Palo Santo Marron - Dogfish Head Brewery

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Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron

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5,090 Ratings

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Ratings: 5,090
Reviews: 1,951
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 12.2%
Wants: 260
Gots: 788 | 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: 5,090 | Reviews: 1,951 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ThaBobfather
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very oily bodied darkened brown color with thick, thick foam.
Smells got a very "woody" quality with a strong brown sugar/malt scent.
Flavors starts very sweet malty with some brown sugar then transits to chocolate and toffee.
Finish is a bit muddy with a very woody and sweet.
Drinkability is one of the most interesting aspects here. There is a noticeable burn that is well mitigated by the woody aging, but to some it may be hard to get through, but I had not problem, thought it was great!

Photo of bbeane
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Poured into a 16oz tumbler. Appears to be super thick, like oil. Very dark brown with no head really. When held up to a light, none can be seen through the beer. Can see some sediment floating in the beer

S- Sweet malty smelling, maybe a hint of vanilla

T- Sweet all around. Taste more of the caramel flavor than the vanilla, but all in all tasty. Something about it reminds me of Sam Adams Triple Bock... the finish I believe. Much more tame than the SA Triple finish, but similar... and far better

M- Little carbonation... Thick, though not as thick as I thought it would be after the pour. The malty/alcohol taste clings to the inside of your mouth

D- Would definately enjoy multiples of this though I think the high abv probably catches up with you quickly


Photo of Jmoore50
3.68/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I can already tell I am going against the grain on this one, pun intended.

The appearance was good for a brown ale, it was dark and rich. It came with a sugar brown head, and pretty frothy as well. Just amazing in terms of consistency.

The smell was different. It smelled like a metallic oak stump. There are something with some brown ales that have a sort of metallic smell and taste.

The taste was okay but nothing i would revisit. It had the wood barrel taste, but just not in a way that I enjoyed. It was a bit bitter, not very smooth and the brown ale would of been more enjoyable it they conditioned it in bourbon barrels? Just not my type of brew.


edit: Just figured out that the metallic taste that I was referring to was the extremely high 12% ABV. It is not covered very well and distracts from the other tastes the brown ale offers.

Photo of jrallen34
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I drank this from a bottle in a chalice.

This is dark dark brown with a dark tan head that foams about 2 fingers and last awhile, and there is very good lacing.

It has a very strong smell of wood, dark cherries, smoke, and oak.

This is very smooth tasting heavy beer, can't believe its 12%. There is slight taste of chocolate, notes of smoke and wood. Incredibly drinkable for its alcohol content.

Photo of theghost3
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

200th review, and great choice if I may say.

Pours a midnight black with a 1/2 finger cafe au lait head. The head stays pretty much throughout, decent lacing.

Smell is mainly coffee, dark fruits, caramel, and vanilla. The taste is actually more complex than the smell. There are obvious woody flavors that are reminicent of red wine or bourbon. There's brown sugar, caramel malts, and vanilla. Mouthfeel is a little more acidic than I like, thick.

This is a drinkable brew; it's an American Brown on steroids. It reminds me of a sort of stout/belgian dark/brown combination. Watch out for that 12 percent ABV because it'll sneak up on you. Looking forward to the next 200.

Photo of KenC411
3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a thick coffee color with a small head that disappears rapidly. Opaque. Forms no so much a lace, but more of a lacor on the side of the glass.

Smell: Initially, alcohol. After warming to room temperature, smells of coffee, raisins, nuts, and a hint of vanilla.

Taste: Coffee, nuts, and raisins. Burn of alcohol, decreasing the drinkability.

Mouthfeel: Smooth like an oatmeal stout, but thicker.

Drinkability:Too alcoholic for my taste. It has all of the workings of a strong beer: complexity, smoothness, and fragrance. The alcoholic bite really ruins it for me.

Photo of scottbrew4u
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a four pack from the Restaurant in Rehobeth and chillled it.

A: Dark brown almost black in color. Nearly opaque with a creamy light brown head like mousse. Great lacing as this goes down.

S: Raisins, coffee, vanilla, and toffee aromas come out to show malt complexity. Roasted malt has a hint of aged wood also.

T: Robust roasted malt with a slight peat smokiness. Black currants, vanilla, coffee with cream, caramel all play around the tongue. Bourbon flavors jump in a bit at the end. Hops there just to bitter a bit for balance.

M: Full body and creamy with some alcohol warmth very apparent near the finish.

