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Palo Santo Marron - Dogfish Head Brewery

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Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron

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5,270 Ratings

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Ratings: 5,270
Reviews: 2,002
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 11.96%
Wants: 292
Gots: 929 | FT: 22
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: 5,270 | Reviews: 2,002
Photo of Dotcubed
3.77/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

One of several bottles in my cellar I need to consume.

Annoyed that there's no born on date. Hate to use that phrase but... there's nothing on the bottle!

Says 12%, this could be harsh & tough on the tongue.

Top examples include some big favorites of mine;Surley Bender & coffee Bender. So I expect to like this style.
Poured into a tulip glass, seemed like a good idea since the bottle smell is pretty appealing. Raisin? Light mist of lace.

Smells like sweet, well dried prunes & funk.

Dense warming vanilla syrup. Burnt sugar. Dark & Bitter.

Heavy mouth feeling is giving me a sense of overkill when I think about drinking more.

Not as drinkable as I'd thought given the smell, taste.

Looking forward to the other bottle once is gets dusty.

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

Brown ale? No way. Imperial brown? Double brown? Baltic brown? Let's just say "strong dark ale" and leave it at that. Whatever it is, I like it.

Pour was deep brown bordering on black. Mouthfeel was creamy and stout-like. Huge sweet malt with brown sugar, caramel and vanilla. Prominent alcohol flavor, but not nearly so hot as one might expect. Finish was bittersweet. A style-bender for sure. I'm going to put a couple away and see how they do over time.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a Dogfish Head signature glass (March 9, 2010). "BOTTLED ON: 07/30/09" is stamped onto the neck of the bottle.

Eyes: An almost opaque jet-black color, with reddish on the very edges. The one finger head is a dirty brown and dissipaes in a couple minutes. If you were to just look at this in the glass without any prior knowledge, you'd think it were a stout, though I'm a little disappointed with the head.

Nose: Strong dark malts with some nutty notes. Smoky molasses, faint dry fruit and even a hint of vanilla. Unfortunately, the overall aroma is saturated by a bit of the boozey smell, which is a bit difficult to escape with a 12% ABV. The good thing is it doesn't crush all other aspects.

Tongue: Rich, smokey, baked bread, and has a soft brandy/rum boozeyness. I get notes of the wood, with burnt caramel, molasses and a long, bitter finish.

Mouth: Thick, a bit chewy, with sufficient carbonation despite the apparent lack of head.

Libation: Like many Dogfish brews, this is an extreme beer that could be considered an experiment. I can't actually say what exactly Paraguayan wood does for this "stoutish" brown ale, but it works. For such a heavy beer with such a high ABV, I'm impressed at how smooth and subtle the flavors are. Palo Santo Marron is incredibly complex, but enjoy these slowly.

Photo of mjaseattle
3.87/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: I chilled mine a little too long, poured it extra cold. This I blame for the lack of any head, something with which I'm positive it was well endowed the last time I tried it. Otherwise, it's a dark, dark, dark brown, completely impermeable to any wavelength of light greater than 200 nanometers (rough estimate).

S: Sweet, malty, earthy, licorice and figs.

T/M: There's definitely something special going on in those Palo Santo barrels. The sweetness of caramel and chocolate is most apparent, and, if you look for it, lots of vanilla. It packs a lot of surprises as well. It's the kind of beer I like to swish around in my mouth, puff that body up a little. This beer seems to enjoy being treated that way too, responding playfully, revealing something new with each sip. A little espresso here, some chocolate covered raisins there, and every now and then the distinct aftertaste of cherries. I do worry that all this sweetness and shyness is hiding something though. Its... beerness, if I may, feels inhibited.

D: One is probably enough. If not for the alcohol content (a surprising 12% -- it is clearly made of ninjas because I couldn't taste it), then for the syrupy smack of flavors clinging to your tongue long after the final sip. If you're still thirsty and liver-willing, I suspect it would follow nicely with a good Belgian golden ale, or even a crisp Irish red.

