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Palo Santo Marron | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

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

Added by Imstillthegman on 11-19-2006

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Reviews: 2,071 | Ratings: 5,732
Photo of indiapaleale
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark, thick, very viscous and pretty much black in color. Reminds me very much of an Imperial stout. At 12% its hard to imagine still having a brown color for this ridiculously strong and complex "brown ale". The head is miniscule and quick to go away. While it does last its a nice coffee color with big loose bubbles. After settling its a very thin lace of off white hugging the top of the glass.

Smells of rich malt, dark roasted coffee, alcohol, and burnt sugar. I really don't know what to look for when it comes to the smell of Palo Santo.

Sooo smooth and instantly warming! I love it. Tastes of dark toasted malt, bitter coffee along with some tangy sweetness. I definitely get the alcohol kick at the back of my tongue. Its got some qualities that are similar to a red wine, its a hearty strong beer with a bit of a dry fruit flavor at the end of each sip (this is definitely one you'll want to sip).

Dark, rich and mysterious. Palo Santo Marron is a hell of a strong and complex beer.

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Photo of WeisGuy
4.02/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a - pours a very dark brown, nearly black, smallish dark brown head with little retention or lacing

s - very strong woody (what I guess is Palo Santo) aroma with significant vanilla and caramel notes, some booziness and a little root beer

t - much like the aroma, wood, sweet caramel, roasted malt, and vanilla on the front and midpalate, some bitter hoppiness and nuttiness in the midpalate as well, the finish has a significant boozy component with wisps of alcohol lingering on the breath along with the wood

m - medium-bodied, moderate carbonation, strong warming from the alcohol, fairly balanced finish on the palate

d - definitely a sipper as the alcohol and other flavors are very intense, not overly harsh on the palate though

Strong, unique effort from DFH...definitely different from anything I've ever tried. Well worth trying at least one bottle. It would be interesting to see how this ages.

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Photo of yemenmocha
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours near black, and opaque, with small brown head that doesn't retain long.

Nose has an herbal tea, Cuisine of India aroma to it, with oaky flavors in the background.

Palate wise it is noticeably syrupy in body, with gooey roasted malt & maple up front, balanced by tartness from wood and hops. Carbonation carries through nicely and somehow the alcohol is entirely disguised.

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Photo of blackie
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: fleeting mocha head, light retention, mahogany brown color

s: very interesting, strong woody aromas mesh with a hefty brown, carrying vanilla similar to oak but a touch more complex and spicy I believe, notes of vanilla cola, rich and slightly chocolaty brown malts, sassafras, smooth coffee, earthy hops, hazelnut, sweet, mild ethanol, quite complex

m: medium carbonation on a full bodied beer, smooth

t: starts with chocolaty coffee, very nutty and moderately sweet, turning drier and more roasty in the finish, notes of nuts, wood, mild coffee, and chocolate make up the bulk of the flavor, finishes long with flavors of burnt nuts, bittersweet chocolate, and a moderate bitterness

d: abv very well integrated, exceptionally drinkable and very unique

single from Whole Foods Raleigh, bottled 04/15/08

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Photo of MSchae1017
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours an opaque brownish-black with a creamy mocha like head (just as the video says). Even with the massive alcohol content, the head lingers and laces well, probably due to the addition of wheat. The aroma is quite potent with caramel and molasses like sweetness dominating rounded off by a bit of chocolate and mysterious spice. Sipping the beer, it rushes forth with a massive sweetness. Again flavors of chocolate, caramel, and brown sugar are present, but the wood has added its own spicy, earthy characteristic unlike any other wood aged beer I have had. Alcohol is present in the finish, but provides more of a warming sensation and does not bring down the drinkability. This may be due to the smoothness that Scotch Ale yeasts tend to impart. The beer displays a full body and smooth carbonation. Amazingly, this beer is easy to drink considering the 12% ABV. While this is massively sweet and malty, it is pleasant and balanced. Oftentimes, Dogfish Head will put out incredibly interesting beers that I feel compelled to try once and then never return to. This beer on the other hand is one I would certainly get again, and considering the alcohol, I just might do that and age it a few years.

