Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

4,299 Ratings
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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

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Ratings: 4,299 |  Reviews: 1,773
Photo of Bootscraper
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my second Dogfish Head type that I have had the privilege of enjoying.The first was their pumpkin ale, which I can say is up there as one of the creamiest beers I have had. Whenever this brewery ever got mentioned at another forum, someone in particular always raved about this brew. So, I thought it was about time I reviewed one.
Served between 45 and 50 degrees F in my trusty pint glass, listening to Nachtmystium's "Instinct:Decay".
First things first... the off-white, bubbly head got up to about 2cm, settled to 1 cm after a couple minutes, a very thin layer after 5 mins, and nothing when I got to the bottom of my glass. However, this was the result of a vigorous pour, so my opinion is not stellar. The color was a very deep bronze/rust color in the shade, and a dark brownish red when held up to light. The lacing (when it was around) fell very slowly, but was quite minimal and patchy.
The last beer I reviewed was a belgian style very similar to this one, and shared some of the same rum-soaked fruit scents. This, however, was much more mellow and quite subtle.
In many reviews I have read, people claim this beer is a bit too alcoholic in flavor. I don't see it though. Yes, the warmth is certainly here, but it seems to be disguised by an indistinguishable pallet (to me, anyways) of dark fruit. The taste started off as a crisp, refreshing sweet (I would say like soda, but again... "mellow" is the name of the game here) that was overcome by the signature darker fruits and slight spiciness towards the finish. However, I want to say that somewhere in there I acutely detected something "brighter", more along the lines of Banana. Throughout the duration of each sip there was also both roasted and slight brown sugar flavors. Tiny bit of bitterness, not too bad though. very rich... I can actually see how this may be an acquired taste.
I like the stickiness of this beer. It wasn't too much where it leaves the candy-like syrupy feeling in back of your throat lingering for too long, but was still enough to please me. It also was not too heavily bodied, which means that even though the flavor is pretty unique, it doesn't hurt the overall drinkability too badly. Can't wait to have something else by this brewery in the future.

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Photo of thespaceman
3.77/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Dark mahogany in color, poured an off white head with little lacing on the glass. Head dissapted shortly.

Smell: Dark fruit, raisin, some malt, and a bit of some plum as well.

Taste: Although an 8% ABV for this isn't much, you can still taste some nice esters in the finish which is quite inticing. This has a great malt profile, very sweet from the sugars, the raisin and spice is shown nicely, and it's pretty warming considering the maltiness and the alcohol. Tasty.

Mouthfeel: Pretty carbonated on the tongue, a off balanced body throws it in a couple different directions, malty and then bitter. It stays up well but gets wet quickly.

Drinkability: I found this beer to be a good winter choice with it's excellent warming properties, the raisins are in there shining and the dark fruit tinge is great. A nice Belgian offering from the best at DFH!


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Photo of hellomcfly
3.55/5  rDev -3%
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.

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

Beer pours a bright amber with minimal head.

There are scents of roasted malt with a touch of smokiness that I find a bit surprising. Additionally, there are notes of brown sugar, and I really believe, tobacco.

The beer is more smoky than sweet, which makes it both a bit different than other strong dark ales and also a bit more interesting. As the beer warms, there are flavors of raisins and plums.

There is a slight alcohol warming on the back of the palate.

This beer is solid if not spectacular. I would be happy to have a couple in the fridge at any given time.

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Photo of themaxx76
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I like Dogfish's IPA's so I decided to give this a try. Has a nice mahogany color, a deep malty taste but a decent mouth feel. It's even a bit sweet. It goes down really good and does not bite back, I really enjoyed it and I would get it again. Give it a try.

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Photo of woemad
3.33/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle purchased in Spokane at Huckleberry's for $1.89. Bottled-on date of 07/09/08 stamped on the neck.

Poured a mahogany color, with a good 1 1/2 inches of creamy, light tan foam. Lots of spotty lace.

Raisins, raisins, raisins in the nose. There's also a caramel sweetness and some vague, boozy notes, but the raisins are the stars of the show.

