Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

BA SCORE
83
good
4,291 Ratings
THE BROS
73
okay
Read the review
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States
dogfish.com

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
4,291
Reviews:
1,772
Avg:
3.66
pDev:
15.03%
 
 
Wants:
108
Gots:
498
For Trade:
4
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 4,291 |  Reviews: 1,772
Photo of Sammy
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice yeast creamy yummy two dimensional Belgian style. Lower than expected aroma but delivered in beverage experience, fullmouth yeast delivery. Beautiful mahagony dark with mocha colored head, much cream that dissipates into lace. Masterfully done, like Ommegang with extra angles. Better than an average Belgian.

 314 characters

Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of Texasfan549
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of kylehay2004
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

single finger off white head with good retention on a hazy crimson / amber body. No lacing. Aroma is mostly belgian yeast and esters. Mild overall. Some dark fruit and fig. Not too sweet. Flavor is like a mild belgian with mire sugar, fig and dark fruit. Again this is dogfish head taking a beer style and mellowing it out to appeal to the masses and more typical everyday beer drinker but charging the normal belgian beer price. Not a bad beer but not a good member of its genre.

 480 characters

Photo of jaydoc
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.67/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark brown with a 1/2 inch foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small patches of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, brown sugar, and some slight dried fruit aromas. Taste is of roasted and toasted malt, burnt sugar, spice, and some fruity flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roasty and spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer flavor wise but I think I like the aromas I am getting over the flavors.

 598 characters

Photo of djrn2
3/5  rDev -18%

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a very very unique ale. this one pours a mahogany brownish with a patchy tan head an inch thick. nose is quite interesting, fruity, with that belgian yeast complexion, slightly sweet, rich. taste matches the nose, with the flavor of the raisins coming through nicely. as far as i know, there is nothing like this anywhere else on the market. worth seeking out. definitely grows on you over time, only the high ABV and high price tag keep this one from being a daily go to for me. endless food pairing potentials as well...

 522 characters

Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of Knapp85
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I typically enjoy this beer when I have it at festival and whatnot. This brew poured out as a nice dark shade of brown with a creamy orange tan colored head on top. The smell of the beer is a little boozy but has a nice sweetness to it that gives off a Raisin and brown sugar aroma. The taste of the beer is pretty sweet and has lots of dark fruit and sugars in there. It's more like a dessert beer I feel personally. The mouthfeel is slick and almost oily but has a good carbonation to it still. Overall I like it, I choose it over most of the other DfH beers are festival for some reason... Not really sure why. It's worth trying!

 632 characters

Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
2.25/5  rDev -38.5%

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.87/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

To me, this is DFH's best beer.. at leas so far anyway. It's a pretty high ABV but you cannot even taste it at all. Smells and tastes of brown sugar and other sweetness and the taste is so smooth and mouthfeel perfect. It's almost like liquid candy, but it's not so overly sweet that it turns you off. I've come back to this one a few times and will continue to do so.

 368 characters

Photo of metter98
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured dark mahogany brown with a small head that disappeared quickly, leaving just a few bubbles around the edge of the surface. There's a low- to moderate level of carbonation visible.
S: Dark fruits and sweetness dominate the aroma.
T: Flavors of raisins, dark fruit and brown sugar stand out in the initial taste, followed by the underlying malts and sweetness. The alcohol leaves a bit of heat in the finish, along with a bit of bitterness from the hops.
M: The beer feels medium bodied on the palate and the level of carbonation seems just right and does not make it taste too heavy or syrupy.
D: This is a good beer to sip but I can't see having more than one of these in one session. The alcohol starts hitting you after a while.

 740 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This brewery is incapable of brewing a bad batch. I passed on this beer for a while because I didn't think that I would fully appreciate it. I was wrong. An extremely complex and fruitful beer. Pours with a medium to high viscocity. Brown with some burgundy and purple violet tones. Tan / burgundy head falls to a trace, laces well, nice oily cling to the glass. Smells of cocoa, deep dark friuts, all hidden behind a malt base. Lightly hopped and tart. Tastes fruity sweet with pruned, dates, raisons, figs. All the goodness that you'd like from these fruits with only a mild tartness. A red wine-like muskiness in the body. Silky smooth rich body that nicely fades into the finish. Very consistant flow down the throat. Mild cherries show up in the finish. Mildly drying and mildly sweet. Dangerously easy to drink. I don't particularly like dark fruits, but I love the beers that exhibit their flavors--go figure.

 916 characters

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

The last of an assortment of DFH 'souvenirs' from my last trip south of the 49th parallel...the 4th of July seems a decent occasion as any to polish it off.

This beer pours a clear, dark ruddy brown colour, with minimal head, and no lacing. Quick out of the gate, I suppose. It smells of subtle roasted caramel malt, bittersweet chocolate, a little vinous essence, and a bit of bitter coffee. The taste is lightly roasted caramel malt, a tad chocolate candy-like, a bit of booze, dark fruit, and earthy hops. The carbonation is moderate, the body thick and viscous, with the booze well-integrated, and an off-dry sweet candy malt finish. This seems much more like a brown ale, a style I don't usually care for, but is also more of a ramped-up American version, and is thus quite tasty.

