Raison D'Être - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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BA SCORE
83
good

1,770 Reviews
THE BROS
73
okay

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,770
Hads: 4,241
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 9.02%
Wants: 101
Gots: 421 | 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
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Reviews: 1,770 | Hads: 4,241
Photo of billab914
3.49/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a caramel brown color with a slight red tint. Poured with a small white head that disappeared quickly only to leave a little lacing.

Aroma is malty and sweet with some fruit characteristics. Also detect some wood aromas.

Taste is sweet and malty with some fruit flavors. Slightly tangy and bitter with a little spiciness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodies with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is average. I could enjoy one of these but not something I want to have much more of. (484 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
4.4/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

It's been a long road. It's time to revist this beer from such a long time ago. Dated October 28th 2011, poured into an official Dogfish Head Raison D'etre goblet. Loved this so much back in the day I bought the glasses for it.

Not much head produced barley a finger through a center punch, what is there is a faint caramel/tan that falls and leaves a good collar and slight puck. What a gorgeous body color this is though, red amber and clear with these brown edges. It really looks like a ruby.

Nose is slighty raisin, but it smells like baked fresh fruitcake. Cherries, carmalized sugars, fresh baked bread. Topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Real impressive.

I am going to knock my taste and mouthfeel score down slightly here. Slightly wetter palate than most Belgian Strong Dark Ales, but misses the viscosity angle. Bready tasty action in the fore front, but not much of the sweetness or fruit character comes through. Finish is a little citrus like, with a little carbonation prickly sting and raisin, it's still quite neat as I remember it.

Overal I still really like this, I think my enthusiasm for this beer though has gone down having tried more of this style from other producers in Belgium. However, I still really enjoy it, strangely I use to be able to get it more often but I rarely see it around as much. Too bad.

Old Review (Feb 6th 2010)

Hands down my go to beer, Raison D'etre is a perfectly bodied, complicated aroma of raisin and somewhat dark bread bouquet. Has a thick mouthfeel and has a wonderful lingering finish as well.

Had on tap and in bottles and both manage to be downright refreshing when well.

I say well, because the beer does have a SHORT shelf life and it's very easy to get a bad one, or have one from a tap that has been sitting too long. When you do, it becomes extremely sour tasting and the bouquet is dead.

Even still I absolutely love this beer. (4,4,5,4.5,4.5) (1,922 characters)

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. (677 characters)

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Chimay chalice. A ruby colored beer when held to light. A well constructed pour yeilds a small head that recedes to a ring and leaces spotted lacing.

Smell: Over ripe fruit, malt, alcohol.

Taste: Raisen obviously, but also getting alot of malts. Caramel and roasted malts giving off chocolatey/sugary goodness. Liquid Raisenets. Belgian yeast tries to fight through it all. No real hop presence just enough to keep it from cloying sweetness. As it warms some alcohol makes itself known, but its not detracting from the other flavors.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied yet very carbonated.

Drinkability: Very tasty, somewhat strong. I purchased a whole case of this fine Dogfish Head brew and its nearly gone. Lovely stuff. (761 characters)

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. (320 characters)

Photo of corby112
3.33/5  rDev -9%
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. (1,208 characters)

Photo of lacqueredmouse
2.6/5  rDev -29%
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. (1,111 characters)

Photo of Zorro
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed through the miracle of BIF 43 NC Lotto and hoppedup.

Pours a clear brown ale with a very slight head formation. When held up to the light this is bronze colored ale with maybe a little extra red to it.

Smell is sweet malty and bready yeast to the nose. Fair whiff of coffee aroma from dark malt and apple and grape aromas. Toffee, butterscotch and some scorched sugar aromas are also in this. Alcohol is detectable in the smell, but it carries pepper, roses and peach aromas to the nose.

Taste is sweet and a little bready at the start. A mild flavored ale the first thing that gets my attention is a little coriander and coffee and smoke flavor. Fairly malty but this seems a bit under flavored.

Mouthfeel is good.

