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Palo Santo Marron - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,807 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,807
Reviews: 1,926
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 12.23%
Wants: 234
Gots: 668 | 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:
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: 4,807 | Reviews: 1,926 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ccrida
2.5/5  rDev -40%

12 oz bottle bottled on 5/28/08, almost exactly 6 months old. Poured into my Delirium snifter, Palo Santo Marron is a dark blackish brown with a very creamy tan head that leaves sheets of foamy lace.

Smell is intense, boozy and sweet, with lots of vanilla. The alcohol vapors actually singe the nostrils, but there's a bit more complexity here then the taste. Unfortunately, letting it warm from cellar to room temp sharpened the vapors to the point of overwhelming.

Taste is intense, bitter sweet. Mostly caramel malt, plasticy phenols and fusel alcohol, a light charit reminds me of a massive bourbon barrel porter, but is to hot right now to really pick up much subtlety. Not sure how long this was on the shelves when I picked it up in Boston, but I clearly should have sat on it longer then 4 months!

Mouthfeel is pretty carbonated, which helps cut the viscosity on a fairly heavy beer, but it's also incredibly tannic, which coupled with the drying burn of the booze, is very aggressive, lingering on the tongue forever.

Drinkability is hurt by the overt booziness and lack of nuance. This was painful for me to finish even a 12 oz bottle, by the last 1/2 it was really burning me up, I could feel it from the tip of my tongue to the bottom of my belly. I'm sure tomorrow morning will be real fun! Maybe I'll get one or two for long term cellar, just to see if it softens up enough after 2-3 years, but I'm unimpressed enough that I'm in no hurry to do so.

ccrida, Dec 06, 2008
Photo of magictrokini
3.9/5  rDev -6.5%

Tap @ O'Brien's. Pours black with red highlights. No head. Aroma of chocolate, vanilla, wood, and earth. Flat mouthfeel. More wood and earth in the flavor, but a very nice malt backbone, carob, and some smoke make this very pleasant. Definitely a sipper.

magictrokini, Dec 05, 2008
Photo of Brewlore
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%

Poured a dark brown with a faint hint of red hue glimmering through. Once it's in the glass it's quite dark and it had formed a nice light brown colored head.

The scent is full. Some dark fruit, alcohol and oaky aromas come through. It's a unique smell for sure, there's so much going on it's hard to pinpoint the style of beer you're imbibing. There's a sort of, I don't know, sour/tangy type scent arising as well.

Huge flavor out of this one. Tastes like a bourbon barrel aged brew, despite not really being one. Big sweet malt with a good hop bitterness. A taste of caramel makes itself noticed. Big on fruity esters.

Mouthfeel is smooth with a lively carb. Medium-full body that goes down easily.

12% and it's fairly easy to drink. So be careful. A great twist on the American Brown Ale style. There's a lot going on in this beer.

Brewlore, Dec 05, 2008
Photo of chrisafari
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%

Aroma: Molasses, roasted malt with slight hint of alcohol.

Pours: Dark opaque brown with 2 inch thick brown head!

Flavor: begins with roasty nutty malt. Finishes with carmel molasses and a dry throat. The dryness seems to come from the hops, slight alcohol burn. Slightly salty aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: medium-medium heavy body. Nice lacing developing.

Drinkability: medium-medium high. Not a gulper, but a sipper. Pretty easy to drink, though, for a beer @ 12% ABV.

Overall: pretty interesting and unique, but drifts almost into the realm of imperial Stouts. Not as unique as I was expecting, and is pretty off style for an American Brown Ale (although that is to be expected from DFH).

chrisafari, Dec 04, 2008
Photo of khiasmus
4.78/5  rDev +14.6%

Wow. Was this a surprise. Opened this thing up as an "eh, well I guess I'll try this tonight, I've heard it's decent..." Boy was I wrong. I would have waited and shared this gem had I known it is this excellent.

Obviously, at 12%, it's not an American Brown Ale. There simply isn't a category for it. The closest I can think of is American strong ale, Old ale, or Imperial porter.

Pours black. The finger of tan head drops to a ring quickly, and leaves the beer looking like used motor oil. You can see your reflection in it. There are some wisps of bubbles that fight their way to the top along the sides, but few actually let go of the bottom of the glass to venture on the treacherous journey through the utter darkness.