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Photo of gmcfarre
4.19/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into traditional pint glass
Bottled 4/15/08

A - Pours a nearly black opaqueness with a thin latte colored bubbly head. Lacing is mild when tipped.

S - Strong roasted dryness with a sweet, almost nutty accompaniment. Slight coffee and chocolate notes, but nothing more than background scents. Oak also plays a background role, especially before this brew warms up.

T - Taste is sweet with molasses and nutty, dark fruit flavors. Bitter dark chocolate with coffee accents adds complexity. Finish is incredibly dry with its strong oak flavor that almost leaves me parched and in need of water. Really interesting combination of flavors, with the oak working really nicely in this beer.

M - Starts with a full body and medium yet active carbonation. Gets creamy (almost like a nitro) and oily on the tongue before the very dry, slightly bitter aftertaste kicks in.

D - As others have said, I find it hard to believe this is 12% ABV, which I guess makes it incredibly drinkable. On the other hand, it gets very filling as the beer wears on. Oak works well in this beer, maybe better than most of the oak aged stouts I've had to date. Another interesting and style-defying beer from Dogfish.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.02/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, one of four sent by wickedpete a couple months back; 'Bottle On: 02/11/08" still legible on the neck. Poured to a pint glass, after it warmed a good 20 minutes out of the fridge

A: Dark, dark brown, although seeming to have a faint purplish/blueberry hue. Pours with a fizzy, crackling tawny head, rising to just over a finger-high before dropping to an active, sparkling film. Lace is minimal.

S: Big aroma of dark syrupy caramel, spiced fruit (cherries, plums, sweet berries), earthy chocolate shavings, a little rum- or brandy-barrel woodiness.

T: Malty caramel, molasses, ripe fruit (raspberry, cherry or blueberry), bittersweet chocolate. Wood-aging gives some light spice and a subtle vanilla bean. Like a sweetened dessert-coffee spiked with a shot of booze. Deeper smoky-char bittering builds in the finish.

M: Luscious, thick mouthfeel - chewy. Borderline 'sticky'. Carbonation seems mellow, smooth. Bittering creeps up and builds in layers, casting a toasty/husky dryness that lingers. High alcohol reveals through a steady warming; it's not hidden but isn't totally 'in-your-face' either.

D: A hefty beer that deserves respect...one bottle is just fine to end the evening on. Lacks some drinkability not because of its alcoholic muscle, but more because the flavors are so heavy without offering a ton of complexity - frankly it grew a little boring towards the end. Still, it's worth picking up a single (or 4-pack) to appreciate on occasion and worth the effort getting this sent from the East Coast. Thanks again, Pete!

Comments: Oh Dogfish Head, the things you guys do to push the boundaries of 'craft beer'. A quick sorting of the BA database for 'American Brown Ale' finds only 3 beers having more than an 8% ABV, none (besides this) above 10%. At a whopping 12%, this leads me to believe PSM in a whole other category. And 'Imperial Brown Ale' doesn't cut it either...

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Photo of eberkman
4.07/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured an opaque, dark mahogany with a pinkish-brown head -- about a finger's worth that diminished fairly quickly to a ring. Looks like an RIS from my vantage point.

Smells like one too. Creamy vanilla, dark berries, pungent dark chocolate, molasses, and a sherrylike wininess as well. A lot going on in the nose, that's for sure.

Very rich taste -- the dark berries and winey grapes really come out big here with a bitter, dark-roasted coffee finish. Lots of vanilla along the edges.

Oozy, oily mouthfeel with very light carbonation. But surprisingly light and silky at the same time -- not sure if I like it that much. With flavors as big as this one has, it should have more heft to it.

