Beer Review: Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre

April 17, 2009

raisonWhen I decided to do a beer review tonight, I wanted to do something that’s different and unique and interesting. After much contemplation at one of my favorite places to buy beer, Midtown Wine and Spirits, I ended up buying Dogfish Head’s Raison D’Etre. I was not at all disappointed.

Here’s what Dogfish Head says on the bottle:

A deep mahogany ale brewed with Belgian beet sugars, green raisins and a sense of purpose

Now Raison D’Etre is French for “reason for being”. (Thanks Google!). This beer gave me a reason to keep doing beer reviews. I sometimes feel like after a while most beers all blend together, but this is a standout beer. Let’s begin, shall we? We shall!

The Pour
This pours with a 1 1/2 finger thick light beige head with tiny tiny bubbles. This beer looks to me like it would be a crisp one. The color is indeed mahogany. There’s really no better description for the color.

The Nose
I noticed a good sour nose upon pouring this beer, without even trying to smell it. When I actually smelled it, the sourness was mellowed and there were hints of sweetness as well. After a good couple of  face-in-the-glass sniffs, I picked up on the raisin in the nose, but was personally unable to differentiate the raisin in the nose as green raisin as opposed to regular old red raisin. 

The Taste
I was anxious and quite eager to sample this brew. I’ve heard good things about it but have never tried it, until now. This has quite a creamy/oily mouthfeel and seems to be medium to full bodied. There is a slight hint at the finish of the higher alcohol content. The beer feels quite carbonated and alive in the mouth but it settles quickly. The flavor profiles are comparable to that of a good deep red wine, in some respects. There is a sweetness that precedes the soon-to-come slightly sour hop notes and strong flavors of raisin and dark plummy fruit. There is also a good amount of oakiness in the flavor. You almost want to chew this like a handful of raisins. It’s almost akin to drinking young, still quite moist raisins. This finishes neither clean and crisp nor creamy, but somewhere in between.

This is an excellent beer! The flavor profiles are varied and interesting and work well together. It feels and tastes like no other beer. 


Recommended: Absolutely….this is a great beer, period. Very unique and interesting. Amazing. This is the kind of beer you take to a dinner party if you don’t want to take wine. Watch out for that higher ABV, though, especially on an empty stomach!

Price: $12.99 / 6-pack

ABV: 8.0%


  1. Just picked up a 6 pack of this I’m really excited to try!

    • It’s pretty good stuff there, Dan K….try their India Brown Ale too…..tasty!

  2. I am enjoying a raison d’etre at this moment! AND ALSO RECOMMEND The 90 minute IPA– has enough hops to fill a wheelbarrow. TO DIE FOR! I am not a 6 PACKER. I will truly enjoy one or maybe in a 3 hour evening, 1 1/2 TO 2 of these. It makes a bad day good and caps off a great day in a great way.

    • I’m looking forward to trying the 90 and 120 minute IPAs…probably next spring or summer….I’m moving into malty territory for fall and winter….my favorite time of the year for beer

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