This is certainly a drinkable beer but I really expected more from DFH. The flavor is just too mild for my tastes. (854 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.39/5  rDev -7.4%
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. (391 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured on-tap into a tulip, the beer is an auburn-brown color with a thin layer of off-white head. There are aromas of grape sweetness, with a sweet malt highlight. Very rich on the nose. The beer's flavor is strong, with a merlot character, and a tangy, sour fruit undertone. The aftertaste is minimal, with a bit of the fruit sweetness again. The finish is dry, and it keeps the flavors from being overpowering or cloying. Deep, dark, and heavy flavors make this one a sipper. Unique and interesting beer. (507 characters)

Photo of biegaman
3.69/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is my second time re-reviewing this beer and my impressions, notes and appreciation seem to change each time. My initial observation was a dark and flat mahogany coloured beer, something that strongly resembled coca-cola. My second bottle was full of carbonation and boast a thick, fluffy head.

The appearance in this one is somewhat grimy; its body is speckled with a murky toffee colouring and its slushy complexion makes it entirely intransparent. The light sparks small spatters of rose and orange. Its surface is barren, absent of any head.

The aroma is enticing and showcases both of the two ingredients boasted on its label: raisins and sugar. There is a soft but savory note of caramelizing brown sugar. The raisins seem accompanied by other dark fruits. The malt bill is quite befitting to integrate these two.

The mouthfeel and makeup is not all that akin to a Belgian strong dark ale, although its flavour profile is strikingly similar. Whether from the malts, the sugar, the raisins or some combination of the above the taste is chalk full of fruity esters, light phenols, plums, dates, and bready butterscotch. It all tastes pretty darn good.

This bottle, like some I've had previously, is under carbonated and runs a little close to being syrupy and drinks as a sort of phenolic, fruity nectar. Each time I try the beer I seem to enjoy this sugary, phenolic, bready, caramel laced tipple more and more. I've also found aging can have interesting (and beneficial) results.

Like most all of Dogfish Head beers this one is more "off centered" sounding than it is tasting. As far as strong dark ales go this wouldn't hold a candle to Belgium's best but it does make for an enjoyable drink, and I think that's enough 'raison d'etre' to keep buying and drinking it. (1,783 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(Served in a chalice)

A- This beer pours a deep mahogany brown crystal clear body with a thin film of light tan head. The bubbles are very sluggish at rising to the surface.

S- The smell of dark fruit and toasted malt with a hint of sweetness are balanced by a vinous and slightly hoppy nose.

T- This beer has a smooth light malt flavor with finish that is vinous with a hint of hops. There is not much dark toasted malt base or much complexity to the taste. It finishes with a hint of alcohol and a bitterness.

M- Medium-light mouthfeel with a fizziness that makes the mouthfeel appear more full. No astringency but some alcohol warmth.

D- This beer is dry and has some interesting flavors but it is missing a lot of complexity. The raisins and beets just don't have the complexity that are needed in the malt bill to make this a good solid beer in this style. (879 characters)

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

Pours a one-fingered white head leaving a good lace, Nice amber color. Very good carbonation. Sweet raisin nose. Starts sweet - mouthfeel is fizzy and finish is somewhat dry but good. The high ABV is not noticeable so be wary of this. A very good spiced beer. (259 characters)

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

I am drinking a cold 12 oz. bottle poured into a Three Philosopher's goblet.

Appearance: Dark brown in color, this beer allows some light to pass through. It poured with little head that is now a fleeting white ring around the top of the beer.

Smell: The aroma of grapes and sugar are evident immediately. The grapes do not have a winey smell to them, making this beer smell unlike most any other beers you may encounter.

Taste: Grapes and malt are the dominant taste here. The sugars added to the ale are noticeable immediately upon sipping. After the sugars, the aforementioned grapes and malts appear and leave a lasting finish.

Mouthfeel: The ale sits very nicely on the palate. The combination of sugars and grapes give a somewhat sweet taste that lingers.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. The 8% abv is a little tough, so beware. (847 characters)

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

Pours a dark brown/copper color, not much carbonation, very small head which dissappeared quickly, not much lacing at all. Scents are sweet, grapes, and caramel. Nice sweet caramel taste with a dry kinda flat finish though, the alcohol is hidden pretty well. Medium body. This brew is very drinkable, another excellent brew from dogfish head. (342 characters)

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From tap to plastic cup at Nationals Park on 5/16/11
*From notes

A BIG thanks go out to the wifey for surprising me with tickets to the game. Cheers, honey!

