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Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

1,774 Reviews
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Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

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

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Reviews: 1,774 | Ratings: 4,278
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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Photo of Rhettroactive
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From tap to plastic cup at Nationals Park on 5/16/11
*From notes

A BIG thanks go out to the wifey for surprising me with tickets to the game. Cheers, honey!

A: Like fresh apple cider. Dark sepia, with a 1.25 finger head. Some minor lacing, though considering it's a plastic cup I'm not complaining.

S: Hints of sun-dried prunes and figs. A bit of sweet alcohol and and a heavy dose of malt seep into the nostrils. Really different and quite enjoyable.

T: A bit of dark malt hits the tounge first. The mid is a mix of alcohol and raisiny, grapey dates. The finish is fairly dry, as the dark fruits and a pinch of Belgian candy sugar residue carry over and stick to the back of the throat.

M: I felt the carbonation could be toned down a bit, but I wasn't expecting the perfect beer at a ballpark. As I let it sit a while, it mellowed out and became much more inviting.

O: DFH's Raison D'etre is simply an off-the-wall kinda brew. I really love the complexity this one has. The way it balances the dark fruits and the flavor profiles of the Belgian Strong is really well done. Though it's not my favorite in the DFH stable, it's one I'll certainly return to. Thumbs up - well done Señor Calagione!

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Photo of cjgator3
2.39/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass. Pours a dark mahogany brown with an off-white head. The aroma consists of malt, some dark fruits, rum soaked raisens and alcohol. The taste is very imbalanced and is overly boozy which greatly hinders both the taste and drinkability. I definately won't be going back to this one.

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

Poured into goblet. Poured very still, had a miniscule head that immediately dissipated, leaving a slight trace of lacing. Poured a light mahogany color.

A slightly sweet malt aroma without any outstanding notes. A slight fruit taste floats over the malt background, leaving a hint of sweetness on the back of the tongue.

The body is a little thinner than expected, but enjoyable nonetheless. Average drinkability, you could drink a couple of these in a row, I'm just not sure you'd want to. This beer is sort of boring and uninteresting. I'm not sure what the brewers were aiming for with this beer and I'm not sure this is the proper style category either. I should rate this beer lower because it doesn't fit the style, but I did enjoy it, to a point, and will drink it again.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this before and decided to try it on draft at the Tap House in Maryland. Mistake, sort of, on my part. Came a tad colder than it should've w/ no real head and no lacings, but I didn't hold it against the beer. Had a nice dark copper/mahogany color but in the smell all I could really pick up was some spices and malts. It almost had a coffeeish or roasted malt taste when it first hit the tongue, and the hops and alcohol aren't hidden to well. On the plus side, however, it is a very smooth, thinish drink w/ mixed tart fruits in there. I just think I'll stay with the bottle over the draft though.

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Photo of Bitterbill
2.78/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I got this bottle in a trade with Wasatch. Thanks John!

The pour reveals a clear reddish amber liquid with a 2 finger head of foam and plenty of lacing. Very good head retention.

The smell has notes of wood, bubblegum, candy sugar, and a fruitiness.

The taste is....different. I get a musky flavour mixed with some caramel malt, along with bubblegum, some candy sugar, but, I can't get over the muskiness, if that is the proper way to describe it. Whole lot of alcohol going on in the taste as well, and too much warming for the abv, imho. I'm drinking this at near room temperature and maybe that isn't the way to go but under these conditions, it's not working for me at all. The body is defintely on the watery side for me..

I'm glad I got to try this brew but it just doesn't do it for me, unlike the majority of DFH's brews. 1 bottle is more than enough and I wouldn't seek this out again, for sure. To me, the flavours are a mess.

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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 pat61
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Brilliant chestnut mahogany, not much head – dissipates to film.
S: Raisins, grapes, caramel, yeast esters.
T: Raisin, dark caramel, hints of chocolate, faint cake, hints of cider.
M: Beet sugar thins down the body somewhat, big carbonation, crisp.
O: A big Belgian dark strong ale.

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

12oz Bottle

Appearance - The beer pours a hazy brown colour with an average size frothy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is a decent amount of lacing. The head lasted for only a few minutes before it was gone.

