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Palo Santo Marron - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron

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5,025 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,025
Reviews: 1,941
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 12.23%
Wants: 247
Gots: 749 | 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: 5,025 | Reviews: 1,941 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of argock
3.6/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a clear pint glass. 7/24/08 bottled on date. Single purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $3.80.

A: Very dark brown hue with 1-2 finger beige head with apricot tinge with decent retention and scattered lacing.

S: Hefty amounts of vanilla, cherries, dark berries, and a little zest of licorice. Dark chocolate with woody, herbal hops.

T: The taste is heavy and unique with a great deal of vanilla berry-cherry like sweetness from the prodigious maltload. Chocolate and coffee grounds flavors are there also. Hops are herbal and spicy. The slightly acrid wood barrel edge comes in the aftertaste.

M: Full-bodied and then some with prickly carbonation. Aftertaste is boozy and acrid-burnt.

D: The ABV catched up to you. A very unique, "big beer" approach to a brown ale. Very sweet from huge maltload -- drinks more like a very sweet stout. DFH keeps it fresh no doubt about that.

argock, May 05, 2009
Photo of TommyW
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Black body with a thin, off-white head that doesn't stick around too long.

S- Woody and roasted smells with some hints of sweet, dark fruity malts.

T- Strong malt base support some very interested flavors: vanilla, smokey/woody, dark fruit and rock sugars stand out to me. Notes of alcohol are definitely present but not overwhelming. Hops are almost not existent. There is a lingering woody/smokey flavor mixed with some sweetness.

M- Silky smooth and full body with the right amount of carbonation to make different flavors dance on the tongue.

D- Definitely not a session beer like some American browns, but definitely a good nightcap.

TommyW, May 04, 2009
Photo of chaz410
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle I got at Vitners in Charlotte NC.
Pours a PITCH BLACK body and a dark brown caramel head. Head is not very thick and thins pretty quickly.
Smell is intoxicating. Sweet port-like notes of oak and mahogany. The palo santo wood gives a smokey maple quality to the smell. Little rich roasted barley background.
Taste is sweet and dark. Nice maple and dark fruit notes like raison and prune. There is a small bit of hop on the finish but the majority of the taste is full of robust oaky flavors, a little notes of bourbon and a liiittle bit of vanilla towards the finish. Great taste, and great smell.
Mouthfeel is very smooth and doesn't thin out all that much during the swallow either.
Drinkability is selective to certain crowds and will store well.

chaz410, May 04, 2009
Photo of SPRichard
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

bottled on 10/23/08 --- drinking on 5/03/09

this is the blackest brown ale i've ever had....almost stout like apperance

some hints of black cherry-ish red comes out when the light hits it the right way

vanilla and bourbon in the nose

medium mouthfeel and some creamyness

this is a sipper for sure....high ABV and interesting tastes/scents that make you think about what you're drinking makes this one a beer for a special occasion

SPRichard, May 03, 2009
Photo of SpencerSauce
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I got this beer because dogfish head has never let me down. And it still hasnt, this was an exceptional brown ale but it was a strange one.

A- black like motor oil. Tan head. Opaque Completely.

S- Roasted or burnt malts. maybe something sweet. Strong booze smell when i swirl the glass around.

T- roasted malts, sweet brown sugar or caramel.

M- coats the mouth nice.

D- Id say a sipper.

SpencerSauce, May 02, 2009
Photo of callmescraps
3.75/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been intrigued for awhile, decided to give it a bid.

Appearance - Very dark, almost black. A thin ring of coffee colored head. It doesn't stick around. If graded as a "brown ale" it wouldn't be very good. But this is a strange one. Looks fine, nothing special.

Smell - Old red wine. Like an old, skunked barrel. Almost vinegar. Deep fruits. Almost like a chocolate covered cherry. Almost a hint of toffee, chocolate. Raisins. Certainly unique.