Overall: The Palo Santo Marron is absolutely unique. It probably won't change your life, but if you like dark ales I think you should try it.

Photo of alysmith4
2.8/5  rDev -33%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This is definitely one of the more interesting beers I've ever tried. I was surprised by the look of it, thought perhaps my server got the order wrong. It was dark and thick, looked like a nice porter with a half-inch, dark brown foam head. The smell is of sandalwood, very nice and relaxing. The taste was not the best, again like sandalwood, which I prefer in a candle as opposed to a beer. It was also very syrupy too. Hard to finish.

Photo of nickspagnolo
2.25/5  rDev -46.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

This is not a beer; it is a beer flavored liquor. The alcohol content is too high for this beer to be enjoyable to drink. Other flavors associated with this beer are syrup.

I was expecting something better from Dogfish Head since I have enjoyed their Indian Brown Ale and Punkin Ale. I was expecting to get punched in the face with flavor - like I was with DFH's IBA and Punkin Ale (both of which have relatively higher alcohol contents than traditional beer) - and instead I got a mild flavored beer that is overpowered by alcohol.

The only saving graces of this beer are its smell and appearance. The beer smelled woody and sweet and it intrigued my nostrils. As for appearance, it is extremely dark in color with a thin foam.

I will not be purchasing this again unless I have had a terrible day and need to get wasted. Actually, the more I think about it, I would rather drink liquor straight than drink this.

Photo of techfed87
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a stark black. Head is mocha in color.

Smells...woody? It's dark and syrup-like, but every once in a while you get a whiff that smells very strongly of wood. Very weird.

First sip is very caramel-like in texture and feel. The raised alcohol content is very upfront as well, making this brown ale seem much more like a stout. Overall, much more bitter and dark that what I'd expect out of a brown ale. Still, it all seems to mellow out over the long run.

A surprisingly strong, surprisingly drinkable brown ale.

Photo of Phelps
4.07/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've got wood! Palo Santo wood, that is.

I saw a documentary long ago relating the story of Dogfish Head and their quest to build massive tanks from this special, super-dense wood from Paraguay. I remember being super-excited to try it. So when I saw a pack for sale at Whole Foods recently, I snatched it up right quick.

The liquid from this bottle is a deep, intensely dark brown. Nearly no light penetrates, though the faintest cranberry red highlights are visible at the bottom of the glass. A half-inch head the color of brown sugar tops this guy off. The head recedes to a heavy sheen of suds that would probably stick around forever if I wasn't so damn thirsty. Glorious webs of lacing paint the glass as I drink.

After taking a whiff, my first thought was: bourbon. If I didn't know better, I'd say this thing was aged in bourbon barrels. There are tons of sweet flavors here: brown sugar, caramel, and alcohol-hot vanilla extract. Pretty glorious.

The vanilla extract character definitely carries over into the taste, though the alcohol heat is very well-hidden--noticeable, but not overpowering. Roasted malts are only hinted at a little after the swallow. Some woodsy pine characters emerge as the beer warms. Frankly, I was expecting more.

The mouthfeel is much the same. Light carbonation, a palpable creaminess and a full body fill the mouth with delight. But then, some unpleasant chalkiness gets the back sides of my tongue.

For such a bruiser of a beer, this one went down surprisingly quickly. This isn't the first time I've bought a four-pack of Palo Santo, and it won't be the last. My go-to from DFH.


Cellar Notes

Bottled May 27, 2009 and enjoyed Feb. 16, 2011.

Has developed a rather cigarette-like, ashy quality in the nose. It's in the background behind the other flavors, but still there.

This ash carries over to the taste as well, though in a slightly subdued form. The way the flavors have melded is actually incredible -- it's hard to discern one flavor from another. The roastiness seems to have increased slightly, lingering on the tongue between sips. The body's also developed a nice creaminess I don't think was there before.

While super-smooth and flavorful, it also seems to have been tamed a bit too much. I think I prefer this beer fresh, when it's vinous, un-cigarette-like, and has more teeth.

