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: 4,289
Photo of Myk
4.17/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance was a rich golden amber with a small bubble bone white head poured rather aggressive, head depleted rather fast. the aroma was of malt, floral hop and champaigne (sp). the taste was so sweet. warming malt and super complex. fruity, sour apple mixed with grapes and raisin. bitter hop bite. it was of medium body with a long lasting fruit aftertaste. alcohol is present as it warms.

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Photo of aaronh
3.16/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Beautiful copper-orange color with amber highlights. This beer pours with a one-inch, light tan head that fades to a thin foamy film. The aroma is a little bit of sweetness mingled with some herbal and woody notes. Interesting, bordering on weird. The taste is also odd. The main taste is hard to pinpoint, but it is essentially a woody, slightly smoky malt taste. Throw in a pinch of herbal tea and a splash of vodka to get the idea of this taste. It's not bad, just odd. There seems to be a bit of spice in there as well, but it's hard to pinpoint. Soke residual sweetness on the finish, with just a touch of bitterness. The mouthfeel is very full and smooth. The alcohol warms a bit as it goes down, like a good smooth bourbon. The drinakbility is average due to the odd yet complex flavor profile. In general I like the Dogfish line, but this one is a bit too odd for someone as conservative as me.

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Photo of OatmattStout
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is different and I seemed to like it less the second time I had it and now more the third time.[ I think I have made up my mind] Some decent sweet matly flavors brought on by beet sweetness and raisons. The second time i had it I did poor this beer out of a cold fridge and never let it get to a good temp so the flavors seemed separate. When served right It has a velvety mouthfeel with great fine carbonation the really slamms the flavors into your bud's. Over all I like this beerjust fine and will drink it occassionaly but for all the hype and $10 a six pack it won't make the regular rotation.

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Photo of maxpower
4.32/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep clear brown in color, has a small fizzy off white head, smokey sweet brown sugar and caremel malty aroma. Chocolate fruity caremel flavors, has some sour bitterness. Medium body, has somewhat of a syrupy mouthfeel, well hidden alcohol content, good and different.

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Photo of comat0se
4.92/5  rDev +34.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked this one up in the bargain bin at Corral Liquors in Illinois. The bottle says bottled in April, but I'm not sure what year that it was. There is an 02 on the glass itself, so I'm guessing April 2002.

Unlike some other reviewers of this beer, this beer poured with a massive 1 inch, small bubbled, frothy head. This head had some of the best retention I've ever seen. The last sip still had at least a half inch of foam left. Amazing.

The first aroma I picked up coming out of the bottle was a winey, champagne-like aroma. Closer examination of the aroma from the glass reveals heavy malt and fruits. The appearance of this beer is outstanding: a deep, crystal-clear, ruby/mahogany color. I was expecting a lighter colored beer, and lighter in body (not sure why). This is not what this beer is about. It's a bright, and bold beer. Some might not agree with the beers sweetness, and think it diverges too much from "what beer should be." But I think not... I'm continually amazed by what beer can be. This beer has all sorts of things going on. You taste dark fruits, black cherries, chocolate, maybe even cherry coke, followed by a hint of roasted and a bit of pencil flavor (yes, wood pencil) and wisps of hot alcohol. The drinkability is almost soda-like, and it goes down fast, easy and refreshingly so. But this isn't any soda... and the mouthfeel immediately gives that away. It is moderately thick and luxurious, not impeded by a heavy carbonation, but yet having the perfect balance of carbonation. This hides its alcohol very well, only traces emerging from time to time remind you that this is no 3.2% beer. There are very little hops present in this beer. I couldn't detect any hop flavor, but yet the finish of the otherwise sweet beer was dry.

A very nice beer... I want another! Hope I can find it again.

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

pours to an amber with a very minimal head atop, but the bubbles that are there are there to stay for a while. you will get sweet malts, caramel, and a little spice in the aroma.

the beer is very smooth with carbonation in check. the body is medium with nice rich consistency. the malts are arranged well, and it is very easy to drink. you will get flavors of caramel, alcohol, and raisons. yes definitely raisons. i didn't expect this, but it was a really unique characteristic. definitely a new experience.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dogfish Head – Raison D’Être, wow - quite a mouthful.
Well the 6-Pack Box says that this beer was American Beer of the Year 2000. Hmm.

Pours a brown, deep amber, color, which has a coppery-red hue. Minimal carbonation gives a thin collar like off-white head. Nose is quite funky at first, but I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Try again. A very deep inhalation gives Malt with some fruit and a freshly cut damp woody odor. Wee-aard. Tastes reveal a strange brew, akin to not much else that I have tried, like no other. Rather unique then. Warm malts introduce the beer, leading to a confused middle that is quite complex, or is it muddled? It has fruity traits with a mildly warming alcohol effect to which I am very partial. Sticky Toffee residuals are present in the finish. I wonder, if this beer ages well for a year or two, tastes like it would. I am struggling to understand this, and therefore adequately describe this beer. I keep tasting it hoping to clarify the situation – nope, it’s like as soon as I have drunk it, I forget what it is. A Twilight Zone beer, perhaps!

