Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

Palo Santo Marron - Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Not Rated.
Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,040 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 2,040
Hads: 5,605
Avg: 4.16
pDev: 12.02%
Wants: 345
Gots: 1,198 | FT: 26
Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States | website

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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 2,040 | Hads: 5,605
Photo of msubulldog25
4.02/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, one of four sent by wickedpete a couple months back; 'Bottle On: 02/11/08" still legible on the neck. Poured to a pint glass, after it warmed a good 20 minutes out of the fridge

A: Dark, dark brown, although seeming to have a faint purplish/blueberry hue. Pours with a fizzy, crackling tawny head, rising to just over a finger-high before dropping to an active, sparkling film. Lace is minimal.

S: Big aroma of dark syrupy caramel, spiced fruit (cherries, plums, sweet berries), earthy chocolate shavings, a little rum- or brandy-barrel woodiness.

T: Malty caramel, molasses, ripe fruit (raspberry, cherry or blueberry), bittersweet chocolate. Wood-aging gives some light spice and a subtle vanilla bean. Like a sweetened dessert-coffee spiked with a shot of booze. Deeper smoky-char bittering builds in the finish.

M: Luscious, thick mouthfeel - chewy. Borderline 'sticky'. Carbonation seems mellow, smooth. Bittering creeps up and builds in layers, casting a toasty/husky dryness that lingers. High alcohol reveals through a steady warming; it's not hidden but isn't totally 'in-your-face' either.

D: A hefty beer that deserves respect...one bottle is just fine to end the evening on. Lacks some drinkability not because of its alcoholic muscle, but more because the flavors are so heavy without offering a ton of complexity - frankly it grew a little boring towards the end. Still, it's worth picking up a single (or 4-pack) to appreciate on occasion and worth the effort getting this sent from the East Coast. Thanks again, Pete!

Comments: Oh Dogfish Head, the things you guys do to push the boundaries of 'craft beer'. A quick sorting of the BA database for 'American Brown Ale' finds only 3 beers having more than an 8% ABV, none (besides this) above 10%. At a whopping 12%, this leads me to believe PSM in a whole other category. And 'Imperial Brown Ale' doesn't cut it either...

 1,907 characters

Photo of eberkman
4.07/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured an opaque, dark mahogany with a pinkish-brown head -- about a finger's worth that diminished fairly quickly to a ring. Looks like an RIS from my vantage point.

Smells like one too. Creamy vanilla, dark berries, pungent dark chocolate, molasses, and a sherrylike wininess as well. A lot going on in the nose, that's for sure.

Very rich taste -- the dark berries and winey grapes really come out big here with a bitter, dark-roasted coffee finish. Lots of vanilla along the edges.

Oozy, oily mouthfeel with very light carbonation. But surprisingly light and silky at the same time -- not sure if I like it that much. With flavors as big as this one has, it should have more heft to it.

A typical brown ale would be a session beer. This is anything but. It's a nice, relaxing, just-before-bed slow sipper. Would be a great dessert beer too. Big and boozy, though the alcohol doesn't ruin the taste.

I stand by my initial observation that this invokes a RIS much more than a Brown Ale. Interesting, because I believe when I reviewed Indian Brown Ale, I thought it tasted more like a stout than a brown ale. In any event, from a brewery that's always trying to out-extreme itself -- often resulting in a mess -- this is a huge beer that is actually quite sensible and enjoyable.

 1,285 characters

Photo of jasonjlewis
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a 1/2 finger head with decent retention and a rich brown color.

Vanilla is the strongest smell on the nose. Undertones of wood and charcoal come underneath. I also smell some caramel malts and a little bit of chocolate.

Sweet caramel and chocolate malts come through. This is followed with a mild spiciness/smokiness/woodiness from the wood barrels. The finish is of chocolate and vanilla.

Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. The aftertaste of chocolate and vanilla is very nice as well.

