Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
4,302 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: 4,302 |  Reviews: 1,774
Photo of SchmoTerp
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This staple of DFH pours a deep mahogany (as described on the bottle) with medium to low head. Not surprisingly, it smells and tastes strongly of raisons. It's fairly easy and smooth enough to drink with a good mouthfell, but I think drinking several of these would get old due to the raison taste - towards the end of the drink it started to taste more bitter than sweet.

I'd certainly recommend this one, but not something I'd get everyday.

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Photo of BeerAngel
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear medium mahogany with a nice smooth cream-colored head that shrinks to a 1/8" long lasting layer. From the foamy head billows a musty fruit aroma with faint spicing in the background. The taste is again a musty fruit, more specifically grapes and raison flavors, with a non-stick yeast in the background and has a unique abrupt halt to the richness that just starts to poke through. It comes up a little short in the wave of flavors as the rug is yanked out from underneath your tastebuds. It still has the making of a good beer in this medium bodied offering that finishes slightly sweet.

Notes: Quite drinkable at 8%, but I think it is lacking in the finish department. Perhaps that's what increases the drinkability because the taste ends too soon. This one is hard to explain, but it's an overall decent offering. Cheers!

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Photo of burnstar
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a deep amber/red with niced thick white head that dissipates quickly. Aroma is very sweet, fruity, and a bit yeasty. Taste is extremely sweet initially with malt and fruit flavors. There is also a distinct tart flavor present and just a bit of bitterness in the finish. It is full bodied and somewhat syrupy. This beer is quite good but it's a bit too sweet for me to drink any more than a single bottle at once.

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Photo of ncfranklin
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle with a bottled on date of 01/10/2010 into a goblet.

A : Pours a hazy but clean brown with light reddish notes. I poured quite strongly and only got a minimal head, so it's safe to say this is a no-header.

S : Rich notes of brown sugar, malty caramel, a little alcohol, and some spice. Quite nice really.

T : A big barraging mix of brown sugar & dark fruit up front. The alcohol comes in midway through with a soft touch, and the yeasty spice comes in on the end very faintly. This one is sweet, with little to no hop to it, but not syrupy.

M : Wine like. Medium body, with a light carbonation and smooth texture. Very little aftertaste.

D : Quite easily sippable and gulpable. See below for thoughts on the pairing.

The brewers site sais this beer was designed as the pair for a nice steak. I tried two bottles (one with a steak, and one without) and can agree to the fact that is a very nice pairing brew. The steak-parterned beer was much more enjoyable and seem to have a stronger kick of flavors. This reviews scores reflect a combination of both tastings.

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Photo of ElGuapo
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours to an amber with a very minimal head atop, but the bubbles that are there are there to stay for a while. you will get sweet malts, caramel, and a little spice in the aroma.

the beer is very smooth with carbonation in check. the body is medium with nice rich consistency. the malts are arranged well, and it is very easy to drink. you will get flavors of caramel, alcohol, and raisons. yes definitely raisons. i didn't expect this, but it was a really unique characteristic. definitely a new experience.

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Photo of taigor
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into regular pint glass.

A - Poured hazy dark brown color with reddish hints when held to light and a minimal head with slight lacing when settled.

S - Sweet malts, yeasty, dark fruits, bananas and slight earthly aroma.

T - Sweet and malty to start with figs, raisins, bananas and other dark fruit flavors coming through. Has a slightly dry finish.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

O - Very good dark ale that I would highly recommend.

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Photo of far333
3.79/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark copper color with a beige foamy head that runs away quickly. Aroma is plentiful - sweet and rich, with malt, fruit and alcohol. Flavor likewise is rich and sweet. Tastes malty with hints of apricot and honey, and a bit of yeast. Mouthfeel is lacking. It's slick and watery with low carbonation. Drinkability is on the low side due to the overly sweet flavor and unappealing mouthfeel.

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Photo of boss302
3.79/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dogfish Head, Raison D'etre, draft, 7.5abv.

A A nice clear brown color. Absolutely no head at all. There was just a hint of head around the edge of the glass. Came in a frosted thick goblet; probably too cold for this beer.

S There was hardly any aroma on this beer aside from a very faint raisiny sweet note.

T Sweet, raisins, a litle peppery. Complex, clean, no big lingering aftertaste. There is a sweetness at first, but it fades quickly. I am not able to detect any distinct hop flavor. This beer is well balanced. It is really hard for me to pick out individual flavors.

M It appears as though it would be heavier, but is medium body and is thined by the relatively high 7.5abv. There is a little warming, but not very noticeable. It is a little sticky, so there must be some unfermented sugar left.

O Tastes a lot like Belgian darks that I have had, although sweeter. A complex brew that changes as it warms toward the end of the glass. Recommend.

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Photo of dakeller80
3.79/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance--nice creamy 1-2 cm head dissipates quickly. Good clarity, ruby-brown color

Smell--sticky sweet plum smell. . .alcohol evident. Let's you know up front the you're in for lots of residual sugars, fruity esters.

