1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

4,186 Ratings
THE BROS
74
okay

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,186
Reviews: 1,768
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.03%
Wants: 78
Gots: 312 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Raison D'Être Alström Bros
Ratings: 4,186 | Reviews: 1,768 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jwc215
2.98/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottled on 04/19/07. Poured into a tulip glass.

Pours mahogany with a one-finger head that descends to a very thin cover.

The smell is of sugar candy, raisins, rum and caramel under a blanket of alcohol.

The taste is of sugar candy, bubblegum, a touch of raisins, and caramel. Raw alcohol partially covers the taste - unfortunate, as it is close to rubbing alcohol - more noticeable than even the abv level should have. Borders on too sweet. There are some fruity hops, but rather muted. Something of a flatness in the finish.

Thinner than expected, but that is not my main complaint about the feel - it's more that the flavors (outside of some alcohol) are quite fleeting and leave a "flat" feeling in the mouth (though the beer was by no means flat).

An "interesting" brew that doesn't live up to the hype. Nothing particularly special, other than unusual combo of flavors. Skeptical that mellowing by aging it would help, as it doesn't seem to be worth it, IMO. One of those to try once to have, I suppose, and certainly a slow "sipper".

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours an amber color with a white head. The aroma is candi-sugar, raisins, caramel malt and some other dark fruit. The flavor is raisins, brown sugar, toffee, caramel malt, yeast, alcohol and dark fruit. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

I have had this beer multiple times and I really enjoy it. The raisins are dominant in the aroma and flavor and the additional elements such as brown sugar compliment the raisins well.

Photo of smcolw
3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"A dark mahogany ale brewed with beet sugar, green raisins and Belgian yeast."

Clear, brown liquid with a thin ring of bubbles as a head--no lace.

The aromas are primarily caramelized sugars...close to a brown sugar smell. It does not have the common earthy/barnyard aromas of a Belgian ale.

The flavor is closer to a brown ale with lots of chocolate/cocoa notes. Very little hop flavor. This is thinner than I expected.

The taste doesn't reflect the creative description above, but still this is an interesting and delicious offering from the Dogfish people.

Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.86/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

To me, this is DFH's best beer.. at leas so far anyway. It's a pretty high ABV but you cannot even taste it at all. Smells and tastes of brown sugar and other sweetness and the taste is so smooth and mouthfeel perfect. It's almost like liquid candy, but it's not so overly sweet that it turns you off. I've come back to this one a few times and will continue to do so.

Photo of kojevergas
3.11/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard Dogfish Head label and branded copper pry-off pressure cap acquired as part of a 6 pack at me local HEB Grocery and served into an Independence Brewing pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are below average given the brewery - which tends to disappoint. 8% ABV confirmed per the label. Reviewed as a Belgian style brown ale because it identifies as such on Dogfish Head's website.

Served cold, straight from me fridge, and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as I pour.

Pours a one finger wide head of light khaki colour. Okay thickness and creaminess. Lackluster frothiness. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes. Head retention is average - about two minutes.

Body colour is a clear dark amber of above average vibrance. No yeast particles are visible. Translucent and transparent. By no means brown in colour, nor is it as dark as most Belgian style dark ales. Not sure what to make of that, but it's appealing in a general sense.

Nonstandard for the style. Not unique or special, but there are no obvious flaws here. I'm optimistic.

Sm: Raisin, prune, amber malts, and beets - but I only notice beets because I'm looking for them; if I had this blind I wouldn't have thought to say beets. Caramel. Light floral hop character is present and seems to complement the malts nicely. I do get a clean tannic Belgian yeast. Lots of residual sugars bring this beer to the sweeter end. A buried hint of murky cherry. Toasted sugars. I like the fruity notes. Raisin is dominant. Sugarcane imparts a note redolent of rum.

Overall, it's a pleasantly sweet aroma of mild strength.

No alcohol or other off-notes are detectable.

T: Rum-soaked fruits: prune, dates, raisin. Plenty of sugarcane and other residual toasty sugars. Amber malts, caramalt, and Belgian malts fill out the body nicely. Beet sugar definitely comes through - though I wouldn't have been able to identify quite what that note was blind. Vague burgundy/red wine hints. Clean Belgian yeast. It's definitely sweet, but it never quite becomes cloying. As it warms, I get a buried grape note. It has nice cohesion and decent balance, but it's certainly not gestalt. Overall, it has some limited complexity, but would benefit from more. Not the most subtle flavour profile either.

Average depth, duration, and intensity of flavour for the style.

No alcohol off flavours come through, aside from a vague alcohol presence - which passes the point of being simply a pleasant warmth and does start to annoy.

It's not really a Belgian dark ale, nor is it a Belgian brown. It's sort of a Belgian dark amber, if you please.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Overcarbonated. A bit too thick and full for the flavour profile; it's not an ideal marriage of texture to taste by any stretch. But it's passable and suits the flavour profile passably. Decent body and presence on the palate.

Not oily, harsh, gushed, or hot.