So this is supposed to be a Belgium-Style beer right?? Well OK, it has some claims I suppose, yeah and I am Howard Hughes love-child.
For me, it is much more of an “experimental beer”, with a cheeky hint of Belgium. However, strange as it is, I think it works.
Quite Good in a Weird Way actually.

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Photo of ethosx19
2.46/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I got a six pack and was excited to try this. As much as I wanted to like it, I just can't. It poured a dark rich amber with very little head. The aroma was a mix of raisons and alcohol - they don't mix well. It tasted of malt and raisons with a creamy alcohol finish. I didn't like the raisons and I didn't like the alcohol taste. I'm going to age these a few months and hope they improve. On the plus side, one beer at 8% did give me a buzz on an empty stomach.

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Photo of mickeymac
4.32/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Specialty beer, indeed. It's a nice brownish red with a smallish head. The smell is funky-fruit with a trace of hops and definitely unique. Green raisins? It sounds odd, but it works. The fruity flavor dominates, but it doesn't overwhelm the beer. The smell and taste of alcohol are noticeable but appropriate for an 8.0% abv beer. The drinkability is good, although this is certainly not a session beer. It seems to be a love it or hate it beer.

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Photo of IrishRedRock
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is an odd beer. I like Dogfish Head in that they are a somewhat adventurous brewery, but I don't really know whats going on with this brew. It pours a clear tan with no head at all really. Not much of an aroma either, some mild malt, caramel, and alcohol.

Taste has some malt character, but sadly there are not many hops to be found. Smooth mouthfeel backed with a kick of alcohol that is quite warming and pleasant, with a bit of a dry finish. Has kind of a cheap beer flavor to it, and unfortunately it almost tastes like a fine malt liquor. Anyone seen a 40 oz of this around? ;)

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Photo of MJR
3.2/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear, garnet/mahogany color with a small tan head that, like all of Dogfish Head's beers, disappears quickly.

Smell: Brown sugar, caramel, and a wierd sweetness I can't put my finger on.

Taste: A mixture of alcohol, brown sugar, caramel, sweet fruit, and malt. Not much in the way of hops. Finishes with a strong alcoholic bite.

Mouthfeel: Fairly light body with a dry finish. Strong alcohol presence from start to finish.

Drinkability: Well...it's not a bad beer. The flavor is certainly interesting, but I don't see myself coming back to this one. To me, this is one of those 'try it once and move on' beers.

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

Small head, deep garnet color. Soft aroma, very subtle. "Brewed with Belgian beet sugars, green raisins, and a sense of purpose."
Taste this beer and happiness follows! This is beautiful and unique!
Low carbonation, high hops, little malt that I can detect, but just the right amount of sweetness, and an utterly original flavor. This is a special occasion beer, for when you need a special reward.Light texture, soft and sweet, it's the flavor that makes this a standout brew.
Time and again, I turn folks on to incredible beer like this and they are amazed that there's great beer coming out of Kalamazoo or Pennsylvania or Delaware. Proof again that "you can search the world over and never find a better beer" than those made by craft brewers here in the U.S.A.

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Photo of mrjimcat
2.56/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Tried this brew and was not that impressed. The bouquet was heavy with solvent alcohol. The deep color was attractive but the taste was not that appealing. Interesting but not very appealing. The bitterness was appropriate and was followed by a strong and warm alcohol finish. The sample I tasted had virtually no head. It was not at all reminiscent of Belgians I have tasted which were all lively and bubbly. I would not buy more of this flavor.

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

This ale pours with a deep mahogany/redwood color and and head that fades quickly. For most beers I would say the quick fading head would be a negative, but I don't think it was a major distraction for this ale. The aroma coming from the glass takes your mind away from the head. The aroma is full of orchard odors, fruity and fresh, like a good Belgian ale. There is also a touch of alcohol in the aroma that hints to what is to come.

The taste and flavor is a complex arrangement of specialty malts followed by fruit and spice and finishing with a warmth of alcohol from the beet sugars. The alcohol stays with you long after the last sip. This makes for a very nice after dinner ale. This is also a nice sitting around the fire after long winter day ale. As the label states this ale has "a sense of purpose".

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Photo of QXSTER1
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I couldn't get excited about this beer. Everything is there but not put together in a sophisticated fashion. Deep copper color, and a non-existent head. Nose is sweet and phenolic with some fruitiness. The taste is one dimensional, a bit grapey but nothing jumps out to grab your attention. A wouldn't call this a Belgian style, the complex yeast notes and intense flavors just aren't there. It didn't improve with warming either.

