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Palo Santo Marron - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron

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2,016 Reviews
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Reviews: 2,016
Hads: 5,500
Avg: 4.16
pDev: 19.71%
Wants: 323
Gots: 1,093 | FT: 24
Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Brewery visit their website
Delaware, United States

Style | ABV
American Brown Ale |  12.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Imstillthegman on 11-19-2006

An unfiltered, unfettered, unprecedented brown ale aged in handmade wooden brewing vessels. The caramel and vanilla complexity unique to this beer comes from the exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood from which these tanks were crafted. Palo Santo means "holy tree," and its wood has been used in South American wine-making communities.

50 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 2,016 | Hads: 5,500
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally a good use for brown beer. Malty and so I can use this to turn people on to craft beer. The wood worked superb wonders without being overbearing, and balanced not too sweet. Dark brown and rich-looking, above average mouthfeel. Very drinkable for 12%. Roastiness also there and well constrained. Six months later, room temperature, more chocolate, thick and woody.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.92/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque super dark brown (almost black really) with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of roasted malt, caramel, vanilla, slight soy sauce, wood, and alcohol. Taste is much the same with an alcohol kick and a mild roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that has some nice flavors and aromas but it's quite strong and definitely something you have to take your time with.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.92/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at Toronado SF on saturday.

Was a little confused at first because I could smell the wood in the beer and the first couple of sips made me think of the stone 11th anniversary. So I almost thought it might be the blended IPA beer that they make with a little roastiness thrown in.

It poured brown/black, murky with a tan head. Good lacing. Smell is woody and caramelly. Taste is roasty, bitter, and brown. Also some moderate alcohol presence but I had no idea it was 12% when I had it. The body was both good and bad so I gave it a 3. The body was real thick and oily but it was very smooth and consistent. Drinkable as a nice sipping drink for sure but not any faster than 45 minutes for the 8 oz pour that I had.

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Photo of GRG1313
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown/black with a nice tan head.

Assertive smell of sweet bitter chocolate malt that actually reminded me of Whopper candy! (I like Whopper candy so this is a good thing).

Taste and flavors are of pure chocolate with a very nice mouthfeel, almost like a cold melted chocolate in your mouth with nice texture, hints of carmel and vanilla flavors with a rich chocolate malty finish.

Very appealing on many levels and very nice. This is a great one to try with some age on it for perhaps some really wonderful nuances. I'll keep coming back for more!

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Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: two finger milk chocolate head on a jet black body which poured out like oil.

S: vanilla, caramel, toffee, butter, earthy hops and wood all prevail with a boozy undertone.

T: I was expecting the worst but this one was as boozy as I was expecting from the 12% ABV. Starts with vanilla and caramel moving to wood then a chocolate and roasted malt finish with dryness provided by mildly bitter coffee.

M: thick and oily with moderate carbonation.

Overall: the booze are well hidden. This one is actually well balanced. I think the wood cleans this one up and smooths it up.

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Photo of metter98
4.22/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is jet black and poured with a finger high tan head that quickly died down into a thin layer of bubbles. A moderate amount of carbonation is visible.
S: The aroma is very intense, especially as the beer begins to warm up, and smells from the barrel aging stand out in particular. There are some hints of alcohol.
T: Like the smell, the flavors from the barrel aging really dominate the taste, which is complex and also has hints of bittersweet chocolate, raisins, roasted coffee and rum.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and is both smooth and viscous. Not much carbonation is perceptible. There is warming from the alcohol in the finish, which also has some dryness.
D: This beer definitely needs to be sipped because it has an intense flavor and the alcohol will quickly catch up to you (the alcohol is noticeable but fairly well masked from the taste).

