Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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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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Reviews: 1,772 | Ratings: 4,288
Photo of rtratzlaff
2.51/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Raison d'etre "Reason for being" pours a deep ruby reddish color with a thin white head that sticks around and sticks to the glass here and there. The aromas are sticky sweet maltiness with dark fruit. There's not much spice in the nose. It seems a bit simple for a BSDA in the nose. The flavor is pretty much the same, not bad, but just lacking in complexity. No clove, no spice. Prunes are there in full force. A bittering in the finish with a slight hint at anise but nothing much more than a thought. Green raisins? Yeah.
The mouthfeel is full and fluffy. To style, this beer falls far short; however, as a beer in general, its not bad. I would recommend this for someone with a thing for malt forward beers with a slight Belgian quality.

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Photo of aasher
2.51/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

This beer poured a rich mahogany, very translucent with a light beige colored head that quickly dissipated and laced the glass. This beer didn't smell like any fruit like others have said but kind of has a mild brown sugar, molasses like sweet malt scent to it. It's one of those smells that I just am not a fan of. The taste is of sweet malt and beet sugar. Personally I do not like it, think it's kinda gross, but I get what they were going for. It's just an over malted ale to me. I'm not getting any raisin at all. Like a lot of DFH's beers, this drinks exceptionally smooth. I just can't like this. It's flavors are odd and the 8% is pretty noticeable. The bottle says it was brewed with a sense of purpose. So I ask, what WAS the purpose?

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Photo of SirDrinxAlot
2.51/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a clear dark amber with 1/2 finger head that disippates quickly and leaves little lace.

Smells like smoked molasses and light raisin brown sugar.

Tastes like malt and molasses, that leaves a sweet smokey flavor on the tongue.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with pretty high carbonation.

An interesting brew with some different flavors but nothing I really feel like going back for seconds for. Kind of a weird sweetness to the flavor. I guess thats the Belgian beet sugars and green raisins?? Whatdya expect. By the end of the beer the flavor was wearing on me and I had had enough.

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Photo of WoodBrew
2.49/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

I am not a fan of the Raison d'Etre, I should also point out that I am not a fan of Belgium Strong Ales, so please accept my review as more of a personal opinion than as an afficionado of Belgium Strong beers. The appearance is a slightly hazy light brown with a one finger tan head. Some lacing left on the glass. Smell includes alcohol, coffee, fruit, mostly raisins.
Taste includes alcohol, heavy malt, sweet dark fruit. Mouthfeel is tough...lots of alcohol and much flavor to try and mask it. To me the balance is a bit off. Overall I am glad I tried it but I am not a fan.

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Photo of CBlack85
2.48/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a New Belgium globe glass.

Pours a clear dark mahogany with a more reddish than copper hue. Not much head, even with a fairly aggressive pour. Beer seems very still, and leaves no lacing.

The aroma is of dark fruit and seems overly sweet. The belgian yeast is the only thing that seems pleasing to the nose.

The taste is not much better than the nose. There is something off putting about the raisins (really more like prunes). The alcohol is hot and rubbing alcoholesque. Although its not all bad, there are notes of caramel, toffee, and candy sugar. Finishes dry, and is medium bodied and under carbinated.

The beer seems to get much better as it warms, the alcohol seems to mellow a bit and the off putting raisin/prune seem to meld with the rest of the flavors. Unfortunately they don't meld enough to save this beer for me. I really wanted to like this beer, but it didn't quite get there for me.

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Photo of WhiteOak
2.47/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A- Copper/brown.

S- Dead, hollow nose. Nothing of any interest happening here, just a touch of unpleasant funkiness.

T- Simple malt with a faint note of oxidized currant. Lacks a certain grip on the palate.

M, D- Too monotonous for inspired consumption, much less repeat again, the lack of interest was a surprise with this one.

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Photo of ethosx19
2.46/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I got a six pack and was excited to try this. As much as I wanted to like it, I just can't. It poured a dark rich amber with very little head. The aroma was a mix of raisons and alcohol - they don't mix well. It tasted of malt and raisons with a creamy alcohol finish. I didn't like the raisons and I didn't like the alcohol taste. I'm going to age these a few months and hope they improve. On the plus side, one beer at 8% did give me a buzz on an empty stomach.

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Photo of jpoder
2.46/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

a: nice dark reddish color and crystal clear. nice tan head dissipated fairly quickly.

s: smelled of roasted malt...and almost nothing else

t: MALTY...sweet, chocolate. strong alcohol bite, and soapy taste (coming from the hops?!). where are the contributions from the raisins? I would expect a dark fruity, rummy flavor that is non-existent in this one.

m: bitter astringency. not really pleasant mouthfeel.