Then the aroma... what is this? An old ale? A 4 year old RIS? A bourbon barrel aged Imperial porter? The aroma of oak, a dense, smoky aroma, is prominent in the nose. Hints of sherry, oxidization, sweet malt, the obligatory soy sauce, roses, warm alcohol... Reminds me, honestly, of a 3 year old Youngblood's Imperial Porter from Dogwood, mixed with an Old Engine Oil Special reserve. If you've had the pleasure of either, you have an inkling what this smells like. If not... For goodness sake, get your hands on this immediately.

The flavor is no slouch either. All the notes from the nose, along with some smoked gouda, molasses, raisin, and tons of warm, port-like alcohol in the finish. As it opens up, the smokiness becomes more prominent, as does the alcohol. A faint realization of earthy hops lies somewhere there in the background, hidden by the massive alcohol, sherry, and wood.

Mouthfeel is chewy, thick and syrupy, with little carbonation, further accenting how massive this beer is. The finish is just like a sherry. Very warming, smooth alcohol that lingers in the back of the throat.

Many of these ratings started off lower, but as I picked apart the aspects of this beer, I realized that I could not in good conscience rate some of them less than perfect. This beer surprised and amazed me very much. I highly recommend it to everyone. Get your hands on this crazy thing.

khiasmus, Dec 04, 2008
Photo of steelerguy
3.9/5  rDev -6.5%

A - This is an American Brown? If someone had just poured this for me and asked me to guess, I would have said Robust Porter. Didn't think it was to style, but attractive none-the-less.

S - Smelled like freshly baked banana bread to me that perhaps had some brandy poured on it, could definitely smell the alcohol. A very unique and good smell.

T - This is one unique beer, and I mean that in a good way. On taste, it was almost like a good Imperial Stout with dark fruit flavors most notably prune/raisin. There is also some black licorice flavor. You will notice the alcohol because it is there in abundance.

M - Black licorice flavor...syrupy mouth feel...am I drink Jager? No! I have to admit, the thought did cross my mind though. Good mouthfeel and really fits this unique beer.

D - I would almost classify this as a dessert beer. Sweet, a lot of complex fruit flavors, perfect after a nice hearty meal. I would not drink more than one at a sitting.

This is simply one of the most unique beers I have ever consumed. I'm honestly still not sure if I think it is really good or merely above average. I am going to give it the benefit of the doubt for now simply because it is so unique and I think must be tried by beer lovers. It give a new meaning to beer!

steelerguy, Dec 03, 2008
Photo of dukedevil0
3.98/5  rDev -4.6%

Picked this up at West Lakeview Liquors in Chicago, IL as a 12 oz single.

A: Pours a deep black with almost zero light getting through. Even with a vigorous pour it had little khaki head. Some lacing on the glass.

S: Alcohol and woodsy odors.

T: Slight amounts of chocolate, vanilla, and roast with the majority of the flavor being a woodsy taste with some warming from the high alcohol.

M: Super creamy, despite what looks like a lot of carbonation.

D: Pretty drinkable despite the high alcohol content, but it's a heavy beer and I don't think I could drink more than a couple/few.

Overall I liked this beer and would drink it again, but wouldn't want to invest in a whole 4-pack on an often basis.

dukedevil0, Dec 02, 2008
Photo of rustrose
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

A truly unique and incredible brew well worth seeking out. Thanks Sam and Co!

Pours in a thick brown stream to form a black body with a short red-brown head, quickly dwindling to ghost-faint ring of lace. Very fine bubbles, and very thick, oily legs on the swirl. Faint ruby highlights at the bottom of my New Belgium globe glass when held to light, but generally opaque.

Around 45 degrees when I started. Big, complex nose with a blend of Mexican spiced chocolate, dark caramel, booze, pear and prune fruitiness, a vinous tang, and very faint notes of vanilla blending in with the caramel. Also picked up notes of toasted nut, and resinous incense. The wood is apparent but hard to describe--a spicy sweet earthy aroma, not really similar to oak--much less vanilla, and more cedar-like.

Tastes of spiced hot cocoa, rich caramel, French toast with molasses, and a light char/smoky flavor, with a long aftertaste of deeply toasted pie crust, cocoa, and wet fragrant board. Really unique, strange, indescribable fragrant resiny/cedary wood on the first couple sips. Deeper, sweeter, and earthier than the typical oak vanilla. Sometimes the wood/spice elements combine to remind me of cinnamon stick. Lots of alcohol warmth. Sweet, but not at all cloying. Date/fig and prune fruit notes apparent. Sometimes reminds me of a pipe when the flame goes out: wood and tobacco. Really an amazing feat of complexity with nothing unpleasant about it. Hardly comparable to a brown ale, in fact, more porter-like, but at 12% this ain't gonna taste like Newcastle. Really deserves its own category.