Taste--plum and raisins hit you you first and hard. . .very sweet, alcohol is there but warming and smooth. . .not harsh. Fruity maltiness is become even more dominant as it warms. Almost no hop bitterness to speak of which is appropriate, of course.

Mouthfeel--big body. Not very highly carbonated but enough to lighten the mouthfeel in spite of the sweetness so it doesn't get to thick and chewy.

Drinkability--excellent after dinner beer. Or breakfast. I think this would be a better beer with a slightly drier finish, but a good buy if you see it in your beer store.

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Photo of rievelx6
3.79/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Poured into a glass looks very similar to an amber lager but with a head that has slight yellow to it.

S- Scents of malt, with some darker fruits.

T- Darkly sweet, Cherries, dates, raisins, candi; tastes like the scent.

M- Medium body and medium carbonation

O- Overall this is an okay beer taste like it would be better with more aging.

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Photo of mattbk
3.79/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Deep ruby/light brown. Clear. Apeears fairly thick, lightly carbonated.
S: Dark fruit, all the way. Reminds me of a dubbel. Raisins, yes. Maybe a bit of chocolate. Pretty one dimensional, but still good.
T: Hmm, yes, the dark fruit, but the carbonation is actually higher than I would have thought, scrubbing flavor off my tongue. Additionally, it's a bit drier than I would have expected, which leads to a papery sort of flavor. It is possible this suffered from a bit of oxidation, no date on bottle. Still, not bad, lacking in flavor a bit. There is also come chocolate in this flavor profile as well. The chocolate is just a bit out of place. No alcohol in taste.
M: A bit drier than I would have liked, and more carbonated as well.
O: Definitely not a bad beer. Just a bit lacking in terms of complexity and flavor.

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Photo of assurbanipaul
3.79/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark amber with a thin off-white head. Nose is fruity and pungent, strange sour musty aromas mixed with the usual malts and hops. No lacing but thick enough to coat the sides.

Taste is like a strong, strong red ale. Caramel malt character dominates but is rounded out with some sweet non-citrus fruity elements like raisins, grapes or figs. Traces of tea, light tobacco or even whiskey-soaked wood, although it doesn't taste of whiskey. In fact, there's not a trace of alcohol in the taste at all.

Medium mouthfeel, smooth and oily with little carbonation. Finishes clean with no unpleasant aftertaste. My palate doesn't quite know what to do with this but it isn't bad. Unsure of how it matches up with the style but impresses me as sort of a hybrid lambic, sitting halfway between a gueuze and a Corsendonk. I would be real curious to see how this ages. Many thanks to spiritdeus for sharing this curious brew.

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Photo of output01x
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. capped bottle (Bottled On 05/11/11) into a tulip glass.

A strong pour yields a 1-finger tan-colored head that fades over a couple minutes to a thick, even covering and thick foam ring. The body is a clear, dark red bronze with strong streams of carbonation bubbles. Thick lacing attempts to cling to the sides of the glass, but never lasts very long.

The nose is dark and sweet with an overlying alcohol character. Notes of banana, brown sugar, and dark fruits, including raisin and plum, are all prevalent.

Sweet, caramelized malts start each sip with notes of caramel and brown sugar. As the beer is swallowed, dark fruits flavors come out with notes of raisins and plums. Spicy hops flavors also add an extra dimension to this beer. As this beer warms, the alcohol overtones become more and more apparent.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation, this beer has a smooth mouthfeel. The body is a little thick and slightly sticky. The carbonation is barely noticeable and does not seem to be strong enough to truly help this beer's drinkability.

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Photo of Traquairlover
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12-oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A = Pours out a dark amber with garnet-like reddish undertones, forms virtually no head though a nice amount of lace forms on the top of it, Small bubbles continue to rise up throughout in a nice light carbonation.

S = Smells of compost on my initial sniff. However, as it warms and breaths and as I take successive sniffs, the smells improve and get much richer. There are hints of spices and smoke. This is a very complex smell, I cannot decide whether it smells more like smoking salmon by the seaside or cooking down fruits with strong spices to make winter holiday preserves. Those would seem like completely different smells, but both come to mind as I smell this beer.

T = After the extremely exotic smells, the taste is actually pretty straightforward beer taste. It has a hint of the raisins that are cooked in it, the Belgian ale yeast taste is there but not too strongly, roasted malts are present and the taste gets sweeter in the finish which is fairly long and involves the entire mouth.

M = Medium to heavy bodied, great mouthcoating, foamy luscious feeling as you swish in your mouth.

D = An interesting beer, it does taste good, but I am not sure that I would rate it too highly in drinkability for the simple reason that I think there are better picks in the style. Would recommend this to anyone who hasn't tried it though.

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Photo of foureyedgeek
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into an OWG.

Pours a brownish red, more translucent than others I've had, including the Bell's Hell Hath I had before this beer. A quick rise and fall on tan head leads to a ring of bubbles.

