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Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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1,774 Reviews
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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: 1,774 | Ratings: 4,282
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 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 rhoadsrage
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(Served in a chalice)

A- This beer pours a deep mahogany brown crystal clear body with a thin film of light tan head. The bubbles are very sluggish at rising to the surface.

S- The smell of dark fruit and toasted malt with a hint of sweetness are balanced by a vinous and slightly hoppy nose.

T- This beer has a smooth light malt flavor with finish that is vinous with a hint of hops. There is not much dark toasted malt base or much complexity to the taste. It finishes with a hint of alcohol and a bitterness.

M- Medium-light mouthfeel with a fizziness that makes the mouthfeel appear more full. No astringency but some alcohol warmth.

D- This beer is dry and has some interesting flavors but it is missing a lot of complexity. The raisins and beets just don't have the complexity that are needed in the malt bill to make this a good solid beer in this style.

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

I am drinking a cold 12 oz. bottle poured into a Three Philosopher's goblet.

Appearance: Dark brown in color, this beer allows some light to pass through. It poured with little head that is now a fleeting white ring around the top of the beer.

Smell: The aroma of grapes and sugar are evident immediately. The grapes do not have a winey smell to them, making this beer smell unlike most any other beers you may encounter.

Taste: Grapes and malt are the dominant taste here. The sugars added to the ale are noticeable immediately upon sipping. After the sugars, the aforementioned grapes and malts appear and leave a lasting finish.

Mouthfeel: The ale sits very nicely on the palate. The combination of sugars and grapes give a somewhat sweet taste that lingers.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. The 8% abv is a little tough, so beware.

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 bylerteck
3.54/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from a grocery store in Dade City, Florida. From notes.

A - Deep amber pour with a nice two finger fluffy light brown head. Good carbonation, spotty lace anda a film of retention.

S - Lot' sof raisins. Sugar, dark fruit, light yeast, vinous, port. Aroma became quite grapey later.

T - Sugar, raisins, a little yeast, nice dark malty richness. A little port and vinous notes. Sweet. Flavour gets a bit dull with time. It doesn't seem to have much drinkability for the laung haul. Flavour doesn't carry through from the initial sips.

M - Medium carbonation, light-ish body, sweet and dry finish. Body is a bit lacking.

O/D - A nice BSDA. Complex and tasty, but with a weak body. Otherwise a good example of the style, and a good intro to Belgian-styles from North America. A touch too sweet.

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Photo of RBorsato
3.89/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown to mahogany with very low off white head, low carbonation (almost flat), and left no lace. Malty Dark Brown Sugar aroma and flavor with alcohol on both nose and throat... raisins are evident but overwhelmed by malt and alcohol. Medium to full bodied (leans full) and smooth with a warming alcohol finish.

Can only be summarized as a Strong Dubbel... not nearly enough dark fruit character that I normally associate with this style.

Label states: "Brewed with Belgian Beet Sugars and Green Raisins"

Packaged in: 03 (month notched)-- '02' emb on bottom of bottle
Tasted: 05/25/04

($7.99 / 6-pack)

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Photo of rodbeermunch
2.66/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Comes in dark brown. 1/3" head, off white, almost tan. Aroma made no sense, belgian yeast phenols, raisin bread, dark fruit.

Sweet taste counterbalancing the dark fruit bitterness. A little too boozy for its malt bill. This is kind of the quintessential DFH beer, a bunch of shit thrown together that doesn't work, but they get to brand themselves as innovative and unique, despite the fact I'd rather just have a BMC over this thing.

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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 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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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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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.66 out of 5 based on 4,282 ratings.
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