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'Extra - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Raison D'ExtraRaison D'Extra

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

871 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 871
Reviews: 585
rAvg: 4
pDev: 15.25%
Wants: 110
Gots: 196 | FT: 13
Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Brewery visit their website
Delaware, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  18.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
A bigger, bolder version of our Raison Raison D'Être.

This is a bulbous, brown ale brewed with a bunch of malt, brown sugar and raisins.

40 IBU

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 03-22-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 871 | Reviews: 585 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gusler
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

As it’s poured from the 12-ounce brown bottle the color a clean brown with a full grown light tan semi-creamy head, the residual lace forms a thin concealing skirt upon the glass, Nose has hints of alcohol, caramel, raisins and a big malt backing, quite a splendiferous nose this, start is thickly sweet, the grain profile delectable, and the top middling in its feel on the palate. Finish is pleasing in its acidity, the hops amiable, and the alcohol quite noticeable in the aftertaste and the big-time belly warming, “Splatz Batman”, I really needed this after a tough day of working, what a hoot, this beer, makes me want to go out on the back porch and howl at the moon?.

Photo of IceAce
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Twelve ounce bottle with no freshness dating and a description on the label stating, "This bulbous brown flavored ale was brewed with boatloads of big 'ole raisins."

The most aggressive pour I could muster resulted in virtually no foam whatsoever. The body is an orange-brown color and is opaque toward the top of the chalice. The aroma is quite sherry-like with lots of alcohol...actually bordering on medicinal. Edit: just noticed the 20% abv...D'oh!

Entry is interrupted by alcohol esters and a general lack of carbonation. Midtaste is led by fruit pits and alcohol laden giant grapes. The finish is quite sherry like with this beer growing by leaps and bounds as it warms.

Leaves a nice coating of sugar on the lips and has inspired me to hunt down some bleu cheese...

Many thanks to froggyfrog for this one!

Photo of TastyTaste
3.43/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Dark brow carmel color, head is small and very fast fading, predictable for a beer this strong. Very visible carbonation.

Smell: Alcohol and raisin, honey, apple.

Taste: Extremely sweet, mouth puckering sweet. Lots of grape and honey flavor. Burning alcohol soon takes over and the strength of this beer is very clear. I am sure there are hops wandering around in there somewhere, but the alcohol covers them up, making this taste very vinous.

Mouthfeel: Prickly carbonation, burning alcohol, fairly oily.

Drinkability: Another over-the-top beer that could use some more balance. In this case, more hops. D'Etre was much better, in terms of balance and pleasing taste. Happy to have tried it, thanks to LuckySevens82 for the sample.

Photo of DrJay
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear, dark auburn with a head that dissipated quickly - kind of expected given the gravity. Warm aromas of sweet caramel and raisin mixed with brown sugar and a bit of alcohol. Modest bitterness with a lot of dried fruits and molasses/unrefined sugar flavours. Plenty of residual sweetness and raisin character with a balanced alcohol warmth in the finish. Bitterness picks up a bit at the end as well. Heavy, sticky body with fairly low carbonation. The alcohol doesn't taste as strong as it probably should, but it certainly stuns the taste buds after a few sips. An interesting experiment.

Photo of akorsak
3.13/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I am drinking this bottle (just arrived today from Liquid Solutions) from an Ommegang flute. The beer is chilled as a means of dulling the alcohol of the ale.

Appearance: This beer is classified as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. I question if that classification is appropriate although technically it is a belgian style ale, it is dark, it is strong and it is an ale, but I digress. This ale is a dark, almost ruby red, with lighter copper hints that appear as light shines through. There is no appreciable head or lace.

Smell: The ale has a doppelbock-esque aroma (see rant above on style classification). It smells very sweet, almost like Samichlaus.

Taste: The taste is very intense. Sweetness and alcohol mingle together as soon as the beer hits the tongue. Again, the connections and similarities to Samichlaus are unmistakeable (despite the ale v. lager thing, of course).

Mouthfeel: The beer sits on the palate somewhat uncomfortably. The sweet tastes immediately give way to the alcohol. The high strength is unavoidable and close to unpleasant.

Drinkability: Not very. At 20% abv, this ale is not for the light-hearted. The tastes are unusual and make for an interesting first impression, but this is not one of DFH's finer creations. In fact, it takes a fine ale in Raison D'Etre and pushes it overboard.

