Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

4,299 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: 4,299 |  Reviews: 1,773
Photo of Jonnyoutlaw
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of buddha5050
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of zeff80
3.51/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an orange/amber color with a soapy, foamy, tan head that left some trails of lace.

S - It smelled of malt, raisin and other dried fruits.

T - It tasted very malty, with hints of fig and raisin.

M - It was fairly soft and smooth. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good Belgian style beer. Interesting flavors and quite drinkable.

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Photo of TappaKeggaBrew
3.51/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Clear, orange-brown. A finger of head, golden in hue; fair retention and lacing.

S: Sweet and fruity, not much like a beer at all. Not very complex.

T: OK, it tastes like beer. Grain and sweet malt up front. The grapes are there, as advertised, but more of an afterthought. The hops are bitter, and a little spicy in the finish.

M: Rather dry, almost astringent. Carbonation is decent.

O: Fairly tasty, but not a stand out. I guess I was expecting a little more from a Dogfish label.

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Photo of IrishKevin
3.51/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle into tulip glass. Bottled 2/13/13. Fresh enough.

Poured a dark ruby red color. 1 finger head that disappeared leaving a ring around the glass that lingered.

Smell: got very little smell, swirled around and got a little fruity aroma.

Taste: fruit forward, plummy, raisiny. Definitely get that Belgian bubble gum taste, which I think is from the yeast.

Overall: decent beer, doesn't blow you away, but is tasty.

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Photo of Mosstrooper
3.51/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz bottle into 250mL Jenlain flute glass.

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber/caramel color with a large slightly tanned head that dissipates slowly, but has lively bubbles popping and fizzing (especially initially). Leaves behind spotty lace.

Smell: Dark fruits (mostly grape/raisin aromas), with sweet sugary and candy-like aromas.

Taste: Begins with a candied-apple sweetness, finishing with grape flavors and bittersweet alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Fairly thick body with natural yet fairly sharp carbonation and a dry, alcoholic finish.

Drinkability: A pretty good and enjoyable brew, with some interesting characteristics. However, this one could do with weaker alcohol notes, which make this brew harder to drink. Still worth a try, not a first choice for me, but pretty good.

 789 characters

Photo of gabemasiulis
3.51/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Golden Brown Color with a light tan head. Fine Bubbles with minimal retention
The raisins are very present in the smell, sweet with a bit of malt.
The Raisins hit up front, quickly followed by an underlying bitterness, which serves very well to balance the raisins. Toasted malts throughout.
Crisp and Dry, an interesting counterpoint to the taste.
It is a very simple beer, but has its own layers of complexity to it. All in all a good balanced product from dogfish head

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Photo of Justinprintz
3.51/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of AMoceri7
3.51/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

First wall I have hit in Dogfish Tradish.

A: Nothing short of beauty. Great "mahogany" color, carbonation bubbles as much as the eye can count. Great 2 finger head, exceptionally pretty. Expectations are high.

S: Malty, yeasty, almost a bit of skunk. Nothing over the top. Hard to pin point anything.

T: Um...Another sip. Its good, enjoyable, but something about it is just not hitting the DFH spot. Tastes of malt, brown sugars, cant make out the raisins, or "raisons". Slight hop presence in the finish. Im trying real hard here...Really, almost nothing going on. The smoothness of this brew probably comes from the lack of flavor, almost a commercial brown ale on steroids and thats not saying much.

M: Carbonated... Almost too high. Mixture of the hop bitterness and carbonation seems to take a lot away from this already bare brew.

D: Had a few, hoping the second time around would be better. Still, nothing sticks out, very straight forward, nothing special.

O: Its good, but with a standard Sam sets with some of his other brews, this one barely makes the cut. Definetally a lot better paired with some pulled pork sandwiches. Mmhhmmm...

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Photo of sinistermadman
3.51/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear cherry color while producing a decent head. Smell is subdued, I can barely detect some fruit along with some malt.

Taste is different to say the least. A bitter twang resonates throughout the drink making it difficult to pick up on any constituent ingredients. It kind of tastes like water from an old lead pipe, but with chocolatey malt and a residual fruit note. This brew's body is smooth with a low to moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is syrupy and sticky. Not terrible, but not desirable either. Definitely seems like a beer that I would have to try a couple times before I could figure it out.

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Photo of magictrokini
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ahh, it a pun. Pours hazy gold with a tiny white head. Plenty of green raisins in this one. Aroma of a box of the things upon opening. Some honey and grain as well. The sugar gives it a trappist aroma and taste, but with more sweetness. Silky mouthfeel with a sticky finish. Enjoyable beer.

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Photo of Chesterbrewing
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of charlesw
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice mahogany (golly, does it say that on the bottle?). Small and thin cream colored head that lasts about as long as you think about it. Poof!
A nice but faint woody/earthy smell to it.
Ah, but the flavor! A nice HEAVY malt/diacetyl (ok, it might just have been the bottle I tried!). What impresses me the most about it is the evenness of the flavor - for me it really starts and finishes the same and then the aftertaste is just a slow releasing of the same flavor. Now, technically that must mean that there aren't a whole lot of sugars left, eh? But, wow, is that flavor ever strong! Woo!
Nice and creamy, loved it, I'll try another some day, I suppose!

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Photo of AlephNull
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a rich mahogany color. Deep brown with a red tint when held to the light. I poured it quite vigorously, but very little head developed, and what head did develop dispersed quickly.

S- The sweet malt flavors dominate the scent. A fruity character -- must be the green raisins.

