Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
Liked This Beer
3.65 w/ 4,300 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: 4,300 |  Reviews: 1,773
Photo of JK4Stout
4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured this 8% beauty into a "snifter" (tiny glass used to accentuate smells. You can really pick up on some chocolate notes, along with a heavy cake kind of grain scent. Very pleasing, makes one automatically think this will be sweet as all get out. A very good quality belgian aroma. Didn't pick up much from the raisin though.
Taste delivers that very thick flavor that one would want from this style of ale. A very heavy malt flavor, with only a slight hop note.
Bought this from Vintage Cellar in VA for a mere 2.15 a bottle.
A beer one would only need one of to enjoy. Not anything I would pound out with the buddys or anything.

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Photo of elvisnj
4.36/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into my Duvel Tulip chalice.

Slow pour with not alot of head. Incredible color. Just beautiful dark ruby. The sun shined through it and it almost looks like a red wine. It made for an exciting start.

Smell is clearly Belgian yeast but with american malty nose. Its a good mix. I think they must use crystal malts.

Taste is right along with the nose. Its got raisins and full malt flavor. Plum and cherrys. Its also got a medium hop hit with a clean finish. Slight phenol warmth as well.

I like it alot. I am sorry I only had a single 12oz. I could have easily had another. 2 thumbs up to Dogfish for this one.

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Photo of FickleBeast
3.43/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Pours ruby copper in color with one finger of foam. Head dissipates without lacing. Aroma is boozy plum and some caramel sweetness.

Taste is sweet with alcohol overtones followed by an astringent bite.fairly thin bodied, the alcohol certainly pokes through. Not supremely drinkable but an interesting beer to say the least.

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Photo of Brynn
3.61/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful color when poured, a wonderful garnet--it immediately filled my room with the scent of delicious beer.

Smell was very interesting; very similar to an Irish Red, but with a hint of something cold and quiet behind it all. The flavor itself mimics the smell, not overpowering, but present and unique. Pleasantly made a path down to the stomach, leaving a nice glow behind. I can't really taste the raisins, but it's more of a feel of raisins than an actual flavor.

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Photo of Eldalonde
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a nice deep amber color. The aroma is sweet and contains a nice head. The flavor is a little complex with it tasting rather sweet throughout and the raisins coming in nicely in the end. Another fine brew from the Dogfish Head Brewery.

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Photo of KrisPaulk77
3.7/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured this into my Chimay chalice.
The beer poured a deep, pretty garnet color with a quarter of an inch head of tan foam. The foam receded after a few moments down to a minimal cap of foam. Minimal lacing noted throughout.
The aroma was pleasant, with sugared fruits, raisins, and sweet malts. No discenrnable hop presence noted.
The flavor mimiced the aroma closely, with a rich malt backbone, flavored with raisins, caramel, light spices, and light brown sugar with a nice balance from the hops.
The feel of the beer was medium, with good carbonation. The alcohol warms, but was well hidden.
Overall, an enjoyable draught from DFH. I couldn't see myself drinking more than one or two of these in a stretch, but as an occasional treat, most definitely. I saved two of these from my sixer to age and try later.

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Photo of caddybuyer
3.7/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A-Utterly beautiful. Warm garnet with filtered clarity. A puffy, creamy eggshell head that laces nicely. This is how I like my beer to look.

S-Rather subdued nose. Yeast hits first, and maybe I'm detecting a bit of fruit in the background, but the yeast is overwhelming.

T-Sweet caramel malts blend with the Belgian yeast and are carried across the palate in a creamy smooth way with a hint of dark fruits and yes, raisin in the back end before a light balancing hop note kicks in. This is very nice. I am not detecting any alcohol burn in this at all.

M-Smooth, creamy, and on the heavier side of medium. Carbonation is light, but that is not a bad thing.