The taste isn't as complex as I had hoped for. The raisiny dark fruit flavor noted in the nose is matched with a caramel sweetness that is a little OTT. The flavors just don't meld together as well as they could.

Medium bodied. The mouthfeel, while not thick by any means, lacks that effervescence one expects from a Belgian-style beer. This is a problem I find in a lot of U.S. takes on Belgian beer styles.

This worked when used as a beer to take the edge off of digging countless people out of parking lots at work while being hectored by a frazzled, semi-worthless supervisor, and then not being able to buy ingredients for a planned dinner entree because the store I stopped at had a roof that was in danger of collapse due to no one clearing off the snow for three weeks (not that I'm venting). However, I'm thinking any beer would taste good in that light. Otherwise, while being a decent beer, I don't think there's enough here to bring me back to it.

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Photo of dmamiano
3.13/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This one has a "bottled on 8-5-08 om it. I like the dating of beers.
Actually does pour a mahogony. Clear with minimal head but has some sticky lacing.
Smell is malty, sweet with a metallic note coming out.
Taste is warming, alchohol burn warming the inners. Malty, raisins, figs and woodiness.
I am tasting the mettalic aftertaste in this.Good beer if I could get paste the metal.

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Photo of gabe23
3.47/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A - Clear amber color with a very little head or lacing.

S - Sweet raisins, caramel, malt, and alcohol.

T - Deep flavor of roasted malt with a lot of sweetness and fruit tones. Raisins and brown sugar dominate with a bit of heat from the alcohol on the finish.

M - Low carbonation, thick and dry.

D - I enjoyed one, but I don't know that I'd be able to finish two. It's a rich beer meant to be savored slowly.

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Photo of dakid618
2.55/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours with virtually no head in a pint glass. Smells like sugar and chocolate oddly. Deep mahogany color just like the bottle says. Taste is sweet, only thing that's hints at being beer is the malt. Overall not very drinkable. Too thick and complex to drink more than one.

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Photo of hoplover82
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is a very complex beer. Very malty and fruit like. The raisins shine thru everything else.

It pours a dark dark brown color with a dark caramel head that sticks around till your ready to retire.

I taste raisins, caramel, alcohol, and something else. The only thing I don't like with this great off-centered beer is the alcohol sting. Too boozy! It's a little harsh on my palate, but hay, it's still one of the greatest dessert beers Iv'e had.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
2.36/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Reviewed on 8/4/08. Bottle. Pours a dark orange/light brown with a thick light tan head. Aroma and flavor are the same and rather odd. Roasted malt, bitter coffee grounds, and an odd sweetness (not quite raisiny, maybe it's the beet sugar?). The odd sweetness and odd bitter coffee grounds do not work well together for me. This beer was downright undrinkable and ended up being a drain pour. Another disappointing beer from DFH.
5/4/5/3/10 (2.7/5)

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Photo of VaTechHopHead
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a nice dark brown with an off white/brownish head which the lacing stick all the way through...like most Dogfish Head products.

S - At first there's a deep chocolate aroma, pretty strong. It finishes with a sweet sugary scent with a hint of fruit.

T - Again a very roasted flavor up front, like dark coffee/espresso and chocolate. The after taste is slightly sweet with hints of raisins/grapes and sugars.

M/D - It is a heavier beer with a heavy body. Not much carbonation but it is very creamy on the tongue and goes down smooth.

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Photo of StarlightSeraph
3.37/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured this into a glass

Appearance: Pours a deep, reddish-brown, deep copper color (mahogany even, like the bottle says). Very thin white head that dissipated quickly. A tiny bit of lacing was left. Some haze.

Smell: Maltiness, musk, raisins, and a definite sweetness I couldn't place.

Taste: First sip got some chocolate/coffee notes, which I definitely wasn't expecting. Balanced out by a heavy malt flavor, and a frutiness in the background. Raisins, maybe. After the first few sips, the flavors began to blend together. For an 8% APV, I didn't taste too much alcohol, but it left a very nice warming sensation going down. Leaves an aftertaste that's a mix of coffee and fruit. Lots of malt, and faint hops come through in the background. Almost like a fruity-bock beer is the best way I can think to describe it.

