Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

4,291 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: 4,291 |  Reviews: 1,772
Photo of delta490
3.82/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured a 12oz bottle into a Samuel Adams Glass. Poured a medium-deep brown with a light tan colored head. Most of the head disappears pretty quickly, but a little lingers on and leaves a little lacing on the glass. Aroma is mostly sweet malt notes (caramel, fruit) and a little bit of spice. The taste is very similar, with just s hint of hop bitterness on the finish. A little heavy on the carbonation and little thin on the mouthfeel but neither is really a detriment.

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

I do enjoy Dogfish Heads brews and this is no exception. Not much of a head when I poured it. Smelled strong of malts and fruits. An excellent taste. Malty flavors with a hint of wheat maybe? It is very drinkable for an 8%. The alcohol is very subdued.

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

poured from the bottle into my pint glass

poured a reddish copper color which seemed a little too light for the style.

the smells that come through are the spice notes, and dark fruits

the spices are the upfront flavor, with the raison flavor coming through in the middle and following through to the finish

for being a lighter fairly wel carbonated beer it is surprsingly heay and a slow drinker with medium drinability

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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 beermanbrian
3.82/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep mahogony color. Head falls to a thin ring around the glass. Smell of some dark fruits and some heavy dark malts. First impression when i take a drink is a crisp bite right up front. The taste that follows is an earthy taste. Alcohol gives a little warming sensation on the finish. I'm kind of on the fence on this one. A nice beer that i could see enjoying on occasion but not as a regular.

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Photo of Citadel82
3.82/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is as good a Belgian strong dark ale as any I have tried from Belgium. Warming and complex, it fits the bill nicely as Winter blows its last gasps here on Sandy Hook Bay.

Pours a dark ruby with a short-lived off-white head,

Aroma of malty sugars, dried fruit and candy.

Taste is vinous, alcohol medicine fruity yeast and some dry hops.

Mouthfeel is medium with a subtle stickiness and a short dry finish that can be re-kindled by swirling your tongue around your palate.

Drinkable? I think so, and I am going to grab one for a night cap.

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

Appearance- Pours a translucent light braown beer with a light, off-white head.

Smell- Creamy, nutty, biscuity and honey sweetness

Taste-Light cocoa, hazel nut, lightly sour and vineous in a most pleasant way. Sweetness reminiscent of a mead. Low, noble or english hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel- Moderately carbonated and middling body, with lots of malt complexity to unravel on the tongue.

Drinkability- Full flavor covers big alcohol presence. No burn and little warmth produced. A nice interesting leadoff to a tasting session. Still ABV limits drinkability.

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Photo of russpowell
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours ruby red to chestnut with a 3 fingers+ sand/pink colored head in my La Chouffe wine goblet style glass. Good lacing & minimal head retention

Smell: Some barely discernable slighlty musty & leather notes

Taste:Malty caramel notes folowwed by choclate, leather & yeasty flavors Finishes with fruitty wine-like notes & dryness

MF: A little thin for the the style, but very good carbonation

Drinks easy for the strength, dut doesn't quite pull together for me

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Photo of Vman
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nice brew. I was hoping for more, but it never quite got there. Smell is so-so, not very strong. Looks very nice in a pint glass, with not much head to speak of.

The taste was good and straightforward, with a great mouth feel, but not very complex. This reminds me of a Sam Double Bock, but with something missing. Very strong at 8%.
Give it a shot, take your time with this one.

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Photo of Bisco42
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on 9/10/2012, Poured into a nucleated Tulip.

L - Deep mahognany, just as the bottle says. Brownish, fairly carbonated.

S - Raisins, Bitter fruit, Cranberries, Peach, Spoiled Mango

T - Bits of Raisin, Orange, Copper

F - Carbonation that bursts in the stomach, burps, sof.

O - Good Beer, probably wouldn't search around to find it agian.

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Photo of TheBrewo
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

We pour a brew of deep red brown. It holds a tan head of two fingers, which leaves little lacing as is slowly dies down. The beer is otherwise clear, with active carbonation swirling throughout. The aroma is a combination of burnt caramel notes, dark prunes, mild esters, honey, and hints of dark dry chocolate. As we sip, the front is sweet, malty, and has inclusions of dark fruits. Through the middle of the swallow we get an even heavier graininess mixed, and counterbalanced, by bitter chocolate. The taste ends with a sweeter, fruity aftertaste that is overly dominated by a coppery flavoring, likely lent by the beet sugars. There is also the slightest burn of alcohol. The mouth is left feeling surprisingly satiated by the brew's light mouth coating characteristics. The body is medium, and the carbonation is medium to high. The drinkability is fair but not outstanding, due to the use of several unique ingredients which slow you down a bit and make you think.

Overall, the best things about this beer are its rich, deep coloring, and the conservative use of some of the more outlandishly sweet ingredients. This beer certainly has the potential to be offensively sweet, but due to careful craftsmanship it remains a curious and ultimately agreeable find.

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Photo of kkipple
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ok, before I go any further, "Raison D'etre" means, according to dictionary.com, "reason for being". I just learned a word definition on account of a bottle of beer. Wonders never cease.

