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Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
4,302 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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,302 |  Reviews: 1,774
Photo of stcules
3.52/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

 391 characters

Photo of Otis6996
3.52/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of peensteen
3.52/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very deep copper brown colour, minimal amount of white head, no lace. Smell is pretty malty, sweet caramel and toffee, fruity, grapes, cherry, raisin, candy like at points, light alcohol. Taste is fairly sweet with a big malt bill, fruity yeastiness, grape, cherry berries with caramel notes at times. Light carbonation, silky-sticky texture, med-full body, nice weight. This grew on me as I drank it and by the end it was pretty good, the first few sips were a little off putting. Not my fav DFH brew so far and will probably pass on picking this up again, still pretty drinkable.

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Photo of ribby
3.52/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

It says 'mahogany' on the label, and that is the color that it pours, and relatively clear. The head is small, although the foam is of a good, natural quality. The taste is mostly malty, definitely sweet but not overly so in my opinion, thanks to a minimal amount of hoppiness. The raisin flavor is subtle; I don't think I would have detected it without the label. This beer is quite drinkable, enough so that at 8% you better be careful.

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Photo of misternebbie
3.52/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of BigIrishman
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had at Porter's in Easton, PA

Poured into oversized wine glass. Poured a dark brown with a big white bubbly head. Smell is mostly dominated by dried fruits and a bit of yeast. Taste mimics the smell, very fruity even for a belgian. Mouthfeel is a bit too light for the style, about medium bodied. I probably wouldn't reach for this again, but I wouldn't complain if it were given to me.

Overall a decent, but not great, example of the style.

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Photo of Erish
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured this 12 oz. bottle into a large wine glass. Bottled on 12/28/10.

A: hazy reddish brown color, tan cap quickly falls into a swirling, thin cap with good lacing.

S: fruity, Belgian-esque funk, raisins, spice, whiff of banana, a bit boozy, sweet dark bread-like malt.

T: the fruity/malty taste is there, but more subdued than I expected, the middle is a bit lacking, and the finish is a bit boozy but lacking in depth.

M: full-bodied, almost syrupy texture, moderate carbonation, the finish thins out with the alcohol.

D: a likeable enough Belgian styled beer, but it is lacking depth overall.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Rusty coloured, with an offwhite head about a finger and a half tall. A somewhat pretty colour.

S: Malt and a fruity aroma that I can't quite make out (though raisin is the logical answer, it's not quite that).

T + M: Malty, kinda sticky sweet. More of a grape flavour (and an artificial candy-grape flavour, at that) than raisin. The yeasty esters make an interesting appearance.

D: Rather intriguing, but ultimately, probably not my cup of tea - or glass of beer. ;) Worth trying out, though, by all means.

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Photo of PhageLab
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into the Duvel Tulip.

A - Glistening yet dark ruby coloration which is fairly transparent. The small bit of head dissipated to a ring of froth around the edge of the glass. Lacing was spotted.

S - Cherries, plums, and the faint aroma of roasted malt.

T - Lots of warming alcohol effects, which was unexpected. Mostly dark fruit flavors with yeast hints. I was anticipating something a bit more complex, but this is still decent.

M - Medium bodied, slick, oily feel, decent carbonation level.

D - A nice sipper overall, but for Dogfish Head, I was expecting something a bit more complex. For a belgian style, this is pretty simplistic. Worth a try.

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Photo of Freshie
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very nice dark amber hue, with small head.

Smell of dark malt, sweet fruit, and a hint of coffee or espresso.

The taste is refelctive of the smell, with rich malt, and raisin flavour.

Hop, bitter aftertaste that gives way to mild alcohol burn.

Very well done. Sweet and to the point, but does not mask the alcohol as well as other Belgians. But the extra kick is characteristic of Dogfish Head, and is not necessarily a bad thing.

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Photo of jculler82
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

One of my first craft experiences way back when. This review is actually a semi-vertical, a 2003-ish bottle and a late 2009 bottle, side-by-side. Both bottles poured to Duvel tuplips. Review is based on the 2009 bottle.

