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Palo Santo Marron - Dogfish Head Brewery

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Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron

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5,244 Ratings

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Ratings: 5,244
Reviews: 1,995
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 11.96%
Wants: 288
Gots: 896 | FT: 21
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,244 | Reviews: 1,995 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of steve8robin
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very good for a brown ale. Small mocha head that quickly disappates. Brownish highlights around the edges. Very good looking.

S: Smells of alcohol, vanilla, oak, hints of toffee, and dark fruit. Smells awesome! Perfect!

T: Very boozy upfront, with accents of vanilla, oak, hops, and breads. Has an almost wine-esque flavor mixed in the middle. A slight raisin flavor hidden on the backend. Lots of flavors going on. Very tasty! Alcohol flavor is not masked very well, but aside from that it's perfect.

M: Not too bad. Doesn't leave a large amount of flavor on your palate and the carbonation is decent. Good.

D: If the booziness was hidden a little more in the brew, it would go down much easier. Just a hint of smoothness would make this near perfect.

All in all, this, to me, is like a "poor man's" Dark Lord. DL has a heavy raisin flavor which is hidden in this brew. 2 different styles, but similar flavors mixed in. Awesome brew. If you like Dark Lord and big beers like that, then this is for you. If you want a refreshing brew, this one might not be a good choice.

Photo of fastsrt
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle in a snifter
A: black with a 2 finger head that quickly diminishes.
S:woody, dark fruits. sweetness, alcohol
T: mostly spicy charred flavors, wood, molasses, but I have no clue what else there are some great complexities here this is the best brown ale i have ever had, it is awesome. This one will only improve with age there is a spicy sweetness which will come together eventually at some point just not yet it is a bit green and has not reached it full potential
M: good carbonation, it is sweet but comes in with a dry lingering woody finish.
D: 12% ha no way, this one goes down great and could easily drink 2, but laid the other 3 down to enjoy at some point down the road this one is an excellently crafted beer that will age well. so worth the 14 dollars. This one caught me off guard at to how good it was; i thought no Imperial brown ale would be this good.

Photo of JoshRadTxist
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a partial bottle into a clay mug.

A: Looks like poured used motor oil, creamy sliver of a head, lacing on the mug.

S: Cookie-dough flavored schnapps or something like that. Some "soy" too. I think you can actually get buzzed off this from deep inhalations.

T: Tastes like barley wine. I can't really taste the vanilla like others. Maybe a little in the aftertaste. Overall good and malty, with plenty of alcohol.

M: Nice heavy sipper with lively carbonation. Slight filminess after swallow, but this is to be expected I think from a dark beer this heavy.

D: "It is what it is." Not planning on ever having more than one at a sitting... but will have several more in the future. Like it.

Photo of photomike
4.54/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 1/29/09 consumed 2/13/10.

Pours a very deep brown with a garnet ring around the top of the beer. A surprisingly decent beige creamy head with some good lacing. Pretty impressive for a 12% beer.

Smell is oaky and sweet with some dark fruits, chocolate, rum and port wine. A hit of booze sends chills down my spine as I inhale deeply. Really, really, fantastic. I could smell this all day.

Taste contains a lot of the same elements. Deep sweet fruit flavors: prunes, raisins and dates. Rum, sweet wine, chocolate, licorice, a ton of wood, and a good amount of booze as it warms. Complex and delicious.

Incredibly creamy with a lingering light bitterness that keeps the flavor going forever. A warming alcohol heat emanating from my stomach betrays the ABV. Aggressive carbonation that works well to lift this syrupy beast off the palate juuuust enough.

Fantastic brew, and probably my favorite from DFH. I'll be throwing some more bottles in the cellar, that's for sure.

Photo of MetalHopHead6
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron is viscous, heavy, and sweet.

It poured black with a short dark tan head that immediately gave way to a ring. It left sparse thin rings of lace. The smell had a hint of whiskey and the flavor finished with a sweet hint of vanilla. The feel was thick and smooth with a slightly bitter finish.

