Palo Santo Marron - Dogfish Head Brewery

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Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron

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5,093 Ratings

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Ratings: 5,093
Reviews: 1,951
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 12.2%
Wants: 260
Gots: 791 | FT: 19
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: 5,093 | Reviews: 1,951 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ClockworkOrange
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 12 ouncer, bottled on 2/11/08. More than likely one of the first batches of this beer. Poured into my Adnams Imperial pint tumbler. The ale appears a deep, dark brown color with about an inch of dense, creamy ecru colored foam. The head leaves no lace to speak of. Nose and flavor consist of alcohol, candied dates, figs, prunes, molasses, sweet and tart green apple taffy, wood tannins, earthy, tingly and spicy on the tongue and throat. Nicely carbonated and nearly full bodied for a brown ale. Very tasty and worth a try if you see it at your bar or bottle shop.

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

08 vintage

It pours a dark molasses brown with some slight ruby tint in the highlights, but mostly caramel and chocolate color with a very small ring of small foam.

The aroma is orgasmi.. er exceptional. Vanilla, caramel, cocoa, and alcohol. Fantastic. I could just smell it all night.

Tastes like a boozy brown, but not hot at all. There is a prominent cocoa flavor and some oak that sticks on your tongue, but it's not entirely complex. To be honest, the flavor doesn't quite live up to the aroma. Still, it's clean and easy to drink.

I could have a few pints of it easily (if it wasn't 12%) but I wouldn't be entirely excited about any of them... just let me smell it all night.

Photo of sethmeister
4.88/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a tight brown cap and a small amount of lace. Swirling the glass practically shows legs, indicating a high alcohol content and a thick body.

Scent is chocolate, molasses, sweet dark fruits (figs, prunes), earthy and roasted notes, vanilla. Exceptional.

Taste is sweet, earthy, roasted, smoky. Dark, sweet and bitter chocolate. Molasses. Caramel. Figs and dark fruits. Vanilla. A kiss of hop bitterness lingers through the finish. A subtle minty note appears towards the end of a profoundly long finish. Slight alcohol spiciness. Woody and nutty flavors become discernable as the beer warms, and the smokiness increases. This would be fabulous with a good cheese. Exceptional.

Mouth is fantastic! Viscous, weighty and oily. Couldn't ask for better.

Drinkability is very high considering this is a 12%. A slight warming in the throat and a bit of alcohol taste are noted but are very mild for the considerable abv.

This is a tremendous ale. Rich, complex and luscious.

Photo of TLove
4.68/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(From Notes)

On tap at Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg, MD.

A beautiful, viscous brown/black with a medium body and a little, if any head or lacing. Smells of earthy wood, fig, and vanilla bean. The taste reveals a smoky, malty body that is perfectly balanced between sweet and earthy and malty. The alcohol is present, but conveyed in a soft and supple way.

The finish is a bit sweet and a bit tart, but carries the fig, chicory wood, and mushroom smokiness with it to the end. There is an underlying intensity and seriousness to this beer that is invigorating. The alcohol is present in the finish, but not prominent. Extremely smooth and extraordinarily well-structured.

Photo of gabemasiulis
4.65/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A) Dark brown, not quite opaque, but pretty hard to see through. Tan Head with bigger bubbles and decent retention

S) Sweet with currants, other (un-namable to my nose) ripe fruit, and hints of spices, with a rich wood scent.

T) Slightly tannin filled up front, high tastes of some wildflowers maybe (reminds me of a hibiscus beer)? Defintely sweet and fruity with a bit of a sugary darker taste, underlying, maybe from the barrel, This beer definitely resembles a port, but not quite as syrupy.

M) soft and heated, with bubbles tickling the toungue.

D) Yes. No kidding, that was all I could think of to type up for Drinkability. Tasty, well balanced, complex, but it doesn't blow your face off.

Photo of RomaniIteDomum
4.53/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black, black like the soul of some dreaded politician. With a few quickly dissapating playful bubbles on the top. Think strippers dancing on the liquified soul of Adolph Hitler, but not for all of Motley Grue's "Girls, Girls, Girls", just the first refrain of the title.

Smells like wood-aged roses and alcohol. Strange, yet inviting. It resembles a port.

The complexity of this beer is almost too complex for words. If Dostoyevsky wrote Karl Marx a letter written in Klingon it might come close. Flavors of wood, vanilla, grapes, other fruit, and rose come forth in degrees varying with each sip. Yes, it can occasionally come off as medicinal, but let it linger before swallowing.