D-I very much like this beer. It is extremely well balanced, notwithstanding the unimpressive nose. I wonder about the consistancy, though, as reviews of this are all over the board. Barleywineish? Hoppy? Not at all...just a smooth creamy DFH take on Belgian goodness.

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Photo of Sam21
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle with "bottled on" 12/04/09. Into snifter.

Appearance - Deep mahogany with a quickly receding tan head. Minimal lacing.

Smell - Dark malts, nice roasted notes, and some sweetness that I can't really explain. Maybe from the raisins? It's like a dry sweetness. Also picking up some toffee and a hint of cinnamon. Definitely the weak point of the beer. Not a big overall aroma, but still good.

Taste - Roasted flavors mixed with some dark fruits, and a nice dry roasted (almost woody) finish. The flavor has a nice balance to it in that the sweetness is not overpowering and is kept in check by the dryness. Alcohol is hidden very well.

Mouth Feel - Medium/Full bodied with smooth carbonation. Really pleasant going down. Gets a tiny bit syrupy as the beer warms and the carbonation comes out of the beer.

Drinkability - Very easy to drink dark ale with alcohol that is hard to detect. Dogfish describes this beer as a "Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins, and Belgian-style yeast." I'd have to say they hit their mark. Malt heavy brown ale with roasted flavors that mix really well with the caramel/toffee/dark fruits sweetness. Dry feel pulls it all together. Definitely recommend checking it out.

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Photo of righthereisay
4.03/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was at the 6 pack shop for a good 15 minutes trying to find a good Stout that would go good with the cooler May weather and Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Round 2 NHL game.

I looked outside and saw my kid jumping up and down, I knew I was taking too long. So I grabbed 2 of these even though they were not stouts, because of the description on the bottle.

although there was minimal lacing, it poured nice.

The smell wasn't that great. Nothing bad, nothing good.

I couldn't taste any alcohol, and there was plenty of body. I was very surprised, as I was concerned it would be bitter like a lot of the other Dogfish beers. Nice and smooth, dark, but a nice body and full flavored. Not perfect, but I think Dogfish could build upon this beer.

This is a god seasonable beer. I would recommend it at fall or early spring.

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Photo of scottyb88
3.3/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled March 2010

A-pours a medium brown color with a small head that disappears quickly

S-some raisins, malt

T-similar to the smell with a little more dark plum type flavor; don't notice much on the beligan side of things

M-decent, but not as nice as other belgian dark ales

D-eh kind of a disappointing brew from DFH; nothing about it really wowed me, i hate raisins so the idea of brewing beer with it turns me off. at no time when i was drinking this did I think of a Belgian dark ale, they didn't conform to the typical characteristics and got too far off the path with this one

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Photo of kshankar
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this into my Chimay goblet. Closest thing I have to a tulip.

It pours mahogany as the bottle says, with a tan head and minimal lacing.

Aroma is malty with dark fruits

Taste is of the dark fruits (particularly raisins) and a malty backbone.

Mouthfeel is medium and drinkability is good. Not really my type of beer, but for the style, its definitely one of the better ones.

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Photo of DoppleJock
3.61/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into Unibroue tulip glass.

A: Poured a deep amber with 2 inches of foamy caramel head. Lots of carbonation pitting and good lacing along the sides of the glass. Good head retention.

S: Some dark fruits and sugary malts. Couldn't find much else...

T: Started out with dark roasted malts. Mildly peppery. Semi-sweet. Was expecting a lot more out of a Belgian strong dark ale....

M: Medium-bodied. Alcohol hidden well.

D: A decent beer but not top on my list for Belgian SDA's. Poured it at room temperature but the complexity didn't develop over the life of the glass. Left something to be desired...

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Photo of CBlack85
2.48/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a New Belgium globe glass.

Pours a clear dark mahogany with a more reddish than copper hue. Not much head, even with a fairly aggressive pour. Beer seems very still, and leaves no lacing.

The aroma is of dark fruit and seems overly sweet. The belgian yeast is the only thing that seems pleasing to the nose.

