Raison D'être proves Dogfish Head can do wrong
Dogfish Head Raison D'être has no raison d'être. Okay, that was too easy, but they were asking for it. The truth is this beer is vastly overrated by beer geeks who think Dogfish Head can do no wrong. It took me many attempts to find one, but I finally found a Dogfish that I do not like (unlike, say, the 60 and 90 Minute IPA). Not that I have a personal vendetta against them, but they've said and done some things in the past I haven't really cared for. Hacking apart a Paraguayan rainforest to get a special wood to cask one particular beer? Sure, the Palo Santo is a fine beer, unfortunately, but was it really worth it? Well, I'm happy to say no rainforests were damaged in the making of Raison, but they shouldn't have even wasted the raisins on this, supposedly, Belgian-style ale.
Nothing amiss in the appearance, though. Just like the bottle promises, it pours a deep mahogany with a quick-to-lacing head. The aroma is surprisingly lacking from a brewer that tends to pay plenty of attention to all the details. What is there isn't too bad, but is dominated by alcohol. At 8%, there is a respectable amount of it in the beer, but it smells like it could be double that. In a respectable Belgian, that alcohol would have been comfortably hidden under far more interesting aromas. Some burnt caramel and just a whisper of spice fills out the rest of the nose.
There is no getting away from the alcohol in this one. To find the other flavors you have to go peeking around the corners of it. There is a huge mess of quick tastes that go flitting by, sweet malt, a smack of hops, those wasted raisins, coffee, beets. If you feel masochistic, there is probably no end of discoveries you can make in this jumble, but no balance at all. Medium bodied and oily, this was one beer I couldn't wait to finish. And, I didn't want another. Ever.
Don't eat anything with this beer. It'll just ruin your dinner. If you somehow find yourself starving while mistakenly drinking this stuff, push this beer to the edge of the table, order anything your heart desires, then choose a different beer and tell the waiter to please take the Raison away.
The price tag is rather extreme even for Dogfish. I have no idea why -- I wouldn't think they'd be able to give it away. Of course, since the vast majority of Dogfish brews are excellent, many people are going to want to try the stuff. Once. Then, they'll want to find a way to quickly gift the rest of the six pack to an unsuspecting frenemy.
DFH has a substantial following and many people will refuse to believe this beer is rubbish. It definitely is not the worst beer ever brewed. Not even close. The lofty reputation of Dogfish Head is surely intensifying my disappointment. That, and the fact that Belgian strong dark ale is one of my favorite styles, and I couldn't wait to see how these guys were going to exceed my expectations this time, as they almost always have in the past. Then, blah! It is just a mishmash of flavors that never come together, all swimming around lost in a pool of unpleasant tasting alcohol. There are shelves full of fabulously complex and incredible Belgian-style beers. This is not one of those, even though it costs as much or more than most of them. This is for the lesser refined beer snobs to snort over, nothing else. For the rest of us, this mistake has no reason for being.