Palo Santo Marron is a wonderful and complex after-dinner sipper. It's heavy, boozy, and sweet without being overbearing. A great experience.

Photo of OneDropSoup
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a DFH tulip pint: very dark brown with lighter brown highlights & a finger of mocha head that drops to a dusting with a tapioca collar.

Caramel & mild cocoa in the smell, a coffee-like roast bitterness, & some cooked fruit smells, like baking apple, raisin, dark cherry. A woody booze aroma wraps things up nicely. Smells are restrained, assertive but not aggressive.

Smell notes carry through into the flavor, but are way intensified & swirled together -- my mind's eye sees a tornado of these flavors, wrapped up in the wooden alcohol. Normally I see a strong booze presence in the taste as a detractor, but here I think it really adds & emphasizes the flavors. Pleasantly caramel, almost smoky aftertaste.

Medium bodied with a pleasant sting from the booze.

Dangerously drinkable, very smooth & tasty. The alcohol is not hidden, but still doesn't taste or feel like 12%. I don't know if this will make sense to anyone but me, but this is like the biggest little beer I've ever had (or maybe vice versa) -- full flavor, but leaving me wanting me more, doesn't feel full, but packs a punch with booze.

Photo of jimmyvegas
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle date 9-2009 into a pint glass.

Pours thick with very little head.

Smeels like an aged brandy.

Taste is full bodied and complex. Lots of chocolate, malt and smoked wood taste. Warm finish to be expected with 12% abv.

Color is almost black with hints of burgandy if held to sunlight.

Seems like more of a porter than a brown ale.

Overall another great brew from the guys at DFH. I can drink 2 in one session without problems more than that I think the high abv would catch up to me.

Photo of mempath
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

poured slowly then vigorously....HUGE head that takes forever to settle. interesting splotchy lacing, but even more interesting cola-like bubbles underneath on the side YET the top maintains that buck(whole)wheat pancake batter look full of nano-bubbles. this stuff is one of those dark matter brews thats sucks in all light and reveal only, when held to high noon, post-blizzard snow bright sun, a subliminal red tinge...for all that, yes, an exceptional LOOK to begin with.

aging in giant wood barrels better reveal an interesting nose...and it does. sure, a deep woodiness is infused, but what is revealed is an orchestrated, cacaphonic display of sweet dark chocolate, dried dark (brandied) fruit and an overall floralness i just can't identify (yet).

taste....now that's a mouthful in every sense of the word. this is a liquid meal. all those notes in the nose are translated very well to the taste. woodiness, smokey chocolate dried raspberries...a bit of tanginess, maybe hops, but nothing asserts individually. it's a concerted effort and this is an extreme brown. a piece of art. oh yeah, this is 12% abv....but like everything else in this, it's blended in so you simply FEEL, SENSE it...not taste it. perfection.

drinkable? a brew like this challenges that notion of what makes something 'drinkable'....do you mean QUANTITATIVE? i would be scared to session this beyond two in one sitting....unless done before a fire or fire pit over an 8 hour period...with food. but QUALITATIVELY speaking, this is an incredibly drinkable brew that urges you gently to savor it, make it a SESSION UNTO ITSELF. one bottle is a session...if you do it right. wow.

now for what this is, it is perfection. totally. technically. subjectively. but as far as art and craft brews at DFH, i still prefer the Midas Touch. which might have gotten a 'lower' score from me, but i simply prefer the primal grape-iness of it. i reviewed this before from memory, the draft version, at the DFH brewery. this bottled version 'seems' more intense, more articulated. more 'perfect'


p.s. as i stated in my review for the draft version, the brewery's 'sample-meister' gave me a sample of this mixed with the 90 minute IPA....again, i recommend trying this....it somewhat wakes things up by mellowing the ABV factor, but hopping it up a bit. TOO RECOMMENDED...

4.16/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From bottle to pint glass. Bottled on 12/28/09. If stouts and IPAs can be imperial, then brown ales can too.

A: Small medium brown head that really resisted making an appearance. It was fizzy and didn't last long. The body was too dark to consider it's clarity and if it wasn't black, it was the darkest shade of brown imaginable. No lacing.

