Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
Liked This Beer
3.65 w/ 4,301 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: 4,301 |  Reviews: 1,773
Photo of MacEnvy
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass. Served at ~40 degrees, 5 weeks after stamped bottling date.

A: Pours with a nice 2 finger head that sticks around for maybe 3 minutes. Minor lacing. Nice red-amber color?

S: Mostly candy-malt and fruit. Lots of raisin and black currant aroma.

T: Raisiny with some alcohol bite (subdued by malt) and light end-bitterness on the back of the tongue. Not very roasty, but the dark Belgian candi syrup is apparent and there's some toffee in there too. Sweeter than it is bitter.

M: Full bodied and smooth. A little alcohol bite but it's nicely buffered.

O: This is really a nice dubbel. There are enough flavors to keep you busy in the tasting but it's also accessible. My wife happily drank one of these tonight and she doesn't like most beer styles. This is a great beer to analyze with friends and it's got me wondering if I can make one half as nice myself. However, two of these may be my limit for an evening - between the high alcohol, complex flavors, and full body it is very filling.

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Photo of dexterk1
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this one at the alehouse in Gaithersburg. Color is nice dark brown and head seems strong.
Odor is sweet and fruity. Raisin, malt, and brown sugar.
Taste is raisin as well. Sweet and malty. Spices come through a bit too. It may be a bit too sweet, but seems to work well throughout. Alcohol sneaks in as well and seems to take away something a little bit.
Mouth feel is good and smooth. The abv does not make it harsh. The fruit helps with that.

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Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled: 03/16/2011. 12 oz bottle at 45 degrees into a pint glass.

A: It pours light brown with two fingers of cream-colored head that holds and laces well.

S: Raisins, caramel, white grapes, and candi sugar.

T: Caramel, white wine, some dark fruitiness, a little booze, and some cherry flavor.

M: It has a medium-thick body with averaged carbonation and some stickiness in the finish.

O: This is a little odd but still flavorful and enjoyable.

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Photo of Dodo2step
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

P- Pittsburgh Bottle Cafe

A- a dark deep mahogany with ruby highlites. A half finger carbonated head. A nice lattice lacing on my pint as well.

S- dark candied fruit, especially raisin. Molasses as well.

T- a very sugary raisin flavor. Plum flavor also complement the raisin and grain nicely.

M- a full bodied belgian dark. This beer is slightly heavy. Its like chewing on plums and raisins.

D- i got through half of it pretty quick and then the alcohol hit me. It is a nice sipper. Smooth and great.

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Photo of vandemonian
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had the Raison D'etre at the Dogfish Head in Gaithersburg. It has a nice dark orange colour and once it was bought to our table it had very little head. It mainteained a light lacing around the edge of the glass though. The smell is mostly of yeast with a hint of sweet caramel. The main taste here is a sweet, dark caramel flavour which I assume is from the beet sugar and the raisons. There is also a nice roasty malt flavour in there too. This beer feels great in the mouth sue to the nice thick texture and the good carbonation. I really interesting and tasty beer.

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Photo of ekempey
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip. This beer was bottled on 2/26/07, and served on 6/20/07.

The beer has a nice mahogany and deep red hue to it, and as poured creates a one finger head which dissapates quickly. On the nose are malt, hops, chocolate, and spice. The first taste reveals hints of hops and molasses. The beer had a mild body to it, not overly carbonated, and leaves a nice sweet after taste in your mouth. The beer is pretty drinkable, and a nice warmth settles after a few sips.

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Photo of mooseo
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into tulip.

A - Pours a rich mahogany brown with a dense off white head.

S - Plum, raisin, Belgian candi sugar, roasted malts, molasses.

T - Taste is a blend of dark fruit, molasses, candi sugar, and bready malts. Earthy, mildly bitter hops come out, balancing the sweetness. Finish is nutty with hints of nutmeg and allspice.

M - Smooth, medium bodied, a bit creamy. High carbonation, slightly warming alcohol.

O - Decent brew. While it's not the most complex Belgian strong ale around, it still has great flavor and drinkabilty. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of berley31
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured with an average-sized, off-white head that diminished to 1/4-finger. Body is a very nice deep-ruby color, and clear.

S: Very sweet aroma of light malt and some fruitiness that seems to be made up mostly of grapes.

T: Interesting... comes across as lightly sweet and fruity, and then finishes lightly bitter. A few seconds after sipping, the dryness hits and stays with you for a while.

M: Full-bodied and very creamy... almost chewy. Average carbonation.

D: Once again, a very interesting beer from DFH. Something that would probably be great paired with certain foods, but not something I would probably want more than one at a time.

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Photo of Micahman
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I should note that I have a bit of a head cold as I review this beer, so my olfactory sense is a bit muttled.

Rich, deep mahogany color, moderate carbonation, yet nice long columns of bubbles after a pour.