 786 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.11/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard Dogfish Head label and branded copper pry-off pressure cap acquired as part of a 6 pack at me local HEB Grocery and served into an Independence Brewing pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are below average given the brewery - which tends to disappoint. 8% ABV confirmed per the label. Reviewed as a Belgian style brown ale because it identifies as such on Dogfish Head's website.

Served cold, straight from me fridge, and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as I pour.

Pours a one finger wide head of light khaki colour. Okay thickness and creaminess. Lackluster frothiness. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes. Head retention is average - about two minutes.

Body colour is a clear dark amber of above average vibrance. No yeast particles are visible. Translucent and transparent. By no means brown in colour, nor is it as dark as most Belgian style dark ales. Not sure what to make of that, but it's appealing in a general sense.

Nonstandard for the style. Not unique or special, but there are no obvious flaws here. I'm optimistic.

Sm: Raisin, prune, amber malts, and beets - but I only notice beets because I'm looking for them; if I had this blind I wouldn't have thought to say beets. Caramel. Light floral hop character is present and seems to complement the malts nicely. I do get a clean tannic Belgian yeast. Lots of residual sugars bring this beer to the sweeter end. A buried hint of murky cherry. Toasted sugars. I like the fruity notes. Raisin is dominant. Sugarcane imparts a note redolent of rum.

Overall, it's a pleasantly sweet aroma of mild strength.

No alcohol or other off-notes are detectable.

T: Rum-soaked fruits: prune, dates, raisin. Plenty of sugarcane and other residual toasty sugars. Amber malts, caramalt, and Belgian malts fill out the body nicely. Beet sugar definitely comes through - though I wouldn't have been able to identify quite what that note was blind. Vague burgundy/red wine hints. Clean Belgian yeast. It's definitely sweet, but it never quite becomes cloying. As it warms, I get a buried grape note. It has nice cohesion and decent balance, but it's certainly not gestalt. Overall, it has some limited complexity, but would benefit from more. Not the most subtle flavour profile either.

Average depth, duration, and intensity of flavour for the style.

No alcohol off flavours come through, aside from a vague alcohol presence - which passes the point of being simply a pleasant warmth and does start to annoy.

It's not really a Belgian dark ale, nor is it a Belgian brown. It's sort of a Belgian dark amber, if you please.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Overcarbonated. A bit too thick and full for the flavour profile; it's not an ideal marriage of texture to taste by any stretch. But it's passable and suits the flavour profile passably. Decent body and presence on the palate.

Not oily, harsh, gushed, or hot.

Dr: A drinkable beer, but the alcohol presence does hold it back. I wouldn't have more than one in a night, but I'm enjoying this one for what it is. I will say that while it's not unique, I can't readily think up a beer I've had that is exactly like it. I'd like to see the brewers commit more to the rum aspect of the beer; barrel aging would be an obvious approach, but there are probably more subtle ways of emphasizing the strength of the flavour. The more I drink of this, the more the sweetness annoys me. It's a decently priced beer, but I won't be buying it again, nor would I recommend it to friends. Above average overall; it's got unfulfilled potential.

I'd like to try it with 1-5 years of age on it; it's got plenty of residual sugars that would develop over time - though I'm not sure if it's got active yeast.

C+

 3,941 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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

 669 characters

Photo of oline73
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured copper color ale with a very small head that disappeared a tad too fast. Aroma is quite sweet with alcohol soaked raisins being quite noticeable. Body is quite full and carbonation is very low. Taste is very interesting resembling more like a barley wine (sweet raisins, warming alcohol) then anything else. The Belgian yeast must have been covered because I had a hard time detecting it. Overall, this is quite ‘’different’’ but very enjoyable. Wouldn’t mind laying a couple of them down to see the evolution of this beer.

 543 characters

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

Appearance: Beautiful clear mahogany in color. A gentle pour into a wide-mouthed goblet produced almost no head. Still a great looking beer, however.

Smell: Smells largely of overripe fruit (figs, plums) and brown sugar. A bit of toast appears as it warms along with a hint of yam.

Taste & mouthfeel: Flavors of caramelized sugar, dates and raisins at the forefront with an undertone of toasted malt. The low/moderate carbonation was initially a surprise, but it works fine here; I was just expecting something closer to the crisp effervescence of most Belgian examples of this style. This certainly isn't a traditional Belgian style beer though, more of a Belgian/American hybrid. The finish dries up nicely, leaving a hint of alcohol on the palate. A touch more hop bitterness may benefit this beer to cover up the slight alcohol presence, but it's by no means harsh.

Notes: Nice stuff, glad I had the chance to try this. Got this as an extra from Azurelimits. Thanks!

 973 characters

Photo of zeff80
3.51/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an orange/amber color with a soapy, foamy, tan head that left some trails of lace.

S - It smelled of malt, raisin and other dried fruits.

T - It tasted very malty, with hints of fig and raisin.

M - It was fairly soft and smooth. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good Belgian style beer. Interesting flavors and quite drinkable.

 356 characters

Photo of zestar
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,291 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Subscribe