T- Once again malt flavors rush to the forefront with a very sweet flavor. Tastes a bit sugary, like the beet-sugar/raisin base should. Not much of a hop character to this beer, it's malt dominated.

M- Very little carbonation, more of a sweet wine feeling in the mouth. It coats your mouth leaving a bit of a dryness at the end.

D- Not too bad, but not as great as I expect from a DFH beer. It might be good as a bit of a desert beer or a change up, but not a regular drink.

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Photo of dsa7783
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I was a huge fan of Dogfish Head's 60 and 90 Minute IPA's, so had high hopes for this unique brew... although it didn't disappoint, I would definitely stick to this company's IPA's, as this was a very odd tasting beer that was too eccentric to be truly enjoyable... decent but wholly unimpressive appearance... ruby-red with minimal head... smell was very malty, full of caramel, dark sugars, spices, brandy, rum, and raisins... all the flavors listed in the aroma strongly complemented the taste, which was different, but dominated by alcohol-like solvents which almost seemed artificial and unnatural... good mouthfeel, but average drinkability... would not want to make this my single choice all nite, but definitely worth a try...

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Photo of Shiloh
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Very nice product, glad that we met...could drink a lot more of this brew if the ABV was lower.
Even with 8% ABV, there is no alcohol taste, so be careful!!!!!!
Appears like dark tea, smell is lightly of burnt almonds.
Body is medium as is the carbonation.
Taste starts medium sweet and stays there with a minor hoppy expierience in the background that seemingly tries to salute but falls a tad short.
Mouthfeel is a bit heavy. Any brew with an ABV this high deserves respect and caution.

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Photo of WeezyBoPeep
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

A: Hazy orangish amber. Not "deep mahogany" as the label suggests. Minimal head and seemingly low carbonation.

S: Murky, muddled dark fruits, figs and prunes, a stinging alcohol note and lots of burnt toast and caramel.

T: Just like the smell but with a bitter bite that I didn't enjoy until I lit a cigar to have with this brew. Tastes "darker" than it looks.

D: I finished off a sixer over about 5 hours.

Value: Would not buy this again for over $7.99.

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Photo of Spider889
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I first had this beer a year ago and loved it at the time. "Raison D'Etre" being a play on words between the raisin ingrediants and the French, meaning; "reason to be."

The beer smells of sour fruit, muted brown sugar, and mild hops.

The taste is a little all over the place. In some sips I get the flavor of sour grapes and bitter white raisins along with brown sugar and mild alcohol warmth. Other sips are more alcohol foreward and unripened fruit-bitter. Hops are present but muted by unbalanced malt and the alcohol.

The beer is very carbonated, going in tune with the Belgian style I guess. It finishes very bitter and dry on the palate.

I still enjoy this brew, but it's not as good as I remembered it. Now I find myself wishing I had just bought 90 min IPA instead.

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Photo of teromous
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The color is dark brown with a very rich dark shade of red as the light passes through. There is a wonderful thick head that is eggshell white and laces well. The beer is very transparent and I can read through it, despite the dark color. The head drops down to a thin head, but covers the whole surface.

S: It has the characteristic Belgian style scent, slightly spicy, very flowery, and hints of vanilla. It's not as strong in scent...not as "big" as many of the other Belgian style strong ales.

T: It has a very mellow, even flavor. There is an oak flavor to the beer, with some light malty sweetness.

M: The mouthfeel is smooth and covers the mouth evenly. It works great for the beer, but there is a light tinge in the mouth after drinking. Not a bitterness, just an off-feeling.

O: Overall I thought the beer was very good. It doesn't taste like a traditional Belgian beer, but it isn't supposed to be one. It tastes good, smells good, feels good...it's overall a good beer. I wouldn't say it's great.

 1,014 characters

Photo of crookedhalo
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Packaged 8/2004. Pours a orangy chestnut color with a short-lived light beige head. Bready, biscuity and malty; vinously wine-like nose. A fair bit of yeastiness in the aroma, too. Rather sweet right of the bat, then mild fruitiness kicks in and the finish is light, hoppy and estery. Pretty interesting and unique. You can tell this beer is 8%, there's a slovent-like burn to it. Not too bad, but it is noticable. Worth a try.

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Photo of almostjay
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Photo of theWrkncacnter
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle. Small head that fades to pretty much nothing, no lacing at all. Appearence is a nice deep brown, very clear. Smells of some raisons, a bit of sweetness, and a touch of alcohol, more alcohol comes through as it warms. Tastes of a brown with some extra alcohol. A strong earthy taste that hangs on the tongue for a while. Alcohol comes through a bit too much as it warms, which hurts the drinkability. A little acidic and undercarbonated as far as mouthfeel.

A decent brew, didn't really knock my socks off or anything, but still good. I could drink it if there was nothing else around and be perfectly happy.

 639 characters

Photo of Timtac
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Photo of beeroclock
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A deep mahogony color w/ some amber & brown tones. Small tan head that disappeared quickly. I can smell some wood and floral scents w/ a faint sweet smell. Slightly sweet, I can taste the rasin in it, also some wood tones. Slightly carbonated, creamy. Not bad.

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Photo of stcules
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Mahogany color. White foam, but scarce, and quickly disappearing.
In the smell, beside the malt, there are vanilla, woody notes, and porto. A touch of rhubarb and red fruit (plum).
In the taste the raisins, already intuible in the smell, it is definite and well present. Again porto and plum.
Full and definite body.
Liqueurous and sweet aftertaste, with dry fruit.
Velveted and smooth.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,299 ratings.
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