Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
4,306 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 4,306 |  Reviews: 1,774
Photo of slashes2
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of lionelzeus
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of JimLetson
3.18/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12-oz. into a goblet.

Appearance - translucent mahogany brown. The head was small and dissipated almost immediately, leaving a ring and a couple of spots on the surface. The glass was beer clean, so I don't know what happened there.

Smell - Lots of malt, and you definitely get raisins and spices, but there's a strange sort of musty smell on the tail end of a sniff. I don't think it's an indicator of a bad bottle, because the taste isn't anything really off, so I'm a little confused at it.

Taste - neither the malts nor any fruit really come through a whole lot in the first couple of sips. There's a lot of spice, and a little heat from the alcohol, but it takes a few pulls from the glass to start to get the more vinous, fruity flavours - dates and dried figs. It's not bad, but I feel like there's a missing piece here, and I unfortunately can't really identify it. There is also just a little burnt flavour in the finish that I'm not enjoying.

Mouthfeel - it's nice and prickly, and I like that in this style. It's also got a hearty feel to it, almost like a nice piece of brown bread. The dryness of it is appealing, too.

Drinkability - despite the nice mouthfeel, I don't know that I would have another. The musty smell hasn't really faded with a few moments of warming-up, and the taste doesn't really bowl me over. The alcohol is also a bit too up-front.

In general, there are better examples of the style. Though not a bad beer, if you're looking for a strong dark Belgian ale, there are more interesting choices, and if you're looking for a Dogfish Head beer, there are more interesting choices.

 1,630 characters

Photo of dankrutgers
4/5  rDev +9.3%

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

Bottle pour, from a case I bought that was somewhat reasonably priced for a DFH beer (a little over $30).

Some decent head that fades away to no lace.

Smell is somewhat sweet (brown sugar), dark fruits, Belgian yeast.

Taste follows and has more pronounced fig and alcohol. Surprisingly hot for the style. Brown sugar, raisins (of course) and some spices. The belgian yeast is there but not overly evident. Taste is generally subdued and the beer is quite drinkable, though not my favorite style. Almost a session-able Belgian strong, other than the high abv of course.

 572 characters

Photo of Syzygy00
3/5  rDev -18%

Photo of Geoffy
4.25/5  rDev +16.1%

Photo of MaxH
4.5/5  rDev +23%

Photo of set49
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of mattk614
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of Jspoelst
4.25/5  rDev +16.1%

Photo of jgoodstein
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of yoyosarecool
3/5  rDev -18%

Photo of
4/5  rDev +9.3%

You had this beer. Write a review.

Photo of NorCalWorkaholic
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of Agnarr
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of ferociouswalrus
4.5/5  rDev +23%

Photo of dragonbrew
3.31/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had this beer recently in 12oz. version for the weekend at a summer house. I was shooting for variety.

Great appearance, a deep amber hue, very impressive look when held up to the light. When poured a light brown, dark reddish head is accomplished that sets up rather nicely.

As the lable suggests there is serious raisin scent that this beer puts off. At first I thought it was like a scam just to play on the words of its name, but one can definitely pick it up. A very sweet and spicey smell with a hint of cinnamon (I know that sounds odd, but that's what I'm getting).

The taste is interesting at first and I'd definitely stick to that "sticky sweet" notion as I kind of mentioned earlier. I felt like I was drinking a sweet roll or cinnamon muffin.

The texture was velvety and smooth, heavier than what the beer appears to be.

I had two of these over the course of a weekend and I really was hoping someone else would drink a whole one and let me know their thoughts, but no one would (interesting).

To be honest, I'm not crazy about this beer even though I know it is award winning. Too heavy on the sweet side for me. I'm sure I'll give it a go again, but it is definitely of the one beer an outing variety.

 1,233 characters

Photo of lynchmob9
2.94/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Had good intentions of liking...still trying. Appearance - Deep amber, nice frothy lingering head. Clear copper. Smell - burnt orange, cinnamon raisin toast w/ cream cheese. Taste - overly sweet, malty...candied tree bark. Styrofoam cup...stale hot chocolate. Mouthfeel - long, lingering, intense, interesting...I like the mouthfeel as is very dynamic and complex. Drinkability - to review but otherwise would never reorder or repurchase or recommend. Sorry DFH!

 462 characters

Photo of superswing123
4.48/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Here D-Fish has created another outstanding beverage for us. Smooth, malty and flavorful, time after time.

