Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States | website

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,774
Ratings:
4,280
Avg:
3.66
pDev:
23.22%
 
 
Wants:
103
Gots:
483
For Trade:
5
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,774 | Ratings: 4,280
Photo of Sammy
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice yeast creamy yummy two dimensional Belgian style. Lower than expected aroma but delivered in beverage experience, fullmouth yeast delivery. Beautiful mahagony dark with mocha colored head, much cream that dissipates into lace. Masterfully done, like Ommegang with extra angles. Better than an average Belgian.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.67/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark brown with a 1/2 inch foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small patches of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, brown sugar, and some slight dried fruit aromas. Taste is of roasted and toasted malt, burnt sugar, spice, and some fruity flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roasty and spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer flavor wise but I think I like the aromas I am getting over the flavors.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

single finger off white head with good retention on a hazy crimson / amber body. No lacing. Aroma is mostly belgian yeast and esters. Mild overall. Some dark fruit and fig. Not too sweet. Flavor is like a mild belgian with mire sugar, fig and dark fruit. Again this is dogfish head taking a beer style and mellowing it out to appeal to the masses and more typical everyday beer drinker but charging the normal belgian beer price. Not a bad beer but not a good member of its genre.

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

a very very unique ale. this one pours a mahogany brownish with a patchy tan head an inch thick. nose is quite interesting, fruity, with that belgian yeast complexion, slightly sweet, rich. taste matches the nose, with the flavor of the raisins coming through nicely. as far as i know, there is nothing like this anywhere else on the market. worth seeking out. definitely grows on you over time, only the high ABV and high price tag keep this one from being a daily go to for me. endless food pairing potentials as well...

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Photo of Knapp85
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I typically enjoy this beer when I have it at festival and whatnot. This brew poured out as a nice dark shade of brown with a creamy orange tan colored head on top. The smell of the beer is a little boozy but has a nice sweetness to it that gives off a Raisin and brown sugar aroma. The taste of the beer is pretty sweet and has lots of dark fruit and sugars in there. It's more like a dessert beer I feel personally. The mouthfeel is slick and almost oily but has a good carbonation to it still. Overall I like it, I choose it over most of the other DfH beers are festival for some reason... Not really sure why. It's worth trying!

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Photo of metter98
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured dark mahogany brown with a small head that disappeared quickly, leaving just a few bubbles around the edge of the surface. There's a low- to moderate level of carbonation visible.
S: Dark fruits and sweetness dominate the aroma.
T: Flavors of raisins, dark fruit and brown sugar stand out in the initial taste, followed by the underlying malts and sweetness. The alcohol leaves a bit of heat in the finish, along with a bit of bitterness from the hops.
M: The beer feels medium bodied on the palate and the level of carbonation seems just right and does not make it taste too heavy or syrupy.
D: This is a good beer to sip but I can't see having more than one of these in one session. The alcohol starts hitting you after a while.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This brewery is incapable of brewing a bad batch. I passed on this beer for a while because I didn't think that I would fully appreciate it. I was wrong. An extremely complex and fruitful beer. Pours with a medium to high viscocity. Brown with some burgundy and purple violet tones. Tan / burgundy head falls to a trace, laces well, nice oily cling to the glass. Smells of cocoa, deep dark friuts, all hidden behind a malt base. Lightly hopped and tart. Tastes fruity sweet with pruned, dates, raisons, figs. All the goodness that you'd like from these fruits with only a mild tartness. A red wine-like muskiness in the body. Silky smooth rich body that nicely fades into the finish. Very consistant flow down the throat. Mild cherries show up in the finish. Mildly drying and mildly sweet. Dangerously easy to drink. I don't particularly like dark fruits, but I love the beers that exhibit their flavors--go figure.

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

Appearance: Beautiful clear mahogany in color. A gentle pour into a wide-mouthed goblet produced almost no head. Still a great looking beer, however.

Smell: Smells largely of overripe fruit (figs, plums) and brown sugar. A bit of toast appears as it warms along with a hint of yam.

Taste & mouthfeel: Flavors of caramelized sugar, dates and raisins at the forefront with an undertone of toasted malt. The low/moderate carbonation was initially a surprise, but it works fine here; I was just expecting something closer to the crisp effervescence of most Belgian examples of this style. This certainly isn't a traditional Belgian style beer though, more of a Belgian/American hybrid. The finish dries up nicely, leaving a hint of alcohol on the palate. A touch more hop bitterness may benefit this beer to cover up the slight alcohol presence, but it's by no means harsh.

