Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
4,304 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:
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Ratings: 4,304 |  Reviews: 1,774
Photo of HansBlix
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a pint Glass

Appearance - This beer yielded a two finger head that dissipated to a 1/2 finger head with a respectable amount of lacing. Minimal carbonation. The color was an amber, almost red color that got some attention from the people around me.

Smell - Roasted Malt is on the top of the list followed by fruit (raisins were detectable), carmel, and an undetermined spice,
with hints of alcohol.

Taste - Malt is the backbone of this brew. Hints of dried fruit and alcohol soon followed. Had a "dark" quality to the taste that I enjoyed very much and the hints of dried fruit complemented this very well. The alcohol did come through on this a little bit, but for me was invited and almost expected from initial pour. At 8% they did well.

Mouthfeel - I enjoyed this aspect very much. It was almost thick, to be honest, for this beer, it was perfect, not to thin, yet not to thick. Light to medium carbonation, all in all, perfect for this brew.

Drinkability - I personally could drink this all day. Someone who I was with said that it was "too dark" to which I promptly replied "you are a pussy". Not everyone's cup of tea, but it sure was mine. I want another now thinking of it.

I enjoyed this beverage very much and to date is one of my favorites from DFH (thought I havent had many). There isn't too much they could improve with this beer, in a good way. If you like a strong, dark ale thats on the untraditional side, I would defiantly recommend this.

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Photo of Reaper16
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle served into a tulip

Pours a burnt amber (nearly red) with perfect, translucent clarity. The white head was pretty freaking huge at first before dying down to a 1/2 finger ring after three minutes or so.

Brown sugar dominates the nose at first before giving way to raisins. Not the generic sort of dark fruit smell that you get in so many beers, but very specifically raisins. I get a quick whiff of port wine on occasion that I wish would come up more prominently to break up all of the sweetness.

A very interesting malt bomb... unlike any particular beer I've had before. Coffee, which I didn't get in the aroma, sort of blasts my palate on the front end. Raisins follow too, along with some fig. But the dark fruits don't make this a fruity beer by any means. Malty finish, and surprisingly dry at that. Kind of like tobacco. This is my kind of brown ale.

Mouthfeel seems fine. its in that medium body range that carries the flavors well without making itself noticeable. Myself, I'm not one to session brown ales (I know this is slotted as a BSDA but this is pretty damn Brown Ale-y to me. In fact, I'm rating this AS a brown ale) so the drinkability is just ok to me. I can see someone inhaling half a six pack though.

Yet another superbly crafted beer from Dogfish Head. This one isn't exactly exciting or anything, its just very well executed. If you like easy-drinking malt bombs, then this is a fine choice.

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Photo of Tromba
3.62/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an imperial pint glass.

A: Pours a beautiful deep red/brown - great clarity. White head dissipates quickly, and only leaves a slight ring. No lacing.

S: Roasted malts, a little bit of raisin.

T: Complex. Got better as I went. At first, alcohol flavor was very apparent as well as a slight iron-like flavor. It was not plesant. But after a few sips, those elements faded almost totally away to reveal a rich chewy maltiness, balanced by a subtle hop bitterness. The raisins come through, but very much in the background.

M: Medium to medium-heavy body. Not as thick or dense as I thought it might be. Finish leaves a bit on your palate - a little syrupy.

D: At 8%, watch out. As you go it gets easier to drink, but foght the urge and drink slowly! Overall, a good beer.

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Photo of carolinabeerguy
3.47/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a deep caramel brown with 1/2 finger head. Almost no lacing.

Smell: Bit of caramel mixed with dried fruits.

Taste: Malty flavor with a hint of fruit. Strong hint of alcohol at the finish. Sweet coffee aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with almost a slick, oily texture. Minimal carbonation.

Drinkability: Because of the heavier nature of the beer and the high ABV, I wouldn't want more than 1 or 2 of these.

Overall: I'd rate it as a decent beer but not really representative of the style. If you come across it buy it, but I wouldn't seek it out.

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Photo of jgasparine
3.69/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured a pretty red-brown color, but with almost no head at all... certainly no lacing here... although there were some nice bubble trains working their way up the center of the glass...

S- At first I got nothing off the nose... perhaps the beer was poured too cold... as the beer warmed, it opened-up to reveal sweet notes of malt, raisins, some vinous notes and a touch of unidentifiable spiciness.