Smell - malts, toffee, dark fruits

Taste & Mouth - There beer has an average amount of carbonation but it feels very velvety on the tongue. It has a very full bodied taste and it is very sweet. Most of the taste is made up of toffee and malts mixed with raisins. The bottle mentions beets - I didn't pick up on that. The beer tasted much better once it got close to room temperature. It finishes with a malty and sweet aftertaste.

Drink - A nice beer that works well as a winter warmer. The alcohol is well hidden and it has a lot of taste. I'm not sure I could handle more than 1 of these in a night, but I'd drink it again for sure.

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

A-Orange/copper color with a lean head that fades a bit. Leaves minimal lacing.

S-Quite light in the nose. The clearest aroma I detect is brown sugar.

T-Heavier on the tongue than in the nose. I get more fruits here. I don't love raisins so I was a bit nervous of the beer. I am a bit happier with the taste than I had expected to be. Quite sugary.

M-Medium body. Well carbonated. Slick.

D-The %8 is hid quite well. That beings said, I do not consider this to be a beer I would ever purchase (received a sixpack as a gift). Happy to try it for free, other than that, I won't be throwing money towards more of this.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce green bottle, bottled on 6/5/2006. Served in my Dogfish Head snifter, the beer pours a mahogany/red color with an inch white head which went away very quickly. This is a sweet smelling beer. The first aroma that hit me was raisins, there's also some brown sugar, molasses and caramel. The taste is very malty and sweet, like raisins, figs, brown sugar, caramel, butterscotch and an herbal taste that reminds me of Jägermeister. Finishes with a bittersweet aftertaste. Mouthfeel is medium, with it being a bit syrupy with just the right amount of carbonation. Drinkability is good, the alcohol isn't too noticable but it does hit you after a while. Aging this beer for a year hasn't hurt it at all, it's pretty tasty! Another good brew from DFH.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The saving grace for this beer's ook is its cool mahagony, merlot highlight, nut brown color. Some small length bubbles about an inch long from start to top. A little alcohol greets the nose with a liquer like raisin and prune aroma. A light gariny malt mixes with the dark yet very sweet fruits and a splash of alcohol for good measure to remind you of the liquer aroma. Clean palate but a little hot.

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

Can't believe I've never reviewed this. Should be interesting, as it's almost 4 years old.

Pours a murky medium brown with copper highlights and a frothy khaki head that lingers as a thin layer of foam.

Raisins, prunes, and plums leap from the glass, along with brown sugar sweetness. Almost has a Belgian yeast nose to it.

Flavor is much less sweet, with slightly tart raisins and prunes underlying a lightly toasted, bready malt character. The finish reveals prunes and slightly earthy and bitter notes. The sour character is somewhat disappointing. Belgian yeast notes emerge late.

Body is on the full side, with moderate carbonation and noted alcohol warmth.

This one held up well. There's a touch of oxidation in the form of cardboard, but that was minute. Wish the flavor matched the aroma more. That tangy character is just too present.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep amber color with head the quickly disappears.
S - Smells of dark fruit an alcohol
T - Sweet raisin taste followed by bitter raisin taste which may have been from the grapefruit hops. Interesting
M - Really thin for 8 percent and smooth.
D - Man this is weird but I think this is the first dogfish head I actually liked! I had the 90 back in the day and may have it again because it was undrinkable and the peach flavor sour was a drain pour. Really solid beer and was impressed.

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Photo of DrJay
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear, red beer topped by a white head that thinned to lace rather quickly. The bottle claims it's mahogany... I'll buy that.

Smell: A combination of roasted barley and rich fruitiness, almost raisin-like. Light alcohol aroma is also present.

Taste: Starts very sweet with a strong mix of dried fruits (raisin, plum/prune) and a light alcohol taste. A light bitterness appears towards the end, but is still overpowered by the sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium/low carbonation that becomes evident on the tongue about halfway through. Medium/full, slightly viscous, syrupy body. Light alcohol warming on the palate.

