Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
A deep mahogany, Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins and Belgian-style yeast.

We began brewing this one at our pub in 1996 (we began packaging and selling it sometime in 1998) as the answer to the question, "What beer should I enjoy with a wood-grilled steak?" Raison D'Etre fits the bill. It's as tasty and complex as a fine red wine.

In the Quick Sip Clip video, Sam talks about Raison D'Etre inside the new cellars for our 600-bbl fermentation tanks. The cellars were designed specifically to allow sterile yeast management. The system also allows us to automatically dose the yeast into the fermentation tanks. At Dogfish, we use multiple strains of yeast for our different beers, so we are acutely aware of all that can go wrong when you don't love and protect the yeast.

25 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-09-2001

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Reviews: 1,772 | Ratings: 4,288
Photo of rodbeermunch
2.66/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Comes in dark brown. 1/3" head, off white, almost tan. Aroma made no sense, belgian yeast phenols, raisin bread, dark fruit.

Sweet taste counterbalancing the dark fruit bitterness. A little too boozy for its malt bill. This is kind of the quintessential DFH beer, a bunch of shit thrown together that doesn't work, but they get to brand themselves as innovative and unique, despite the fact I'd rather just have a BMC over this thing.

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Photo of btheluvdoctor
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A complex beer with a mix of flavors. Pours a copper color with a quickly fading head. I tasted a hint of sweetness with a bit of hop bite. Although its not my ideal style of beer, I am glad I tried this one.

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Photo of Gajo74
3.66/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark copper with big foam head and creamy thick lace that displays excellent retention. Fruity aroma with a hint of alcohol. I didn't really smell the raisins, more like some non description dark fruit. The fruity aroma does not come out as much in the taste. Phenolic, grainy, alcohol very present. Full bodied. I felt that this one was not as flavorful as DFH's other offerings. Not their best but I still liked it.

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Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Brilliant chestnut mahogany, not much head – dissipates to film.
S: Raisins, grapes, caramel, yeast esters.
T: Raisin, dark caramel, hints of chocolate, faint cake, hints of cider.
M: Beet sugar thins down the body somewhat, big carbonation, crisp.
O: A big Belgian dark strong ale.

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Photo of Bisco42
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on 9/10/2012, Poured into a nucleated Tulip.

L - Deep mahognany, just as the bottle says. Brownish, fairly carbonated.

S - Raisins, Bitter fruit, Cranberries, Peach, Spoiled Mango

T - Bits of Raisin, Orange, Copper

F - Carbonation that bursts in the stomach, burps, sof.

O - Good Beer, probably wouldn't search around to find it agian.

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Photo of SierraFlight
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at DFH alehouse Fairfax poured into pint. Medium brown, minimal head with little lacing. Aroma is raisins/dried fruit, caramel, alcohol - all faint. Flavor is similar, with an almost figgy taste, overall, and a red wine note. Good mouthfeel, medium bodied with medium carbonation.

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Photo of TomIvan
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thought my inaugural post would cover one of the most underrated beers on the planet. I disagree with most posters who state this is an overly sweet beer and do believe the use of raisin is both subtle and interesting at the same time. I would not call it a brown ale and would classify it In a general fruit/veg category.

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Photo of Edgarallenpoor
4.83/5  rDev +32%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Ok ..this beer is complex it has a great smooth taste and for the amount of alcohol in this baby it goes down like butter. Can't rave enough about it You can get this sweet nectar on tap directly at Dogfish Brew Tavern in Gaithersburg Md ..here's the key's ...more Raison Please..

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Photo of cjgiant
3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap:
Have had this before and was never a big fan, but after done time off I decided to try again. It didn't even live up to its low expectations.

The beer looks just fine, ruby/auburn, quite clear (too much so?), with a nice layer of small bubbles built up. The surface continues to hold the head well into the taste, and lacing is prevalent. Smell is a bit of raisin, but more graham cracker like spice and sweetness.

The taste has some expected strong ale flavors, dark sugar with a hint if molasses, perhaps. There's a hint of copper tinge (that I associate with British bitter beer). I also get a bit of bourbon-poached peach, and almost none if the raisin I expected. There is also a light bite of spice, and an almost equally subdued hops note. More disappointing is the feel - I wanted a bit more body for the lighter flavors I was getting (deeper flavors would've worked as well). The carbonation is also a bigger part of the feel than if expect.

