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Palo Santo Marron - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

5,002 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,002
Reviews: 1,941
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 12.23%
Wants: 245
Gots: 740 | FT: 18
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:
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 added by: Imstillthegman on 11-19-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,002 | Reviews: 1,941 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of beer2day
4.53/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark indigo with a gorgeous thin finger of tan head. Retains that thin layer and laces extremely well.

Nose is cherries, dark malt, bitter fruit, slight anise, and a hint of cream.

Hits slightly sweet, but that quickly changes to a robust roast malt flavor. Absurdly good. Tart sweetness as if from cherries is still there, but the roast flavor takes over. A slight creaminess to the finish tops it off. A very warming beer. Hides the 12%, so watch out.

The best beer DFH has made.

beer2day, May 23, 2009
Photo of Gehrig
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My friend Frank raved about Palo Santo Marron before we vacationed together, saying he would bring some down for us to enjoy some of this unique, finely crafted beverage together. Outstanding call by The Sage, for this is excellent, one of the most unique beers I've ever tried.

A modest tan head rests atop a deep, dark brown body, with moderate lacing on the Ommegang glass. Not much duration to the head, but that doesn't detract much. The smells are good but a little understated, with lots of molasses, caramel, coffee, and some berry peeking through.

What a taste! Unlike oak-aged beers, especially those in whiskey casks, this has a casky taste, but...dare I say...more restrained. I love the bold oak-aged flavors in those beers, so that's less a pejorative toward those and more of a way to describe PSM. The molasses and wood flavors emerge sticky but restrained, permeating the beer but allowing plenty of room for other aspects, especially caramel and coffee, to play prominent if complementary roles. Terrific and smooth.

For being 12%, I expected this to be more of a sipper, but it isn't. PSM is worth sipping or enjoying with restraint to allow it to warm slightly, and to bask in its rich complexity, but it's not hit-one-over-the-head strong. One of my favorites from DFH without question, Palo Santo Marron is well worth the try and will no doubt age well.

Gehrig, May 22, 2009
Photo of anchordrinker
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours purely black, and lets no light through when held to the light. The head is one-finger's worth and tan in color.

S- I get aromas of brown sugar, molasses, sweet raisins, and some booziness.

T- Smokey, earthy, woody, and sweet flavors dominate. I get molasses, just as in the nose, as well as some vanilla-y flavors.

M- A pretty heavy body, which is a bit syrupy, and has pretty low carbonation.

D- Definitely a sipper, though it does hide the alcohol pretty well considering the 12% ABV. That being said, I wouldn't want more than one in a night.

anchordrinker, May 22, 2009
Photo of berkey
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a medium brown head with reddish tones and a viscous jet black body. This has to be the least brown 'brown ale' I've ever seen. Decent head retention and average lacing.

Initial aromas are quite sweet and include vanilla, toffee, and cherry. Wood is detectable but not as much as one might expect.

Palate brings on more vanilla and toffee sweetness but not nearly as much as the nose leads one to expect. While there's a good share of wood notes here it's not woody in the oaky, barky, way I often mean when I describe a beer that way. Wood seems to be there primarily as a mellowing agent and for some aromatics. While alcohol sweetness is there throughout, the wood actually does a very good job taking the edge off any direct booze flavors. Gets a little roasty and slightly fruity as it warms.

This one has lethal drinkability, the first few times I had this it was on tap and I threw several of these back before reminding myself of the ABV and slowing down.

