08 April 2010

Being and nothing less

Hooray for multilingual pun beer! Raison D'Être is one of several from Dogfish Head knocking around in Ireland at the moment, though the only one of which I've not hitherto had the pleasure.

It's a bit of a stonker: 8% ABV, hepped up on beet sugar and green raisins (they're like raisins, apparently, only they're green). The label describes the colour as "mahogany", which is unfortunate as I can't think of a better word of my own. It's a dark ruby-brown shade, OK? A little bit of foam as it pours, but that subsides before long, leaving you with a gently sparkled heavy beer that tastes of... well, I'm not sure to be honest.

Complex. Let's go with complex for the moment. The nose starts straightforward enough: big and roasty like a strong sugary stout. The first sensation I got on tasting was root beer. Maybe not exactly that precise flavour, but that bitter medicinal quality, harking back to when what we now consider soft drinks were sold in pharmacies. Then I tried to pin down the different elements. Before giving up I got saccharine, cheap chocolate, acrid smoke, burnt caramel, and those nasty liqueurs that every eastern European country seems to have as a local speciality, but which are only ever given to tourists for the entertainment of waiting staff.

It's a busy beer, and I'm not sure I care for it. The fruity fun suggested by the raisins has got buried in the dark malts, the added sugars, and the terrifying single-mindedness with which the yeast pursued and devoured both of them.

Definitely a beer with a well-formed sense of presence. But I'd prefer if it took it some place else.


  1. I didn't care for this either. I thought it tasted like a Belgian beer that had had its recipe corrupted by a lengthy bout of Chinese Whispers - everything it needed to be a good beer was there, but it was all in the wrong place or out of proportion.

  2. Yea i thought it was ok ,but would not rush out to buy it again. John did you review the Palo Santo yet?

  3. Good analysis, Zak.

    Oblivious, yes, though it suffered a bit from being tasted next to some absolute corkers on the same day. I did really like it, though.

  4. That's a pity, I really liked the 60 minute when I had it the other week and was looking forward to trying the rest of their beers, I'll push this one down the list for the minute.

  5. I'm kinda glad I passed this one up when I was in the drinkstore recently, but then 8% beers are not normally my thing anyway, apart from the Mariage Parfait Geuze I had recently, that was excellent.

  6. Anonymous2:36 pm

    DFH in the states is hit or miss. 60,90 min shelter pale ale and the Raison are all OK beers. If you get a chance try Burton Baton, Palo Santo or their Aprihop. Also their Indian Brown ale is one of the better U.S browns i have had.

  7. Same response here, Belgian style beer that is not worth it considering the types of Belgian beer we can actually get. Not a bad beer but just not worth buying over an actual Belgian I thought.

  8. I tried this a few years ago thanks to an American visitor and was keen to try it again, but might think twice now.

    I remember wondering where the all the raisin notes were. That was what appealed to me most of all on the label.