Mouthfeel: Highly carbonated, and felt thick, almost syrupy on the tongue.

Drinkability: It's an interesting beer. Definitely not a session beer, but it's a beer worth savoring every sip. It's different than anything I've had so far. This is something I'd definitely have to be in the mood for to drink. It's a beer that it's hard for me to tell if I like or not.

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Photo of bonkers
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a standard pint glass. The beer pours a dark caramel and is very clear when held up to a light. The head is somewhat thin and does nto stick around long. The aroma is of ripe fruit, because green raisins are in the ingredients, and raisins. The taste is sweet and malty up front. The finish is fruity with a slight alcohol kick. This is less boozy than some of the other dark Belgians I have had, which is not a bad thing. The beer is medium bodied and goes down way too easily. Not the best of the style I have had. Perhaps a bit more drinkable than most.

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Photo of Brewlore
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured a dark hmm, amber color that had very nice red hues against light. Small head formed that disappeared all to quickly but thankfully left a nice little ring around the glass.

The aroma is pretty yeasty and malty. The esters are here and fairly attentive. A nice toasty malt aroma backs up those esters.

The taste is a mixed bag. It surely tastes Belgiany (obviously) so there's a slick sweet malt flavor going on. Given the types of ingredients, I feel their lost (or it could be I just can't pick them out).

Mouthfeel is quite nice, medium bodied and damned smooth.

It's drinkable, but I wouldn't reach for another one.

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

Another crazy brew from Dogfish...

Poured a beautiful dark, rich mahogany with a nice frothy caramel colored head, and to top it off, DAMN GOOD LACING. Appearance is deffinatly my favorite aspect of this brew.

Smell was was kind of sweet. Maybe some syrup or molasses. Dark fruits and malts (Yummmy) with some stong raison aromas and a hint of alcohol notes.

Taste was very MALTY. Some dark coffee up in the mix with again, some dark fruits. Very rich overall.

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Photo of thekanna
4.12/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark, syrupy maple color with no head and carbonation that sticks stubbornly to the side of the glass and doesn't budge to the top.

Smell: Like a good doppelbock. Definitely strong notes of yeast, Toffee, alcohol, sugars, molasses, corn syrup, some faint cloves and coffee roasts.

Taste: Burnt coffee roasts, spice, and a sharp spike of carbonated alcohol give way to a smooth espresso aftertaste and dark, dark bitter chocolate-coated hops.

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Photo of lamarr04
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip glass

A: Very dark brown, with almost no head

S: Faint coffee, sweet/dark fruit

T: Faint coffee again, caramelly sweetness, dark fruit

M: High carbonation, odd slick feeling on tongue

D: Drinkability is pretty average, I've had belgian dark ales that went down easier.

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Photo of yesyouam
3.62/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a beautiful, crystal-clear amber ale with a small, fading white head. The aroma is subdued and of spicy hops and sweet malt. It has a smooth and slick medium body. It is well bittered-- a bit top-heavy, which I enjoy. The flavor has more hops than malt; more malt than yeast. Decidedly American and quite good! (I didn't taste any raisins)
(rated Apr 26, 2007)

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Photo of Jayli
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

The best thing about this beer is it's coloring. The beer pours a rich light brown with copper hue. There is a quickly disapating off white head. Aroma is very musty and not very alluring. Flavor is disapointing too. No balance of flavors or much a direction to style either. There are rough malt flavors and some flavor reminiscent of wine. This beer leaves a sweet bitter aftertaste to it. Very light carbonation, slightly gummy or chewy ...muddy body. I've enjoyed other brews by Dogfish, but this one isn't for me.

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Photo of DoctorDog
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12 oz bottle poured into an oversized wine glass.

A: A rich, clear, reddish/mahogany color. Sturdy pour produces only an incomplete covering of head, which dissipates to nothing but a nearly non-existent, partial ring in a flash. No lacing noted.

S: Boozy, raisiny, fruitiness, with a touch of dark brown sugar.