A typical brown ale would be a session beer. This is anything but. It's a nice, relaxing, just-before-bed slow sipper. Would be a great dessert beer too. Big and boozy, though the alcohol doesn't ruin the taste.

I stand by my initial observation that this invokes a RIS much more than a Brown Ale. Interesting, because I believe when I reviewed Indian Brown Ale, I thought it tasted more like a stout than a brown ale. In any event, from a brewery that's always trying to out-extreme itself -- often resulting in a mess -- this is a huge beer that is actually quite sensible and enjoyable.

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Photo of jasonjlewis
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a 1/2 finger head with decent retention and a rich brown color.

Vanilla is the strongest smell on the nose. Undertones of wood and charcoal come underneath. I also smell some caramel malts and a little bit of chocolate.

Sweet caramel and chocolate malts come through. This is followed with a mild spiciness/smokiness/woodiness from the wood barrels. The finish is of chocolate and vanilla.

Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. The aftertaste of chocolate and vanilla is very nice as well.

Nicely complex beer that is easy to drink. I recommend it. I would have never guessed this beer is 12% abv.

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Photo of malcontent
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Opaque, viscous-looking black liquid with just a thin ring of head around the outside.

The wood delivers and then some; charcoal, vanilla, molasses with a hefty dose of booze on the back end.

Strong roasted malt with semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla undertones. Huge charred flavor on the finish. Charcoal grows more aggressive as the beer warms.

Actually not nearly as thick as the appearance would seem to indicate. All-in-all, it's a good beer but with limited appeal. Still, it's one of the better barrel-aged beers I've had in a while. This was a GREAT partner with some Swiss milk chocolate.

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Photo of BradLikesBrew
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: Pitch black body, thin brown head.

s: Maple syrup, raisins, vanilla, and alcohol.

t: Rich. Dark nutty malt borders on charred. I can definitely notice the vanilla notes that the label mentions. The Palo Santo wood adds a great twist on the typical barrel-aged beer. Notes of brown sugar, molasses and sarsaparilla. Some bitterness from the dark malts. Complex for a brown.

m: Thick, syrupy, lower carbonation.

d: A sipper, no doubt about it. I like the unique flavor imparted from the exotic wood barrels. A rich and boozy beer. Enjoyable, if not quaffable. An extreme brown ale, the best of the style that I have had.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
3.96/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Duh-ark brown pour with a craggy khaki cap, Don't know if there be any bubbles but it's DARK!!!

Scents really light with some pancake waffle grain and buttery goodness.

First swigs: Dark malt like cocoa with a waffle spice wafer grain. Cinnamon meets pancake. Bold balance. Hops are overwhelmed with a touch of molasses. Thick and viscus.

Feel is as thick as can be! Get a fork 'cuz this one is chunky!

Last swigs: Thick syrupy maple syrup brown with enough kick azz to kick Chuck Norris's az!!! ***interesting***

Beer is good. Happy big brown beering.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Jay23: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a large brown foamy head with good retention and some nice lacing. Aroma of vanilla and oak is pretty pleasant with some light roasted malt notes. Taste is a mix between some roasted malt notes with a mix of vanilla and oak and some creamy lactose notes. Full creamy body is really enjoyable with some great carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very well done and probably one of the best new seasonal from Dogfish.

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Photo of jdubjacket
3.98/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a black color into a standard pint glass. Definitely not a "brown ale" by the look of it. Little carbonation - if any. Malty nose with sugar & vanilla undertones. Taste is definitely a sweet surprise. Has a very sweet taste - not at all what I was expecting. Also got some dried fruit in the taste. Mouthfeel is very full-bodied. Drinkability takes a small hit b/c of the 12.0% ABV.

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Photo of BucBasil
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured from the 12oz bottle into a Piraat tulip glass. Brown ale? I don't think so... This thing is pure black, even when held to light. This beautiful specimen of a beer is topped with a dark tan frothy head with somewhat poor retention, but lacing all thw way down the glass. This looks more like and imperial stout than anything. I'm not complaining.