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a $20 12oz bottle from 2008 poured into a huge snifter. almost no head on a melted chocolate velvety sludgy soil colored liquid from the heavens. smells of booze right away, vanilla, and some kind of sappy wood. one of the most alluring aromatic impressions ive ever come across in any beer! taste is magnificent, strong, definitely wood aged, not sweet as i thought it might be, earthy, possibly raisins or even dried black currants in a nonfruity way. so many subtleties here, need more of these to dissect it better. wow. awesome mouthfeel, perfect after a big meal as a slow sipper, warming up to room temperature is a must for this baby. i wonder if the vintage makes much difference here? only one ive ever had, but wow is this good. big alcohol warmth in the finish, and almost caustic if held in the mouth for awhile. 12% all the way. would love to get my hands on some more of this one!!!

edit: drank a 2009 edition last night, almost 6 years old. wow, its maybe only a touch oxidized, but mellow and mature like no other, almost like a liqueur. thats maybe a little too long in the cellar, but this one ages with the best of them. be in no hurry to drink this!!!

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Very, very dark with a medium brown colored head.

S: Lots going on here. Chocolate comes out as well as a lot of dark malts and their adjoining sweetness. The vanilla-type flavors from the wood definitely come in.

T: Similar to the smell, with hints of some dark fruits coming in here. Very, very complex and interesting.

M: Very full-bodied and creamy.

D: Definitely one to sip. Glad Sam sort of went crazy with this one--it really worked out.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.28/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had this beer for the first time at the brewery on tap after the tour several years ago. I remember is being a huge beer, I remember being unsure of whether I liked it a lot or not. Just recently I had it from a bottle be aide I wanted to try it again.

I gave it a pour, comes out as a really thick dark brown color with a thinner light brown head on top. The smell of the beer is full of wood that this beer is aged on. The aroma is also kind of sweet smelling and rich with brown sugar I think. The taste of the beer is a big, it's got some of the biggest flavors I've ever had from a brown ale. There is the wood flavors, some dark fruits and a touch of coffee in there. The mouthfeel is nice and thick, decent carbonation and oily. Overall this beer is really nice, if you like strong ales this one is impressive.

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Photo of brentk56
4.72/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Looks almost like a RIS, although the color might be a tone or two lighter as ruby highlights clearly burst through; the head fades quickly to an espresso cap and leaves a few dots and dashes of lace around the glass

Smell: Complex aromas from a variety of sources, including dark fruit, fusel alcohol, molasses and chocolate and, of course, a heavy dose of smokey wood esters

Taste: Opens with a rich black bread and caramel/vanilla flavor that moves in a dark fruit and smokey, woody direction by mid-palate, with a bit a black currant jam providing additional sweetness; after the swallow, the chocolate and coffee flavors enter and provide a roasty bitterness that counters the sweet flavors that dominated earlier in the taste profile; the smokey wood sticks around long after the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; clearly some warmth from the high abv as well

Drinkability: I love Dogfish Head's experimental efforts and this beer is among the best they have released, if not the best

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.89/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've never had a 4-pack to come wiht a CD before. I thought I was getting a deal with Left Hand 6-packs with the free sticker. Our homebrew club recently brewed an Imperial Brown and aged it in a Four Roses Bourbon Barrel for the '08 NHC. Interesting to compare the differences. This beer surely qualifies for a Double Brown without loosing any balance, falling into Porter or Stout territory. A nice chocolaty, nutty flavor with a hearty helping of malt, sweetness, and berry-like esters. Good hopping rates give the beer a grassy, piney flavor while offsetting the heavy sweetness. The wood gives a well-roundness to the flavors, but don't give a whole lot of wood flavor or astringency. Quite delicate in it's balance, despite a dominant alcohol (ethanol)taste and slightly harsh textures, but does thin the weighted brew a bit. Surprised to see a fizzy head formation that didn't last any time at all, nor did the carbination -- strange for DFH.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Jay23: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a large brown foamy head with good retention and some nice lacing. Aroma of vanilla and oak is pretty pleasant with some light roasted malt notes. Taste is a mix between some roasted malt notes with a mix of vanilla and oak and some creamy lactose notes. Full creamy body is really enjoyable with some great carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very well done and probably one of the best new seasonal from Dogfish.

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Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Nearly opaque dark brown with a creamy cap of coffee-colored foam.

Smell - Molasses, vanilla, maple syrup. Slightly burnt toast. Sweet without being cloying.

