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Palo Santo Marron - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron

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5,184 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,184
Reviews: 1,971
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 11.99%
Wants: 274
Gots: 850 | FT: 17
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: 5,184 | Reviews: 1,971 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of webmanspidey
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very very dark brown. Looks slightly fizzy with a slight cream head. Smells delicious.. lots of coffee and "woodsy" smells.

Awesome taste, very unique and powerful. Can definitely taste the alcohol but it isn't overpowering and blends well with the wood flavors. Maybe some of the dark coffee and date flavors in the background as well.

This is a little too unique to compare to other "American Brown Ales". If I were classifying it, it maybe should be called an Imperial/Double Brown Ale. Whatever it is, I'll come back to it again. DFH is quickly becoming one of my favorite breweries.

Photo of sholland119
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Not your grandmama's brown ale, this beer rocks!

A-Pours a deep, opaque brown with very littel head.

S-Boozy with dark chocolate, licorice, dark fruit and a Belgian yeast note.

T-Wonderfully complex, with chocolate, sweet malt, raisin, anise and hops. A bit of warming alcohol too.

M-Medium bodied and just a bit slick.

D-Sip slowly (12%) but otherwise quite drinkable.


Photo of Naugled
2.55/5  rDev -38.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12oz bottle served in chalis

A: very thin dark brown head diminishing quickly. very dark for a brown.

S: smells of lumber, teak and mahogany and other exotic decking material with some underlying roasty chocolate notes.

T: tastes like it smells, a deck, but sweet and syrupy as well with some chocolate and licorice. I struggled to find any vanilla or caramel notes as described by the brewer. However the black licorice is very apparent.

M: coats the mouth with thick sticky sweetness too cloying, also a bit hotness can be felt. A long lingering late bitterness.

D: not very drinkable in my opinion. Maybe this will get better with age, but it will probably take quite awhile. It did not leave me wanting another.

I want to like this beer, but I just can't bring myself to give credit where none is due. The boys at DFH need to rethink this one.

Photo of damienblack
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

By the senses, if I didn't know better, I would say this to be an imperial stout. Pours a thick and syrupy dark brown, almost black. Mocha colored head, one finger and bubbly, leaves a neat bubble pattern in its wake. Big complex aroma, coffeeish toasted malt and vanilla are first and foremost, with some chocolate, brown sugar, oakish smell from the wood, a little nutty, like an aged impy stout and a brown ale had a love child. A little bit of banana in there too, mmm, chocolate bananas.

There is a ton going on here. Almost none of it is like your standard brown ale. Upon first taste it tastes a little like a thin imperial stout, with a big chewy mouth, and a slightly chocolate taste. After a split second you notice two more aspects, a definite oak taste from the wood it was aged in, with just a touch of smokiness, and the fact that it is a bit nutty, enhanced by the chewiness. A strange but pleasant banana flavored yeastiness doesn't feature, but is present all the way through, which adds another layer to the puzzle. Definite vanilla overtones, a little bit of chocolatey, coffee, stoutyness at the end, with a little bit of hoppiness, but the bitterness is almost nil. Just slightly roasty all the way through, not so much as a stout, but providing another layer of complexity compared to the standard brown ale. Also a lot lighter in body compared to the stout, it has an airyness to it that really helps. For me the mouthfeel is the weakest point, but it isn't watery or lacking in any definite aspect, just doesn't pack that extra punch, that extra layer. There is exactly 0% trace of the 12% abv, it is amazingly drinkable, goes down like nobody's business.

This beer goes from above average in some areas to excelling in others. I'm not a big fan of some of DFH's beers, like the IPAs, i find them way to busy for what I'm looking for. But now, it is what I'm looking for in this, and it does not dissapoint. A top notch experimental brew, and everyone should give this one a shot. It shines in several areas.

Photo of Yetiman420
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2/11/08 bottle date. Aged a year in my cellar.

Poured into a Sam Adams ultimate glass.

Very dark for a brown with a consistent, 1/4 finger tan head.

Aroma is sweet, brown ale with a hint of vanilla and some chocolate.

Smooth and well balanced. A nice combo of upfront sweetness with a dry finish. It's hard to pull out a distinguishing characteristic of this beer. I imagine the wood aging plays into the equation. Possibly the smoothest and easiest drinking 12% beer I've had.