Mouthfeel: thick, creamy, and chewy. Very nice. Low-medium carbonation. A little hot from the alcohol. Coats the mouth and leaves a resinous feel on the lips almost like chapstick.

Drinkability: No problem putting this one down, but slowly, savoring each sip. No need to ask for another! This is a singular treat.

Overall, really a thing of beauty, rich in complexity, and a very rewarding sipper that changes as you go without being overpowering. Perfect for some pensive, rainy-day contemplation. Very easy drinking, and I'm sad to see it dwindling. Don't need two of them. The alcohol is still a bit too present and I suspect this will benefit a lot from aging, though I worry about losing the wood flavor.

Cheers to Dogfish for a truly mind-bending beer unlike anything I've ever had!

rustrose, Nov 30, 2008
Photo of joeskirkie
3.9/5  rDev -6.5%

While pouring it was viscous and oily. It gives the appearance of a stout: near black and viscous.

Scents of caramel, coffee, and alcohol, I thought immediately of Kahlua

Taste is woody and spicy to start, spicy throughout in fact. It finishes sweet with some cherry notes. About halfway through I get the warming sensations of alcohol.

As noted from the pour this beer is rather heavy. It definitely leans more towards a stout than a brown ale.

This beer stands up pretty well, I'd go for it again.

joeskirkie, Nov 30, 2008
Photo of SerieDNo3
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%

Poured out of a 12 oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass, and drunk with a belated Thanksgiving dinner with my family.

Appearance: This is the darkest brown ale I've ever seen. It poured like motor oil, looking more like a RIS. Low carbonation and a very thin head that disappeared rapidly. Opaque, and a beautiful deep brown, approaching blackness.

Smell: Heavy on the alcohol...people could smell it from across the table. Not unpleasant, but definitely a powerful alcohol aroma.

Taste: Very woody, oaky. Despite the heavy alcohol aroma, it hides the alcohol presence very well. A very rich beer.

Mouthfeel: Thick and chewy, with almost no carbonation.

Drinkability: Low at first, but it improved as the beer warmed up. This was a great beer to pair with turkey and stuffing, and most definitely a sipping beer.

SerieDNo3, Nov 30, 2008
Photo of MCDuhamel
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a tulip glass at cellar temperature.

A: Pours black and completely opaque. Head forms like the crema on a well-pulled shot of espresso, and then collapses to a half-inc dark tan cap. Moderate lacing. Some bubbles form at the bottom of the glass and hang out there.

S: The nose presents wood, some vanilla, and lots of roasted malt. It is simultaneously sweet and slightly spicy. Some raisin or prune is detectable as well.

T: The wood is very forward on the palate, lending a pronounced spiciness leading to a smooth vanilla note. The malt is quite upfront too, emerging out of the wood after the first few seconds. The finish is of dried fruit.

M: Fairly heavy mouthfeel, with a bit more carbonation than I was expecting.

D: Given the pronounced wood character and very high alcohol content, this is surprisingly--and dangerously--drinkable, although it is definitely a beer to nurse over a time rather than to quaff.

Overall: Really unlike anything else. I gave it a half point for originality. I very much enjoyed this beer, and I look forward to seeing what a couple of years in the cellar will do for it.

MCDuhamel, Nov 30, 2008
Photo of kenkochiss
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%

Brown Ale?
I liked the brew, but felt like I was drinking a World Wide Stout. I'm waiting for the WWS to come out so I can re-compare.

Dark as it gets with a short lasting, great lite chocolate brown head.

Smelled of alcohol and world-wide stout! I love the smell of DogFish Head dark beers.

I could leave this beer in my mouth for a long time....love the multi-tastes of chocolate, sherry, woodie, creamy and fruit.

Can only drink one of these bad boys.

kenkochiss, Nov 27, 2008
Photo of rkuhnel
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%

From a 12 oz bottle this poured a rich motor oil black with a moderate brown head and thick gluey lacing. Big nose of ripe fruit, oak, alcohol and raisins. Very rich and creamy mouthfeel. Flavor is very rich is well with molasses, vanilla added to what was in the nose. Dry finish. Very drinkable. Simply fantastic stuff. Glad I have three more.

rkuhnel, Nov 27, 2008
Photo of kzoobrew
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%

Pours very dark, very opaque. Brown to nearly black. Small dark coffee stained head with little retention. Surprising lacing for minimal head but still minimal.