In the mouth it feels again like a stout or a porter. It is a bit thick with very nice carbonation.

This is a highly drinkable after dinner sipper. Nice.

Photo of tosshin
3.6/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

a: thick caramel head disipated quickly. dark dark dark. looks like a stout. Deep amber highlights
s: caramel, vanilla, you can smell the alcohol mixed in. roasted coffee, some raison
t: not well balanced. lots of alcohol. woody, very malty, not much bitterness, and vanilla
m: full body. feels similar to many stouts. medium carbonation.
d: this is not an easy drinker. especially not for a brown ale.

while it is everything DFH said that it was. This is not an easy beer to drink. if you have some of this, please share with a friend. you will both enjoy it more.

Photo of DerBayer
3/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

OK i will probably get myself lynched but the taste of this not amazing it s not even good.

It is at first there is Vanilla and some faint cinnamon and chocolate but there is also something else and it does get sickly after a while - its not aniseed but similar, it s nor the same cream soda taste you get in Stone IRS but similar - I DONT LIKE it sorry folks ruins the beer.

Photo of corby112
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black and almost completely opaque with very dark amber/burgundy edges when held to a light source witha thin coffee colored head that quickly dissipates.

Very earthy oak/wood aroma with hints of cherry, vanilla, roasted caramel malt, candi sugar, alcohol, dark fruit, spicy cinnamon and licorice.

There is a strong alcohol presence in the flavor that hurts the drinkability a bit. I would be curious to see how this one ages and mellows out. There is a slightly tart dark fruit presence as well with a very prominent wood/oak characteristic. Hints of dark fruit, candi sugar, vanilla, smoked malt and grape. This beer is very vinous with a bone dry finish.

Photo of mirish72
3.93/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Portsmouth snifter. Poured black with red high-lights. I was surprised by the almost lack of head and almost no lacing.

Had a malty, coffee, toffee smell with hints of vanilla. Tasted slightly bitter but with a sweet aftertaste, definitely something to enjoy and savor. The beer got better with every sip and probably would be incredible in the dead of winter. Good stuff.

Photo of adamb02155
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Very dark color, with little to no head when poured. Dense and syrupy.

S - Strong, sweet smelling. I get some caramel on the nose.

T - The taste wasn't what I was expected, thankfully a lot more muted cask age taste than I thought would be there (I am personally not a big fan of beers that are overly flavored this way). The beer itself is a very dark brown ale, bordering on a porter.

M - Medium carbonation. I get a little bite at the tip of my tongue. Sort of sticks around your mouth for a while, but the aftertaste is not unpleasant.

D - More enjoyable than I expected, I still don't think this is more than a treat beer, to have one before going to bed. Would go well with some food I bet, but still to dense and strong to see drinking multiple.

Photo of mnjeff
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip.

A: Little head, though it clings well to the glass. A soft brown head, almost cappuccino colored. Very dark in character with red and light brown hues around the edges.
S: A musky smell is in the foreground with a lot of burnt malt scents accompanied by a caramel fragrance. Smells boozy as it warms.
T: There is an initial balance of banana and caramel with a very robust smoky component. I'm also getting a sweeter pumpkin spice aftertaste with vanilla.
M: Very thick for a brown ale (reasonably thick for a porter for that matter). Medium carbonation helps this brew attain a creamy quality.
D: Considering the abv this is a highly drinkable brew. I think the mustiness of the beer detracts from this slightly, though the sweet aftertaste brings you back for more!

Photo of MrIncognito
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had at Magnolia's in Purcellville, VA.

A - Deep red body with brown hues throughout beneath an off-white rocky head that leaves great lacing.

S - Dark malts up front with lots of sweet alcohol giving chase. A slight woody smell that must be the palo santo (wish I knew what the wood smelled and tasted like on its own). A bit spicy from the alcohol as well.

T&M - Rich dark malts and brown sugar followed by sweet and spicy alochol. Alcohol is quite warming. The wood flavor comes in in the aftertaste and reminds of the flavor you get when chewing on a toothpick. Very nice addition to this beer. Otherwise would taste just like the India Brown Ale with more alcohol. Moderate carbonation that feels nice and does not detract from the ability to taste all the flavors.

D - Taste-wise, could drink this all night. But that alcohol level will really get you. I love the hints of wood in there and would love to have this on hand for cooler nights.