A: Like fresh apple cider. Dark sepia, with a 1.25 finger head. Some minor lacing, though considering it's a plastic cup I'm not complaining.

S: Hints of sun-dried prunes and figs. A bit of sweet alcohol and and a heavy dose of malt seep into the nostrils. Really different and quite enjoyable.

T: A bit of dark malt hits the tounge first. The mid is a mix of alcohol and raisiny, grapey dates. The finish is fairly dry, as the dark fruits and a pinch of Belgian candy sugar residue carry over and stick to the back of the throat.

M: I felt the carbonation could be toned down a bit, but I wasn't expecting the perfect beer at a ballpark. As I let it sit a while, it mellowed out and became much more inviting.

O: DFH's Raison D'etre is simply an off-the-wall kinda brew. I really love the complexity this one has. The way it balances the dark fruits and the flavor profiles of the Belgian Strong is really well done. Though it's not my favorite in the DFH stable, it's one I'll certainly return to. Thumbs up - well done Señor Calagione! (1,202 characters)

Photo of WoodBrew
2.49/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

I am not a fan of the Raison d'Etre, I should also point out that I am not a fan of Belgium Strong Ales, so please accept my review as more of a personal opinion than as an afficionado of Belgium Strong beers. The appearance is a slightly hazy light brown with a one finger tan head. Some lacing left on the glass. Smell includes alcohol, coffee, fruit, mostly raisins.
Taste includes alcohol, heavy malt, sweet dark fruit. Mouthfeel is tough...lots of alcohol and much flavor to try and mask it. To me the balance is a bit off. Overall I am glad I tried it but I am not a fan. (577 characters)

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

Poured in to a Duvel tulip

A - A nice dark brown with a hint of amber. Barely translucent. One finger of white foamy head formed and slowly dissipated.

S - Sweet roasted malts dominate the nose. The sweetness is brown sugar and caramel. No nose of raisins at all.

T - A lot of sweetness up front with a good malt base. The sweetness tastes of brown sugar with some molasses. Some dark fruit in the background as well. Complex.

M - Medium body with the slightest chew. A little more carbonation than I like.

D - This is a good beer - different and interesting with a somewhat complex palate. I would buy this again but I won't seek it out. (646 characters)

Photo of beertunes
3.2/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into goblet. Poured very still, had a miniscule head that immediately dissipated, leaving a slight trace of lacing. Poured a light mahogany color.

A slightly sweet malt aroma without any outstanding notes. A slight fruit taste floats over the malt background, leaving a hint of sweetness on the back of the tongue.

The body is a little thinner than expected, but enjoyable nonetheless. Average drinkability, you could drink a couple of these in a row, I'm just not sure you'd want to. This beer is sort of boring and uninteresting. I'm not sure what the brewers were aiming for with this beer and I'm not sure this is the proper style category either. I should rate this beer lower because it doesn't fit the style, but I did enjoy it, to a point, and will drink it again. (782 characters)

Photo of aasher
2.51/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

This beer poured a rich mahogany, very translucent with a light beige colored head that quickly dissipated and laced the glass. This beer didn't smell like any fruit like others have said but kind of has a mild brown sugar, molasses like sweet malt scent to it. It's one of those smells that I just am not a fan of. The taste is of sweet malt and beet sugar. Personally I do not like it, think it's kinda gross, but I get what they were going for. It's just an over malted ale to me. I'm not getting any raisin at all. Like a lot of DFH's beers, this drinks exceptionally smooth. I just can't like this. It's flavors are odd and the 8% is pretty noticeable. The bottle says it was brewed with a sense of purpose. So I ask, what WAS the purpose? (744 characters)

