Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

4,291 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 4,291 |  Reviews: 1,772
Photo of rfabian
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tumbler it produces a small head with surprisingly solid lacing. The appearance is dark amber and clear. The aroma is mainly of malt with some fruitiness. The taste is sweet with what I swear is the flavor of MD 20-20 coming in. Must be the raisins. The feel is medium bodied with a Belgium ale finish.

This is a smooth and enjoyable dark ale. I grabbed a second one immediately.

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Photo of stoutmasterjames
2.64/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I am usually a fan of all things Dogfish, but this particular brew just didn't do it for me. I'm not saying it wasn't artfully brewed or put together carefully. To me personally, the taste is what killed it, or to be more precise, the flavor. It is not too strong or overbearing, just unpleasant to my palate. Oh well, I got 4 90 min IPAs in the fridge to help me forget about the gross aftertaste of the Raison D'Etre. Thanks Dogfish! For the 90 min IPA that is...

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Photo of Nutleybeer
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a fine, thin head. Dark, cloudy coppery color. Smells like sweet, dried fruits. You get a wiff of the raisins right away.

First sip, interesting. The sweetness remains. The essence of fruitcake perhaps. The 8% ABV is there, not well hidden, but not overpowering. The taste is a tab on the thick side, almost syrupy-like.

I can't see ever drinking this with dinner. I would say enjoy on its own or with some strong flavored cheese perhaps. This is an interesting and rather unique beer that not everyone will love.

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Photo of kiddynamite920
3.62/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Appears a bit flat and murky, has an amber color and very little head retention.

S: Smells quite nice, nice big malt backbone with all of the essential Belgian yeast characteristics. Bubble gum and banana, good spice note. Some vanilla and caramel.

T: Flavor almost exactly follows the aroma. Malty with the banana and clove type flavors. Quite sweet actually, would like some sort of bitterness here. Banana lingers around for a bit too long.

M: Not full bodied enough, thin. Carbonation seems to completely die by the end of the glass.

D: Eh, most BSDA's aren't highly drinkable, but this beer doesn't make you want to have another. I'll be sure to make my way through this six pack over time and probably won't be revisiting it.

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Photo of TCHopCraver
3.15/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Split a 12 oz. bottle. Reviewed from notes on 3/20/10. Date bottled is 12/4/09.

A: Poured into an oversized wine glass. Had a ruby-mahogany color with a 1 finger head, which retains pretty well. Small, dotty lacing which was accompanied by a viscous film on the glass. I thought this was a very attractive beer.

S: A very interesting combination of scents bombarded my nose. There was a funky-yeasty component, a zesty, coriander, pepper smell, along with some sweeter aromas- raisin, brown sugar, and some plum notes. It actually smells pretty boozy. I would've guessed it was higher than 8%, actually. A bizarre and complex smelling beer, to be sure.

T: Whoa, not really like the smell at all, in a pretty disappointing manner. All of the exciting hints from the aroma are pushed way to the background and the overwhelming flavor is a mineral-wateriness. The coriander and pepper are a relatively prominent player, but that coppery-water taste is just dominating my mouth. The finish is astrigent and coppery.

M: Starts with good carbonation and a decent medium weight, but it ends with a thin, watery feel that is not desirable.

D: No thanks, I will not have another (and I only had half of one). The copper astringency is just too much for my palate to handle. Maybe aging would help this, but I will look elsewhere for examples of this style. I will say this: If the taste had lived up to the smell, I would have given this much higher marks.

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Photo of zebco
3.32/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A brown-amber color. Very clear. Poured a small head that went away quickly. Faded into a film at the third sip. Smells of roasted malt, coffee, and alcohol. I'm getting a sort of dry mouthfeel. I struggle to put the taste into words. The wife says "burnt toffee". Maybe she's right. The bitterness is pretty high. This beer was middle of the road for me. I'd probably look to grab something else before going with this beer again.

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Photo of steck34
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased this Raison D'Etre at Wilburs Total Beverage in Fort Collins. I've had this beer a number of times, but this time I am drinking it with two friends who haven't had the pleasure.

