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 francisweizen
4.34/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A very delectable brew and believe it or not, my first from Dogfish Head! This beer pours out a dark brown, murky red colour with a decent head to it that lasts for the life of the beer and leaves a nice belgian lace on the glass as well. This beer has wonderful aromas, of dark fruits, raisons, figs, currants, sugars, maklts, and some earthy flavors as well. This tasted great. Like a cross between a belgian dark a grand cru and perhaps an old ale...very well done combination of flavors and a good balance as well. This beer had a mouthfeel that was a little thin for my tastes but the drinkability is still 'through the roof'

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Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a deep rusty brown/orange with little head.
The sweet malt and alcohol are immediately apparent. Sweet dried fruit and yeast notes underly the malt fragrance.

Well balanced, belgian strong, nice hop finishing the sweet crisp malt flavors. The dried fruit and yeastiness are nice and were a little underplayed in the aroma.

Well bodied brew neither thick nor thin, with a clean finish. Very crisp and refresing. A nice represenation of a style that I usually find too sweet and slick on the pallet.

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Photo of afogg0855
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very surprised by what I've got here. Rich, dark, and malty with a an easy-going sweetness. Absolutely delicious. I could drink this every night.

The bitterness is there but it is so subtle as to not overwhelm the casual beer lover.

The head is very light and frothy but the lacing is perfect and gives a nice touch to the appearance, which is a very dark amber red/brown.

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Photo of atigerlife
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark mahogony with a thin light brown head that dissipates rather quickly. No visible carbonation.

Aroma of malts, raisings, sweetness and hints of rum.

Taste is malts...like WOW that's malty! Dark, sweet fruits [raisins], alcohol. Slightly woody. Very, very tasty.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, creamy and cleansing.

Overall, very drinkable. Outstanding for the style. Quite impressive.

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Photo of WaltTrombone
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I tried this beer this past weekend, and liked it more than I thought I would. Fellow BA Eckaholic's tip to serve this in a snifter or tulip shaped glass was on the money. I tried it first in a pint glass, and had my second in a big snifter, and the aroma and taste were more focused in the snifter.

Red Mahogany body, with a white head that disappeared straight away. The aroma was sweet, with raisins, grape, and fresh-cut grass.

Tasting it was special, indeed, with sweet malt, raisins, and caramel balanced with just the right amount of tang and bitterness from the hops and carbonation. Creamy smooth mouthfeel. It finished with a caramel sweetness and a nice hops balance. I didn't realize it was an 8% ABV until my ears got warm, and I looked at the bottle. Very smooth and drinkable, not a trace of alcohol harshness.

A pet peeve from reading other reviews- the spelling of raisin... the dried fruit ends with -in. Raison is NOT fruit, it's the French/Freedom word for reason, as in "Raison d'etre" -"Reason for Being" It's fun wordplay on a number of levels, but it's not how to spell the word that describes the fruit.

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Photo of bonbright7
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was thinking of finding a dubbel-style beer or one that tasted like that for the Colts-Ravens playoff game when I found this one at Shoreline today.

The first pour reminded me of the Westmalle Dubbel with its slight head and it brown shag-rug of bubbles that shook in the tall pint glass.The first look was very appealing and the taste was even better as I loved the sweet malty taste that pinched me with the hops at the end.

As the glass contents slowly declined, I thought only one thing could be possibly better than this: the same beer on draft. As I can see many others have reviewed this beer, I hope the draft version is truly great.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a one-fingered white head leaving a good lace, Nice amber color. Very good carbonation. Sweet raisin nose. Starts sweet - mouthfeel is fizzy and finish is somewhat dry but good. The high ABV is not noticeable so be wary of this. A very good spiced beer.

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Photo of gromis
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love other Dogfishhead stuff, so I thought I'd give this a whirl.

This pours a semi-darkish amber. Not very much carbonation or head to speak of.

After letting this sit for about 20 minutes to warm and open up, the smell on this is a sweet spice and warm alcohol.

The taste on this is spice and sweetness. It almost reminds me of a sweet dopplebock, with the spice up front and a slight alcoholish fade.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one poured to a deep copper/rubyish color with a creamy tan head. It left behind a great deal of lace when I sipped it down. I found the smell to be wonderful. It was very raisiny, with hints of chocolate and caramel malts. The flavor was sweet, caramely, and raisiny. It is a smooth beer, medium-full in body with a slight alcoholic warmth. Another great offering from Dogfish Head.