Smell: Nice roasted malt aroma with a smoky character through the middle. These two point to an underlying woody aroma that is extremely unique. Almost like a barbeque, this crazy beer has a slight rauchbier character throughout the nose, what supports the wide array of malts underneath, as well as a slightly sweet vanilla note. This is a great smelling beer.

Taste: Wow... that was unexpected. There is a smoky note throughout the taste, that evolves into an extremely complex taste. Next comes a very sweet note that goes from vanilla to sugarplums and dark berries to light chocolate. This is a sweet character that I have never seen in a beer before, and it was not at all cloying. The beer finishes with more of the smoky wood character, as well as a hint of light coffee with cream.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and creamy all the way through, a perfect complement to the rich, sweet character of the beer.

Drinkability: This is one to savor, one at a time. The beer is rich and filling, but in a good way.

If I can find it again, I'll pick this one up again for a special occasion. A slow sipper for sure, and one that compliments a time of deep thought and introspection very well.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.84/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown in color with some lightness around the edges. Not really a head at all on the pour.
Smell is roasty. Taste is much the same with the wood flavor having a real presence in the beer. Full and smooth on the mouthfeel. At 12% this is a real sipper. A good offering from Dogfish Head.

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Photo of gregc
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle thanks to gford217.

Poured almost black with a brown head that quickly faded. Thought i was pouring a world wide stout.

Aroma of wood, vanilla , caramel and alcohol. Smelled like a world wide stout.

Taste is vanilla, wet wood, some carame, plums, prunes and malt. The alcohol is well masked, the beer is very drinkable and smooth. Tasted like a weaker world wide stout (i see a theme here).

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Photo of RunawayJim
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours a deep brown with a small head that hangs around for a bit. Smells of vanilla and malty sweetness.

Taste is more of that vanilla mixed with caramel and a very slight toasted flavor. It's on the sweet side for a brown ale, but at this ABV and with the barrel aging, it's expected and doesn't actually detract from this beer. Rather, it makes it better. There's a very slight warmness from the alcohol, but it just adds even more to the beer.

The beer is very smooth and easy to drink. It's a little on the heavy side, but again, it was expected. I give this one 2 very enthusiastic thumbs up and strongly recommend it.

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Photo of John_M
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Max's during American Craft Brew week.

The beer pours a dark brown color with decent head retention and lacing. The beer is very sweet and malty on the nose, pretty much exactly what one would expect in an imperial brown ale. The beer smells pretty good actually. On the palate this comes across as a big brown ale with moderate sweetness. At least for me, the beer is a bit too one dimensional, though the flavors are nice. The beer comes across as medium bodied, and it's not too heavy or tiring to drink. Still, the abv. wears me out after a while, and the high abv. hurts this beer's drinkability.

A good solid beer, but not an exceptional one. Given the high abv., I probably will not come back to this one again.

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Photo of shroompod
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a smallish head , darker than brown , but not pitch black.

Getting hints of smoke , maybe some slight alcohol on the nose.

This beer tastes a bit like a Quad , with some added complexity with the wood giving it the trademark residual woody sweetness. If it weren't for the obvious alcohol taste I'd give it a five. Perhaps some age on this will be nice.

Mouthfeel is thick , with some residual stick sweetness. Good carbonation.

I'll be seeking more of these out.

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Photo of warmstorage
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Four pack of 12 ounce bottles was $14.99 at BevMo Sacramento (Arden Way.) Very dim dating evident: appears to indicate bottling date of 2/11/08.

Appearance: Poured into wide mouthed red wine glass, a medium to deep opaque black with a medium brown head that dissipates rapidly and leaves no lacing. Quite dark given that the bottles describes it as a brown ale.

Aroma: wood molasses and some dark stonefruit. A little yeasty. Somewhat limited given the huge nature of the beer.

