Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
4,308 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,308 |  Reviews: 1,774
Photo of MadScientist
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A medium-dark copper with good clarity. The head is tan and thin, the ring of bubbles around the glass last but the rest dissipates. There is some lacing on the glass that quickly slides down back into the beer.

S: Green raisin and alcohol are the first scents to hit your nose along with a Belgian yeast pepper aroma and malt sweetness. The fruitiness is moderately-strong with moderate alcohol, yeast and malt aromas. There is a little graininess to the malt in the background. no perceived hop aroma.

T: A moderately light malt sweetness and hops bitterness with some of the moderate alcohol balancing the sweetness. The balance ends ups slightly towards the bitter. There is a light raisin and plum flavor with moderately-light peppery notes and a light alcohol sweetness. The finish is medium and the aftertaste is of sweetness and fruity flavors.

M: Medium-full bodied with a moderately-strong carbonation and some alcohol warmth.

O: The fruit component is a bit lighter than you'd expect both from being brewed with raisin and for a Dark Strong although the brew calls it a Belgian Brown. When I think if this as a Dark Strong it seems disappointing thin on the flavors and note fruity enough but when I think of a Brown brewed with Belgian yeast this all makes sense as is fairly enjoyable which is how I scored it.

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Photo of SIRIUS2
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Mahogany brown, clear, with a light foaming head. Moderate head retention and no lacing to speak of. The head reduced to an uneven fat ring of bubbles that stayed with the drink.

S: Subtle but complex. Some nice aromas of fruit, perhaps dates or figs, and some malty undertones that matched nicely with it. Nothing overwhelming that stood out on its own, just a light subtle understated aroma.

T: A rather light flavored brew for the weight and color. The tastes mingle well and are very balanced, almost too balanced as nothing stands out to give it a specific character. Like the smell, the flavors are complex but subtle, which makes you keep looking for something in the flavor profile that you just know is there. The finish is quick and clean, with just the slightest linger of malt.

M&D: Looking at this you would think you are about to embark on a rather heavy drink but in reality this comes off rather light. The carbonation is also light, and goes well with the rest of the personality of this brew. It's smooth drinking and sort of easy going in its own way. I liked it, but there isn't anything that jumps out at me and screams "this is great!" I would drink it again though.

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Photo of Thrasher
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Something completely different. Poured from the bottle to not much head. Chemical fruit aroma, like cherry cough syrup. You can smell the alcohol. Initially like wine, then chocolatey sweet, fruity but an alarming finish - incredibly bitter. Cleans out the back of the throat as it goes down. I'm getting very medicinal qualities from this. The alcohol is blatant. I like this beer, I admire this beer... True, I wouldn't want to drink more than one at a time, but hey, this is art, right?

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

Received in a trade from MeisterBurger. Thanks!

A nice, unexciting but very quaffable belgian-style strong dark ale. Less head and lacing than I'd like, a funny (yet pleasing) mud-puddle brown colour to it. Taste is figgy, caramely, reminiscent of Trois Pistoles with all the KAPOW taken out (which is not necessarily a bad thing - I love that beer but it's sometimes a little in-your-face) - probably just a tad too subdued. Alcohol is present but adds to the taste rather than distracting from the experience. Low-carbonation, very more-ish. I'd pick up more of this anytime.

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

Light ruddy brown with an off white head. Gentle carbonation, not much lace. Aroma has lots of sweetness. Sugar, caramel malt, dark fruits, banana, alcohol. Belgian yeast funk as well.
Taste is full of complexity. Dark fruits and banana with a cocoa and coffee flair. Think mocha with a light shot of banana syrup. Dry chalky finish with a pleasing pucker that while not hoppy gives a similar clean crispness. Light syrupy feel and mild carbonation. A very nice take on the style and quite drinkable. Indeed the drinkability is one of the best qualities of this beer. It is the closest thing to a session BSDA I have had. Not a standout but a definite regular on my shopping list from now on.

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

This particular brew poured a small white head with small bubbles. The body was mahogany in color and there was no lacing on the sides of my glass. I sensed an aroma of raisins with this brew and the flavor had a hint of smoke. All in all, not a bad drink.

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Photo of SamuelJackson45
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- A dark ruby red in color with a medium head.

S- A sweet smell coming from the raisins and yeast.

T- Strong bold flavors from the spices and raisins and sugars. Hint of hops and yeast.

M-alittle dry to the pallet but sweet and bold nest from the sugars and yeast.

D- Sam sure knows how to mesh ingredients together to make them work and this beer works. Let's drink this again.

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Photo of philbe311
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark redish amber... Transparent, but looks quite thick... Nice head...

S - Sugar w/ mild hops... A little underwhelming...

T - Expected sweet... Got the bold hoppiness of a very unique blend...

M - Great balance and texture... Coats the mouth very well... Thick...

D - A unique well crafted and complex brew... A would drink again because I think I could find new complexity each time I indulged, but not a session beer...

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

Poured into a pilsner glass, which is blasphemous, I know. But they're new (my wife bought them for me), they look really cool and I like drinking from them. Poured a beautiful brown with a thick, frothy head that left a skim of crema-like head on top. A quick swirl brings back the thick head. The ale has a nice clarity without any visible carbonation.

The aroma is sweet like a dark fruit, perhaps figs, dates or, as it claims, raisins. There's something else there that I don't identify as alcohol until I taste it. The taste is very sweet, but not cloyingly so. I think I would have been able to identify it as Belgian without having to read it's a Belgian dark strong ale. The only other guess I can think of would have been a very unusual brown ale. I'm not experienced enough to distinguish a Belgian dark strong ale from a dubbel. Perhaps the Belgian dark strong ale lacks a hop presence. This ale definitely lacks a hop presence. There is an alcohol presence, but again not too much. The alcohol offers a spice that tries to balance the sweetness. The sweet fruity taste hits me first and then the spiciness follows through to the finish. Raisin D'Etre is a sipper, for sure.

