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: 4,286
Photo of UnionMade
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer is a chill hazed mahogany brown, topped with a dissipating mist of sandy colored head. The beer takes on a greenish cast when viewed through light. Interesting. The head dies to a thin ring almost immediately.
The aroma is definitely complex. Lots of caramel malt, with a strange candi sugar sweetness and belgian yeast. Lots of esters, with heaps of pear, plum, cherry, and fig. The green raisin is apparent, with some vague herbal hops. A bit of coffee and chocolate.
The flavor starts out malty sweet, with a slight burnt toffee taste and that wierd candi sugar. (I look at the label in my collection and apparently it's beet sugar) Slightly phenolic esters kick in towards the middle, providing loads of fruity flavors. Hints of clove, fig, plum, and lots of green raisin carrying into the finish. The beet sugar carries through as well, plowing through the hops, which make a whisper of an appearance before they retreat, allowing the raisin sweetness to carry through. The beet sugar and raisin flavors linger into a long finish, and stick around for a while in the aftertaste. Medium to full bodied, with moderate, unassuming carbonation.
Definitely an interesting and complex beer. The beet sugar, while strange, proves to be tasty. The beer is certainly drinkable, although I don't think I could drink more than a couple pints before wanting to switch it up to something else.

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Photo of BitteBier
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Slightly hazy copper-amber pour topped off with a small amount of brown foam. Thick, rich smell with notes of caramelized brown sugar. The substantial alcohol content is detectable in the nose as well, though not offensively. An interesting combination of taste and mouthfeel--silky sweet malts at the onset with a taste that thins out (bringing the alcohol to great prominence) while a powdery texture remains. The texture and chocolately notes are vaguely reminiscent of a glass of cocoa. This is the first Dogfish offering I've had that I would buy again.

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Photo of BillyBrew
3.13/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Another Dogfish Head is lost on me. I do appreciated the effort on this brew, but it took a while to finish a sixer.

'Deep mahogany' colour, yellowy brown, not tan. Almost no head, but a fine ring with no stick.

Odd weak fruit nose, the raisons, I guess. Very light nose.

That malty taste conglomeration from Belgium beers that I cannot comprehend. Silky smooth, but 'off' tasting to me. No hop flavour, but not unbalanced (?). I can imagine raisons, but might be just my mind. I understand the appeal, but not up my alley.

Very smooth, silky medium body with a quickly fading aftertaste.


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Photo of mschofield
3.08/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Medium red with a small white cap, no real head.
An almost vegetable aroma with isopropyl alcohol.
Molasses, rum soaked raisin, and again the vegetable in the taste.
Medium body, very sweet.
It feels like a lot of things were thrown together and not allowed to blend. Unfinished - they need to go back to the books and tweak this one.
I could take or leave it, but I wouldn't buy again.

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Photo of putnam
4.89/5  rDev +33.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Aromas of molasses, brown sugar, rum and whipped cream. As I rock it back toward my mouth my sinuses are filled with an impression of smoky hard wood.
The texture is fluffy and creamy...nearly Rochefort-like...with Superb balance of chewy, cocoa-dusted candied fruit, vanilla, brazil nuts, steel shavings and pepper.

One of the best damn Belgian...er...American beers I've ever had!

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Photo of erica
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A good one by Dog Fish Head. It was a nice amber color with a sweet aroma- almost too sweet I thought. It tasted good, sweet again but too sweet, a touch of spice, and some fruitiness. And I did taste that 'sense of purpose' that it's brewed with! The mouthfeel was not too thick or too thin, which I like in a beer. I dont like to feel like I might have to chew it, and if I had more than one at the time I drank it, I would've had more- great drinkability.

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Photo of jeffboo
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours with a very nice deep ruby color with a light tan head. Aromas of smokey, dark fruit, leather and wood, oh yeah, throw in some alcohol into the mix. It has a full sweet body that finishes alcohol dry. Flavors of caramel, raisins, and even some ripe plums. It has almost a red wine aged in oak thing going for it. A nice, interesting brew.

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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 merlin48
3.22/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought a 6 pak of these yesterday, at Blacksburg, Va's Vintage Cellar, for today's initial tasting session. Can't say I'm impressed with this brew, but it's up against some topnotch competitors.

It poured into the glass a beautiful mahogany colour, but the minimal head quickly dissipated without any lacing.

Aroma of dried apricots and raisins raised expectations, but initial mouthful was of carbonation, hops,and yeast. Better let this one warm up a bit. Somewhat nicer nearer room temperature, but just not my style. Bitter aftertaste left me disappointed that I've got 5 more of these to cellar.

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Photo of RockyTopHeel
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shimmering copper color with suspended sediment - yeast and a thin, off-white head. Scent is soft with hints of candied fruit. The flavor has sweetness of golden raisins, with prevalent influence of a malty softness and intermittent hops, with a sweet kiss of alcohol in the finish. Underneath these more noticeable flavors is a bitterness--almost chocolate or coffee like in a stout, but closer to caramel in depth--that emerges as the beer warms. There's a definite richness to this one, but it's still drinkable, and the sediment I first noticed was a nice touch of yeast.

