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Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
83
good
1,774 Reviews
THE BROS
73
okay
Read the review
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States | website

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
Reviews:
1,774
Ratings:
4,278
Avg:
3.66
pDev:
15.03%
 
 
Wants:
103
Gots:
481
For Trade:
5
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,774 | Ratings: 4,278
Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Dale.

A: The pour is a slightly cloudy amber color with a finger of off-white head.

S: Nice dark sugars to the nose and plenty of dark fruits. Raisins, plums, and black cherries. A moderate yeastiness with a little bit of spice to it. Solid bread and molasses notes, too.

T: Nicely sweet, but not cloying and overly sugary like a lot of Dogfish Head beers. Sweet bread, brown sugar, molasses, and plenty of different dark fruits. Very little spice, but a little bit of nutmeg.

M: Medium to full in body with a medium level of carbonation.

O: I was very impressed by this one. Really nice and pleasant to drink.

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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.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.11/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decanted from the growler which gave a resounding POP! as I opened it. Poured cold into a DFH shaped pint glass.

A - A deep caramel brown w/ a full 2 finger cream head which is very smooth and the bubbles are tightly formed. A goodly amount of lace stays as large gulps are taken.

S - Caramel, brown sugar, bready yeasty aromas and maybe a hint of raisins.

M - Full and malty, yet crisp and sweet. Creamy, dry and roasted all at the same time. A slightly sweet finish as the malted flavors coat the inside of my mouth. A moderate amount of carbonation keeps the taste from getting cloying.

T - Such a complex beer, where to start? Rich and roasted w/ a dark bread flavor. Tastes like a fresh baked whole wheat loaf. A sweetness of overripe apple w/ a doughy belgian yeast seeps into the flavor. Rich sweetness like having a mouthful of raisins overtakes the taste. Much like a desert w/ raisins, the taste of raisins becomes dominant after half of the pint is swallowed. Very well balanced though and the sweetness is kept in check.

D - A full bodied and strong ale w/ great complexity. The best raisin flavored ale I have had and twice as fresh and sweet from the brewpub. I recommend having this on draft, since it seems more dry and less round and malty in the bottle. Not great drinkability, but for the abv, very good.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in DFH Alehouse pint.

Pours a deep crimson with a strong head of khaki that stood for several minutes (without starch, no less!) before settling away into the bloody sea. The waves smell rollingly of raisins, dark malts, and figs, each progressively smashing the olfactory rocks throughout the sniff. The figgy waves, though, are the ones that hit the hardest once the tasting begins, the malts and raisins rowing ashore bedecked in full ninja regalia. This covert crew and their more ostentatious front-line compatriots sit somewhat heavily on the tongue, almost languishing there, but are saved by the grace of a very smooth texture, keeping them from malingering in Limbo with Virgil and his cohorts, but not raising them too far up the purgatorial mountain.

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Photo of Jason
3.44/5  rDev -6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer certainly has some chill haze problems, the head was not much better either. Smelled of rum, caramel, raisins, solvent alcohol and some other odd fruit.

The taste was the same with more of an expressive solvent alcohol that bordered on a rubbing alcohol flavour. Syrupy and slick with sweet malty and alcohol flavours, a bit softer and more palatable than in the bottle.

Not too bad, you just have to remember that it is 8.0% abv and not to suck it down like any other beer that is on-tap.

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Photo of russpowell
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours ruby red to chestnut with a 3 fingers+ sand/pink colored head in my La Chouffe wine goblet style glass. Good lacing & minimal head retention

Smell: Some barely discernable slighlty musty & leather notes

Taste:Malty caramel notes folowwed by choclate, leather & yeasty flavors Finishes with fruitty wine-like notes & dryness

MF: A little thin for the the style, but very good carbonation

Drinks easy for the strength, dut doesn't quite pull together for me

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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.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Beer was presented in a pint glass, dark brown in color, small off white head that dissipates quickly, leaving a ring of white around the beer. Not much lacing.

S: Very sweet and sugary. The grape aroma is obvious.

T: Dominated by grapes and the malt bill. There is a sugary/sweetness to the flavor profile as well. A little bit of hops and a hint of alcohol.

M: Medium bodied, not a lot of carbonation, but slick and sweet.

O: Not my favorite, overly grapey and sweet. Glad there are plenty of other DFH brews I can get instead.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 8/13/10 notes. Had on tap at the Iron Horse in DC.

a - pours a dark brown color with light carbonation evident and one inch of tan heAd

s - Smells of dark fruits, especially dates, prunes, and raisons, fruity malts, grapes, sugar, and alcohol.

t - Tastes of dark fruits, primarily dates, fruity malts, licorice, alcohol, and caramel malts.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - An ok dark ale, but wasn't the biggest fan of the taste. Probably wouldn't seek out again.