Pours, as the bottle says, a mahogany color that, when held to light, is a nice red. 2003 bottle has more sediment, 2009 has none really. No head from a semi-gentle pour. A touch above average looking really. Other than the sediment, they look identical.

Smell is mainly brown sugar for both beers. Maybe some background dark fruits. In the 2009 bottle there is a background coffee note, think coffee grounds more than cup of coffee. I'm amazed that the 2003 bottle didn't develop some complexity. For the style, for either beer, the beer is one dimensional. Just kinda average. When I think stong dark Belgian, or whatever this beer really is, I think complexity.

Taste is almost identical again for both vintages. Brown sugar overwhelms, a hint of some dark fruits. The difference is mainly in the finish. The 2009 finishes with a smokey flavor, mostly bacon-y. That smokiness is not apparent in the 03' vintage. The beer isn't bad, but it isn't amazing, it just isn't complex. Sort of a one trick pony. Nice medium full mouthfeel.

Drinkability? One bottle is enough, kinda disappointed I poured both at the same time.

Overall, I wanted to love this beer. Probably because of the nostalgia of being one of my first craft beers. But while it isn't bad, and if I was at a bar and this was my only craft option I'd be OK with it, it isn't a mind blower.

 1,577 characters

Photo of PiecefulToker
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 4/2/08

A: Clear, dark ruby brown with thick 2-finger head that lasts quite a while. Leaves thick lacing.

S: Caramel, raisins, brown sugar, figs, dried fruit, sweet malt, slight tinge of alcohol.

T&M: Sweet, but not nearly as complex as I expected from the smell or DFH in general. Tastes pretty much like it smells, but a lot less interesting. Don't get me wrong, this beer is really good, but I always come to DFH with high expectations and I got somewhat letdown here. Toasted malt, lots of caramelized sugar flavors, some coffee/oatmeal. Mouthfeel could be better, it is a little thin for what I would expect. Leaves a pleasant sweet, but nutty and toasty, syrupy mouth coating at the end which I really enjoy.

D: I would probably drink this a few at a time, but no more than that.

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Photo of NEhophead
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Brewed with (among other things)...a sense of purpose"

Very carbonated, off white head that takes a minute or two to settle. Deep reddish/orange color that is a touch cloudy. Nice thin, intricate lacing.

Sweet, tart nose. Bouquets of raisins, dates, and possibly oranges. An overall sweet and sour smell.

A mouth puckering tartness that overides the beer's natural flavors. The peach, sweet raisin, and orange/citric flavors are there but not nearly as overwhelming as the ale's sourness. It's like drinking one of those sour Air Head candies.

Just an unbalanced ale. Too tart for the style: it just doesn't fit for a strong belgian dark in my opinion. The 8%abv is very well hidden and very well balanced with the flavor.

Easy to consume from a high abv standpoint, but the unbalanced sourness numbs the palate. More than one of these a night could lead to one of those annoying headaches the next morning due to the beer's sweetness.

All in all, not a bad beer, but just very unfitting of the style. Again you have to give the brewers at Dogfish Head credit for throwing out tradition and creating a unique concoction in its own right. The label reads that it's brewed with a sense of purpose...I'm just not sure what that purpose is.

 1,256 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark orange/amber with a nice lace. Smells of raisins and molasses. Tastes big but smooth with definite flavor of raisins and malt.The combination of flavors is reminiscent of a stone beer with its carmelised tastes. Rich and mouth coating, almost syrupy. Not my favorite in the Dogfish line, but very interesting.

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Photo of Mphis
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of webmanspidey
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours into chalice a purplish brown with small amount of tan head. Smell is grape and raisin.. fairly sweet and mellow.

Taste is very sweet and malty.. again grapes, raisins, and nuts. Very limited hop presence. Not overly alcoholic and fairly drinkable.

This isn't bad, but not too interesting or exciting. I really preferred its "big brother", Raison D'extra, which I thought was excellent.

 395 characters

Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Out of a 12 ounce bottle and into my basic snifter glass. The ale appears a clear medium chestnut color with about two inches of light ecru foam. The head lingers for a bit before settling to a thin layer. Aromas and flavors are of brown sugar, caramel, alcohol, nuts, mild hints of dried dark raisins, sweet malt. Maybe a notch better than medium bodied with ample carbonation for the style. Worth trying if you spot it.

