Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
4,308 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 4,308 |  Reviews: 1,774
Photo of Boone757
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

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 dbrauneis
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

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

An unusual and interesting beer, but then aren't all of the Dogfish Head beers? It took a long time for this beer to grow on me. It pours a deep crimson-mahogany with a creamy light tan head that drops quickly to just a collar (probably from the high alcohol). I like the aroma of dark caramels (toffee) and fruit. The flavor offers up a lot of alcohol, some dark fruity (raisins) maltiness, and some balancing bitterness. The flavor is actually quite toasty with a fig-like fruitiness. The finish is dryish and not nearly as complex as the flavor but does have a lingering sweet raisin-like note that's quite nice. The high level of alcohol is quite hidden. Overall, this is an expansive beer that doesn't reveal itself at first and deserves some extra attention and a few re-visits. It's a beer that I drink when I know I'm not having another but I still want something unusual and rich. Very well done and certainly worth a try. I've also noticed that this ages exceptionally well with bottles that are at least 6 months old becoming much smoother, and bottles that are a year or more old revealing a deeper character.

 1,121 characters

Photo of Gagnonsux
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Raison D'Etre is a dark reddish brown with a small, off-white head. Retention is pretty weak. Aroma has plenty of Belgian sugary sweetness with an edge of fruity yeast. A tiny trace of alcohol is also noted. The primary taste is of mild, dark fruit malt meeting Belgian sugar. An earthy, almost burnt malt flavor is also present. A spicy, peppery yeast flavor weaves nicely through the dominate malt. The overall complexity here is quite nice, there is quite alot here to enjoy. This is one of my favorite Belgian-styled beers of the few I've sampled.

 551 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.44/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

undated 12oz bottle served in a pint glass.

I just altered my BA profile last night to conclude that Belgian Strong Dark Ale deserves listing as my favorite style not so much because several of my favorites are this style but because every beer in this style I had reviewed had received a high A- or better) rating. Well, less than 24 hours later I'll need to revise my profile thanks to this Dogfish Head.

The DH gets off to a good start, with a lovely reddish amber color and a lasting, creamy looking light tan head. The liquid is clear and the head is multi-density.

The aroma is pleasant but rather mild and lacks depth and complexity being mainly the aroma of various ripe and dark fruits with some alcohol esters, grape bubblegum and a just hint of hops. The alcohol aromas become more pronounced with warming, leading me to lower my rating of this aspect.

This is an exceptionally fruity beer, with a flavor profile dominated by prunes, plums, raisins and generic sour fruits. The tartness nicely contrasts with the sweetness of the aroma. The ABV is not only apparent, it actually seems higher than 8%, as if someone sprinkles some light rum in my beer (no, I'm home alone at the moment).

M - medium body; smooth, but with a tad too little carbonation.

O - Well, I can still say I haven't had a Belgian Strong Dark Ale I disliked. This one departs from the admittedly highly variable flavor profile of this beer style. Where's the malt? It is still a moderately enjoyable if disappointing offering from DH. I'll buy another bottle but try aging it first.

 1,574 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 jlindros
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Light fizzy head, hazy reddish brown color.

Nose is musty herbal hops, sweet brown malts, brown sugar, caramel, s weet syrups, toasty malts.

Taste herbal hops, musty, earthy tones, sweet brownish toasty malts, brown sugar, caramel, toffee, light spices, raisins, hazelnut, nutty, light minerals, chewy, finishes still a bit sweet, malts, light bitter herbal hops,

Mouth is med bodied with decent carb,

Overall meh, the herbal hops hit quite a bit, little minerality, plenty of malts, sweet

 493 characters

Photo of DrBier
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of paulish
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of zestar
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

Photo of Gkruszewski
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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

Poured a deep copper color with slight head that was gone quickly,the aroma was complex almost meaty with slight sugary notes.Taste was somewhat fruity,like others i do pick up some grape-like flavors,with some sweet alcohol flavors rounding this one out.A very complex beer kinda hard to rate,I would try again,would love to find on tap.

 338 characters

Photo of nickfl
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with under one finger of tan head on top of a perfectly clear, amber-brown body. The foam collapses quickly and leaves moderate lace on the glass.

S - Dark, fruity notes of raisin, plum, and caramel with a hint of clove.

T - Woody raisin notes up front with some plum and toffee. The yeast comes out a bit more in the middle with notes of clove, anise, and caramel coated red apples. The malt character reasserts itself at the finish with more caramel, toffee, and red apple. Notes of semi sweet chocolate and dark caramel linger in the aftertaste with red apple as well as some warming alcohol.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - The aroma is a bit weak, but the favor of this beer is surprisingly spot of for the style. The raisins bring a musty fruitiness that works well with the rich, dark caramel malt. There is an excellent yeasty note of red apple that floats throughout the experience and enhances the malt character substantially. The hops are handled nicely as well and manage to provide a light balancing bitterness without obscuring any of the malt or yeast. A very nicely drinkable belgian with an American twist.

 1,184 characters

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of roasted malts, chocolate, raisins and some hops.

T: The taste is malty up front with sweet flavors of raisins, chocolate and caramel. There's a mild background of Belgian yeast and spices. The malt character is hearty and there's a decent hops presence all creating a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, nice representation of style but like most DFH beers, it's not your typical beer in its style. This is a good beer to drink for a long time if you're in the mood for some thing with a little strength and a lot of substance.

 881 characters

Photo of jgunther71
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of olradetbalder
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of REVZEB
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of billab914
3.49/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a caramel brown color with a slight red tint. Poured with a small white head that disappeared quickly only to leave a little lacing.

Aroma is malty and sweet with some fruit characteristics. Also detect some wood aromas.

Taste is sweet and malty with some fruit flavors. Slightly tangy and bitter with a little spiciness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodies with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is average. I could enjoy one of these but not something I want to have much more of.

 484 characters

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

First had: on tap at World Cafe Live, Philly, PA

Made with raisins, Belgian rock candy, brown sugar... Dogfish Head brews just have to be tasted to be believed. Seriously, the Reinheitsgebot can head home with its tail between its legs for all I care!

Poured reddish-brown, hazy with a bit of a head. Fruits and sugars in the nose. Dried fruits (raisins, of course) on the tongue right up front. Light sugars, and sweet malt, graininess in the background, and somewhat of a phenol or alcohol taste, even though the ABV is not that high. Medium mouthfeel with a syrupy sensation. Definitely drinkable, but not something I'd want to drink all the time.

 652 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown with a nice head that stays for a while.

S: Dark malt, dark sugars, raisins, and caramel. All very nice.

T: Dark, sweet malts and the dark fruits come in more here. The taste isn't too sweet, but you can definitely tell the fruits are there.

M: Medium-bodied and a good smoothness to it.

D: Pretty drinkable considering the funkiness of it. DFH does it again.

 378 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"A dark mahogany ale brewed with beet sugar, green raisins and Belgian yeast."

Clear, brown liquid with a thin ring of bubbles as a head--no lace.

The aromas are primarily caramelized sugars...close to a brown sugar smell. It does not have the common earthy/barnyard aromas of a Belgian ale.

The flavor is closer to a brown ale with lots of chocolate/cocoa notes. Very little hop flavor. This is thinner than I expected.

The taste doesn't reflect the creative description above, but still this is an interesting and delicious offering from the Dogfish people.

 571 characters

Photo of ygtbsm94
3/5  rDev -18%

Photo of krome
4/5  rDev +9.3%

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

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 4,308 ratings