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 IchLiebeBier
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark mahogany; thick creamy beige head, long lasting, good lacing

Aroma: Malt; sweet dark fruit; citrusy hops

Taste: Creamy malt on start; dark fruit and candi sugar with light hops in the mid; finishes semi sweet with a lingering hop bite; a little syrupy, but tasty and balanced

Remarks: Did not score A, T, S, M at that time; disregard those scores

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Photo of scotorum
2.85/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Poured into a tulip glass from the 12 oz. bottle.

a. Deep translucent amber forms a finger thick head which quickly dissipates to a ring of foam around the edge. Abundant bubbling. Looks more like red wine as it's consumed

s: Mild fruit.

t: Fruity, no doubt the raisins are responsible for some of the dark color and impart a wine-like taste.

m: Moderate bitterness. Rather harsh.

o: Since I prefer beer to wine, and this tastes like some kind of hybrid, it's not a favorite.

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Photo of Hefeweizen
3.99/5  rDev +9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

My rose garden (over 265 fragrant varieties) was in need of some TLC, several hours worth so I crank up the CD player drop in some relaxing jazz and venture later onto some Van Halen. During the course of five hours and some intensive work later, I drank the entire six-pack and I was very satisfied. Most likely I will purchase it again and not work as hard as I did in the garden. Later on that week I would enjoy some Bells Two-Hearted Ale as well.

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Photo of wac9
3.76/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

what a wonderful tasting beer it dances on your tongue makes you feel alive but itsa strong beer so be careful fig raisins dark fruit and other wonder things not too dark thats what i think but a beer that you can get lost for a while in enjoy it dont let it destory you happy drinking

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Photo of dar482
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It comes in a red mahogany with tan head that quickly dissipates. In the light, the beer has a beautiful clear rich ruby color. Beautiful beer.

The aroma has that bready Belgian yeast, but starts with a big huge fresh raisins. There’s some clove and spiciness.

The flavor reminds me a bit of Maudite. It has that deep rich roasted raisin and breadiness then it washes away quite nicely with the carbonation. There finish is a bit dry and there’s a hint of alcohol there. However, the heavily tiny bubbled carbonation isn’t there for me.

It’s a very delicious beer and the adjuncts do not ruin this beer. So refreshing, reminds me a ton of Unibroue’s beers. This beer tastes like it could use some age and mellowing. It was bottled on 12/12/12.

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Photo of ChrisKayler
3.66/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Glass: New Belgium Globe.

Appearance: An aggressive pour produced half a finger of off-white, medium sized bubbled head. Head dissipated after a couple minutes. Color is dark mahogany.

Smell: Dark fruits, raisins, caramel, a little boozy, a tiny bit metallic, perhaps a bit of bread ... almost like bread pudding.

Taste: Very sweet. The slightest tinge of funkiness and metallic taste in the very first sip, transitioning quickly to bread and even more quickly to a sweet overall raisin, dark fruit, caramel sweetness that lingers for quite some time.

Mouthfeel: light-medium body, with low carbonation. Sticky syrup lingers.

Overall: A good dessert type beer, and perhaps it would be excellent paired with certain foods. However, this one is just a bit too sweet for me. Would drink again, but would not seek it out.

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Photo of mattkoon
4.06/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

the label describes this beer as "mahogany" which pretty much nails the color. the smell is ok, nothing stands out that much in the nose, just slight dark sweetness. the taste is full and sweet full of dark fruitiness. the finish is warm, this beer feels like christmas time to me. over all i like it a good bit. i still hate that i have to go out of town to get my hands on dogfishhead....someone in my area needs to get their shat together.

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

Typical Dogfish Head bottle, nothing particularly special.

Pour & Appearance:
Raison D'Être pours a dark brown, slightly golden, ale with little to no head that subsided very quickly. There were no unfiltered particles to be found even after settling.

The aroma has an alcohol scent with hints of sweetness teasing at the flavor.

A thin and moderately carbonated feel.

Wonderfully sweet taste without being overwhelming. Green raisin at the forefront followed by the beet sugar. The taste is the highlight of this beer in my opinion. The flavor gives no indication of the 8% ABV.

While certainly well above average, this beer isn't anything I would go out of my way to find. It is enjoyable and I would drink it again, however I don't feel like it is something I will find myself randomly desiring in the future.

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Photo of thegodfather1076
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Presentation: Typical DFH label with DFH logo, ABV info, small desc of the beer, a bit of brewery info, web info, bottled on date(9-11-12).

Appearance: Poured from 12oz bottle into a 16oz snifter. Poured out a deep hazelnut brown color with a 1½ finger tan airy foam head. Retention was 2min 12sec before fading to a thin coating and ring. Lacing was just OK.