Another incredibly ambitious beer from DFH. Possibly my favorite of theirs so far. A brew high on imagination and execution.

berkey, May 20, 2009
Photo of jsh420
4.7/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

bottled 7/24/08

pours black with a 1 finger tan head that leaves sptted lacing down the glaas

smell that palo santo wood!! vanilla swet caramel

taste is sweet woody smokey a tad boozy still but without that booze it might seem thin - its a fine line - after taste of chocolate and roasted malts

mouthfeel is still very carbonated yet silky smooth

drinkability is very good but this is a sipper and an hour drinking one glass might seem like a long time but it leaves you wanting more and savoring every sip

overall this is the most complex dfh beer i have had to date and cant wait to see what time does to this world class brew

jsh420, May 20, 2009
Photo of Gosox8787
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My friend and I had on tap at the Barley Pub in Dover, NH. They had a great selection of beers there, especially considering how poor of a selection most places in the area have. We both decided to try this, as neither of us had had it.

The beer was poured on tap into a nice tulip glass. There was a one finger brown head. The beer was dark brown to black. The nose was roasted malts, bourbon, raisin, and licorice. The ABV is noticable in the nose. The taste hits upfront with nice roasted malt and moves into sweetness from the dark fruit and the bourbon. After a while, the flavor shifted more toward the sweeter flavors. The mouthfeel was thick and syrupy without much carbonation. Drinkability was moderate due to the high ABV. The flavor wouldn't ever wear thin with me though.

Overall, a great beer and definitely my favorite selection from DFH. I don't know if I would call this a brown ale, but certainly a great, complex beer. Extremely enjoyable.

Gosox8787, May 20, 2009
Photo of Hornet2003
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

Appearance: Pours a motor oil amber-brown...Almost black. No head retention.

Smell: I smell anise. It smells basically like Jaegermeister. Licorice and cola aromas.

Taste: Sweet. Alcohol, ginger, cola, molasses and honey. Very complex.

Mouthfeel: Thick! Such a "chewy" brew. The carbonation is excellent and overall, it dances on the tongue.

Drinkability: If this is trying to be an American Brown Ale then I would say I could only drink one at a time...This is sub-par for a brown ale. Reclassify it as an American Strong Ale and I would rate it much higher. But this is ridiculous.

Overall: I have had this twice now and boy does it hit hard. Over the top alcohol content means it drinks very harsh. The flavours are nice but package this in a 6 oz bottle and I would be happy.

Hornet2003, May 20, 2009
Photo of jbertsch
3.75/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a tulip glass. It was a very dark brown sporting sunburst-colored edges once the head dissipated. Head was chestnut and one-finger in size.

I smell smokey malts on top of chocolate undertones. An aroma of fig is also found, but buried way down underneath the malt.

On the palate, you first taste the smokey malt, then a flavor of dark chocolate blankets the tongue and stays a while, which is then joined by a taste of alcohol (hard to avoid that at 12%abv). It finishes long and smooth with the final notes tasting nutty and woodsy.

Mouthfeel is thick and very smooth with very little carbonation.

Drinkability - hmmm, you can't easily drink more than one. And because I was trying to really figure out exactly what I was tasting, I was sipping it frequently, which quickly made me buzzed. Drinkability is not high, but that's just because of the style, not the quality.

jbertsch, May 19, 2009
Photo of clayrock81
4.05/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a two-finger brown head on top of a blackish body that contains a strong malt base in the aroma, mostly dark chocolate and sweet caramel. Smooth, creamy and medium-bodied with a great balance of chocolate and caramel malts, along with toffee, toasted, and some buttery notes. Slightly sticky but not syrupy, has a mild fruit taste from hops and figs to round out the beer. The 12% ABV is well-hidden and makes this a dangerous sipper. I recommend this ale to anybody.

clayrock81, May 17, 2009
Photo of homebrewhawk
3.6/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to GbVDave for this one. 12oz bottle served in a Duvel tulip. Poured a deep brown with some hints of red. About a finger of brown head. Plenty of wood in the aroma along with chocolate and some fruitiness. Wood jumps right out at you. Very peppery. Full bodied without being syrupy. Chocolate malt flavor that lingers long in the finish. A bit of alcohol, but that's not surprising for a 12% beer. There are some hops in there, but only enough to balance out the malt.