Photo of jnn4v
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It's oh-so-tasty. When they mention caramel and vanilla from the palo santo wood, they aren't joking. It is a wonderfully thick, high-alcohol beer that tastes like someone dropped one of those cream/vanilla swirl candies into it. Fortunately, I like each of those attributes.

A: Dark. Much darker than the "brown ale" categorization would lead you to believe. I'd say it's about porter-like in color and opacity.

S: Caramel, vanilla, alcohol. Toasted malts. Mmmm.

T: Mmmm (didn't I just say that?). The flavor continues right where the scent left off. Caramel, vanilla, and alcohol are the 3 dominant flavors. Enough bitterness from start to finish to make this a relatively balanced beer.

M: Thicker and smoother than any other "brown ale" I've had. I can only imagine how high the original gravity must have been...

D: If it wasn't so hard to find and so expensive, I'd keep this on hand at all times. It's very tasty and 12% ABV aside, it'd be easy to drink several.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 5/28/08 -- so this is about 9 months old.

The darkest shade of brown possible before qualifying as black, with a bubbly brown head that stays put for several minutes before thinning to a crown. A few dots and dashes of lace.

Wood tones in the nose, and just underneath them are caramel, vanilla, brown sugar and marshmallow and a healthy vinous quality bringing currants and molasses to mind. A touch of alcohol. Also has that kind of peculiar nuttiness which comes from yeast. Marvelous. The kind of beer you almost forget to actually drink because the nose is so enticing.

Flavor is complex; an alluring blend of flavor impressions, some elusive and some obvious, the whole being immensely enjoyable. The overall flavor is a blending of wood and what seems like lightly burnt molasses--this forms the basis for all kinds of other flavors to arise: currants, truffles, marshmallow, vanilla extract, licorice, sherry.

Mouth is neither over-carbonated nor super-round. Just pretty mellow in the mouth. A little bit of tart flavor carries over into a pucker, but the texture is quite subtle, if just slightly sticky.

Pretty close to transcendent. While the mouthfeel or appearance didn't blow me away, there's nothing wrong there. The nose and especially the flavor are freaking out of this world. Even the 12% alcohol is incorporated well. Another thing I like about this is that even though wood (specifically, Palo Santo wood from Paraguay) is the main reason for this beer's complex character, wood is far from the most notable flavor characteristic. For an exotic high quality sipper of a beer, and one that isn't really like any other beer out there, you can't go wrong with this. One of DFH's absolute best.

Photo of danny013
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a snifter. Body is thick, dark, more stout-like than a brown. Creamy dark brown head sits a top the beer, leaves some thick clumps and thin wisps over the beer as it is drunk, light lacing.

Aroma is big sweet malts, dark ripe fruits, chocolate/vanilla, and some woody notes. Faint alcohol floats about, but intermingles with the other aromas and is very inviting.

Taste is rich, full-bodied malt sweetness up front, delicious vanilla and some toast. Ripe fruits linger in the back and give way to a rich roasted chocolate flavor with some big woody notes. Goes down smooth with a faint alcoholic warmth and leaves a thick toasted wood flavor lingering in the mouth with a faint earthy bitterness, the only evidence of hops in this brew.

Mouthfeel is great. Full bodied with a nice tight carbonation to help move the beer about. Thick and chewy, this beer goes down smooth.

Overall, a beautiful - and different - beer. Thick and complex, this beer is all about showcasing the rich malts and the Palo Santo wood. At 12% ABV, which is certainly a surprise in itself, this beer is delicious as a after-dinner sipper or just something to relax to. Split a bottle with a friend and sip slowly. IMO, one of the most interesting beers out there right now!

Photo of br3wmeister
4.56/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Small bubbly head that drops quickly to a think cap on top of the beer. There is almost no lacing left on the glass. Extremely dark brown in color, almost black.

S- Huge cedar wood aroma, smells like building a deck on a nice hot summer day. Also lots of sweet and spicy aromas, caramel, cinnamon, and a hint of sweet apple. Very interesting and delicious aromas.