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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.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.04/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Anytime I see the huge Dogfish Head tap handle, I have to try it. This beer was an inviting amber brown, complemented by a decent white head. The first thing in the aroma that stood out was the fruit aroma (apples and raisins) along with some traces of mellow spice. The taste is the texture of a fine spiced rum, and there are also hints of the flavor in the brew. Very complex, yet utterly enjoyable, and refreshing. The high ABV of course gives the flavor a little bite, and there is also some candi sugar thrown in here for more sweetness. Alot of malt makes this a treat, along with a good medium body and a somewhat chewy texture. Drinkability is good, but it would be better if this weren't so drinkable with 8% abv one is enough. Not quite over the top like some of the Dogfish Head beers, but not a disappointment by any means. I did enjoy her.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.94/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark and clear brown with ruby tones. Head is crème colored. Nose is basically nothing. I know I should be getting some raisin there, but I am not getting anything. Flavor is smooth raisins that are not overly powerful. Firm malty tones with what seems like mild hop character. Feel is very smooth on the liquid and with a pretty smooth bubble. Definitely drinkable. Smooth and even, it could easily be a session brew if the sweet tones don't bother you.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.11/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer is auburn hued. Autumnal colors of ruby, crimson, russet. Small off white head that fades pretty quickly to a thin, wispy layer atop the beer. The aroma offers sweet malt, toffee, raisins, brown sugar, clove, a touch of holiday spice. Really sweet throughout. Bitter kick in the finish. Sweet raisins soaked in the booze. Fun to try, but best in small quantities. Too sweet. I don't consider this in the Belgian style at all. Where is the yeast and bread character that is so appreciated and associated with a Belgian strong dark ale? I appreciate the fact that Sam brews interesting beers, but I won't return to this one.

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Photo of jwc215
3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottled on 04/19/07. Poured into a tulip glass.

Pours mahogany with a one-finger head that descends to a very thin cover.

The smell is of sugar candy, raisins, rum and caramel under a blanket of alcohol.

The taste is of sugar candy, bubblegum, a touch of raisins, and caramel. Raw alcohol partially covers the taste - unfortunate, as it is close to rubbing alcohol - more noticeable than even the abv level should have. Borders on too sweet. There are some fruity hops, but rather muted. Something of a flatness in the finish.

Thinner than expected, but that is not my main complaint about the feel - it's more that the flavors (outside of some alcohol) are quite fleeting and leave a "flat" feeling in the mouth (though the beer was by no means flat).

An "interesting" brew that doesn't live up to the hype. Nothing particularly special, other than unusual combo of flavors. Skeptical that mellowing by aging it would help, as it doesn't seem to be worth it, IMO. One of those to try once to have, I suppose, and certainly a slow "sipper".

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.73/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Small head, deep garnet color. Soft aroma, very subtle. "Brewed with Belgian beet sugars, green raisins, and a sense of purpose."
Taste this beer and happiness follows! This is beautiful and unique!
Low carbonation, high hops, little malt that I can detect, but just the right amount of sweetness, and an utterly original flavor. This is a special occasion beer, for when you need a special reward.Light texture, soft and sweet, it's the flavor that makes this a standout brew.
Time and again, I turn folks on to incredible beer like this and they are amazed that there's great beer coming out of Kalamazoo or Pennsylvania or Delaware. Proof again that "you can search the world over and never find a better beer" than those made by craft brewers here in the U.S.A.

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Photo of tdm168
3.31/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich reddish amber with one finger of head that quickly dissipates to a thin lacing. There are carbonation bubbles rising to the top. Smell is sweet with the beet sugar coming through quite pungently; there is a slight yeastiness to it as well. Taste is rich and sweet. The beet sugar dominates here, I can't really detect the green raisins over the beets' sweetness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied but highly carbonated with bubbles breaking across the palate.

Overall, it's a nice change of pace from your typical Belgian beer, but DFH has better to offer.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.4/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

It's been a long road. It's time to revist this beer from such a long time ago. Dated October 28th 2011, poured into an official Dogfish Head Raison D'etre goblet. Loved this so much back in the day I bought the glasses for it.

Not much head produced barley a finger through a center punch, what is there is a faint caramel/tan that falls and leaves a good collar and slight puck. What a gorgeous body color this is though, red amber and clear with these brown edges. It really looks like a ruby.

Nose is slighty raisin, but it smells like baked fresh fruitcake. Cherries, carmalized sugars, fresh baked bread. Topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Real impressive.