D: So many big flavors and a good hit of alcohol make this one a great sipper so enjoy slowly. One of Dogfish Head's best!

Photo of Mit
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

a-Dark dark brown letting no light through...LOL Minimal to no lacing.

s-Malty sweet, spicey.

t-chewy sweetness with a nice spicy bite afterwards.

m-oh it's heavy. This sucker is a meal.

d-despite the high ABV this sucker is pretty tasty and doesn't seem to overdo it with each sip. I could probably have 2 or three of these babies, but I would fear for my walking ability afterwards.

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

Bottle Poured into imperial pint.

Pours syrupy thick and wonderful. VERY dark for a brown ale, I would say it was a stout if I didn't see the label. About ¼ inch of foam that dissipates quickly. Nose is strongly of vanilla, alcohol, and chewy malts. Reminds me of bourbon stouts, etc. There also seems to be something spicy/Belgian smelling in there. Heavy bodied feel with initially sweet taste, caramel comes out quite strongly. Second taste brings out the Brazilian wood. Wow. Nice complexity with a bit of single barrel bourbon coming through. Mouth feel is much more like an imperial stout than a brown ale, but I wouldn't expect anything else from Sam and the guys at Dogfish Head. Finishes much sweeter than I anticipated with a strong taste of wood, vanilla and nice, roasted nutty caramel goodness. Great beer.

Photo of OldSchoolGamer
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Another Dogfish Head brew. I have had this one before, but it has been a while. Not the biggest Brown Ale fan, though. Here is my review:

A: Pours a pitch black color. Dark tan head that leaves light lacing with each sip. Head does dissipate rather quickly though. Looks like a stout.

S: The smell is not overpowering. The wood character is very prominent, as is the alcohol. A touch of coffee, but not much. Some dark fruit in there as well.

T: The taste is there in full force. Lots of good flavors going on here. I get a lot of dark fruit like cherry and plum. There is also a light coffee, smoke, and chocolate presence, but not nearly as much as in a stout of this calibur. The wood and alcohol are intertwined in the flavor throughout. The alcohol is a bit much at times, but it remains enjoyable. Very good.

M: Medium to heavy bodied. Somewhat creamy. Not as thick as a stout, but very close.

D: This beer is 12% ABV, so that is nothing to fool around with. One at a time. But drinks very well and tastes good. I could probably drink more than one, but might be feeling it in the morning.

Probably one of the best Dogfish Head brews available. Since they don't have a traditional Imperial Stout in their lineup, this is the closest thing to it. This isn't a beer I would buy every week, but it is enjoyable every time I have it. Recommended and worth the cash.

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

Poured into tulip. No date on bottle but I've been cellaring this for at least 8 months.

A: basically opaque with very faint ruby hues when held up to light. Topped by tan 1/2 inch head that dissipates to a minimal head that leaves moderate lacing

S: roasted malts with brown sugar, molasses and some chocolate. Picking up some alcohol along with the woodiness. Nice aroma.

T: Very nice blend of bitter chocolate, molasses, alcohol and the flavor from the wood barrels

M: I'd have to say medium. Just the right amount of carbonation

D: I'd say drinkability is moderate. It goes down very smoothly but the alcohol is a big part of the flavor and the higher ABV gets to you quickly

DFH are cornering the market on 'different' brown ales with this one and India Brown Ale. This was very enjoyable!

Photo of jacobseyb
3.73/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A=pours a very dark almost oil like darkness. Tan/golden head dissipates quickly

S=some initial sweetness to accompany the malts, nearly coffee like in its aroma

T=very sweet, some bitterness and coffee like tastes

M=light carbonation, fades rather quickly

D=very potent, though not like some other DFH beers, though it hinders sessionability

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

Short, tight creamy tan head capping a deep, dense opaque black appearing body.

Rich caramel, chocolate and coffee notes on the nose, figs and dates, a bit of blackstrap molasses and black licorice, some boozy whiskey. Some nut and faint vanilla as it nears room temperature.

Whoa Nelly, this stuff is bold and robust, and as over-the-top as it seems at first, there is definite method behind the madness, a more complex flavour profile beyond a high octane velvet-gloved bitch slap. Starts out with straight intense sweet yet dry malt, dark dry fruit and wafer in the middle, finishes with some dry nut and wood, plus some alcohol warmth. Dry dark cocoa and alcohol warmth lingers in the aftertaste, while wood and nut lingers on even longer. Resiny vanilla coats the lips.

Mouthfeel is full, yet not too thick, velvety smooth with only a minimal stickiness across the palate, very impressive for the abv%.

