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 freed
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tarnished bronze, maybe copper seems to describe the color best. Itt has a nice head with bubbles of various sizes. The smell is sweet and malty with no detectable hop aroma. Almost smells like a fruit wine.

The taste is very pleasant. Fruity, malty, and slightly warm with alcohol. Very similar in many respects to a barleywine, but not quite as spicy. Has a nice amount of chew to it, and becons for another sip.

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Photo of stirgy
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured out a bright copper-amber color which was very clear and was topped with a thin white head. Strong fruit aroma of fermented raisins, caramel and brown sugar.
Almost cordial-like, this one has a very unique flavor and a pleasant sweetness to it. Could be good if drank warm. A very full flavored beer and is quite drinkable. Beware though: I had this after dinner and went comatose on the couch for about an hour. The alcohol sneakingly crept up on me.
I had the 20 percent Raison D' extra version once and that was one isanely sweet, strong and syrupy concoction. This is like a mini version of that beer.

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Photo of bewareOFpenguin
4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The ingrediants were a little scary. Green raisons? Was this some kind of "French" comspiracy? I poured the beer and noted it's red amber color. What happened to the green raisons. The taste was indeed bold. Fruity, but not tooty-fruity. Good hops playing out. A definite well rounded beer.

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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 dwarbi
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Perfect head, but it pops down a little too quickly.... haven't even smelled it yet. Nice medium-colored amber. OK, ready to smell it (head's gone completely except a tiny bit) Smells fruity, but not just of raisons. A nice bouquet, but a little ambiguous and light. very pleasant taste, Can taste the raisons, but it's not too much. Feels very nice on the palate. And it leaves me wanting more... very rich. While the taste is pretty good, as long as you keep drinking more, it's very good!

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Photo of Scooter77
4.3/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I enjoyed this beer a lot. Pours somewhat of a mahogany color with a fluffy off-white head that dies down, leaving a stick lace. Aromas are sweet with raisins and plums with moderate hoppy undertones. The taste is quite sweet, bursting with the sweetness of raisins and caramel. The taste of alcohol was strong, but not to bad. Finish was light and dry. This is another great beer from the folks at DFH.

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Photo of beerluvr
3.61/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ok, here we go...this has a massive long-lasting light beige head upon pouring, settling over clear dark amber fluid w/gold highlights. The nose is grapey and quite fruity...interesting. Tasting reveals lots of sweetness, with a green apple-like note followed by slight slight raisin flavors, then a healthy maltiness picks up. Fruity flavors then become apparent with alcohol esters close behind. Just a minimum of hopping here. Finishes dry and strong/warming. One interesting and funky beer, this one is! Would I purchase a six-pack of this anytime soon? I'd say nyet!

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Photo of BeerResearcher
2.59/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Sometimes, even great chefs lose or forget the basic principles of blending and pairing ingredients. They get off-track and begin to throw ingredients together with no apparent direction in mind. Such is the case with the brewmaster of Raison D'Etre. While not a bad beer, it's clear that this is an experimental concoction. The deep amber color with red tint would be improved with any sign of a lasting head. The full malt body is sweetened beyond any reasonable expectation. "Oh Boy, Green Raisins! Extra Sugar ("maybe this will help", yum!) "Let's pour some alcohol into the brew to appeal to the street people!" The aroma is sweet and alcoholic. This is an experiment best abandoned!

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Photo of GreatPondBrewer
3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Strange brew, but none the less a intriguing one to try. Cloudy orange in appearence with some white head and a fair amount of lacing as well. It smelled very deep with hints of currant and rum. The taste was green raisons as the bottle purported, but I think the green I tasted was an unripe one. The beer was also particularly syrupy. Cannot say that this beer is my reason for being, but I think that maybe all beer is.

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Photo of Darkale
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

What an odd beer. Deep orange-red, with a tan head that comes up dense but not thick and soon becomes a tight rim. Slightly sweet aroma, fresh and fruity with a whiff of hops.

First sip brings out a burst of fruit and heavy sweetness -- raisins and grapes and and a mild hoppy after-bite. Very, very rich. Gritty, with some charcoal after swallowing. Good carbonation.