Smell/Aroma: Smells of molasses and sweet dark fruit. Has a definite raisin or grape scent.

Flavor/Taste: Taste if of sweet raisin on the front-end along with hints of dark fruit, caramel, and molasses. This turns to a nice toasty malt back-end and a bit of a dry finish.

MouthFeel/Drinkability: On the full side of medium bodied with a smooth slightly creamy mouthfeel. A bit overly carbonated to be highly drinkable.

Overall: I had no idea what to expect going into this and came away pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed this and while it is different and may not appeal to the masses it is def worth checking out. Classified as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale @ 8% ABV. Consumed 5/23/2013.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.16/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre has an extremely thin, off-white head, that fizzes right away. The appearance is semi-clear, brilliant, reddish-brown, with no lacing left behind and chunky pieces floating about. The aroma is of sweetness, turnip, slight caramel, and odd fruit. Taste is of raisins, turnips, brown bread, vegetable-like sugar, iced tea, and mold. There is an underlying hop bitterness, but this is mild. Mouthfeel is medium and somewhat prickly, and Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre finishes dry, rich, and not alcohilic. Certainly, this beer is unique, and I score it most excellent. It is one that is not to be missed.


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Photo of WallingBrew
4.3/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This is the Belgian (dark) strong ale that got me hooked into the category. The beer has a terrific complexity ranging from a caramel toffee to spiced banana and each sip finishes with a welcoming alcoholic punch and smooth mouthfeel. Hard to describe but certainly worth seeking out at under $10 for a 6-pack. Well done DFH.

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

Poured from a bottle into a New Glarus proprietary tasting glass. Bottled 7/20/2012.

A: Brown with copper hues, no haze. One finger tan head, no lacing. Let's say 18 degrees SRM.

S: Sweet molasses, brown sugar, dark fruit - mostly raisons. Grape, maybe? For 8% ABV no alcohol detected.

T: Dark fruit, brown sugar, prune/raisin. Sweet and malty with no hops detected - in true fashion for this style.

M: Full, thick body. Not as much carbonation as I am used to with this the few examples I have had in this style. However, I enjoy the lack of ‘over carbonation'.

O: An excellent beer. I haven't had a bad Belgian Strong Dark yet, and this one is arguably my favorite.

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Photo of Roman5150
4.24/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

bottle into snifter

appearance: dark brown with a ruby red hue, slight half finger white head

smell: heavy raisins, plums, dark fruits, licorice, anise, subtle roasted malt, bready notes, caramel

taste: dark fruits, plums, sort of like a watered down trappist with raisin notes. malt backbone is very sweet, not much hoppiness

mouthfeel: high carbonation with a full body

overall: A great offering from Dogfish Head, while it's hard to classify most of their beers, I would say this is their take on a trappist ale with a slight raisin touch. Very well balanced and I would buy this again in a heartbeat, if you like trappist beers, belgian strong ales, or trippels (and quads) you can find some common ground here. Great beer.

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Photo of SebD
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From notes

Appearance: It has a nice hazy orangy/amber color to it. It has a nice off-white head that dies down somewhat fast and leaves next to no lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of sweet dark fruit (raisins), brown sugar, some roasted malts and some yeast.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a some dark fruit, roasted malts, mild chocolate, brown sugar and Belgian Candi sugar.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with good flavors and aromas.

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Photo of seydou
3.27/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured out of the bottle. Very little head that dissipated quickly and an uninspiring semi-see through caramel color. Smells really faintly fruity and beery.

Taste is immediately quite strong and very complex. Starts sweet, a clear taste of alcohol. Extremely bright and refuses to be ignored. Tartness appears partways through the taste. Not bad, but also not great. Almost a beer better to be sampled than a whole bottle had.

Very, very bubbly on the tongue. In a good way.

Overall, a beer that definitely stands out yet somehow remains pretty average for me. I probably wouldn't buy this again.

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 2/04/13 ... drank three months later on 5/04/13. Poured into a Samuel Adams Perfect Pint Glass.

Appearance: Super good looking beer. A crystal clear ruby color with about three fingers worth of a silky head -- I had to wait for it to go down a bit before adding the last ounce or so of beer. The head's a light tan, and the lacing's above average. Nice start.

Smell: Quite a bit of sweetness -- I get a lot of the raisin and sweet malts. Hay. Maybe some traces of hops there, as it does have a somewhat grassy note.

