Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
1,774 Reviews
Read the review
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,774 | Ratings: 4,282
Photo of bearrunner44
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: A deep, dark red, with unusual clarity for an ale. Abundant, somewhat clingy light tan head.

Aroma: Lightly sweet aroma. Smells of rum, sweetish raisins, and a light breadiness reminiscent of sweet rolls.

Taste: Very fruity, tasting strongly of raisins, prunes, and other sublimely sweet fruit products. The light and toasty character of the malt adds some slight balance to the beer, but this is a very sweet drink overall. The alcohol is pretty obvious from start to finish, eventually leaving a somewhat harsh medicinal aftertaste on the tongue. It sort of reminds me of the stiff, fruit juice-based mixed drinks we used to come up with in college; there's no nuance or complexity here. Just alcohol and sweetness.

Verdict: I'm always up for new and interesting takes on a style, but this is a swing-and-a-miss for me.

 836 characters

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.

 518 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12oz bottle into a Dogfish pint glass. Pretty fresh at 2 months old.

A- Raison D'Etre pours a medium brown color with red highlights while up towards light. A very clean brew as there is not much, if any sediment. A 1/2 inch head comes through then disappears leaving a slice of off-white head. A whole lot of rising bubbles.

S- A good smell consisting of a lot of sugars (including brown) and caramel. Roasted malts with some syrups maybe. Under that the raisin shows up with a layer of yeast also creating an earthy scent.

T- The raisin is apparent and sugars are up front creating a sweet assault on the mouth before leaving. After that some smoky qualities arise while some dark fruits and a dash of coffee and even less chocolate. The caramel and roasted malt stays throughout each swig with some alcohol presence. Overall, this really isn't my thing with the set of ingredients chosen, leaning towards the yeast.

M- Reminds me of a smooth bock. Not as thick on the mouth as some DFH offerings but leaves it's mark. A nice bit of carb going for this as well. A bit of a hassle to get through. Not a pleasing aftertaste.

D- Not my favorite DFH offering honestly & i love their experimentation but not this one.. I had trouble with even this 12oz serving. Maybe this would be better in a cask, but i don't see myself having that in the future. I will look out for this on tap and compare.

I am going to try the D'Extra but if it's double the taste of this then forget about it.

 1,487 characters

Photo of Drew966
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Dogfish Head Raison D'etre pours a mahogany brown with a fluffy light brown head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. The smell is on the sweet side, with alcohol being noticeable. Flavor is estery at first, with alcohol and raisons being next up. The finish is kind of malty. Some burn from the alcohol is noticeable after the finish. Well it's different, not really my thing. Worth a try, but really didn't do it for me.

 419 characters

Photo of CityBoy1986
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip from a 12 oz. bottle.

The pour is a fairly clear brown with little head and lacing. What little head is there quickly dissipates into just a film.

The nose is mostly of raisin with a hint of nutmeg. The taste adds a bit of wheat with some brown sugar and quite a lot of alcohol, which isn't hidden well at all.

Mouthfeel has a lot of carbonation and some dryness. Drinkability is okay; I wouldn't buy this often even if it were available.

I wouldn't have to be desperate to reach for this, but it wouldn't be a first choice. It's okay, but not great.

 574 characters

Photo of Tilley4
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Man, this one was way too sweet. I'm not a big Belgian guy anyway but i just thought this one was too sweet.

The beer actually poured a lot darker than most of the style but smelled and tasted very similar. I just can't get into the style. I have a Raison D Extra that I will probably be getting rid of.

 305 characters

Photo of DrinkingDrake
2.85/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured into a goblet. A brown/ruby red with no head and only a faint amount of lacing across the top. It smells of a heavy amount of caramel malts and some dark fruits. A weird blend of sour fruits, just past fresh. I smelt some dirt in there.

You can taste a twisted grape from the green raisins but it doesn't balance well with the toasted malt flavors. The caramel malt sweetness is overwhelmed by the addition of beet sugar. A dry and stinging aftertaste. The grape flavor sticks around in a sour way.

A medium body. Relatively slick on the palate. I'm struggled to finish this one.

 590 characters

Photo of scotorum
2.85/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Poured into a tulip glass from the 12 oz. bottle.

a. Deep translucent amber forms a finger thick head which quickly dissipates to a ring of foam around the edge. Abundant bubbling. Looks more like red wine as it's consumed

s: Mild fruit.

t: Fruity, no doubt the raisins are responsible for some of the dark color and impart a wine-like taste.

m: Moderate bitterness. Rather harsh.

o: Since I prefer beer to wine, and this tastes like some kind of hybrid, it's not a favorite.

 481 characters

Photo of skillerified
2.84/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours almost as dark as soda. Dark red tones poke through when light hits it at certain angles. Very little head, but it lasted a long time.

Smells very sweet. There's a floral fragrance first, followed by a little malt and a little fruit (banana). Maybe just a touch of spice. It could use more of that really.