Nicely complex beer that is easy to drink. I recommend it. I would have never guessed this beer is 12% abv.

 598 characters

Photo of malcontent
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Opaque, viscous-looking black liquid with just a thin ring of head around the outside.

The wood delivers and then some; charcoal, vanilla, molasses with a hefty dose of booze on the back end.

Strong roasted malt with semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla undertones. Huge charred flavor on the finish. Charcoal grows more aggressive as the beer warms.

Actually not nearly as thick as the appearance would seem to indicate. All-in-all, it's a good beer but with limited appeal. Still, it's one of the better barrel-aged beers I've had in a while. This was a GREAT partner with some Swiss milk chocolate.

 600 characters

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

a: Pitch black body, thin brown head.

s: Maple syrup, raisins, vanilla, and alcohol.

t: Rich. Dark nutty malt borders on charred. I can definitely notice the vanilla notes that the label mentions. The Palo Santo wood adds a great twist on the typical barrel-aged beer. Notes of brown sugar, molasses and sarsaparilla. Some bitterness from the dark malts. Complex for a brown.

m: Thick, syrupy, lower carbonation.

d: A sipper, no doubt about it. I like the unique flavor imparted from the exotic wood barrels. A rich and boozy beer. Enjoyable, if not quaffable. An extreme brown ale, the best of the style that I have had.

 625 characters

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.96/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Duh-ark brown pour with a craggy khaki cap, Don't know if there be any bubbles but it's DARK!!!

Scents really light with some pancake waffle grain and buttery goodness.

First swigs: Dark malt like cocoa with a waffle spice wafer grain. Cinnamon meets pancake. Bold balance. Hops are overwhelmed with a touch of molasses. Thick and viscus.

Feel is as thick as can be! Get a fork 'cuz this one is chunky!

Last swigs: Thick syrupy maple syrup brown with enough kick azz to kick Chuck Norris's az!!! ***interesting***

Beer is good. Happy big brown beering.

 557 characters

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.

 477 characters

Photo of jdubjacket
3.98/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a black color into a standard pint glass. Definitely not a "brown ale" by the look of it. Little carbonation - if any. Malty nose with sugar & vanilla undertones. Taste is definitely a sweet surprise. Has a very sweet taste - not at all what I was expecting. Also got some dried fruit in the taste. Mouthfeel is very full-bodied. Drinkability takes a small hit b/c of the 12.0% ABV.

 389 characters

Photo of BucBasil
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured from the 12oz bottle into a Piraat tulip glass. Brown ale? I don't think so... This thing is pure black, even when held to light. This beautiful specimen of a beer is topped with a dark tan frothy head with somewhat poor retention, but lacing all thw way down the glass. This looks more like and imperial stout than anything. I'm not complaining.

Smell: Nice roasted malt aroma with a smoky character through the middle. These two point to an underlying woody aroma that is extremely unique. Almost like a barbeque, this crazy beer has a slight rauchbier character throughout the nose, what supports the wide array of malts underneath, as well as a slightly sweet vanilla note. This is a great smelling beer.

Taste: Wow... that was unexpected. There is a smoky note throughout the taste, that evolves into an extremely complex taste. Next comes a very sweet note that goes from vanilla to sugarplums and dark berries to light chocolate. This is a sweet character that I have never seen in a beer before, and it was not at all cloying. The beer finishes with more of the smoky wood character, as well as a hint of light coffee with cream.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and creamy all the way through, a perfect complement to the rich, sweet character of the beer.

Drinkability: This is one to savor, one at a time. The beer is rich and filling, but in a good way.

If I can find it again, I'll pick this one up again for a special occasion. A slow sipper for sure, and one that compliments a time of deep thought and introspection very well.

 1,557 characters

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.84/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown in color with some lightness around the edges. Not really a head at all on the pour.
Smell is roasty. Taste is much the same with the wood flavor having a real presence in the beer. Full and smooth on the mouthfeel. At 12% this is a real sipper. A good offering from Dogfish Head.

