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Palo Santo Marron - Dogfish Head Brewery

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Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron

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2,005 Reviews
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Reviews: 2,005
Hads: 5,462
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 10.36%
Wants: 323
Gots: 1,066 | FT: 23
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: 2,005 | Hads: 5,462
Photo of orbitalr0x
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Always good to see new Dogfish brews. Pours into my glass a deep dark brown that's bordering on black with a small tan head that lingers around for a bit. Quite a bit of viscosity in the pour. Aromas begin with deep nutty malts mixing with roasted notes. Hints of vanilla, earthiness and spice move in as well. Caramel and molasses notes are there along with a subtle coffee and fruitiness. Wood afterthoughts. Quite complex!

First sip brings a nice roasted, nutty dark caramelized malt flavor upfront with toast, coffee and molasses accents. As it flows down I get some vanilla, brown sugar and spice along with a distinctive earthy aspect. A bit sweet, but never cloying. There's a woody flavor here but it's well integrated and more on the mellow side. It finishes off with a touch of bitterness on the back of the palate. Fruit suggestions are there as well. No sign of the alcohol anywhere. Damn good brew.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a solid medium body. Nice mellow carbonation makes this an easy drinker. The 12% is not at all noticeable, making this one almost too drinkable. A few of the other big abv Dogfish beers have a syrupy sweetness in my opinion, however the Palo Santo does not at all. This is just a damn fine beer with a great flavor. One of my new DFH faves, I hope they keep this around! (1,320 characters)

Photo of Lothar666
4.63/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Poured a deep extremely dark oak brown to midnight black body with a dark tan coffee colored head. Looks more like an imperial stout than a brown ale.

S- Smells like dark wood chips, bourbon, brown sugar, caramel and vanilla.

T- Dark roasted malts, lots of brown sugar and sweet candy with hints of caramel and vanilla. Very little hops in this one. Reminds me of the Dogfish Indian Brown Ale on steroids. Fantastic.

M- Extremely smooth, silky and creamy. Coats the mouth with a sugary pleasantness.

D- Smooth enough to hide the ultra powerful 12 percent ABV to the point that it is barely noticeable. The flavors make this one a slow sipper, but the smoothness is such that it is easy to forget ones self and gulp it down. (730 characters)

Photo of YonderWanderer
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This pours almost a pitch black, with a dark tan head on the top of it. Decent lacing is left behind on the glass throughout. This is a brown ale? Seriously? It pours more like a stout than anything.

Smell is rich, with coffee being the dominant aroma, with some hints of chocolate and caramel as well. Flavor is more of the same. Coffee, chocolate, a hint of vanilla, a bit of wood from the vessel it was aged in, and a bit of heat from the alcohol. This is a damn fine brew - more a stout than a brown ale though. Nonetheless, the flavor and balance is outstanding.

Mouthfeel is smooth, not too thick, with a nice finish that lasts for awhile. This is a scarily drinkable brew for 12%. It goes down smooth and easy, and is full of flavor. (742 characters)

Photo of smcolw
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours and smells like an Imperial Stout. Good beige head; Black color where no light can shine through LOTS of alcohol warmth in the aroma--almost like a port. Some initial chocolate and black patent malt smell.

Smooth mouthfeel, like cream. Low carbonation. Mocha flavoring initially; taken over by the alcohol levels. Some background blackberry and vanilla. The flavor returns after the swallow where some light hop becomes apparent.

Another extreme beer from Dogfish, although I would categorize this as an Imperial Stout, not a brown ale. Nice complexity. It's too strong for me to detect something as subtle as the wood it was conditioned in. (649 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.72/5  rDev +13.7%
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 (1,029 characters)

Photo of SUjunkie
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Town Wine had a tasting of Oaked Ales and this was one of five that I tasted. I purchased a 4-pack of this.

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

A. Dark Brown almost black. Looks like a RIS. Good lasting lacing.

S. Caramel, chocolate, hint of fruit and coffee.

T. Caramel malt. Coffee flavor as well. It really hides the high alcohol content. Very good!

M. Thick finish and great carbonation.

D. This is very drinkable. I had two! It is smooth and a new favorite to add to the list of great beers from DFH. (526 characters)

Photo of TomBottos
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a pint glass with tan finger high head. Body color was opaque and black. Taste was sweet with some caramel and some malts. The taste did last in the mouth for sometime. The nose had a hint of chocolate. Very drinkable beer, very scary how good it was. (263 characters)

Photo of psinderson
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into snifter.

Appearance: Very dark brown color with a thin caramel head that dissipates quickly.

Smell: Quite smoky and woody with some dark fruits and vanilla. Complex.