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Photo of rastaman
4.34/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Yeah!!! Very nice stuff. The only downer was it maintained zero head, beautiful mahogany colour. Lots of raisins, caramel, touch of port and some smoke. Palate is complex round, raisiny, port-like, toasty, oaky, spicy, with some peppery alcohol in the finish, very resiny, oily, creamy and round, lots of flavours to describe in this one, excellent stuff

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Photo of Wildman
4.19/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a dark reddish color and formed a small bubbly white head that didn't hold and left little lace. Some carbonation present. An aroma of caramel and other candy frangrances. Flavor of caramel and raisins with a slight hint of the alcohol present. A good beer, but not a traditional style belgian. Typical Dogfish experimenting.

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Photo of jreitman
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice nearly opaque dark brownin color with a white head that fades fast. The aroma very much reminded me of a less tart Rodenbach as it had a biting, tart smell. Belgian yeast and candy sugars smells were also apparent. As it sits, the raisins really start the show themselves in the nose. Mouthfeel was pretty lacking IMO feeling very oily and without much body. Fairly sweet flavored with some unidentifiable fruit flavors lying underneath. Finishes somewhat dry with a slight hop bite.

Thanks to NeroFiddled for hooking me up

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Photo of HopheadEd
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The last line on the label says "brewed with a sense of purpose." Well the purpose is to make me happy! Pours a dark mahogany color with a limited head that leaves patchy lace. First aroma is of fruits, not sweet, not sour. A taste of Belgian candy, alcohol, and a crisp finish. For an 8% ale, very drinkable. Excellent ale.

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Photo of Winter
2.67/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I picked up a six-pack of this beer with high hopes, based on a friend's recommendation and the great reviews that it had received. Nice mahogany color. Thin head dissipated quickly. At room temperature aroma has hints of carmel and raisin. Initial bland fruit taste surronds then is swept away by overpowering alcohol flavor. Combination of carbonation and alcohol tingles the tongue. Complex finish gives the ale its "sense of purpose" as the label states. Flavor definitely seems to improve as the beer warms to room temperature. This is the first Dogfish Head brew that I've tried and it has taken 2 separate attempts at drinking it to warm up to it.

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Photo of StevieW
4.32/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep burgundy color, thin beige head. Lots of rich warm smells of rum cake. Candied fruit apples and raisons are very noticable. Taste is smooth, sweet, and very inviting. Bready flavor matched with nice warming alcohol. Taste is much of liquid rum soaked raison bread. Very smooth, and rich going down, but also matched with a slippery candy, syrupy feeling. HIgh abv does catch up with you. One of these a night. This was a much anticipated beer, had multiple samples at the 2002 GABF.

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Photo of jmatthew
3.06/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

As the bottle states, this is a deep mahogany beer, to which I cannot disagree. Rather attractive in the glass, the nose is bread-like with hints of caramel and a bit of mustiness, which seems both promising and forboding. As could be expected from a beer of 8% abv, alcohol plays strongly in the flavor. Unfortunately, the alcohol was a bit too strong on the opening of the flavor, rather than rounding it out with some warmth. Once past the alcohol, candy sugars dominate with the green raisins surfacing nicely to give some identifiable flavor to the otherwise anonymous swetnesss. Not quite as much body as anticipated but decent warmth due to the alcohol. Undoubtedly some credit is due for a bit of uniqueness, but I felt the alcohol could stand to be tamed a bit. Didn't find myself longing for another.

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

I've never had "rum soaked raisins" but have probably used the description in past reviews. After this beer I can more confidently say that I've actually had them. Other than that, it seemed a little flat and alcohol-laden to me, but it was fun to drink one of them.

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Photo of Jason
3.44/5  rDev -6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer certainly has some chill haze problems, the head was not much better either. Smelled of rum, caramel, raisins, solvent alcohol and some other odd fruit.

The taste was the same with more of an expressive solvent alcohol that bordered on a rubbing alcohol flavour. Syrupy and slick with sweet malty and alcohol flavours, a bit softer and more palatable than in the bottle.

Not too bad, you just have to remember that it is 8.0% abv and not to suck it down like any other beer that is on-tap.

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Photo of marc77
3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Garnet hue w/ good clarity, topped by a quickly dissapating head. No lace is left. Leafy tobacco & raisiny, dark caramel Special B (and / or real raisins?) sweetness in aroma. Light acetaldehyde as well. Deeply caramelized sweetness hits the palette initially, but vinous flavors & mild bubblegum esters quickly follow. A bit cidery from the dark candi sugar in the grist. Hop bitterness is mild, but manages to offset the relatively high residual sweetness. Lightly bodied, w/ a mouthfeel that borderlines on being thin. Finishes clean, dry w/ a fading molasses flavor. Although a tasty brew, I was expecting greater complexity and richness. Raison D'etre is without flaws, however.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,289 ratings.
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