Small (~1.0 in) head, dissipating quickly to leave sparse lace around the top of the glass. I tried a tall hefeweizen glass (not recommended), and a large red wine glass, which drank much better.

The taste is delicious. At first I wasnt awestruck, but after a couple the rich, carmel and raisin tones came out on top, with a warm, dark aftertaste that belied it's 8% abv. Slight hints of spice. The more I drank this beer, the more that warm, fall taste grew on me. Excellent late fall or early winter beer. Packs a good punch.

Decent mouthfeel, but this beer really shines in it's immediate aftertaste. All the flavors come out.

Fairly drinkable, but i wouldnt have more than 3 or so in a sitting. Recommended beer.

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Photo of thegodfather1076
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Presentation: Typical DFH label with DFH logo, ABV info, small desc of the beer, a bit of brewery info, web info, bottled on date(9-11-12).

Appearance: Poured from 12oz bottle into a 16oz snifter. Poured out a deep hazelnut brown color with a 1½ finger tan airy foam head. Retention was 2min 12sec before fading to a thin coating and ring. Lacing was just OK.

Smell/Aroma: Smells of molasses and sweet dark fruit. Has a definite raisin or grape scent.

Flavor/Taste: Taste if of sweet raisin on the front-end along with hints of dark fruit, caramel, and molasses. This turns to a nice toasty malt back-end and a bit of a dry finish.

MouthFeel/Drinkability: On the full side of medium bodied with a smooth slightly creamy mouthfeel. A bit overly carbonated to be highly drinkable.

Overall: I had no idea what to expect going into this and came away pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed this and while it is different and may not appeal to the masses it is def worth checking out. Classified as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale @ 8% ABV. Consumed 5/23/2013.

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Photo of abcsofbeer
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark amber color with very small head after the pour. Head disappears quickly, but leaves a nice lace 3/4 of the way through the glass. Musty, fruity flavor with a nice, but hard to pinpoint aftertaste. Finishes strong with the taste remaining consistent all the way to the bottom. Highly recommend this one.

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Photo of meadhead
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

an american strong dark ale
with the listed
beet sugars / green rasins
hints of caramel malt and
a dry finish on exhalation

Pours a clear tan mahogany
with a nice non-sticking lace

taste is not categorical
a dogfish head™ original baste

mouthfeel is a little too sweet
and just a tad bit syrupy

yet drinkability is good
something too sip
that doesn't cause burping

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Photo of AllThingsNinja
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This copper-brown ale pours with a sizeable head, although it leaves little lace. The sugar aroma my have hints of other notes, but it lacks complexity. The flavors blend sugar sweetness, caramel malt, and raisin flavors with a a mild alcohol flavor. The mouth feel is medium to full bodied but there are times when it felt like I was drinking sugar water. There was a peculiar texture to the fluid. For a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Raison d'etre is quite drinkable.

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Photo of filabrazilia
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a semi-clear orange amber with a small white head. Good lace drapes the glass.

A sweet malt aroma mixes with a faint fruity nose.

The malt is the dominant flavor in the taste but it's balanced by a grapelike presence. They are both balanced by a touch of alcohol.

This is a pretty thick and chewy brew that finishes with a nice alcohol warmth.

This is a good beer that I would recommend. Interesting.

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Photo of whiterabbit
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful colour, rich dark golden brown with hints of red and orange.

Nice aroma. Mild yet inviting. Sweet, banana and wine? Mellow, not very strong

Several layers of taste. First smooth, sweet, maybe fruity. Quickly tarts up. Wine, raisin, maybe some caramel.; then alcohol. no mistaking that. Starts smooth, but rather harsh finish'

Mouth feel changed at least three times, I like the complexity from sweet, to smooth, to sharp.;

Like this one. Different, strong, tasty and good. Not a big fan of this brewery, don't get the hype, as good, but not great, but this offering is a winner.

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Photo of JDK
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark amber with a 1/4" head that quickly disappeared.
Minimal, if any, lacing and it quickly disappeared
Nice smell, somewhat fruity with a hint of malt
Medium mouthfeel with no hint of alcohol, even at 8%, which was surprising
The taste is of fuits apples, raison's and a toasted malt. Minimal carbonation and no aftertaste.
Overall a decent dark ale and definately worth trying (as are all the brews from Dogfish Head!)

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Photo of jtslay
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours with minimal head and begins to fill the air with a sweet aroma that, so far, I have found common to Dogfish Head brews. The appearance is excellent with a very dark amber pour that look beautiful in the light. The taste is sweet like the aroma and is followed by a slight taste of raisins. The drinkability is moderate due to the sweet nature of this beer. This can fill one's palate completely.

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Photo of benyerd
3.82/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Medium brown to amber in color, white head then dissipates quickly, minimal lacing left on the glass, minimal carbonation, great clarity.

S-Raisons overpower, with a semi sweet (Belgian) in the nose. Dark fruits also seem to linger.

T-Unique Belgian flavor. Dark fruits with mild citrus flavor. Rich and malty in the finish.