This was way to peppery for me to enjoy. I seem to have some real enhanced perception of peppery flavors, because the same thing keeps me from enjoying some Grenaches.

homebrewhawk, May 17, 2009
Photo of caskstrength
3.98/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'm schizophrenic on this one.

First time I was blown away. Brown ale? Really? I'm thinking Newcastle. I guess if you call it imperial brown...

But now that I've had a few, I think imperial brown ale is quite an accurate description.
(emphasis on the imperial)

Dark pour, brown/white head. Smell is sweet, woody.

Taste is definitely unique. The woodiest beer I've had. Spicy, sharp, sweet. Boozy too. I've never eaten oak or maple or mahogany, but this is what I'd expect it to taste like. Full without being too thick, sweet without being syrupy. Complex is an overused but accurate descriptor. Wood aged imperial brown ale, indeed.

I don't know whether I like this beer or not.
I have no idea if I'm going to buy it again.

caskstrength, May 17, 2009
Photo of dcgrp
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I let it warm up a bit before pouring into a 12 oz tulip. Nice appearance, very deep black/brown. Smell wasn't really all that strong at the get go.

After tasting, I decided that this ale was well worth the money paid. Very complex brown ale. At 12% ABV it is kind of hard to hide the alcohol tastes, but I think that it is not an overpowering beer.

The mouthfeel is a good, "full" feel.

Could definitely only have one of these and still feel good after.

dcgrp, May 16, 2009
Photo of GRG1313
4.55/5  rDev +9.1%
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!

GRG1313, May 16, 2009
Photo of alkemy
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This poured a very dark mahogany color with a short, but creamy and dark head. The aroma is a malty combination of woodsy chocolate, vanilla, and toffee. Also, there is a general smokiness to the scent. I felt that the sweetness seemed quelled by this woody hint. Generally, beers with an ABV this high are just too sweet for me. This was not the case here. Very rich and creamy mouthfeel. I think I would rather have had this on a cold winter night though.

alkemy, May 15, 2009
Photo of superdedooperboy
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. brown bottle, bottled on 12/01/08, poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a mind-challenging deep, dark, virtually opaque brownish-black hue with a thick, creamy cap of cinnamon-brown foam that settles leisurely to a thick ring, leaving behind a few legs of lacing on the glass. Based on appearances alone, this one would suggest something along the lines of a Russian Imperial Stout as opposed to an American Brown, but then again, this is a Dogfish Head beer.

Until the brew warms up a little, aroma is difficult to detect. As the temperature rises, caramel and chocolate malt notes emerge, interlaced with notes of vanilla and an oaky, maple-like woodiness.

Wonderfully thick and viscous in mouthfeel, slick with a subtly prickly carbonation teasing the tongue. Deliciously dessert-like, with sweet chocolaty-caramel notes not dissimilar to those in the nose grabbing hold, wrapped up in nice vanilla and unique woody tannins contributed by the Palo Santo wood. The massive twelve percent alcohol content shows itself openly on the palate, with a building warmth and slight astringency that carries through all the way down, with the wonderful mix leaving behind a slight lingering sweetness from the mix of malt flavors along with a mildly dry bitterness.

Goes down remarkably easily for its strength and depth of flavor, but with the alcohol manifesting itself so early and leaving its mark behind on the head after its gone, this is a hefty brew to be certain, and certainly a one bottle, two max digestif or a perfect nightcap. Highly unique and worthy of world-class status, certainly worth seeking out.

superdedooperboy, May 15, 2009
Photo of augustgarage
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass. This particular beer is 5 months old.

Liquid is an opaque seal brown with a thin, persistent, buff-colored ring of foam.

Aroma is sweet malt, spirit, caramel, unsweetened chocolate nibs, stale coffee. Other scents emerge as the liquid warms, they are strange, earthy, and not entirely dissimilar to those you might encounter in a moist crawl-space beneath an old house.