I like it.

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Photo of Gasp100
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow, this brew definitely took me off guard. I like the fact these guys take chances and are always trying new combinations (and they are local) but this one was a little to rough for my taste. The appearance was a deep mahogany color and the pour did not produce much of a head. A clingy lace hung down the glass till the bitter (and I mean bitter) end. A heavy scent of raison, figs, etc... were a change for me but overall it was a little heavy handed for me --- the ABV was way high and actually took over the taste of the brew overall. I couldn't drink a lot of this, but every once in a while on a cold winter night, this could be a good companion.

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Photo of saltydog
4.42/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer seems to me to be seriously underrated by many of the other writers here, but here goes, anyway. Appearance: Reddish orange, clear, prominent head which leaves some very nice lace. Smell: Sweet, some fruitness and spiciness from the fermentation. Flavor: Very smooth. There is a complex flavor, with a mixture of malty, spiciness, the sugars and raison add up the a dense mixture of dates, figs, and fruitcake like flavors, but the overall effect is clean and uncluttered, amazingly enough. I remember this beer when it first came out, and it was quite tasty but much rougher than it is now. It is clearly a model in eccentric brewing these days. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, and the overall drinkability is very high.

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Photo of philipt
3.72/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Originality is truly a virtue that should never go un-noticed or un-applauded. DFH is a brewer that is not afraid to pull out all the stops. Even though I don't rate this specific beer particularly high, I do give them credit for a truly interesting and original beer.

Raison D'etre pours with out a head. I egan to question the carbonation of this beer (no worris in that department though). Very little to no head. It has an amber-orange body with a very, very, thin head clinging to the glass.

An interesting and unusual, as far as the beers I've sampled, aroma. Smells incredibly sweet and malty. Almost comparable to sweet apples, plums, and (I hesitate) raisons. There is a subtle alcohol qualities in the aroma (I meant incredibly subtle).

The taste is, without doubt, sweet. Malty and decently fruity. Very little bitterness but the hops and alcohol succeed in balanceing the sweetness quite well. There is no single flavor that really stands out in this beer.

I genuinely like and appreciate this beer.

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Photo of silks636
3.08/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle. Bottled on date notched on label.

Pours a deep reddish amber, almost copper hue... weak light pinkish head. Little retention and light lacing. Aroma is fruity with some serious spice and alcohol. Rather intriguing, and a word of caution for what is about to come. Starts out thick and syrupy. Little to no carbonation. Tangy fruit and alcohol tastes overwhelm the palate. Almost medicinal in flavor. Spice and sweet caramel malt become more present. Hops are barely detectable. Aftertaste is dry and still heavy with alcohol.

This one kind of grew on me as I drank it. Maybe this is so because it warmed slightly? Nah, probably just the alcohol talking. Raison D’etre is certainly an interesting brew. Would rate higher if it could hide it’s 8.0% better.

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Photo of TerryW
2.03/5  rDev -44.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Well, I'm afraid that this one just didn't work for me. No head, no lace. Nice red leather colour though.

Aroma was malty but dominated by alcohol. I couldn't make out any Belgian beet sugars, green raisins (or sense of purpose). The taste of the beer was also dominated by alcohol. Not particularly flavourful. Came across as quite astringent. Reminded me some of taking a mouthful of cocoa powder. Too dry and too alcohol harsh.

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Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is another nice brew from DFH. A nice effort a Belgian style and one that is interesting to drink. The deep amber to bronze body is fairly hazed to cloudy and is capped by a decent tan head that retains well and laces with gusto.

The nose is heavily caramel malt and this carries in to the sweet malt flavor that is dedicated fairly substantially to the sweet side of beer. Notes of pungent fruitiness seem to also come through here, perhaps a bit like dried friuts such as apple. The alcohol is noticeable and also limits, to some degree, the drinkability.

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Photo of clvand0
3.02/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Had this in the 12oz bottle. Pours a red/brown color with a nice moderate head that leaves a little lacing on the glass. The aroma was sweet and the raisins were the most obvious part of it. The flavor was reeeaaaly sweet. It was a little malty and hoppy, but not very carbonated. The alcohol is very present in the taste, but the sweetness seems to take a little off of the 'kick' that it would normally give. Not a bad beer, but a little too sweet for my taste buds.

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

Found this beer in Washington State and was excited to finally
taste Dogfish Head's brews. This Belgian style ale was much
more subtle than I expected with a nice balance of sweetness and
complex fruit flavours. Dangerously drinkable at a fairly high abv ,this beer compares with similar offerings from Unibroue
Ommegang and Hair of the Dog. I can't wait to try Worldwide Stout.

