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

Bottled 11/29/10.

A- Dark red with an off-white, fizzy cap. Retention is decent. Nice spotty lace as I sip on this.

S- Raisin and cinnamon/spice atop Belgian candy brown sugar and caramel malt. Some sort of fruit presence.

T- Once again raisin and spice saturated with a general strong Belgian yeast-influenced feel. Some alcohol notes, which grow a lot with time. Slight apricot and caramel.

MF- Creamy body with smooth carbonation. Pretty warm from the alcohol.

DB- With warmth, the raisin and alcohol flavors just keep building. I find it to be a bit one dimensional in that sense and a one bottle thing.

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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 StJamesGate
3.62/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours bright clear amber with no trace of brown, minimal off white film and what looks to be a not very viscous body. Nose is roast, caramelized sugar and some vinous barrel. Spice muffin cakeiness up front with cherry juice, coffee icing sweetness and yes, some raisin hints, and clove and pumpkin pie spice to end. Tingly finish, dry linger. Light to medium, crisp, some cling, bit of cream.

OK, not sold on this one. Not enough there to be a BSDA but a bit revved up to be a straight brown ale. Don't know where it was aiming, but it missed.

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Photo of Viggo
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle, a kind of dark orangy red colour with absolutely no head. Smells interesting, caramel and raisin type smells. Has a sweet taste, buttery with some caramel and fruit. Burns a bit on the way down. Mouthfeel is pretty thick and creamy. Decent beer, kind of disappointed by it though, had been waiting a while and it let me down. But give it a try.

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Photo of maximum12
3.12/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Picked up on one of our frequent trips to donate our hard-earned money to our friends across the border in Wisconsin.

A distinct amber in color with little to no head. Swirling the beer brings our a smell of...well, since this is a family site, I won't say, but it's rather foul. That doesn't bode well.

Tastes better than it reeks! This thing has malts upon malts with some malts running along the back of my throat right up until the malts hit my tummy. There's a warm hint of alcohol, and a bit of acrid, sour fruit, perhaps the raisins noted in the name?

Not real drinkable. Interesting brew, but I won't be needing another anytime soon. I can't always count of Dogfish for something eminently drinkable, but I'm never bored. Glad I tried this one, just like all the others.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a Deschutes Pint glass.
Bottle 2.10.11D

A - Pours a light brown with a one finger tan head. Some lacing left on the glass.

S - Coffee, fruit, mostly raisins.

T - Malt heavy, sweet fruit mostly.

D - Average body and carbonation all around.

O - A kinda boring beer. A touch sweet, but not overly.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Dark brown, hints or amber color underneath. Smells like a mess. Another collection of DFH hodgepodge ingredients. Not really my favorite style, nor brewery, lots of sugar, but at least not overly sweet, just a bunch of strange adjuncts to give the impression of being "complex".

Not a desireable taste left, and a struggle to keep drinking it to the end. Try this one with friends, that way you don't end up drinking all 12 oz. by yourself.

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Photo of champ103
2.81/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A: This has a great color. Deep amber/brown with some reddish hints. A small white head forms with poor retention and almost no lace.
S: Malty and earthy with some dark fruits and raisins. Some brown sugar as well. Though, there is also an odd musky and metallic aroma that I do not like.
T: There is a bit more malt flavor than in the nose. I like what the raisin characteristic brings, but that metallic flavor that was in the nose is present and big.
M/D: a very harsh crispness in the mouth and to much carbonation for my tastes. The harshness is not from the alcohol, but rather a rough metal fell on the mouth. This needs to be much creamier and rich. This actually drinks just fine. The high alcohol is not detectable, but the metallic stuff going on does not make this particularly smooth to drink.

I am not a fan of this beer. Some sort of metallic characteristic seems to show up in in very aspect of this beer. This is not something I will try again.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.17/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at whole foods, nothing like drinking while pushing the cart. Dare I say I finally a dfh beer that is not gimmicky and actually tasty? I dare! This is a really good beer, listed as a strong dark ale but I think this is a dubbel. Taste and aroma are both lots of raisin, dark caramels, dark fruits prunes, but inverted sugar sweetness. Easy to drink, and great at 8%.