Taste - Sweet dark fruit. Chocolate covered raisins almost. A hint of booze. It's like a red wine with a full, full body. Not sure what this beast is. It's interesting. If you mixed old viscosity with some red wine, you might get this beer. Definitely some sweet malt. It's unusual, and sort of interesting, but isn't lighting me on fire.

Mouthfeel - Nice and thick. Covers the tongue. Good feel.

Drinkability - Pretty decent considering all the booze. It's pretty nice. I might have another, certainly wouldn't turn one down.

Pretty good beer. I'm not always down w/DFH, but I like this one. It's got some near RIS qualities. Including the appearance, some of the malt, and the mouthfeel. It also has some wine qualities. Reminds me a little bit of a Ten Fidy, actually. It's certainly worth a try. But for the price, I'll probably pass.

callmescraps, May 01, 2009
Photo of puboflyons
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a 12 fl. oz. bottle with the marker: Bottled on 07/24/8 E. Sampled on April 29, 2009. The pour is dark and slow like molasses. The head is thin and tan but it never completely dissolves. The aroma is of chocolate malts and hops. It is distinctive in that way. Heavier mouthfeel. The taste is very much like cocoa, chocolate, and hops. Ends on the dry side. Quite marvelous.

puboflyons, Apr 30, 2009
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opaque onyx with a glimmer of reddish orange along the edges. This has to be the darkest American brown ale on planet Earth... and is blacker than most stouts. The golden brown sugar colored head persists nicely, looks good while doing so, and is laying down tattered sheets of lace that are pleasing to the eye.

The nose is exactly what was expected for such a big bruisin' brown ale. Since I have no idea what Palo Santo wood smells or tastes like, I have no idea how it has impacted the aroma. There's nothing especially different or exotic about it, but that's fine by me.

The whole idea of a massively malty brown ale aged in monsterous wooden vats built out of Paraguayan wood is exactly what I would expect from Sam and the boys at Dogfish Head. That said, like the nose, I can't appreciate anything different or unique on the palate. Maybe something will come to the fore once the beer continues to warm.

None of that really matters, because good beer is good beer, no matter the backstory or the inspiration for its creation. Palo Santo Marron is good beer. Actually, it might end up convincing me that it's great beer by the time the twelfth ounce rolls around. It looks like DFH knows their browns, because Indian Brown is damn good stuff too.

The incredibly broad and deep flavor profile includes brown bread (not quite pumpernickel) covered with melted Hershey's kisses, melted caramels, candided cherries, sugared pecans and crushed vanilla beans. According to the label, the wood adds 'caramel and vanilla complexity'. Alright then.

Alcohol? Not a trace. The mouthfeel is superb, as any beer with this much malt is bound to be. However, it still takes talented brewers and perfectly dialed-in carbonation to put it all together.

I'm not sure what Palo Santo Marron (Marron is Portuguese for 'brown') tastes like fresh, but it's simply sublime after almost 15 months in the bottle. Without a doubt, this is one of Dogfish Head's best. If they keep brewing it, I'll keep buying it.

BuckeyeNation, Apr 29, 2009
Photo of BierFan
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce brown bottle into a Duvel tulip. Bottled on date of 07/24/08.

Appearance: Very thin light brown head on top of a black body.

Smell: The smell is mostly of the palo santo wood. Some of the sweet darker malt aromas let themselves be known, caramel and toffee.

Taste: I'm surprised by how much wood flavor this beer still has even though it's just three months shy of a year. Definitely a robust and flavorful beer.

BierFan, Apr 29, 2009
Photo of ltjska04
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer was bottled in September of 2008, tasted in April 2009. It is very dark... both the look and smell remind me of an imperial stout, nowhere near a brown ale. But who cares? I'm loving it. The taste is delicious; lots of malt, some vanilla, syrup, and smoke. It's way tastier than any ordinary brown I've ever had and every sip reveals more nuances. The alcohol is noticeable but never gets in the way of the enjoyability of this brew. It's very smooth and leaves me wanting more. This is definitely the best beer I've had from Dogfish Head and no other brown ale I've had can touch it.

ltjska04, Apr 28, 2009
Photo of SmithwicksNut
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A very dark brown beer with no light passing through. A dark, thick, creamy tan head which dissipates quickly. Very thick looking.