S: Heavy, nearly harsh malt character: molasses, darkly toasted bread and burnt caramel. Mild resiny hop profile overpowered by the malts and heavy yeast components of earth and leather aromas.

T: All over the flavor spectrum and somehow very cohesive. Flavors of campfire smoke, tar, reduced balsamic vinegar, vanilla, cherry flavored sugar free gum, strawberries and other fruity esters. The taste remains in your mouth until the next sip. Lightly sweet.

M: Full body with a sticky, chewy texture. Average level of carbonation, slightly fizzy, but silky and just right. A little chalky on the finish.

D: Intriguing brew definitely worth the experience but not really an easy drinker. And definitely not for everyone. Since I drank my bottle within a month and a half of it's bottling, I will have to buy another to age.

Photo of GeezLynn
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark dark brown with a thick tan head that is easily revived.
S: Sweet caramel malts, red berries, vanilla and wood.
T: Roasted malts, caramel, lots of Palo Santo wood, and raisin/prune flavors. The finish is long and sweet and carries a little bitter mouth-drying woodyness. A little hot, but not bad for 12%.
M: Thick and chewy and moderately carbonated (just about right).

I go back and forth on this beer a lot. I think it's a quality beer and a unique twist on the style. At times the wood can be a bit much, but other times it's a very enjoyable sipper.

Photo of fff
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a 10 oz pilsner-shaped glass.

A: Good head, not much lacing. Nice, deep brown hue.

S: Woody, a little hops, a little toffee/fruity sweetness. A good smell, just hard to describe.

T: Surprisingly balanced for what I smelled. A bit of dark fruit and hops under a very woody, very smooth palate. Aftertaste of woody goodness.

M: Not very substantial, but refreshing. It plas on the tongue just right.

D: A very sessionable beer, would recommend a 4-pack for a buzz one night.

Photo of kirkpjr
3.82/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a 12 oz bottle in to a St. Bernardus goblet. Very thick and dark but not stout dark. Minimal head with some lacing on the glass.

S: Spicy, peppery, almost a complex red wine smell. A few sweet dark fruits, maybe cherry? Alot going on here - the wood starts coming through as it warms up. Alcohol also present.

T: Alot of roasted malts. Wood! Cedar or some other type of wood. Almost what a plank cooked piece of food tastes like, but in a beer. A sweet finish - that gives off almost a cherry tartness. I guess that's why they say it's a malt beverage.

M: Chewy. The wood sits in your mouth as a campfire sits on your clothes. The sweetness in the finish thins out the feel a little bit.

D: A very interesting beer to say the least. I really don't know what style this fits in to. Supposedly a brown ale but way too complex for the style. Glad I got to try it but nothing I would search for.

Photo of Hopfist
3.82/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Uncompromising, unyielding, unbelievable. Dogfish Head just keeps doing it. Dark, sweet, nutty, toffee, coffee, lingering. If you're looking for a session beer, look somewhere else. This one's a monster. The body and punch of this one is on par with Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout. It's simply huge. But it doesn't sacrifice nuance or subtlety. Don't drink more than one without a safety word.

Photo of cooncat
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured at fridge temp into a Sam Adams Boston lager glass .. my standard for doing samples. A thanks to fellow BA Adamette for the sample.

A vigorous pour down the middle of the glass had me wondering if I was going to get any head at all. However, I did wind up with maybe a quarter inch of burnt sugar colored head, which quickly dissapated into a thin broken cap. The brew itself is opaque .. I held a strong backlight to the glass, and nothing shows through. This is as dark as a stout. Some nice lacing decorates the glass with each sip. The lack of head is not unexpected in a 12% brew.

The nose is robust with sweet malty aromas (dark fruit, brown sugar, figs, dates) and a bit of alcohol.

Taste follows the nose pretty well. All manner of dark fruit sweet flavors assault the palate, along with some dark bread flavors (pumpernickle comes to mind). There is a bit of the alcohol in the taste, but it isn't objectionable or hot. Carbonation is on the low side, adding to the full and chewy mouthfeel. I can't give it a good score for drinkability, since this is pretty much a 'one and done' at 12%. This is NOT a session beer, but one to sit back and savor at the end of a hard day ... or any day.