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Photo of chaz01
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle served in a Belgian fishbowl glass.

A: Hazy light brown color with a nice head the recedes slowly to a collar around the glass.

S: Dark fruits like figs and raisins mixed with some earthy malt tones.

T: A little sweet honey initially, followed by more raisins and dark figs with a bitter orangey malty backbone.

M: Medium to full bodied with a bit of a thick syrupy mouthfeel. Nice lingering bitter orange finish.

D: Sam says he made this beer to answer the question "What beer would go best with a wood-grilled steak", and I'd have to agree. But enough flavor to have on it's own and not high enough in alcohol to prevent a second glass. One of my favorite go-to beers.

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Photo of ILiveOffHops
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the second time I have tried Raison D'etre...the first being at the Moan and Dove about a month ago. This time I am enjoying it at home. Purchased at Westford Liquors.

Appearance....Wow, this beer looks beautiful. Up against the light, it is a rich red color. There is very little head....but the little there is clings to edges of the glass. White/tannish in color.

Smell....Ahhh..the aroma of this is rich, fruity and sugary, but not overdone. Smells incredible. You can tell this was made with raisens as well as others fruits and sugars.

Taste...in one word this is delicious. Sweet and fruity, but not overly so in my mind. The sweetness of the fruit dominates any malty or hoppy flavors here. The alcohol here is very evident, but it does not detract from the flavor. If you regularly drink strongish craft beer, it will come across as a tasty beer. If you don't like to taste any alcohol, this may turn you off.

Mouthfeel...rich, the alcohol gives it a spicy feel to it. Goes down slick...like slippery goodness.

Drinkability....I could definitely drink a few of these. The flavors are assertive, but in a nice way. Not overly sweet. Every sip seems like a bite from the fruit of the beer gods...delicious. I will have a night of drinking just this.

On a side note...before this tasting I had this with a plate of 4 cheese tortellini and 5 cheese sauce. I recommend trying this beer with some nice italian food. It almost doubles as a sweet red wine.

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Photo of Dogbrick
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Guest tap at Barley's smokehouse, served in a snifter. This is an outstanding beer on draught. My wife ordered it and drank it, instead of just trying my beer as usual and I think that says it all. Pours a ruddy dark amber/copper color with a medium thin and fluffy off-white head. Thin and sticky lacing. The aroma is a complex blend of sweet fruit (raisins), malt, caramel and brown sugar. Medium-bodied and well-nuanced flavors that are alternatingly sweet and tart. It kind of reminds me of a sweeter version of Arrogant Bastard, with the fruit, hops, malt and other underlygin flavors. The finish is sweet, with creeping alcohol. Overall this is a great beer.

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Photo of elvisnj
4.36/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into my Duvel Tulip chalice.

Slow pour with not alot of head. Incredible color. Just beautiful dark ruby. The sun shined through it and it almost looks like a red wine. It made for an exciting start.

Smell is clearly Belgian yeast but with american malty nose. Its a good mix. I think they must use crystal malts.

Taste is right along with the nose. Its got raisins and full malt flavor. Plum and cherrys. Its also got a medium hop hit with a clean finish. Slight phenol warmth as well.

I like it alot. I am sorry I only had a single 12oz. I could have easily had another. 2 thumbs up to Dogfish for this one.

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Photo of Brent
4.36/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Hoo-hah! This is one serious beer! Venom is right, this is an old-style ale, to me almost a barlywine. Very chewy with dark fruit and a wine-like backbone. Had it with skewered beef and a very hot dipping sauce. This beer just laughed at the sauce and put it out without any effort.

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Photo of apintofknowledge
4.36/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What an amazing surprise! Tried this on a whim... made with raisins and beet sugars, I was hoping for an interesting experiment, but ended up finding one of my favorite recent discoveries, and the best so far by the amazing brewers at Dogfish Head.

The color alone is an experience. I would paint my apartment with that rich, warm, brown-red color. And the taste compares to some of my favorite true Belgians (certainly a worthy American tribute to the masters), with just a little something extra and different... must be coming from those raisins.

I'd recommend seeking this out on tap... after trying both bottle and tap, there's something in the taste missing from the bottle.