Try this beer.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into pint glass

Appearance- Poured a light brown or dark mahogany color. A light tan billowy head with big carbonation bubbles was formed upon pouring. The head had a decent retention and upon fading gave moderate lacing.

Smell – Sweet dark fruit and caramel aromas are up front. The dark fruit is mainly raisin and a bit of cherry in nature. The smell finishes off with a more white wine like aroma of white grapes and alcohol.

Taste –An interesting combination of tastes. It starts out with more roasted malty flavors with mixed with a bit of sugary and caramel sweetness. Toward the middle, a more dry white wine taste of grapes comes to fruition. This starts to overshadow the more grainy-malty tastes, which towards the end dominates the taste profile. At the very end of the taste your mouth is left with a light tannin taste that lingers for quite a while.

Mouthfeel – A medium body with a moderate level of carbonation. Very average for a beer of this strength.

Overall – Not really my type of beer. It had a bit too much of a wine like flavor, almost as though a white wine was mixed with a brown ale. If I want wine I will drink wine and if I want a brown ale I will drink one; the two together don’t meld too well in my opinion.

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Photo of claspada
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a rich amber-brown with a reddish tint. Higher ABV make the head dissipates shortly; fizzy half-finger width caramel-tinted head.

Weaker smell than I expected. Belgian yeast, malt, vinous chardonnay grapes.

Caramel with a hint of white fruit. Yeast is a predominant factor in the flavor. Some grain and raisin, hop bitterness on the finish with a slight artificial sugar taste. It's too syrupy in the body and it finishes somewhat sour and bitter with a filmy finish with a faint hint of alcohol.

Not a good example of a Belgian strong dark. Innovative, yes, unbalanced, also yes unfortunately. My second least favorite Dogfish Head beer only to the disaster that is Festina Peche.

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

I'm reading the label on this beer and thinking I'm not sure I'm gonna like it, so I was probably prejudiced from the start. It was a nice brown beer with a thick coffee-colored head. It had a fruity molasses smell to it, and a very sweet fruity taste. It looked robust, but was rather bland. Still, fairly pleasant to drink.

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Photo of rlee1390
3.2/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tried it when I first started drinking craft beer, remembered that it wasn't that good but wanted to compare to the D'extra.

A-Clear amber, carbonated, not much head.

S-Raisins, dark fruits. not much else.

T-Lots of dark fruit and raisins, some brown sugar (I would assume the Belgian Beet Sugar). No bitterness, way to sweet and unbalanced.

M-Medium bodied, not much carbonation.

O-The beer is too unbalanced to the malt/fruit side. Overly sweet with flavors not meshing like they should.

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

A - poured a plum amber into my oversized snifter. the head was gone quick leaving oily islands on the surface of the brew. for this style, i usually expect a bit more of a head and a bit more lacing.
S - Wow. something different for sure. spicey, minty, orange peel. kind of quad like, but not overly strong smelling...i really have to pull to get a good sniff. grapes for sure.
T - alc is heavy on this one. aside from that, the dark fruit flavorings you'd expect from a BSDA. can pick up the raisons too which is a bit different.
M/D - soft alcohol sting, somewhat easy on the mouth. not too thick, not too watery...pretty even feeling. not my fav BSDA, but i do admire DFH for what they do and this brew is their take on it so it carries some sort of their general flavoring (a few breweries have this with all of their beers and DFH is one).

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Photo of stcules
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Mahogany color. White foam, but scarce, and quickly disappearing.
In the smell, beside the malt, there are vanilla, woody notes, and porto. A touch of rhubarb and red fruit (plum).
In the taste the raisins, already intuible in the smell, it is definite and well present. Again porto and plum.
Full and definite body.
Liqueurous and sweet aftertaste, with dry fruit.
Velveted and smooth.

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Photo of glid02
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Revisited this beer courtesy of daryk77 - much obliged!