Taste: some deep woody vanilla notes, some stonefruit, plums, figs, and a backgrounded sweet cherry note. Finishes with woody vanilla. Nice, interesting, but somewhat mild and understated.

Mouth: Tingly and warm. Somewhat high carbonation on the mouth and throat for such a high ABV beer (which is nice, and makes it more drinkable than many 10%+ ales which are somewhat syrupy due to high finishing gravities.) Perhaps the best part of this beer.

Overall: Fairly drinkable, but somewhat undistinguished. Not something I'd buy again, but I'd drink it again if someone else was buying, and I'll certainly drink the other three.

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Photo of oberon
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass a deep chocolate brown with just a little light showing through a quick to form quick to fade brown head atop.Alot of stuff going on in the nose deep wood and vanilla mixed with dark fruit and chocolate just really appetizing.This brew went down very easy for such a high abv I thought it would be more of a sipping brew (wich it could be)but it glided down quite easily,flavors of dark fruit, chocolate, vanilla-like nuget and caramel mixed with slight wood this would be a fine dessert brew.A great beer almost like a port flavor wise,ejoyable.

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Photo of kasper
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a murky brown raison color with a small chocolate colored head that dissipates quickly, leaving just a faint ring. Only a bit of light passing through the edges of a goblet. Lacing apparent in polka-dot fashion after sipping.

S: Aroma of molasses , raisons, prunes, some smokiness and that trademark dogfish head yeast and alcohol smell. Very similar to a toned down worldwide stout (wws), judging strictly by the nose.

T: Smooth and sweet up front with loads of dark fruit, then a considerable astringent woody, smokiness punch with lingering flavors of figs, maybe currants...Really similar to a toned down wws, imho, but a bit dryer on the finish. Alcohol definitely present but not overwhelming at all.

M: Thick, sticky and chewy. Full bodied, with mild carbonation and that semi-dry woody feel on the swallow.

D: This is a real heavy brew. A sipper for sure. I'd be hard pressed to go through more than one of these. Actually, this is a good brew to share with either your significant other or a friend so you can last the night and taste some others. Strongest brown ale i've ever tasted.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.72/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Browny brown, brown. They've taken this to the level of the imperial stouts... almost black, with a creamy brown head.

S: A lot sweeter than I would expect from a brown ale, but I suppose this isn't your typical brown ale, either. A lot of prune and date dark fruit aromas in there, and quite a woody taste... I suppose that was the point here. It's pretty unique. A bit of smokiness.

T + M + D: Smoky and sweet. Dark fruits, a bit of caramel notes... it starts to become a little sweet in the mouth after a while. DFH loves to make these extreme, huge brews, and while I applaud them for trying to go all out, sometimes the result is just alright. I feel this is one of those instances. The mouthfeel gets a little thick and sticky after a glass, though it starts off being pretty rich and creamy. Being such a huge ABV, this is a sipper, and it definitely gets a bit on the sweet side after a while. That said, it's ultimately a pretty good beer, and a decent effort from Dogfish Head... I like many of their offerings much better than this, but it's an interesting brew. Certainly give it a shot.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.93/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Dispensed from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours a very dark brown, almost black, but not quite. Almost a dark purple color. Interesting and beautiful. A perfectly smooth and frothy tan head, looks just like an espresso topper.

Sweet smelling with plenty of coffeelike caramel notes. Slightly fruity with some raisins and figs thrown in. Alcohol and fusels join the party as well.

Wow. Sweet and alcoholic. Some hoppiness but the alcohol is a bit overwhelming. A sweet, alcoholic mess. Creamy on the tongue saves this beer a little bit.

I was impressed with the first two categories but the rest was downhill. I keep trying these beers from DFH and am continually let down. Perhaps, I have learned my lesson. I will not be having this one again, assuming I can even finish this one.

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Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
4.16 out of 5 based on 5,732 ratings.
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