The color is a burnt amber with little head retention and light carbonation. It smells sweet and alcoholish as my friend has so elegantly described. The mouthfeel is flirting with a light creamy texture , combined with malty sweetness and an underlining hint of alcohol warmth. The overall taste of the beer was complex, but very easy to drink.

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Photo of CityBoy1986
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip from a 12 oz. bottle.

The pour is a fairly clear brown with little head and lacing. What little head is there quickly dissipates into just a film.

The nose is mostly of raisin with a hint of nutmeg. The taste adds a bit of wheat with some brown sugar and quite a lot of alcohol, which isn't hidden well at all.

Mouthfeel has a lot of carbonation and some dryness. Drinkability is okay; I wouldn't buy this often even if it were available.

I wouldn't have to be desperate to reach for this, but it wouldn't be a first choice. It's okay, but not great.

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Photo of Jesstyr
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a McChouffe chalice and enjoyed with a great clam pasta.

The initial impression isn't great - pours with no head, and what is there disappears into a puddle of lace. Look is hazy amber with some reddish hues. Nose really doesn't have much, but some sugary raisin.

Mouth is exceptionally smooth, a soft medium body that just goes down real easy. The taste is a little sugary. subtle hints of raisin. and maybe dates or other dark fruits. Belgian sugars and definite maltiness in the finish. Overall this is a fairly balanced, yet not overly enjoyable drink. Just a nice easy to drink starter-Belgian strong dark ale.

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Photo of sisuspeed
3.31/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottled 10/21/09
Poured into a tulip glass

Raison D'Etre pours a dark, reddish-brown with just less than a finger of white head on top. Small patches of lacing.

Lots of earthy notes on the nose. Caramel malts, raisins, almost smells like it has some vegetable notes. Touch of wood. Would be nice if the aroma were a little stronger.

Taste is malty with bits of fruit, mostly grapes and raisins. A faint smokey presence, mixed with some light wood. Has some funky sugary flavors that must be from the beet sugar. Just a touch of alcohol, but basically unnoticeable. Malts are caramel like and a bit bready. Slightly astringent on the finish with some sugar.

Mouthfeel is pretty good for a Belgian Ale. Smooth, almost creamy body with ample carbonation. A small trace of warming alcohol.

Drinkability is about average. Nothing about the beer really draws me back to the glass, but the body is nice and the flavor has some subtle intricacies that move it beyond the average beer. ABV pushes the drinkability somewhat, but finishing a bottle is no problem.

Overall, this is a pretty decent brew from Dogfish Head. Decent flavor and body, but the beer leaves you wanting something more, especially when you consider some of the other Dogfish Head brews like World Wide Stout and Burton Baton. I probably won't be picking this up again, but if you haven't tried it, its worth checking out.

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Photo of DFHAle
3.94/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Amber color with little head and spotty lacing

S - Not much in terms of aroma with this beer

T - Moderate carbonation with a slight sweetness on the finish. Minimal aftertaste.

M - Light to medium bodied

D - The finish is sweet with little to no aftertaste.

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Photo of obywan59
2.8/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep mahogany like the bottle says. 1 1/2 finger head that quickly dissipates.

Smells of sweet raisins. Distinctive Belgian aroma as well. A bit of coffee.

Burnt, sweet, and burn (from the alcohol). Not much subtlety here. A little tartness. Did I mention burnt?

Moderate mouthfeel. It helps keep that burnt flavor on the tongue.

A bit tough to drink until the 8.0 ABV kicks in. I'd have been upset if this had been a only a 4.0.

In the end, it's the ABV that saves this beer. By the end of the first glass, your'e only just a bit wistful that there isn't more flavor.

This knocks off Delirium Noel as the least favorite of the BSDAs that I've sampled this season, but I still enjoyed it in the end. It's way better than Guiness Draught in a can.