The kind of beer that one is glad to have tasted; not sure I will stand in line to buy it again. Over the top.

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Photo of nomad
3.42/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A very muddy burnt umber color, not very appealing as it was quite hazy and a strange color between orange, brown, and ruddy red. Poured with little head that was thin and even, consisting of small tight bubbles. Lace was negligible. Nose was slightly fruity, on the side of bananas, cooked apples, and freshly dried raisins. Also had a woody undertone to it.

First taste was quite tart with a fizzy mouthfeel whose activity gives way to a partly yeasty, partly hoppy bitterness. The session showed it to give way to a consistently tart flavor that balances fruity tartness and a woody (like a oak-aged wine) tartness - for me, reminiscent of a oud bruin or red ale. The fruity sweetness is similar to the nose - a roasted apple and grape type. Subtly long finish as the sweet fruit, tart after-punch, and woody bitterness interchange back and forth on my mouth.

In all, like a toned down triple with more hearty ale-like features: same fruity and floral hop characteristics mixed with a strong earthy side peppery yeast and woody malts. Interesting, but I wouldn't get it again until they've mastered how to mix this experiment with the ratio of it many parts.

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Photo of budgood1
3.64/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours out a clear, dark brown head. a surprisingly small and fizzy head that was DOA. sugary, malty and estery aromas....alcohol notes as well. belgian malt notes, sweet and sugary flavors coat the tongue as well. notes of caramel and chocolate. some hopping to balance. alcohol warming effect in the belly. medium to full bodied, smooth and slick down the throat. i'd like to sample this fresh, as i think my bottle might have suffered some damage in its travels. a belgian in style, and pretty damn sticky sweet at that. a unique taste treat.

thanks to frank4sail for the sample!

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Photo of IPAlot
3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, 50-55 deg. in a belgian bowler with a finger of head.

A very interesting beer. I am not sure I've ever had green raisins before, which the brew includes. Dogfish is a brewery that might help temper my anathema to straying from Reinheitsgebot. The flavor is only a suggestion, another added layer to the quality of the brew itself.

Appearance: a luscious mahogany-orange, quite clear.

Smell: Not very assertive, but balanced and malty.

Taste. The hops are understated, malts hold the forefront, and a spicy gremlin lurks behind the curtains.

I'd buy it again. Not because it is a beer I love, but because of its innovation and mystery.

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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 avylover
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer is wierd one, even by dogfish head standards. It truly tastes like "golden delicious" apples. Aroma is nice & malty but a sip reveals the fruitiness of this beer. It's not overbearing by any means but there's not much else going on here so the appple taste stands out. This beer is warm going down....nice. easy to drink but I don't think I'd want more than one of these. A nice novelty but not something i'd get down with.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.04/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Anytime I see the huge Dogfish Head tap handle, I have to try it. This beer was an inviting amber brown, complemented by a decent white head. The first thing in the aroma that stood out was the fruit aroma (apples and raisins) along with some traces of mellow spice. The taste is the texture of a fine spiced rum, and there are also hints of the flavor in the brew. Very complex, yet utterly enjoyable, and refreshing. The high ABV of course gives the flavor a little bite, and there is also some candi sugar thrown in here for more sweetness. Alot of malt makes this a treat, along with a good medium body and a somewhat chewy texture. Drinkability is good, but it would be better if this weren't so drinkable with 8% abv one is enough. Not quite over the top like some of the Dogfish Head beers, but not a disappointment by any means. I did enjoy her.

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Photo of doho95fu
4.73/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I really enjoyed this brew, obviously alot more than some of my fellow BA's. The beer pours reddish copper with a thin off-white head and no lacing. There is little or no visible carbonation. The smell is of some fruit with clear malt flavors. The flavor was malty as well, but with some sweet fruit characteristsics as well. I don't know that I rate malty brews so high, this may be the highest malty brew I have rated. I just found it to be highly drinkable and enjoyable for a high ABV brew with some experimental characteristics.