Taste/feel: Not QUITE doing it for me. On one sip it's overly sweet, then on the next I get an unfortunate kind of aftertaste that reminds me of artificial sweetener... and it lingers, like a Diet Coke would. I really do like the overall flavor, though. I like the taste of the grape on the front, and the seemingly roasted malt quality on the finish. My sister told me this beer was a mess and overly sweet, but I had to try it anyway. As it turns out, I'm glad to have tried it. The aftertaste is a bit "bleh", but I have had far worse. The ABV doesn't come through at all in the nose, taste, or feel at first, which is a good thing. As the beer warms, the alcohol warmth comes through a bit, and the sweetness boots out that mild roasty character I was getting. The feel of this beer can be guessed just by seeing the head after the pour -- silky smooth, but with a bit of prickly carbonation. Weird combination, but it works.

Raison D'Etre (No idea how to pronounce it...) is a beer that I'd have to recommend. I hadn't had a Belgian Strong Dark Ale before this one, so I don't know how they normally are, but this is a pleasant beer. Looks great, smells good, feels good. Like I said a couple times though, the aftertaste is a bit much. Still, pick this one up -- but maybe only a single if you can, since this really isn't a beer you won't be wanting to drink more than one of, more than likely.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.54/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from a grocery store in Dade City, Florida. From notes.

A - Deep amber pour with a nice two finger fluffy light brown head. Good carbonation, spotty lace anda a film of retention.

S - Lot' sof raisins. Sugar, dark fruit, light yeast, vinous, port. Aroma became quite grapey later.

T - Sugar, raisins, a little yeast, nice dark malty richness. A little port and vinous notes. Sweet. Flavour gets a bit dull with time. It doesn't seem to have much drinkability for the laung haul. Flavour doesn't carry through from the initial sips.

M - Medium carbonation, light-ish body, sweet and dry finish. Body is a bit lacking.

O/D - A nice BSDA. Complex and tasty, but with a weak body. Otherwise a good example of the style, and a good intro to Belgian-styles from North America. A touch too sweet.

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Photo of Bosoxfan20
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep mahogany with some violet hues. Aggressive pour leads to a 2 finger light tan head. Quite dense with terrific lacing. Retention is average, but a respectable thin crown persists.

S- the sweet malty base leads the way. Very sweet as the sugar and molasses comes through with a powerful kick. Dark fruits and raisins. Touch of floral hops. My only complaint is that the yeast went undetected and the malt base slightly drowns out other aspects of the beer.

T- Sweet as the nose indicates. A few different layers to this one. Dark fruits, dates, and raisins as smelled, along with caramel. Crisp. Almost harsh, but not quite. Some alcohol present in the wonderfully warm finish. A nice level of sweetness remains with each sip

M- Mid body, well carbonated. A little thin, but very smooth and drinkable. Almost too drinkable as the booze will creep up on you.

O- Not sure I detect a lot of Belgium character, but well done. Something different results in something really well put together. I had my reservations on this one based on reviews that I had seen, but it proved to me that opinions vary and to always drink with an open mind.

Bottled on 9/10/12
Consumed on 4/26/13

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Photo of JamesMN
3.56/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 7/19/12. It's been sitting in my fridge a long time.

Appearance: Super murky brown sugar color with a thin cap of light tan head.

Aroma: Nice mix of belgian candi sugars and a general malt sweetness. Don't smell the green raisins per-say, but that might be for the best.

Taste: Starts with the complexion of an Amber Ale and then increases in sweetness from there giving definite belgian sugar notes. The raisins are very hard to find in the flavor but most likely just add to the general sweetness. Even though the first half is a bit one dimensional it's still very enjoyable. The finish and aftertaste are where it hits its peak. A great warming quality from the 8% ABV combined with a nice balance between a high sweet note and a low dark malt character. No real hop flavor in this one and not much bitterness (25 IBUs). There is one slight off flavor of copper that comes in right before the finish and lingers a tad in the aftertaste but it is pretty easy to ignore and may have just developed because of the age of this bottle.

Mouthfeel: Just above medium in body but never feels overwhelming. Smooth carbonation and average drinkability.

Final Thoughts: Not a style I'm crazy about but a good beer none the less. If you enjoy Belgian Ales or unconventional ingredients in beer then this one is for you. Would I drink it again? Yes, if fresh.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.51/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Dogfish Head’s Raison D’ Être

12 oz bottle poured into a goblet

Appearance: Deep brown/mahogany with a nice 1 to 1½ finger cream/oatmeal colored head, that faded to a thin crown around the edge of the glass. Great lacing.

Smell: Nice carbonation to awaken the aromas of dark bread, dried fruit (raisins/prunes)

Taste: Fantastic! Lots of bready toasted malt up front, followed by some toffee and candied sugar-like sweetness, as well as the dried stone fruit, such as raisns, prunes, apricots. Finally, at the finish, there’s just a touch of hoppy bitterness to balance out all the fruit and sweetness. Absolutely delicious beer!

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied to almost chewy and very, very smooth, as there is practically no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 8%, I’m surprise at how well masked the alcohol is.