The taste is not much better than the nose. There is something off putting about the raisins (really more like prunes). The alcohol is hot and rubbing alcoholesque. Although its not all bad, there are notes of caramel, toffee, and candy sugar. Finishes dry, and is medium bodied and under carbinated.

The beer seems to get much better as it warms, the alcohol seems to mellow a bit and the off putting raisin/prune seem to meld with the rest of the flavors. Unfortunately they don't meld enough to save this beer for me. I really wanted to like this beer, but it didn't quite get there for me.

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Photo of mavbrew
3.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy reddish copper with a finger thick head with nice lacing down the side of my Dogfish snifter.

S: Roasted malts, alcohol and a sweet note is present.

T: Alcohol and the sweetness of a brown sugar/molasses flavor are prominent.

M: Medium bodied with some nice carbonation.

D: Very smooth and easy for 8%, has good flavor...another solid brew from the great Dogfish Head.

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Photo of milesfan76
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the label "A deep mahogany ale brewed with Belgian beer sugars, green raisins, and a sense of purpose." OK. Poured into a pint glass.

A: A translucent reddish-brown, off-white one-finger head that doesn't last very long.

S: Smells sweet. Brown sugar and caramel.

T: Raisins and brown sugar up front, touch of caramel in the back. Hardly any alcohol in the taste (not surprising, considering how well the D'Extra hid its way higher ABV). Pushes the limits of sweetness.

M: Somewhat light. Carbonation ok.

D: I could drink more than one, but after a while I'd get tired of the sweetness.

Not as good as the D'Extra, but I always had to go out of state for that one due to Ohio's cap, and now, alas, it's on hiatus, so this will have to do.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.48/5  rDev -4.7%
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 Pdiddey3d
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Very nice mahogany hue, as the label claims, small 1 finger head that doesn't stick around long. Minimal lacing.

S: Not much here when the beer is cold. Some raisins, alcohol, small about of malt presence. But as the beer warms and opens up a bit the sweetness of the raisins really pops, almost like a warm piece of cinnamon raisin bread, and there is a nice hop aroma there as well.

T: Up front the sweetness of the malts is the dominant flavor accompanied by some nice sweet undertones of raisin. Alcohol is detectable here as well. Finishes with some citrus bitterness that lingers on the palate.

M: thick and pretty smooth. The bitter finish defiantly drys out the palate a bit.

D: In my opinion this is not a very sessionable beer, but enjoyable non the less. I am a huge fan of Dogfish and what they bring to my glass, another solid offering from one of my favorite brewers.

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Photo of Imsothirsty
3.71/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color is definitely mahogany like it says on the bottle, leaves thin lacing and a very low tan head, barely enough to be called head.

Smell is malts, a little brown sugar.

Taste is ok and malty. As it warms I get some dark fruit flavors, but mostly brown sugar malt and a little molasses flavor.

Mouthfeel is good, not real heavy, nice carbonation, a little slick on the roof of my mouth buy with a fast finish.

An easily drinkable beer reminds me of sweet dark germans, but not a whole lot of character on its own. I would drink it again if it was free but I won't seek it out again.

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Photo of chaz01
4.35/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle served in a Belgian fishbowl glass.

A: Hazy light brown color with a nice head the recedes slowly to a collar around the glass.

S: Dark fruits like figs and raisins mixed with some earthy malt tones.

T: A little sweet honey initially, followed by more raisins and dark figs with a bitter orangey malty backbone.

M: Medium to full bodied with a bit of a thick syrupy mouthfeel. Nice lingering bitter orange finish.

D: Sam says he made this beer to answer the question "What beer would go best with a wood-grilled steak", and I'd have to agree. But enough flavor to have on it's own and not high enough in alcohol to prevent a second glass. One of my favorite go-to beers.

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Photo of beersheppard
3.7/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: mahogany, as the sis pack holder says, fades to a rust red in the light.