Taste: Wow! Up front, this unique beer is much like a smoked porter with complex roasty and oak flavors. It ends dry-ish with a long chocolate taste. Hints of dark fruits throughout the taste add to this extremely complex brew. Also, one would never know how strong this beer is. This is one of the most surprising beers I've had in some time.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with lighter carbonation. Lighter than I expected.

Drinkability: Obviously not a session beer, but I found myself wanting to have more. (698 characters)

Photo of Monkeyknife
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle a deep dark brown with a very thin tan head.

Aroma of sweet malt, caramel, vanilla, and booze.

The taste is roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla, raisins, and a clear reminder that this beer is 12% ABV. Finish is surprisingly clean.

Medium mouthfeel, creamy, and lightly carbonated.

This is one heck of a brown ale from DFH. A nice one to sit back, sip, and enjoy. (399 characters)

Photo of dreadnatty08
4.57/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 2/11/08 (glad they don't just give you the year like some DFH bottles)
Pours a dark porter brown color, nearly an opaque stout with a solid quarter inch of dirty tan head. They may call it a brown, but it looks like a stout; still pretty sexy. Aromas are signature DFH, sweet, sticky candy and fusel alcohols! Digging deeper, I can get some slightly roasty malts, chocolate, vanilla, and yes, some oak; but it's not overdone. It's a very fresh cut wood smell like you would get in a carpentry shop, really nice. On the palate, this beer just blooms. Flavors are much more brown like. There's just a touch of roasted malt, not unlike most American Browns, some caramel, fruity esters with a slightly watery finish. Despite the ABV, this beer is quite drinkable. DFH often struggles with these high gravity beers, but this one truly shines. The finish is more roasted bitterness and just shy of being dry. Carbonation is low and mouthfeel is quite heavy. It is really an extreme beer and I can't wait to see what DFH has in store next. I would like to see some more oak character, I felt it was rather lacking for a beer that stakes its name on it. (1,154 characters)

Photo of gford217
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a beautiful deep chocolate brown with hints of ruby on the edges. Tan head dissipates quickly leaving no lace and a slight swirl of foam in the middle.

S: Quite a bit going on in the nose, and I can definitely smell a bit of smoked wood. There's also a strong molasses sweetness to the aroma with some chocolate as well.

T: Whoa, this is quite the complex brew. An initial malty sweetness is balanced by the smoked wood flavor. Hints of chocolate, vanilla, dark fruits. The aftertaste has lingering spices, cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

M: Medium body with a bit of carbonation. Syrupy, sugary stickiness.

D: Where is that 12% alcohol? It's quite the sipper, though I find it very hard to stop sipping.

This is one of the more unique beers I have tried in a while and I find it difficult to categorize except that it's damn good. I hope DFH continues to push the envelope. Outstanding beer. (934 characters)

Photo of rajendra82
3.58/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Another of the unusual formulations to come out of Dogfish Head, Palo Santo Marron poured out closest in looks to a Porter. The body was dark brown coming out of the bottle, but in the glass, it looked pretty black. The head was quite large and settled down to a three plus finger layer of craggy foam. The smell was quite nondescript for a beer with such a complex origin. All I could smell was a little toffee, chocolate, and chicory. The taste was much more typical of wood barrel aged beers than the smell. I got a dash of vanilla, some sweet gummy flavors, a little chocolate, and a sour finish. I was somewhat disappointed that the alcohol was not hidden at all. I think this has some rough edges still which beg to be smoothed out by more aging. The mouthfeel was creamy and oily and the body was a little thicker than I was anticipating. Not a bad foray into wood aged beers, but more time is needed to mellow this baby out. (932 characters)

Photo of wheelinshirt
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz longneck bottle, cool label and custom bottle cap. I have been waiting to try this one for a while, cracked it open and poured into a snifter.

Surprised to see how dark this is, looks like an RIS. Very black with a cocoa colored head that disappears very quickly, leaves no lace. Not very brown looking to me.

So the smell is sweet and very boozy, smells good but isn't very unique. Some chocolate and roasted malts coming through, and they come much more to the forefront on the taste. I didn't really get any sense of the woody taste, not really sure what to look for. Enough hops in here to balance out the sweetness. It tasted good, but not really very unique. Mouthfeel was medium, not quite full enough for the beer at hand. Drinkability is good, but not great. Maybe i am just missing this one completely, i don't really get what everybody sees in this one, and I love dogfish head. Its a cool concept, but i think the beer just falls a bit short. (962 characters)

Photo of IBUnit63
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into Cabernet glass...

Big, rye or whole wheat bread-colored head. Oily thick, espresso-colored body. Lacing coats glass nicely

Copious malt and spice (can't place - a little cinnamon - maybe mild clove or allspice?) with chocolate and caramel overtures with some well-placed yeast

Heavy alcohol and espresso in the forefront with grassy hops (chicory tones) and sweet toasted maly

Very pleasant with deep, sweet alcoholic mouthfeel and finish

Extremely drinkable for style. Amazing stuff that I hope to revisit soon. (541 characters)

Photo of Beaver13
3.6/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. Pours a dark blackish-brown with a chocolatey head that quickly recedes to a thin collar.