On the palate, the mustiness is diminished. Malt is strong, and while the hops take a back seat, they are definitely still in the car. Mild nuttiness balanced with a hint of citrus against a powerful wave of chocolate/coffee. Not particularly "woody" or presenting the flavors I normally associate with wood ageing. A very long, fairly dry finish dances back and forth between sweetness, astringency, and something that rides the line between truffle and ashtray.

Alcohol is warming and in concert with the carbonation is slightly stinging on the gums. It is fairly well disguised, but, really, I think the ABV is too high with this brew as it doesn't seem to contribute enough extra flavor to justify its presence. Medium-heavy mouthfeel but not especially slick or syrupy.

Difficult to rate for style as this seems more a descendent of porter or stout than amber or pale ale.

More than BBQ, I think this would stand up well to Cajun food (as suggested by the brewery).

Fairly agressive, but not as unique as I had hoped...

EDIT: After having this more frequently, I have to raise the drinkability a notch.

augustgarage, May 15, 2009
Photo of FOUR
4.53/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Price raises the expectations for this brew, but it does live up to the hype. Aroma includes earthy oak, caramel, brown sugar, fruit, molasses, the list goes on. I couldn't stop sticking my nose in the glass. The taste is what you would get if you mixed a dopplebock and a big brown ale. Bitter enough, but mostly malty sweet. Mouthfeel is excellent, 12% alcohol it is hidden well. I saved one for 3 months and the wood aroma/flavor dissapated slightly. Nice sipping beer at room temp - don't drink this cold please.

FOUR, May 15, 2009
Photo of alpinebryant
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured into a Brandy Snifter, light head, nice dark complexion

S- Malty, woody, Smoky and Sweet caramel

T- Wood knocks you out from the start, but sweetness ensues and takes over to mellow the high abv and smoke . Sipped on one and then another and then a third. I was originally told that this was the last one that they had but sure enough, there were more stowed in the back of the fridge. I was delighted to have another.

M- Syrup consistency but not overly sticky probably due to the high alcohol content

D- I had three of these and realized why you should not have three of them at a time when I stood up. I got it together and would love to sip on another sometime soon.

alpinebryant, May 12, 2009
Photo of degerbah
3.98/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Popped a bottle saved for me by sixpacksunday. I've heard a lot about this one but I've never sprung for the $16 four-pack. Pours a very dark brown with a small amount of head the approximate color of a Wendy's frosty. Very strong smell that reminds me of wood, cherries, coffee malts. Not unpleasant but extremely potent.

The taste is pretty fantastic. Everything I smelled is present in the taste, but the wood is much more forward than most of the other flavors. The alcohol content is betrayed more by the feeling I get in my face than by the taste. Extremely thick, very high apparent gravity. Paired with the alcohol content this makes it a sipper.

Out of my normal price range for an everyday drinker. It did nicely for getting me out of a mediocre beer funk. I would gladly consider this for a special occasion drinker, or recommend it to anyone who hasn't tried it.

degerbah, May 12, 2009
Photo of webbrew
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: The darkness of this beer spilling from the bottle into my chiseled glass mug nearly startled me. Slightly less than one finger tan head. Little lacing.

Smell: Scent of licorice.

Taste: Jaegermeister, anyone?

Mouthfeel: Alcohol and CO2 tingle the tongue.

Drinkability: Sip it slowly. I poured at 46 degrees F. As the glass emptied and the remaining ale warmed, I wished I had savored it even longer.

webbrew, May 12, 2009
Photo of dukew456
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my Duvel tulip...first review after a short hiatus spurred by poor health and beer burnout.

Pours a viscous, very dark brown with a small, bubbly, tan head. Pretty good looking, but if I saw this sucker sitting in front of somebody I would ask what stout or porter they were drinking.

The smell on this beer is very enjoyable to me. Dark malts blend with a spicy phenolic character that gives way to a dark fruit characteristic. Also lurking is a kind of mesquite-burned characteristic.