 299 characters

Photo of gregc
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle thanks to gford217.

Poured almost black with a brown head that quickly faded. Thought i was pouring a world wide stout.

Aroma of wood, vanilla , caramel and alcohol. Smelled like a world wide stout.

Taste is vanilla, wet wood, some carame, plums, prunes and malt. The alcohol is well masked, the beer is very drinkable and smooth. Tasted like a weaker world wide stout (i see a theme here).

 400 characters

Photo of RunawayJim
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours a deep brown with a small head that hangs around for a bit. Smells of vanilla and malty sweetness.

Taste is more of that vanilla mixed with caramel and a very slight toasted flavor. It's on the sweet side for a brown ale, but at this ABV and with the barrel aging, it's expected and doesn't actually detract from this beer. Rather, it makes it better. There's a very slight warmness from the alcohol, but it just adds even more to the beer.

The beer is very smooth and easy to drink. It's a little on the heavy side, but again, it was expected. I give this one 2 very enthusiastic thumbs up and strongly recommend it.

 630 characters

Photo of John_M
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Max's during American Craft Brew week.

The beer pours a dark brown color with decent head retention and lacing. The beer is very sweet and malty on the nose, pretty much exactly what one would expect in an imperial brown ale. The beer smells pretty good actually. On the palate this comes across as a big brown ale with moderate sweetness. At least for me, the beer is a bit too one dimensional, though the flavors are nice. The beer comes across as medium bodied, and it's not too heavy or tiring to drink. Still, the abv. wears me out after a while, and the high abv. hurts this beer's drinkability.

A good solid beer, but not an exceptional one. Given the high abv., I probably will not come back to this one again.

 731 characters

Photo of shroompod
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a smallish head , darker than brown , but not pitch black.

Getting hints of smoke , maybe some slight alcohol on the nose.

This beer tastes a bit like a Quad , with some added complexity with the wood giving it the trademark residual woody sweetness. If it weren't for the obvious alcohol taste I'd give it a five. Perhaps some age on this will be nice.

Mouthfeel is thick , with some residual stick sweetness. Good carbonation.

I'll be seeking more of these out.

 478 characters

Photo of warmstorage
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Four pack of 12 ounce bottles was $14.99 at BevMo Sacramento (Arden Way.) Very dim dating evident: appears to indicate bottling date of 2/11/08.

Appearance: Poured into wide mouthed red wine glass, a medium to deep opaque black with a medium brown head that dissipates rapidly and leaves no lacing. Quite dark given that the bottles describes it as a brown ale.

Aroma: wood molasses and some dark stonefruit. A little yeasty. Somewhat limited given the huge nature of the beer.

Taste: some deep woody vanilla notes, some stonefruit, plums, figs, and a backgrounded sweet cherry note. Finishes with woody vanilla. Nice, interesting, but somewhat mild and understated.

Mouth: Tingly and warm. Somewhat high carbonation on the mouth and throat for such a high ABV beer (which is nice, and makes it more drinkable than many 10%+ ales which are somewhat syrupy due to high finishing gravities.) Perhaps the best part of this beer.

Overall: Fairly drinkable, but somewhat undistinguished. Not something I'd buy again, but I'd drink it again if someone else was buying, and I'll certainly drink the other three.

 1,114 characters

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.

 580 characters

Photo of kasper
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a murky brown raison color with a small chocolate colored head that dissipates quickly, leaving just a faint ring. Only a bit of light passing through the edges of a goblet. Lacing apparent in polka-dot fashion after sipping.

S: Aroma of molasses , raisons, prunes, some smokiness and that trademark dogfish head yeast and alcohol smell. Very similar to a toned down worldwide stout (wws), judging strictly by the nose.

T: Smooth and sweet up front with loads of dark fruit, then a considerable astringent woody, smokiness punch with lingering flavors of figs, maybe currants...Really similar to a toned down wws, imho, but a bit dryer on the finish. Alcohol definitely present but not overwhelming at all.

