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:
4,281
Avg:
3.66
pDev:
23.22%
 
 
Wants:
103
Gots:
491
For Trade:
5
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,774 | Ratings: 4,281
Photo of tempest
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I can see where some people might not get or enjoy this beer. It's called a belgian but it's different. But this is Dogfish Head we're talkign about here, of course it's different. Call it a belgian with a good american twist.

The flavor is rich and smooth, but a bit dry. There are hints of coffee-like roasted grains and brown sugar with mellow fruit flavors of grape and cherry to name a few. The moderate amount of hops used adds a grassy and earthy taste while expertly balancing the sweetness of the malt, sugar, and raisins.

Overall, if I see this reasonably priced, I will buy again. Really reminded me of red wine and I look forward to pairing this with dinner.

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Photo of WesWes
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a hazy redish color with a lacey white head. The aroma is quite plain. There is a bit of malt scent and a little belgian yeast aroma. The taste is excellent. It is sweet and a bit tart. It has a nice malt flavor and raisin taste. This is a good beer no doubt. The mouthfeel is good. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This beer is an awesome drinker. Another great beer from Dogfish Head.

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

Pours a clear, dark amber color. 1/2 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and slight lacing. Smells of sweet malt, grain, wood, slight hop, some vanilla, yeast, and slight citrus. Fits the style of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp with an average carbonation level. Tastes of smoke, roasted malt, sweet malt, yeast, slight alcohol, slight hop, and some dark sweet citrus. Overall, a good body, complexity, blend, aroma, and mouth feel.

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Photo of Gavage
3.29/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a dark copper color with a surface foam for a head. No lacing develops. The aroma is of strong malt and alcohol. The flavor is dominated by the thick malt tones, as some prunes, green grapes, light bitterness, alcohol, and faint caramel tones round it out.

Medium-heavy in bidy. Mouthfeel was smooth and mildly syrupy at the start and finish. The aftertaste was long lasting on the malt. Drinkability is only average for this brew.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours an amber color with a white head. The aroma is candi-sugar, raisins, caramel malt and some other dark fruit. The flavor is raisins, brown sugar, toffee, caramel malt, yeast, alcohol and dark fruit. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

I have had this beer multiple times and I really enjoy it. The raisins are dominant in the aroma and flavor and the additional elements such as brown sugar compliment the raisins well.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.11/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A mini vertical of a properly cellared 2009 and 2013 bottle I got from the east coast. I cellared a lot of beer in 2008/2009 to see what develops and although Dogfish Head is readily available here on the west coast, they stopped distributing Raison D'Être, so I was unable to get another bottle until now. This was not a beer I wanted to put down for more than a year or two, but here goes…..
2013:
Poured into a Dogfish Head pint glass. Pours a medium mahogany amber with a thin, light tan head that dissipates to a thin film and ring around the glass, leaving patchy light lacing. Aroma of caramel malt, dark dried fruit, lightly nutty and earthy. Flavor follows aroma; caramel and bready malt, nuts, raisins, dates, fresh dark fruit. Finishes with an earthy dark maltiness. Medium bodied. A nice domestic take on a Belgian dark beer, closely in character to a dubbel, but sweeter and maltier. Old ale meets dubbel.
2009:
Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a hazy, medium to dark, red-orange amber with a thin off-white head with good retention and light lacing. Rich aroma of sweet caramel malt, dark dried fruit, light cardboard oxidation, similar in profile to a mild barley wine. I'm surprised to see that the years have been quite nice to this ale! The flavor is moderate, but flavorful caramel and bready malt, mellow dark dried fruit (lots of dates and figs), very well integrated and tasty. Body has turned to the heavy side of medium with light creaminess. This is a very nice, creamy, well melded malty ale that most resembles a light, but well made old ale. I had no great expectations from this, and have found that many ales develop too much oxidation flavors ate this age, but this does not. The oxidation notes in the aroma are not present.
Well, I like Raison D'Être and used to pick it up frequently when it was available, but now I wish I had a few more of these in the cellar. I'm going to try to get my sister to haul back a few more. Rating is an average of the two ales; I liked the aged one quite a bit more than the new one, which was still enjoyable.

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

Pours a dark brown/copper color, not much carbonation, very small head which dissappeared quickly, not much lacing at all. Scents are sweet, grapes, and caramel. Nice sweet caramel taste with a dry kinda flat finish though, the alcohol is hidden pretty well. Medium body. This brew is very drinkable, another excellent brew from dogfish head.

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Photo of aasher
2.51/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

This beer poured a rich mahogany, very translucent with a light beige colored head that quickly dissipated and laced the glass. This beer didn't smell like any fruit like others have said but kind of has a mild brown sugar, molasses like sweet malt scent to it. It's one of those smells that I just am not a fan of. The taste is of sweet malt and beet sugar. Personally I do not like it, think it's kinda gross, but I get what they were going for. It's just an over malted ale to me. I'm not getting any raisin at all. Like a lot of DFH's beers, this drinks exceptionally smooth. I just can't like this. It's flavors are odd and the 8% is pretty noticeable. The bottle says it was brewed with a sense of purpose. So I ask, what WAS the purpose?

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Photo of BARFLYB
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12oz bottle into a Dogfish pint glass. Pretty fresh at 2 months old.

A- Raison D'Etre pours a medium brown color with red highlights while up towards light. A very clean brew as there is not much, if any sediment. A 1/2 inch head comes through then disappears leaving a slice of off-white head. A whole lot of rising bubbles.

S- A good smell consisting of a lot of sugars (including brown) and caramel. Roasted malts with some syrups maybe. Under that the raisin shows up with a layer of yeast also creating an earthy scent.

T- The raisin is apparent and sugars are up front creating a sweet assault on the mouth before leaving. After that some smoky qualities arise while some dark fruits and a dash of coffee and even less chocolate. The caramel and roasted malt stays throughout each swig with some alcohol presence. Overall, this really isn't my thing with the set of ingredients chosen, leaning towards the yeast.

M- Reminds me of a smooth bock. Not as thick on the mouth as some DFH offerings but leaves it's mark. A nice bit of carb going for this as well. A bit of a hassle to get through. Not a pleasing aftertaste.

D- Not my favorite DFH offering honestly & i love their experimentation but not this one.. I had trouble with even this 12oz serving. Maybe this would be better in a cask, but i don't see myself having that in the future. I will look out for this on tap and compare.

I am going to try the D'Extra but if it's double the taste of this then forget about it.

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

Pours a brilliantly clear copper-amber color, and is topped by a thin tan head. The aroma is rich with notes of brandy alcohol, rich raisin, some notes of tropical fruit. The beer is lightly sweet, yet rich and creamy, with perhaps a hint of butterscotch. There is a lot of great fruit flavors here, there is some definite raisin notes here as well as Muscat, and flower nectar. There are also some subtle spice notes here that seem to be yeast/ fermentation derived. This beer is quite interesting, and in some ways quite light, yet it is still quite rich tasting. This is quite tasty, and is certainly proof that Dogfish Head certainly likes to push the boundaries a bit.

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Photo of tone77
3.39/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a pretty dark amber color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is very mild, some notes of fruit. Taste is good, fruits, malts, a touch of alcohol. Feels full bodied in the mouth and has average drinkability. Overall this is a good quality beer.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Chimay chalice. A ruby colored beer when held to light. A well constructed pour yeilds a small head that recedes to a ring and leaces spotted lacing.

Smell: Over ripe fruit, malt, alcohol.

Taste: Raisen obviously, but also getting alot of malts. Caramel and roasted malts giving off chocolatey/sugary goodness. Liquid Raisenets. Belgian yeast tries to fight through it all. No real hop presence just enough to keep it from cloying sweetness. As it warms some alcohol makes itself known, but its not detracting from the other flavors.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied yet very carbonated.

Drinkability: Very tasty, somewhat strong. I purchased a whole case of this fine Dogfish Head brew and its nearly gone. Lovely stuff.

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Photo of biegaman
3.69/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is my second time re-reviewing this beer and my impressions, notes and appreciation seem to change each time. My initial observation was a dark and flat mahogany coloured beer, something that strongly resembled coca-cola. My second bottle was full of carbonation and boast a thick, fluffy head.

The appearance in this one is somewhat grimy; its body is speckled with a murky toffee colouring and its slushy complexion makes it entirely intransparent. The light sparks small spatters of rose and orange. Its surface is barren, absent of any head.

The aroma is enticing and showcases both of the two ingredients boasted on its label: raisins and sugar. There is a soft but savory note of caramelizing brown sugar. The raisins seem accompanied by other dark fruits. The malt bill is quite befitting to integrate these two.

The mouthfeel and makeup is not all that akin to a Belgian strong dark ale, although its flavour profile is strikingly similar. Whether from the malts, the sugar, the raisins or some combination of the above the taste is chalk full of fruity esters, light phenols, plums, dates, and bready butterscotch. It all tastes pretty darn good.

This bottle, like some I've had previously, is under carbonated and runs a little close to being syrupy and drinks as a sort of phenolic, fruity nectar. Each time I try the beer I seem to enjoy this sugary, phenolic, bready, caramel laced tipple more and more. I've also found aging can have interesting (and beneficial) results.

Like most all of Dogfish Head beers this one is more "off centered" sounding than it is tasting. As far as strong dark ales go this wouldn't hold a candle to Belgium's best but it does make for an enjoyable drink, and I think that's enough 'raison d'etre' to keep buying and drinking it.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.4/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark brown, with ruby-red highlights when held up to the light. Nice head, with fair retention, with no real lacing that I like in a Belgian-style beer.

S: Lighter than I expected, but I picked up notes of dark fruit, brown sugar, and rum.

T: Very sweet, heavy notes of dried fruit and baking sugar, with a delectable molasses finish. A bit of an alcohol burn is detectable as the beer warms, but it doesn't seem out of place, it mixes well with the flavours. A very tasty beer overall.

M: Smooth, creamy and rich, slightly warming, nice on a cold November night.

D: One of my favourite beers from Dogfish Head, Raison D'Etre is a class act, one of the best American-made Belgians on the market in my opinion. However, since its not distributed here, I can't enjoy it as often as I'd like to.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brown 12 Fl Oz bottle and poured into my Westmalle chalice.

The amber body and cream coloured head looked fine at first, but the head just faded away so quickly I didn't get chance to admire it for long enough.

One of the more interesting American brews I've had the pleasure of reviewing. Belgian beer sugars and sense of purpose, I know of (see the front label), but not sure I've had any green raisins in my beer before?

Anyway the aroma was nothing special, sweet malt molasses and no much else for my nose to find, even as the beer warmed in the glass.

The taste was sweet malts too, with a drying bitterness which gave it a nice edge at the end, almost peppery in intensity.

Very easy to drink and moreish (meaning: wanting more), I liked it a great deal. Not sure it would hold up against some of the real Belgian Strong Dark Ales it has been classed with, but a very good beer none-the-less.

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

Reviewed through the miracle of BIF 43 NC Lotto and hoppedup.

Pours a clear brown ale with a very slight head formation. When held up to the light this is bronze colored ale with maybe a little extra red to it.

Smell is sweet malty and bready yeast to the nose. Fair whiff of coffee aroma from dark malt and apple and grape aromas. Toffee, butterscotch and some scorched sugar aromas are also in this. Alcohol is detectable in the smell, but it carries pepper, roses and peach aromas to the nose.

Taste is sweet and a little bready at the start. A mild flavored ale the first thing that gets my attention is a little coriander and coffee and smoke flavor. Fairly malty but this seems a bit under flavored.

Mouthfeel is good.

This is certainly a drinkable beer but I really expected more from DFH. The flavor is just too mild for my tastes.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark orange/amber with a nice lace. Smells of raisins and molasses. Tastes big but smooth with definite flavor of raisins and malt.The combination of flavors is reminiscent of a stone beer with its carmelised tastes. Rich and mouth coating, almost syrupy. Not my favorite in the Dogfish line, but very interesting.

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

Poured from 12 oz bottle into a wine goblet.

Appearance: deep tawny color with no head to speak of.

Smell: big malt with a bit toastiness aroma. There's also a hint of chocolate in there.

Taste: some tree fruit, some toastiness. The maltiness is toned back from the aroma, which I appreciate. There is a little more bitterness than I expect with this style, which is not bad, just different. Altogether it's an OK experience.

Mouthfeel: medium with some carbonation but not enough to really entice me. OK.

Drinkability: while this beer is definitely not bad, it just doesn't happen to suit me too well. I'll enjoy this glass, but that will be it for me.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 12 fl. oz. bottle on March 9, 2010. The color is an attractive mahogany amber with about three-quarters of an inch of beige=, foamy head. It never quite goes away. The aroma is a pleasing enough mixture of raisins, malts, and yeast but I also get a bit of alcohol.The taste is bitter and sweet with a thin but noted dry hoppy ending. Not a bad beer altogether except for that bit of alcohol scent.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a one-fingered white head leaving a good lace, Nice amber color. Very good carbonation. Sweet raisin nose. Starts sweet - mouthfeel is fizzy and finish is somewhat dry but good. The high ABV is not noticeable so be wary of this. A very good spiced beer.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
2.6/5  rDev -29%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Accidentally stole this from the fridge of our landlady's house when we were staying in New York. I realised I hadn't reviewed it, so, the crime being done, I figured I'd give it a shot.

Pours a deep red-hued brown, almost like a light red wine, with a large-bubbled scum on the top as an excuse for a head. The colour of the beer is gorgeous, and it has some heft to the body, but the head is disappointing.

Sigh. Nose is light, but slightly fruity, and with the sweet sense of fermented sugar. Smells too raw and spiritous for its 8% ABV, and like some of DFH's other hybrid beers, it lacks the complexity that is required.

Taste is very similar, or worse, because there's very little here at all. Very light empty feel with a hint of bland spirits and a grainy but weak finish. Little complexity and almost nothing on the palate. Very bland—c'mon, even the overdone spiritous burn would be better than this.

A very lacklustre and very uninspired effort from Dogfish Head. Unfortunately, it falls into their regular trap of having a theoretically interesting idea that turns into a very pedestrian brew.

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Photo of corby112
3.33/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On draft at the Perch Pub.

Pours a deep dark brown color that appears dark black in the glass and completely opaque with slight mahogany edges when held to a light source. One finger frothy beige head that has decent retention, slowly fading into a lasting cap. Sporadic spots of lacing left behind.

Roasted malt aroma that's slightly smokey with hints of chocolate, oatmeal, burnt toast and roasted coffee bean as well as slight dark fruit presence. Hints of raisin, plum and fig as well as subtle spice.

Medium bodied and similar in flavor to the aroma with a decent balance of roasted malt, sweet dark fruit and zesty spice. The spice and fruit notes are prominent up front with hints of pepper and vinous dark cherry, grape, plum and raisin. This is countered mid palate by a slightly smokey, roasted malt profile. Hints of chocolate, toffee, oatmeal, roasted coffee bean and burnt toast. Slight alcohol sweetness but no heat or warmth in the finish.

This beer is really unique but the sweet dark fruit notes are a bit too prominent, overpowering the dark malt flavor that I prefer in this style. The ABV is well masked and it's decently drinkable but it's not as well balanced as I would have liked.

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Photo of dar482
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It comes in a red mahogany with tan head that quickly dissipates. In the light, the beer has a beautiful clear rich ruby color. Beautiful beer.

The aroma has that bready Belgian yeast, but starts with a big huge fresh raisins. There’s some clove and spiciness.

The flavor reminds me a bit of Maudite. It has that deep rich roasted raisin and breadiness then it washes away quite nicely with the carbonation. There finish is a bit dry and there’s a hint of alcohol there. However, the heavily tiny bubbled carbonation isn’t there for me.

It’s a very delicious beer and the adjuncts do not ruin this beer. So refreshing, reminds me a ton of Unibroue’s beers. This beer tastes like it could use some age and mellowing. It was bottled on 12/12/12.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.39/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a nice mahogany with a very disappointing head. Aroma is full of sugar, alcohol, and caramel and dried fruit..myabe raisins. Quite nice. The taste is nice as well, fruity, with roasted malt flavors all thru it. Maybe the sweetness is a little run in it. The mouthfeel is quite different to say the least. The ABV is 8 and it shows. No way I could or would want to drink more than one.

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

A: Poured a dark ruby-amber with a slight, foamy beige head that went quickly and quietly.

S: filled with dried fruit (prunes, raisins) and some sweet dried molasses.

T: much the same with a noticeable raisiny essence, prunes and some dark brown sugar sweetness. The palate is overall malty with some dried fruit juice sweetness. There is some alcohol and dates as well detected in the finish.

M: full, thick, syrupy, and viscose with some raisiny grist left behind.

D: A touch sweet with a considerable abv of 8.00% will limit this to a one trick pony drinkability wise, but its not to say you shouldn't try it as it provides an unique flavor and experience.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,281 ratings.
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