Hit or miss, Sam and the DFH crew continue to produce interesting ales and I look forward to trying them all.

Photo of Zorro
3.73/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled due to the efforts of Lackenhauser and The Great Pumpkin BIF.

Pours a clear reddish brown brew with no head at all, not surprising considering the alcohol content of this beer.

Smell is intensely fruity and my first thought is that this smells exactly like a cantaloupe melon. Additional scents of brown sugar and spicy scents ride the alcohol fumes. Alcohol level is evident in the way it tickles your nose. The scent of raisins is there but is really over shadowed by the intense fruitiness of this beer.

Taste is extremely sweet and intense on the first sip; the flavor of raisin is strong here. Lots of brown sugar and black pepper flavors. The alcohol level is so high here that it is seems like you need to cut this with some water to properly taste it like single malt scotch whisky. Long lasting fruit flavors in the after taste. Tasty but really too intense for a beer, this is damn near a brandy masquerading as a beer.

Mouthfeel is syrup.

Drinkability really doesn't apply here the alcohol and flavor intensity clearly makes this a beer that you won't be drinking three of in one night. A super interesting brew that is best drank from a brandy snifter or possibly a shot glass. A must try beer just for the uniqueness of the beer.

Photo of ODBRIP
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I like strong beers like this...they're efficient.

A nice belgian style...doesn't have the mouthfeel or effervecense of a be nchmark belgian, but the taste makes up for it.

I detect a muted currant taste...not too syrupy or fruity...this is actually quite dry, and the fruit taste is a subtle undertone.

pretty nice...drink it if you like strong beers/belgians.

Photo of neonbrown82
3.35/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

As I suspected, this beer would be over-the-top and damn near undrinkable. This beer is proof that Dogfish Head needs to stop it's silly prick-waving war with Sam Adams for the title of "strongest beer."

The beer looks alright. Pours to a dark clear amber color with little to no head, as expected. What little head forms fizzes away within seconds.

The smell is the one great thing about this beer. Has some strong raisin, fig and grape aroma along with so much fermentable material that the beer smells almost like cotton candy. Still a bit grainy with the suggestion of hops. Surprisingly, it doesn't smell too boozy.

The taste is none too impressive. Lots of residuals and lots of alcohol parch the mouth, leaving a grainy and sugary finish with grapes and hop juice (though not bitter). Very cloyingly sweet.

The body is thin and not as syrupy as I was thinking, but very sweet and alcoholic with an intense parched mouthfeel. Kind of a mess, and subsequently not drinkable. So, you made one of the strongest beers on the planet? That's nice... now, let me know when you get it down so you can actually drink it.

Photo of beertwisted
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked up this beer with the sole intention of trying a truly "strong" beer where all else pales by comparison. My beer was only aged less then a year, but the new label is much more interesting then the previous label, I must say, and made up for loss of self time. A cognac type Val-Dieu glass (chalice) seemed fitting for such a rare imbibing event.

The beer poured without any decipherable head. The color was not as deep as I had expected considering the 'raison' notation on the bottle. There was a faint run of Brussels lace, but not impressive as something that I would have considered important or notable. The taste and mouth feel was heavy as expected, but much lighter then I would have expected for a 20% ABV beer. As it warms it gains complexity, while the alcohol content lies hidden just beneath the surface. The funny thing that I noticed was that it didn't seem heavy as it warmed. The smell was all raisins and alcohol. It sweetened toward the end and improves dramatically as it warms in taste and mouth feel.

This beer is not for the timid, but will reward the true connoisseur that wants something to make the end of a day a little more interesting.

-T_

Photo of jmz62565
3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours a reddish amber color with a small head that disappears quickly.The smell is very potent all the way around.There is a fruity,malty.and alcohol smell to this.It's like sniffing brandy or a port wine.The taste is a complex mixture that includes fruit,raisons,malt,sugar,and alcohol.The m/f is heavy and well balanced.The flavors all mix well with the alcohol warming aftertaste as the finishing touch.This is a good beer,but I don't think I could have more than one.

Photo of jakester
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I got this as a single at Union Jack's on the Manatawny. I drank it in a goblet. No date on the bottle, but this one might keep forever.

Pours a hazy reddish brown/orange, and, after a stiff pour, got a 1/2 finger head of tan colored bubbles, which instantly disipated. Carbonation appears slow.

