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: 4,284
Photo of proc
4.6/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An incredible beer. Pours out to a darker than expected amber with a slight head. Smell is that of fruit. The taste is fantastic. Fruit and licorice seem prevelant and the alcohol is hidden quite well. As it warms up, it gets better.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An unusual and interesting beer, but then aren't all of the Dogfish Head beers? It took a long time for this beer to grow on me. It pours a deep crimson-mahogany with a creamy light tan head that drops quickly to just a collar (probably from the high alcohol). I like the aroma of dark caramels (toffee) and fruit. The flavor offers up a lot of alcohol, some dark fruity (raisins) maltiness, and some balancing bitterness. The flavor is actually quite toasty with a fig-like fruitiness. The finish is dryish and not nearly as complex as the flavor but does have a lingering sweet raisin-like note that's quite nice. The high level of alcohol is quite hidden. Overall, this is an expansive beer that doesn't reveal itself at first and deserves some extra attention and a few re-visits. It's a beer that I drink when I know I'm not having another but I still want something unusual and rich. Very well done and certainly worth a try. I've also noticed that this ages exceptionally well with bottles that are at least 6 months old becoming much smoother, and bottles that are a year or more old revealing a deeper character.

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Photo of Longstaff
2.93/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I bought a six pack of this due to the high reviews it gets here and other people's recommendations and I have been trying my best to like it. I tried it cold and warm, with food and without, even with a cigar, and it just doesn't seem to cut the mustard for me.

I find it to be overly sweet with brown sugar and raisin flavors that don't blend well with the alcohol flavors. I will say that this is a well crafted and complex beer, but all the different flavors just don't seem to come together. That makes me 0 for 2 with Dogfish Head. BTW, it totally ruined the flavor of the nice Cuban I was smoking.

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Photo of Jdiddy
4.58/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I was really blown away by this. I guess it is considered a Belgian Ale, although it does not taste much like Chimay or the others. I actually like this a bit better than the usual Belgians. It is very full, somewhat heavy, and awesome all around! The smell is that of raisins and a touch of alcohol (but not overpowering). The taste is bold and fruitlike (raisins, currants). The alcohol comes through in the taste but in all the right places. Exceptional beer!!!

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Photo of aracauna
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I drank this in contrast to the Chimay Red I tried tonight. Less of the Y-grass/raw carrot taste than the chimay, but more of the raisony flavor a lot of belgians have. Perhaps because I also drank the World Wide Stout on the same tasting, I also noticed a lot more caramelly/toffeeish flavors than in a typical belgian. I like the dark malt flavors in this beer. Makes for a nice twist on a Belgian. Palate still heavily carbonated, but less fuzzy than chimay. This beer is also more ruby and less brown than the Chimay.

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Photo of ADR
4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear, deep-brown color, controlled 1/2 inch head. Aroma is a little fruity, touch of sharpness approaching skunk. Dense initial mouthfeel, lower carbonation. Sweet and just a touch of raisin and other dried fruit flavors. Actually, more of a plum taste in some ways. Hops are reserved to my tongue. Nice mixture of robustness and lack of greasy slickness. Sturdy without being heavy or overly fruity. Alcohol content was pretty unnoticed by me until close to the end. Cool brew, quality. Thanks to Bighuge for dropping off a sixer.

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

This brew pours pretty dark. Dark Ruby. Has a thin laced tan head that laces nicely. Interesting aroma. Like brown sugar and rock candy. Some malt tones too. Nice. This beer has some definite sweet tones mixed in with alcohol. It's a nice taste. Rock candy comes to mind again. An undenying sweet flavor. Some lingering alcohol and bitterness on the tongue. Body is medium to full. Nice brew here.

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Photo of Thrasher
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Something completely different. Poured from the bottle to not much head. Chemical fruit aroma, like cherry cough syrup. You can smell the alcohol. Initially like wine, then chocolatey sweet, fruity but an alarming finish - incredibly bitter. Cleans out the back of the throat as it goes down. I'm getting very medicinal qualities from this. The alcohol is blatant. I like this beer, I admire this beer... True, I wouldn't want to drink more than one at a time, but hey, this is art, right?

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Photo of Andy
4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very different on tap than in the bottle. Here is a bottle review: Pours with a quickly dissipating head. Dark ruby color. Aroma is big alcohol, sweet sugar, and some nutty like cashew with spicy, yeasty hints. Complex flavor, sometimes mellow, with deep peppery hints and some yeast bite. Finish is smoky like true scotch ales.

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

This is another brew I had Sat. at the Manayunk beer festival, this and the Black Radish were the only two none IPA’s or Pale Ale’s that I had, with the exception of one Wit beer. (I actually managed to jot some notes down on the two beers.)

Anyway this brew has very nice deep copper / orange-ish color to it. The aroma is that of sweet malt, raisins and slight alcohol, all the same can be tasted on the palate, but the high alcohol is barely even noticed while drinking, it is so tasty and balanced so well. The mouth feel is creamy and smooth. Overall this brew was excellent!
This may not be a Belgian-style brew per say, but a excellent brew nonetheless!

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

The controversial Raison D'etre. Initial blast of alcohol recedes under a chocolatey malt profile to build up again and finish warm along with a lingering bitterness. There is definitely more than malt that has been fermented in this brew, but it is not quite as complex as I expected.

