Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
Liked This Beer
3.65 w/ 4,301 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,301 |  Reviews: 1,773
Photo of itcomesnpints
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured a deep mahogany, dark ruby color with fine tan lacing. Wonderful aroma of prunes and molasses. Taste is of malty raisins, that is enjoyably unique, but just a little bit too sweet for my taste. The mouthfeel works fine with what little carbonation is present. This is a special beer that I will revisit, but not too frequently due to its sweetness. In the end, you need to at least give this solid brew a go. I have yet to be wronged by Dogfish Head.

 457 characters

Photo of spartanfan
3.04/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a bright, clear, bronze color with a fluffy white head, that really wants to stick around.

S: This beer has a very complex aroma as it warms. I smell dark chocolate, cinnamon, Belgian sugars.

T: Taste is not as sweet as I was expecting. It does have that taste of Belgian sugar, Somewhat bitter finish tastes of raisins.

M: The mouthfeel is meduim to full and leaves a mouth-coating residue behind.

D: I can't put my finger on the exact taste, but something about the lingering aftertaste of this beer is not to my liking. I don't think I'd have another.

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Photo of kpoole25
2.35/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I didn't care for this beer, and I like most of what DFH makes. I only drank about 6 oz before pouring the rest out. I'd say this is the first beer where I really tasted the alcohol, and it wasn't the warm, sweet kind, it was the medicine cabinet type. The appearance was fine, a nice dark brown. Aromas had a little zing, almost tangy, I was thinking this might be a bit sour. Then the taste, initally sugary sweet that turned just gross. Pass on this one.

 457 characters

Photo of livewire05
2.96/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep mahogany color (not surprising given the bottle's label) but still somewhat clear, small amount of head that dissipated rather quickly. A few small bubbles rising up from the bottom.

S: Sweet, almost fruity. There's not much of an aroma there, though.

T: There was no overpowering raisin taste. Rather, it had much more of a general earthy, fruity vibe. A little bitterness and alcohol taste, but neither was overpowering.

M: Medium bodied, good amount of carbonation.

O: Seeing as I'm not a huge fan of raisins, I was pleased to see that this beer wasn't over-the-top raisiny. Still, this struck me as a beer that might be worth trying out as a novelty, but not as something that I would drink on any regular basis. Nor could I see having more than one in a sitting. Not a bad beer, just not really my style.

 821 characters

Photo of MammothBrew
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of awaer
3.36/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of SLOTerp
3.25/5  rDev -11%

Photo of NinjaJesus
3/5  rDev -17.8%

Photo of hellomcfly
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours hazy dark amber with minimal head, about half a finger from an aggressive pour.

S - Raison, brown sugar, faint roasted malt aroma and boozy sweetness.

T - Roasted malt, raison, has sort of a bitter aftertaste but not really a hoppy bitterness.

M - Medium bodied and smooth.

D - Not a overly heavy beer but the 8% abv is obvious and not at all masked.

Had some sweet golden raisins with this. Paired pretty well.

 427 characters

Photo of thirtysixbelow
3.89/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

a - dark reddish brown with a tan head

s - caramel, chocolate, yeast, grapes, alcohol

t - caramel and chocolate again but I think I get some raisins this time. very sweet. alcohol very present.

m - slippery and oily, not incredibly heavy or carbonated

d - this was interesting. As a belgian strong dark ale, it's not something I would compare to a chimay blue. The alcohol is very present and the mouthfeel is a little unappetizing. It is also very sweet to the point of almost unenjoyable. I had this experience with the sam adams double bock, and this beer was running on the thin ice that the sam adams fell through. I can say I had it, but if I want a belgian strong dark ale I'll have a chimay.

 704 characters

Photo of beatlefan56
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of thirdeye11
2.6/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Presentation: Poured from 12oz bottle into a thick 22oz pint-style glass.

A: Pours a deep brown color that has hints of rust and molasses. The beer has a nice 1 1/2 finger almost white head that disappears pretty quickly. Not much lacing in this one. The beer is also completely clear which for me Belgians should not be. No yeasty floaters either, also a detractor for me personally.

S: Smells like roasted malt, caramel, and molasses on the back. These are all very prominent. Verging on burnt toast smells in some cases. Fairly complex nose, but not necessarily in a great way. This may be the best aspect of the beer though.

T & M: Not EXACTLY what I expected from the nose, but close. The roasty malts are so in your face and dominate the flavor profile almost completely. There is some caramel and molasses sweetness, but without any real weight to them. Taste doesn't match the mouthfeel as it feels like it should be thicker in body. Doesn't really coat my mouth as I'd like. No creaminess either which is a huge detractor in this heavy on flavor beer. Not complex either which most Belgians are.

D: I felt myself wanting to drink this less and less as it warmed up which is converse to almost every Belgian beer I've ever had. I couldn't finish but about 60% of it. I have 4 left at home too so they will probably be drank over time.

Not a good example of a Belgian at all, and this beer says it is brewed with green raisins but I don't taste it at all. Unbalanced, hard to drink, and not recommended unless you just like to try "new" things. For that reason you may want to check it out. It's unlike anything I've had to date.