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Photo of kartoffel
4.37/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a really good beer for the style and would no doubt be strange to most. It is a bit thin and fruity but for a Belgian style it really hits the spot with it's American craft brew twists. It does taste a bit wild and the smell is awesome. I think it would be better as a sour beer but it's very complex as is.

From a bottle into a tulip/snifter. Low easily fading head typical of some true Belgian beers.
A: looks great like a sour red and even smells like it could be one but it does look great in a glass
S: smells phenomenal. Fruity with a hint of that Russian imperial stout smell but very subdued.
T: Tastes great if you don't expect it to be something else. It is a great saison/farmhouse with a Belgian roots and an American twist.
M: it is thin but not hot or alcohol at all comes off as about 5.5% in the mouth. Very drinkable even chug-able but I wouldn't recommend. The beer does have lacing but very little thin head more like juice but not in a bad way still without a doubt 4.5/5 beer.

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Photo of Phatz
4.37/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on 11/15/05 and today is 1/10/06. Bottle reads "A deep Mahogany ale brewed with Belgian Beet sugars and a sense of purpose."

Served in my snifter glass at just above fridge temperature.

Pours a mahogany copper color that is barely transparent. Small one finger head (tight little bubbles) that disappears very quickly. Significant lacing.

Smell: I popped the cap and smack! Sugar! Smack! Raisins! The aroma stands right up and shouts notice me; before I even pour the beer. In the glass again I notice the brown sugar, sweet malts and raisins, calling for me to dive in.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Wow. Now here is a sugar kick! After the sugar/syrupy flavor, I immediately move on to notice the texture. I noticed how smooth the beer feels in my mouth. It is all sweet up front with sugar, malts and raisins. In the middle there is a subtle tartness that stands out. It is not blended with the sweet; it’s separate from it but serves to slightly tip the scale back towards the tart side, in a balancing effort. But at this point it is still the mouthfeel that is grabbing my attention. It's an interesting stickiness character that stands out about the mouthfeel. It has very minimal carbonation and is so smooth and syrupy, mmm it is a sweet treat. On the swallow there is a distinct wallop of tart flavor to the palate. The tartness hangs on for a few moments. As you lick your lips the tart fades and the sugar reemerges to finish off the aftertaste. DFH tends to make unique and extreme beers and this is no exception.

Drinkability: This is a great beer, and ONE goes down VERY easily. I have 3 in the fridge but this is a 'one at a time' beer for me. There is too much, sugar tart sugar tart sugar tart sugar tart; to be able to handle a number of them. It is too extreme to be sessionable, but quite tasty and an interesting experience. I would never have thought, raisin beer, hmm? I recommend giving it a try and see what you think.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of DarthRadb
4.37/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Mahogany brown in color with a slight head that fades quickly due to the 8% ABV

Smell: Very Fruity and Wonderful Smelling, Almost a Wine like smell, the Green Raisons and Beet Sugars it's brewed with come through strongly to my nose. Slight Peppery Smell too.

Taste: Smooth and Balanced with a wonderful slightly Fruity Flavor explosion from the Raisons and Beet Sugars it brewed with. Good from start to finish.

Mouthfeel: Light and Fruity. Has a great dry aftertaste.

Drinkability: I'm a fan of Belgian Dark Ales and I can drink these all night easily. As far as Fruity beers goes this one is a winner, slight fruity taste that balances well with the other flavors, unlike some other fruity beers I've tried that don't taste natural or are totally out of balance with the yeast and malt flavors.

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Photo of jameaterblues
4.37/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Raison poured a dark amber color with a tint of red, with a thin but extremely bubbly white head, that left a thin to nonexistant lace.

The smell of this beer is great. It really reminds me of a wine. You smell the sweetness of the raisin, but I'm also getting some citrus fruit as well maybe grapefruit...nice sweet malts...delicious...

The taste is sweet with fruit and malt at the forefront. I am really seeing the sweet raisin, but I even pick up some of the citrus as well in the body. Right before the finish you get light hops, as well as a little alcohol taste....the alcohol is very mild...I think the alcohol gives it just the slightest bit of a bitter after taste(almost non-existant). The fruit helps to hide the the alcohol very well.