T- Definite malt bomb. Sweet brown sugar, caramel malt and yellow raisins dominate the palate. Almost seems a touch mapley at times. Almost cloyingly sweet. Finishes with some alcohol booziness and nary a hint of hops.

M- Slightly oily, almost syrupy. I suppose this compliments the smell and taste quite well. Just the right amount of carbonation rounds out the mouthfeel.

D- Drinkable, yes. Could I have several in a session... probably not... the sweetness would get to me and become too much. I would, however, readily reach for the D'etre when I'm in the mood for something sweet and reasonably priced...

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Photo of skrib09
3.91/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured a rich looking mahogany brown. tan head that faded rather quickly.

smells of sweetness up front. caramel, raisins, brown sugar, rum.

taste is a bit tart up front and sweet in the back. raisin flavors, hints of port wine, and sweet rum.

carbonated mouthfeel, smooth and crisp. refreshing brew, overall very light. no astringency.

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Photo of LordAdmNelson
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- A nice dark raison brown-purple. Appropriate. Half-inch tan head that laces and retains well.

S- A rich aroma that's heavier on the malts than the raison. A refreshing change form the d'extra. Roasted malt, some alcohol, and some dark fruit (raison?).

T- Toasted malt with some caramel and lingering dark fruit in the background. Slight metallic twinge. Not bad, but not really that Belgian to me--it's missing the clove/spice notes that normally come with BSDAs. Not bad, though... I like it more than most from DFH.

M- Smooth and creamy with a dry finish. Good stuff here.

D- ABV holds it back, but definitely an enjoyable and interesting brew.

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Photo of adamette
3.87/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Live review. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my Samuel Smith pint glass. Purchased for $1.89 at Cost Plus World Market last week.

A Dark copper but translucent body under a one inch light brown head. Fine look.

S Dark Fruits, medium malt and no perceptible hops. 4.0

T Dark fruits and medium roast malt dominate. I realize that raisins were used in the brewing process but the taste comes across more like a Date (the fruit). Good taste.

M Full with big tastes, also a nice thick syrupy quality that allows it to linger a minute or two (a welcome effect).

D Fairly good but this is a big beer with a reasonably high ABV. It means that I would only drink one or two of them.

Notes: Taste reminds me of a Dopplebock.

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Photo of CHADMC3
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep mahogany with ruby hues and an off white bubbly head that hangs around a while before dissipating and leaving a thin sticky lacing in its wake.

Aromas of brown sugar, faint raisins, other faint dark fruits, yeast, and caramel malt are most noticeable. There is also a very slight roastiness present.

Nice sweet palate, again brown sugar, and caramel malt, sweet nuts, and again faint raisins. There are also some vanilla/milk chocolate flavors as the beer warms.

Medium body with medium carbonation, very sweet, yet diverse palate.

Not sure what to make of this brew. There's a lot going on in terms of tastes which on one sip I find delightful, and the next slightly off. Certainly not a traditional Belgian Strong Dark (as if DFH brews fall into categories). Certainly worth a try.

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Photo of Rhynes2
3.68/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer reminded me of their Indian Brown Ale. Pours a nice darker color with a decent foam head. Laced a little down the sides but nothing spectacular. To be honest I was also expecting a lot more raison taste to be present. I think it turned out a great brew that is out there and extreme but still well balanced enough for the craft brew drinking population.

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Photo of ujsplace
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Hefewiezen glass...I just had it handy...

A: Burnt amber, not much head, but what is there is creamy whitish with ok lacing...

S: Sweet caramel malt, and woody oak, alcohol and some dark, overipened rasin-like fruits.

T: Caramel malt, rasins, burnt woodsy spice and a strong malt finish. Alchohol is definiely there, but not overdone.

M: Medium, mild carbonation dry alcoholic finish.

D: The abv and warming presence limits this to a nice, warmer, spicy drinking brew that can catch up rather quickly. Overall, another good offering from Dogfish Head...

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Photo of Boofshavik
3.46/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the local HEB, poured into a DFH glass.

Appearance: A nice amber color, pours well into the glass and builds to a decent 1.5 inch head which dissipates over the first minute or so to a central patch on the surface that sticks around a while.

Smell: Some higher alcohols (dark rum, solvent) are immediate in the nose with faint spice and some dark fruit.

