1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Palo Santo Marron - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

5,080 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,080
Reviews: 1,948
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 12.2%
Wants: 259
Gots: 773 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Palo Santo Marron Alström Bros
Ratings: 5,080 | Reviews: 1,948 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SaucyA
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown into the snifter, with ruby highlights. Light tan foam sits atop for a few, but recedes into a ring around the glass.

S - Incredibly woody, incredibly malty. Alcohol, caramel, vanilla. There's another facet that I'm not putting my finger on, but it rounds everything out nicely.

T - The same type of muddled mix, much like the nose. I get lots of hints of things, but nothing grabbing me. Sure, I taste slight hints of chocolate, slight hints of fruit, caramel here, alcohol here, vanilla here, but nothing is like OMG TASTE ME! It seems the wood balances out the back end, but again, it's not in your face.

M - I think this is where this beer truly shines. The creamy, silky texture, combined with the carbonation really takes this to places most breweries could only dream of. Great stuff.

D - One is fine. I could see doing another, but incredibly slowly. There's nothing in here that is off-putting aside from 12% of goodnes.

Notes: This is more of a strong ale then a brown.

Photo of Hokies
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz poured into a nonic. Pours an oily black color with a thin brown head with a light lace on the glass. The head and lace do last for quite a while.

A heavy sweet malt aroma with some hints of chocolate and roasted malts. Their is also a nice hint of coffee and wood that round out the aroma.

Wow, this one will starts off with a strong alcohol kick that then melds into a nice roasted malt taste. The chocolate and coffee taste are apparent but the strong alcohol taste hides some of the wood flavor.

As the beer warms the alcohol becomes less apparent and easier to drink with moderate carbonation and a nice creaminess to it. I think this beer should labeled as American Imperial Brown Ale.

Photo of everetends
3.78/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle thanks to the ever giving BamaBeerBuff and AmishT. Good BAs with good taste. Served up in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

A: For a brown ale this beer is awful black. Black I tell you. Thick and oily. Black. Did I mention black. The only thing brown about this beer is the coffee colored finger of head I got off the gently pour. Although it is listed as a brown ale, the bottle says malt beverage, and this does look like some nice dark malts. Lacing is a bit weak, leaving a thin sheet on the glass. This looks nice and tasty.

S: Smell is of beautifully roasted malt over a sweet, smoky wood. So much malt in the nose. Not too dynamic, there is a bit of spice in there but I can't place it. The nose is malt. Nuff said, thats it. Oh yeah, there is booze there too.

T: Taste is once again of a heavily roasted malt flavor. The wood is there but it is not overpowering. Just adds a smooth smokiness to the brew and adds a bit of sweetness. Caramel and brown sugar are lingering in there. Also nutmeg and cinnamon. There is also a really nice milk chocolate presence on the finish. Booze is there in the aftertaste but once again not too crazy, especially for the ABV level.

M: This bitch is thick. Oil slick thick. So sticky from the malt that it really coats the mouth. Carbonation is actually present and noticable that allows this to go down a bit easier than you would think. Booze has a slight burn on the throat, but not bad.

D: This beer is good but it is really thick and high on the ABV. It doesn't go down to easy and you really want to sip this sucka. Don't get too crazy with it because I am sure this will catch up with. A good late night brew that can warm you up and wind you down. Just what I needed.

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

Pours an almost ebony color with a tan frothy head that laced the glass.
The mild nose had an aroma of toasted malt, hops and alcohol. There were perhaps hints of citrus and grapes but well below the tall menhirs of the malt and hops.
I want to call this beer a strong porter or maybe even some sort of a "light" stout rather than a brown ale. The flavor had plenty of hops, toasted malt, some hints of vanilla and caramel. I could not taste the contribution palo-santo wood made but that maybe as intended or perhaps it creates the entire flavor sensation. This beer's flavor is up front and center.
The finish is a long clean hops signature that refuses to fade out.
The mouthfeel was reminicent of a light cream with the flavor blooming and no sharp edges.
The only attribute I down-rate is the drinkability-- it seems like all DFH beers the alcohol content is higher than average. If it doesn't make itself known after the first bottle, it will certainly be there after the second.
Nevertheless, I plan to revisit the Palo Santo Marron experience without hesitation.

