Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

4,300 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: 4,300 |  Reviews: 1,773
Photo of BrahptimusPrime
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of bmoney
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of bob727
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of Arch578
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of BeerAngel
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
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!

 841 characters

Photo of Quaffer
3.15/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

The bottle states, "A deep mahogany ale brewed with Belgian beet sugars, green raisins and a sense of purpose." I'd like to know what that "purpose" is, because I had a hard time telling what they were trying to do with this brew.

Appearance: This was a hazy, amber-orange beer that poured with a coarse, almost white, head. It rose up to just under two fingers and was quick to disappear. A small amount of bubbles remained floating on the surface for awhile, but even this was gone well before the beer was finished. There was no lacing.

Smell: This beer was extremely sweet smelling. There was a combination of many different fruit aromas. I think that I could even smell the raisins, though the background information about the beer might have had me searching for the aroma. A little bit of tart cherry was detected as well, combined with a bready maltiness that helped give some body to the smell. Overall, it didn't smell bad, but it didn't do much for me either.

Mouthfeel: Almost medium-bodied, with a very smooth and coating feeling on the tip of the tongue. As the beer moved back in the mouth, it picked up a lot of carbonation tingle to the point of becoming too rough.

Taste: Whoa, this was not was I was expecting after the syrupy sweetness that dominated the smell of the beer. The first sip was very tart (in a good way), but it became more subdued after my palatte got used to the taste. It still remained rather sour, though, with a strong vinuous component to it. Tart cherry, green apple, red wine, and (yes, there they are again) raisins combined to form the bulk of the flavor. There was also a fairly strong alcohol presence that really came through on the finish. Some very light notes of malt sweetness finally emerged in the aftertaste, but they did nothing to combat the dry, tannic bitterness/sourness that also came through.

Note: After adding the yeast to the glass, the taste did soften up and balance out better, but the negative qualites (tannic and overly strong alcohol flavors) were still there.

This was an interesting beer, but not one that I would want on a regular basis. I'm really not sure what it is that they are going for with this one. The beer did nothing to hide the alcohol, and the astringent quality in the aftertaste was annoying. Maybe some age would help it out.

A big thanks to noclueaboutbeer for hauling this one out to Kansas all the way from Connecticut.

 2,435 characters

Photo of BeerZack
3.84/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 10/8/08
I have tried this beer before in the past and hated it, thought it was way too sweet and uninteresting. Now, I rather enjoy it and am eager to try aging it.

Deep red mahogany color with a very nice frothy head. Extreme lace and multicolored foam swirls; almost root beer float like, nice.

Very roasty aroma. Smells of roasted barley, maple syrup, sugar and raisins.

Sweet syrup, raisin, marzipan with only a hint of the roastiness that dominates the aroma.

Smooth and creamy mouthfeel, rich and full feel without being overly sticky or cloying. A bit sweet, would like to see how it ages.

 613 characters

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

Pours dark brown with a beige head and quite a bit of lacing. Smell is dark fruits and a woody hit that must be from the hops. Taste was rather disappointing, a little hint of Belgian yeast and candi and then a vinous finish that seemed incongruous to my taste buds. Mouthfeel was full enough but I don't think I would want more than one. I've had these before and never have I gotten very excited about them.

 409 characters

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

Pours amber with an off tan head that has both superiorretention and side lacing.
Aroma is of molasses and raisens and to a lesser extent some mlatiness. Alcohol is definitly present and heavier than I like.
Taste is syrupy and sweet, but too sweet and any malts are lost in the sweet syrup.
Finishes dry but too sweet for me.

 326 characters

Photo of Snellgg5
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of acashk
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

Photo of theghost3
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, dark brown with ruby highlights. There's a 2-finger head that quickly disappears. Minimal lacing.

The smell is strong of raisins, molasses, & roasted malts. The taste is mainly raisins, cherry, and molasses, but there's also a trace of coffee malts. The mouth feel is fairly smooth, but it's a little flat.

This is a drinkable beer, but I'm not sure it's a Belgian Strong Dark. It has some of that style's qualities, but it also has some qualities of the American craft styles.

 495 characters

Photo of poppyjohn
3/5  rDev -18%

Photo of AlMarzo
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of Pillowburn
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

Photo of Jmbbabson
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of AKuehn47
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of orfeu
3.86/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

From a DFH "Boom Box" purchased in Waynesboro, PA. Glowing burnt sienna/copper; the thinnest of carbonation induced foam rings the circumference of the oversized wine goblet. Aroma is mostly sweet booziness -- dates and dried figs soaked in rum, but mostly just a vapor of alcohol. Prickly sweet alcohol flavors at first; cherries, prunes, and date sugar sweetness. A vanilla-marshmallow taste is also detectable. The finish is a pleasant toasty malt flavor -- unexpected and appreciated. Mouthfeel is definitely the strong point here: full, expansive, briefly fluffy, then chewy, and overall, at once both effervescent and smooth. Such a complex mouthfeel is always a high point for me. Not always in the mood for such a sweet beer, but this is a nice one.

 757 characters

Photo of ReeseMax3
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

Photo of DelMontiac
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of KMcG
4/5  rDev +9.3%

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

Pours a deep attractive purplish red but with the faintest head that disappears immediately. Very strong aroma of raisins, toffee, and dark fruits. Alcohol comes in suprisingly strong on the first sip, but blended with the dark raisin and fig flavors it's actually not too bad. Very sweet and somewhat syrupy in mouthfeel. This isn't bad at all, but I can't see myself ever drinking more than one in a sitting.

 410 characters

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

Served in a goblet at 54 degrees. Poured pretty hard, and the head flared up brief, light brown, and disappated almost immediately. Alcohol comes through strong in the nose and taste, masking any hop aroma. Malty taste, carmel notes. Beautiful shimmering ruby highlights at the edge of the glass. Overall a very good beer that I'd order up in a heartbeat.

 355 characters

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

Raison D'etre
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 8.00 %
bottle > snifter style big beer glass

4.0 across the board in all catergories. Better than I anticipated, with subtle malt suggestions of DFH 60, 90 and Indian Brown Ale.

Appearance was a deep copper amber color. Acceptable 1 finger head with satisfactory retention and impressive lace. Aromas are more subtle than anticipated, roasty malts, molasses and maybe whispers of spicy raison/mulled cider spices or something like that.
Tastes follow smell with a brown sugar/molasses after taste, sweet/malty but complex with a wee bit of cloying whispers.
Mouthfeel is medium+ body & carbonation.

 681 characters

Photo of kds2437
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,300 ratings.
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