Taste: The raisin character is there, along with other dark fruit but it's masked by the heat of the alcohol. The sweetness on the front of the tongue is welcome.

Mouthfeel: Slick but not heavy. Nice prickle of carbonation. Sticks to the tongue nicely as I think the style should.

Drinkability: This beer lets its 8% be known. It's something you'd have one or two of in an evening, but is a little heavy for more serious consumption.

Overall: There is something about Raison d'Etre that has always appealed to me. It was one of the first craft beers that made me think about an adjunct as something not inherently evil. It gets a few extra points for nostalgia and spirit from me (and my bias is noted here!)

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Photo of magine
3.57/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an oversized wine glass.

Pours a carmel brown brew (mahogany), with an of white head that fades rapidly, no real lacing to speak of.

Smells of sweet fruits (raisins), sweet malts. Can pick up the smell of alcohol as well and some spices.

Has a slight syrupy taste in there as well. Has a very light bodied taste and mouthfeel. A bit of an odd tasting brew.

This brew is a decent tasting brew. Nothing special - kind of an odd mix of flavors for me. It is a solid tasting brew. To be honest I was a bit disappointed. Would not seek it out again, certainly not for a full case.

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

Despite being a very good beer, Raison d'être is the least exciting beer by DFH so far. maybe i've been predisposed by the fact that all others have been quite intenseley flavoured while this one seems to be a softer, more euro-inclined beer.

But a fine one nonetheless.

Deep brown pour with a dirty white head with generous lacing, tone is doubtless mahogany as they describe it. smell is very discrete, some alcohol some incense. fruity, very belgian.

the taste is at first quite nice, sweet fruity blend maybe dominated by a sort of apricot-ish feel with an alcohol rear, but i was a bit saddened as it's hop-free at the end, seemed a bit watery or as though something was missing.

Regardless, the beer seems like a sessionable belgian which gives it a good mark by my standards.

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Photo of Gunnz
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dark bronze, almost reddish color with a light caramel head that has a decent retention. Pours very clear.

It has a very nice floral, spicy, and slightly hoppy aroma with a hint of alcohol in the nose.

Dogfish Head has made a nicely balanced, slightly sweet and malty, almost spicy taste. Hints of molasses touch the tastebuds as well as slightly fruity grape flavor. Taste of alcohol lingers in the aftertaste.

Has a slightly heavy, medium to full bodied brew, quite what comes to be expected from a stong Belgian Dark Ale. Not very carbonates and a little think on the tongue.

I personally enjoy the slightly sweeter, heavy, full bodied Belgian Ale so I would definitely have another as well as recommend it to others, however, it would not make my top 25 beers or even my top 10 of this style.

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Photo of bonsreeb85
4.03/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Velvety beige/off white head sits atop a deep mahogony/cherry wood colored body. Beer leaves nice lacing on its way down the DFH signature glass.

S - carmalized sugar, belgian yeast that is both sour and spicy, a wee-bit of alcohol also makes it's presence known, along w/ dates, plums and raisins(surprise!)The smell is a bit vineous, and kinda sour, like fermented grapes.

T - Roasted malts a'plenty, followed by flavors very characteristic of this type of Belgian(dark fruits and a certain spice I can never pinpoint)Finally a mildly bitter and satisfying close.

MF - medium carbonation, medium full body, and an overall slick and smooth mouthfeel, not bad.

D - yet another good brew from DFH. not my fave, but nothing to shake your finger at either. A solid American brewed Belgian Dark Ale, pleny of flavor. Solid

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

a- dark reddish copper with thin head

s- Faint sweet, dark fruit, red wine and grainy scents

t- nice malty flavor with a dark fruit/red wine taste with alcohol bite to finish

m- thicker coating texture, slight lingering flavor and feel

d-alcohol hidden well but comes out while finishing and lingers slightly.

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

Pours a gorgeous crystal clear rosy brown color with a nice little tan head that laces with every sip. I caught some raisins and malt, yeast, bread and spices on the aroma. Taste is musty and malty. Mouthfeel is thick and drinkability is good as well.

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

The last of an assortment of DFH 'souvenirs' from my last trip south of the 49th parallel...the 4th of July seems a decent occasion as any to polish it off.