D: if I close my eyes this would be a somewhat nice scoch ale...possibly even a stout, but not a belgian strong dark. Not well balanced,

I had high expectations given other DFH beers I've had. labeled a Belgian Strong Dark and "brewed with Belgian candi sugars and raisins" I thought this should be a good one. Very disappointed that I put back a Saison DuPont to buy a pack of this.

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Photo of TCMike
2.44/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured into a pint glass. Only produced a 1/4 inch beige head. The color is mahogany like.

The smell is almost too strong. It smelled of dark fruits, toast, and alcohol.

It had an upper medium body, and fairly high carbonation. The taste was very bold. The alcohol, and raisin taste is done to excess. It was very sweet, and had just a faint hint of bitter on the end.

Not very drinkable in my opinion. If it was toned down a little it would be a decent beer.

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Photo of TexIndy
2.42/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured a deep mahogany from a 12 oz dated bottle. Had a litte bit of head and some carbonation. Didn't have as strong a smell as expected since 8% - actually seemed a little weak. The taste however did have a bit. I'm not real big on the high alcohol beers so this one only gets an OK rating. Good for getting a quick buzz but won't be searching it out. Worth a try just to say you had but buy 1 not a 6-pack. (2, NA, ML, N)

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Photo of swhite11
2.42/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

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

[Appearance] - Pours dark amber with a mahogony hue. Head is bubbly and off white. Pours 1 finger and retains/laces average at best.

[Aroma] - Tons of cloying caramel malt sweetness followed up by slight notes of roast.
sublte notes of rum and dark fruits.

[Taste] - This beer is a mess. Very sweet upfont, cloying. Hop bitterness follows but is weak and grossly insufficient. Fusel alcohol and metallic astringincy follow and linger preventing any other impressions on taste to develop.

[Mouthfeel] - Excessively cloying upfront followed by overly thinning alcohol solvency and metallic astringincy.

[Drinkability] - 1 is more than enough. This beer is a bit chaotic.

[Overall] - Avoid this one. Dogfish stikes again with another overrated, if not, outright bad beer. A Belgain inspired beer that is out of balance.

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Photo of litheum94
2.4/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle. Bottled on 6/8/11. Reviewed 9/6/11.

Clear bronze body, light brown head with lots of active bubbles. Fizzes out loudly, leaving a thin cover.

Caramel coated apple. Belgian candi and yeast. Cloves and alcohol bite. Dark, fruits. A touch of floral hops.

Roasted barley husks and caramel malts. Earthy middle with a metallic twinge. Light floral hopping. Slightly vinous.

The metallic taste leaves a horrible feeling in my mouth. I'm sure it's from the alcohol, but it tasted terrible. I couldn't finish this beer. Huge disappointment.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.4/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

$1.99 single at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a clear, red body with a thinning, off-white head.

Smell: While not overly fragrant, there aroma still holds plenty of sweet-smelling candy, dehydrated fruits, and Belgian-ish yeast.

Taste: Starts with a fruity, sweet (even winey) flavor that isn't acutely raisiny, but moreso sugary and vague vegetal with some alcohol notes. The finish is all at once tart, roasty, and syrupy. Did I miss something?

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Velvety mouthfeel. Ample carbonation.

Drinkability: I find it fortuitous that I was allowed to purchase a mere single bottle of this.

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Photo of cjgator3
2.39/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass. Pours a dark mahogany brown with an off-white head. The aroma consists of malt, some dark fruits, rum soaked raisens and alcohol. The taste is very imbalanced and is overly boozy which greatly hinders both the taste and drinkability. I definately won't be going back to this one.

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Photo of kurtissellen
2.39/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured into an oversized wine glass which produced a small ½ finger head that immediately disappeared. Nice reddish brown color with some carbonation. It had a strange aroma that smelled a little like bacon not too impressive. The taste was similar with hints of bacon, decomposing leaves, and campfire smoke. I really didn't care for this one at all and came close to just dumping it out. I'm not sure if I just got a bad batch of this or what because I have enjoyed all the other Dogfish Head beers I've tried. I'll have to try this one again in the future to see if something was wrong with the bottle I tried.

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Photo of DogFood11
2.38/5  rDev -35%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Poured into a tulip it forms an off white head that falls to a thin cover in little time. Light brown body with hardly any visisble carbonation. Not all that inviting.

Wow, this is an oddball thats for sure. I really didn't get what they were trying for here as its all over the map. First pull and my initial thoughts were powdered medicine mixed with water. Yes, there is alot more to it than that but that was my first impression. Syrupy and sweet. Slightly woody in the nose but doesn't translate to the palate. The finish is dirty and leaves a thick coating that nevery really leaves until the next pull.

Notes: While not horrible this is a mystery brew of sorts. There was a nice spiced segement but it becomes an afterthought as this medicinal theme and the covered palate that takes over and bungles it up.