Drinkability: The sweetness is quite prominent, and without some hop balance I wouldn't want to drink much in a single sitting. Also, the roasted aroma doesn't seem to blend that well with the sweet flavour. However, I'd definitly try it again.

12 oz. brown bottle with packaged on date clearly marked on the label.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.29/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. Bottled on 6/12/09.
Thanks to BeerFMAndy for the trade.

(A)- Pours a copper amber color that produced an immediately dissipating off-white head. A dark ale? Doesnt look like one.

(S)- Mountains of molasses coated raisins. A touch of butterscotch sweetness.

(T)- Lightly sweet raisins coated with a nutty sugary caramel / butterscotch maltiness.

(M)- Good carbonation level & balance for what it is/has. A little too sweet.

(D)- An interesting beer with some good things going for it. My only complaint is how sweet it was. It should be better fresher.

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Photo of Immortale25
3.96/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a Corona Extra pint glass. Says Bottled on 7/28/11.

A- Pours a deep mahogany color (yeah, I know it's on the label) with a very thin head that dissipates to scattered bubbles on the edge of the glass and surface. Hardly any lacing.

S- Sweet, Belgian-y aroma with the raisins in there as well. Musty and a bit of banana.

T- Malty, strong taste with the Belgian characteristics taken down a notch. Fruity esters that are anything but light. A smooth finish with an aftertaste that I've only been able to describe as "murky" like pond water but not in a bad way.

M- Low-medium carbonation but not much is needed since the combination of flavors stand well on their own. Judging by the color of the beer, you wouldn't think the consistency would be as thin as it is.

O- One of the first craft brews I ever had. Though, after years of research, this isn't one of my favorite Dogfish brews, it's still a good one to have every once in a while.

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Photo of Brad007
3.27/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 3

This beer pours a reddish brown color with a nice thick head. Aroma is thick and malty with a few undercurrents of raisin. Flavor is strong and malty with an aftertaste that tastes almost like a rusty pipe. But, that alone does not diminish the character of this beer. It starts out well intentioned but the aftertaste is a turn off. I know personally that this beer would taste better fresh. I had it a few years ago and did not like it but as with other beers, my tastes have improved somewhat.

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

a- dark reddish copper with thin head

s- Faint sweet, dark fruit, red wine and grainy scents

t- nice malty flavor with a dark fruit/red wine taste with alcohol bite to finish

m- thicker coating texture, slight lingering flavor and feel

d-alcohol hidden well but comes out while finishing and lingers slightly.

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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 tigg924
4.19/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: dark amber/caramel in color--no head, minimal carbonation

Smell: raisin, cinnamon, alcohol, and sugar

Taste: raisin, cinnamon, caramel, alcohol-especially towards the end, and sugar

Mouthfeel: medium body, smooth and sweet, then a harder alcohol tasting finish

Drinkability: This is a another unique tasting beer that needs to be drunk slow because of its high alcohol content. I would be excited to pick this one up again, although I think two is my limit per sitting due to ABV...This one won me over

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Photo of DefenCorps
2.07/5  rDev -43.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bottled on the 13th of October 2011, consumed on the 1st of December. I'm making pancakes for breakfast on Saturday, and figured I'd grab something to make a fun syrup with.

Pouring a clear amber with a thin, off-white head that falls off to a ring rather quickly, leaving no lacing. The nose is rather intensely sweet, though the smell is rather unique in that it leans so heavily on the sugar beets, with a mild phenolic note. Spicy alcohol, and a fruity golden raisin character are all noticeable. Mildly hoppy as well, with an earthy bitterness in the back. Intriguing.

The palate, on the other hand, is a bit of a mess. Spicy alcohol and phenols combine to make a rather paint-thinner like beer with a mild raisin sweetness in the mid-palate before a moderately strong bitterness takes over in the finish, completely ruining everything. The sugar beets add plenty of sweetness. Now, the paint thinner dissipates as the beer breathes, making it moderately more palatable and brings to mind cheap rum, but the bitterness on the finish really clashes with the raisins and the fruity yeast. Full in body, mildly soapy and slick, this beer is lightly carbonated and rather disappointing. I can't imagine drinking more than 4oz at a time, let alone a 4 pack.

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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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