Certainly Is a Reason for Existence
A Review of Raison D'Etre by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Posted on 5/21/2011 by Chops
                   
Great
Raison D'Etre is a French phrase that literally means ''reason for existence.'' What are your reasons for existence? Mine definitely include craft brews like this, so props to Dogfish Head on an awesome beer name.

Belgian beers are deeply rooted in trappist monastery tradition, so these beers often face harsh criticism. Good Belgians often get labeled as sub-par beers because the comparable greats are truly works of art. Nevermind the fact that good Belgians are better than the vast majority of beers available. It's just one of those styles that demand impeccable quality in order to be taken seriously.

This is why I have a soft spot for Dogfish Head's Raison D'Etre. It takes a lot of balls to put your own spin on a closely guarded tradition, and even more so to market it under that umbrella. This beer is brewed with beet sugar and raisins, which I imagine would get laughed at by Belgian purists. Strong dark Belgians have a certain gravitas that make them really difficult to drink, even for the more seasoned beer enthusiasts. They are meant to be fasting beers, functional beers, not sit-around-with-your-friends-and-bullshit beers. And what Dogfish Head has done here is make that latter Belgian without sacrificing those big trademark flavors. Does it hold a candle to the best of the trappist ales? Not even close, but I doubt that's Dogfish Head's goal.

The coloration of this beer is a warm mahogany, exactly as the bottle says. The aromas coming off the top are strong and sweet, appropriately foreshadowing flavor. The hop profile is very muted and there are a lot of immediate sugary fruit notes (which I imagine is coming from the beet sugars and raisins). I can pick out a lot of different fruit flavors from the obvious raisins to plums, figs and even cherries. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied and quite smooth, leaving a pleasant brown sugar aftertaste. This beer is amazingly drinkable for an 8% Belgian. I could easily go through several of these in a sitting.

It's unfortunate that I have to rate Raison D'Etre as a Belgian. It is a very tough category to be creative in and I tip my drinking hat to Dogfish Head for creating a fabulous interpretation of a time honored tradition. Belgian purists will turn their noses up at this beer, and understandably so. It may not be a great Belgian, but it certainly is a quality brew. And when all is said and done, this is a Dogfish Head product. These guys give a whole new meaning to creative brewing. And that is, of course, why we love them.

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Raison D'Etre by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
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