The mouth feel is more carbonated than it looks and is pretty heavy on the palate. The extra bit of unexpected carbonation helps this along and contributes to its overall enjoyment.

Overall, I liked this beer. It's different, but based on the reviews I read I thought I would hate it. It turns out to be a pleasant surprise. I like the choice of malts and the way the roasting highlights them. I can imagine some might find this a little too sweet, but for me the spicy alcohol balances it enough that I enjoy it. Thankfully, I have another bottle; I would like to try this on-tap.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

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Photo of MurphyMacManus
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz. brown longneck into snifter.

Appearance: Deep brown with an off-white head that sticks.

Aroma: Fruity, almost vinous, some higher alcohol, malt in there somewhere.

Taste: vinous character, sweet, but not cloyingly so, mild alcoholic flavour, especially as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Thick enough to coat the vocal cords, but not so heavy that it's hard to drink. Carbonation helps to accent the complexity of the flavours.

Drinkability: By no means a bad-tasting beer, but would not be suited to long sessions because of its high alcohol content.

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Photo of SouljaSaia17
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A pleasant surprise to find this and the Indian Brown ale in my mix a six choices.

A: Nice dark, amber color with a 1-finger creamy nut colored head.

S: Some Belgian yeast, dark fruit, and some spice start of this high alcohol brew. Also get some hints of brown sugar, raisin and molasses.

O: Overall feel is very sweet and spicy, light bodied and doesnt hid the alcohol content. A very strong tasting beer which could throw some people off. If you know Dogfish Head, you will grow to appreciate it!

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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.

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Photo of WholeLottaTricks
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%

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

Photo of wvdfh120fan
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%

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

12oz bottle served in a snifter.

pours a reddish amber tone while yielding a frothy 1" head; average retention and lacing. nose is a bit on the mild side with notes of caramel, raisin, and some brown sugar evident.

taste follows the aroma but is more pronounced than the nose leads you to believe, especially with the raisins and some other dark fruity notes. good dose of sweet malts. good beer. not crazy good, but enjoyable enough. medium bodied mouthfeel with average carbonation.

overall i thought this was a decent, reasonable tasty, above average beer. nothing i would go out of my way for, and definitely not the best DFH has put out, but solid.

(originally reviewed: 07-26-2011)

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Photo of cyclonece09
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Pours a nice deep maroon color with a small white head that dissipates quickly but leaves a little lacing. Smells of fruit dominated by raisins. Tastes of raisins and slight grape taste with some wine-like hints. Beer is carbonated correctly, goes down smooth with only a slight taste of fruit aftertaste. Overall, a very good beer.

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

A: Mahogany, iced tea appearance when poured into my Founder's snifter. Hazy with thin off-white head dissipating quickly and leaving little if any lacing.
S: Sweet malt, grapes, raisins and alcohol.
T: Initial sweet tastes of sugary raisins and malt flavors followed by warmth of alcohol as the finish.
M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Warmth and sweetness leave a lingering finish.
O: Good beer with unique flavors. I feel it did not hide it's 8% ABV very well. Almost too sweet as it could have been more balanced with a touch of bitterness. Overall, it was enjoyable and I would have another.

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Photo of BigTwig
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%

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

Into an open goblet it pours a lite red without any head. My first experience was young and I noticed just mild fruity tones. My more recent glass had a fruity nose with 1/4" head. The sweetness with of course the raisons sugar (actaully the beet sugar). I enjoyed its distinct flavors and that hint of alcohol that reminds you that more than one will leave you with that warm feeling a bit longer than usual.


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Photo of Stunner97
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- some small amount of carbonation can be seen streaming slowly in side the glass, thin tan head lingers for a bit, brown in color and see through when held to the light

Smell- brown sugar, malt, raisins, very sweet malty nose,

Taste- malty sweet body, brown sugar and raisin tastes dominates the most for me, very slight drying on the end keeps it in check a bit, but for the most part a mostly sweet driven beer, enjoyable flavor but would say extremely complex, but decently more in balance then you think at start

Mouthfeel- medium bodied with low carbonation, smooth,

Drinkability- very easy drinking beer, good balance and well hidden 8 percent, very easy and dangerously smooth drinking, the beer certainly lacks a little in complexity compared to some other belgian dark ales but its a great value and extremely easy drinking, world class nah but overall a pretty nice beer for the price and value a certain good buy,

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

Poured from a 12ounce bottle into a Chimay Chalice.

A- Dark brownish red

S- The smell wasn't too strong. I smelled malt, toffee, candied sugar and raisins.

T- Sweet, as usual, it gets better as it warms up. I tasted mostly malt, candied sugar, dark bread with a raisin and alcohol finish.

M- Very thin with medium carbonation.

D- This drinks very easily for 8.0 abv, almost too easily. Be careful.

Its good. I'd buy it again. Strong Dark Belgian Ale in 6 pack. What more can you want?

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

Found this beer in Washington State and was excited to finally
taste Dogfish Head's brews. This Belgian style ale was much
more subtle than I expected with a nice balance of sweetness and
complex fruit flavours. Dangerously drinkable at a fairly high abv ,this beer compares with similar offerings from Unibroue
Ommegang and Hair of the Dog. I can't wait to try Worldwide Stout.

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Photo of adamranders
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 4,308 ratings