-2013 12:03:43 | More by NoBeerSnob
Photo of buckobrock

North Carolina

3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Chimay goblet.

Bottled on 4 Jan 2008

Consumed on 29 Feb 2008

A - Pours a smooth dark brown with a hint of ruby. Nice color. Single-finger head that grows a bit with a nice swirl in the goblet. Lacing is nonexistent.

S - Molasses is the first thing that hits my nostrils - rich and sweet. Also smell of dark malts. The smell is very similar to other Belgian beer I've sampled. I'm digging for a hint of the raisin smell, and I only catch a note. Not nearly as prominent as I'd expected.

T - The Belgian candi sugar and dark malts are nice and sweet. I get a slight hint of the raisins I've been searching for on the back of the tongue. Overall, I think the sweetness is just about right.

M - The mouthfeel is pretty heavy, which is to be expected when purchasing an 8% abv beer. I feel that the heaviness and the high carbonation balance well with the sweetness of the beer.

D - I'll have to say that I'm glad that I only bought a single rather than a 6 pack. However, I disagree with the way that the drinkability of the beer itself can deduct points. I feel that a beer can be very tasty without being able to drink more than one per sitting, which I think the case is here.

This is a great beer from Dogfish Head, and definitely worth a try.

Serving type: bottle
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

02-29-2008 21:10:27 | More by buckobrock
Photo of drdr48


3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured with a fairly light head that left a lot of lacing, low carbonation.

On the sweet side but still balanced, nice light bready, yeasty Belgian taste to it with strong notes of raisins and dark fruit.

Belgians are not on the top of my palates desires but I thoroughly enjoyed this beer.

Serving type: bottle
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

02-23-2009 17:20:02 | More by drdr48
Photo of jgalbjr

North Carolina

4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I like the color and mouthfeel of this beer. It has a creamy texture with caramel undertones along with a malty characteristic. The raisins come through more as a slight fruit character, even slightly like a ruby port, than anything else.

It drinks crisp and lighter than the 8.0% ABV would lead you to believe. Pours nice from the bottle as well.

Serving type: bottle
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

04-27-2009 15:32:01 | More by jgalbjr
Photo of PriorateOden


2.3/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Why did this burn/tickle my tongue? Not at all distasteful, but sorta plain-jane. I thought it was bland on the nose and taste really seemed limited and narrow. No complex aromas no shifting flavors, just mild and... pleasant but weak. It was super tingle-ie and bubbly in the mouth. I love me some Dogfish Head,, but not this one.

Serving type: bottle
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

06-01-2009 17:39:30 | More by PriorateOden
Photo of manwich


2.63/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured out of a growler into a chalice. Not much of a head on top, dark but clear body. Rather unusual smell, kind of smoky. Not at all a fan of the taste, syrupy and smoky, reasonable mouthfeel but an otherwise unenjoyable drinking experience. I found myself trying to down it before it got warmer, as I could tell that the unpleasant flavors were getting stronger as the glass warmed up, yet at the same time I wasn't inclined to finish the beer at all. I'm very open minded with beer and have rarely found a craft beer that I legitimately didn't want to finish, but this had to be as close as I've come. I wound up letting my housemates finish the rest of the growler.

Serving type: growler
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

09-22-2009 06:16:04 | More by manwich
Photo of cinemadust


4.8/5  rDev +31.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My favorite that I've had from Dogfish Head so far. It almost has a taste of tea and beer mixed together. Kind of like a spice and fruit. When I drank this from the bottle I had an almost smokey aftertaste. Drinking it from tap at the Dogfish Head brewery restaurant, was served a beer at the perfect temperature. Which made it very easy to taste all the wonderful flavors of this beer. Had barley any head at all, but that's what I like. Goes well with spicy foods. Just be VERY careful. Don't forget it's a 8% ABV. You can't knock them down like regular beers. But you can't taste the extra ABV so again, be cautious.

Serving type: on-tap
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

09-28-2009 22:02:22 | More by cinemadust
Photo of HopsGirl7


4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Raison D'etre is one of my favorite beers.

It is sweet, as it is brewed with raisins, but the sweetness is well balanced and not overwhelming.

The beer pours a nice rich brown color and has a lighter tanish head.

It smells like raisins.

It tastes delicious. You get a malty sweetness at first and then a kick of the raisin notes and then it finishes with a little bitter reminder of the potency.

This beer is great with a peanut butter sandwich.

Serving type: bottle
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

11-01-2009 02:17:37 | More by HopsGirl7
Photo of sully42


3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A- A deep brown with a liter color tint.
S- Smelled quite pleasant, almost like rum raisin ice cram.
T- Lots of malts with a hint or raisin and an oakie flavor.
M- Not to heavy but by no means lite. Smooth and rich, just rite.
D- I can't drink more then a few of these but the first few are very drinkable.

Serving type: bottle
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

01-17-2010 04:56:54 | More by sully42
Photo of Akerris


3.18/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance- Deep red/brown. Mahogany ale fits. Three fingers of head.

Aroma- Musty, cheesy and a bit vinty.

Taste- Dried fruit, molasses. The presence of added sugar is undeniable. Metallic notes in aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Syrupy not as effervecent as expected.

Drinkability- Ok I suppose. It has the Belgian essence but it just feels off. It's not a bad beer but I feel like it's missing something. Dogfish Head seems to throw caution to the wind as their modus opperandi. While this can sometimes be rewarding, it also causes them to occasionally miss the mark.

Serving type: bottle
@ Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, 320 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach

04-06-2010 22:30:04 | More by Akerris
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 3,846 ratings.