Taste is heavy on the malt. There seems to be very little hop character at all. Just a dash of hop flavor on the finish. It's a strong and sweet biscuit or bread flavor that dominates. There's a sweet caramel hint in the background too. Doesn't seem to be particularly complex. The flavor is just dominated by the sweet malt. It's not particularly bad, but not really notable by any means. It seems to be getting worse as it warms though

Mouthfeel is fairly creamy. Medium to heavy bodied. There's just no balance though. It's all sweet and all malt flavored. I prefer a good contrast of sweet and bitter and a more complex mix of flavors.

It's not undrinkable, but there doesn't seem to be that sense of purpose that DFH mentions on the label. I suppose if you wanted an all sweet strong dark Belgian, then this fills that purpose, but few others. Grab a Unibroue instead.

 1,197 characters

Photo of grayburn
2.84/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The beer pours a dark mahogony, nice creamy cap on top that laces very well.

The smell and taste both contain an unpleasant mixture of bell pepper like fresh flavor and dark ripe fruit. They both kind of fight for power, never blending together.

The mouthfeel is nice, medium bodied with just the right amount of carbonation.

This beer would be pretty drinkable, the alcohol is hidden well, the mouthfeel is very nice...but the taste and smell really just keep me from enjoying the experience as a whole. Odd, because I love the D'extra. I cannot complain at all though, it's their creativity that keeps me coming back.

 623 characters

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Dark brown, hints or amber color underneath. Smells like a mess. Another collection of DFH hodgepodge ingredients. Not really my favorite style, nor brewery, lots of sugar, but at least not overly sweet, just a bunch of strange adjuncts to give the impression of being "complex".

Not a desireable taste left, and a struggle to keep drinking it to the end. Try this one with friends, that way you don't end up drinking all 12 oz. by yourself.

 443 characters

Photo of Jimmys
2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A: a slight hazy on this bright red/brown hued body. big fluffy head turns to a slight rim of retention.

S: some sweet candied syrup (im assuming this comes from the beet sugars), a little roast/caramel. hard to identify the raisins.

T: some caramel. soft fruit similar to banana. perhaps some of that raisin in there as well. cant pick up any any hop attributes. a little, tiny bit of alcohol.

M: medium body. moderate carbonation that finishes with some fizz on the tip of my tongue.

D: doesnt taste like an 8%'er. much lighter in my opinion. not really a strong bel. dark. just missing something. not quite enough in the nose or on the palate.

 653 characters

Photo of dontpanic5
2.82/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

It pours a muddy amber with barely any head. In the nose it's fruity, bananas are what I immediately thought of, and there's the smell of chewy malts. The taste is dominated by the strange taste of beets. Off the bat I'm not really a fan. The deep malt taste isn't offensive but it can't do much to save this beer from my judgement. It has a nice carbonation and a light body. Overall I can't say I'm really enjoying this beer at all. That's Dogfish Head for you, it can be really hit or miss!

 493 characters

Photo of faernt
2.82/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

07.25.04 was when I bought this beer. I drank much of it then and paired it with an aged goat cheese from Capriole in Indiana. It was called Wabash Cannonball. The pairing is well worth revisiting.

I opened a bottle last night. It was slightly tart. Tonight's bottle is even more tart. It approaches a sour ale. This is not my recollection. This beer is a rich copper color with little head. Sourness is its main voice. It isn't a bad sour but it is a pronounced sour. I wouldn't age it again . I recall it much better fresh. I'll try it again fresh.

 554 characters

Photo of brewmudgeon
2.82/5  rDev -23%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

2.5 A looks like cola after small head gone
3 S sweet malty, molasses, prunes
3 T like a mediocre homebrew resulting from attempt to make something heavy and
alcoholic. too sweet. actually reminds me very much of one of my own homebrewing experiments.
2.5 M like cola with less fizz. sticky.
2.5 D i do not plan on having more, but wouldn't completely dread

 358 characters

Photo of joehiatt
2.82/5  rDev -23%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Pretty color, nice and clear, off-white head that faded fast.

S - Very fruity and estery, stone fruits, candy grape or banana

T - Some spiciness, nice sweet malty backbone. Finishes dry and odd, fairly alcoholic tasting, warmness.

M - Decent carbonation, but lingering phenols are unfortunate

D - Wouldn't have more than one but glad I tried it.

Overall a OK beer, though not particularly balanced. Certainly overrated, its unclear what the brewer's vision was.

 469 characters

Photo of champ103
2.81/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A: This has a great color. Deep amber/brown with some reddish hints. A small white head forms with poor retention and almost no lace.
S: Malty and earthy with some dark fruits and raisins. Some brown sugar as well. Though, there is also an odd musky and metallic aroma that I do not like.
T: There is a bit more malt flavor than in the nose. I like what the raisin characteristic brings, but that metallic flavor that was in the nose is present and big.
M/D: a very harsh crispness in the mouth and to much carbonation for my tastes. The harshness is not from the alcohol, but rather a rough metal fell on the mouth. This needs to be much creamier and rich. This actually drinks just fine. The high alcohol is not detectable, but the metallic stuff going on does not make this particularly smooth to drink.