Pours a perfectly clear chestnut brown color with a one-finger tan head. The head dissipates into a patchy layer on top leaving almost no lacing.

Smells of caramel malt with hints of brown sugar. The alcohol becomes more noticeable as the beer warms, but it's never overpowering.

Tastes good. More caramel malt kicks things off, then brown sugar and light raisin flavors join in. I'm not 100% sure what green raisins are supposed to taste like, but the raisin flavors I get taste a lot like normal dark raisins. A solid bitter ending sends the sip off.

Mouthfeel is good. It's a bit on the thin side, but the carbonation is good and it goes down pretty smoothly.

Drinkability is good. The ABV is well-hidden in my opinion, and the flavors are interesting enough to keep enticing me to take another sip.

Overall this is an interesting beer, but it doesn't do a whole lot to excite me. Still, it's worth a shot.

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.37/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours brown with small cream colored head. Smells of wet dog and raisins, not much else. Taste is similar, some sweet watery molasses, figs, raisins, wet dog finish. Not crazy about this one. A little muddled and doesn't finish particularly clean. Not bad, but won't seek it out. I just don't get it.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pilsner glass.

A: Beautiful colour. The label claims mahogany, and so it is until held up to light where it assumes a ruddy hue. Light head that dissipates quickly, few bubbles and no lacing.

S: Strangely, it smells of coffee. Also sugars and maybe a trace of alcohol.

T: Bitter, fruity, and somewhat alcoholic. Coffee makes an appearance, but is subsumed by alcohol-soaked raisin (surprise, surprise) and sweet malt. Bitterness and coffee notes fade with time as fruit rises to the forefront. The aftertaste is mild and fades away a bit too quickly.

M: Very good. Sweet fruits dance over the tongue without being oppressive, due mayhap to light carbonation.

D: Solid. A little sweet and a little strong too have more than one, but I definitely enjoyed it. Word on the street is that it's being discontinued, so I urge you to grab some while you can!

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

Rather mundane pour. Off-burgandy, translucent with a small, quickly-dying head.

Semi-Beligan yeast mixed with solvent alcohol zing and spice. Decent strength, decent complexity. Nice, but nothing special.

Plums and raisins soaked in liquid tin upfront, followed by brown sugar, ending on alcohol zippitiness. Very complex, but not all that complexity is good.

Nothing impressive here.

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

The beer after its disinterment from the 12-ounce brown bottle sets in the glass a brilliantly clear burnished copper color with a personable creamy light tan head, that erodes rather quickly, leaving a blanket of lace to obscure the glass. Nose has a nice malt sweetness with under tones of fusel alcohol, raisins and a slight musk smell also present, quite a treat for the old schnozzle, start is somewhat sweet with a big malt presence, the top is moderate in its feel to the palate. Finish is benignly acidic and the hop pertinent in their spicy bite, aftertaste has a wine like dryness, a yummy beer that I finally have available at all times, “Hell Yeah”!

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Photo of StoutHunter
2.7/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I bought a bottle of Dogfish Head's Raison D'etre last weekend for $1.79 at The Lager Mill. So far I have been pretty impressed and interested with all the beers I have had from them, so I decided to give this one a try and see if it is as good as their other beers. No visible bottling date but I am pretty sure it's a 2011 vintage. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A- The label on this beer is like most Dogfish Head labels and is pretty plain, but at least it gives you an idea of what your getting into. It pours a clear dark amber color with two fingers worth of off white head that died down to a thin layer that stayed till the end.

S- Right off the bat this beer smells pretty sweet. The Belgian candied sugars really stand out in the aroma and are the first thing I notice along with a medium amount of booze. After I get past the sugar and alcohol there are some pleasant aromas of dark fruits, raisins, and a slight bit of spices.

T- The aroma is pretty damn close to what the flavor is like. Just like the aroma the first thing I pick is the Belgian candied sugar that is pretty damn sweet and very close to that cloying threshold. I pick up some sweet brown bread, dark fruits, brown sugar, and a slight bit of spices that I assume is from the yeast. The alcohol could have been hidden better, it sticks out a good deal and is a little warming, straight from the fridge I mainly got sugar and booze, but once it warmed up some of the better subtle flavors showed up.