Photo of cooch69
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I was glad I ran across this beer, because I had seen it around a lot but when I finally wanted to try it, I couldn't find it for a bit. But anyways, this beer pours very, very dark brown with dark mahogany highlights. The head was nice and compact, but lasted only a little while. The smell was very woody and acidic with a definite alcohol Presence. The taste was very woody as well, and I think it was from this wood that I detected some cloves and cinnamon. There were also big roasted flavors. Dark Chocolate and some coffee. The mouthfeel was slightly full and syrupy. And the 12% abv was covered up well.

Overall A great beer from a great company.

Photo of Daniellobo
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A luscious dark brown ale. This wood does add a fantastic range of flavors to a savvy brew.

Presentation: 12 oz bottle. Tuned up Dogfish small bottle design with a cut of timber pictured under the logo . One liner choosing to label this as a "malt beverage". Long description (for a Dogfish) on the side, choosing to call it a brown ale here and providing a good description of flavor and process. Shows date of bottling (10/23/08 C), neither shows IBUs or °Plato, only Alc. by Vol. (12%) Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Dark body, the darkest of browns with some chippy and light bottom accumulated residue. Initial large, brown and foaming head that melts quickly leaving a thin but reliable ring and minimal lacing.

S - Vanilla and an exotic caramel range over a roasted malty backbone.

T - Sweet and malty around a warming alcohol feeling that is well hidden within the complex wooded flavors . But this is an entirely different aged wood sweetness, very rich, vanilla laden with complex caramel tones, a present but a bit shy bitterness, and a deep and very enjoyable experience to the palate.

M - A bit of carbonation, very nicely balanced, on a brew that gears very close to a full body.

D - Appreciating the kind of achieved brew and enjoying it every time. It goes down very well. This can also be a great sipper.

Notes: They can call it brown if they chose to do so, and I understand style wise why this is not a stout, but this is a dark brew. It must be the darkest of browns and a delight to be had. Great inspiration behind the beer that gels into making something rather special.

Photo of srandycarter
3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Very dark brown, small tan head that leaves fast. Minimal small bubbled lace.

S - Sharp malt, licorice, vanilla.

T - Creamy, chocolate like, reminds me of chocolate pudding in a way.

M - Medium bodied, small bubble carb that is good, great coat.

D - Very particular taste and very alcoholic. Would tire.

Photo of CHickman
4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black in color with ½ inch thick creamy chocolate milk brown head; smells roasted malt and cedar or burnt wood, with a slight sweet ending.

Tastes roasted and rich, with a nice complex combo of malt, coffee, molasses, vanilla, sugar, burnt wood and then a sweet dry finish that brings out the coffee, vanilla, and maybe even hints of chocolate and some fruit. It warms you up as you drink it and it gets better the longer it sits. Considering the different ingredients mixed in the brew I thought that it would have more spice and kick to it, but I'm pleasantly surprised by how nice and easy this beer is to drink and savor.

Little to no carbonation to this brew, and yet it still seems to go down smooth even though the strong alcohol content (12% ABV) is obvious and the beer is heavy with a lot of body. The burnt malt and smoky wood flavors repress the alcohol taste and make this like a nice stout, almost leaning towards a port wine experience. This is definitely a tasty beer meant for sipping and savoring and I highly recommend it as it's quite unique. An outstanding beer!

Photo of tavernjef
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Whoa, this stuff pours out dark and thick much like a Baltic Porter settling a solid black cast of darkness with a small, dense tan cap that slips away to keep a thick collar and some large and lengthy blobs of lace.

Aroma is strangely exotic and unique with black licorice spicyness, tangy prune, raisin, molasses, and vanilla, cooked brown sugar, and cardamom. Very reminiscent of a pruneyish Port wine, Anchor OSA, and Expedition stout.

Taste is even stranger and unique, but in a good way. A very good way! All about mirroring a port with deep, dark, tangy heat with alluring, deep seeded spices of anise, cardomom, and molasses. Quite lusterious and full of warming sensations behind its depth of dark brooding tang. The flavors are similar to some of the bigger, chewier, Baltic Porters out there.

Bold body of smokey dark tones with a warming of an, almost reaching, Belgian chocolatey warmth on top of a strong medium body. Soft, smooth, and tenderly chewy in some portions of its mid range. Quiet, lofty finish with leftovers of dark fruity paste textures and darker candied spices coating the palate like a fruit filled pastry.

Outstandingly yummy stuff! A heavy sided dark, tangy, spiced brew that captures a unique essence.
The warmth hits well and welcome and makes this a wonderful sipper and a dangerously easy drinker. This stuff will sit well around the chilled months of the year.