Definitely learned I don't need to try this again, considering the offerings that DFH has. This beer reminds me in its downgrade from previous thinking of how I downgraded the Punkin' Ale.

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Photo of barczar
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Can't believe I've never reviewed this. Should be interesting, as it's almost 4 years old.

Pours a murky medium brown with copper highlights and a frothy khaki head that lingers as a thin layer of foam.

Raisins, prunes, and plums leap from the glass, along with brown sugar sweetness. Almost has a Belgian yeast nose to it.

Flavor is much less sweet, with slightly tart raisins and prunes underlying a lightly toasted, bready malt character. The finish reveals prunes and slightly earthy and bitter notes. The sour character is somewhat disappointing. Belgian yeast notes emerge late.

Body is on the full side, with moderate carbonation and noted alcohol warmth.

This one held up well. There's a touch of oxidation in the form of cardboard, but that was minute. Wish the flavor matched the aroma more. That tangy character is just too present.

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Photo of JamieDuncan
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

I have had this beer many times and like it a lot so I decided to do a full review. Good looking beer that is wonderful to the nose. Very tasty, rich and full, plus bonus points for ABV versus drinkability. Dogfish hit yet again with this one, I have bought this multiple times and is definitely worth trying.

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Photo of seedyone
3.91/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

04/03/12 Brings to mind a dried fruit sweetness, I guess that is the Raisin reference. Enjoyable as a dessert beverage. For those that have a taste for port wine, here's your boy. A slice of a good stinky cheese sounds really good right now.

2012 Full of flavor. Medium body, Not too sweet.

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Photo of MaddestHatter
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I had this at a Dogfish Head restaurant the other night and I can say that it is certainly one of the standouts of theirs for me. I didn't have a chance to try Midas Touch or anything too wild, but I quite enjoyed this one along with a precisely medium lamb burger. All in all a good experience from start to finish. A spicy Belgian malt and yeast taste serves to excellently compliment a color and faint sweetness which are not entirely unlike Russian kvass (a beer-like soft drink made from fermenting roasted bread rusks together with a variety of fruits and herbs). Definitely something I would order again or buy in stores.

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Photo of gcamparone
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Purchased at high spirits in providence, RI.

A- Pours a clear, cherry-amber colored body with a 1 finger white head that reduces to a ring of foam. no lacing.

S- Lots of toffee, vanilla, nutty, molasses, candy sugar, butterscotch.

T- Upfront is toffee and vanilla, sweet brown sugar and molasses, the finish is slightly spicy.

M- Medium body and carbonation.

Actually a very solid beer. Very tasty and balanced. Unique and different. Would buy again.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2012 and apparently very well aged.

The beer poured a thick and tawny mahogany color with a thick foam of off white head.

The aroma was equally as thick with deep raisin, plum, fig, molasses, and prune.

The flavors were very complex and very hearty. It started with what I imagined was the green raisin and then moved to a more candied dark fruit. Prune, date, fig and grape took hold as a molasses and chocolate malt finished. The feel was thick and full and it was well woven with the flavors.

This bottle was aged for two years and perhaps added to the character and variety of taste. Overall I found it to be quite exceptional.

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

Appearance: Nice reddish amber color, almost no tan head or lacing

Smell: Raisins, sweet malts, caramel

Taste: Raisins are noticeable, but not overwhelming. Sweet malts, caramel, very little bitterness, breadyness on the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body, low carbonation

Overall: Pretty good but not outstanding. Gladly would have again, but not going to seek it out

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Photo of Badger6
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a tulip.

A: Deep reddish-brown, maybe copper, color. Light tan head, recedes quickly. Some lacing.

S: Sweet smelling, raisins are easily distinguished. Some oaks and malts, too.

T: The taste is sweet, following the nose. Raisins and grapes are easily distinguished in the flavor. Some spice is noted in the flavor as well. Almost no bitterness.

M: Medium mouthfeel with a fair amount of carbonation to lighten the feel. Smooth.

O: Enjoyable beer to drink, but very rich in flavor. This is a nice beer to drink from time to time. Recommended.

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Photo of ThisLadyLovesBeer
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

First time ever trying this ale:

A = it is true to label - deep mahogany (dark orange/brown), no clouding but didn't expect that. The head was short-lived and left lacing on the glass for a very little time.

S = As I held it up to my nose, I thought "sherry" probably due to the beet sugar and raisins and 8% alcohol.