M: Thick, sticky and chewy. Full bodied, with mild carbonation and that semi-dry woody feel on the swallow.

D: This is a real heavy brew. A sipper for sure. I'd be hard pressed to go through more than one of these. Actually, this is a good brew to share with either your significant other or a friend so you can last the night and taste some others. Strongest brown ale i've ever tasted.

 1,111 characters

Photo of Proteus93
3.72/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Browny brown, brown. They've taken this to the level of the imperial stouts... almost black, with a creamy brown head.

S: A lot sweeter than I would expect from a brown ale, but I suppose this isn't your typical brown ale, either. A lot of prune and date dark fruit aromas in there, and quite a woody taste... I suppose that was the point here. It's pretty unique. A bit of smokiness.

T + M + D: Smoky and sweet. Dark fruits, a bit of caramel notes... it starts to become a little sweet in the mouth after a while. DFH loves to make these extreme, huge brews, and while I applaud them for trying to go all out, sometimes the result is just alright. I feel this is one of those instances. The mouthfeel gets a little thick and sticky after a glass, though it starts off being pretty rich and creamy. Being such a huge ABV, this is a sipper, and it definitely gets a bit on the sweet side after a while. That said, it's ultimately a pretty good beer, and a decent effort from Dogfish Head... I like many of their offerings much better than this, but it's an interesting brew. Certainly give it a shot.

 1,106 characters

Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.93/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Dispensed from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours a very dark brown, almost black, but not quite. Almost a dark purple color. Interesting and beautiful. A perfectly smooth and frothy tan head, looks just like an espresso topper.

Sweet smelling with plenty of coffeelike caramel notes. Slightly fruity with some raisins and figs thrown in. Alcohol and fusels join the party as well.

Wow. Sweet and alcoholic. Some hoppiness but the alcohol is a bit overwhelming. A sweet, alcoholic mess. Creamy on the tongue saves this beer a little bit.

I was impressed with the first two categories but the rest was downhill. I keep trying these beers from DFH and am continually let down. Perhaps, I have learned my lesson. I will not be having this one again, assuming I can even finish this one.

 792 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap @ Barleys and Hop's.

Appeared like a porter, very little head with slight retention. Had a strong roasted coffee nose with a hint of hops. Very tasty brew, lots going on and the wood added a depth of flavor that is almost indescribable. Coats the palate with a rich sweet mocha aftertaste. Not overpowering, but a solid brew that I'm sure I will have again. Very drinkable and delightful. Does well as it approaches room temperature.

 448 characters

Photo of rallison
3.6/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a black/dark brown color with a 1/2 finger light tan head that leaves a ring but nothing else. For a brown (even an imperial brown), this thing pours quite dark.

Smells of molasses and dark fruits. Chocolate-y and roasty qualities are also present. Decent, but slightly overdone in the sugary sweet malts (Surprise, surprise?).

The taste here is growing on me a bit. The dark fruits are definitely showing themselves against a woody body. There is some astringency here (most likely from the wood it would seem) that detracts a bit. Hints of chocolate and roast are back there as well. A hoppy character does seem to be back there but seems a touch overwhelmed by the astringent wood qualities. Overall, this is promising but needs some work to make it world class.

Mouthfeel on this is good. Carbonated, but still letting the richness come through. Initially, a touch syrupy. However, upon warming, for 12%, the mouthfeel is nice. The wood does also dry it out here.

Drinkability, especially given the ABV, is quite solid.

Recommended. Not highly recommended, but given a few tweaks, this could be quite good. A 4.2+ average rating? I will disagree with that.

Edit: Sorry, the astringency and dryness from the wood really hurt this beer. Just not working for me..taste lowered from 3.5 to 3.0.