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Photo of SeasonalBrew
3.12/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass

A: Pours a deep mahogany with only a quarter-inch cream colored head that quickly dissapates. Nice flow of bubbles from center of the bottom of the glass, but still just an overall average presentation.

S: Has a very strong sweet smell to it; grapes/raisins, brown sugar. I can sense some spice in it, too; guessing nutmeg or allspice.

T: Right away it hits you with a strong bite from the alcohol, followed by the sweetness from the sugar and malts. It finishes with a bitter taste from the alcohol and hops. Something just seems to be missing with this taste. The sweetness is there, but it doesn't mask the bitterness from the alcohol very well. Usually I don't mind a bite from the alcohol, but it's very off-putting with this beer.

M: Sense lots of carbonation, which takes away from the smoothness a bit. Very dry and bitter finish. Once again, just average.

D: I didn't find myself wanting more once I finished it. I enjoyed the sweetness, but felt it was missing a nice balance the whole way through.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 12 fl. oz. bottle on March 9, 2010. The color is an attractive mahogany amber with about three-quarters of an inch of beige=, foamy head. It never quite goes away. The aroma is a pleasing enough mixture of raisins, malts, and yeast but I also get a bit of alcohol.The taste is bitter and sweet with a thin but noted dry hoppy ending. Not a bad beer altogether except for that bit of alcohol scent.

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Photo of alcstradamus
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed from notes

Light brown pour with a quickly disappearing head. Aroma is toffee and nuts with a hint of spice. Flavor is lightly toasted nuttiness with even lighter notes of toffee sweetness and nutmeg. Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Drinkability is low simply because the flavor profile is very weak and doesn't justify the lofty 8% ABV tag. This was tasty, but unmemorable.

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Photo of BeerNinja007
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle rigorously poured into a chilled pint.

Dark brown brew reveals strawberry red highlights when held to a light. Tan head builds slowly to 2 fingers before settling slowly to a thick mass of foam.

Smell is faint and complex, hard to dissect. Dark fruity sweetness, well-rounded malts, slight berry or stone fruit esters. First impression on sipping it is the massive mouthfeel - hugely thick, sugary slickness. The sweetness lingers throughout and is backed up by a strong second-string malty presence. Flavors take a back seat and are hard to discern on this palate of mouthfeel, but I'd summarize it as raisins, grapefruit, hint of pineapple, oats, maltishness?

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

Sorry I wasn't more creative in the point part of this rating with 4s across the board, but that's just how this one felt. It was good in all aspects, but nothing stood out as excellent.

It had a dark amber color with a decent head, very inviting. Aroma of figs, brown sugar, and a faint citrus undertone. Taste was hard to pin down: it seemed a bit muddled with perhaps too much going on and nothing clear. Follows the nose and is quite sugary, with very mild hop presence. Similar to an abbey ale in some ways. Feel was smooth and rich and the beer is drinkable, but I wouldn't have more than a couple.

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Photo of mdagnew
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

330ml bottle bought from Beerritz.co.uk...

Poured a dark golden orange colour... White head poured quite loose and fizzy and faded quickly to almost nothing... some light wispy lacing around the glass... faint carbonation...

Aroma - Light caramel malts, some biscuity traces, light spices (allspice), light orange and fig fruitiness, brown sugar, light yeast, some spicy hops, peppery notes, alcohol not too noticeable..

Taste - Slightly watered down fruitiness (oranges, raisins and prunes), definite spiciness, light ginger, some light floral honey sweetness, light caramel malts, molasses, nice biscuit notes, quite peppery, some warming alcohol just makes itself known..

Feel - Quite smooth and a little sticky... medium bodied... Fairly drinkable for an 8% beer...

Overall - A pretty average Belgian dark ale but probably worth a try..

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Photo of tippebrewcrew2
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Dogfish Head
Raison D'Etre
Ale with Belgian beet sugar, Green Raisons
ABV 8%

L= 4.0 one finger off white, short lasting, fizzy head with a clear body. Tawny, mahogany color with medium sized bubbles

S= 4.0 smells of sour/tart yeast with a faint hint of sweetness. Smells very similar to a Belgian brown ale

T= 4.0 light sweetness upfront followed by a sour tartness and a notable alcohol presence.

