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Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,153 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,153
Reviews: 1,767
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 15.07%
Wants: 77
Gots: 299 | FT: 5
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,153 | Reviews: 1,767 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of
1.5/5  rDev -58.9%

You rated this beer. Add a review.

, Dec 01, 2012
Photo of bantell87
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

bantell87, Apr 14, 2013
Photo of sirpennington
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

sirpennington, Dec 25, 2013
Photo of Cairncad
3/5  rDev -17.8%

Cairncad, Sep 10, 2014
Photo of SkullFission
4.58/5  rDev +25.5%
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.

SkullFission, Jul 23, 2006
Photo of mdm4584
1.65/5  rDev -54.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Got this at AJ's Scottsdale.

Anticipated a completely different brew.

This beer is awful. The style according to BA is off. I don't know what DFH was brewing here. Be prepared to throw away.

Smell was peculiar and taste was disgusting.

Never again.

mdm4584, Nov 10, 2007
Photo of oolite
3.7/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I am glad I bought a 6-pack of this, because I have had a slightly different impression of this beer on each successive bottle.

I first tried this in an oversized wine glass, but had the rest in a chalice - not much of a difference. Even with a fairly vigorous pour I was not able to produce virtually any head, which was a bit disappointing. The color looks similar to a bock until you hold it to the light and see that it is actually a bright red.

The nose had strong bread notes for me; sort of a slightly burnt crust. I do not recognize any grape/raisin notes, despite the intention - in fact, most bocks have much more present raisin notes. Alcohol flavor is also strong.

Despite these criticisms, it is a nice belgian style dark ale. The rich malt character comes through in the end, with just a slight bitterness, which gives the beer its ultimate strength.

As far as mouthfeel and drinkability, it is fairly heavy and fairly strong - not atypical of its style.

Definitely worth a try, and I appreciate the inherant adventuresome quality of Dogfish Head. However, I just do not think that the more adventurous path sought really paid off in this case.

oolite, Apr 20, 2006
Photo of DangerVoltage
3.43/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours with a medium head the color of flan. The brew itself is a deep auburn color and quite clear.

The smell is not strong and not hoppy, but nice none the less: a mild brown sugar and malt, perhaps even a bit of the raisin? but I'm of coursed biased from the label...

Tastes Good. Little Hops. Lots of Booze flavor, on top of a myriad of sweet and malty undertones. This tastes a lot like some (be they much lighter colored) Belgian trippels that I've enjoyed.

A bit too carbonated for my taste. Not until the end of the glass was the foaming action down enough for me to really get a nice thick mouthfeel. For the majority of the drink, the mouth was all bubbles, hard to wrap the tongue around... but once that faded away... splendor.

Quite boozy Even two in a row is too many of these. Also quite sweet. A nice beer to have one of. Probably a waste of money to double up on this one.

DangerVoltage, Jul 26, 2007
Photo of robertjohnson
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours mahogany with a head that lasts the first few sips. Rich raisin and buttered toffee aroma with some faint bubblegum. The flavor is almost exactly like my first attempt at homebrewing a brown ale: slight suggestions of over-ripe bananas that turn to bolder flavors of sweeter brown sugars, followed by alcoholic phenols and a roasted cocoa finish. Mouthfeel is nothing special, but I wouldn't want it any more or less carbonated. Nitro might be interesting though and might fix the quickly dissipating head and add to the general richness surrounding the beer (maybe too much). Overall impression is that there's a lot going on, but I found it pretty damn enjoyable. I do agree though that it seems way more like a light-bodied wee heavy (with all the complex flavors) rather than a belgian strong dark ale. This would pair great with thanksgiving desert or figgy pudding in the holidays, basically with anything rich and sweet.

robertjohnson, Jun 20, 2009
Photo of FordBrewing
3.25/5  rDev -11%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a small head with a mostly clear brown body. Heavy on the malt and light on the hops. A plethora of smells make up this brew including cherry, wood, coffee, brown sugar, and maple sugar, but most especially the raisins which give it it's name. It is medium bodied with a creamy texture and carbonation that leans to the softer side. Very sweet! A decent beer but one that at 8% abv makes me want to drink something else after having just one.

FordBrewing, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of joehiatt
2.85/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Pretty color, nice and clear, off-white head that faded fast.

S - Very fruity and estery, stone fruits, candy grape or banana

T - Some spiciness, nice sweet malty backbone. Finishes dry and odd, fairly alcoholic tasting, warmness.

M - Decent carbonation, but lingering phenols are unfortunate

D - Wouldn't have more than one but glad I tried it.