S: Sweet molasses, fruity, smokey with slight alcohol.

T: A beer with alot going on. Like the aroma...molasses, fruity, smokey with alcohol warming.

M: A very full bodied beer with medium carbonation. Thick and syrupy.

O: This is a beer for the true beer geek only. The average Joe would pour this out. A very complex beer with alot to appreciate. For anyone who like to drink brown ales, they are in for a big surprise with this one.

SmithwicksNut, Apr 27, 2009
Photo of Thorpe429
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Very, very dark with a medium brown colored head.

S: Lots going on here. Chocolate comes out as well as a lot of dark malts and their adjoining sweetness. The vanilla-type flavors from the wood definitely come in.

T: Similar to the smell, with hints of some dark fruits coming in here. Very, very complex and interesting.

M: Very full-bodied and creamy.

D: Definitely one to sip. Glad Sam sort of went crazy with this one--it really worked out.

Thorpe429, Apr 27, 2009
Photo of atsprings
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at The Pit in Raleigh served in a Gouden Carolus chalice a nice almost opaque black with a nice tan head that dimininishes to a thin layer. Aroma is a nice amount of brown malts and wood balanced nicely together. The taste is a nice amount of brown malts, caramel, and hints of chocolate dancing nicely with the wonderful wood taste. The beer is medium bodied with a decent alcohol presence that's there, but not too overwhelming. I must say this one is truly amazing on draft.

atsprings, Apr 27, 2009
Photo of shivtim
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I've had this on tap before, but I'm reviewing after a taking better notes on a bottle.

This is a great beer, one of my faves from DFH. I have to tip my hat to the classy bottle design that even has a special "wooden" cap.

This is a rich black/brown beauty with cafe au lait head. Nose is vanilla bourbon, sweet malt, and kind of a unique sawdust/peat smell. Must be from the wood? Some vague Belgian qualities here.

Taste is a great sweet/spicy combo, like cumin and sugar daddies (if that makes sense). White raisins, deep sweet malts, vanilla/caramel liquors. Strong and complex. Nice.

Mouthfeel is quite good. Drinkability is the one weak point here, due to 12%ABV and the strong/sweet flavors. Overall, fantastic unique and original brew.

shivtim, Apr 26, 2009
Photo of Gigantis
4.05/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

bought a bottle of this that was bottled on 7-28-08. Would have liked to age it more, actually, but I was too tempted because I had a taste of this once at a party and I remembered it being really good. I wasn't disappointed.

I read on the label that this was a brown ale. This is not a brown ale on many levels. The first of which is the appearance. It is really dark with a light brown head. Not much lacing and the head retention is almost non-existent. I should have probably given this more of an aggressive pour into my snifter. It may not have been as light and fluffy as one expects from a "brown ale" but it still looked viscous and appetizing.

It smells like dark fruit and wood. the wood smell I refer to is smokey and lovely, really. Nothing much else going on here though.

Great taste. Very original. It has a very fig-like taste. Figs and dates... really connects the dots with its scent. It has some nice biscuity malt and alcohol presence with a light smoke taste that I can compare to a smoked porter. Try it. It's quite original.

It is oily and syrupy but not overtly. Some carbonation.... not much though. These are all things I enjoy to some extent. If you don't like a thicker beer, this is probably not for you. It sticks to you lips.... again, something i like.

Drinkability ... err, based on what I have said does this sound like the kind of beer you'd want to drink too many of? Thought not. Interestingly, I would oblige in three or four of these if I didn't care about the fact that I would be really entirely too drunk. really interesting, original beer.