T: I am struggling a bit to pin these flavors down. A bit of malty sweetness and dark fruitiness, which finishes fairly dry. Perhaps a bit of burnt orange that others have opined, or even orange peel. Bitterness is minimal. The relatively high ABV is very well concealed. Despite my confusion, reasonably enjoyable flavor.

M: Carbonation is moderate/low. A bit syrupy, but goes down smooth.

D: Decent. ABV is hidden well enough, but it would be unlikely that I'd want to down more than one of these.

Future outlook: Well, it's a decent enough beer, but with so many great choices out there, I probably won't meddle with this one again anytime soon.

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Photo of Vendetta
3.26/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Original Rating Date:
July 26, 2008

Dark mahogany with a slight purple tint. Smells good but not a strong nose. Tastes of raisins and dark fruits. Overall decent but this is the first DFH I've had that didn't completely knock my socks off. I find myself wishing for a lineup from DFH more in line with that of other craft brewers. But then they wouldn't be DFH, would they?

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Photo of magictrokini
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ahh, it a pun. Pours hazy gold with a tiny white head. Plenty of green raisins in this one. Aroma of a box of the things upon opening. Some honey and grain as well. The sugar gives it a trappist aroma and taste, but with more sweetness. Silky mouthfeel with a sticky finish. Enjoyable beer.

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Photo of eweneek83
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours dark amber, almost a reddish brown with a 2 finger tan head.

Smell - a slight metallic smell, brown sugar too... a wee bit o malt.

Taste - I've tasted this before but I don't remember where. A strong belgian-like malt taste. This one is bold but I can't quite tell what I'm tasting here. Burnt orange taste... Raisins, spices, clove-like mild sting. High abv makes itself known. very good though.

Mouthfeel - This one is robust and bold, decent carbonation but not too big to drink. pretty good mouthfeel.

Drinkability - Not bad on a cold night (or morning) like this... I could drink about 2 or 3 and be done. This is a good beer to go to bed on.

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Photo of MrHungryMonkey
4.07/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12.02.08 3rd try. Bottled 10.28.08.

Nose is malty - kind of English with toast, nut, chocolate, coffee, and bread crust. Slight sour fruitiness. Smells very coffeeish. Notes of brown sugar. Smells quite good.

Pours a light brown into a dark brown body, minimal clarity through the darkness, mild head with milder retention. Looks pretty good.

Lots of dark roast malt on the palate. Dry roasted bread crusts and dark bread, semisweet-to-dark chocolate, strong heavy-roast coffee. Beneath lies a playful sweetness just shy of the threshold of being too sweet for me. Oily nuttiness similar to a nut brown kind of ale. Beneath all that is a dark, sour fruit similar to - strangely enough - raisins. (I know it says green raisins, but it feels more dark and ripe to me; given the sourness though, it could be more of a bright fruit character... all how you look at it I suppose.) Alcohol is invisible. Finishes a little sweet, a little oily. Tastes good. Feels good.

This is a malty beer. The layers of malt unfold continually displaying new flavors. It's well balanced and highly enjoyable. It's oddly similar to India Brown Ale (sans hop), perhaps in that they are both lovely brown ales on steroids.

3.4 4.2 4.0 4.0 4.4

03.01.07 2nd try. Bottled on 01.18.07.

Deep ruby almost orange color, clear. Mild 30 second head, no lace. Mild carbonation.

Sweet roasted raisins and chocolate. Belgian candy sugar vibe. Sweet dried fruits. Floral and spicy hops. Caramel/toffee nut base.

Medium-full bodied and smooth. Sweet sugar and quite tart. Caramel/toffee nut base, hints of biscuit. Dark and roasted. Hops poke through with floral, citric, spice, and bitterness. Tastes like grapes or dried apricot. Mild warmth. No carbonation, but nice and thick. Finishes slightly tart and bitter, and significantly dry.

Last time I had D'Etre I didn't like it. I like it better now. Definitely a slow drinker: strong, bitter, really sweet, and tart.

3.0 4.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,299 ratings.
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