This beer pours a clear, dark ruddy brown colour, with minimal head, and no lacing. Quick out of the gate, I suppose. It smells of subtle roasted caramel malt, bittersweet chocolate, a little vinous essence, and a bit of bitter coffee. The taste is lightly roasted caramel malt, a tad chocolate candy-like, a bit of booze, dark fruit, and earthy hops. The carbonation is moderate, the body thick and viscous, with the booze well-integrated, and an off-dry sweet candy malt finish. This seems much more like a brown ale, a style I don't usually care for, but is also more of a ramped-up American version, and is thus quite tasty.

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Photo of bsp77
3.13/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Orangish-reddish-brown, reminds me of some Scotch Whiskeys. Turns a bright mahogany in the light. Not much head once the active bubbles subside. Looks nice, but not sure it looks like a beer.

Smell: Dark sweet fruit, rum, slight banana, trace of alcohol. Not as fragrant as many strong Belgians.

Taste: Mostly sweet alcohol with notes of molasses and raisins. Doesn't seem very Belgian, and not as much taste as I would like.

Feel: Somewhat full body, fairly flat, syrupy, with some chewiness and definite warming sensation from the alcohol.

Drinkability: Slow sipper, but not really the type of beer I want to sip all night long. Way too alcoholic, especially since it is only 8%. My first disappointment from DFH.

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Photo of theghost3
3.6/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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Photo of MeisterBurger
3.23/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a wonderfully deep, dark, inky amber with a nice 1/4" head that dies down to a small island. Spider web like lacing.

The smell is chocolaty and delicious. Roasted malt and a slight metallic sourness, a little buttery and just a slightly solventy booziness.

The taste is brown sugar, caramel, slight chocolate, overripe oxidized pears and almost a grape like fruitiness contrasted by the mildest of mild bitterness and a hint of spice. The 8% alcohol seems well hidden at first, but gets a little hot as the beer warms. Sort of like a malty, watered down cough syrup.

The mouthfeel is okay, with a medium body and medium carbonation.

Overall an okay if not stunning beer.

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Photo of heath1agnew
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

appearance- pours a dark brown with a half finger head and lacing is visible as well as carbonation bubbles.

smell- dark sugar with a touch of alcohol in the nose.

taste and mouthfeel- picked up brown sugar flavor pretty strong, at no point was i able to pick up raisons, but hey im not a professional i just like to drink beer. nice molasses flavor as well. the abv was hidden very well in this beer to me, it was there but not overpowering at all.
mouthfeel was medium and nice even carbonation.

drinkability- not bad, but maybe to sweet at times.

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

Poured from a bottle into a tulip. It pours a very deep red with a 3 inch thick, dense light-beige head that quickly reduces to around the edges and a thin comb-over.

The aroma is primarily dark fruits and a caramel malt sweetness. I also pick up some brandy notes in there.

The taste presents similar to the nose with some dark fruity and caramel malt sweetness and a bit of brandy. I also add the taste of raisin above and beyond the dark fruit, and it was more prominent with food, (smoked whitefish).

The mouthfeel was a bit weak to me. It seemed thin and light bodied, initially with a thickness that seemed to linger with a mild dryness. A little light on the carbonation, as well.

Overall, this is a reasonable beer to drink. I don't believe I would want more than one in a sitting, but will certainly finish this and enjoy it while it lasts.

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Photo of HopHed
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

APPEARANCE: A dark burgundy, slightly rusty brown brew with just the slightest of head, and almost no lacing.

AROMA: An extremely malty, sweet smell, with a slightly spicy rum or sweet/spicy "alcohol" smell like brandy or something.

FLAVOR: A definitely malt front note, with wonderfully smooth sweet caramel, date, and molasses notes. Also a a very noticeable flavor of grape or raisins, green raisins? This is not too sweet, but it is sweet, with little to no hop bitterness here.

PALATE: A medium bodied brew, that is pretty well balanced. No bitterness, no notes of alcohol, all about the sweet malts and fruit flavors.

MOUTH FEEL: A somewhat thick almost syrupy brew. This beer is extremely lightly carbonated, but is still rich and flavorful.

NOTES: The beer is a rich, creamy, lightly carbonated 8% ABV beer that I have to say I think would be best as a desert beer. I am a big IPA, DIPA, DIIPA hop-bomb beer drinker, but I could easily take a couple of these down as an end to a meal. I think this would go particularly well after a steak or the like. Something hardy!

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 3.65 out of 5 with 4,304 ratings
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