Nice woody aroma, different from the standard oak or bourbon barrel I am accustom to. Sweet malt and dark fruit smells. very earthy qualities.

Once again an interesting woodsy flavor. Dark malt and dark roasted coffee. Some burnt brown sugar flavors in there as well. Some vanilla notes. Alcohol is slightly noticeable, warming.

Mouthfeel is a creamy medium to full bodied. Light yet appropriate carbonation.

Great twist on this brew by DFH. Very enjoyable, quite drinkable for the abv.

kzoobrew, Nov 25, 2008
Photo of scottg
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Pours a very dark brown color with garnet hues when held to the light with a one finger tan head that dissipates quickly with spotty lacing. Aromas of caramel, vanilla, dark fruit and wood. Lots of different flavors going on here, caramel, lemon hops, vanilla, espresso bitterness with a wood finish. Full body, medium carbonation there is a creamy mouthcoating feel with a chalky, dry finish. The alcohol warmth is noticeable throughout the aroma and taste but not too much considering the 12%, it feels like less leading to solid drinkability.
The Paraguayan Palo Santo wood which is also throughout the aroma and taste is similar to oak, but a little sweeter and mellower.
Great example of wood ageing, a must try!

scottg, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of cratez
2/5  rDev -52%

Pour: dark black, no head at all.
Smell: alcohol, oats, vanilla.
Taste: roasted malt bitterness and red wine aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: like syrup.
Overall: a dud as far as beers go. If I wanted something that can only be described as "Wine Syrup," I wouldn't look for it in a beer. Not sure what the brewer was trying to do with this one.

cratez, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of Dogbrick
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%

This brew pours dark brown (nearly black) with a medium thin and fizzy light brown head that recedes quickly. Spotty lacing. Lots of roasted malt in the aroma, along with plum, oak and alcohol. Rich body with flavors of burnt malt, hops, toasted bread and dark fruits. Alcohol is present but not overpowering. The finish is oaky and leaves a lingering malt and liqueur aftertaste. Very good from start to finish.

Dogbrick, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of bifrostguard
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%

A - Plum colored with a an off white head that leaves minimal lacing.

S - Sweet plums, brown sugar, and wood.

T - Very complex and very sweet. Wood is noticeable, but dark fruit sweetness is the dominant flavor in this one. This would be a good desert beer.

M - Sticky and syrupy.

D - This one is too sweet for me. Luckily it was a small pour so I'll be moving on soon.

bifrostguard, Nov 23, 2008
Photo of midaszero
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%

A - Very dark brown/black body that is pretty much opaque with one finger of dark coffee head

S - Woody and vanilla nose

T - Mixture of cherry, vanilla, and caramel that is rich and creamy with a lot of malt presence

M - Medium body with light medium carbonation

D - Good but not something I would seek out again. Might get better with age. Interesting as a desert beer. Also reminds me a little of fort which isn't really a good thing.

midaszero, Nov 22, 2008
Photo of wescj
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%

12oz bottle served into a Dogfish Head snifter at Aromas in Athens, GA. Well played, Aromas. (From notes.)

Starts with a thin, khaki colored head which leaves great sheets of cascading lace on the glass. Pours very dark brown. I mean VERY dark.

Very enticing aroma: brown sugar, molasses, and alcohol. Some earthy spiciness, and an elegant wood aroma.

Tastes excellent, rich, and smooth. Similar characteristics to an oak aged ale, but a bit sweeter and earthier. Roasted malts rounded off with some very warming alcohol.

Not as thick as the taste and aroma would suggest. Pretty drinkable for 12%

wescj, Nov 22, 2008
Photo of Shumista
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my chimay goblet.

A- Palo Santo Marron pours a thick deep dark brown, with some lighter highlights when held up to the light. The small amount of head is a medium tan color, and a good amount of lacing sticks to the sides of the glass after each sip.
S- A very sweet smell. Sweet, ripe dark fruits, some coffee, caramel, and booze.
T- I'm not sure where to start with this one, and I'm certain that I'm not qualified to begin dissecting the flavors in this extremely complex beer. Obviously the backbone of the flavor is sweet caramel and roasted malts. There is also dark fruit and coffee which follow from the aroma. This is the first wood-aged beer that I've had where I've really been able to pick out exactly the flavor given to the beer by the wood. While I don't want to see this beer tastes "woody", I can definitely pinpoint a unique woody taste in it.
M- Thick, creamy, full bodied, wonderful.
D- I would have never guessed that this is as high as 12%. It goes down much easier than that. Definitely a sipper with a warming alcohol presence, but for 12% I'm impressed.