Taste & mouthfeel - Rich roasty malt, vanilla, cinnamon and chocolate. The mouthfeel is chewy, almost like a liquid molasses cookie. Quite a bit of subtle complexity; I've had this a couple of times now and I'm still not entirely sure how to describe it. A nice toasty bitterness in the finish balances the initial sweetness. This is a true imperial brown - it retains the character of a brown ale without ever dipping into stout territory. Remarkably drinkable for 12%. A solid DFH offering.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.8/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Both my girlfriend, and a good friend of mine, sent that article about DFH from the New Yorker to me. Of course I had already read it via BeerAdvocate, but appreciated the gestures nonetheless. So when I saw this on the shelf in downtown Vancouver last month, I procured a bottle for each of them (to share with me, of course). The first one vanished none too slowly, so I had better write this one down...

This beer pours a deep, dark black, with reddish tints, and a single finger of tan head, that disappears readily. The smell is prunes, dates, and an intense wood essence, that I admit I cannot identify (beyond the description on the label). The taste is floral hops, heavy black fruit, caramel, vanilla, and an acrid woodiness, again hard to describe. The carbonation is quite low, and the finish carries on the heavy woody sweetness. The body is very thick and viscous, with obvious alcohol warming. It sticks to the palate, making this a slow, if exotically tasty tipple.

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Photo of emerge077
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the first release, found in the back of the fridge.
Less than a finger of head when poured into a Duchesse goblet. Tan foam that recedes slowly, and leaves a ring. Lactic aroma with some banana ester from the yeast, and slightly roasty. Reminds me of a Bells stout. Rich, creamy feel, earthy roast and lactic taste. Not getting much of the advertised wood-aging. Abv is well disguised. Similar to Bells Kalamazoo Stout or Double Cream. Good, but not worth paying a premium for.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opaque onyx with a glimmer of reddish orange along the edges. This has to be the darkest American brown ale on planet Earth... and is blacker than most stouts. The golden brown sugar colored head persists nicely, looks good while doing so, and is laying down tattered sheets of lace that are pleasing to the eye.

The nose is exactly what was expected for such a big bruisin' brown ale. Since I have no idea what Palo Santo wood smells or tastes like, I have no idea how it has impacted the aroma. There's nothing especially different or exotic about it, but that's fine by me.

The whole idea of a massively malty brown ale aged in monsterous wooden vats built out of Paraguayan wood is exactly what I would expect from Sam and the boys at Dogfish Head. That said, like the nose, I can't appreciate anything different or unique on the palate. Maybe something will come to the fore once the beer continues to warm.

None of that really matters, because good beer is good beer, no matter the backstory or the inspiration for its creation. Palo Santo Marron is good beer. Actually, it might end up convincing me that it's great beer by the time the twelfth ounce rolls around. It looks like DFH knows their browns, because Indian Brown is damn good stuff too.

The incredibly broad and deep flavor profile includes brown bread (not quite pumpernickel) covered with melted Hershey's kisses, melted caramels, candided cherries, sugared pecans and crushed vanilla beans. According to the label, the wood adds 'caramel and vanilla complexity'. Alright then.

Alcohol? Not a trace. The mouthfeel is superb, as any beer with this much malt is bound to be. However, it still takes talented brewers and perfectly dialed-in carbonation to put it all together.

I'm not sure what Palo Santo Marron (Marron is Portuguese for 'brown') tastes like fresh, but it's simply sublime after almost 15 months in the bottle. Without a doubt, this is one of Dogfish Head's best. If they keep brewing it, I'll keep buying it.

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Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a dark, reddish brown color with a thick, foamy, tan head that left soapy trails of lace.

S - It smelled of oak, vanilla and rich, sweet, caramel malt.

T - It has an incredibly sweet maltiness with underlying hints of vanilla. Also, a whiskey-like flavor.

M - It was crisp, yet soft as it warmed. A medium-bodied beer.

D - Despite the high ABV, this is a fairly easy-drinking beer. One of the more unique brown ales that I've ever had.