T- Very woody, I can taste almost nothing over they cedar like wood, some light smokiness and charcoal comes through. Also some nice roasted nuts and sweet herbal notes. Alcohol warmth is detected in the end. One of the most interesting beers I have ever tasted. This beer is quite complex and very bold.

M- This is a medium to full bodied beer that clings to every taste bud beating it with a cedar plank. Nice bite and good carbonation.

Overall- This is one of the most interesting beers I have ever drank. I love it but I am not sure everyone would.

Photo of Hojaminbag
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brown. Really dark brown body and a beige to tan head. Ok retention, and some spotty lacing.

Smells distinctly woody with notes of both light chocolate, some caramel and some dark fruits.

This is a great tasting beer. The dark fruits from the nose are fairly pronounced and the caramel and chocolate take a back seat, but are still noticeable. The wood comes through in a serious way also. It tastes different than a standard oak-aged beer though, it is more subdued and spicy with just a touch of vanilla. A lot of beers seem to just through wood or whiskey barrels in there, and I'm not thrilled with the result. However this one works really well with the wood; it is definitely improved and would not be as good without it.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a slight velvety feel. Medium carbonation also.

12% ABV? I've tried this a couple of times and had no idea that this beer was this strong. I would have guessed in the range of 8%. That along with a great flavor makes this one dangerously drinkable. A great beer overall for sure.

Photo of thekanna
4.19/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a completely opaque pitch black the color of tar that doesn't even relent when put to light. This is topped by a thick, sticky, lacy head the color of cappuccino froth mixed with adobe or red stone cliffs (like those in Utah).

S: Complex! Alcohol is definitely present but not uninviting; this is combined with an extremely chewy molasses-flavored malt, date, and chocolate brownie concoction. Some vanilla extract is there too. Smoky, charred wood (burnt mulch?) aromas are in the background and define it with a rugged, backcountry character.

T: One taste of this knocked me down and out. Like someone took a hammer and bashed my head in through my taste buds. Strong phenols, followed by a chewy taste of unsweetned burnt molasses, followed by a kick reminiscent of whiskey. Seemingly Redwood or cherry wood chip-burnt hops imbibe it with a strong, smoky yet bitter hop taste. Alcohol pulls through again in the aftertaste, with the same pungency and numbness on the tongue that you get from good cigars.

M: Extremely smooth; somewhat like drinking Bailey's irish cream.

D: Definitely need to sip this one.

This beer definitely killed me; the 12% alcohol more than shows immediately, and goes straight to the head. BEWARE of this one. I'm glad I tried it but it might be a while until I have it again.

Photo of isubsmith
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My friend Chad brought me back a 4pack from LaCrosse - thanks Chad.

Extremely dark brown, very opaque, little to no head.

Smell was interesting. Some strong notes of the alcohol, but then lots of vanilla and almost a perfume smell. A bit of coffee/dark chocolate, but the perfume smell lingered. Not exactly sure how to describe it, but maybe a kind of floral mix with a fresh cut hard wood smell. I'm sure I've smelled it before, or something similar to it, when cutting exotic woods in the shop. It was very unique.

Taste wasn't nearly as strong or differentiating as the nose, but it was still good. Reminded me a lot of Belgian beers actually. I'm not sure if they use candy sugar in here or maybe a Belgian yeast, but I wouldn't be surprised. The alcohol certainly is not hidden. Very sweet, malty sorts of tastes.

Mouthfeel was rather thick, almost syrupy but not in a bad way. Definately coats the inside of the mouth.

Generally a good beer, I'll certainly seek out more if I can. Also, definately NOT a session beer, but mostly because the 12% would do you in and it's probably a little overly sweet.

Photo of htomsirveaux
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle tried 17 Jan 2009. Bottled 5/28/08.

Poured in 0.4 L Steiner Pils snifter. Small brown head. Moderate carbonation. Beer is opaque dark brown. Smells of very ripe sweet bananas, some vanilla, slightly of chlorine. Taste is better than the smell, lots of vanilla, raisins, bananas, ethanol, raisins, brown sugar, cocoa krispies. Finish and aftertaste is of bananas and oatmeal, some astringency. Heavy body coats the tongue. Alcohol is present throughout, surprisingly not very hot for 12%.

Tasty and interesting.