A brown ale that's been fed a whole lotta protein shakes and has gone through gladiator school, and comes out in the end larger than life yet refined, they must have snuck in some debutante lessons as well. Classify it as a strong dark ale or even a barleywine, I'm convinced. A Dogfish Head experiment worthy of the effort, and definitely worth the cost of the wood vats, definitely a worthwhile investment. After one of these I've had enough, although it's most certainly worth revisiting.

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

Bottle Pours a deep black with a decent light brown head. The heade seems to last well. Produces some real excellent lacing. Has a great aroma of chocolate, roast, and alcohol. Has a good carbonation. And a swell mouthfeel. The flavor is good. Has an alcohol bite but it is good. Looks like a stout but the flavors a sweet and smooth. Has a thick texture and a full body. This one hits you in the lungs with the burn, I love that. Great finish and the aftertaste may be with me for a week. This beer flat out rocks.

Photo of hardy008
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black color which lets no light through. Has a small foamy, tan head. Smells of molasses, caramel, oak, alcohol, and chocolate. The flavor is also molasses, caramel, oak, alcohol, and chocolate with coffee. This is a wonderful, sweet malt bomb. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy, full bodied, with low carbonation, and very good drinkability. Not a sessionble beer, but a great one.

Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a motor-oil brown-black. Small sandy head that fades moderately, leaving spotty lace.

S- Caramel, chocolate, maybe some plum, and molasses. Alcohol makes a strong play here too. A little too much alcohol for my taste.

T- Complex. Slightly phenolic for my taste, but definitely a rich blend of chocolate, rich sweet malt, molasses, spicy alcohol, slight vanilla, and a rich woody finish. As I drink it, it really grows on me. There's a lot here, and I really like it. This is the first high ABV DFH beer I've had that actually succeeds in being a good beer (I've had the 120 and Raison D'extra, but not WWS yet).

M- Velvety, smooth. Dry finish. Good stuff here.

D- High ABV and robust flavor makes this a sipper. It's good though, so I'll keep drinking.

Photo of KarlHungus
4.93/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a dark brown color. The head is a half inch of tan foam that recedes very slowly leaving good lacing. The aroma is of perfumey wood, caramel, toffee, and more perfume. This is a very appealing aroma, and I can't really see how it could possibly be made better. The taste is a little maltier than the aroma, but there is still a large and pleasing perfume presence. There is a significant alcohol presence in both the taste and aftertaste. The finish is all wood, and perfume. Again, like the aroma this I can't find anything here to improve upon. The mouthfeel is full bodied with light carbonation fitting this style, and a velvety texture. Overall, this is a great beer. It is utterly and completely unique. Not only is it an extreme beer in that it is twice the strength as other brown ales, it is an extreme beer in that it is aged in Palo Santo wood. I think the later is what makes this beer so enjoyable. I would love to sip away at this on a frequent basis. Very good work Dogfish Head.

Photo of scottyshades
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Yet another damn good brew from DFH
A: Pours a syrupy thick black color that has brown highlights when held to light...not sure how its a brown ale, but I dont care! The head is small, dissipates quickly and leaves little lacing

S: The first note I got was lumber...which would be the wood used in the barrel aging process. Alcohol is also present

T: Woody, bourbon, alcohol is stronggg, and pepper. The alcohol is somewhat overwhelming in a brew of this stature, but it is still nicely done.

MF/D: Much heavier than I thought in the beginning. Very chewy, oily, and velvety...very nice mouthfeel. The drinkability is pretty high despite the ABV and body texture

Photo of OnThenIn
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: A beer that appears a dark black which you can not see through. This has a little less than a finger of head and it is a dirty dark brown color. There is even a tiny bit of lacing, but not much.

Smell: Wow the nose on this is unique. A woody smell accompanied by a very heavy aroma of molasses and caramel. Definitely alcohol smell in this beer. There is even some chocolate to this.

Taste: This is definitely the most exotic beer I have ever had and I love it. The taste is similar to the smell, but has an almost biting bitter flavor that I just didn't expect, which was enjoyable. There is some fruit flavor with maybe a little coffee flavor in here. I typically don't enjoy beers with a strong alcohol presents, but this has blown me away. It is almost as if there are some spices in this beer.

Mouthfeel: Is a slight bit cream and definitely has an alcoholic after taste. This is a pretty heavy body and definitely chewy. It is a meal in a bear and man do I like it.

