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Beer Review:
Dogfish Head Raison D'être
Milton, DE, US
By: George Zhen

May 7, 2005

(Milton, DE) - The trouble with starting off our journey on America's Atlantic seaboard is that one of the best brews in the United States, if not the world, is one of our first stops. Not that this is a big problem, understand, it just sets such high-standards for those unlucky brews that follow.

The Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (established, 1995) sets a very high standard indeed. It is hard to imagine that we will encounter another selection of beers offering such marvelous flavors and interesting tastes. Though they offer a fine variety of regular, seasonal and specialty brews, we decided to kick it off with Dogfish Head Raison D'être.

Raison D'être translated becomes "reason to be." From the moment the fruity aroma meets the air, you understand the meaning. The head is a nice controlled foam that leaves behind a perfect trace resonance on the side of the glass. The color is an exuberant mahogany, a color so rich and deep that if I were refinishing woodwork, I would pour a glass and show it to the guy at Home Depot and say, "That, my friend, is the color I want."

Together, the taste and flavor perform a symphony on the senses. The full effect of tasting this beer takes about a minute to run its course, racing from the front of the tongue down the sides, mixing up the nasal passage and ending up at the back glands in the corners of the mouth. It is never the same intensity as that first sip, so take the time to enjoy the full fruition of flavor. More malt than hop, a taste of fruit (green raisins, in this case) but distinctly a beer, not a wine. Simply put, this is one of the most interesting and delightful beer-tasting experiences a human can have.

The warmth in your stomach warns you that this beer is not baseball beer - it has 8% alcohol content. This means the effects of this beer are definitely staggering if not moderated. Split a 6 with a buddy and you'll do more than fine. Though your tasting senses will dull as you progress, this beer is a fine drinking experience through and through. You won't want to let a drop escape.

In this writers case, the morning after was pleasant and clear without a hint of hangover. Considering the amount consumed and the high-alcohol level, this was a nice surprise.

America should be proud of this beer. It embodies the positive characteristics of our heritage, where independent thinking and bold innovation meet. If Ben Franklin were alive, he would totally dig Dogfish Head brews. From what we understand, the brewpub where this great beer is made is quite the experience as well, complete with live music and fine, wood-cooked specialties. All together, the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery gives us all a real good Raison D'être.

Beer Tasting Scorecard
Dogfish Head
Raison D'être
Attribute Score
Head 5
Color 5
Taste 5
Flavor 5
Effect 5
Overall Score 5.0

For more information on the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, visit their website at

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