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Photo of oberon
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass a deep chocolate brown with just a little light showing through a quick to form quick to fade brown head atop.Alot of stuff going on in the nose deep wood and vanilla mixed with dark fruit and chocolate just really appetizing.This brew went down very easy for such a high abv I thought it would be more of a sipping brew (wich it could be)but it glided down quite easily,flavors of dark fruit, chocolate, vanilla-like nuget and caramel mixed with slight wood this would be a fine dessert brew.A great beer almost like a port flavor wise,ejoyable.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I made up a special trip up to Asheville to pick up this one when it came out as I knew it was going to be one I would like, well at least I hoped it would be. I mean c'mon what is there not to like about barrel aged imperial brown ales, from Dogfish none the less. So anyway, I put one in the fridge
the other day and when I got home last night I decided it was going to be the time to open this as a good night cap. I let it warm up a bit to a comfortable 55 degrees and poured it into my Rodenbach snifter. The pour was very dark, extremely dark brown with a slight burgundy tint to it. Completely opaque, with no light coming through even when held up to the light, remarkable. No head at all, well let me rephrase that, there was a touch of tan colored foam on the top but it quickly faded leaving it wide open, very interesting, and a little different then what I was expecting.

The aroma was very rich and sweet. A mild alcohol warming coming through on it, but not much, which was a touch surprising given the percentages involved here. Lots of weird oak-like, or maple-like, some kind of wood like smell coming of this, but hard to describe. Hints of caramel and earthy malts
permeating down through it really bringing out some depth. Now some really nice dark fruit like tone, not sure what to call it, but really nice, almost like a weird raisin, spice and odd sort of mix. When I took a sip I was amazed at how smooth this was. A rich medium bodied awaited me with tons of creamy
carbonation. This was incredible, as for being so strong, the alcohol was a mere afterthought. Tons of wood flavor were all over this and really quite nicely done to be honest. Really great flavors of light grass in the background mixing around with a good amount of spices. Hints of maple and cinnamon
way in the back and a nice raisin like fruitiness. Very dark and deep. Tons of caramel sweetness and a really great malt profile here. The finish was very strong, with lots of drying. Nice long lasting flavor towards the end as well with a really well balanced profile and a really great bit of balance. For something that was so big it was remarkably drinkable as the alcohol was more of an accent then a hindrance. Very well blended and just a great sipper.

Overall I was more then happy with this release. This has to be one of my favorite of the big Dogfish Head releases. It was really quite mellow and unique with just a great balanced flavor. The wood aging really mellowed this out and it shows. I would love to drink this again, and I plan on going to pick
up more as soon as I can. I would really have to recommend this one to anyone who is a fan of big creations or wood aging. It is tremendously well done and refined, and one of the best things I have scene come out of Dogfish in a long time. Highly recommended.

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Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from 2008 courtesy of Jason. Thanks!

Dark, dark brown in color with a thin tan head. Smells quite sweet. Lots of brown sugar, molasses, and toffee. The wood is prominent and gives an almost spicy aroma. A hint of vanilla in there which balances some of the roast nicely. Mildly spicy with lots of dark sugar notes--molasses, burnt sugar, and caramel. Light vanilla flavor and a subtle roast flavor. Really well balanced.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a dark brown body with a creamy-looking, tan head.

Smell: Rich, blended aroma of cocoa powder, smokey wood, molasses, black currants, and a beefy Argentina red wine.

Taste: Intense, chewy maltiness with flavors of with chocolate, molasses, and light coffee all with a medium sweetness. Black currant jam fruitiness. Subtle, earthy wood component. The palo santo adds to the complexity of the brew, sure, but doesn't really bash you in the head with wood. Hints of vanilla, green peppercorns, and red wine. Light touch of acidity. Rather restrained hop bitterness. Finishes semi-sweet with a touch of spice.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Very enjoyable. The 12% is quite well hidden within this fine beer. The palo santo wood really brings a little some extra to the beer, like when they give you extra peanuts on a flight.

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Photo of nickfl
4.22/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - This one comes out of the bottle topped by a one finger thick layer of medium brown foam that settles slowly and leaves nice lace. The body is dark brown with just a hint of light showing through.

S - Aromas of vanilla, sandalwood, clove, and raisins. Significant malt presence with chocolate and caramel notes.

T - Big raisiny malt note up front which transitions into chocolate and banana esters. Subtle hop flavors come out in the middle along with more raisins and and chocolate as well as a bit of alcohol. The finish is spicy, woody and smokey with lingering malt bitterness.

M - Smooth, almost oily, mouthfeel with moderate carbonation and a chalky, dry finish.