M- Sticky and medium bodied with a medium light amount of carbonation that could have been kicked up a notch.

Overall I thought this was a pretty average beer that I really wasn't that into. In theory it sounded like a good choice since I like that raisin taste I get from malt heavy brews but this one was just far too sweet and unbalanced for me to like. I really don't like overly sweet beers so that was what I liked the least about this beer, but the flavors in the background that I picked up when it warmed up were nice and would have suited this beer better if they took the reigns and let the sugar and alcohol take the backseat. I don't think I will buy this again, if I am craving a Belgian Strong Dark Ale I will stick with my go to brew for that style, Trois Pistoles. I can't say I recommend this brew since it doesn't do a good job at representing it's style. This beer just didn't do it for me and is now my least favorite Dogfish Head Brew, sweet and boozy just don't work for me.

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Photo of jera1350
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Coppery brown color with only a trace of suds.

Very faint smelling. Some malt, yeast, rum, banana and dark fruit, but all only lightly.

Surprisingly stronger tasting than what the nose suggests. Matches up with the nose, but a little more assertively. A bit of booze and some coffee and chocolate peek through as well.

Smooth with a lightly carbonated yet soft feel. About medium bodied, but a little thin for the style.

Needs a little boost in the flavor department, but still an okay beer. Lacking for the style though and there are better choices at similar or cheaper price points. I'll pass again on this one.

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

12oz single, obtained from WeymouthMike via NoBSbif

bottled 6/24/05...had many many bottles (and drafts) of this one but apparently never rated

appearance: pours a glowing ruby-mahogany into an unmarked chalice, no head, absolutely no lacing, very calm, has a wine-like appearance from a distance

smell: lightly floral hop presence, raisin, toffee, light alcohol, brown sugar, honey rum, buttery malt, heavy sweetness, light sugar

taste: better than the aroma...very complex, very floral palate, slightly bitter hops, sweet buttery malt, raisin, toffee, honey, brown sugar, rum, candy like sweetness, herbal, fig....ahh quite a tasty brew, not my fav from dfh but an old reliable

mouthfeel: medium body, alcohol warming, slick

drinkability: pretty drinkable

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

12 oz bottle poured into a Unibroue tulip. 8% ABV, Bottled on 06/12/09. [Rereviewed 01-19-10. Really minor changes.]

A - The color of this beer is a beautiful amber brown that's totally clear. It's too bad the beautiful beer isn't topped with a good head. A vigorous pour released only half a finger of off-white foam with poor retention and no lace.

S - Toasted and roasted malts make up the majority of this aroma. Hints of chocolate and caramel within. A little bit of candi sugar gives the aroma a sweetness while the hops add a low grassy nose. A bit of black cherry and raisin fruitiness too.

T - Toasted malts give off a bread-like biscuitiness with caramel malts and sweetness. A subtle cocoa neutrality is there with raisins and black cherries. The beet sugar adds both sweetness and earthy flavor that's accented by dry, grassy hops.

M - This is a smooth, rich ale that's near full-bodied but held back by a higher level of carbonation that jumps all over your tongue. The finish is sweet and dry.

D - The alcohol is no where to be found in flavor or nose making it pretty easily drinkable. The flavor and sweetness get slightly cloying though. Great overall. Another DFH success.

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Photo of FLima
3.72/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Brown amber color with a thin head with low retention.
Fruity aroma of figs, raisins, molasses and caramel. Hints of earthy hops, booze and condiments.
Flavor of grapes, brown sugar, raisins which are quite predominant here, dates, Caribbean rum, plums and toasted malts. Hints of pepper, earthy hops and cinnamon. Dry aftertaste with a relatively good bitterness.
Medium body with good carbonation. Alcohol of 8% ABV is completely hidden in its taste.
Complex with a very unique flavor, it felt to me like a mix of an English Bitter, a Brown Ale and a Belgian Dark Ale. Interesting beer, especially if you are in the mood for trying something different.

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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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