At $15.99 a four pack at my local store I don't think I will be buying this very often, but it was a very unique beer that I'm very glad I tried. I do plan on buying it again next time I want to impress someone with a unique beer.

Once again, I'm very impressed by DFH's desire to push the envelop and try different things.

Shumista, Nov 21, 2008
Photo of cnally
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%

Read the article in the New Yorker, crazy acquisition of Paraguayan wood, etc. Definately a great backstory to this elixir.

The appearance is crazy crazy. Pitch black in the glass with a dark brown head. Seriously evil and mystical.

Scents of toasted nuts, smoke and a boozey element.

Flavors of molasses, coffee, chocolate and cigars just explode. The taste is so heavy malt it is unbelieveable. There is sweet berries laying underneath. Whoa, mother, whoa.

Heavy, sticky, syrupy feel. Really almost too much.

Okay. Drinkability. What does that mean??? Does that mean I can drink seven of these? Or is it, "I love this beer so freaking much and want to tell everyone about it and its crazy story?" If it's the latter, we got perfect "drinkability." If the former, you will die of alcohol poisoning. Cheers.

cnally, Nov 21, 2008
Photo of blaje
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%

Is this a beer? It says "Malt Beverage" on the label, well it's not for nothing! Served in a glass without the bottle by its side to someone that doesn't know what to expect to drink would be interesting! This beer chalenge the barrier of what is a traditional beer.
Served in a Tall sniffer glass, it revealed itself as a trully dark brown liquid. carbonnation appears to be small as practically no head formed. The thin lace of yellow/brownish lace of foam that was formed disappeared quickly. Despite that this beer is aged in/on wood, no nose of wood at first glance as expected. Leaving it aside for a couple of minutes, a very faint nose of wood came up. Really complex nose of caramel, vanilla and coffee developed. The high alcool content of this beer betrayed by it's fruity smell and not by it's mouthfeel! So bewared, because it is still very drinkable. a roasted grain, faint wood, chocolate and coffee after taste persist quite a long time. A complexe beer that have many many subtilities and flavor. Should be drink not too cold, around 10-12 oC. Ageing would be a plus.

blaje, Nov 20, 2008
Photo of DoubleJ
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%

I have wood....in this bottle of Palo Santo Marron. And now to pour in into a glass...on to the beer:

This is a brown ale? It looks more like a stout to me. The head is a tan coffee colored head, it's super dark leather brown and thick on the pour, but black in my glass. The aroma is very unique. Soft ripe dark fruits, a touch of coffee, licorice, toffee, and a bit of alcohol. It's a very complex nose.

Cara...that alcohol sure makes it presence underneath this full bodied brew. But I can't stop drinking this. Very delicious. Fruit...coffee, hazelnut....toasted grain, caramel....does the wood affect or create any one of these given flavors? I don't know which one, but I like this. And to boot, this is quite drinkable for a beer of this strength.

Once again, Dogfish Head prevails in the category of extreme beer. Well worth the purchase.

DoubleJ, Nov 20, 2008
Photo of Damian
4.68/5  rDev +12.2%

Drank from a 12 fl. oz. bottle purchased at Julio's Liquors, Westboro, MA
Bottled on 02/11/08
Served in a snifter

The beer poured a deep, dark brown/black with a tight, frothy, bubbly, coffee-colored head that eventually faded to a thick ring of lace. Blankets of lacing cascaded down the glass.

The aroma was super dark, malty and robust. Chocolatey and smooth. Semi-sweet with notes of brown sugar and vanilla. Slightly boozy (bourbony). As the beer warmed, the aroma intensified and became sweeter. The vanilla notes became much more apparent as well.

The taste was very similar to the aroma. Intensely rich, dark and robust. A nice mix of roasted and caramel malts. Oaky and woody. Bourbon came through strong. Semi-sweet with vanilla notes. Boozy mid-palate. Dark fruit notes (including cherries) were also apparent. A touch of alcohol warmth appeared in the finish.

The mouthfeel was full-bodied. Silky, frothy and creamy with a fine, mild carbonation.

This beer was ridiculously smooth and drinkable for 12% ABV. Had I not known any better, I would have guessed it to be in the 7-9% range.

Palo Santo Maron is truly an outstanding brew. It is definitely a "must try" if you are a fan of sweeter and/or woody/oaky extreme-style beers. Dare I say this is Dogfish Head's most impressive release to date?

Damian, Nov 20, 2008
Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Brewery
93 out of 100 based on 4,807 ratings.