Notes: Nice stuff, glad I had the chance to try this. Got this as an extra from Azurelimits. Thanks!

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Photo of brentk56
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours a clear, relatively dark amber color with a head that disappears rather quickly; some strands of lacing are left behind

Smell: Caramel, figs and prunes with an edge of cinnamon

Taste: Relatively sweet caramel, up front, with the fig and prune flavors and hot cinnamon developing through mid-palate; after the swallow, just a little too alcoholic, but still shows off the dried dark fruit

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: For a Belgian dark, this lacks the caramel malt and dark fruit complexity that I associate with the style; an interesting experiment, but there are other Belgian darks that I prefer more

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured copper color ale with a very small head that disappeared a tad too fast. Aroma is quite sweet with alcohol soaked raisins being quite noticeable. Body is quite full and carbonation is very low. Taste is very interesting resembling more like a barley wine (sweet raisins, warming alcohol) then anything else. The Belgian yeast must have been covered because I had a hard time detecting it. Overall, this is quite ‘’different’’ but very enjoyable. Wouldn’t mind laying a couple of them down to see the evolution of this beer.

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

The last of an assortment of DFH 'souvenirs' from my last trip south of the 49th parallel...the 4th of July seems a decent occasion as any to polish it off.

This beer pours a clear, dark ruddy brown colour, with minimal head, and no lacing. Quick out of the gate, I suppose. It smells of subtle roasted caramel malt, bittersweet chocolate, a little vinous essence, and a bit of bitter coffee. The taste is lightly roasted caramel malt, a tad chocolate candy-like, a bit of booze, dark fruit, and earthy hops. The carbonation is moderate, the body thick and viscous, with the booze well-integrated, and an off-dry sweet candy malt finish. This seems much more like a brown ale, a style I don't usually care for, but is also more of a ramped-up American version, and is thus quite tasty.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.11/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard Dogfish Head label and branded copper pry-off pressure cap acquired as part of a 6 pack at me local HEB Grocery and served into an Independence Brewing pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are below average given the brewery - which tends to disappoint. 8% ABV confirmed per the label. Reviewed as a Belgian style brown ale because it identifies as such on Dogfish Head's website.

Served cold, straight from me fridge, and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as I pour.

Pours a one finger wide head of light khaki colour. Okay thickness and creaminess. Lackluster frothiness. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes. Head retention is average - about two minutes.

Body colour is a clear dark amber of above average vibrance. No yeast particles are visible. Translucent and transparent. By no means brown in colour, nor is it as dark as most Belgian style dark ales. Not sure what to make of that, but it's appealing in a general sense.

Nonstandard for the style. Not unique or special, but there are no obvious flaws here. I'm optimistic.

Sm: Raisin, prune, amber malts, and beets - but I only notice beets because I'm looking for them; if I had this blind I wouldn't have thought to say beets. Caramel. Light floral hop character is present and seems to complement the malts nicely. I do get a clean tannic Belgian yeast. Lots of residual sugars bring this beer to the sweeter end. A buried hint of murky cherry. Toasted sugars. I like the fruity notes. Raisin is dominant. Sugarcane imparts a note redolent of rum.

Overall, it's a pleasantly sweet aroma of mild strength.

No alcohol or other off-notes are detectable.

T: Rum-soaked fruits: prune, dates, raisin. Plenty of sugarcane and other residual toasty sugars. Amber malts, caramalt, and Belgian malts fill out the body nicely. Beet sugar definitely comes through - though I wouldn't have been able to identify quite what that note was blind. Vague burgundy/red wine hints. Clean Belgian yeast. It's definitely sweet, but it never quite becomes cloying. As it warms, I get a buried grape note. It has nice cohesion and decent balance, but it's certainly not gestalt. Overall, it has some limited complexity, but would benefit from more. Not the most subtle flavour profile either.

Average depth, duration, and intensity of flavour for the style.

No alcohol off flavours come through, aside from a vague alcohol presence - which passes the point of being simply a pleasant warmth and does start to annoy.

It's not really a Belgian dark ale, nor is it a Belgian brown. It's sort of a Belgian dark amber, if you please.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Overcarbonated. A bit too thick and full for the flavour profile; it's not an ideal marriage of texture to taste by any stretch. But it's passable and suits the flavour profile passably. Decent body and presence on the palate.

Not oily, harsh, gushed, or hot.