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Photo of Chriscrundwell12
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter

A- Dark Bronze, slightly clear, light shines through the bottom, 1 finger head that dissipates quickly, excellent lacing.
S- Dark fruits, raisin, prune, sweet syrupy aroma.
T- Raison, malts, sweet up front with slight bitter after taste, brown sugar, syrupy.
M- Medium mouth feel, nice aftertaste, not the smoothest beer.
O- Easy drinking, hides the alcohol well, it’s an interesting beer, not one I would return to any time soon.

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Photo of hckyfn9999
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a fairly clear amber color with a one finger white head that disappears quickly and leaves a little lacing. Aroma is of brown sugar, sweet malt, and fruit. Not a very strong smell. Taste is fruity with some brown sugar notes and the alcohol is noticeable. It tastes good but it is hard to pickup exact flavors. Mouthfeel is a little more thin than I would care for. I am indifferent towards this beer. Its not bad but I do not think I will buy this again.

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Photo of BeerNemesis
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy shade of maroon with about a one finger head. Retention is decent, but not great. It smells earthy. There are notes of dark fruit, molasses, and spices. Malt and dark fruit taste. It becomes more complex with 6 months of aging. It's medium bodied, with medium to low carbonation. The mouthfeel is not great, a little oily. It's not the most drinkable beer out there, and I would stick to no more than 2 or so a night.

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Photo of Dan3279
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown amber

S: Dried fruits & raisins

T: Dry & Fruity

M: Crisp

D: Easy to drink but at the same time I don't think I would want to drink more than one in a single sitting.

I had a hard time getting into this one. I didn't think that it was a bad beer at all, it was just something that didn't appeal to me.

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Photo of iamsemigloss
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 12/21/10, taken from notes.

Appearance: Pour yielded an average head that was creamy in texture. The drink was clear and mahogany in color; lacing was good.

Smell: Deep caramel and toffee notes mixed with a fruity aroma. You can smell the raisins but the "fruit" isn't exactly defined -- it's not citrus but more like a dry fruit. Slight whiff of alcohol. Very sweet smelling.

Taste: Huge toffee and caramel blast with the raisins kicking in on the finish. Sweet and creamy with a nip of bitterness at the end. Nice flavors but not overly complex.

Mouthfeel: You'd think this may be somewhat thick but I found it rather thin to be as creamy as it was.

Easy drinking but it's too sweet to session. Very good but not excellent.

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Photo of bjoyce12
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance and aroma are up there, but this isn't one of the better offerings from Dogfish. The 60- and 90-minute brews are greatly superior. Pours a deep dark amber with ahint of purple. Aroma is fruity and malty, very nice. But taste comes through as cough syrupy. Raisins, wine, apricots can also be sensed, but the syrupy overtone overwhelms.

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Photo of pmlondrigan
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep red to, well mahagony in color. Some decent but not to sticky lacing hangs around. The aroma presents cherries, licorice, belgian candy sugar some grapyness as well as a touch of tobacco and this odd raw aroma. The flavor follows from the aroma, however the flavors don't mesh all too well and there is that rawness to this beer. It is also a tad hot and harsh, and again that tobacco flavor is present too. This beer could be a little more full bodied as it presents itself a little thin. I'd think twice before picking up another sixer of these guys.

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Photo of FanofHefe
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 1/18/11, poured into a pint glass. Deep amber-colored body with a bit of ruby red tint. Very carbonated, but settles into a two-finger light tan head. The head quickly dissipates, leaving a small amount of sticky lacing.

The aroma begins with simple caramel malt, but adds just a touch of spice from the yeast and a note of light fruitiness.

Sweet flavor overall, with the Belgian beet sugars dominating. The spice and small note of floral hops give a bit of balance.

Medium mouthfeel and very little notice of the alcohol. A little too sweet overall for my liking, but a very interesting and worthy effort overall from DFH.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 3.65 out of 5 with 4,302 ratings
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