Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

4,298 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: 4,298 |  Reviews: 1,773
Photo of hunteraw
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Smaller than expected head that disappeared rapidly. Just on the red side of cola in the color.

Smell: Raisin and caramel malts, with some alcohol presence. Not the distinctive Belgian yeast aroma that I was expecting.

Taste: There's a lot going on, on the palate, but whether there's a rhyme or reason to it isn't clear. Caramel/toffee at the front, Belgian sugar in the middle. A hint of raisin throughout, but not the same dark fruitiness that I expect in the style. Finishes dry, despite the sweet-ish flavors that predominate. Good for what it is, but not as Belgian-tasting as I had expected.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, carbonation on the low side.

Drinkability: Goes down surprisingly well for the alcohol content. As another reviewer put it, this is definitely an "off-centred ale." I kind of wish I'd gotten a single instead of a sixer, though.

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Photo of davidshamoon
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

With the Dogfish éspirit experimental
drinkability can be left incidental,
but with a resounding "You betcha!"
I can vouch for Raison D'Être,
An American's essai continental.

My glass shines mahogany-red,
Is topped with a billowing head,
And smells somewhat smokey --
Not wholly un-oaky.
It is clear the the yeast were well fed.

Though the brew is addictively fruity,
To omit this would be breach of duty:
If I drank it all day,
I'm afraid I would pay.
8% ABV? Sleeping beauty!

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Photo of fartingdog
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice rich color, very rich flavor. You definitely pick up the raisin, tho it isn't overprominate, just enough to add some fruitiness to the abundant caramel flavor. Well balanced and enjoyable. It's almost like a mild barley wine.

This would be absolutely perfect on a cold fall or winter night.

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Photo of jtell
2.98/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is a brownish red. Head dissipates quickly. Smell is a muted malty sweetness. Taste is slightly better than the smell. Malt is the dominant flavor. Can taste the dark/dried fruits a little bit. Overall disappointed in this one. This was one of my first craft beers about 3 years ago and I remember being impressed. I guess as I have tasted and experienced more I have moved past this. Mouthfeel is slightly thin - no richness in it. Drinkability is slightly above average because the alcohol is hidden pretty well. Taste isnt bad but is lacking. Pretty surprising because DFH beers tend to be very good.

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Photo of bonbini26
3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a goblet...poured a nice redish amber color, small head that dissappeared quickly. The smell was like a beligum ale, but with lighter hint of fruit. The taste was malty, with a smooth 1st taste. I like most of dogfish's beers, but ive had a lot better beligum ales before.

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Photo of BeerSox
2.68/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into brandy snifter.

Pours a deep wine like red with very little head and minimal lacing.

Light fruity notes along with melted plastic and alchohol.

Light frity flavors and the taste of alcohol. For some reason, the aftertaste reminds me of a mouthfull of fresh New England snow (the non-yellow variety).

Lightish-medium bodied, low carbonatoin, dryish finish.

This beer had its high points, but they were overtaken by phenolic aromas and flavors. I wasn't that impressed with this one. However, it may pair well with getting hit in the mouth by a fresh New England snowball.

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Photo of goochpunch
3.42/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours an auburn with almost pink-like hints in the light. Thin head that shrivels down to a thin ring of bubbly lace. Interesting smell of fruit, both fresh and dried, slight phenols, and an overriding cotton candy sweet smell. Interesting. Tastes of cotton candy, dried fruit, toasted bread, slight banana, and the faintest of hops. I kind of don't know what to think of this. Mouthfeel is nearly flat, not too viscous (considering the alcohol), and pleasantly slick. Drinkable, but as it warms, this gets a bit boozy.

Everytime I have this beer, its a different beast altogether. I went from loving it to hating it, and now I just feel that it's pretty decent.

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Photo of beachbum1975
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bought a single of this beer to try it out.

Served around 60 degrees, this definitely has a unique smell immediately after the pour - can't pin it down.

It poured a gorgeous, clear, dark amber color with hints of orange on the edges of the glass, no foamy head remained after the initial pour and very little to no bubbles.

I smelled lots of malt mixed with molasses scents. After sitting in the glass for a few minutes, the Belgian characteristics came out more prominently - richer and sweeter with very little alcohol taste in the mix.

The malty flavor remainded in my mouth minutes after tasting.

I had a Trappistes Rochefort 8 a couple days ago, and I am not certain of the age of this beer, but it tasted like a younger, more crisp Belgian beer.

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Photo of DragYourBone
3.82/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a 6er of these simply because I wanted to try something else from the Dogfish Head camp that was not an IPA.

I drank it from the bottle as I was grilling, so the appearance score may need to be adjusted later.

At first sniff, it smelled of malty sweetness with not alot else happening (at least with my nose). But as the draught was drank, the sniffer detected a caramel sweetness to it...and even a hint of molasses.