Photo of NoahSYGG
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

this is one of the most unique beer that i have ever tasted. The color is black with a tan head. I drank this out of a snifter. The aroma is of coffee,toffee,weird oaky kind of smell. Nice legs like a port. This had a rich flavor. The best brown ale ive ever had. It is sweet with a strong malt bitterness. A slight presence of alcohol but it gets better as it warms. Sweet and syrupy on the mouthfeel. good drinkability, id want to sit around a fire drinking this beer all night.

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

pours very much like an imperial stout. in fact I had a rogue RIS right next to this and they look exactly the same. dense black with tan head that never got thinner than a quarter. nice rich slighty malty with a mild sweetness to it. well balanced and a very good aftertaste.

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

Split with a friend.

A - Dark brown to black in clor, lttle to no head, which dissipates quickly.

S - Molasses, almost a rum flavor, malts and light alcohol.

T - Rich chocolate, molasses, rum, malts and hints of grass and alcohol.

M - balanced, but slightly malt rich.

D - Good. Searching for a cigar right now. Surprised alcohol not more present in a 12.0

Photo of Pleepleus
3.28/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thanks to Moxley for this one.
Poured from bottle to pint glass black with reddish hues and a minimal ruby cream head that diminished quickly with no lacing. Smelled of berries, red wine and alcohol. Taste was a strong alcohol and berry with a sweet tart finish. Almost like a bubbly Merlot very highly carbonated. I was glad to try this but it is not my thing. I would not have another as this is not something I could enjoy more than one of. Leaves me with a very warm alcohol feeling and a nice buzz.

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

12 fl oz brown bottle; served in a goblet.

Deep mahogany-maple in color that is near opaque. Carbonated, light brown head that fades to a whispy sheet rather quickly. A few traces of thin lacing.

Semi-sweet aromatics: caramelized brown sugar with a moderate dose of vanilla. Nutmeg, saffron, and cinnamon add a pleasant 'winter' spice. Hints of aged, vinous fruit with a swarming, deep alcohol character.

Strong, rich caramel and molasses that last into the finish. Licorice and saffron spices that add some heavy flavors to the already warming brown sugar and nutmeg. Speaking of warming...the alcohol character is immense, but it blends well with the rich, dessert-like flavors. The aftertaste is both spicy and sweet.

Full bodied; almost slick, given the sweetness and alcohol strength. The smooth, hefty texture coats the palate without hesitation.

A big Brown Ale with some unique flavors; namely: vanilla and licorice. While this offering is a treat, at 12% abv drinkability is somewhat compromised.

Photo of UnionMade
3.53/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Dark, opaque brown, ringed with a collar of tan bubbles. The head is weak to begin with, and dies to nothing about halfway through. No lace sticking to the snifter.
Big, sweet aroma. Tons of malty caramel, with a definite woody vanilla character. Some smoky black malt and plenty of fusel alcohol, with a bit of raisin and black cherry. The booze seems to compete with the malt quite a bit, which is distracting.
The flavor opens up with sticky sweetness, in that typical dogfish big beer manner. Gobs of sugary caramel and fruits in syrup, like the fruit cups we ate when we were kids. Black cherry and plum, with heavy molasses, coffee, vanilla bean and a bit of tobacco. A touch of raisin sourness in the finish, doing its best to balance things out. No discernible hop presence. Lots of boozy heat lasting forever in the throat. I almost feel like I'm drinking a carbonated cordial. Very, very sweet overall, with a ponderous, sticky, syrupy feel.
I like the mild woodiness, but I'd rather see it in something a little less intense, where it can present itself properly. Although it's a hefty 12%, it drinks like something just shy of 20%. The booze really kills this one, and the sweetness gets to be a bit much halfway through. If you're looking for something in the 12% abv range to close out an evening, I can immediately think of a half dozen that are far more easy going.

Photo of jwinship83
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- dark brown/black with a lasting 2 finger sticky coffee colored head.

S- very complex. chocolate, vanilla, caramel, wood, and a hint of smoke. some booze in there too.

T- wow....boozy. very woody with hints of vanilla and caramel.

M- lighter than i would have thought. creamy and smooth, despite the intense booziness

D- too boozy and potent to have more than one of. a very interesting beer that i look forward to seeing how it changes. one bottle of this is plenty.

Photo of NittanyBeerFan
3.93/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tried this one with treyrab. Poured into a pint glass.

A: Pours with a thick consistency that reminded me of used motor oil. Very little head that quickly dissipates. Looks like a stout!

S: VERY sweet. Cinnamon, brown sugar, molasses, malts, vanilla, nuts, and a lot of warming alcohol.