Aroma is very fruity and warm, with notes of raisins, prunes, and dates, and a big smell of bourbon. Alcohol is there, but at 20%, it's fairly well hidden. Smells like this one is going to hurt.

First flavor is HUGE caramel malt, followed by fruits like raisins, dates and prunes. Not much Belgian stuff going on here. Definite taste of bourbon whiskey. Very sweet, but not too cloying, IMO. Hop character is extremely low. Aftertaste is very long sweet and heat, with caramel malt clinging til the end.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and oily, with gentle carbonation. Lips stick together from sweetness, and the back of my mouth is hot from alcohol. Finish is sweet and warm.

I've been sipping this for 15 minutes, and I can feel it already. Hope I'm still awake for the Eagles game today at 4. This, to me at least, is a try it once beer. I wouldn't drink 2 or 3 of these. It is fairly cloying, expensive, and strong as hell. It's more like a novelty beer. I can't believe they sell a lot of this. Still, it's well made, fairly complex, and it definitely works. Recommended, with reservations.

Photo of counselor
3.78/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pretty excited to find this in my local packy. Pours a deep, shiny, maple syrupy, looking brown color. Very still and only a thin head at the edge of the glass. Sweet plum and raisin aromas at the beginning (it was cold from the fridge) that grew sweeter and more like mince meat pie as the beer warmed. The beer tasted heavy and slippery on my tongue with only the faintest of carbonation. Flavors of ripe pears, plums and figs sauted in butter and sugar gave way to, well, more sweet sugary flavors. Hops are barely perceptible. This is a malt bomb that was very enjoyable. I'd drinkit again, but for the $7.99 price tag - doesn't seem worth that.

Photo of Dithyramb
2.98/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

First of a hefty six pack purchased at the nice wine joint in Hamden. Poured a nice roan with some amber highlights. A hard pour developed into a finger or so of quickly dropping, large bubbled tan head. Limited lacing as well.
Brown sugar and raisins soaked in bourbon for the aroma.
Same flavors come through in the aroma, with just a bit of chocolate and a hefty dose of alcohol thrown in. Some breadiness to the malt, but it is hidden back behind a big wall of sugar. Mouthfeel and drinkability lost out due to the super sweet and alcohol nature of the brew. Yes, you can call it a "sipper" but I don't know if it will be overly complex and/or change much as it sits in the bottle. We'll see.

Photo of Viggo
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear and bright brown/orange, almost no head, little fizzy head forms but leavs a small ring, no lace. Smell is raisins, caramel, very malty, a little bit of alcohol in the nose, some spices as well. Taste is raisins, pretty vinous, caramel sweet, brown sugar/molasses, spices, and slight alcohol burn. Mouthfeel is full bodied, low carbonated, alcohol burn and almost cloyingly sweet, lots of residual sugar. Not bad, although not as good as the other big DFH's.

Photo of LuckySevens82
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle
Pours a deep hazy ruddy color with not much if any head (not surprising at this abv), collar, however is pretty decent and white.
Smell is brown sugar, bready malts, raisins, cinnamon, slight chocolate, and bourbon. Very sweet smelling. Not much alcohol in the nose, but you can tell it's there. Definitely a sipper and you can tell just from the smell of it.
Taste is chocolate, cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar, and really big bourbon flavors. Some breadiness to the taste but it kind of overwhelmed by an almost candy-like sweetness that I don't really dig. It's not bad, but it might be a bit too sweet.
Mouthfeel is good. Alcohol warming is a bit much, but overall considering the almost cloying nature of the beer, it's kind of surprising that you can taste anything other than candied raisins.
Drinkability suffers due to sweetness and alcohol content.
Overall, another interesting offering from DFH, but I think I will stick to their more main stream offerings for now...well unless I can get more Burton baton.

Photo of TheBungyo
3.3/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Hmm. If this were school, the head would flunk. It's non existent. Color is that of maple syrup. The nose rocks! Smells like a sweet wine. I don't really care for wine but this smells great!
You can definitely taste the alcohol, though not as much as you'd expect. Tast is very similar to red wine, though far more sweet. Not really my bag. The taste is a bit much and even if I could handle the alcohol of two bottles, I wouldn't. Not something I'd buy again.