The sweetness definitely came through on the tastebuds, but not much complexity. The drink was slippery on the tongue with not much fullness. A little more weight than thin. Not syrupy.

Very drinkable. However...maybe a little too sweet for me on a warm day.
Also, the 8% is quite well hidden.

I guess I expected a little more body from Dogfish, but it is still a respectible ale.

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Photo of sstackho
1.56/5  rDev -57.4%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

12oz bottled two months previously purchased from Best Cellars in Boston. Pours brown with virtually zero head. Not entirely pleasing scent of molasses. First taste: hmmmm... not entirely pleasing taste of molasses. The flavour is not as complex or interesting as I was hoping. Rather sweet. Getting a bit better as the beer goes on. Long finish. Not one that I'll try again, but not my normal beer style anyway.

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

Pours dark amber with creamy off white head which recedes to a thin film. Aroma is winey and roasty. Taste is roasted malts, raisins (that's a surprise) and alcohol. The alcohol is prominant, but not out of balance, this beer has lots of flavor. Mouthfeel is slightly on the thin side of medium. Lots of complex flavors in this one, kind of reminiscent of a Belgian. If not for the price, I would drink this one more often.

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Photo of beveritt
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked up a 6 pack of this in 12 oz bottles from a new beer store I passed through. Stamped onto the neck of the bottle is "Bottled on 02/02/06."

Appearance: Poured a deep copper brown color with little to no head. The half finger head quickly dissipated into just an off white ring around the edge of the glass. There is a constant strem of bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass. Beer is perfectly clear, no evidence of the chill haze others have mentioend.

Smell: Malty, with not as much of the raisin smell I expected. You can definitely tell it is higher than average ABV, but hte alcohol smell is not very evident.

Taste: This has a nice, dark taste to it. I think the alcohol level hides itself well. Malty, but not that simple, you can taste the specialty grains. A little bit of residual sweetness and almost no bitterness.

Mouthfeel: This is thick, almost syrupy. A fair amount of carbonation and the bubbles feel big. No evidence of sediment in the bottle, could it be force carbonated? Naah.

Drinkability: I think the alcohol level and syrupy sweetness of this combine to make it a one drink limit. I couldn't imagine a night of these.

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Photo of watermelonman
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This poured to a deep and clear brown and mahogany. The head is small and quickly faded to a ring. It's not leaving much lace.

The smell is very deep and pleasing. Raison and fig come through strong. Dark malt and dark fruits add in to the taste. The mouthfeel is medium and pleasing, while drinkability is very good for the alcohol content.

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Photo of riversider76
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours deep amber, very nice orange hue. Not much head, but some lacing.Smell is of dates, and figs, with a hint of rum rasin. Body is on the thin side, with some carbionation. Taste is lighter than I expected. Sweet fruits, and rum, with a nice smooth finish.

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

This one poured a very small head, with minimal lacing. Dark amber-red color.

Mild aroma, reminds me of raisons, a hint of plum, and a small bit of coffee.

Taste is great. Tastes like dark fruits, like plums and raisons, with a slight sweet vegetable character. Hints of smoke, coffee, and chocolate malt.

Mouthfeel is thicker than expected considering the abv, but very nice. Light carbonation allows you to better taste this complex beer.

Very drinkable, hard to put this one down. Very unique, and another DFH classic.

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Photo of peabody
3.72/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It pours out like real strong coffee or tea. slightly opaque for the most part and little to no carbonation. very little lacing
Aroma is coffee hops and toffee. No alcohol is present in the nose.
There is a plum/raisin smell that is pretty strong.
First taste is bitter hops and dark coffee/chocolate. This is fairly sweet.Must be the raisin.
Leaves a dirty aftertaste but it is a sweet fruity dirt. The alcohol is coming through here. Way in the back of the throat.

All in all, it is a pretty decent beer but not worth the 13 dollar pricetag for the 6-pack.

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Photo of Brian700
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a clear reddish color with a small white head. If you were to just pour a little bit of this beer in your glass it would appear to be an orange color but when you have a full glass it appears to be red or mahogany like the label would read.

The aroma is of raisins, a touch of green apple, candi sugar sweetness, alcohol, and some sweet malt.

The flavor basically follows the nose. There is some sweet malt with some sugar sweetness. There is a presence of raisins for sure. Usually when I pick up on a raisin flavor it is more of a vague dark fruit flavor but this is a bit more specific. The green raisins really leave there mark on this one. There seems to be a decent hop presence that kicks in right after the raisin flavor that lightens the whole mouthfeel and makes this more of a refreshing beer than it would be. There is a definate fork in the road where this beer could have been more of a barley wine style beer or a refreshing drinkable beer and it chose refreshing drinkable. Nothing against Barley Wines...there my favorite style.