Gigantis, Apr 26, 2009
Photo of weasbri
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark, I mean really black, can't see through it. Thin head fades quickly and leaves no lacing behind.
Rich aroma is the best way I can describe it. Trying to figure out what it is under the clear malt aroma that I can't quite place. Vanilla maybe? Could be a hint of the wood, if I knew what Palo Santo wood smelled like.
I was really expecting the alcohol content to have more of an effect on the flavor and mouthfeel here, but it's managed to stay relatively subdued. I actually get a candy-like flavor in here, like toffee, but also a roasted taste of coffee, with some smokiness and slight bitterness (from the wood?).
Not really drinkable beyond one at a time, but that's not what it was intended to be. I could definitely see this as an after-dinner drink to linger over.

weasbri, Apr 24, 2009
Photo of jgasparine
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Black with a beautiful coffee-colored lacy head that quickly dissipates.

S: Roasted and candy malt, dried fruit, slightly smoky, and an extremely faint astringency from the Palo Santo wood.

T: Extremely complex. Sweet candy sugar and molasses mingle with the smoky/spiciness of the Palo Santo wood. Dried dates and raisins mingle with some slight coffee notes in the background. After swallowing, all of these attributes are met with a very slight and non-offensive alcohol burn.

M: Exceptionally creamy, syrupy and slightly grainy. I can roll one sip of this beer around in my mouth for several minutes without losing any of that full-bodiness. The mouth is still pleasantly coated even after swallowing.

D: This is certainly a dessert beer. I personally enjoy having just one at the end of a meal. However, a number of my friends have reported continued enjoyment through a four-pack! Regardless, this could never be a session beer - it's just too rich.

jgasparine, Apr 23, 2009
Photo of roscoehnj
3.9/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Smells unlike any other beer - must be the special wood aging but its hard to describe (for me). Beguiling to say the least.

Also enchanting on the taste buds. While I have never been adept at noting the particular tastes I can say that this is possibly the most complex beer I have ever had. Dark tastes, some bitter (but not hoppy - more of a roasted concept). Very smooth.

Can't drink more than one of these in a sitting. Not solely because of the 12%, though the alcohol is noticeable, but it is such a sipper it takes a long time to get through.

roscoehnj, Apr 23, 2009
Photo of Folderol
3.35/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

First off, this should not be listed as a brown ale. This is a brown ale like Boston Lager is a macro. Call it an Old Ale or a Strong Ale or a Barleywine, cuz this has nothing in common with your run-of-the-mill brown.

Pours brown-black, completely opaque with minimal head. It's a good thing they put "malt beverage" on the bottle, because this only vaguely resembles beer. Like their World Wide Stout, this is viscous, sweet and boozy like a port wine. Mixed in with the gobs of dark malt I detected a bit of the woody flavor that makes this brew special. Unfortunately I could not finish the glass because it was just too heavy for my palate. I'm glad I tried it though, and I have to give DFH creativity points.

Folderol, Apr 22, 2009
Photo of patmcd
3.9/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle.

Poured a dark cherry-chocolate, with almost a deep purple hue around the edges. Head was neat and tight, and was a very light tan.

Smelled of cocoa, roasted nuts, vanilla and possibly even a hint of sherry which gave it an alcohol tinge.

Extremely interesting and unique on the palette, unlike most brown ales or even beer. Flavors included cocoa, wood, sherry and even some spiciness towards the end.