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Photo of jujubeast6000
2.38/5  rDev -35%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed 6/13/2007 (12oz bottle):

Pours an amber red colored body, clear, not very fizzy. Has a small tan head, diminishing. An aroma of dark fruit, and raisins maybe. Strong sugary malty. Malty salty taste, dark roasted malt aftertaste. Sweet carmelized taste.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
2.36/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Presented in a 12oz. brown bottle as depicted. Poured a very dark brown color with a compact ¼" vanilla hued head that quickly dwindled down to a thin ring and left no lace.
The smell was of brown sugar, bready malts, some dark fruit and an almost overpowering alcohol aroma. The aroma of medicinal alcohol came off the glass in waves and kept interfering with attempts to decipher any other other smells. The taste was quite sweet up front; lots of sugar and raisins with an earthy malt base. The sweetness crowded out any other flavors except for a strong astringent alcohol flavor that just overran the palate like a horde of barbarians laying waste to a medieval village. The feel was medium-bodied, rather crisp and puckering and dry.
Overall, this just wasn't one of Dogfish Head's better brews, IMO. There was no effort to disguise the alcohol content. If anything, it seemed to be amplified. That alone was enough for me to not want to try this brew more than once. A brew that's too off balance to be very appealing.

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Photo of sls0210
2.36/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Dark mahogany color, creamy head. Smell the raisins, brown sugar, molasses, definitely getting the alcohol too. Really sweet, too much so - raisins, caramel, burnt sugar, the alcohol is ever present. Mouthfeel was flat, carbonation not good at all. First DFH beer and none too impressed. Definitely unlike any quality Belgian beer I've ever had, in a bad way. Have some DFH 60 minute and a brown IPA waiting in the fridge, hoping for a better product from this brewery with those.

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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 kpoole25
2.35/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I didn't care for this beer, and I like most of what DFH makes. I only drank about 6 oz before pouring the rest out. I'd say this is the first beer where I really tasted the alcohol, and it wasn't the warm, sweet kind, it was the medicine cabinet type. The appearance was fine, a nice dark brown. Aromas had a little zing, almost tangy, I was thinking this might be a bit sour. Then the taste, initally sugary sweet that turned just gross. Pass on this one.

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Photo of WilliamLee
2.34/5  rDev -36.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A dark tea color. No head.
Aroma: Raisin, chocolate, and malt.
Taste: Green fruit-black pepper-grassy funk-burnt malt. The sweetness up front is blasted away by the green fruit, black pepper, burnt malt taste that dominates the flavor. Fairly complex flavors but there isn't much that I enjoy. If you like these flavors then it could be enjoyable. For me, it could have been worse but this a borderline bad beer. Blech!

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Photo of PriorateOden
2.32/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Why did this burn/tickle my tongue? Not at all distasteful, but sorta plain-jane. I thought it was bland on the nose and taste really seemed limited and narrow. No complex aromas no shifting flavors, just mild and... pleasant but weak. It was super tingle-ie and bubbly in the mouth. I love me some Dogfish Head,, but not this one.

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Photo of yelterdow
2.28/5  rDev -37.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

This bottle was produced on 11/06/06, so we've got a fresh example here. Served at a few degrees under cellar tempearture in a Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Gorgeous color... ruby bordering on purple, as crystal clear as any beer I've ever seen. The head barely reaches an inch, then it reduces to a thin outside border along the iinside of the glass. Sporadic spots of lacing here and there. Aside from the nice color, it's just OK.

Smell- The smoky, tinny, metallic, undesirable nose hurts my eyes... it really isn't pleasant at all. I've never smelled Belgian beet sugar, but something about this aroma makes me cough and squint. Burnt insects.

Taste- The same interesting, yet off-putting character is right here on the palate just as it was in the aroma. Not to mention the alcohol... it's starting to become more noticable too. The ingredients used in this brew dominate in a heavy-handed way, with the Belgian sugar content way too much for my personal taste. Alone, this beer is extremely difficult to sit back and even sip.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- In the mouth, the texture is extraordinary. Right away, it rolls and swirls with ease and grace... laughing in the face of everything harsh and undesirable about the beer thus far. I give DFH credit where it's due... always pushing the limits of what's possible, and staying true to its mission and purpose. I just am really having a hard time with this beer. I finished it though...

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Photo of jjanega08
2.28/5  rDev -37.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A= pours a very dark brown almost black color with a thin head that falls fast leaving no lacing.
S= belgian spice and grape peels. Very plain kinda. Caramel malts are there and sort of smells overly sweet.
T= like I nocticed in the smell it was overly sweet and the belgian yeast doesn't quite fit.
M= lower carbonation and sort of covering
D= not too great. I really don't find this beer to be good. Ill finish it but never think about buying it again for a very long time.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,288 ratings.
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