Photo of Florida9
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. "Brown" is an understatement. More like the darkest brown could possibly be without crossing the line into being black.

A thin 1/2" bit of head. A nice thick, almost creamy head. Head is a nice light brown in color.

Smell is of coffee, chocolate, and a bit of vanilla all blended with a nice dose of alcohol. Almost reminds me of a brownie.

Was taken back at the first taste. All I could taste was wood, and in not a particularly good way. However, the successive tastes were much more pleasant. Again coffee. Some chocolate. Very long, lingering, sweetish finish.

Mouthfeel is a medium-thick. Definitely has a bit of heft and gives the mouth a good coating.

It's a very nice beer, but it's a sipper. Couldn't see drinking more than one of these at a sitting.

Photo of JayNH
3.98/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours thick and black with a solid foamy tan head. This brew just looks intimidating...

S- A stiff alcohol warmth, a strong syrupy sweet malt. A smokey wooden note in the background.

T- Very heavy and sweet, quite boozy, wood and a grassy hoppiness show up in the aftertaste. A bit of spicy vanilla tries to fight it's way through the alcohol and sweetness.

M- quite smooth and creamy, plenty of alcohol warmth on the palate.

D- Good but one would be enough for me. Drinking a four pack of these WILL put hair on your chest.

This is a serious brew. I don't know if it doesn't need it's own category like an Imperial Brown. It almost has to be judged on it's own merits rather than against the American Brown style, IMHO. It is way above and beyond any brown I've ever had.

Photo of CHADMC3
3.78/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Jet-black brew, impenetrable to light with a thick, creamy tan head, which slowly dissipates to a faint lacing.

Big, rich caramel malt, also sweet, and only getting a hint of vanilla.

Wow, this is very. . . different. Very woody with tremendous and aggressive spice, hints of sweetness and syrup. The wood is so intense and spicy, it actually reminds me of a well-aged golden tequila.

Medium body and carbonation with a noticeable alcohol burn.

I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, I love how aggressive and unique it is, on the other hand, it is borderline overwhelming, and completely pushes the envelope, yet I crave more.

Photo of UA8
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Pours and opaque burnt sienna with a tall fluffy light brown head.

S- A slight scent of smoky beef jerky,with strong scents of bourbon barrel, released alcohol, and sweet burnt malts.

T- Tastes of semi-sweet darkly roasted malts. Mid notes of dried tart cherries. Finishes with subdued splash of alcohol and wood aging.

M- Rich and complex, nicely robust in it viscosity.

D- This is such an impressive beer. It display great complexity on the nose and in the palate. Not something to have more than 2-3 of but definitely one of the best wood brewed beers out there.

Photo of dolemite77
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I've lapsed in my ratings, and this one brought me back. I've had prior, but just now became available in east tennessee in liquor stores. Pours almost black... brown ale? depending on the pour you either get a thin cappuccino head, or just an oily black beer. Either way, you know you are in for something good. Aroma is sweet and roasty, with notes of bootshop (more on this below). Mouthfeel is something to write home about... thick and creamy. In wine tasting I've always heard the "Leathery" descriptor, but this beer is accurately described as "leathery", and I mean that in the best way possible. The wood they age this in must be magical. Gives a tannic pinch to at the end of the swallow. Drinkabililty might not be high due to the alcohol, and how thick, rich, and complex this is. For me, this is world class.

Photo of Celt44
4.57/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance is very dark - almost black. Decent tan velvety head. Lacing lasts throughout.

Aroma - roasted malts up front. Caramel and a sweet vanilla finish. Alcohol present but not overwhelming.

Taste - Malty again up front with a shot of vanilla sweetness to finish. Wow! Almost no notice of alcohol considering the ABV. That Palo Alto wood works miracles!

Mouthfeel - Pure velvet. Nice slight burn from the ABV. Yum...

Overall the best 'brown ale' I've ever had. I know the last one is always the best but this is no joke. Pick it up quick! I'm booking my Delaware beach house for the summer now!

Photo of JohnQVegas
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle into chalice.

Pours opaque black with a thin tan head.

Aroma is coffee, cocoa and vanilla, hints of brown sugar and raisin, alcohol.