Photo of HappyHourHero
4.18/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Virgorous pour produced a razon thin head that disappeared in the blink of an eye. Smells like a huge malt bomb (samichlaus?) with a dose of alcohol and a bit of raisins and plums. A few small bubbles rise lazily through the translucent mahogany beer. Here we go... Sweet, sweet, caramel maltiness. I feel for the yeast that had to live in this stuff. There's a bit of fruitiness in there (I can't say it's raisins) that tastes like it was soaked in alcohol and dipped in sugar. Thick slick mouthfeel. Boy this thing warms. It's like sipping on a snifter of brandy. If it wasn't $10 a bottle I'd like to try this one a bit warm a la Gran Marnier. The taste, or is it the alcohol, is growing on me and it's actually becoming quite addictive. I was disappointed by the lack of any Belgian yeast characteristics, but otherwise it was HUGE (in my best Billy Fucillo voice).

Photo of carln26
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured form the bottle into, what else, a Raison D’Etre glass I got from DFH a while back. The color was a dark amber to brown, with some burgundy highlights. It had a great carbonation I can compare to alka-seltzer which unfortunately dissipated almost immediately. The aroma is all malt, caramel, figs, and some wine/sherry notes (fresh grapes, a little black cherry). The taste has a lot of fruit. More black cherry, some sherry, dare I say a little raisin. There is a bit of a tang at the end that shows just a little citrus hops. There is definite alcohol heat that lingers for a while. Slick, thin mouthfeel. Interesting beer, but I don’t think you could drink too many of these.

Photo of BillyB
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another brewing achievement by Dogfish Head. Pours a beautiful ruby red color with no head and no carbonation. It has a dark fruit aroma from the raisins and a hint of grapes and even prunes? Sweet syrupy thick, sherry-like mouthfeel and taste. Very pleasant alcohol warmth. This is an excellent beer and incredibly drinkable for the abv%. Is Dogfish Head a winery or a Brewery(?) They continually brew exciting and pioneering beers and this one is no exception.

Photo of ppoitras
4.53/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle purchased as a single from Julio's, Marlboro, MA.

Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed a 1/4" beige head over the clear dark copper brew. Head faded pretty quickly down to a layer of small bubbles, with minimal lacing, both expected for the style. Aroma is sweet malts, fruitiness, and alcohol. Taste is very sweet, with a depth of fruit flavor that is excellent, the grapes/raisins shining brightly, and then the warming alcohol close. Mouthfeel is amazing for a brew of this abv, as is the drinkability. The high ratings in these two last categories are a testement to the fact that many other brews with not as high of abv can't come close to the smoothness and enjoyability this brew exhibits.

Photo of orsulacp
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This review is based on the 2005 version.
I poured it into a big Pinot Noir style wine glass. The color was clear amber with no head, very effervescing, kind of reminds me of an Alka Seltzer tablet dissolving.
Very sweet smell, raisins, vanilla, and cherry. I didn't get any alcohol in the smell.
Very thick and heavy body, I think it is too cold. I taste the raisins and some cherry. As it is warming it gets less thick and much more enjoyable, the vanilla is coming out more and less of the raisins. The malt backbone is holding all of the fruit flavors together very nicely.
It is drinking way too easy for the high alcohol content. I bought a case of this to see how it ages.

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Another archetypical 12 ounce brown glass bottle, but like the earlier Olde School Barleywine that I just tried, the radioactive lime green crown cap with a dogfish exclamation mark hints at something special here. No neck label on this one, but the high quality cartridge paper main label lends a quality high end presentation. The main label on my 12 ouncer looks completely different to the one shown here, the bottle I have has a brown paper background with a picture of a Cowboy Country Music looking Dude on the front. Described as a ‘Bulbous Brown Ale flavored with a boatload of Raisins’. No strength listed, curiously. The label text to the right hand side states that “this ages with the best of em’.

Appearance: Dark coppery Brandy body with some ruby highlights thanks to back lighting. Mildly hazed but turns clear after a short passage of time. Only a splurge of foam rings the glass, a thin white halo lasts throughout. Almost zero carbonation but there is a low key twinkle of lazy bubbles with a firm but gentle swirl. No lacing whatsoever.

Nose: Raucous virulent raw pungent alcohol laden aromas build to an intense bold dark fruity middle with a light sting in the tail if inhaled too deeply. Sweet molasses and a dark fruity finish. The 20% is definitely noticeable.