M-Light mouth feel that fits this style well.

D-Very drinkable, and unique for its style. True to the Dogfish Moto

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Photo of mscudder
3.82/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Duvel Snifter.

A - Ruby brown with a tan head. Leaves little lacing, but looks quite attractive while it retains.

S -Dominated by dark fruits. That said, there are some hints of dark malts, and certainly some raisins.

T - Dark fruits take the forefront on this one, followed by a complex composition of tastes which, personally, I am not in love with. This is enjoyable for those who like some depth to their beer, yet I feel that the taste should be a bit for "full" given the style they are going for.

M - A solid malt backbone but fairly empty beyond that. Some flavors of fruit persist but it seems a bit empty. Carbonation is low, but optimal.

O - This is another good brew from Dogfish Head. This is by no means the best they have produced, yet it is something truly unique. I probably will not pursue many additional bottles in the future, but I can comprehend why some may cherish this beer.

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Photo of jsanford
3.82/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Cracked this one while I watched premiere of Brew Masters. Poured into a New Belgium Globe.

A - Pours a hazy dark reddish-copper with a thin and creamy ivory head. Very nice retention and lacing.
S - Complex nose, reminiscent of a Belgian Quad. Notes of brown sugar, sweet caramel malt, and dark dried fruits (raisins and dates), with a slight bit of alcohol "heat".
T - Very close to the nose, sweet malt, brown sugar and dried fruits dominate again. I'm amazed by the amount of raisin flavor they were able to impart into this, it's almost like liquid Raisinets. Thankfully not as boozy as the nose would suggest.
M - Medium-bodied with low carbonation. Very slick mouthfeel, and slightly oily.
D - This is a great sipper, almost like a Rochefort with raisins added. Can't see myself drinking more then one in a sitting, though.

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Photo of gtermi
3.82/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked up a 12 oz bottle at the local store and used a typical pint glass.

The appearance is nice. It has a copper color with not much head.

The smell has a nice amount of alcohol, some sweetness and maybe caramel.

The taste is pretty good. The first thing I get is about of alcohol. It also has a nut brown taste and a nutty after taste.

The mouthfeel is sort of like your basic beer, with maybe a little less carbonation.

Overall this is a good beer. I wouldnt go seek this out just to have a glass, but if its ever on sale I would gladly pick this up again.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.82/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brownish red in color with no head forming on the pour. It's a thin, translucent liquid. Smell is some sweetness and dark fruits. Taste is much the same, with something tart as well. Flavor gets a little cloying after a while. This is a very decent beer. Well done and no drawbacks.

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Photo of shand
3.82/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

This beer pours a red-amber colour with a finger of head that quickly dissapates. There's just a bit of retention on the very top that resists. Lacing is minimal. The smell is fairly malty, with a bit of Belgian yeasts and fruits, yes, including raisins. The taste follows the nose, this is a brew with some Belgian influences on the sugar and yeast with some nice full malty flavors with fruit to round it off. Not amazing, but still quite good.

The mouthfeel and drinkability are both solid, it's medium bodied with a bit of a crisper body. The drinkability is also solid, the Belgian yeasts kind of grate on me personally. A solid brew from Dogfish Head.

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Photo of BWH3
3.82/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle from a Goblet at 50 F

Appearance: Gorgeous deep amber, crystal perfect clarity. Topped by off white head with superb surface tension allowing it to cling to the glass and lace out above the beer. The head retention is not very impressive for pseudo-Belgian ale. In fact to obtain a head, a fairly vigorous pour is necessary.

Smell: Truly unique scent that only improves with allowing the beer to breathe and warm slightly. The aroma is of golden raisins with a sour note. I also detected an alcoholic scent as well.

Taste: moderately sweet, nonmalty. The taste is more delicate than robust. Some spiciness/tingling at the back of the throat makes me think a Belgian yeast strain was used. I do not taste the alcohol but certainly feel its warming effects. Appropriately no hops in the flavor. Taste is crisp and does not linger long.

Mouthfeel: More body than most Belgian ales, but oddly it runs quickly off the tongue. The carbonation is light. Certainly above average but the low point of the tasting when compared to the rest of the beer.

Drinkability: One maybe two at most. I enjoy splitting one of these with a friend when we transition from one beer to another. The flavor is unique and big enough to follow any beer, yet it does not impede your ability to enjoy the next round. Also, about half a bottle is all I need to enjoy at one time.

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Photo of josefnewsong
3.82/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark amber brown, almost opaque, with very little tannish head
S - raisins, prunes, alcohol, yeast, sweet malts
T - raisins and prunes with some alcohol warmth and belgian yeast flavors, molasses and maybe some brown sugar as well, tasty but not very cohesive or balanced
M - medium bodied and sticky, could be a little smoother but it's nice especially as it warms. a little watery.
D - definitely drinkable just slightly underwhelming overall

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 51.7% out of 100 with 4,301 ratings
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