I can appreciate the creativity of Sam C. over at Dogfish Head, using the special wooden vats to age this beer. I can't pick up anything special about the flavor, since I'm not familiar with the wood used (as opposed to say, oak). If you are a fan of BIG brews, with hearty aromas and savory flavors, you need to seek this one out and give it a try.

Na Zdravje!

Photo of coachdonovan
3.44/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours awfully dark, but not quite black, as a little light comes through the edges. this bottle isn't fresh (bottled Feb 09), but there is basically no head.

aroma is pretty rich and boozy. tastes very sweet from the high abv, but it's not necessarily all up in my face. chocolate, caramel, molasses, and again the abv is not uncomfortably warming. a little brandy in there and oily.

overall another interesting take from DFH, but i think one bottle per winter is my limit.

Photo of firkinhophead
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

on tap at leon's.

pours deep,deep brown, nearly black. thin, tight, mocha-colored head. a bit of spotty lacing, remarkable for 12%.

aroma of earthy spice, mace, clove, alcohol esters, burnt sugars, wet wood, peat. absolutely intoxicating.

taste is loaded with earth, sandlewood, toffee, molasses, and brown sugar. herbal hop bite rises middle to end. licorice, vanilla, tobacco, oak, basil, and espresso. sherry notes in the finsh.

thick, rich body. creamy and smooth. a bit oily and slick, with mouth-coating presence. just enough carbonation.

holy shit. so f*ing good. perfectly balanced, more rewarding with every sip. Transcendent. need i go on?

Photo of nukem5
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Happened to stumble on this beauty! Norrmal looking Dogfish head bottle, pop open and the magic starts. The appearance on the pour is a rich color that starts the mouth to water knowing something special is about to happen, Sam and the crew at Dogfish dont usually let us down. The smell is almost Brandy like, sweet and beckoning. Taste is warm and oakey with a mild hop.Tiny bubbles wash over the mouth and make this a very special drink. At 12 % you dont and should not drink many I enjoyed this very much with a med rare ribeye off the grill. Seek this out and enjoy.

Photo of Blakaeris
4.57/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours completely opaque black with a large, creamy beige head that quickly dissipates to a thin ring. No highlights whatsoever.

Aroma is smokey dark malt, molasses, and rich dark fruit sweetness - black currant and plum. Quite complex. An unusual woody character that I have never encountered. Subdued cinnamon and vanilla spices.

Taste is similar to the nose but much more intense. Wow. Rich and velevety smokey quality. Toasted carmel malt with a peaty quality. Dark fruit from the nose is much more intense - black currant, plum, cherry and ripe blackberry are bursting with sweet fruit flavor. Finish holds a good bit of woody dryness, pine resin astringency, brown sugar and a brandy like alcohol presence.

Mouthfeel is smooth and slick.

I found this beer to be amazingly rich, and flavorful. Great fruit character, along with intense smokey malt that complement each other. This is a winner.

Photo of TMoney2591
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

Photo of cpetrone84
3.82/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-pours a dark brown liquid that lets hues of red pass through as light is shined upon it. the head is a dark mocha color, very thin and leaves no lacing on the glass.

S-the nose is quite big and brings a lot of malt. light phenols, roasted dark malts, molasses set in first fading into some milk chocolate, brown sugar and dark fruits, plum and fig.

T/M-the taste really takes a turn from the nose. it is a full body, it is thick and chewy, quite smooth and a good bit of carbonation. the booze is quite present throughout and brings a fair amount of warmth from this as well. the milk chocolate and molasses come in first and are then surpassed by the woody oak from the palo santo wood. the dark fruits come in of plum, fig and raisin but the alcohol really comes in with these flavors as well. it is almost like fruit soaked in alcohol. there is some bitterness at the finish and notes of smokiness.