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Photo of AudioGilz
4.14/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The aroma of this beer hit my nose even before I poured it out of the bottle; and a pleasant aroma it was. The color is of a darker iced tea and pretty much no head at all.
Initial taste is very sweet and caramelized. Then it's toasty, raisin sweetness of course, and a hint of chocolate as well. Alcohol is noticeable but not bothersome. The finish is dry and just slightly bitter, leading to a long and enjoyable sweet aftertaste. A six pack of this beer could last me a week or longer because I didn't find it too easy to drink one right after the other. The richness is fulfilled in my stomach after one, as well as 8% ABV taking effect. Overall, it's a very tasty beer that I will buy again as a dessert beer.

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Photo of allboutbierge
2.89/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A relatively attractive beer--Rich light brown with copper hue. Quick disapating off white head is poured. Very light carbonation and slightly gummy body. Aroma is very musty and not very alluring. Flavor is disapointing too. No balance of flavors or much a direction to style either. What style is this? Dogfish has successfully pushed the limits of a beer style before but alas, they failed here. Rough malt flavors and some flavor reminscent of a bad cheap white wine in there, but nothing to make the drinker want another. With that in mind Im gonna have a Bigfoot to cap off my evening...

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Photo of the42ndtourist
4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The label makes a claim of being mahogany in colour. This is a pretty good comparison, although I might be drawn more towards a lighter-coloured indian rosewood. Head is off-white, and well-proportioned. Very nice to look at. The nose brings out typical strong Belgian ale aromas, with a light pungent sourness. Taste is very malty (nice!), sweet, with again a little sourness which goes over well. I also thought I could detect the raisins in the finish. A very well made beer: Is this truly Dogfish Head's Raison D'etre?? (rough translation: "reason of being")

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Photo of PatandDavid
3.15/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This poured a deep brownish/red, smell wasn't too overwhelming.

What struck me on drinking this beer was that it was very, very malty. That's the primary taste to be found here. While not unpleasant, I don't think I would go for this again unless I wanted to try it again to see if it was still tasting the same.

Not a bad beer, but a bit of a one note beer.

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Photo of SchmichaelJ
3.57/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This Belgian specialty had a clear orange appearance with noticeable bands of carbonation. A decent foamy head topped the glass, but I was somehow not as impressed with the visuals here. The smell was very malty sweet, with a touch of alcohol scent. After a while I did notice a fruity, raisin-like smell, as mentioned on the label. Nice complexity. The taste surprised me somewhat. The expected maltiness was there, but the alcohol and an indescribable furity / smoked taste battled for my attention. Also very complex and hard to isolate the flavors. I see why this is labeled a Belgian specialty ale...rather uncharacteristic, but not bad. Very dry taste at the end, too. The mouthfeel was pretty average for the style, though...medium body with a nice tingle, but nothing little else worth mentioning. This is an interesting Belgian derivative that is worth trying. I doubt I'll clamor for it in the near future, but I wouldn't refuse it, either.

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Photo of goz
4.04/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reddish brown pour. Malty sweet nose, maybe some alcohol on the nose. Taste is very complex - sweet, then bitter, slight alcohol in there, too. Too many different flavors to pick them all out. Maybe more like a wine or brandy than beer, in terms of complexity.

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Photo of kunzbrew
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew pours a sexy copper with a nice creamy head that last the duration, leaving a lace behind that is to die for. Plums and raisons fill the nose as I grow very excited to try this beer. Not a strong hop aroma, ehich is not bad. Raisons hit the palete very hard, man my mouth was watering at this point. Nutmeg is another taste that hits the palate quite hard during the entire beer. The nice clean finish after every sip until the end.


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Photo of HossMcGraw
3.12/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is a beer with barely any carbonation whatsoever. If I'm drinking a barley-wine or a more full bodied beer, I don't mind that, but this is just weird. I like the fact that like all Dogfish brews, this one doesn't easily fit into any category, but the sample case I bought was very disappointing. Hopefully some day I can get some 90 min IPA or WWS to change my mind, but the Tackle Box sampler is wack. The Raison is cloyingly sweet. Smells weird and as the name would suggest, tastes like raisins. Anyway, it's worth a try, but I won't be buying it again.

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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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