Photo of CaptinRedBeard
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a Duvel tulip. Pours a beautiful dark brown color with burgundy highlights. Almost no head here at all, about an eighth of an inch that dissapears instantly. More legs here than lacing.

S: A very vinous quality, that i can only assume is being imparted by the palo santo wood. I mean The aroma here is like a strong red wine with hints of malt and coffee in the background.

T: Red wine, roasted malt and dark fruits, mostly raisin with a faint hint of espresso flavor in the background.

M: Like silk going down. Medium to heavy bodied but oh so smooth on the pallet. Perfect amount of carbonation.

D: 12% is not noticeable in the least. With no alchol heat at all I could probably drink this all night but I'm pretty sure after about two or three I'd be done for. A very unique brew with some interesting flavors imparted by the palo santo. A one of a kind for sure.

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

12 Fl Oz. bottle poured into pint glass. Served 40-45 F.
A: Dark black with purple around the edges. Pours thick frothy tan brown head.
S: Brown sugar, bread, and wood.
T: Dark toasty malts. Bitterness is matched by thick brown sugar. Finishes with faint wood and nuts.
M: Medium on tongue and warming.
D: Big in flavor and well-balanced. 12% hardly noticeable.

Photo of titosupertramp
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my Dogfish Head Signature Glass.

A: Very dark with very little head, but well carbonated.

S: Very malty, smokey which is expected from a malt beer aged on wood.

T: Wonderful, complex with the alcohol well hidden. You get the initial smokey, vanilla flavor with cherry on the backend. I think the cherry aftertaste is my favorite part.

M: Not thick, but leaves a cherry coating behind that's very enjoyable. Syrupy would be a good adjective for this beer.

D: For a beer with 12% alc., it's incredibly smooth.

Overall, this is a really nice and unique beer. I can't recommend buying an entire 4 pack without trying it first, but if you find this in your store's single selection, grab one and see what you think.

Photo of sudsellier
4.26/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured into a belgian Duvel glass.

A: Ultra-dark... not what I expected. Looks like coffee poured into my glass. Rather disappointing head (poured out of bottle) evaporated into a thin ring of foam less than 5 minutes after pour. Nice color, though.

S: Super-woodsy. Giant malt content. Because of the rather high alcohol content, I get lots of the South American wood for the barrel aging followed by dark candy sugars and alcohol heat. Probably too woozy to successfully represent any smells at this time... damn deep-poured coctails @ the Azalea Coctail Lounge! Slight chocolate-milk and barrel aromas.

T: Raisiny/sugary in a port wine sensibility. Kinda pruny. Big residual sugars. There's that candy sugar note again. Tons of dried fruits like apricot and prune. Slightly smoked and heavy but also highly drinkable. Tart, candied cherry finish to this hunka-hunka burnin' like.

M: Despite lack of residual head, this has plenty of sizzle in the carbonation. Chewy, thick texture, too. Finishes ultra-clean texturally with big flavor notes left over to think about. How does my mouth feel? Just dandy after sippin' upon this brawny brew.

D: Most likely one a night. There's Shakespeare's rub about a beer like this: wonderful in so many different ways, yet something about it is holding you back. Don't get me wrong, it's a damn tasty beer. Could I plough through an entire sixer? No. But I could easily savor one to three of these given the proper situation. Deep-dark-smokish-rich-heavy... this is a beer for advocates to savor once a night over the course of an hour to really take in what makes this one crank your motor. One will be just dandy... three and you're asking for a wake-up next to someone who shaves their legs with less frequency than you do. Careful. All-in-all, the Palo Santo makes for a terrific pairing with certain courses... like the seared tarragon-basil-garlic lamb chops we just did over a fingerling potato and onion hash with a roasted veal bone/vanilla bean foyot reduction... yes... be jealous... you should. Guess I'll stop rambling now. Is anyone even reading all this?

Photo of biglite351
3.59/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - nice and dark but could only get a small fast vanishing foam.

S - great smell. Rich, deep and sweet. Very inviting.