Dr: A drinkable beer, but the alcohol presence does hold it back. I wouldn't have more than one in a night, but I'm enjoying this one for what it is. I will say that while it's not unique, I can't readily think up a beer I've had that is exactly like it. I'd like to see the brewers commit more to the rum aspect of the beer; barrel aging would be an obvious approach, but there are probably more subtle ways of emphasizing the strength of the flavour. The more I drink of this, the more the sweetness annoys me. It's a decently priced beer, but I won't be buying it again, nor would I recommend it to friends. Above average overall; it's got unfulfilled potential.

I'd like to try it with 1-5 years of age on it; it's got plenty of residual sugars that would develop over time - though I'm not sure if it's got active yeast.

C+

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown with a nice head that stays for a while.

S: Dark malt, dark sugars, raisins, and caramel. All very nice.

T: Dark, sweet malts and the dark fruits come in more here. The taste isn't too sweet, but you can definitely tell the fruits are there.

M: Medium-bodied and a good smoothness to it.

D: Pretty drinkable considering the funkiness of it. DFH does it again.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.87/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

To me, this is DFH's best beer.. at leas so far anyway. It's a pretty high ABV but you cannot even taste it at all. Smells and tastes of brown sugar and other sweetness and the taste is so smooth and mouthfeel perfect. It's almost like liquid candy, but it's not so overly sweet that it turns you off. I've come back to this one a few times and will continue to do so.

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Photo of zeff80
3.51/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an orange/amber color with a soapy, foamy, tan head that left some trails of lace.

S - It smelled of malt, raisin and other dried fruits.

T - It tasted very malty, with hints of fig and raisin.

M - It was fairly soft and smooth. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good Belgian style beer. Interesting flavors and quite drinkable.

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

Poured a deep copper color with slight head that was gone quickly,the aroma was complex almost meaty with slight sugary notes.Taste was somewhat fruity,like others i do pick up some grape-like flavors,with some sweet alcohol flavors rounding this one out.A very complex beer kinda hard to rate,I would try again,would love to find on tap.

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Photo of nickfl
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with under one finger of tan head on top of a perfectly clear, amber-brown body. The foam collapses quickly and leaves moderate lace on the glass.

S - Dark, fruity notes of raisin, plum, and caramel with a hint of clove.

T - Woody raisin notes up front with some plum and toffee. The yeast comes out a bit more in the middle with notes of clove, anise, and caramel coated red apples. The malt character reasserts itself at the finish with more caramel, toffee, and red apple. Notes of semi sweet chocolate and dark caramel linger in the aftertaste with red apple as well as some warming alcohol.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - The aroma is a bit weak, but the favor of this beer is surprisingly spot of for the style. The raisins bring a musty fruitiness that works well with the rich, dark caramel malt. There is an excellent yeasty note of red apple that floats throughout the experience and enhances the malt character substantially. The hops are handled nicely as well and manage to provide a light balancing bitterness without obscuring any of the malt or yeast. A very nicely drinkable belgian with an American twist.

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

Light fizzy head, hazy reddish brown color.

Nose is musty herbal hops, sweet brown malts, brown sugar, caramel, s weet syrups, toasty malts.

Taste herbal hops, musty, earthy tones, sweet brownish toasty malts, brown sugar, caramel, toffee, light spices, raisins, hazelnut, nutty, light minerals, chewy, finishes still a bit sweet, malts, light bitter herbal hops,

Mouth is med bodied with decent carb,

Overall meh, the herbal hops hit quite a bit, little minerality, plenty of malts, sweet

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.46/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Burnished orange-bronze with a beautiful roseate blush. The pale caramel cap is remarkably tight-bubbled and soft with a blemish-free surface. I didn't see even a hint of deflation for the first several minutes. Unfortunately, it looks like the glass will be left untouched by lace.

Even with my nose in close proximity to the liquid, I'm having difficulty appreciating much. Vague impressions of dark malt, brown sugar and caramel are about it. The beer needs to seriously up the ante on the palate.

The flavor is as bold as the nose is shy. Raison D'Etre doesn't strike me as a BSDA; more like an old ale or even an English barleywine. There's a considerable amount of malt onboard. The flavor profile is made up of caramel-toffee, light molasses, cherries and raisins macerated in dark rum and, unfortunately, unmasked alcohol.

This bottle is at least one year old (bottled in October), but it could be as many as two years old. One would think that over that much time, the alcohol would have been tamed to some extent. It's still a little too raw for my tastes. There's also a metallic character that appears on the finish.