Drinkability: One in a sitting is definitely enough. I love this beer, but man it is a sipper. It is a beer I would definitely buy again, but it would have to be a rarity that I always have stocked in the fridge but rarely break out.

Photo of mhatters
3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Badger pint glass at my house

Pours a deep mahogany brown with a fluffy coffee color head

Roasted malts, whiskey, some sweetness as well. Big.

Lots of big, big flavors sweet, alcoholic, wood, smoke. The whiskey nose is apparent in the flavor as well. The many flavors are well put together

Crisp, alcoholic, not in a bad way, but big and powerful.

Can a classic beer experience be rated this "low"? A really interesting and rewarding beer, but at this size and ABV, how do I have more than one. Maybe in the winter I will pop the drinkability up to 4

Photo of bum732
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, almost black, nice tan head that disappears quickly. Smells of caramel sweetness, nuttiness, vanilla, bourbon, ceder-like, almost a smokiness. Tastes of sweet caramel with some vanilla and ceder accents. Nice alcohol pronounced bitterness with more caramel and ceder near the end. Finishes fairly sweet, nice full bodied beer.

A lot going on in this beer, sip it like a fine scotch, more flavors come out as it warms. There is enough hop bitterness and alcohol to counter the sweetness, a fantastic beer.

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

12oz. bottle poured into my Duvel tulip glass. Bottled on 7/24/08.

(A)- Pours a thick, syrupy opaque dark dark brown, almost black color. No head retention because because there never was one, just a light layer of sienna colored bubbles. Some lacing.

(S)- Super rich raisin, brown sugar, and maple syrup aromas. A nice bready yeast component. Even a small cherry hint.

(T)- Freakin rich and sweet roasted malts with chocolate covered cherries! Bready on the finish. A cola essence like Dr. Pepper.

(M)- Its so thick, you could put this on pancakes if you really wanted to perhaps! Its sweet, rich, and has just the tiniest bitterness from the roasted malts. A lower carbonation level that fits well with the overall experience of the beer. It is still slightly hot in the mouth from the massive 12% abv.

(D)- Man, one of these will be making you feel pretty good! Its richness/sweetness lends it to being a great after dinner beverage as dessert. Great flavors and complexities to enjoy via sippage. Also, I am looking forward to see how this turns out after a few years or more of aging!

Photo of buffettfan
4.7/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into large snifter.

Pours a very dark brown, almost black. Just a thin belt of tan head circles the glass.

Smells of a sweet, oaky carmel. You can smell the strength of this beer. One whiff and you know its going to be heavy, but it smells very good.

First sip, has a woody, oaky taste. You can taste the sweet carmelly malts as well. After a few sips, I felt a sort of numbing, alcohol effect in my mouth. The taste seems to change with almost every sip. As it warms, the malt comes out, and almost takes over. There is almost always a hint of oak and wood. A complex beer.

Mouth feel is very heavy. I am not sure I could take more then one at a time. Its almost chewy, heavy, but very good.

It took me a few of these to learn to love them, the more I had of them, the more I liked them. Awesome beer! I love it.

Photo of SykDoc
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. It pours very dark, almost black. A 1/8 inch mocha colored head is short-lived and leaves a lacing around the edge. Opaque when held to the light.

The aroma is improving nicely as it warms. There is a very heavy dose of oaky wood scent, mixed with a boozy smell and caramel malts, which are all up front. A bakers chocolate component.

The taste is good. There are heavy notes of caramel malts with a bourbon, oaky taste, which I'm guessing is the wood. Some chocolate notes, milk and dark chocolate.

The mouthfeel highlights the flavor nicely as there is not too much carbonation to overwhelm the flavor, yet enough that you notice. A very nice dryness is present at the finish. It initially presents very thick and creamy but lightens towards the finish and leaves a stickiness on the lips. It is full bodied.

Overall, this is a fairly drinkable beer. It is hindered by the intensity of its flavor and the high EtOH content. It is definitely worth it and something I will continue to purchase if/when available.

Photo of soupyman10
4.53/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Man do I love this beer. In the bottle: fantastic. On tap: fantastic. Calling this an American Brown is just mean, cause it puts the entire style at a disadvantage (with a possible exception being the DFH Indian Brown, which is likewise amazing). Huge choclately deliciousness, with caramel, light coffee, dried fruit and roasted malt. Body is thick and delicious, creamy and full. This one slips into RIS territory, in my book. One I could drink for hours (or until I passed out, whatever came first).

Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Brewery
93 out of 100 based on 5,090 ratings.