The French phrase "raison d’etre" means "reason for being," and for the Dogfish Head beer of the same name, there’s a double meaning (I think): "Raison" is a bit of a pun on "raisin," which is what this beer is brewed with.
Well, not only raisins: green raisins and beet sugar, and fermented with a Belgian yeast. Unusual, to say the least. At 8% alcohol by volume, it’s a Belgian strong ale by style.
Appearance: Deep amber, dark woodgrain red. Not much head. Red edges. Clear.
Smell: Rich and sweet—plummy, fruity—dark fruit (the raisins…). Belgian candy sugar. Maybe cotton candy. Brandy-ish, almost a cognac character.
Taste: Sweet with Belgian candy (sugar) character. Strong alcohol, reminiscent of a barleywine. Definitely a "dark vegetable" character (maybe it’s subliminal from the "beet" reference on the label). Rich with dark fruits—plum, date, black cherry. Definitely Belgian. Flossy and candy-ish.
Mouthfeel: Smooth, a little effervescent, a bit of bite from the alcohol. You want to roll it around the tongue, it has that character.
Overall: Very good, a little different. Lots of fruit and candy sugars make this a sipping ale.