Palo Santo Marron | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Palo Santo MarronPalo Santo Marron
Liked This Beer
4.18 w/ 5,864 ratings
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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,864 |  Reviews: 2,110
Photo of akorsak
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Digestif at the brewpub. Served in a snifter.

A: The brown ale is dark, black as a good stout. Opacity is the result, nestled underneath a tan head. The ale looks still.

S: The ale has a rich nose, darker malts, sweet sugars and a woody punch. Vinous aromas waft out of my glass, a complexity that carries into the taste.

T: Deep and rich, the ale has a complexity that is tough to beer. Sweet darker notes, roasted with chocolate and wine, lead directly to the palo santo wood, a full flavor that has a little more substance than oak. Each sip has a vinous fullness, sweet and boozy with plenty of darker fruits lying around. The warming finish, more fruits, is a reward in itself.

M: Bold and dark, the brown ale is easily one of the most complex wood-aged beers I've had. Glad it was on tap when we arrived.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had this beer for the first time at the brewery on tap after the tour several years ago. I remember is being a huge beer, I remember being unsure of whether I liked it a lot or not. Just recently I had it from a bottle be aide I wanted to try it again.

I gave it a pour, comes out as a really thick dark brown color with a thinner light brown head on top. The smell of the beer is full of wood that this beer is aged on. The aroma is also kind of sweet smelling and rich with brown sugar I think. The taste of the beer is a big, it's got some of the biggest flavors I've ever had from a brown ale. There is the wood flavors, some dark fruits and a touch of coffee in there. The mouthfeel is nice and thick, decent carbonation and oily. Overall this beer is really nice, if you like strong ales this one is impressive.

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Photo of Jimmys
4.06/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: opaque black with a rich brown, cappuccino hued head. dense, but not bustling. good retention. not exactly an american brown looking ale, more like a rich stout. good looking brew, but not looking like a brown.

S: like smelling a plank of wood. dry oak, or ash, or maple. or perhaps this palo santo wood they speak of. vanilla brown sugar and hints of bourbon. a little bit of booze as well. the woody smell is very unique. not like a barrel aged beer, but more of a pure woody nose.

T: vanilla and cinnamon. the cinnamon spice is very zesty. nutmeg. booze throughout, but not burning. pure maple syrup. maybe even molasses. not to leave the wood entirely out, it works its way in between the sweetness, but not as prevalent as the nose. more sweetness than roast.

M: smooth and coating. certainly a full body.

D: i wouldnt call this a brown ale, or even a strong brown. more of an american strong or something else entirely. once i get past this the fact that this is a non-styled brew, its delicious. sipper. great dessert beer with great complexity.

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Photo of VaTechHopHead
4.13/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours an opaque dark to medium brown with a light brown head, albeit small head. The lacing is good and not a lot of visible carbonation.

S - Hints of dark wood and a slight alcohol aroma. There is also a hint of light sugar and toasted grains.

T - Starts sweet with heavy hints of vanilla and sweet wood aging. There is also a cherry flavor in the middle that finishes with a tobacco/charred wood flavor as well.

M - Medium body with low carbonation. There is a good alcohol feel to this brew as well. Finishes dry with some tannins and wood.

O - A very good beer with great wood flavor from a wood not often used in the brewing world. The flavors work nicely and makes for a nice sipper.

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Photo of stephenjmoore
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Very dark, darker than indian brown ale. Looks close to a porter. Very little head; tan in color. Overall, very good looking.

S- Wood right off the bat, but not over-powering. