Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

BA SCORE
83
good
4,298 Ratings
THE BROS
73
okay
Read the review
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States
dogfish.com

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
Ratings:
4,298
Reviews:
1,773
Avg:
3.66
pDev:
15.03%
 
 
Wants:
108
Gots:
498
For Trade:
4
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,298 |  Reviews: 1,773
Photo of mdaschaf
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Beer was presented in a pint glass, dark brown in color, small off white head that dissipates quickly, leaving a ring of white around the beer. Not much lacing.

S: Very sweet and sugary. The grape aroma is obvious.

T: Dominated by grapes and the malt bill. There is a sugary/sweetness to the flavor profile as well. A little bit of hops and a hint of alcohol.

M: Medium bodied, not a lot of carbonation, but slick and sweet.

O: Not my favorite, overly grapey and sweet. Glad there are plenty of other DFH brews I can get instead.

 540 characters

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.

 1,939 characters

Photo of duceswild
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Jason
3.44/5  rDev -6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer certainly has some chill haze problems, the head was not much better either. Smelled of rum, caramel, raisins, solvent alcohol and some other odd fruit.

The taste was the same with more of an expressive solvent alcohol that bordered on a rubbing alcohol flavour. Syrupy and slick with sweet malty and alcohol flavours, a bit softer and more palatable than in the bottle.

Not too bad, you just have to remember that it is 8.0% abv and not to suck it down like any other beer that is on-tap.

 505 characters

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.

 367 characters

Photo of Slatetank
4.11/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decanted from the growler which gave a resounding POP! as I opened it. Poured cold into a DFH shaped pint glass.

A - A deep caramel brown w/ a full 2 finger cream head which is very smooth and the bubbles are tightly formed. A goodly amount of lace stays as large gulps are taken.

S - Caramel, brown sugar, bready yeasty aromas and maybe a hint of raisins.

M - Full and malty, yet crisp and sweet. Creamy, dry and roasted all at the same time. A slightly sweet finish as the malted flavors coat the inside of my mouth. A moderate amount of carbonation keeps the taste from getting cloying.

T - Such a complex beer, where to start? Rich and roasted w/ a dark bread flavor. Tastes like a fresh baked whole wheat loaf. A sweetness of overripe apple w/ a doughy belgian yeast seeps into the flavor. Rich sweetness like having a mouthful of raisins overtakes the taste. Much like a desert w/ raisins, the taste of raisins becomes dominant after half of the pint is swallowed. Very well balanced though and the sweetness is kept in check.

D - A full bodied and strong ale w/ great complexity. The best raisin flavored ale I have had and twice as fresh and sweet from the brewpub. I recommend having this on draft, since it seems more dry and less round and malty in the bottle. Not great drinkability, but for the abv, very good.

 1,329 characters

Photo of mdfb79
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 8/13/10 notes. Had on tap at the Iron Horse in DC.

a - pours a dark brown color with light carbonation evident and one inch of tan heAd

s - Smells of dark fruits, especially dates, prunes, and raisons, fruity malts, grapes, sugar, and alcohol.

t - Tastes of dark fruits, primarily dates, fruity malts, licorice, alcohol, and caramel malts.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - An ok dark ale, but wasn't the biggest fan of the taste. Probably wouldn't seek out again.

 486 characters

Photo of ZEB89
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

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

Bottle courtesy of Dale.

A: The pour is a slightly cloudy amber color with a finger of off-white head.

S: Nice dark sugars to the nose and plenty of dark fruits. Raisins, plums, and black cherries. A moderate yeastiness with a little bit of spice to it. Solid bread and molasses notes, too.

T: Nicely sweet, but not cloying and overly sugary like a lot of Dogfish Head beers. Sweet bread, brown sugar, molasses, and plenty of different dark fruits. Very little spice, but a little bit of nutmeg.

M: Medium to full in body with a medium level of carbonation.

O: I was very impressed by this one. Really nice and pleasant to drink.

 634 characters

Photo of Gkruszewski
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of orangesol
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of paulish
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of MarkyMOD
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of TMoney2591
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in DFH Alehouse pint.

Pours a deep crimson with a strong head of khaki that stood for several minutes (without starch, no less!) before settling away into the bloody sea. The waves smell rollingly of raisins, dark malts, and figs, each progressively smashing the olfactory rocks throughout the sniff. The figgy waves, though, are the ones that hit the hardest once the tasting begins, the malts and raisins rowing ashore bedecked in full ninja regalia. This covert crew and their more ostentatious front-line compatriots sit somewhat heavily on the tongue, almost languishing there, but are saved by the grace of a very smooth texture, keeping them from malingering in Limbo with Virgil and his cohorts, but not raising them too far up the purgatorial mountain.

 769 characters

Photo of Zaphog
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

Photo of atlbravsrno1
3/5  rDev -18%

Photo of thatoneguymike
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.11/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer is auburn hued. Autumnal colors of ruby, crimson, russet. Small off white head that fades pretty quickly to a thin, wispy layer atop the beer. The aroma offers sweet malt, toffee, raisins, brown sugar, clove, a touch of holiday spice. Really sweet throughout. Bitter kick in the finish. Sweet raisins soaked in the booze. Fun to try, but best in small quantities. Too sweet. I don't consider this in the Belgian style at all. Where is the yeast and bread character that is so appreciated and associated with a Belgian strong dark ale? I appreciate the fact that Sam brews interesting beers, but I won't return to this one.

 631 characters

Photo of WoodBrew
2.49/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

I am not a fan of the Raison d'Etre, I should also point out that I am not a fan of Belgium Strong Ales, so please accept my review as more of a personal opinion than as an afficionado of Belgium Strong beers. The appearance is a slightly hazy light brown with a one finger tan head. Some lacing left on the glass. Smell includes alcohol, coffee, fruit, mostly raisins.
Taste includes alcohol, heavy malt, sweet dark fruit. Mouthfeel is tough...lots of alcohol and much flavor to try and mask it. To me the balance is a bit off. Overall I am glad I tried it but I am not a fan.

 577 characters

Photo of BeerForMuscle
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of InspectorBob
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.04/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Anytime I see the huge Dogfish Head tap handle, I have to try it. This beer was an inviting amber brown, complemented by a decent white head. The first thing in the aroma that stood out was the fruit aroma (apples and raisins) along with some traces of mellow spice. The taste is the texture of a fine spiced rum, and there are also hints of the flavor in the brew. Very complex, yet utterly enjoyable, and refreshing. The high ABV of course gives the flavor a little bite, and there is also some candi sugar thrown in here for more sweetness. Alot of malt makes this a treat, along with a good medium body and a somewhat chewy texture. Drinkability is good, but it would be better if this weren't so drinkable with 8% abv one is enough. Not quite over the top like some of the Dogfish Head beers, but not a disappointment by any means. I did enjoy her.

 853 characters

Photo of ejimhof
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of dfhhead25
3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of JAHMUR
3/5  rDev -18%

Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,298 ratings.
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