T: The alcohol dominated the taste but the brown sugar and molasses come through. I am also tasting the entire gamut of things i mentioned in the smell, but with the addition of an oaky taste.

M: This beer was incredibly smooth, but a little bit thick.

D: The alcohol really kills any shot you've got at drinking a bunch of these.

Photo of thekevlarkid
4.55/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Out of the bottle this unfiltered brown ale was a deep, dark, nearly porter colored brown that actually let no light pass through it. The head was also a woody brown, one-finger-thick cap of tight bubbles that retained well and laced in a pattern like torn curtains. The aroma was robust and rich, roasted malt, hints of wood and spices, alcohol esters, toffee and brown sugar too. Very complex on the palate as well living up to the aroma; caramel, vanilla and toffee sweetness first hit my tongue followed closely by the Palo Santo wood flavor, some alcohol heat and some hints of charcoal fading into coffee and bittersweet chocolate. Nicely balanced and impressive in new ways as it warmed up. For a beer as potent as this one was I was amazed how approachable it was. The mouthfeel was exceptionally creamy and smooth with a light carbonation of the medium to full body. An exceptional and unique beer and very drinkable for 12% (!) making it well worth seeking out.

Photo of Bobdope
4.78/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Great pour, not much carbonation at all, nice medium body. Exceptional smell. Hits you on the back of the thought. Woody, bourbons, Smokey, nice warm alcohol taste. This beer is a winner. I paid $13.00/4 pack after deposit. Worth it all day long if you like beer. In a dogfish head world, I think this one is my favorite.

Photo of kenito799
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Opaque black brew, hard pour raises just a little bit of head.

Aroma on opening sends forth a nice smoky woody note...interestingly, woodiness receded after pouring and there was really only a hint of smoke among the other layers of aromas an flavors. Roasted caramel malt, some coffee and chocolate notes, rich creamy mouthfeel. 12% ABV surprisingly drinkable. Definitely a rich beer to savor after dinner, better at warmer temp. Not as complex as many Imperial Stouts but quite good.

Photo of nasty15108
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A - Black with a small tan head that subsided into a spotty film.

S - Slightly boozy. Aroma of a sherry or port wine. Hints of dark fruit and vanilla.

T - Smokey with hints of coffee and vanilla. Finishes warm, boozy and slightly bitter.

MF&D - Thick and syrupy. Strong Imperial Stout feel. If you like BIG BEERS, give this one a try.

Photo of mattcrill
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aroma: Big fruity esters up front. I get plums, raisins, and dates. Slight earthy hop aroma. Chocolate and creamed coffee notes as the beer warms and opens up. Very imperial stout-like in it's aromatic profile.

Appearance: Jet black pour with a moderate tan sudsy head.

Flavor: More fruity esters with a moderate toasted wood note. Background smokey notes that are blended well with the base beer's malt and hop profile. Smokey enough to be interesting but not enough to overpower everything else. Finish is clean and dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with moderately high carbonation. Slight dark grain astringency.

Overall impression: A big, well balanced, well crafted wood-aged ale. Too big and dark for a brown. More like a robust porter bodering on imperial stout. Nobody does big, extreme beers like Sam C! Nicely done.

Photo of treyrab
3.93/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark, dark brown, perhaps black even. The darkest brown ale I have ever seen, that's for sure! Barely no head on this boozer.

S: Very boozy with mild woody notes and dark fruit

T: Extremely complex here. Tons of dark fruits, brown sugar, and alcohol. The woodiness is definitely here, but not as much as I expected.

M,D: The mouthfeel is rather thick and carbonation is on the low side. The ABV kills the drinkability, but overall a decent beer by DFH.


Cheers to BA NittanyBeerFan for sharing this one...Poured into a pint glass...

Very black in color, similar to a fine stout with very little head. Very complex smell of cinnamon, vanilla, alcohol and perhaps some nuts as well. Taste is very warming with vanilla, caramel, molasses, and brown sugar. Overall a good, complex brew, but a bit too warming.

Photo of aubuc1
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle in to my lucky goblet.

Pours black with a thin tan clingy head.

Woody smell is bursting out. The wood is definitely unique. Smokey, with some grapish fruit in the background.

Taste is smoothe, woody, vanilla, chocolate, but still fruity. No coffee. Inevitable alcohol twinge at the very end.

Great mouthfeel is full and carbonated.

Different than anything I have had before. Kudos Dogfish Head and Sam Caliglione (sp?) for pushing the limits.

Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a dark, reddish brown color with a thick, foamy, tan head that left soapy trails of lace.

S - It smelled of oak, vanilla and rich, sweet, caramel malt.

T - It has an incredibly sweet maltiness with underlying hints of vanilla. Also, a whiskey-like flavor.

M - It was crisp, yet soft as it warmed. A medium-bodied beer.

D - Despite the high ABV, this is a fairly easy-drinking beer. One of the more unique brown ales that I've ever had.

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

Pours midnight black with a big brown head that falls to a very small head leaving thin to no lace.

Big roasted malt aroma with hints of chocolate. Smells like alcohol soaked raisins.

Sweet toasty malt taste with slight bitter hop middle and alcohol finish.

Smooth, full mouthfeel. Lightly carbonated and slight alcohol bite.

Never had this and did not know what to expect. Nice Surprise.

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

Put this in a bomber, drip some wax on the top, and limit production, and this would be a top 25 beer to a lot of people. Pitch brown in color (not pitch black, if you look around the edges in the light), head completely dissipates after a while. The smell and taste are really unique. Bourbon, smoke, sugar, and a bunch of stuff that isn't easy to put in words. You can definitely taste the wood in this one. I guess it's not oak, but the Uruguayan wood used to age this. Very boozy, the alcohol is hot, but I don't care. Really awesome stuff overall.

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

Poured a very dark brown with a tan head that fell to a thin cap and ring. No highlights at all. A black hole in a glass. No light escapes.
Lots of oak and vanilla aromas along with molasses. That combination plus the alchol aroma lends itself to bourbon. Hints of chocolate and coffee to counter the sweetness.
Oak, vanilla, and molasses hit first. Coffee with lots of cream and sugar flavors. Hints of dark chocolate in there too.
Pretty thick mouthfeel. Almost like drinking light weight motor oil.
Pretty drinkable in that the palate is always guessing to find that next good flavor, but at 12%, only 1 should do for the night.
Great beer. Good warmer for the upcoming holidays.

Photo of JBushEsq
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Wow, this one really blew my mind, its very good and unique. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but certianly enjoyed it. I don't think I could drink this one everyday, but it was very good for something different.

Drank from a Gouden Carolus goblet

A: Black as darkest night --- I held it up to a light, and nothing passed through. If dark beers scare you, don't go here... otherwise though, it is a thing a beauty.

S: Nice, rich and malty with a bit of ethanol coming through towards the end.

T: I'm still trying to figure this out, but I know I like what I taste. It tastes deep, dark and rich. It hides its 12% abv farily well, with a touch coming through in the taste, and how it warms the throat going down. Over all, very tasty.

M: Its quite heavy and thick feeling.

D: Like I said earlier, its very good, but one's enough for an evening.

Photo of EPseja
4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Leave it to the guys at Dogfish Head to take an otherwise ordinary and oft overlooked beer style and amp it up to the point where it teeters on the brink of falling off the edge of the style boundaries.

Served from a 12oz. bottle in a SABL glass at cellar temperature.

A - Deep, deep chestnut brown with a cocoa colored head that acts bold at first, then quickly subsides to an opaque mat. Big, strutting legs like a nice, think tawny port. Lacing is marginal at best, and head retention is standard. Anyone not knowing better might think they're in for another nondescript brew.

S - Oak and vanilla - reminds me a bit of the nose on a Sam Adams Triple Bock in some ways. Perhaps some Maple sugariness. Underlying, subtle tones of salted licorice. An very interesting nose for a brown.

T - Earthy, vanillin sweetness with the presence of a dark molasses. Alcohol is present, but only smolders without burning. Vinous and strong-willed like a good pinot noir, but not as spicy, and with a black cherry character. Drying in the finish without leaving you parched. Aftertaste like acacia... or something similar. Amazing complexity, and a handful of other taste notes upon which I can't quite put my finger.

M - Thick and slick - reaching for and finding every crevice in your mouth. Lightly tingly on the tongue, and swelling like a cresting ocean wave. Swallows like a thick cafe con leche. Excellent.

D - At this ABV, I switch from my "would I have another?" mode to my "how long am I going to want to milk this beer for so it doesn't go away?" mode. The answer? All night long. It's 9:00 PM, and I don't think I want to take my last sip until about 11:00 PM. Dogfish Head is hit or miss for me, and this one is definitely a hit, despite its hefty price tag of about $16 a four-pack.

Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Brewery
94 out of 100 based on 5,080 ratings.