Dr: A drinkable beer, but the alcohol presence does hold it back. I wouldn't have more than one in a night, but I'm enjoying this one for what it is. I will say that while it's not unique, I can't readily think up a beer I've had that is exactly like it. I'd like to see the brewers commit more to the rum aspect of the beer; barrel aging would be an obvious approach, but there are probably more subtle ways of emphasizing the strength of the flavour. The more I drink of this, the more the sweetness annoys me. It's a decently priced beer, but I won't be buying it again, nor would I recommend it to friends. Above average overall; it's got unfulfilled potential.

I'd like to try it with 1-5 years of age on it; it's got plenty of residual sugars that would develop over time - though I'm not sure if it's got active yeast.

C+

Photo of InspectorBob
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brilliantly clear copper-amber color, and is topped by a thin tan head. The aroma is rich with notes of brandy alcohol, rich raisin, some notes of tropical fruit. The beer is lightly sweet, yet rich and creamy, with perhaps a hint of butterscotch. There is a lot of great fruit flavors here, there is some definite raisin notes here as well as Muscat, and flower nectar. There are also some subtle spice notes here that seem to be yeast/ fermentation derived. This beer is quite interesting, and in some ways quite light, yet it is still quite rich tasting. This is quite tasty, and is certainly proof that Dogfish Head certainly likes to push the boundaries a bit.

Photo of wrightst
4/5  rDev +9.3%

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

06/13/05- Received via trade with Connecticutpoet and Steinlifter.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with a born on date of October 2005. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Brandy colored pour with a 1/2 inch head and average lacing.

Smell- Serious malt scents as well as some raisins and alcohol.

Taste- Heavy malt with some brown sugar thrown in. Figs and raisins abound along with a heavy tobacco leaf flavor.

Mouthfeel- Started off very carbonated, but ended on a light note.

Drinkability- Tasty brew, original taste for me with the tobacco leaf added in. I've had many better dark ales, but this one isn't bad at all. Thanks for the sample guys!

Photo of Halcyondays
4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark brown, with ruby-red highlights when held up to the light. Nice head, with fair retention, with no real lacing that I like in a Belgian-style beer.

S: Lighter than I expected, but I picked up notes of dark fruit, brown sugar, and rum.

T: Very sweet, heavy notes of dried fruit and baking sugar, with a delectable molasses finish. A bit of an alcohol burn is detectable as the beer warms, but it doesn't seem out of place, it mixes well with the flavours. A very tasty beer overall.

M: Smooth, creamy and rich, slightly warming, nice on a cold November night.

D: One of my favourite beers from Dogfish Head, Raison D'Etre is a class act, one of the best American-made Belgians on the market in my opinion. However, since its not distributed here, I can't enjoy it as often as I'd like to.

Photo of Gavage
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a dark copper color with a surface foam for a head. No lacing develops. The aroma is of strong malt and alcohol. The flavor is dominated by the thick malt tones, as some prunes, green grapes, light bitterness, alcohol, and faint caramel tones round it out.

Medium-heavy in bidy. Mouthfeel was smooth and mildly syrupy at the start and finish. The aftertaste was long lasting on the malt. Drinkability is only average for this brew.

Photo of BlackHaddock
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brown 12 Fl Oz bottle and poured into my Westmalle chalice.

The amber body and cream coloured head looked fine at first, but the head just faded away so quickly I didn't get chance to admire it for long enough.

One of the more interesting American brews I've had the pleasure of reviewing. Belgian beer sugars and sense of purpose, I know of (see the front label), but not sure I've had any green raisins in my beer before?

Anyway the aroma was nothing special, sweet malt molasses and no much else for my nose to find, even as the beer warmed in the glass.

The taste was sweet malts too, with a drying bitterness which gave it a nice edge at the end, almost peppery in intensity.

Very easy to drink and moreish (meaning: wanting more), I liked it a great deal. Not sure it would hold up against some of the real Belgian Strong Dark Ales it has been classed with, but a very good beer none-the-less.

Photo of orangesol
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of dbrauneis
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of corby112
3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On draft at the Perch Pub.

Pours a deep dark brown color that appears dark black in the glass and completely opaque with slight mahogany edges when held to a light source. One finger frothy beige head that has decent retention, slowly fading into a lasting cap. Sporadic spots of lacing left behind.

Roasted malt aroma that's slightly smokey with hints of chocolate, oatmeal, burnt toast and roasted coffee bean as well as slight dark fruit presence. Hints of raisin, plum and fig as well as subtle spice.

Medium bodied and similar in flavor to the aroma with a decent balance of roasted malt, sweet dark fruit and zesty spice. The spice and fruit notes are prominent up front with hints of pepper and vinous dark cherry, grape, plum and raisin. This is countered mid palate by a slightly smokey, roasted malt profile. Hints of chocolate, toffee, oatmeal, roasted coffee bean and burnt toast. Slight alcohol sweetness but no heat or warmth in the finish.