D - Reasonably drinkable for such a strong beer, though the flavors are quite heavy and I certainly do not feel like opening another bottle tonight. It is quite complex and well worth trying; one of Dogfish Head's more successful experiments.

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Photo of oline73
3.83/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into my Chimay goblet. This bottle has been in my cellar for a year.

Appearance: Pours almost black with some red at the edges where the light comes through. There is a half finger of tan head that fades quickly.

Smell: Sweet, which isn't surprising. Dark fruit and brown sugar notes. Mild roast and a hint of wood. Some alcohol as well.

Taste: Extremely smooth given the abv. Not very sweet, but there are hints of dark fruit and chocolate. The palo santo wood adds some complexity. The finish is still a bit hot even with a year on it.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thick side of medium body. The carbonation is fluffy and smooth. The finish is mildly slick.

Overall: The fact that this isn't overly sweet really surprised me. I thought it was complex and very interesting. The year of aging was good for this beer, but it is still a bit hot.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in DFH Alehouse snifter.

The dawn is dark, deeply brown nearing a light black (...if such a hue is possible...), almost too dark for the circumstances, but lovely nonetheless. Spirits are high. A communique intercepted from the aroma warns of maltiness with an oaken support network. But the message was improperly decoded: the palo santo brigade leads the invasion, with reinforcements coming from squads of malts. The assault complete, the beachhead encampment is not very heavy, and the mood is rather laid back, especially considering the alcohol.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.93/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle of the Palo Santo Marron somewhere in my travels, not knowing what it was, and not even looking at the 12% abv on the label. After a few weeks in the fridge I finally got around to it and opened it up the same , without a care. I was quite surprised (and excited) to see a rich, very brown stream pouring into my glass. Ruby highlights could been seen through the stream, but when it hit the glass it turned black. A creamy head of dark tan rose up above it. I couldn't help but take a sip before finishing the pour. It was dark, rich, and slightly fruity and slightly nutty. I checked it for clarity... well that was out, I couldn't see through it. The dark ruby highlight at the base of the glass was nice though.

On to the nose. I sniffed it, and then I sniffed it again. Definite dark malts, and some dark malt acidity, kind of like you get in black coffee - not the coffee smell, but something else that to me says acidity. Maybe I just mean a roasted edge. Fruitiness. It's kind of undefineable, but fruitiness is there... melon rind, perhaps some strawberry. There's a little bit of alcohol to it, and that sometimes suggests fruit. I had to sniff again. Some mild caramel.... but kind of almost scorched and crispy caramel. Burnt sugar I guess. A touch of vegetation.... like fresh cut sapling. Maybe the 'sap' smell was what I was picking up as 'acidic'. Chlorofil-like? Yeah, I think to a certain extent. But what about wood? Now that I know it's aged in wood, did I smell any? Yes, I think so, but just a touch. Of course maybe it's a fruity kind of wood? Maybe what I was smelling smells exactly like Palo Santo? I don't know.

In the mouth it was smooth, richly medium in body, with the silky feel of alcohol infused malt. A very fine-bubbled moderate carbonation helped it acquire a velvet creaminess.

The flavor was rich, and somewhat bold, but not really complex. It offered some moderate fruitiness, and distinct alcohol. There was no direct chocolate, but it ricocheted about here and there until some fudge actually appeared in the finish. Then there was some nuttiness, and a wash of alcohol to boot. The chocolate echoed. Deep cocoa. Real milk chocolate. But it was also fruit tinged as that never really left the palate. Nutiness, and the bitterness of brazil nut skins appeared. I hadn't really thought of the bitterness... up until that point it was just about the maltiness and fruitiness. I guess that's because the bitterness is kept restrained. There's enough alcohol available to dry it in the finish that a solid bitterness isn't needed. And such a dark beer has cutting acidity as well. So - nicely balanced overall. And the hops that are there seem to be covered over, but mainly leafy and grassy, and perhaps a touch spicy (although I think that's the alcohol making itself known).

Interesting? Yes. Enjoyable? Yes. Remarkable? No. I'd much rather have an ImmortAle or World Wide Stout for the price.

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Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Brewery
93 out of 100 based on 2,016 ratings.