Sometimes there’s beers you want to love, but for whatever reason you
can’t. That’s how I am with Dogfish Head Raison D’être. Considering the
brewery, the ingredients, and the novelty of it all; this should be an
outstanding beer (and to many people it is). But to me it’s a bit too
jumbled and the result is a beer that’s only okay.
I poured a 12oz bottle into the official Dogfish Head pint glass.
Appearance: Dark, clear mahogany brown color. Not much visible
carbonation. Forms an average size, off-white, foamy head which quickly
evaporates and doesn’t leave any lacing on the glass.
Smell: Raisin stew (if there were such a thing) with distinct brown sugar and alcohol notes.
Taste: Dogfish Head Raison D’être is one of the brewer’s oldest recipes
and it was definitely novel when it was launched and is still "off
centered" today. The brewery describes it as a strong brown ale, but
it’s closer to a Belgian strong dark ale as the Belgian yeast and
surprisingly prominent alcohol are the main players here. It’s sweet
with distinct brown sugar and caramel flavors, plus the underlying
flavor of raisin flesh throughout the palate.
That all being said it’s surprisingly repetitive and wears down my
palate rather quickly due to the strong sweetness. There’s not much in
the way of hops on this one other than a mild bitterness to give it a
bit of balance. I enjoy the sweetness up to a point and I think it’s a
beer that’s more interesting than it is good. I can’t find any glaring
flaws, but I won’t jump for joy either.
Drinkability: I think what holds this beer back is its low drinkability.
The intense rich sweetness of the palate combined with the surprisingly
strong alcohol presence makes it difficult to drink. There’s a lot of
raw boozy flavor and heat despite the fact it’s only 8% ABV. It leaves a
cloying aftertaste, though it’s fairly tolerable. With the right meal I
could see Dogfish Head Raison D’être working wonders, but as a beverage
it’s a bit challenging.