So, Raison D'etre pours a rich looking rust color with a massive head that settles down to 2cm all round my goblet. Some lacing. Looks wonderful.

Smell is hops, yeast, fruit (white grapes?) and malt. Sweetness & alcohol round it off.

Taste: initial malty, aleish taste gives way to hops, mild bitterness, and a sweet brown sugar aftertaste. Yummy! Trying to taste the "green raisins" the bottle advertises, but can't. It's smooth and lightly carbonated. This is 8% ABV? Who knew?

Dangit though, I want to taste raisins! Alas, maybe the next bottle will come through for me. Ahh, it's beginning to warm my stomach. Might be the 8% kicking in.

I really enjoyed this one. Make sure you don't serve it too cold as you'll lose a lot of the subtle flavors. Raison D'etre is very tasty and complex, and I'd be glad to have one again. In fact, seeing as I bought a 6 pack, that's all but certain. Green Raisins, if you're in there, beware, I'm hunting for you!

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Photo of becktone
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes 12-4-08

Eye: Nice looking brew as it is poured into the glass. Color is a rusty brown and the brew is pretty clear. When light passes through it the beer turns a beautiful red tinged with orange and yellow highlights. Head is a creamy looking thing that has real nice formation and retention. Lacing is real nice forming rings round the glass connected by sheets of lacing.

Nose: Dark candied malts, dark fruit-raisins and prunes. Some notes from alcohol also come through, a warm spicy type of aroma from alcohol. No hops present, or at least detectable. Nice aroma overall, but I think that it could be a bit stronger and have a little more depth...it would just make it better.

Tongue: Some toasty flavors and some slight almost coffee/cacao flavors are in here, but I'd describe them as very light and not quite typical of that description. Usually, as in stouts or porters, those flavors are pretty heavy, this is just a hinting at them, just slightly there, accented by some alcohol notes. Overall big malt sweetness in this brew. Raisin character along with other dark fruits are present. Some nuttiness and caramel as well. The beer is balanced and not overly sweet, its the darker malts though that balance it out with their toastiness. Overall the beer tastes good, its just that there really isn't much here in the way of complexity. Alcohol is hidden pretty well, that and what is preceived works well with the rest of the brew to add to its flavor.

Feel and Drinkability: The beer leaves the tongue feeling thick and heavy, almost the way the palate feels when parched. Carbonation is low and suits the beer. Hints at a warming sensation when swallowed. This beer is full bodied and leaning towards thick on the palate, I feel like alot of residual sugar gives it this feeling....it does however work for the beer. This one is easy to drink, however, I'm not sure how readily I'd pick it up again. I'm sure I'll eventually be buying this and drinking it again, but I can't see myself doing it anytime soon. It's a good beer but nothing all that great. Don't get me wrong, its great, but for me it just doesn't have anything that pulls me back tot the beer, nothing that I truely love about it.

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Photo of Ruger
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a mahogany with an off white one finger head and thin lacing.

S - Not much of a smell as I expected malts and dark fruits and a bit of spice.

T - Really malty, caramel, with dark fruits, slight raisins, and a really awesome finish that leaves a sweet aftertaste.

M - Medium bodied with light carbonation which I like, really smooth and pleasant to drink feels great in the mouth.

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Photo of steck34
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased this Raison D'Etre at Wilburs Total Beverage in Fort Collins. I've had this beer a number of times, but this time I am drinking it with two friends who haven't had the pleasure.

The color is a burnt amber with little head retention and light carbonation. It smells sweet and alcoholish as my friend has so elegantly described. The mouthfeel is flirting with a light creamy texture , combined with malty sweetness and an underlining hint of alcohol warmth. The overall taste of the beer was complex, but very easy to drink.

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Photo of GreenMind
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

A: A medium-dark copper with good clarity. The head is tan and thin, the ring of bubbles around the glass last but the rest dissipates. There is some lacing on the glass that quickly slides down back into the beer.

S: Green raisin and alcohol are the first scents to hit your nose along with a Belgian yeast pepper aroma and malt sweetness. The fruitiness is moderately-strong with moderate alcohol, yeast and malt aromas. There is a little graininess to the malt in the background. no perceived hop aroma.

T: A moderately light malt sweetness and hops bitterness with some of the moderate alcohol balancing the sweetness. The balance ends ups slightly towards the bitter. There is a light raisin and plum flavor with moderately-light peppery notes and a light alcohol sweetness. The finish is medium and the aftertaste is of sweetness and fruity flavors.

M: Medium-full bodied with a moderately-strong carbonation and some alcohol warmth.

O: The fruit component is a bit lighter than you'd expect both from being brewed with raisin and for a Dark Strong although the brew calls it a Belgian Brown. When I think if this as a Dark Strong it seems disappointing thin on the flavors and note fruity enough but when I think of a Brown brewed with Belgian yeast this all makes sense as is fairly enjoyable which is how I scored it.

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Photo of SIRIUS2
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Mahogany brown, clear, with a light foaming head. Moderate head retention and no lacing to speak of. The head reduced to an uneven fat ring of bubbles that stayed with the drink.