Photo of mightymoksha
3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served in snifter at 56*F.

Poured black with faint, burnt red hues at the edges. Dark tan head, featuring moderate retention and solid lacing.

Aromas of butterscotch, caramel and bananas were prominent. Lesser notes included cinnamon, vanilla bean and pumpernickel bread. Alcohol very present.

Mild bitterness segues into pleasing malt sweetness, typical of the style. Beneath the strong alcohol presence lie notes of roasted nuts, cherries, butterscotch and cacao. Finish very warming, with notes of red grapes and licorice.

Low carbonation and medium body, with a very smooth, almost creamy mouthfeel. The prickliness of the ridiculous 12% abv contrasted nicely.

Very tasty, however, unless your goal is getting tanked, I recommend enjoying sparingly. An 8-9% would be much more attractive to me. Nevertheless, a quality brew.

Photo of Cresant
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a tulip glass. Bottled on: 2/17/09. The body was a dark mahogany/brown with thin wisps of tan head - despite the aggressive pour. A thin ring of foam remained.

Smell was woody and fruity. Walnut shells and alcohol.

Taste was grapes. Stone-fruits. Brandy and cough syrup. Drying woodiness. Well hidden alcohol, pretty drinkable. I'm generally not a DFH fan but this is probably the best offering I've had from them.

Mouthfeel was medium to full bodied with fine carbonation. Smooth finish and drinkable.

Photo of u2carew
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle.
A) Pours with a brown head. Quickly settles. Lacing is thin bubbled and sticky. Opaque.
S) Woodsy. Cedar. Smoky. Earthy sweetness.
T) Smoky. Alcohol. Woodsy sweetness - like chewing on cedar or redwood. Black pepper.
M) Alcohol effervescence. Chewy. Full bodied.
D) A well crafted beer. Thoughtful and creative. I'd drink another... slowly.

Photo of BirdFlu
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pour is beautiful. Stout like. Deep and dark with light brown head. For it's style quite perfect
Smell is sort of light. Malt and some of the wood. Certainly not nearly as aromatic as when poured out of the bottle, still nice though.
Flavor is deep and sweet. Complex and fresh. Earthy from the wood and such. The sweetness isn't as potent as from the bottle, it's a bit more smooth and rounded.
Mouth is thick and quite viscous. quite nice. Very full-bodied. Drink is very fresh and crisp. Tasteful and good. Not too heavy. It seems a little smoother and noticeably fresher than from the bottle. The wood tone isn't so smokey and is instead earthy.

Photo of kgotcher
3.93/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Technically Brown ale only goes to about 6% ABV (BJCP Guidline) so I would call this a double brown for comparison sake. Hard to compare this to a classic like Samuel Smiths Brown.

Pours a very dark Stout black color. Frankly calling this brown is strange.

Aroma is big vanilla, sweet cherry, dark fruit, lemon, and many notes that are just beyond my pallete.

In the mouth it is lighter than expected, warming from the huge abv, but still light from a fairly high carbonation.

Taste is toasted malt, vanilla, caramel, apple? prune, woody, with a bitter grassy finish. Some of the flavors are very complex and surprising to get from a beer.

Overall not an overly drinkable beer yet an example of what is possible. A very creative beer that expands my own expectations of what beer is or should/could be. Even as a homebrewer I can barely appreciate what went into this beer.

Try it just for the experience.

Photo of Derek
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Personally, I'd call this an old ale... and a hell of a one at that!

A: Black with a tan head, slight ring of retention, light lacing.

S: Big boozy aroma, brown sugar, licorice, wood & vanilla.

T: Brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, licorice, toffee & roasted nuts. Good bitterness. Assertive alcohol, but it works.

M: Well-attenuated moderate body has a drying alcohol finish.

D: A divine sipper.

Thanks Bobsy!

Photo of bobsy
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from April 2008 and provided by grub - cheers man!

This doesn't pour like a brown ale at all, as its almost a midnight black, motor oil, with a mocha head and some lacing. It looks good, but not like a brown ale. Aroma of chocolate, nut and vanilla (presumably from the barrels). Thankfully it tastes like a brown, and a rather rich one at that. Chocolate, nut, toasted brown bread and caramel all headily combine. There's a fair bit of booze in the finish, and I find this detracts, although it doesn't seem as high alcohol at the 12% ABV suggests. Fairly viscous body with moderate carbonation.

An interesting beer, but the high ABV is a bit much for me.

Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Brewery
93 out of 100 based on 5,093 ratings.