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Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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1,774 Reviews
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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: 1,774 | Ratings: 4,282
Photo of Micahman
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I should note that I have a bit of a head cold as I review this beer, so my olfactory sense is a bit muttled.

Rich, deep mahogany color, moderate carbonation, yet nice long columns of bubbles after a pour.

Small (~1.0 in) head, dissipating quickly to leave sparse lace around the top of the glass. I tried a tall hefeweizen glass (not recommended), and a large red wine glass, which drank much better.

The taste is delicious. At first I wasnt awestruck, but after a couple the rich, carmel and raisin tones came out on top, with a warm, dark aftertaste that belied it's 8% abv. Slight hints of spice. The more I drank this beer, the more that warm, fall taste grew on me. Excellent late fall or early winter beer. Packs a good punch.

Decent mouthfeel, but this beer really shines in it's immediate aftertaste. All the flavors come out.

Fairly drinkable, but i wouldnt have more than 3 or so in a sitting. Recommended beer.

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Photo of HESSLER500
3.32/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Have been looking at this beer for a long time on the shelf and finally bought a six yesterday; wish I hadn't - have 5 more to go. As a fan of most RIS's, scottish & Belgian ales with higher abv's, i definitely think this is a fairly bland brew. The notes i sensed were the raison's, and maybe plum and some 'tangy' aftertaste. The so called "8% burn" wasn't really noticed. Overall, won't buy again, but will have when the good stuff is gone.

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Photo of capps24
2.88/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I am a big dogfish fan so I had to try this one even though I am not a big belgian fan. At first taste it was not too bad. Nice malty character, but then you get the belgian taste.

You can taste the alcohol in this one though, that adds to the taste for me. If you like dark blegian beers, this is up your alley, just not for me, though it is drinkable.

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Photo of danriverbrew
4.46/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

APPEARANCE: A beautiful deep deep gold color with a good half inch head.

SMELL: This is one thing that I was alittle disapointed in. While it had a nice sweet kind of nutty smell, it wasn't very strong. Not something that really roused the couriosity.

TASTE: A fantastic sweet mahogany taste, with what I detect is a little smokey note.

MOUTHFEEL: An awesome lingering taste that reminded me of the smoke from a camp fire. That rustic feel. At the end alittle spice note, not sure of the ingrediant. A fantastic balance.

DRINKABILITY: Not so much a casual drink but a great compliment to a meal. Something heavy like venison.


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

I hate the fru-fru name, but I like the beer. The brew is sweet and heavy with raisins, dried plum and cherry, becoming a little “boozy” with some additional malty breadiness as it warms. It’s not something I’d have every day, but I’d enjoy it as a dessert drink on a cold winter's evening (when I had a designated driver).

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Photo of jazzmanblue
3.16/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle into a Dogfish Head Signature Glass

Poured a deep reddish brown, and I purposely went for a pronounced head. It dropped after a few minutes, but lingered nicely even after the glass was empty. Looks promising out of the bottle.

The smell surprised me. I picked up some unusual fruit aromas, dark fruit, including prune. Not what I expected or wanted. Nice malty aroma was underneath the fruit, and wish this was more pronounced. Not a bad smell at all; just not what I expect from a strong dark ale.

A Dogfish brew where the flavor did not jump out at me. Surprising, to say the least. Dark fruit and malt, much like the aroma. There is that prune like sense again. Not bad; just not what I'm looking for. Carbonation is surprisingly subdued. Pleasant.

Mouthfeel is fine; wet, but not watery; smooth and full but not rich. This beer feels better than it tastes. It appears to be quite drinkable, but the ABV will prevent that. Two at most for a bloke like myself that wants to have an evening taste from a favorite glass.

I can't say this brew is bad, but as a Dogfish drinker I don't believe I'll be purchasing another sixpack after this one's finished. Give it a chance if your curious, as this taste is different. Different is not always good, but this one is worth a try.

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Photo of dakeller80
3.79/5  rDev +3.6%
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 CudOfCow
1.36/5  rDev -62.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Dogfish makes some great beers. This is not one of them.