T - didn't like the first sip, but liked everything after that. Malfunctioning, chocolate, deep and full. There was one part of the flavor that I did not care for, but it was mild and almost buried but it wad the alcohol heavy after taste.

M - coats the mouth nicely. Mild alcohol burn in the throat at after taste.

D - have one during your night out, but the ABV could get very dangerous.

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

Very high-test offering here.

I really love the appearance on this one: not black, dark brown, nutty looking with nice head and medium carbonation. The smell is of malt, vanilla, and a formidable ABV. Taste is nutty/vanilla/wood and more un-put-yer-finger-onable goodness. I really enjoyed this. The ABV is sharp on this though making the drinkability a task. This is a great brew and I would love to have another, and another, but not one after another. Dogfish head always nails it.

Photo of SayYaToDaUP
4.59/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - brownish head. Not huge. Dissipates slowly and leaves tight stubborn lace.

S - Very toasty malts with strong creamy vanilla aroma pouring out of the glass. Strong alcohol scent reveals the high ABV.

T - Wonderful bouquet of toasty malts and rich vanilla kick things off. Woody oak flavors emerge slowly. Very estery tones throughout. Toasty malt and vanilla is not replaced by other flavors, but rather incorporates them into single package. Leathery oak flavor lingers for a long, extensive afteraste. These flavors work beautifully with each other.

M - Medium/light carbonation. Works well for this rich brew. Alcohol is very warming, and is a little much when the beer warms.

D - Smooth, smooth, and smooth. The good balance and delicious flavor make a persuasive case for a second, and a third. But the high ABV and richness are most conducive for a slow, leisurely pace.

Photo of hga2009
4.76/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

this beer is great. What a very different brew that I wish I had sooner. A beer u want after a good fall or winter hike, this one is rich and complex with a roasted malt character followed by a lingering hop presence. At 12 percent it packs a punch The finish is of like a cedar wood. Quite different and unique. Try something very different and pick this one up today.

Photo of bashiba
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep dark brown with a very thick and creamy dark brown head. Nice lacing and retention.

The smell has loads of dark fruit, a hint of chocolate, and a touch of Anise.

The flavor is very bold with a big sweet brown sugar, molasses, and hints of alcohol along with some dark fruit and chocolate. The Palo Santo Wood really kicks in during the finish making this beer very distinctive. Very sweet overall, but there is a nice bit of green hop bitterness almost evens it out.

The mouthfeel is thick and creamy and very warm.

Nicely drinkable for a huge brown ale, enjoyable especially with its unique properties.

Photo of kbeals
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received as an extra from Nesued...

A- Pours a pitch black with just a glazing of tan head. Head dissipates quickly and leaves no lacing. Honestly though, I don't expect much head or lacing on beers like these so it's not really a negative thing.

S- Lots of rich caramel and vanilla aromas coming off of it, dark fruit undertones. A bit boozy and earthy. Pretty complex, it's hard to focus on any one aroma.

T- Sweet caramels and a vicious punch of aroma. Dark fruits also come through in the taste. A bit roasted with a slightly dry finish, probably from the ABV. Very good!

M- Velvety smooth and a bit chewy. Heavy body with light carbonation. Everything I could expect from a beer like this.

D- 12% ABV plays no factor in this. It is a bit boozy, but the flavors and aromas coming off this are phenomenal, I love this beer. Each sip makes me want more. Thanks again Dan, much appreciated!!!

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

C. Irrelevant cause it's black
H. Straight up black, son
N. Sweet, hints of cinnamon

Well after the pour I didn't think this was going to be very good, but after the smell I had hope. Smell was different, sorta spicey but sweet notes. The initial taste was like a deep dark brown ale, but it finishes with a peppery bite that comes out of nowhere. Man this is awesome, I love the bite at the end of this. Good beer.

Photo of kjyost
4.8/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a rich black with a light head atop it. The nose on this beer is sensational, with licorice and molasses dominating. The flavour though is utterly sensational. Molasses, licorice, roasted malt, a slight nut & coffee flavour are all evident in a beer that doesn't taste half of its actually ABV. The beer had low carbonation which contributed to a chewy mouthfeel. This is a beer I felt I could sip at forever, and never get bored of it. One of the best beers I have ever tried.