This beer is really unique but the sweet dark fruit notes are a bit too prominent, overpowering the dark malt flavor that I prefer in this style. The ABV is well masked and it's decently drinkable but it's not as well balanced as I would have liked.

Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip, bottled 12/13/2011. Pours slightly cloudy red orange color with a nice 2 finger fairly dense khaki head with great retention that reduces to nice cap that lingers. Some spotty thick lacing on the glass. Aromas of big molasses, raisin, candi sugar, plum, caramel, herbal spiciness, chocolate, toasted malt, biscuit, yeast spices, and a touch of alcohol. Nice and well balanced aromas with some good complexity. Taste of big molasses, caramel, herbal spice, chocolate, raisin, candi sugar, biscuit, toasted malt, and yeast spices. Lingering notes of caramel, biscuit, dark fruit, molasses, toasted malt, and spiciness on the finish for a bit. Nice balance of flavors with good malt balance without being cloying. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a fairly creamy and slick mouthfeel. Alcohol is well hidden with only a warming on the finish present. Smooth drinking for the alcohol level, but is still a sipper. Overall this is a very nice Belgian dark ale; with nice complexity and good flavor balance. Really enjoyed this one.

Photo of Billolick
4.3/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ouncer sampled, freshenss dating notched on to the label. Pours clear, almond amber, with a tad of egg shell colored head, limited lacing. nose is alcohol, raisins, rum and candi sugars. Strong flavorful brew, notes of alcohol, figs, rum soaked raisins, apricots. Complex, heady creation. Wrap your tongue around some of this stuff.

Photo of lacqueredmouse
2.58/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Accidentally stole this from the fridge of our landlady's house when we were staying in New York. I realised I hadn't reviewed it, so, the crime being done, I figured I'd give it a shot.

Pours a deep red-hued brown, almost like a light red wine, with a large-bubbled scum on the top as an excuse for a head. The colour of the beer is gorgeous, and it has some heft to the body, but the head is disappointing.

Sigh. Nose is light, but slightly fruity, and with the sweet sense of fermented sugar. Smells too raw and spiritous for its 8% ABV, and like some of DFH's other hybrid beers, it lacks the complexity that is required.

Taste is very similar, or worse, because there's very little here at all. Very light empty feel with a hint of bland spirits and a grainy but weak finish. Little complexity and almost nothing on the palate. Very bland—c'mon, even the overdone spiritous burn would be better than this.

A very lacklustre and very uninspired effort from Dogfish Head. Unfortunately, it falls into their regular trap of having a theoretically interesting idea that turns into a very pedestrian brew.

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark orange/amber with a nice lace. Smells of raisins and molasses. Tastes big but smooth with definite flavor of raisins and malt.The combination of flavors is reminiscent of a stone beer with its carmelised tastes. Rich and mouth coating, almost syrupy. Not my favorite in the Dogfish line, but very interesting.

Photo of tempest
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I can see where some people might not get or enjoy this beer. It's called a belgian but it's different. But this is Dogfish Head we're talkign about here, of course it's different. Call it a belgian with a good american twist.

The flavor is rich and smooth, but a bit dry. There are hints of coffee-like roasted grains and brown sugar with mellow fruit flavors of grape and cherry to name a few. The moderate amount of hops used adds a grassy and earthy taste while expertly balancing the sweetness of the malt, sugar, and raisins.

Overall, if I see this reasonably priced, I will buy again. Really reminded me of red wine and I look forward to pairing this with dinner.

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a nice mahogany with a very disappointing head. Aroma is full of sugar, alcohol, and caramel and dried fruit..myabe raisins. Quite nice. The taste is nice as well, fruity, with roasted malt flavors all thru it. Maybe the sweetness is a little run in it. The mouthfeel is quite different to say the least. The ABV is 8 and it shows. No way I could or would want to drink more than one.

Photo of ejimhof
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of mdaschaf
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Beer was presented in a pint glass, dark brown in color, small off white head that dissipates quickly, leaving a ring of white around the beer. Not much lacing.

S: Very sweet and sugary. The grape aroma is obvious.

T: Dominated by grapes and the malt bill. There is a sugary/sweetness to the flavor profile as well. A little bit of hops and a hint of alcohol.

M: Medium bodied, not a lot of carbonation, but slick and sweet.

O: Not my favorite, overly grapey and sweet. Glad there are plenty of other DFH brews I can get instead.

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.09/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer is auburn hued. Autumnal colors of ruby, crimson, russet. Small off white head that fades pretty quickly to a thin, wispy layer atop the beer. The aroma offers sweet malt, toffee, raisins, brown sugar, clove, a touch of holiday spice. Really sweet throughout. Bitter kick in the finish. Sweet raisins soaked in the booze. Fun to try, but best in small quantities. Too sweet. I don't consider this in the Belgian style at all. Where is the yeast and bread character that is so appreciated and associated with a Belgian strong dark ale? I appreciate the fact that Sam brews interesting beers, but I won't return to this one.

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,186 ratings.