Taste: Sweet but not cloying, warming malts with a molasses sugar middle. I’m no fan of sweetness but I can easily tolerate this because its low key and I suspect that the alcohol heat dilutes the potential for stickiness. The dark fruity phantoms glide in towards the finish and mix well with the caramel and molasses. A fantastic exothermic finish scorches the tongue with a rum and raisin flood. Slight tip of the hat to a vinous ending right at the death.

Mouthfeel: Hot entrance, scorching middle and heated finish, long after the swallow I have trace heating in my epiglottis free of charge too……

Drinkability: A sipper, lay back in that high backed red leather chair in the Gentlemen’s Club with a large Cigar and enjoy this fine aperitif, then enjoy it again after your meal.

Overall: The 15% in the earlier DFH Olde School Barleywine was neatly dressed, understated and well hidden, but the Raison D’Extra has a high profile 20%, and it delivers it with a hand held RPG. It’s out there, big, bold and brash, with large chunky gold jewelry and a hairy chest poking out atop a gaudy Hawaiian shirt with the top 3 buttons undone. Extra alright...extra fucking everything. This one has no shame, a Chav Piekie of a brew.

Photo of mrasskicktastic
4.43/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Drank from a snifter.

A - Pretty brown color, but alas, no head and no lacing. At such an abv, no wonder. It looks quite viscous. Sure, there is no lacing, but the beer itself clings to the sides a bit.

S - Smells strongly of figs and alcohol. A bit of oak, dates and grapes underneath. But the alcohol overpowers all, especially as it warms.

T - Delicious! It is sweet - very, very sweet. Somehow, it does not offend though. The strongest flavor is maple syrup. A bit of caramel, honey and very faint molasses amplify the sweetness. There is a potent date presence, as well as raisins and a little figs, slight vanilla and chicory as well. Great flavor! Abv stays masked until right near room temp. Impressive!

M - Best part of the beer. It is so viscous. It warms you as it goes down even though the alcohol is hidden. The smoothness is superfluidity in action. Amazing, simply amazing.

D - For such a sweet dessert beer, this is amazing. More than one of these in one sitting would be a terrible idea. Here's why: it would make you poor very quickly; it would make you sick very quickly; and, after one, could you truly appreciate the second? Considering the monsterous price tag and my frugal natute, it says a lot that I will gladly buy this again. Another winner from DFH.

Photo of orbitalr0x
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've been looking forward to this one for awhile. 2005 vintage with bright yellow cap. Pours from the 12oz bottle a deep garnet read with only a small ring of bubbles around the the glass. At this ABV I wasn't expecting any lasting head. Aromas of sweet burnt brown sugar colliding with a wall of raisins. Notes of caramel and some spice, slightly vinous. Quite nice overall.

First sip brings a quite sweet caramel/brown sugar maltiness accentuated by a upfront distinct raisin flavor. Slightly syrupy with vanilla, cherry and more dark fruity notes. Maybe a hint of molasses as well. Alcohol is amazingly well hidden, however the warming on the throat reminds me it is there in force. A huge, sweet, rasiny ale that is a tasty sipper and most definetly a unqiue creation.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and slightly syrupy slick. Goes down smooth with very mellow carbonation. A very nice late night sipper for me. The 12oz bottle should do perfectly. I have a few more of these that I plan to sit on for awhile and see where they go. Give it a shot. Thanks to goodbyeohio for tossing this my way.

Photo of hopsaplenty
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on draft at the Brewings and Eats in Rehoboth Beach. A 10oz. draft served in a snifter which is appropriate given its immense alcohol.

It appears a deep amber, with ruby highlights at the edges. No head to speak of and minimal carbonation. No lacing. It smells of rich fruit, raisins, and whiffs of the alcohol float around as well. It tastes a bit sweet, malty and raisiny with hints of vanilla and maybe clove. The alcohol is surprisingly masked and there is nothing harsh about it. Luscious mouthfeel, full of malt and warming on the tongue. Highly, almost dangerously drinkable and everything is wonderfully balanced. A second one would taste oh so good, but would pack quite a hit. One at a time is enough, but this is a fantastic beer and I'll be back for more.

Another hit from DFH.

Raison D'Extra from Dogfish Head Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 871 ratings.