Cheers to frank4sail for the sample.

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Photo of sponberg
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Sample: 12 oz bottle, cooler temperature, in pint glass

Can you say "alcohol?" Some beers keep that warming surge of alcohol for the finish. Raison slaps you upside the head with it from the get go. There are some nice, rather sweet flavors going on in the background - fruity maltiness with some Thompson raisin and figgy/grape-y notes, but it's hard for them to say a lot with the alcohol standing up tall and screaming like that.

Different flavor profile in the bottle than on tap, where the alcohol was much more muted. The tap brew is much more drinkable and enjoyable, IMO.

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

Pours a beautiful deep red/orange with a thick creamy head that lasts well. Smell is of sweet malt (caramel?), tartness of the raisins and slight alcohol. The first taste is of a slight roasted malt bitterness that is quickly erased by the sweetness of the brew. Not a sticky sugary sweet but a natural one that goes nicely (from the beet sugar?.) There is also some tartness from the raisins. The beer is creamy and smooth across the palate. The surprising lack of alcohol in the taste makes this beer extremely drinkable. I really liked this beer. Very different, this is one of my favorite things about this brewery, there products are always different. Even when they fit into a style they put a nice twist on the style.

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Photo of Todd
2.9/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Had a big 32oz mug of this last night at Bukowski's (Boston), and wasn't that impressed. A dark beer with a decent head. Aroma was pure grape bubblegum. Flavour also had a dominant bubblegum character with burnt orange and raisin flavour kicking about.

Interesting. Glad I tried it. However, I won't be ordering it again.

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Photo of frank4sail
4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle. Deep red sweet belgian ale. Smell of sweet, malt, and belgian yeast. Complex flavor, tart raisins, malt, and lots of alcohol. Not a drink for the timid. I like this beer very much as a nightcap. It is a change of pace. It is perfect to unwind with but, @ 8%ABV be careful. Well crafted with unique flavor, it is rare to taste these divergent flavors of beet sugars, candy sugar, hops, and malt in an American Brew (or any brew). "A" for effort to the Delaware guys.

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Photo of mophie
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This review pains me somewhat. You see, I'm a Delaware native and have a special fondness for Dogfish Head. That being said, try as I might to love this beer, I can't. It's definitely complex, and I admire Dogfish Head for the effort. Just a bit too much going on, in my opinion, to add to my list of favorites. Of course, that will not stop me from drinking it when I'm visiting my folks down in Lewes!

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Photo of Alewife
4.57/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Turned on to this one by Bierman9 (not a complete fool, he!!) Its dark copper color and fine head are good, and things get better from there. Sweet malty, fruity nose, and verrry good body and mouthfeel. The taste is of currants, raisins, malty sweetness and candy sugar....mmmmmm!! Easy to drink plenty o' these, especially on tap!

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Photo of cokes
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I purchased this beer with high expectations. I had read nothing but positive things about it and, personally, had nothing but good fortune with Dogfish brews. Even the label that read: "Brewed with belgian beet sugar....and green raisins" couldn't deter me from trying this beer (luckily, neither seemed to greatly influence the taste)
Upon sampling this beer, I was initially disappointed. Tasted like and old ale, with the sweetness amped-up. Then as I continued drinking (and as the beer grew on me), I realized the belgian aspect to the beer. Basically, this is how a strong ale would taste if monks were to brew it. Strong yet drinkable. It is an Interesting brew but not mind-blowing (which, judging from other Dogfish brews, I was expecting it to be)..
However, it is a beer that as I drink more of it, the more I like it. Surely, worth a try for anyone

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Photo of Bierman9
4.26/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Says here an old ale...Dude at Redbones said it was a Dubbel...seems more on the Belgian side to me (Edit: 08JUL04 - now a Belgian Strong Dark Ale according to the Bros new stylings). Dark copper color, with a small fine, fading head. Mild, sweet nose. Medium-full body and a medium-smooth tongue, which I found very enticing. Sweet start, with hints of Belgian yeast and candy-sugar before fading into a mild bitterness. Suggestions of spices linger in the dry-ish finish. Nice bier.

overall: 4.3
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5


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Photo of mmthompson33
4.94/5  rDev +35%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow! This 8% alcohol beer is quite a treat. I couldn't tell it from a beer straight out of Belgium. It has so much complexity that it could be integrated into a fancy meal, yet it's cheap price and sweet taste make it an ideal beer to drink for a night of interesting conversation. A superb brew. NOTE: I just had another of these beers in March, and it was not near as good as the batch last November - too flat and sweet. There seems to be some inconsistency in their brews at Dogfishead.

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Photo of John
4.66/5  rDev +27.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Hugely complex as indicated by the other comments. Obvious alcohol taste and aroma. Think of dark raisin bread topped with caramelized brown sugar, add a hint of chocolate, liquify, enjoy.

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Photo of Brent
4.36/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Hoo-hah! This is one serious beer! Venom is right, this is an old-style ale, to me almost a barlywine. Very chewy with dark fruit and a wine-like backbone. Had it with skewered beef and a very hot dipping sauce. This beer just laughed at the sauce and put it out without any effort.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,284 ratings.
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