This beer doesn't taste like a conventional brown ale. There is that smooth, nutty flavor up front, but the mouthfeel is so heavy that other flavors are imparted onto the palate. Following the sweet malt is a spicy alcoholic burn that pairs very well with the woody/smoky characteristics of this beer

One hell of a slump breaker, this beer reminds me what got me into craft beer in the first place...the beer. DFH has pushed some crazy stuff, and may that always be so.

dukew456, May 10, 2009
Photo of LauraAlberts
4.55/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 2/17/09 - the day after my birthday!

Appearance: Dark brown - with nice tan head - nice lacing on the glass.

Smell: Malt, Banana, Vanilla, Creme.

Taste: Toast, Caramel, White Pepper, Coffee Bean, Tons of Malt, Chocolate, Banana, Vanilla Bean, Ripe Strawberry - The most flavor I've gotten out of a Brown Ale

Mouthfeel: Soft, calming mouthfeel with nice smooth tannins leaving the mouth coated with a slowly vanishing flavor profile that's rather fun to dissect.

Drinkability: Sipper for sure. The 12% ABV pushes this beer into the after dinner drink/night cap category for me. Savor this one. Age it if you have the will. This is a beautiful brown ale - people who love brown ales will really enjoy this one. If you are new to brown ale - don't start with this one - work your way up to this beer and you'll find that you'll appreciate what Dogfish Head has done here.

LauraAlberts, May 10, 2009
Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up in Totowa recently. I've never had a bad beer from Dogfish Head and I didn't expect this to be any exception to that. Although this packed quite a punch, I enjoy it's taste and depth. This is not a Newcastle-type Brown Ale that goes right down but rather, this beer deserves to be savored slowly, since it's quite full and has a heavy mouthfeel!

The pour was dark, a bit foamy, but there wasn't any lace to be seen. What was lacking in appearance was more than made up for in the taste and mouthfeel. This is dark, foreboding, and heavy. Lots of oak, sugar, molasses, a bit of rum, a hint of chocolate and licorice, and of course, alcohol! I can't recall ever having a Brown Ale that was this strong and so full. This didn't have a strong warming effect or the stickiness and caramel of Newcastle or Brooklyn Brown. Rather, more of the flavor was in the back and the fullness of the beer pratically begs this to be put into a snifter and savored. Yes, it's that different!

Of course, any beer that 12% ABV is going to pack a wallop and this was no exception. The taste of the alcohol isn't strong, but the presence and mouthfeel of it was there after each sip went down. It didn't detract from the beer at all since everything is very well-crafted here. I'm not sure when this would be good for, as I tend to drink Brown Ales in the fall, but this has to be the best one available in this part of the country. Worth a try if ya like your beers smoky, full-flavored, and solid top to bottom.

JerzDevl2000, May 09, 2009
Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: dark brown with a 1/4 head

Smell: sugar cane, malt, vanilla, and a touch of caramel

Taste:oak, malt, and coffee dominate. There are also touches of vanilla and sugarcane

Mouthfeel: smooth, medium heavy body, sweet with a sharper end

Drinkability: Another winner from DFH. Probably my third favorite behing 90 minute and Festina peche..Wonderfully complex..everything you would expect from the brewery, I would gladly have this again.

tigg924, May 07, 2009
Photo of siradmiralnelson
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into SABL Glass.

A. Poured a thick very dark brown. Got almost a 1 finger head when poured. Very little lacing left.

S. Roasted malt, dark fruit, chocolate, alcohol

T. Dark fruit, chocolate, roasted malt with a smokey quality, alcohol.

M. Full bodied rich and creamy.

D. For 12% extremely drinkable. Has a bit of a boozey quality, but it works. This is a very good beer.

siradmiralnelson, May 06, 2009
Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Brewery
93 out of 100 based on 5,002 ratings.