I am going to knock my taste and mouthfeel score down slightly here. Slightly wetter palate than most Belgian Strong Dark Ales, but misses the viscosity angle. Bready tasty action in the fore front, but not much of the sweetness or fruit character comes through. Finish is a little citrus like, with a little carbonation prickly sting and raisin, it's still quite neat as I remember it.

Overal I still really like this, I think my enthusiasm for this beer though has gone down having tried more of this style from other producers in Belgium. However, I still really enjoy it, strangely I use to be able to get it more often but I rarely see it around as much. Too bad.

Old Review (Feb 6th 2010)

Hands down my go to beer, Raison D'etre is a perfectly bodied, complicated aroma of raisin and somewhat dark bread bouquet. Has a thick mouthfeel and has a wonderful lingering finish as well.

Had on tap and in bottles and both manage to be downright refreshing when well.

I say well, because the beer does have a SHORT shelf life and it's very easy to get a bad one, or have one from a tap that has been sitting too long. When you do, it becomes extremely sour tasting and the bouquet is dead.

Even still I absolutely love this beer. (4,4,5,4.5,4.5)

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

Served on draft from the Dogfish head pub in Gaithersburg, MD. Beer is clear, dark red, thin fine head rests on top, low carbonation. Sweet odd flavor, almost some smoke in the aftertaste, there is a second aftertaste that is better than the frist. Almost no aroma, some sweetness. Flavor is weak. I'm not really impressed. Mouthfeel is fine, full beer. Not sure this is one of my favorites from DFH.

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Photo of Billolick
4.29/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ouncer sampled, freshenss dating notched on to the label. Pours clear, almond amber, with a tad of egg shell colored head, limited lacing. nose is alcohol, raisins, rum and candi sugars. Strong flavorful brew, notes of alcohol, figs, rum soaked raisins, apricots. Complex, heady creation. Wrap your tongue around some of this stuff.

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Photo of WoodBrew
2.49/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

I am not a fan of the Raison d'Etre, I should also point out that I am not a fan of Belgium Strong Ales, so please accept my review as more of a personal opinion than as an afficionado of Belgium Strong beers. The appearance is a slightly hazy light brown with a one finger tan head. Some lacing left on the glass. Smell includes alcohol, coffee, fruit, mostly raisins.
Taste includes alcohol, heavy malt, sweet dark fruit. Mouthfeel is tough...lots of alcohol and much flavor to try and mask it. To me the balance is a bit off. Overall I am glad I tried it but I am not a fan.

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

Poured on-tap into a tulip, the beer is an auburn-brown color with a thin layer of off-white head. There are aromas of grape sweetness, with a sweet malt highlight. Very rich on the nose. The beer's flavor is strong, with a merlot character, and a tangy, sour fruit undertone. The aftertaste is minimal, with a bit of the fruit sweetness again. The finish is dry, and it keeps the flavors from being overpowering or cloying. Deep, dark, and heavy flavors make this one a sipper. Unique and interesting beer.

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

06/13/05- Received via trade with Connecticutpoet and Steinlifter.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with a born on date of October 2005. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Brandy colored pour with a 1/2 inch head and average lacing.

Smell- Serious malt scents as well as some raisins and alcohol.

Taste- Heavy malt with some brown sugar thrown in. Figs and raisins abound along with a heavy tobacco leaf flavor.

Mouthfeel- Started off very carbonated, but ended on a light note.

Drinkability- Tasty brew, original taste for me with the tobacco leaf added in. I've had many better dark ales, but this one isn't bad at all. Thanks for the sample guys!

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured in to a Duvel tulip

A - A nice dark brown with a hint of amber. Barely translucent. One finger of white foamy head formed and slowly dissipated.

S - Sweet roasted malts dominate the nose. The sweetness is brown sugar and caramel. No nose of raisins at all.

T - A lot of sweetness up front with a good malt base. The sweetness tastes of brown sugar with some molasses. Some dark fruit in the background as well. Complex.

M - Medium body with the slightest chew. A little more carbonation than I like.

D - This is a good beer - different and interesting with a somewhat complex palate. I would buy this again but I won't seek it out.

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Photo of WesWes
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a hazy redish color with a lacey white head. The aroma is quite plain. There is a bit of malt scent and a little belgian yeast aroma. The taste is excellent. It is sweet and a bit tart. It has a nice malt flavor and raisin taste. This is a good beer no doubt. The mouthfeel is good. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This beer is an awesome drinker. Another great beer from Dogfish Head.

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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.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 1,774 ratings.
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