 1,307 characters

3.72/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Nice and dark, deep and mysterious. Darker than I thought it was going to be. Topped with a luscious mocha colored head that never made it to one finger thick. Lacing has stuck around for awhile.

Smell: I smelled it as soon as I cracked the bottle. After pouring it grew wonderfully sweet. Brown sugar, alcohol, figs, wet wood, a little bit of roasted malt.

Taste: Maple syrup, alcohol (but I'm sure the aging in the wood has calmed it down a lot), hints of vanilla, caramel, and there is some fruit in there, figs cherries? I don't know.

Mouthfeel: Oh mouthfeel is right on. Heavy, smooth, sticky. Perfect carbonation.

Overall it's pretty damn good. The alcohol kills the drinkability(sessioness) but I would take this over most Brown Ales out there. I love Wood.

 780 characters

Photo of LukeD23
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

at first glance this guy looks like hes gonna bite you. Almost like a porter or stout in apperance and pours thick. The smell was good, but not great, hints of vanilla and cinnimin derive from the palo santo wood. Taste was on point, full burst of flavors the slight woody character meshes well with the smoothness of a brown ale. The mouth feel was full bodied thick and well carbonated. I want another as far as drinkablity goes.

I love the adventurous spirit at dogfish, undertakeing a huge project like this, the Palo santo tank that they built for this beer cost $150,000. All for good beer. Palo santo is a cool wood that doesnt sink in water and this is a cool beer that i will have again

 697 characters

Photo of vtfan77
3.8/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- Very dark brown, almost black; stout or porter-like in appearance. A nice half inch or so of beige head forms upon pouring.

S- Nice vanilla aroma, with a touch of roasted malt. A butterscotch-like smell is also present.

T- This has a nice vanilla, woodsy flavor, but the alcohol is also quite prominent. That's not surprising for a 12% ABV beer, but it could have been hidden better. It does contribute some raisiny esters, which are nice. Overall, good flavor.

M- Nice, full body; smooth, almost a bit creamy. Carbonation is low, which is good in this case.

D- Thanks to a high alcohol content, one bottle is more than enough at this time.

You can always count on Dogfish for interesting beers, and this one is certainly no exception. It's definitely not your typical brown ale, but it's very good. I wouldn't want to have it every day, but as a change of pace or special occasion beer, it would be great. I definitely recommend giving this one a try.

 960 characters

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

Consumed 09/07/09 at 55 degrees F from a bottle kept between 50 and 60 degrees F since 05/01/08. Served in a Triple Petrus snifter.

Beer pours deep, deep brown. No highlights. A one finger deep tan head forms, then becomes a creamy ring around the glass after a couple of minutes.

Aroma is great: cherry, vanilla, wood, smoke and cocoa.

Mouthfeel is thick and closer to creamy than oily. Slightly astringent. Some alcohol burn on swallow, warming in stomach.

Flavor... smooth with dark, roasted malts. As in nose, some cherry and vanilla on palate, though fleeting. Splits the difference between an imperial brown and a stout: woody, nutty, dark malts. Good balance between bitter and sweet. Subtle alcohol on the tongue.

Unique and easily sippable despite the ABV, some age seems to have done this beer a world of good.

APP - 4
SM - 4
FEEL - 3.5

Consumed 05/06/08.

Pours a very deep brown. Fine tan head.

The aroma is subtle dark malt with a bit of woodiness, even a hint of chicory.

Flavor is dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, nuttiness. A bit like a porter. Decidedly not bitter until the significant woody aftertaste, no doubt from the special aging. Alcohol is present at finish, but not overwhelming.

Mouthfeel is thicker than expected, but not amazingly so.

I have had this on draft as well, and I do prefer it that way. The bottled version just seems a little contained and the flavors a little off right out of the bottle; it takes a little time for them to get sorted out and balanced.

A complex and drinkable beer, this ought to go well with steak or other heavy meat dishes.

 1,642 characters

Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
93 out of 100 based on 2,040 ratings.