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

Easily one of my favorite beers, and I'm not that big of a fan of Brown Ales. But when they are done right, and this one is done right, they are exceptional. I was actually a little surprised that this was a brown ale, because it really drinks more like a stout. Nice and thick, rich, great kick to it, all around one of my favorites.

Bad side ... very pricey. But then again most beers in it's category are, but I can say that I'm not disappointed. I feel, and I'm sure a lot of you do, that if you are paying around $3.50 per bottle or $7 per sifter, you really expect something great, and for me it delivered.

Palo Santo is usually the first beer I look for when I head to the Dogfish Head Alehouse. So for all of those who love a rich, strong beer, this is the one for you.

Photo of climax
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled: 9/28/09
Sampled: 2/23/10

It poured a dark dark brown, next to black. The head was a very fizzy dark tan and had better retention than expected from 12% ABV.

The Palo Santo wood tones (never smelled that kind of wood) were very nice and it seemed like a bunch of other flavors in a wooden bowl as the backbone. Flavors included: brown sugar, cocoa, ripe cherries, licorice, and cinnamon. The alcohol was masked very well.

The flavor was very warm. Roasted chocolate and some coffee bitterness, typical of brown ales, were accompanied by dark sugars, ripe fruit, vanilla, licorice, and warming alcohol. The wood tones were apparent more in the finish. Awesome complexity and harmony within the flavors.

The body was good and full. The feel was sticky and mouth-coating with a numbing chewy finish. The carbonation was very mild and added just a slight bite towards the end.

The complexity was excellent, and it was all bottled in a potent but smooth and easy to drink package. DFH masked a 12% alcohol beer as good, if not better, than anything I've tried before.

Photo of devilben02
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was excited to have this one on draft at the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Fairfax, VA. They gave me as generous a pour as they could of this deep, dark mahogany brown ale into a 12 oz. snifter, leaving only enough room for a thin, creamy head. The aroma wasn't too pronounced (maybe because of the nearly overfilled glass), but I definitely smelled some of the sweetness and maybe a bit of nuttiness that you'd expect from a high-octane brown ale, and only a faint whiff of earthy wood.

The wonderfully unique woodsy sweetness is much more dominant in the flavor, though, but it isn't so potent as to overpower the other flavors. An underlying nuttiness comes through as well, along with a bit of chocolate and a hint of vanilla. It's as if someone handed me a finely-crafted wood box with scenes of young Paraguayan women dancing naked (but tastefully) etched into the top, and without opening it I can tell that it's filled with an assortment of fine chocolates. In other words, the sweet woodsy character is enjoyable on its own, but there is also so much more goodness contained inside.

Being fairly finely carbonated, this one has a silky texture and goes down much smoother than would be expected at 12% alcohol. I enjoy this one more and more each time I try it. Simply delightful.

Photo of danydakid
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep, rich, brown color served in a goblet.

S: The smell of this beer offered some woody and sweet aromas and was quite inviting.

T: A very warming taste with a combination of fruit (raisins, etc) and woody flavors. Very nice body and aftertaste that lingered slightly, but was enjoyable. You'd never guess it was 12% alc.

D: Another "creeper" by DFH. They have the knack for making beers with a high alc. content that you can drink more than one or two at a sitting. I'll be looking to have some of these for the next time friends are over.

Photo of Acraig
4.02/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The bottle has a nice burgundy color and bears the Dogfish Head logo on top of a tree stump in the front. I enjoyed it, its cute. Has a very nice vanilla smokey smell to it. I think it taste best if you take a sniff then drink. The beer itself also has a nice smokey vanilla taste to it. There is caramel undertones in there but the vanilla and wood flavors really shine in this beer.This is a very bitter beer, then finishes very smooth, I however, could not drink more then a couple due to the richness of the beer. I also think that this beer taste best after warming up a tad.

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Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Brewery
93 out of 100 based on 5,270 ratings.