T = It is a good, hearty winter brew. I can t aste the fruit and beet sweetness, but also detect a slight smokey/burnt taste. Sugars?

M = Light carbonation and slightly creamy, but with 8% alcohol, only slightly.

O = This is a good hearty winter brew. I would not accompany this with a grilled steak as is suggested by the brewer, but rather a rich flavored, savory stew with a large chunk of crusty homemade dark bread and butter. You need rich fats to accompany this properly. So, also enjoy this with rich, flavorful artisanal cheeses and crusty breads. If pairing with food, make sure this ale won't overpower!

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Photo of KomodoDragon
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Yep, as they say, mahogany

S - dark fruits -raisons, sugar, cloves/ginger. Small head which disipates to a thin layer surrounding the top

T - reminiscend of a dry wine, biscuity, plum, figs, dates, and maybe raisons, a bit harsh

M - smooth, clean, soft carbonation

Nice, bit of hybrid brew. If they aimed for craft beer afficionatios alternative to red wine, well done.

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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…..
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.
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.

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Photo of CochonKing
3.06/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Lives up to the description and pours a deep mahogany. Almost no head with a lot of disproportionation. The nose has notes of raisin and malt but doesn't have much to it besides that. It is decent and delivers what the beer is meant to smell like, but no further phenols. Tastes of malt and raisin but the alcohol destroys the balance, overwhelming the beer. The mouthfeel is good, medium bodied with nice carbonation. Overall just an ok beer.

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Photo of BeerandWhiskeyHQ
4.51/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Wonderfully dark and has a deep copper color. The quickly dissipating head was light tan in color. The color does remind me of a dark rich mahogany which is what Dogfish referred to this ale as.

S: It smells sugary and sweet with a strong scent of raisins or grapes. There is a presence of oak and malt and slightly bitter overall. The presence of alcohol makes itself known.

T: The taste is sugary and sweet much like it smells, there is an underlying taste threaded throughout the complexity of the beer that might be coming from the beet sugars. I get a spice note in there as well. The scent and smell translates nicely to the taste. To me I get more of a grape taste than raisins (yes I realize the correlation between grapes and raisins), but it has the taste of a lot of other Dogfish beers that specifically mention that grapes were included in their ingredient bill.

O: I really enjoy this beer, but isn’t something I see myself enjoying on a very regular basis, it is rich, complex and very enjoyable which makes me want to keep it for an “every once in a while” sort of occasion. This is a beer that is a must try for sure.


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Photo of Juguigo
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

It is a not pretentious beer. As simple as it is offers amazing and complexes experiences. Poured solidly without excess of carbonating. Dense creamy brownish foam and delicate sweet woody smell. Tasting wise, it give the consistency enough to enjoy every single buds in your mouth some malt and chocolate smooth after taste. Every day beer for everybody. Have annotate that some of my friends (regular ale lovers) find this exemplar very attractive. Making it a nice smooth transition to more mature beers.

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Photo of TheBrouMaster
4.12/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a rich mahogany brown with a dense off white head.

S - Plum, raisin, Belgian candi sugar, roasted malts, molasses.

T - Taste is a blend of dark fruit, molasses, candi sugar, and bready malts. Earthy, mildly bitter hops come out, balancing the sweetness. Finish is nutty with hints of nutmeg and allspice.

M - Smooth, medium bodied, a bit creamy. High carbonation, slightly warming alcohol.

O - Decent brew. While it's not the most complex Belgian strong ale around, it still has great flavor and drinkabilty. Definitely worth my drive over 800 miles.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of thecheapies
3.96/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 11/16/11. Served in a Westy chalice.

Pours with a beautiful two-finger head of delicate taupe foam. Lacing etches a bit. The body is cloudy red-brown with a warm shade exhibited.

Medicinal phenols and dark fruitiness. Beet-y root vegetable sweetness, fig, dark raisin, toffee, clove, malt creaminess, candi sugar, nutty esters, antiseptic, and dark rum/molasses. Lots of dark fruit with an herbal quality.

Retains subtle sweetness with deep dark fruits and dried fruit/trail mix notes. Beet sugars keep that vegetal note intact, but the boast of fig and raisin flavors have evolved into a complex fruit element that includes plum, date, and dried apricot. More of that intense clove-y phenolic character with a cough medicine vibe. Carbonation is soft-medium and fills out a hefty body mouthfeel. Booze is totally a non-factor. This beer really aged well. I rather enjoy it.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,288 ratings.
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