Warming and further inebriation don't bring anything new or interesting to the table. The flavor is still unintegrated, although not totally without merit. The mouthfeel is a bright spot. It's solidly medium and is as smooth as the day is long.

As noted on the label: I can taste the sweetness of the Belgian beet sugar, I can taste the green raisins (they taste like dark raisins to me) and I can taste the 'sense of purpose'. Dogfish Head does not lack vision or audacity, but they too often fail in the execution.

That's too harsh an assessment. Raison D'Etre isn't a failure by any means, but it doesn't hold together well enough to be anything more than a decent, quasi-drinkable curiosity. If the rumors of retirement for this beer are true, I certainly won't lose any sleep over it.

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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 ChainGangGuy
2.4/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

$1.99 single at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a clear, red body with a thinning, off-white head.

Smell: While not overly fragrant, there aroma still holds plenty of sweet-smelling candy, dehydrated fruits, and Belgian-ish yeast.

Taste: Starts with a fruity, sweet (even winey) flavor that isn't acutely raisiny, but moreso sugary and vague vegetal with some alcohol notes. The finish is all at once tart, roasty, and syrupy. Did I miss something?

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Velvety mouthfeel. Ample carbonation.

Drinkability: I find it fortuitous that I was allowed to purchase a mere single bottle of this.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.24/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown with little head and a tiny bit of lace. Smell is sweet, caramel, and of course the hint of raisen. Taste matches perfectly. Very rich and full flavored. The raisen taste is very nice, but this has a great malty fullness. Not overly carbonated, but it doesn't need to be. Very well rounded and very enjoyable. I am looking forward to more of these.

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Photo of chinchill
3.44/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

undated 12oz bottle served in a pint glass.

I just altered my BA profile last night to conclude that Belgian Strong Dark Ale deserves listing as my favorite style not so much because several of my favorites are this style but because every beer in this style I had reviewed had received a high A- or better) rating. Well, less than 24 hours later I'll need to revise my profile thanks to this Dogfish Head.

The DH gets off to a good start, with a lovely reddish amber color and a lasting, creamy looking light tan head. The liquid is clear and the head is multi-density.

The aroma is pleasant but rather mild and lacks depth and complexity being mainly the aroma of various ripe and dark fruits with some alcohol esters, grape bubblegum and a just hint of hops. The alcohol aromas become more pronounced with warming, leading me to lower my rating of this aspect.

This is an exceptionally fruity beer, with a flavor profile dominated by prunes, plums, raisins and generic sour fruits. The tartness nicely contrasts with the sweetness of the aroma. The ABV is not only apparent, it actually seems higher than 8%, as if someone sprinkles some light rum in my beer (no, I'm home alone at the moment).

M - medium body; smooth, but with a tad too little carbonation.

O - Well, I can still say I haven't had a Belgian Strong Dark Ale I disliked. This one departs from the admittedly highly variable flavor profile of this beer style. Where's the malt? It is still a moderately enjoyable if disappointing offering from DH. I'll buy another bottle but try aging it first.

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

12 ounce bottle into tulip, bottled 12/13/2011. Pours slightly cloudy red orange color with a nice 2 finger fairly dense khaki head with great retention that reduces to nice cap that lingers. Some spotty thick lacing on the glass. Aromas of big molasses, raisin, candi sugar, plum, caramel, herbal spiciness, chocolate, toasted malt, biscuit, yeast spices, and a touch of alcohol. Nice and well balanced aromas with some good complexity. Taste of big molasses, caramel, herbal spice, chocolate, raisin, candi sugar, biscuit, toasted malt, and yeast spices. Lingering notes of caramel, biscuit, dark fruit, molasses, toasted malt, and spiciness on the finish for a bit. Nice balance of flavors with good malt balance without being cloying. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a fairly creamy and slick mouthfeel. Alcohol is well hidden with only a warming on the finish present. Smooth drinking for the alcohol level, but is still a sipper. Overall this is a very nice Belgian dark ale; with nice complexity and good flavor balance. Really enjoyed this one.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of roasted malts, chocolate, raisins and some hops.

T: The taste is malty up front with sweet flavors of raisins, chocolate and caramel. There's a mild background of Belgian yeast and spices. The malt character is hearty and there's a decent hops presence all creating a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, nice representation of style but like most DFH beers, it's not your typical beer in its style. This is a good beer to drink for a long time if you're in the mood for some thing with a little strength and a lot of substance.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 1,774 ratings.
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