Raison D’Etre Dogfish Head Belgian Dark Ale

Tasting: November 27, 2012
Style: Belgian Dark Ale
ABV: 8.0%

Raison D’Etre

Dogfish Head Raison D\'Etre (c)2012 popsonhops

I’ll mark the start of the craft beer uprising at about 30 years ago – say between the founding of Sierra Nevada in 1979 and the launch of Sam Adams in 1985. However, I think there was a very unremarkable period of craft beer that lingered through most of the 1990s. After the initial shock and awe, craft beer just didn’t get better. At least, it didn’t captivate my interest. Every craft beer seemed to be a carbon copy or worse. I started exploring wine and became a pretty good wine enthusiast and along the way amassed a nice wine collection of about 400 bottles.

In the early part of this past decade, I started checking back in on craft beer. The problem was that I had lost my way. Labels and brewers were unfamiliar. I saw this beer from Dogfish Head in (I guess) 2001 and saw that it was voted the best beer of the year 2000. I decided to give it a go. Frankly, I didn’t like it. It was full of raisin and dark fruit flavors. I didn’t get the raison/raisin connection. But one important thing came to me – beer was headed in the right direction. Over the last ten years my wine collection has vanished and I’ve seen some great innovation in beer. I’m excited to see a number of new breweries and expansion of some of my favorite breweries. However, I have lived through one period of “stagnation over innovation” and hope that the creative boundaries will continue to be pushed.

Anyway, I haven’t had this beer in eleven years, so I think I owe it some recognition for rekindling some of my interest in craft beer.

The French name translates to “reason to exist”. I’d say that’s a pretty lofty expectation for a beer. Amazingly still and mahogany in color as advertised. Belgian yeast spice influence up front. Some mild dark fruit and some odd tartness on the finish. Flavor is light, body is light and my enjoyment is light as well — 70 points.

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