It smells like microwave burned sugar with prune juice and bootstrap molasses. Very alcoholicy smell.

Pours a thickly brown it does have a nice foamy head and leaves foam on the inside of the glass. The head goes well with a moustache.

Tastes the same. Sugar, prunes, raisins, molasses, all burned, complicated and powerful. The taste lingers forever and ever.

This is the only beer i've ever had that I couldnt finish. I tried really hard to finish the bottle and man up, but this is now my number 1 least favorite beer. To each their own. I gave the other 5 away for friends to try.

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Photo of sully42
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A- A deep brown with a liter color tint.
S- Smelled quite pleasant, almost like rum raisin ice cram.
T- Lots of malts with a hint or raisin and an oakie flavor.
M- Not to heavy but by no means lite. Smooth and rich, just rite.
D- I can't drink more then a few of these but the first few are very drinkable.

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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 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 buckobrock
3.72/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Chimay goblet.

Bottled on 4 Jan 2008

Consumed on 29 Feb 2008

A - Pours a smooth dark brown with a hint of ruby. Nice color. Single-finger head that grows a bit with a nice swirl in the goblet. Lacing is nonexistent.

S - Molasses is the first thing that hits my nostrils - rich and sweet. Also smell of dark malts. The smell is very similar to other Belgian beer I've sampled. I'm digging for a hint of the raisin smell, and I only catch a note. Not nearly as prominent as I'd expected.

T - The Belgian candi sugar and dark malts are nice and sweet. I get a slight hint of the raisins I've been searching for on the back of the tongue. Overall, I think the sweetness is just about right.

M - The mouthfeel is pretty heavy, which is to be expected when purchasing an 8% abv beer. I feel that the heaviness and the high carbonation balance well with the sweetness of the beer.

D - I'll have to say that I'm glad that I only bought a single rather than a 6 pack. However, I disagree with the way that the drinkability of the beer itself can deduct points. I feel that a beer can be very tasty without being able to drink more than one per sitting, which I think the case is here.

This is a great beer from Dogfish Head, and definitely worth a try.

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Photo of drdr48
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured with a fairly light head that left a lot of lacing, low carbonation.

On the sweet side but still balanced, nice light bready, yeasty Belgian taste to it with strong notes of raisins and dark fruit.

Belgians are not on the top of my palates desires but I thoroughly enjoyed this beer.

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Photo of jgalbjr
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I like the color and mouthfeel of this beer. It has a creamy texture with caramel undertones along with a malty characteristic. The raisins come through more as a slight fruit character, even slightly like a ruby port, than anything else.

It drinks crisp and lighter than the 8.0% ABV would lead you to believe. Pours nice from the bottle as well.

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Photo of TomIvan
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
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 manwich
2.66/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured out of a growler into a chalice. Not much of a head on top, dark but clear body. Rather unusual smell, kind of smoky. Not at all a fan of the taste, syrupy and smoky, reasonable mouthfeel but an otherwise unenjoyable drinking experience. I found myself trying to down it before it got warmer, as I could tell that the unpleasant flavors were getting stronger as the glass warmed up, yet at the same time I wasn't inclined to finish the beer at all. I'm very open minded with beer and have rarely found a craft beer that I legitimately didn't want to finish, but this had to be as close as I've come. I wound up letting my housemates finish the rest of the growler.

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Photo of PriorateOden
2.32/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Why did this burn/tickle my tongue? Not at all distasteful, but sorta plain-jane. I thought it was bland on the nose and taste really seemed limited and narrow. No complex aromas no shifting flavors, just mild and... pleasant but weak. It was super tingle-ie and bubbly in the mouth. I love me some Dogfish Head,, but not this one.

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Photo of HopsGirl7
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Raison D'etre is one of my favorite beers.

It is sweet, as it is brewed with raisins, but the sweetness is well balanced and not overwhelming.

The beer pours a nice rich brown color and has a lighter tanish head.

It smells like raisins.

It tastes delicious. You get a malty sweetness at first and then a kick of the raisin notes and then it finishes with a little bitter reminder of the potency.