Smell is sweet, a hint of spice and a note of alcohol.

Taste is also rather sweet. The alcohol is not marked here! Brown suge and molasses, plus the dark fruit flavors of the raisins come through. Also a bit of woodiness or earth.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and quite warming of course.

At this high an ABV, combined with the beer's sweetness, this beer, while tasty is only somewhat drinkable.

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Photo of jreitman
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice nearly opaque dark brownin color with a white head that fades fast. The aroma very much reminded me of a less tart Rodenbach as it had a biting, tart smell. Belgian yeast and candy sugars smells were also apparent. As it sits, the raisins really start the show themselves in the nose. Mouthfeel was pretty lacking IMO feeling very oily and without much body. Fairly sweet flavored with some unidentifiable fruit flavors lying underneath. Finishes somewhat dry with a slight hop bite.

Thanks to NeroFiddled for hooking me up

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Photo of froghop
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a clear brown with a ruby tint, thin white head, good lacing.

smell of caramel, some dark fruit, some spice, roasted nuts, some hops, bit sweet, grain.

taste of caramel, spice, dark fruit, grain, nuts, some sweetness, ends oily with a touch of biter.

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Photo of gskitt
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep red, mahogany color, very attractive. Thin fizzy head recedes rather quickly with little lacing.
S- Sweet raisins, and malt with some candied sugars, strong tea?
T- Raisins, biting alcohol, malt comes through, almost has a pumpkin ale element about it.
M- becomes more pleasant as it warms, finishes dry.
D- It's complexity seems incomplete, but a drinkable beer.
I wanted to like this beer more than I did. seems just a little off. Maybe more carbonation? Less?

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Photo of jsprain1
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Pours a beautiful deep amber. The head was thin and disappated quickly.
S- Smells of alcohol, rather sweet, some nutty malt.
T- Dark fruits (dates/plums) alcohol and some nutty flavors.
M- Medium body, though a bit syrupy in the finish. Under carbed.
D- Not a bad beer. It is definitely an experimental beer. While it's not the best beer out there, it is an interesting take on the style.

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Photo of TomIvan
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
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 EmoBeerGuy
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours darker than I was exspecting almost pitch black. Has a small head that subsided rather quickly. This beer is supposed to be reminicent of a Beligium I have heard but I do not think that is the case. Still, I did not think this beer was as "off" as other reviewers have commented. A rather unique flavor to this one, definately some raison notes as well as some dark malt flavor to this beer. Alcohol is there and this is not a beer that I would session because, unlike many beers even of this abv, it felt heavy to me. A good beer...not a great beer.

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Photo of n00tz
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Mahogany body with a very reactive carbonation. Short tight head that diminishes at a visible rate.

S - Sweet bread with fruit. Slight cinnamon or clove scent.

T - Great fruity and breaded malts. Sweet natural sugar flavor undoubtedly from the Belgian beet sugars they use.

M - Medium bodied ale, with a fruit bread coating for the tongue. Goes down smooth.

D - Finally introduced myself to the Dogfish Head Brewery, with a new style. I'm not sure if I'd know what to pair this with for perfection, but I had a strong urge to eat freshly picked figs and pears afterwards.

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Photo of brdc
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks ddddeac for this one. Small capped bottle poured into a goblet.

Starts very nice, golden brown with some red highlights, a dense light brown head. The head, however, lasts less than two minutes, but leaves a decent collar and a small amount of lacing.
The aroma is faint, peculiar but ultimately nice. As it warms in my hands, a somewhat roasted, toffee like aroma slowly makes its way up. However, the dominating fruitiness is quite unusual, mostly bananas, with some other sweetish notes difficult to define.
Taste is much more pronounced than the aroma, but the bananas are still here, sweetish, somewhat toasted.
Reasonably rich, but strange, different. Not bad, but I might need a few more servings over a few weeks to make up my mind.

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Photo of brentk56
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours a clear, relatively dark amber color with a head that disappears rather quickly; some strands of lacing are left behind

Smell: Caramel, figs and prunes with an edge of cinnamon

Taste: Relatively sweet caramel, up front, with the fig and prune flavors and hot cinnamon developing through mid-palate; after the swallow, just a little too alcoholic, but still shows off the dried dark fruit

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: For a Belgian dark, this lacks the caramel malt and dark fruit complexity that I associate with the style; an interesting experiment, but there are other Belgian darks that I prefer more

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Photo of Jwale73
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 9/17/07. Poured into my Maudite tulip. Beautiful mahogany color (just like the label says ;) Foamy, off-white head dissipated into little more than a ring around the glass within seconds. Thin, inconsistent lacing during the tasting. Nose presented with scents of beglian yeast, malt and dark fruit sugars. Flavors consistent with nose. Lively on the tongue initially, with a nice full-bodied mouthfeel at the finish. Very complex brew, although I can't see myself having more than one or two in a sitting.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 3.65 out of 5 with 4,302 ratings
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