The aroma is sweet fudgy chocolate and some wood, coffee and alcohol.

The flavor is baking chocolate, vanilla and fudge and a slight hint of fruits followed by a slightly bitter, strongly alcoholic finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a little sharp carbonation.

Overall, the alcohol is a bit harsh. If it was as noticeable (or high), this would be a pretty decadent dessert drink. (495 characters)

Photo of Rainintheface
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: very dark, mostly black with a minimal mocha head that reduces to a ring quickly

S: Lots of aroma- caramel, raisins, molasses, a little chocolate and faint bourbon

T: Outstanding. roasted malts, molasses, vanilla and some smoke is noticeable.

M: full body, somewhat thick, creamy and no carbonation of note. If I didn't know, and was told this was 12%, I wouldn't believe

D: Mighty damn tasty (399 characters)

Photo of Onibubba
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aggressive dark brown pour into a tulip with reddish/mahogony highlights. Lots of bubbles clinging to the side of the glass. Big mocha head that recedes quickly. Even swirling brings only a bit of it back. Aromas are most heavily of sugar and wafts of auslese like alcohol that I have come to associate with big DFH beers. Drinks very smoothly, with no evident carbonation. Smokey tastes coming from this one, along with burnt carmel. Some coffee notes as well. Remeinds me more of a stout than anything else - Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti comes to mind. However, this is sweeter - not at all cloying though. Bitterness provides a balance, but that is all. Alcohol remains in the background. Another tastey over the top beer form DFH. Not something that I would be in a rush to drink again, but a nice beer to hold onto for special occasions. (840 characters)

Photo of jeremy13586
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just cracked open the first bottle of my 4 pack. Poured in to a pint glass. This beer poured a VERY dark brown (damn near black) with a small light-brown head which quickly dissolved, leaving a nice ring and small thin layer of bubbles. The nose is very sweet with alcohol creeping through. Some fruity notes also appear. I had this in the fridge for a couple of days, but the aroma really started to shine when it warmed up a bit. Very roasty and chocolatey on the first taste, with a nice warming feeling due to the high alcohol content. The brew has a fruity after taste that sticks around, but is quite pleasant. For being so incredibly dark of a beer, it wasn't as heavy as I was anticipating. As much as I want to kill my the rest of my 4 pack, I really want to see how well this beer ages. (796 characters)

Photo of ATPete
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

So my store was allocated 1 case of the Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, I was smart in picking up my 4 pack on Friday morning as soon as it was delivered. It turns out the rest of the case sold later that day...

(into my 33cl Chimay glass)

The Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron has a very floral nose of coffee, creamy vanilla, caramel, toffee with an added touch of spice. The brew pours a deep brown colour with attractive tan/red highlights. I got zero head retention from my pour (the bottled on date of only February 11th might have something to do with that). Beginning with touches of wood and malts and finshing with great subtle fruitiness, vanilla and nice touch of bitterness, this beer is very complex. The booming 12% alcohol content is definitely apparent in the midst of all the harmonious flavors but is in no way threatening or overpowering. Great tannins from the fruity character really make way for a long pleasant finish.

I've really enjoyed the Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron. If you see this around be sure to drop the 15 bucks for a 4 pack. Try one, and let the other 3 sit. Thats what i'll be doing! Im damn sure that in a few months this beer will mature with amazing results.

(original date of review: 2/24/08) (1,238 characters)

Photo of aforbes10
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. A lot darker than i expected almost black. Ring of bubbles with some bubble-continental plates floating around. strong lacing. Odor is of strong fermented molasses along with raisins dates a little bit of smokey wood. Taste, at first, is a combo between a wee heavy and a sweet stout, with sugary, almost watery peat flavors. smokiness and vanilla comes through next, drying out the mouth. A definite alcohol presence, but tempered somewhat by the smokey flavor. Comes out overall more like a porter than a brown ale, imo, but it also sort of isnt trying to be any one style, i dont think. Wood gets a bit tannin-y and bitter towards the end, but not too badly. Medium bodied, surprizingly so. The first of these big dogfish head beers i've had that wasn't cloying and syrupy and all together hard to drink. Actually its hard to pick out all that alcohol in here. quite a nice drinking beer. Reminds me of alaskan smoked porter in some ways. (964 characters)

Photo of Ehouse
4.61/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Epic is an understatement when describing this beer. Full bodied and deliciously smooth. This is one of the best Dogfish beers I've ever had. Flavors of malt, vanilla, caramel, and nuts, with subtle hints of black cherries and fruity spice. This is a perfectly balanced brown ale with a chewy mouth feel and milky smooth finish. A must try for anyone who enjoys good beer. (372 characters)

Photo of bgramer
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought a 4 pack at Famous Liquors today. There wasn't a DVD with it, but nonetheless, it intrigued me.