This beer is great with a peanut butter sandwich.

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Photo of cinemadust
4.78/5  rDev +30.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My favorite that I've had from Dogfish Head so far. It almost has a taste of tea and beer mixed together. Kind of like a spice and fruit. When I drank this from the bottle I had an almost smokey aftertaste. Drinking it from tap at the Dogfish Head brewery restaurant, was served a beer at the perfect temperature. Which made it very easy to taste all the wonderful flavors of this beer. Had barley any head at all, but that's what I like. Goes well with spicy foods. Just be VERY careful. Don't forget it's a 8% ABV. You can't knock them down like regular beers. But you can't taste the extra ABV so again, be cautious.

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Photo of elcapness17
4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a great beer. 8% abv, but it drinks very easily. It has a very unique flavor, and as an earlier person noted, the taste is that of a dark fruit. You can definitely taste the green raisins and beet sugars, but it's rounded off nicely with a bit of astringency. It gets more drinkable as it warms, and although the smell isn't phenomenal it is certainly not bad. I would recommend this if you are looking for something unique. I have a feeling that I could drink a six pack of these in one night, which is foreboding in the best way.

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Photo of Akerris
3.22/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance- Deep red/brown. Mahogany ale fits. Three fingers of head.

Aroma- Musty, cheesy and a bit vinty.

Taste- Dried fruit, molasses. The presence of added sugar is undeniable. Metallic notes in aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Syrupy not as effervecent as expected.

Drinkability- Ok I suppose. It has the Belgian essence but it just feels off. It's not a bad beer but I feel like it's missing something. Dogfish Head seems to throw caution to the wind as their modus opperandi. While this can sometimes be rewarding, it also causes them to occasionally miss the mark.

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Photo of iamsemigloss
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 12/21/10, taken from notes.

Appearance: Pour yielded an average head that was creamy in texture. The drink was clear and mahogany in color; lacing was good.

Smell: Deep caramel and toffee notes mixed with a fruity aroma. You can smell the raisins but the "fruit" isn't exactly defined -- it's not citrus but more like a dry fruit. Slight whiff of alcohol. Very sweet smelling.

Taste: Huge toffee and caramel blast with the raisins kicking in on the finish. Sweet and creamy with a nip of bitterness at the end. Nice flavors but not overly complex.

Mouthfeel: You'd think this may be somewhat thick but I found it rather thin to be as creamy as it was.

Easy drinking but it's too sweet to session. Very good but not excellent.

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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 cetae
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured a nice dark mahogany with a head that settles to around 1/2 inch.

S - Sugary smell, but not a sweet sugary smell. As well as a slight alcohol scent

T - Can immediately taste the green raisin then a slight amount of alcohol, though not over powering at all, followed by a slightly bitter dark chocolate / malty taste. I have never tasted a beer like this before.

M - Medium bodied, airy and very smooth

D - This beer is drinkable, however I wouldn't want to drink more than 1 to 3 in one sitting. When I drank the first one I didn't lik it very much, but that night I had a few various other beers before trying this. I decided to try it again the next night and I had a different opinion. I have a whole case of this stuff (bought in PA) and it will probably last a while. I definitely wouldn't buy an entire case again, but I would pick up six-pack down the road.

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Photo of sloopy
4.29/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Nice amber color with a nice off white head. When held up to the light it reminded me of a dark southern iced tea. In my opinion it resembled the way an ale would look if you told someone to picture an ale in their head.

Smell: Couldn't pick up too much of an odor (anyone who hasn't read my profile, that's more on me than the beer).

Taste: Tasted like your standard ale, but left a sweet raisin after taste.

Mouthfeel: I could tell I was drinking a beer that had a decent ABV, but it went down smooth. The alcohol wasn't over powering and went down as if though I was drinking an ale with less alcohol.

Drinkability: I could drink more of this. It's high in alcohol, but not harsh or terrible tasting.

Bonus: I ate a Hungry Man fried chicken dinner (fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn and a brownie) and let me say that this beer washed everything down perfectly.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,282 ratings.
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