The mouthfeel on this one is medium bodied with medium carbonation

This is a very drinkable beer. I've been waiting for this beer to hit my local beer store forever now and low and behold its here...finally. Buy it.

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

A cherrywood coloured brew with a light tan head. There was no lacings, and the beer appeared only slightly carbonated.

Theres alot to smell in this beer. Fruity esters, green raisins, caramel, alcohol and spice rise from my glass to please my nose.

Theres also alot to taste in this brew. The predominant fruity flavours include, of course, the green raisins. The caramel from the toasted malts is also on the forefront. These flavours are balanced by grassy and peppery notes from the hops.

This is a beer of substance. The sweetness of raisins and the malt mask the relatively high alcohol content. The spiciness from the hops is a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the malts.

Certainly nowhere near as drinkable as swill type brew. This is a rich, decadent, and satisfying brew, and it would be very easy to tip a few back, enjoying the complexity and interplay between the components of this brew. This is something ill pick up again from time to time.

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Photo of thinkfull
4.09/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm writing this as I drink the beer, actually. This one seems quite good. It is a beautiful drink to behold, dark red with a cream- colored head. Decent lacing has been present till now, about two-thirds of the way through. The nose has a lot of figs and pecan pie, but you have to really dig your nose in the glass to find out. Taste starts of with the figs, along with some raisins, leather, and cigars; then moves to a very delicate oaky scotch with a pruney finish. Light carbonation helps this brew out signifigantly. I will be picking this one up again, mostly because I like the flavor combinations, rather than a particular complexity.

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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 PBRstreetgang
3.62/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark orangish brown with caramel highlights and good clarity. Creamy off-white head barely reaches one finger and shows lacking retention leaving scarce spotty lacing. Phenolic notes of raisins and a rose alcohol aroma. Taste is very sweet upfront; roasted barley and toasted crystal with a tart, phenolic plum flavor. Dry aftertaste with a mild alcohol bite, some english hop bitterness and raisin sweetness. Just slightly crisp low-medium carbonation accentuates the alcohol snap in a silky medium-full body . The finish is residual and slightly boozey, but fades quickly enough for a decent drinkability. The alcohol does however meld with the hops to balance the sugary/tart flavors wonderfully.

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Photo of rustymoore
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours light brownish amber with little lacing. Smells strong of alcohol and fruit especially grapes (suppose derived from the raisens?) Also nutty aromas as well. Tastes much of the same, sweet and dry. Good but couldn't figure out how it won best American beer of 2001 (didn't check who awarded the beer but might not have been a very big deal). Overall solid.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The saving grace for this beer's ook is its cool mahagony, merlot highlight, nut brown color. Some small length bubbles about an inch long from start to top. A little alcohol greets the nose with a liquer like raisin and prune aroma. A light gariny malt mixes with the dark yet very sweet fruits and a splash of alcohol for good measure to remind you of the liquer aroma. Clean palate but a little hot.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pretty clear deep mahogany color with a 1/8" head of off white bubbles. The head was pretty active maintained by the bubbles rising, but the bubbles stopped after a few seconds and the head fell to suit. There aren't really any bubbles rising, so the beer looks a bit more like a liquor with a few bubbles sitting on top.

Aroma: Rich fruity aroma with a noticeable woody component. Rich caramel malts make a large contribution to the aroma with a subtle roast. It has a really sweet undertone in the aroma with a bready aromatic that makes it smell a bit like a breakfast biscuit or some such.

Taste: The flavor is really malty and the roast is a bit bigger part of the flavor than I suspected from the aroma. There is a very prominent sweet caramel flavor mixes pretty well with the dominating fruit flavors. As the beer warms up a bit, there is complexity to the malt that I didn't pick up in the cold sample. It has a British malt like flavor and seems like it has some Amber malt and or British two-row malts. It is pretty complex, and changes as it warms. The alcohol is noticeable as some warmth late in the finish, but only adds a tad of spiciness to the balance in the beginning.

Opinion: This is a pretty good beer. It isn't my favorite as it is so sweet that it is a bit cloying. Dogfish is definitely extreme as this is the malt counterpart to their hoppy DFH90. I respect a brewery that tries to make more than one type of beer. I would drink this beer again, but I probably won't be buying it very often.

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Photo of BurnsTau
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep amber/mahagony, small amount of head.

Smells fruity, sweet with a bit of a burnt or earthy twinge.

Tastes mostly sweet, malty, sugary with a bit of an alchohol aftertaste, although not very strong it gives a slight warming. No real hop or bitterness detected. A bit of a syrupy body.

I had to drink 4 of these (on seperate nights of course) to really decide what I thought about this beer, but I think that overall it's a pretty solid beer. Not an everyday beer but worth trying and pretty good.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,298 ratings.
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