Mouthfeel/drinkability: On my last beer run out of state I bought this blind. I had only had a couple dogfish beers, and I ended up bringing four back. I am really impressed. The beer is extremely drinkable(if you dig malty beers). Watch out for the alcohol it might catch up on you being that it is 8%

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Photo of eggland
4.38/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tops Liquor, Phoenix, AZ

a - nice dark amble look, some head

s - sweet and complex

t - sweet and complex amber, i do taste a light green raisin flavor somewhere.

m - smooth and clean, but also dynamic

d - not too bitter, goes down easy.

The dogfish line is pretty awesome stuff.

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Photo of Nick_Foltz
4.38/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer really took me by surprise. A velvety texture, with a unique finish - the Raison does not disappoint. It has a slightly tangy and subtle white grape linger with a slight sweetness to it. Definitely a conversational piece and well worth trying.

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Photo of BlindPig
4.38/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Thin tan head on a crustal clear deep ruby body.
S- Sugar sweet really comes through with some rich raisin aroma, some other dark fruits, light hint of spices, and some rich caramel.
T- Really big raisin flavor, sweet sugars, some grass or earthy hops that leave a light to medium bitterness lingering on the front and mid tongue, and leaves the mouth very dry with almost a hint of honey in there also. Some warming of the throat from the alcohol.
M- Full body with low (maybe scratching on edge of medium) carbonation with a really dry finish to it from the raisins.
D- I really enjoy this. It might actually be one of my favorite DFH I have tried. I can even see me trying to do a trade to get my hands on a couple more bottles of these down the road.

Thanks Todd1 for this...nice pick :)

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Photo of nsheehan
4.38/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Raison d’etre
12oz to libbey Belgian
8% ABV
Bottled on 05/03/2013

A – Clearish yet dark amber color, not very translucent due to the dark color. Billowy yellowish-khaki head. Bubbles excitedly rising from the tulip’s bottom. The lacing as I drink is thick where it sticks.

S – Belgian candy sugars and some dark fruits, with some earthiness and spices. Very nice. Dark cherry and licorice, perhaps some fig; also a bit of alcohol. The smells mingle together nicely.

T – The Belgian dark ale flavors are all there, and the only thing that’s in excess for me are the spices (at first). It’s quite sweet, this sweetness and the dark fruit being the main flavors. It doesn’t quite taste full Belgian because it doesn’t have the breadiness I associate with Belgian ales, but it’s close. The alcohol doesn’t start biting till it warms a bit more, and it’s like a love nip. As it warms, some breadiness comes out; it had previously been hidden by the sweetness. I can easily see people thinking this is too sweet. While it approaches too sweet, it’s still fine by me. At the end of the glass the alcohol does bite, but if you drink this in its sweet spot (like I mostly did) it’s great.

M – A tingly softness during the sip but sits pretty soft on the palate, though it’s not velvety. Nearly heavy-bodied, I’m guessing from residual sugars. In the cheeks it’s a little pointed, I think from alcohol. Slightly dry finish, more so on the tongue.

D – This is a great substitute for a Trappist beer, and the mouthfeel makes it somewhat refreshing despite being a BSDA. Even though it’s quite sweet, I could see myself having 2 or 3 in a night. It’s a nice break from the hoppier beers I’ve been drinking lately.
Caveat: Once it passes the sweet spot the alcohol come out and alters it quite a bit negatively. Let warm for 13 minutes (from fridge) before opening.
4.5, 4.5, 4.25, 4.25, 4.5; 4.35.

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Photo of Atch
4.39/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Dark red, almost no carbonation and head.

Smell: I don't smell raisin. I do get sour apple.

Taste: Different than anything I've tried. Almost sweet, but not. I tend to stick towards hoppy beers, but this one has my attention.

Mouthfeel: Beer hits the palate somewhat heavy, but finishes very smooth.

Drinkability: I was enjoying Raison D'etre while I was brewing a batch of DFH 90. It seemed appropriate. Love it, and will definitely have it again.

Like I mentioned, a new style for me. But I dig this beer BIG TIME.

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Photo of brureview
4.39/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a chalice. There is a light apricot smell from the beer, and a piquant alcoholic mouthfeel.

The highlight is the finish: a wonderful apricot and refreshing tangerine fruitness. The carbonation melds well with the finish.

Overall, a great beer. This was my second tasting within a few weeks, and I was able to enjoy its subtle nuances in greater detail.

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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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