I am not a fan of this beer. Some sort of metallic characteristic seems to show up in in very aspect of this beer. This is not something I will try again.

 964 characters

Photo of jhu1995
2.81/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown with reddish tones and tan head. Smell had a faint sweetness and some mild hop character - nothing special. Taste was mostly raisins and plums, slight sweetness and some burnt flavors. Somewhat syrupy mouthfeel. Not that bad to drink but nothing really special about it. Not really worth the effort to seek out.

 330 characters

Photo of Stimack
2.81/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This brew poured to a cloudy red-brown color with a small light tan head that did not have much retention.

The brew smells of rum, very noticeable once poured, fruit (mostly raisins) and caramel. An interesting brew, but not one that smells really great.

The taste is upfront is pretty good, seems to be under carbonated but not bad. The finish reminds me of stronger alcohol as I have a taste in the back of my mouth that reminds me of rum.

Over all not a bad brew, can see why it is 8% ABV. Can’t say that it is one that I would go out of my way to get again. Interesting but not my cup of tea!

 607 characters

Photo of cmac1705
2.81/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle with visible freshness date.

Appearance is a cloudy light-amber with a thin head that quickly recedes into nothingness.

Not much to be had in the nose here. Hints of bready malt, but that's about it.

Modest milky texture accompanied by a surprising amount of carbonation. Taste is a bit cloying and finishes with a puckering hop bitterness that finally joins the party.

Overall, it shrouds the 8% ABV well, lending to its relative drinkability. None of the flavors seem to come through that well - a disorganized brew.

Chalk up the results of this experiment as "inconclusive".

 613 characters

Photo of veinless
2.81/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a crystal clear, dark amber with a thin, quickly dissipating head that left no lacing at all. Looks borderline watery to me.

Smells of sweet fruit, with dates and raisins coming to mind the most. A sugary note pervades the aroma all the way through. Almost like a fruit-jam type smell.

Taste is thankfully not as pungently sweet at the front, with the raisins a nice, semi-sweet flavor. Malts come out after initial taste to sweeten the deal, though not in a way I like. Tiny bit of date character that resembles a sweet rind of a citrus fruit (very strange, but think about it). Alcohol offers its own flavor as well with a bit of warmth. Sourness arrives as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is quite thin and bubbly, with a corrosive element to it. Feels a little bit too much like pop. Drinkability saved from disaster by the late-arriving sourness, but still isn't great. Overall it's an interesting beer, but not one I particularly enjoy.

 945 characters

Photo of obywan59
2.8/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep mahogany like the bottle says. 1 1/2 finger head that quickly dissipates.

Smells of sweet raisins. Distinctive Belgian aroma as well. A bit of coffee.

Burnt, sweet, and burn (from the alcohol). Not much subtlety here. A little tartness. Did I mention burnt?

Moderate mouthfeel. It helps keep that burnt flavor on the tongue.

A bit tough to drink until the 8.0 ABV kicks in. I'd have been upset if this had been a only a 4.0.

In the end, it's the ABV that saves this beer. By the end of the first glass, your'e only just a bit wistful that there isn't more flavor.

This knocks off Delirium Noel as the least favorite of the BSDAs that I've sampled this season, but I still enjoyed it in the end. It's way better than Guiness Draught in a can.

 761 characters

Photo of Sixpack595
2.8/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not a very good beer. Harsh and astringant taste with a syrupy feel. Sweet and malty with a carmel taste and a touch of diacetyl. Low carbonation with minimal head and a muted aroma. Not very Belgian flavor, not very tasty either. I had to force this one down, now what am I going to do with the other 5?

 304 characters

Photo of IPAescotch
2.8/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Nice amber color, a weird smell from the beets. Really hesitant to try this only my second beet beer and i hated the first. However this is much darker and has a much more complicated scent than magic hats wacko.

This is a tasty sour beer. not bad (at least this one time) but i wouldnt buy a sixer. more than acceptable for a beet beer if wacko was anything to judge by. tolerable

 382 characters

Photo of StaveHooks
2.79/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Pours a dark red amber. An off-white head sinks quickly

S - Woody roasted malt, toasted toffee, earthy bark.

T - Super sweet candy malt, dark fruit preserves, spice towards the middle. I keep getting NyQuil. The alcohol is there and doesn't play well with the rest of the components.

M - Low carbonation, thin watered down syrupy feel.

I wanted to like this more than I did. It is an interesting beer but I couldn't help thinking of NyQuil the whole time. The syrupy malt drowned out everything except the alcohol.

 522 characters

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,282 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!