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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.
BA SCORE
83
good

4,118 Ratings
THE BROS
73
okay

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,118
Reviews: 1,767
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 15.3%
Wants: 73
Gots: 290 | 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: 4,118 | Reviews: 1,767 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 25, 2011
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.

smcolw, Aug 10, 2006
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.

Gueuzedude, Nov 30, 2004
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+

kojevergas, Sep 24, 2013
Photo of XmnwildX12
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

XmnwildX12, Nov 25, 2013
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.

oriolesfan4, Oct 07, 2008
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.

Halcyondays, Nov 29, 2007
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.

BlackHaddock, Jul 21, 2010
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.

Gavage, Jul 18, 2005
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!

GClarkage, Jun 14, 2005
Photo of InspectorBob
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

InspectorBob, Jan 02, 2012
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.

corby112, Feb 02, 2011
Photo of wrightst
4/5  rDev +9.3%

wrightst, Jun 25, 2014
Photo of orangesol
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

orangesol, Nov 15, 2011
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.

lacqueredmouse, Jul 24, 2011
Photo of dbrauneis
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

dbrauneis, Nov 20, 2011
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.

Billolick, Feb 02, 2005
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.

tempest, Feb 01, 2007
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.

barleywinefiend, Apr 26, 2008
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.

Georgiabeer, Jul 05, 2006
Photo of akorsak
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

akorsak, Jan 02, 2006
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.

superspak, Mar 03, 2012
Photo of ejimhof
4/5  rDev +9.3%

ejimhof, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of rhoadsrage
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

rhoadsrage, Oct 25, 2005
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.

Huhzubendah, Feb 02, 2013
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 4,118 ratings.