I poured into a mug. It's dark - thick tan head that reclines into a thin layer. There's a woodsy smell and very malty and sweet. I smell some smoke too.

It warms my throat as I finish each sip. Very malty - a hint of cherry or dark berries, even raisins (?), chocolate, touch of hops, but woodsy like burnt oak. Roasty and smoky without being charred or too strong.

This is an insanely complex beer and truly unique. This isn't my favorite style but I respect the hell out of this beer and the quality and uniqueness is evident.

I'm putting the other 3 bottles away to see how it ages. Being as complex as it is, I'm looking forward to seeing how it evolves! (770 characters)

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The last time I encountered this fine brew was last summer the week it was tapped at the Rehoboth Beach brewpub. Nice to see the decision that I yearned for, that is to turn it into a production beer. Looks deep dark mahogany with barely any ruby highlights when held toward the light large mocha tan head forms thick and takes it's time dying down even with double digit abv that's good retention not too mention the lacing that forms in even thick patches with each sip. Aromatics are full of raisin tartness with a sharp sweet brandy note about it, complex as all hell with a lively herbal incense like quality sweet brown sugar caramelized and drizzled over it all. Maybe just a touch of anise or some other herbal quality arising from the hop profile. Flavors blend so well with smoky, earthy, and woody tones all playing off one another. Mild medicinal alcohol presence but sweet dark roasted malts and caramelized sugars dominate the flavor base, deep fruit accents round it all out with more exotic spiciness kicking. Completely original nothing else to compare this brew to an experience every craftbeer drinker should try to obtain. Body is full with sticky residual sugars given it a light syrup texture even slow churned carbonation bubbles arising, really finishes with a smoky cigar box like note. Drinkability is excellent your 12 oz portion will be gone before you realize it, yes I know 12% it's hard to tell really blended well and aged to perfection here. I can't wait to try more brews aged in the new wooden tanks. This beer really helps regain Dogfish Head some of the credibility that it had for so long. A lot of their beers were becoming hit or miss this embodies the artform of brewing. (1,713 characters)

Photo of milesfan76
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours black, I mean stout-like black, with a one-finger tannish head.

S: Smells hoppy for a brown ale. Very woody smell, too.

T: Tastes of hops and wood, little bit of chocolate taste as well. Malts are present but not powerful.

M: On the thick side, carbonation is fine.

D: About as drinkable as a beer with a double-digit ABV% can be.

Another interesting beer from an adventurous brewery. Recommended. (445 characters)

Photo of asabreed
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I didn't know much about this before picking it up, but with a DVD attached to / and after reading the package, I was in. Even though I've had some crazy DFH brews that I enjoyed but wasn't nuts about, I'm always willing, like many out there, to spend the money to try more. Poured into a Thomas Hardy's snifter at room temperature.

Appearance: An opaque deep brown, with hints of amber when you tip it toward the light near the top. Small hints of lacing and a head that billows and folds more quickly than I wanted.

Smell: Unfortunately the whiffs alcohol, though not unpleasant, seem to mask a bit of what I wish I was taking in. There's certainly the wood aromas, roasted malt, some pine (not sure from the wood or the hops), nuts, bread, and hints of fruit. Still balanced and pretty wild overall, but I was hoping there would be more.

Taste: There's a frightening amount of complexity in this brew when it comes to tasting it, though, with roasted malts, sour cherries, citrus zest, dark berries, different fruit from the malt complexity (some banana is evident, with hints of raspberry), huge complexity from the palo santo (which I'm sure I'm not even close to sensing all of it), dates, nuts, bread, sap, molasses, raisins, scotch, charcoal, smoke, vanilla. Finishes semi-dry initially, into some citrus, an odd roasted sweetness, and a long lingering roasted malt backbone with some oddly intriguing citrus hops, making one unique and lip-smacking brew. Insane and wonderful all around.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full-bodied with a huge velvety profile, perfect carbonation hitting enough for the flavors to come through but not enough to mask anything. Coating and enveloping without being sticky, letting the flavors do their thing.

Drinkability: A lot of love went into this beer. Even though I thought the DVD was great and enhanced my whole experience (not to mention DFH gets an additional thumbs up for using The Books for the open and close tune), this is a great and unique brew. Balanced, rich, flavorful, lingering, and top notch all around. Completely singular and worth the $12 or so for the 4-pack. Pick some up if you can find it. I'm hoping to let this age and see what happens, but I'm not sure I can wait. (2,237 characters)

Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Brewery
93 out of 100 based on 2,005 ratings.