A bit oily in the mouth for me, but was extremely smooth and lacked much carbonation, surprising paired well with some spicy Mexican food I was eating. Drank pretty good for such a high ABV.

patmcd, Apr 21, 2009
Photo of beerorRIP
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

draft tap into a snifter: yields a small, light tan, half a finger head, which drops back pretty quick. the body is nearly quite dark, nearly black as stout, and opague as well. no lacing on the glass.

a nice woody smell, with some fig and raisin notes. don't forget the boozy alcohol aroma coming off of it. some chocolately notes? some caramel and other malty smells in there too.

wow. i knew it was 12% but i really didn't taste like it. don't get me wrong, it has the warmth of a nice wine really, but without any fusel alcohol or real burn. the flavors of the malts and sugars really keep it off you, and a bit of bitterness helps ease up on those flavors as well. the wood flavor is also evident, and adds a nice dimension to this one. unique and very, very good.

a medium to full bodied beer, this one isn't super carbonated. but it's a nice feeling and goes with the whole feeling of the beer.

well, this is the only aspect that was bound to suffer. at 12% it's not really something you can do much of. a slow sipper. nice for after a fine meal, or chatting around a fireplace i would guess.

beerorRIP, Apr 20, 2009
Photo of mfrogs
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on draft at Standings during their annual Dogfish Head Springfest.

A - Poured a dark, stouty black, opague, with a small whitish head that dissipated quickly.

S - Smoke, wood, malt, brown

T - exceptional. vanilla, background of smokiness and wood, good malt, and licorice at the end.

M - lighter than expected, but with staying power. coats the tongue, but doesn't overwhelm.

D - way too much going on to drink too much of this. NOT a session beer. But special.

I really liked this beer. Wasn't sure what to expect after all the New Yorker hype, but this is a good one. Very unique with lots of dark brown flavor and mild sweetness, but not cloying. Just fills your mouth with flavor.

mfrogs, Apr 20, 2009
Photo of dino213aa
2.9/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A: Opaque with slight chocolaty hues. Slightly darker than cola. Pours with no head. Hardly any lacing.

S: Deep fragrance of fermented fruits: fig, cherry.. some vague toasted nut odors.

T&M: Highly malty sweetness balanced by distinct alcohol (no surprise at 12%ABV).. finishes with a light cappucino flavor. Despite the strong flavors, the mouthfeel is somewhat flimsy.. possibly because the low carbo. For something with such a strong flavor, I expected a richer mouthfeel.

D: This brew is not particularly drinkable IMPO. The color and flavor is betrayed a weak mouthfeel and flatness. Don't get me wrong, I like a good cask ale, but this isn't the same. Especially for the price ($4.39 here), I just cannot recommend.

dino213aa, Apr 19, 2009
Photo of talkinghatrack
3.85/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

a - dark stout color with a one finger head. Funny - I wasn't expecting this to be a stout. They can call it a brown ale on the bottle if they want but that's not my take.

s - chocolate stout with some vanilla and coffee in the background. A bit of alcohol that will probably increase as it warms but entirely fine for 12% ABV.

t - strong, bitter, milky stout. ABV hits up front then again on the (warming) swallow. Goes from bitter to sweet to sour during each sip.

m - creamy, medium body.

d - again, I didn't expect a stout as I'm not a big stout guy. But this gets a slot on my small list of tasty stouts. At 12% ABV one bottle is plenty. I think this is better chilled than near room temperature when the ABV starts getting louder in the taste and the masking starts to fall apart.

talkinghatrack, Apr 18, 2009
Photo of pvsob
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Jet black with a half inch head (tan/mocha) that fades quickly. Head leaves a thin film and very little lacing.

S - Vanilla, brown sugar, caramel, malt, wet wood-pile aroma, anise, and alcohol. A very complex and enticing aroma.

T - A mirror image of the aroma traits. Very similar to a RIS. As the beer warms the Palo Santo Wood flavors rears it's head and melds with the malt and warming alcohol flavors. It finishes with a nice hop bite followed by a nice warming from the alcohol.

M - Thin to medium with plenty of carbonation.

D/O - A very interesting beer to say the least. Not a traditional Brown, but good is good. I couldn't really drink more than two of these in a night, but other than that it's a great beer. Another tasty brew from DFH. Cheers!

pvsob, Apr 17, 2009
Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Brewery
93 out of 100 based on 5,025 ratings.