S: Subtle but complex. Some nice aromas of fruit, perhaps dates or figs, and some malty undertones that matched nicely with it. Nothing overwhelming that stood out on its own, just a light subtle understated aroma.

T: A rather light flavored brew for the weight and color. The tastes mingle well and are very balanced, almost too balanced as nothing stands out to give it a specific character. Like the smell, the flavors are complex but subtle, which makes you keep looking for something in the flavor profile that you just know is there. The finish is quick and clean, with just the slightest linger of malt.

M&D: Looking at this you would think you are about to embark on a rather heavy drink but in reality this comes off rather light. The carbonation is also light, and goes well with the rest of the personality of this brew. It's smooth drinking and sort of easy going in its own way. I liked it, but there isn't anything that jumps out at me and screams "this is great!" I would drink it again though.

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Photo of Thrasher
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Something completely different. Poured from the bottle to not much head. Chemical fruit aroma, like cherry cough syrup. You can smell the alcohol. Initially like wine, then chocolatey sweet, fruity but an alarming finish - incredibly bitter. Cleans out the back of the throat as it goes down. I'm getting very medicinal qualities from this. The alcohol is blatant. I like this beer, I admire this beer... True, I wouldn't want to drink more than one at a time, but hey, this is art, right?

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

Received in a trade from MeisterBurger. Thanks!

A nice, unexciting but very quaffable belgian-style strong dark ale. Less head and lacing than I'd like, a funny (yet pleasing) mud-puddle brown colour to it. Taste is figgy, caramely, reminiscent of Trois Pistoles with all the KAPOW taken out (which is not necessarily a bad thing - I love that beer but it's sometimes a little in-your-face) - probably just a tad too subdued. Alcohol is present but adds to the taste rather than distracting from the experience. Low-carbonation, very more-ish. I'd pick up more of this anytime.

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

Light ruddy brown with an off white head. Gentle carbonation, not much lace. Aroma has lots of sweetness. Sugar, caramel malt, dark fruits, banana, alcohol. Belgian yeast funk as well.
Taste is full of complexity. Dark fruits and banana with a cocoa and coffee flair. Think mocha with a light shot of banana syrup. Dry chalky finish with a pleasing pucker that while not hoppy gives a similar clean crispness. Light syrupy feel and mild carbonation. A very nice take on the style and quite drinkable. Indeed the drinkability is one of the best qualities of this beer. It is the closest thing to a session BSDA I have had. Not a standout but a definite regular on my shopping list from now on.

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

This particular brew poured a small white head with small bubbles. The body was mahogany in color and there was no lacing on the sides of my glass. I sensed an aroma of raisins with this brew and the flavor had a hint of smoke. All in all, not a bad drink.

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Photo of SamuelJackson45
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- A dark ruby red in color with a medium head.

S- A sweet smell coming from the raisins and yeast.

T- Strong bold flavors from the spices and raisins and sugars. Hint of hops and yeast.

M-alittle dry to the pallet but sweet and bold nest from the sugars and yeast.

D- Sam sure knows how to mesh ingredients together to make them work and this beer works. Let's drink this again.

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Photo of philbe311
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark redish amber... Transparent, but looks quite thick... Nice head...

S - Sugar w/ mild hops... A little underwhelming...

T - Expected sweet... Got the bold hoppiness of a very unique blend...

M - Great balance and texture... Coats the mouth very well... Thick...

D - A unique well crafted and complex brew... A would drink again because I think I could find new complexity each time I indulged, but not a session beer...

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

Poured into a pilsner glass, which is blasphemous, I know. But they're new (my wife bought them for me), they look really cool and I like drinking from them. Poured a beautiful brown with a thick, frothy head that left a skim of crema-like head on top. A quick swirl brings back the thick head. The ale has a nice clarity without any visible carbonation.

The aroma is sweet like a dark fruit, perhaps figs, dates or, as it claims, raisins. There's something else there that I don't identify as alcohol until I taste it. The taste is very sweet, but not cloyingly so. I think I would have been able to identify it as Belgian without having to read it's a Belgian dark strong ale. The only other guess I can think of would have been a very unusual brown ale. I'm not experienced enough to distinguish a Belgian dark strong ale from a dubbel. Perhaps the Belgian dark strong ale lacks a hop presence. This ale definitely lacks a hop presence. There is an alcohol presence, but again not too much. The alcohol offers a spice that tries to balance the sweetness. The sweet fruity taste hits me first and then the spiciness follows through to the finish. Raisin D'Etre is a sipper, for sure.

The mouth feel is more carbonated than it looks and is pretty heavy on the palate. The extra bit of unexpected carbonation helps this along and contributes to its overall enjoyment.

Overall, I liked this beer. It's different, but based on the reviews I read I thought I would hate it. It turns out to be a pleasant surprise. I like the choice of malts and the way the roasting highlights them. I can imagine some might find this a little too sweet, but for me the spicy alcohol balances it enough that I enjoy it. Thankfully, I have another bottle; I would like to try this on-tap.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,291 ratings.
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