Overall: Raison D’Être is one of my favorite beers from Dogfish Head. Actually, it’s one of my favorite beers period. It’s a great beer and an excellent American example of one of my favorite beer styles, the Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Highly recommended!

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Photo of fitzy84
3.44/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bought a six pack at Table and Vine. Poured with a high head that quickly dissipated. Has a slightly amber, brown color. Aromas were a mix of sugars, a syrup-like flavor, malts, and raisins. The taste and flavoring was sweet with a slight fruit flavor and caramel. Surprisingly sweet. The drink has a medium carbonation, giving it a crispness but also not making it too strong. Overall, not too bad.

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Photo of Swedgin_Wu
4.4/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

bottle poured into a tulip.

Appearance - Deep mahogany with a nice 2 finger creme colored head.

Smell - Raisins, dark fruit, malts. very nice smell

Taste - very smooth. great american rendition of a belgian strong. the raisins and dark fruit dominate, with the alcohol hardly detectable (resminiscent of my favs like Rochefort and St Bernardus). candied sugar presence there as well. very drinkable

Mouthfeel - medium-heavy carbonation, medium bodied.

Overall - one of the first craft brews i tried back in the day, i bought it again to review recently and it was better than i remember (probably due to a more developed palette and experience with other belgian strongs). IMHO it's rated a little low overall. it holds its own with Belgian born strongs. Love the raisin presence

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Photo of BareFeetPete
3.02/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

I wasn't nearly as impressed by this as I expected to be, having always had a fairly healthy respect for Dogfish Head beers. To be fair, this was a bottled sampling of it whereas most of my experiences with there IPA's have been tapped, but all the same I've always been able to drink those same beers poured from the bottle and enjoy them. Anyway, here's my take on it.

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into a standard pint glass. I was slightly disappointed I didn't have a bulb on hand, because I think that would have helped, but we college students tend to make do with what we've got.

A - Pours a real deep brown, kind of reddish around the edges. Head is cream colored but is pretty thin and dissipates quickly. I do like the lacing the head leaves behind because it complements the main color nicely, but overall the appearance didn't exactly wow me.

S - The smell is my favorite part of the beer. It's not subtle (though to be honest I'm having trouble picking out exactly what the distinct aromas are) but it isn't too harsh or overwhelming, even when I go to take a sip. It smells very sweet and flowery, and if I had to pick something that jumps out at me I'd say it smells like burnt fruits and vegetables, but I can't really explain why it's a pleasing aroma in this case.

T - I'll be honest, I didn't like the first sip. It was like the beer couldn't decide whether it was sweet or bitter and while I generally prefer ales to lagers because there are (in most cases) more flavors to talk about, in this case the sheer amount of stuff going on in every sip was more distracting than engaging. I will say that the beer grew on me throughout, but nobody buys a beer thinking "gee, half way through, this stuff is supposed to be pretty decent." As far as the taste goes though there's really nothing offensive here.

M - Meh. Nothing to talk about here. Definitely not over-carbonated but the alcohol is more prominent in the mouthfeel than the taste and it wasn't exactly pleasant going down.

O - I probably wouldn't buy it again. I enjoyed the second bottle I drank, but by the end of the six-pack I was really just clearing fridge space. In fact I gave the last bottle to my roommate and opted for an alternative I had on hand. It wasn't the worst thing I've tried this year but it certainly didn't inspire me to add it to my shopping list.

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Photo of IrishKevin
3.51/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle into tulip glass. Bottled 2/13/13. Fresh enough.

Poured a dark ruby red color. 1 finger head that disappeared leaving a ring around the glass that lingered.

Smell: got very little smell, swirled around and got a little fruity aroma.

Taste: fruit forward, plummy, raisiny. Definitely get that Belgian bubble gum taste, which I think is from the yeast.

Overall: decent beer, doesn't blow you away, but is tasty.

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Photo of Efay
3.91/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served into a snifter

A- Dark ruby red with a hue of brown for the body. When served, there was about a finger worth of tan foam that receded into nothing. There is only miniscule amounts of foam on the sides of the glass, and almost no lacing at all.

S- When swirled I got some sweet grape, but the roasted malt was dominant. Also some sweet burnt sugar

T- Sweet grapes that dominate the palate. And it doesn't really die down that much throughout the drink. Taste a lot of sugar, and a little booze, and lastly some dark malt that inst that apparent.

M- Moderate body that goes down a little on the heavy side. not much carbonation and is somewhat sticky.

O- A unique beer from a unique brewery. I really do enjoy dogfishhead a lot and i can say the same about this beer. Maybe a tad more dark malt would add some bitterness that is missing. Maybe tone down on the raisins as it's a little too sweet for the style.

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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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