D-the flavors are pretty big but the alcohol shows through a little more than i would have liked. it takes away from the flavors, didn't like the addition of the smokiness at the finish and the wood brought a taste i wasn't too into. overall it wasn't bad; it was nice and thick, but the flavors didn't blow me away.

Photo of WhiteOak
3.18/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

A- Deep, dark brown with a red-brown edge. Modest tan head.

S- Ethanol dominant, strong medicinals. Saddle leather. Raisinated dark fruit. The Bulnesia sarmientoi (commercially Argentinian Lignum Vitae, and locally Palo Santo) tropical hardwood imparts an unfamiliar, peculiar note to this ale.

T- Medicinal phenols dominate, along with fierce ethanol. That smoky, peculair Bulnesia sarmientoi wood note is apparent again. Burnt caramel, molasses, rum-soaked cherries. Faint coffee grounds, licorice. Long, bitter finish.

M, D- Like a Port, this ale is self-limiting to sipping at a slow pace. Creamy, viscous, syrupy and hot. Not to be trifled with, this may present a cumbersome level of drinkability to some.

The opportunity to sample different species of wood's influence upon an ale is interesting, however it has been reinforced to me that I still greatly prefer the influence of the noble White Oak (Quercus alba) to this tropical Palo Santo wood (Bulnesia sarmientoi).

The guayacol (oil of guaiac) in this tropical wood is an incense and perfume ingredient, and when oxidized it imparts a different characteristic on a beer, where as the White Oak brings an ale its creamy vanillin and oak lactones, and when the oak is toasted, rich coconut flavors.

Photo of jwillcourt
4.52/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at the Lake Creek Alamo Draft House.

A - Deep, opaque, chestnut brown. Two-finger head consisting of very tight bubbles. The head is very active but lasts

S - Roasted malt has a strong presence in the smell, along with maple, vanilla, wood, and rum.

T - There are many wonderful, well-balanced flavors. Sweet caramel and toffee malt lead off. Then a strong maple flavor which I do not remember from the bottle. The maple reminds me of Life and Limb, only more subdued. The wood flavors follow, vanilla and oak. The finish is burned malt and burned sugar. The burned taste is actually pleasant and lingers for awhile, along with the booziness. If you told me this was aged in rum barrels, it would make sense.

M - This is thick and full-bodied. It has very low carbonation. It feels creamy and sticky.

D - Delicious and satisfying. This is highly drinkable in moderation. I don't actually want to stop drinking it. Given its price and availability, this is a drink for special occasions. I highly recommend it if you get the chance.

Photo of irishman14
2.42/5  rDev -42.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Had this while camping. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a plastic cup.

A - motor oil with almost no carbonation and minimal dusty sand head

S - vanilla, raisins, leather, alcohol

T - syrupy coal that turns to a back of the mouth burning sensation from the alcohol

M - oily, thick, like watered-down molasses

D - must be sipped, made the mistake of taking a generous gulp and almost spit it back out. Not my style, but interesting. Don't know how you can call it beer.

Photo of hooliganlife
3.87/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

bottled on 7/24/2008. i've been saving this long enough, time to drink.

pour is jet black, light cola, wit a light cocoa head. little to no retention or lacing.

vanilla, oak, wood, roasted malts, light bourbon, cherry, booze. all of these mix quite well together for a lovely scent.

light vanilla and oak up front. hints of cherry and booze through the middle. finishes with a charcoal roasted malt flavor. i had this a while ago, maybe 6 months+ and it has fallen off since then. the flavors are slowly collapsing. LOTS of booze

this is a sipper and at 12%, i shall sip.... slowly.

quite thick, syrup, medium carbonation, chewy.

Photo of joshkennedy
3.42/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

-A very dark beer with a great smell. Cherry, vanilla, woody.
-Virtually no head.
-Smells sweet.
-Very syrupy and rich.
-Alcohol permeates quickly.
-I'm not huge on dark, thick, syrupy beers, but this one drinks fairly easily. Though, I can bet it's much better with a meal, not alone.

Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Brewery
93 out of 100 based on 5,244 ratings.