Overall a OK beer, though not particularly balanced. Certainly overrated, its unclear what the brewer's vision was.

joehiatt, Feb 27, 2011
Photo of Trappistfan1
1.93/5  rDev -47.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

A - Deep amber color with thin head, no retention
S - Not much but alcohol hit my nose; pretty mild, though.
T - Alcohol seemed pronounced, some hops and other flavors that all seem to cancel each other out, but just well...not good.
M - Meh. I didn't leave it in my mouth long, to be fair.
D - slim to none IMO.

OK, I know that Belgian Strong Dark Ale is a broad category with lots of variation, but this seems like a weak entry in the field. Not in any way knocking DFH, most of what I've tried of their stuff is world class, but this was a drain pour for me.

Raison D'etre is, of course, French for "reason for living". To quote Norm McDonald, "Note to self: I don't want to live!".

Trappistfan1, Mar 27, 2009
Photo of Neverwhere
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%

Neverwhere, Jun 09, 2013
Photo of Scott414
4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer was much darker than I anticipated however, not overwhelming malt characteristics. I could not really detect any of the green raisin flavor. Overall, it was a beer that I tried on a whim and I really enjoyed it. Dogfish always manages to make unique styles that I am always willing to indulge in.

Scott414, Nov 02, 2010
Photo of Dafoz44
5/5  rDev +37%

Dafoz44, Nov 21, 2011
Photo of bth86
3.98/5  rDev +9%
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!

bth86, Apr 04, 2012
Photo of jims4210
3.08/5  rDev -15.6%
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.

jims4210, Feb 21, 2011
Photo of DDCMember
4.15/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

-12 oz. bottle poured into Dogfish Head Pint.

A: Reddish-Brown/Amber. Thin head, disappears quickly, lots of "fizz" though.

S: Raisins, right off the bat. Little bit of brown sugar & caramel.

T: Similiar to the smell. Raisins as first but not as strong as the smell would suggest. Rather sweet with some malt flavoring and a little bit of alcohol.

M: Light Body. Always has a thin ring of carbonation around the glass, well carbonated.

D: Very good! At 8% ABV, it doesn't taste like it. The sweetness doesn't bother me as much as other people have complained about. I could drink quite a few of these.

DDCMember, Jan 26, 2011
Photo of goodfella3000
4/5  rDev +9.6%

goodfella3000, Dec 10, 2011
Photo of hurstja
4/5  rDev +9.6%

hurstja, Jan 23, 2012
Photo of BJBarleyWine83
3.08/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Dark Amber with off-white head

S: Sweet smell with a potent alcohol odor.

T: Sweet and fruity at first, can taste the raisin. Spice flavor soon follows.

M: Medium-Body, smooth with moderate carbonation, slight alcohol burn as an aftertaste.

O: Interesting flavor, characteristics of some barley wines I've had. Probably more suitable for a winter evening.

BJBarleyWine83, Jun 22, 2011
Photo of LampLighter26
3/5  rDev -17.8%

LampLighter26, Dec 17, 2011
Photo of mustangjoe
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

mustangjoe, Nov 03, 2013
Photo of sonofdon
3.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This was my first Dogfish Head brew. I haven't been able to find it at my local beer stores. I stubled upon this a Jackson's in the Village. From the outside this wouldn't have been my first Dogfish that I wanted to try. I'm glad I tried this one.

Appearance: Deep amber with hints of purple and brown

Smell: Fruit, mainly grape, and some malt

Taste: Like no other beer I have had. Deep fruitieness with sweet malt. You get a strong alcohol tast on the front of your tonge. Slight bitterness, but very little hop flavor. Clean finish. Very little head that does not stick around.

Mouthfeel: Clean with some abrasiveness from the alcohol.

Drinkablity: Not as easy as I would have liked. This is an aggressive beer that is challenging to most pallets.

Overall, I enjoyed this beer. I'm not sure that I would run out and buy this, but I would have it out with the proper meal.


sonofdon, Jul 10, 2005
Photo of dalherring
4.7/5  rDev +28.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have had this both on tap and from a bottle, and it far better on tap. It has a rich amber color with a creamy head. You can smell the fruity aroma which is like unto the Corsendonk Abbey Brown Ale and the Chimay Rouge. The alcohol content is high, which can be tasted and felt immediately, but this brew will disarm you with its remarkable smoothness.

I am a huge fan of Dogfish for its fine microbrews, and I dare say that the Raison D'etre is its capstone. I love it's sweet, smooth aftertaste, and regard drinking it on tap as one of my favorites. It is hard to find in bottles, much less on tap. So if you do see it on a menu or in a cooler, indulge yourself.

dalherring, Jan 10, 2006
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,153 ratings.