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Photo of PZuke
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Looks like a nice mahogany almost a little redish color with a little head. It had a little fruity smell that seemed to be raisins maybe even a little sweet smell to it. It had a nice taste of fruit and a little caramel. You can taste the malts and hops but neither is to overpowering. It was not overly carbonated. The high ABV could turn some people off but it does not bother me. It is a very interesting beer. It’s hard to describe but not really my favorite. I would say that this beer is kind of like a Belgian but at the same time its not.

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Photo of Boto
4.7/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at the CTRiver brewers festival. It is a bit of mahogany in color. Much more head than in the bottled version. Head Ligners for awhile. Inhale this and WOW! Big nose very remenicent of a Belgian Strong. Sweet, strong nose. Very Aromatic. The taste is very sweet also. Caramel & fruit. This is a definite keeper. Not quite sure how this is listed in the Belgian Strong Style. There are some similarities, but I'm not sure what style I would classify it as. Still a very hard one to beet!

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Photo of ngandhi
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Raison D'etre has no reason for being a Belgian strong dark ale. While styles can run into each other, I identified this as a doppelbock before I checked BA. The amber/mahogany beer is medium-bodied. Though a touch overfizzed in the mouthfeel, the head is still pathetic and subsides very quickly to a splotchy ring with some lacing.

As I bring the pint glass to my mouth, I take in very alcoholic fruits. The smell of alcohol -- straight, grain alcohol -- begins to overwhelm. Yet, when the beer is brought to the lips, those green raisins (or is it just the power of suggestion?) sideswipe the phenols and leave me with a Belgian meets doppelbock palette. The heavy brown sugar flavor (I'm guessing this is the beet) suggests malty doppelbock. Tons of pear. Considering Trois Pistoles is about as good as this style gets (even though it's made in Canada), DFH falls embarassingly short. Compared to Salvator, however, it holds ground. What's a BA to do?

The ultimate taste of this beer, though confused, is in the Belgian Strong Dark family -- the strong phenols, less than robust malt, gritty yeast, and bittering demand it; Raison d'Etre is a bastard child.

I like what the raisins do here, and I appreciate the use of natural sugars. Over the course of a glass, this beer grows on me (perhaps it's the alcohol talking). Nevertheless, it seems quite lost; drinking it is chaos, like the world's greatest clam chowder to a man lost in the Sahara.

As it warms, it mellows significantly -- I start to think dark Belgian. A lot of the hop bite and carbonated sting dissipates. Dark fruits flash their sweet, rich bodies and each sip finishes dry but fruity, almost like boxed red wine. Not bad. Not beer of the year.

Relax, relax.

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Photo of Popsinc
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: 12oz bottle. Pours a very dark amber with a small head that fades down to a ring.

Smell: Sweet, malty nose is pretty much all i get here. Hints of brown sugar and molasses with syrupy undertones.

Taste: Nice hoppiness off the top accompanied by a trace of woodiness. The sweetness quickly appears and again is highlighted by brown/raw sugar and probably molasses. There is a hint of dark fruitiness but it is overshadowed by other flavours. Alcohol kick on the finish.

Mouthfeel: A moderatley lively beer with a dry fuzzy mouthfeel. The finish leans towrds the drier side.

Drinkablilty: I found this beer slightly better than average but not great. I think i will try it again down the road and see how my thoughts change.

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

An initially vinous nose turns into rubbing alcohol as it warms. You can smell the grape/raisin fruit as well as other sugary fruits. Carmel melds with fruit and sugar to form a tantilzing dessert-like sweetness. Very silky to the tongue with light carbonation -- there really was almost no head on this beer except with a brutally aggressive pour. Alcohol gets obvious pretty fast. Aftertaste has an odd, almost-roasted bitterness that sweeps up everything but a barely lingering SunMaid raisin kick. Tossing any notion of style into the wind, I think this may be a bit of a love/hate beer. It's unique, and the alcohol is a bit noticeable. But it's interesting, flavorful, and aromatic -- and that counts for a lot in my book.

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

Appearance: Amber, little bit reddish, with an off white rocky head

Aroma: A slight bit of grape or raisin in the aroma, complimented by a malty sweet smell. Musky.

Taste: Grape flavor continues into the taste. Not a lot of initial malt flavor, virtually no hop presence. It's reminiscent of the midas touch, except this beer has a much heavier mouthfeel.

Notes: A good beer to try. But not one of my favorites. Definately a sign of why Dogfish Head is a popular brewery, because they aren't afraid to take a risk or two.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.53/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Deep Brown color, small head. " A deep mahogany ale, brewed with Belgian beet sugars, green raisins and a sense of purpose..". Full-bodied Belgian style ale. Deep, intense malt flavors. Not too hoppy. Belgian sugars are very evident. Complex flavor. Mellowing taste. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is malty. Some alcohol bite. Interesting beer. Well deserved of its notoriety.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,286 ratings.
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