 1,641 characters

Photo of sludgy
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of TVolt1
3.23/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Beautiful dark amber color, clear as day.

S: Very intreging smell. I am not a fan of brown ales but when I give it a chance and think about it style-wise, the smell is actually quite good. I wish I could pin-point a distinct smell but I cannot. I want to say raisin but that's not what is a familiar smell to me. This leaves me quite bewildered.

T: I do actually taste the raisin but it's not a taste I prefer. Unfortunately, i can't get over the fact that this style of beer is my least favorite. Even so, if I put that iside, this beer doesn't do a whole lot for me. I am a huge fan of Dogfishhead Brewery and Sam G. but I still can't say I love this beer. The inital taste of the beer is ok and it isn't until it sits on your tongue and I experiance the finish that I realize I do not like this beer. Overly malty, too sweet, and that dang familiar taste that i cannot pinpoint leaves a terrible finish.

M: Mouthfeel is good. Medium mouthfeel, good carbonation, and moves throughout the pallete smoothly.

O: Not an overall terrible beer. If I drank this without knowing what it was, I wouldn't sayh it's great, maybe not order another but put it against other brown ales I've had and I may say it's average.

 1,217 characters

Photo of wagner617
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of johnscooper
3.84/5  rDev +5.2%

Photo of HogHill
3.28/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Looks like a brown ale with ruby highlights. A one inch head soon faded to lace around my stone ipa glass. Aroma was not very strong, some sweetness, like toffee. This tasted of caramel malt and had some raisin flavor too. Slightly syrupy, and moderately carbonated. Like a poor man's Ommegang. Overall, I wasn't very impressed with Raison d'Etre in relation to the other great Dogfish brews I've enjoyed through the years, but it is still a lot better than most beers out there, but for this style, feh.

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Photo of JMD71
4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured a deep brown, date-like color. No apparent head. Carbonation visible on sides of the glass.

Smell: Earthy, malty, fruity smell with traces of dates, prunes, figs & raisins. Slight mild alcohol aroma detected.

Taste: Wow! This has a deep, rich flavor that is wonderfully sweet, but not overly so. Tons of fruit on the palate - again raisins, dates, & figs. Alcohol apparent in the finish. Very little hop flavor detected.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth in the mouth. Full bodied & rich, but not cloying. Finished clean once swallowed.

Drinkability: This is a wonderful sipping Belgian Strong Dark Ale. A good beer as an apertif perhaps or to accompany a dessert possibly. Not something you'd have more than one of in a sitting due to its rich, strong flavor, but wonderful to enjoy as an occasional selection.

Comments: I thoroughly enjoyed this ale. Really wonderful aroma & flavor. Excellent beer for those times you are looking for something to sip slowly rather than for thirst quenching. The care that went into the presentation of aroma & flavor deserves to be savored....

 1,103 characters

Photo of bgjohnston
3.98/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

If you are looking for a review of this beer in terms of whether it is true to the style under which it is classified in BA, feel free to disregard this review. I have bought this beer a number of times, and my comments are about a beer I find to be tasty and enjoyable, rather than how it deviates from Belgian ales such as Chimay Blue Label. It would be very difficult for me to write that type of a review, as I don't really perceive this beer to be similar at all.

This beer poured a medium, clear amber color, with good carbonation and a creamy white head. The smell does not give you much of a clue as to what to expect. Once I took a sip, I get the impression of a beer that is not very hoppy, but rather hints more of fruit such as raisins or cherries. That said, it is not strongly sweet, but does have a hint of alcohol heat behind the fruit.

I find the different flavors to be harmonious and to balance each other out, and could happily drink more than the 2 I limit myself to on any single evening, due to the substantial ABV. If not for the alcohol level of this brew, I would call it an excellent daily beer, and enjoy it frequently on a weeknight after the kids are in bed.

 1,190 characters

Photo of TheDTrain
3.71/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another interesting creation from Dogfish Head. This is beefy for a medium body strong dark ale. A hazy dark mahogany color filled the glass. The nose is decent with tones of caramel, sugar, raisins, and malts. The alcohol kicks you in the tastebuds! Complex mix of alcohol, malts, and fruits.

This one gets better as I sip. D train likes the complexity of this strong ale. And of course the 8% abv doesn't hurt.

 414 characters

Photo of gaffm
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of littlebibs
4.6/5  rDev +26%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

a nice red brown concoction with a slight head from a brewery
that I'm looking at more and more for their quality and imagination.
Raison D'etere is a rare exception ale, tastey, fruity, slightly metallic and bready. Not for everybodies tastes but if you like to
seek out different ale start here! This crisp and most unusal beer has an
alcohol content that will sneak up on you but it doesn't get in
the way of how delicious and truly unique the taste is. More
surprises from the great beer brewers at Dogfish.

 517 characters

Photo of zhumphrey
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of gkob
2.5/5  rDev -31.5%

Photo of dlepeau
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 51.7% out of 100 with 4,301 ratings
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