Taste is vanilla and oak, toffee, cocoa, nuts, raisin, with definite spicy alcohol presence. Finishes with coffee, oak, alcohol, sweet and syrupy.

Mouthfeel is smooth, heavy body, low carbonation, sticky.

Photo of farrago
3.82/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

No ignoring the three finger+ head when poured, compresses steadily but the froth can be spooned out by hand before gone. Completely black in color, hard to find any variance in hue. Nose drips black, golden raisins, dates, rum cake, pan-seared molasses, very boozy, malted milk balls, sticks like glue to your nostril pores, some notes of sharper green apple, thick enough texturally that you enjoy it more just getting steamrolled than trying to pick this apart from that. Full-bodied, as in the nose you feel the warmth of the alcohol but no burn nor bite. All about roasted coffee beans, dark chocolate, molasses, rum, and French vanilla ice cream flavors. Green grape, fig, raisin, date, plum fruit alternate between freshness and dried fruit sweetness. Carbonation is sneaky strong, anything which can stir this brew has muscles. A touch of orange or grapefruit at the end reminds you that hops must be a component of the finished product. Can't say I could put down more than one bottle at a time, the beer equivalent of vintage port.

Photo of benclimbs
4.39/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a small goblet.

Pours a dark brown with very little head and some lacing in the glass.

Smell is very apparent oak, some vanilla and a really rich malt character.

Taste starts out with chocolate and just a little coffee with a smokyness that is not dominating but really nice. It has a perfumy, very floral finish that I don't think I've had in any other beers. Very unique. Wow, so drinkable for a 12% beer, much like some belgians i've had.

Highly reccomend.

Photo of tai4ji2x
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle. "bottled on 07/24/08" printed on the bottleneck.

poured into tulip.

dark and stout-like in color, opaque even under the light. tan head forms on a vigorous pour, but soon fades to wisps, and then just a ring. lacing from each sip quickly slides back down and so never really sticks.

aroma is malty caramel, with molasses and brown sugar. hint of rasins. roasted nuts with some grassy hop in the back. wood note comes with alcohol and mild to moderate phenols and a trace of vanilla.

malty sweetness with whiskey or bourbon quality, with faint raisiny fruit note. a bit boozy hopwever, with sharp phenols and another flash of vanilla and wood. grassy hop with mild to moderate bitterness, partially accentuated by the alcohol and phenols. semi-sweet finish, but still quite boozy.

smooth and syrupy, with astringency in the finish, much of it from the hot, boozy alcohol. mild to moderate carbonation helps with body, but hard to offset the boozy character.

may need some time in the cellar to calm things down.

Photo of SteveO1231
3.67/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an extremely dark brown with the slightest golden highlights around the edges when held to the light. Aroma is interesting, tons of alcohol along with some buttery, milk chocolate, roasted malts aromas as well as hints of banana nut bread and a large woody presence, not musty like oak. The beer is medium/full-bodied with a creamy texture and a slick mouthfeel. he beer has some molasses sweetness up front with some flavors of licorice, some husk and roasted malts makes way for an earthy/nutty bitterness hits halfway and finishes with a smokey-woody-alcoholic combo that leaves with an earthy dryness. The beer is decent but was much more bitter than I would enjoy, and when combined with the roasted malts, large earthy flavor of the wood and high abv made this beer a bit too aggressive for me.


Photo of colts9016
4.72/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to Traquairlover for this bottle.

Poured into a pint glass at 47 degrees.

Appearance: A dark oily brown color with a thin ivory head. The clarity of the beer is opaque. There is no light getting through this beer.

Nose: A rich toasted malt, a molasses like sweetness, caramel, nuts, alcohol, and wood. In the background of the beer you can smell raisin and a very low fruity esters.

Taste: A very rich toasted malt, alcohol, caramel, molasses, nuts and a wonderful woodiness in the beer. The background of the beer is raisins, toffee, citrus, and there is low fruity esters.

Overall: The beer is super rich dark brown ale. The beer mouth feel is carbonated and warming. The finish is bitter with a full finish. I can taste the hops in the beer but the malt is a bit more powerful. The alcohol is very strong but mellowed out in the beer. The beer is very flavorful very well made and deserving to any beer enthusiast

Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Brewery
93 out of 100 based on 5,184 ratings.