Smell: malt, Belgian yeast, sour cherries.

Taste: malt, Belgian yeast, sour cherries, raisins, some bitterness rounded out by the sugars, ends with a slight boozy burn.

Mouthfeel: substantial, coating, tingle from the ABV.

Drinkability: this is a decent beer. Probably not the best BSDA, but tasty none the less. think the people upset with this beer just hold DFH to a higher standard and understandably, couldn't help being upset. I would get it again, not in a rush, but I would.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.73/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pilsner glass.

A: Beautiful colour. The label claims mahogany, and so it is until held up to light where it assumes a ruddy hue. Light head that dissipates quickly, few bubbles and no lacing.

S: Strangely, it smells of coffee. Also sugars and maybe a trace of alcohol.

T: Bitter, fruity, and somewhat alcoholic. Coffee makes an appearance, but is subsumed by alcohol-soaked raisin (surprise, surprise) and sweet malt. Bitterness and coffee notes fade with time as fruit rises to the forefront. The aftertaste is mild and fades away a bit too quickly.

M: Very good. Sweet fruits dance over the tongue without being oppressive, due mayhap to light carbonation.

D: Solid. A little sweet and a little strong too have more than one, but I definitely enjoyed it. Word on the street is that it's being discontinued, so I urge you to grab some while you can!

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Photo of OlRasputin989
4.24/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into New Belgium snifter...

A: as the label suggests, this is a deep mahogany ale, with a tan 1 finger head leaving arched lacing.

S: ooooh delicious! one of the best smelling beers i have come across! you can smell the candy like belgian beet sugars, the sweet green raisins, and a hint of earthy orangey hops

T: not as sweet as the nose led me to believe. caramel sugary sweetness, green raisins, dusty orange and orange peel hop flavors, banana, and bready flavors from the belgian yeast. finishes with bitter taste of ripe fruits, pumpernickel bread, and a touch of alcohol.

M: thick, oily and full bodied. becoming sappy and dry with some alcohol warmth.

Overall, a well rounded beer, but the aroma is what really shines through. this beer would be wonderful with desert or as a spring afternoon refreshment.

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Photo of biglite351
2.69/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - looks like a dark lager color. Heading towards brownish. Decent thick head.

S - original scent hit me badly. But I do not know why. After that it was a rather normal beer smell to Mr but with a little fruit.

T - very bland but with some fruit. Mild bitter after taste.

M - coats the mouth well. Very mild tingle on sides of front of tongue.

D - if it was at a party I would drink it, nut I would not buy it again.

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Photo of Spider889
3.52/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I first had this beer a year ago and loved it at the time. "Raison D'Etre" being a play on words between the raisin ingrediants and the French, meaning; "reason to be."

The beer smells of sour fruit, muted brown sugar, and mild hops.

The taste is a little all over the place. In some sips I get the flavor of sour grapes and bitter white raisins along with brown sugar and mild alcohol warmth. Other sips are more alcohol foreward and unripened fruit-bitter. Hops are present but muted by unbalanced malt and the alcohol.

The beer is very carbonated, going in tune with the Belgian style I guess. It finishes very bitter and dry on the palate.

I still enjoy this brew, but it's not as good as I remembered it. Now I find myself wishing I had just bought 90 min IPA instead.

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Photo of Kinsman
3.49/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass

A dark mahogany colored ale with red highlights capped by a thin ecru head. Quite bubbly along the walls of the glass.

Sweet and a bit fruity on the nose. Most notable would be raisins and brown sugar. Some of the malt makes its way through with hints of caramel.

Not your typical BSDA on the palate, but not in a bad way. I'm thinking of a medley of fruits on the tongue, like apples and grapes. Belgian yeast seems to be hidden on this, probably covered up by the flavors of the malt.

Pleasant mouthfeel, but a little too carbonated it seems. Overall a decent beer but comes across as being a bit to sweet for me.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 51.7% out of 100 with 4,300 ratings
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