F= 3.5 surprisingly light bodied with a medium bitter slightly dry finish.

D= 3.5 Interesting beer with a surprisingly light body. I like the combination of the tartness from the green raisons matched with Belgian beet sweetness. It was a neat brew and surely a different style. I enjoy it

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Photo of chickenflea
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark mahogany brown, almost opaque, with a small creamy head. Not much lacing here.

Rich aromas. Prune and yeast are the predominant ones. Some alcohol also.

Very sweet with heavy malts. A little licorice and prune juice. Cohesive and forceful.

A full-bodied brew that is sticky, but very smooth.

Be careful with food pairings. Goes good with stronger tastes like wings. But with lighter fair like steamed vegetables, it is unbearably sweet.

A pleasant cold-weather brew.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dogfish Head Raison D'etre pored a dark amber color, with a bit of a smaller head. It had a flavorfull smell to it. It had a heavier taste with many differnt strong flavors, while it was bitter and hoppy there was also a bit of a sweetness as well. It was heavier and had a plesent aftertaste, and it wasnt hard to drink at all. Overall its not the best Dogfish head, but its still a very good beer worth a try, and its one of the cheaper Dogfish Head beers out there.

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Photo of josefnewsong
3.82/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark amber brown, almost opaque, with very little tannish head
S - raisins, prunes, alcohol, yeast, sweet malts
T - raisins and prunes with some alcohol warmth and belgian yeast flavors, molasses and maybe some brown sugar as well, tasty but not very cohesive or balanced
M - medium bodied and sticky, could be a little smoother but it's nice especially as it warms. a little watery.
D - definitely drinkable just slightly underwhelming overall

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Photo of dasbootjoe
4.42/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is my first Dogfish Head beer. I have to say that I am really enjoying it! I plan on trying the 60 and 90min IPA's soon...

This beer has excellent mouthfeel and taste. one of the better beers I've had so far.

I will try other Dogfish Head beers in the future!

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Photo of mempath
4.67/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

finally got a bottle of this after having a sample in a plastic cup at the DFH brewery itself (review somewhere here....from april or so 2009?)...

one of the FEW times i disagree with the BROS (!), but i see those tastings were from 2002 or so...i gave the healthy, draft sampling a strong B+ but this bottle version certainly rocks and i am amazed it is so dismissed here as a simple B (at this point).

pours a 'mahogany' but i see a brighter apricot/bourbon appearance with a healthy head that subsides moderately, with minimal lacing and a settled head that isn't flimsy.

smell is quite similar to the Midas Touch (the grape/raisan connection?), sweet, alcohol densities. something ancient here.

simply an exceptional taste compared to last time i had this on draft in a plastic cup. perhaps the vessel makes all the difference. i get fermented raisans and not sure what the belgian beet sugars are up to, but they add something tremendous i am sure. sweet tanginess, alcohol heft (yeah, not hidden at all, but so what....it's part of the profile). as with the MT, the viscosity is perfect, no massive carbonation needed making up for a perfect, silky thick mouthfeel.

at 8% abv, not one to session, but as an introductory sort of 'extreme' ale for adventurous novices, go for it. this will become for me the less expensive version of my favored MTouch...it's rich, thick, a treat, a dessert, it's breakfast.

DOGFISH HEAD! don't let the fact that many can't untangle the mystery and pleasure of this brew make you discontinue it anytime soon. or at all!

i recommend anyone try this. give it time. and focus. not just another brew to slog down and dis...as a hophead, this is far from my favorite style. but it is brews like this that got me back to appreciating (once again) other styles.

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

Overall great tasting beer.
Pours a dark amber, with a good head and lacing.
Smells of sweet caramel malts and not much else.
Tastes sweet and has the grape taste as well as the roasted malts. Interesting and tasty.

I like this beer and will buy it again!

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,291 ratings.
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