Appearance: Fine copper/gold color into a 12 ounce tumbler. Some moderate lacing around a quickly diminishing head of 1-2 fingers. With a few swills and tumbilng, the head restores to 1 inch. Very appetizing and appealing.

Aroma (Smell): Smokey, deep and full of good brew, something you want to dig into to. A bit of the alcohol comes through but not all that heavy. This one won't kick you too bad. But don't dirve anything but the lawnmower, buddy, after two or more.

You'll get busted, flat out.

(Hate those DWI laws...)

Taste; Full-bodied, rich and infused with the raisens and a good deal of hops. A bit malty, barley and spices coming through. This is a complex brew worthy of consideration...

Flavor: Full of all that can be good. Lively, vervacious, outstanding.

Drinkability: Great. I could have several several of these and still enjoy the next or send out for more.

Here's a fine craft-brewed ale from Dogfish, who has become my favorite, especially since the 120 pale ale the other nite....these folks really know what their doing with beer.

Just hope they keep it up.


 1,208 characters

Photo of swhite11
2.42/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

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

[Appearance] - Pours dark amber with a mahogony hue. Head is bubbly and off white. Pours 1 finger and retains/laces average at best.

[Aroma] - Tons of cloying caramel malt sweetness followed up by slight notes of roast.
sublte notes of rum and dark fruits.

[Taste] - This beer is a mess. Very sweet upfont, cloying. Hop bitterness follows but is weak and grossly insufficient. Fusel alcohol and metallic astringincy follow and linger preventing any other impressions on taste to develop.

[Mouthfeel] - Excessively cloying upfront followed by overly thinning alcohol solvency and metallic astringincy.

[Drinkability] - 1 is more than enough. This beer is a bit chaotic.

[Overall] - Avoid this one. Dogfish stikes again with another overrated, if not, outright bad beer. A Belgain inspired beer that is out of balance.

 870 characters

Photo of Insomnicat
4.4/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A - Just what you'd expect. Chocolate brown. 2 fingers of head

S - Caramel over malt with some slight hops

T - follows the smell perfectly.

M - very heavy and thick. This is a nursing beer if I've ever had one. I happen to like thick beer, so I gave it a pretty high rating

D - Sure this is a session beer. if you're a sailor or a lumberjack.

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Photo of McDosey
3.03/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bought a six-pack of this stuff a while ago and figured I'd review one. Watching Olympic ski-jumping only requires half of one's attention, so seemed a good occasion to multi-task.

This beer's pretty enough - a deep copper with and almost-molasses core is nearly-opaque is flanked by honey-colored highlights. A finger or so of khaki head contains tight, shining bubbles. Lacing is wet and fleeting on the swirl.

Aromas of dark fruit and malt are prominent at first, but give way to a chalky somewhat vegetal smell. Can't quite get my finger on what it is, but I don't love it. Re-agitating this brew after a few sips releases a massive sweetness, which is interesting though not particularly refreshing.

The first sip gives a bittersweet splash of carbonation, which fizzles quickly to leave a syrupy, pasty mouthfeel. Other posters have mentioned a strong alcoholic taste that I didn't get, but it is a bit vinous to me. More than anything, I'm getting sweet and sugary.

Overall, not a fan of this offering. The syrupy sweetness makes it tough to have more than one for sure and I didn't find it balanced or interesting enough to make it a favored sipper. Will stick with other DFH products and file this one away under "noble experiment gone awry".

 1,255 characters

Photo of shoude
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into sam adams glass, deep red color, light head that dissipated quickly, I found the flavor to be very complex and layered with a nice well rounded mouth feel. A good beer but not something you'd want to drink a lot of in a row, well you could but ...

 271 characters

Photo of joshk
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: nice red copper color, thin head (though I didn't pour it too strong). Color is beautiful.

S: not bad, smelled kinda like a brown ale with dried fruit infused. Kinda malty, not too strong on the hops.

T: almost like a fruit cake with rum soaked raisins. I thought it was delicious, but after a while the alcohol and maltiness dominated the palate (fruitiness was still there though). An interesting beer, I did not get any robitussen grape or other flavors that people seem to mention.

M: Smooth.

D: Very

This is an excellent beer, It reminded me of a rum soaked holiday cake. I know it's not for everyone, but I would definitely recommend at least picking up a single bottle if you can. Enjoy!

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 4,306 ratings