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.11/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A mini vertical of a properly cellared 2009 and 2013 bottle I got from the east coast. I cellared a lot of beer in 2008/2009 to see what develops and although Dogfish Head is readily available here on the west coast, they stopped distributing Raison D'Être, so I was unable to get another bottle until now. This was not a beer I wanted to put down for more than a year or two, but here goes…..
2013:
Poured into a Dogfish Head pint glass. Pours a medium mahogany amber with a thin, light tan head that dissipates to a thin film and ring around the glass, leaving patchy light lacing. Aroma of caramel malt, dark dried fruit, lightly nutty and earthy. Flavor follows aroma; caramel and bready malt, nuts, raisins, dates, fresh dark fruit. Finishes with an earthy dark maltiness. Medium bodied. A nice domestic take on a Belgian dark beer, closely in character to a dubbel, but sweeter and maltier. Old ale meets dubbel.
2009:
Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a hazy, medium to dark, red-orange amber with a thin off-white head with good retention and light lacing. Rich aroma of sweet caramel malt, dark dried fruit, light cardboard oxidation, similar in profile to a mild barley wine. I'm surprised to see that the years have been quite nice to this ale! The flavor is moderate, but flavorful caramel and bready malt, mellow dark dried fruit (lots of dates and figs), very well integrated and tasty. Body has turned to the heavy side of medium with light creaminess. This is a very nice, creamy, well melded malty ale that most resembles a light, but well made old ale. I had no great expectations from this, and have found that many ales develop too much oxidation flavors ate this age, but this does not. The oxidation notes in the aroma are not present.
Well, I like Raison D'Être and used to pick it up frequently when it was available, but now I wish I had a few more of these in the cellar. I'm going to try to get my sister to haul back a few more. Rating is an average of the two ales; I liked the aged one quite a bit more than the new one, which was still enjoyable. (2,093 characters)

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

A: Poured a dark ruby-amber with a slight, foamy beige head that went quickly and quietly.

S: filled with dried fruit (prunes, raisins) and some sweet dried molasses.

T: much the same with a noticeable raisiny essence, prunes and some dark brown sugar sweetness. The palate is overall malty with some dried fruit juice sweetness. There is some alcohol and dates as well detected in the finish.

M: full, thick, syrupy, and viscose with some raisiny grist left behind.

D: A touch sweet with a considerable abv of 8.00% will limit this to a one trick pony drinkability wise, but its not to say you shouldn't try it as it provides an unique flavor and experience. (667 characters)

Photo of Tone
4.17/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, dark amber color. 1/2 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and slight lacing. Smells of sweet malt, grain, wood, slight hop, some vanilla, yeast, and slight citrus. Fits the style of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp with an average carbonation level. Tastes of smoke, roasted malt, sweet malt, yeast, slight alcohol, slight hop, and some dark sweet citrus. Overall, a good body, complexity, blend, aroma, and mouth feel. (471 characters)

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

Poured from 12 oz bottle into a wine goblet.

Appearance: deep tawny color with no head to speak of.

Smell: big malt with a bit toastiness aroma. There's also a hint of chocolate in there.

Taste: some tree fruit, some toastiness. The maltiness is toned back from the aroma, which I appreciate. There is a little more bitterness than I expect with this style, which is not bad, just different. Altogether it's an OK experience.

Mouthfeel: medium with some carbonation but not enough to really entice me. OK.

Drinkability: while this beer is definitely not bad, it just doesn't happen to suit me too well. I'll enjoy this glass, but that will be it for me. (658 characters)

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

A: poured a dark amber brown in color with pale yellow highlights and a very thin head that left very little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: lots of sweetness oozing out of the aroma consisting of belgian yeast, dark fruits, burnt sugars, plenty of caramel with signs of booze, ever so slight hop presence and mild apple fruit notes.

T: the raisin dark fruit character was more dominant on the palate alongside belgian yeast, burnt sugar, carmel sweetness, well balanced booze heat, a touch of apple notes, and a hint of hops.

M: the brew was medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a dark fruity, sweet,slightly hoppy, boozy and sticky finish.

O; I thought it was an OK belgian strong dark but had great dark fruity character (754 characters)

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 1,770 ratings.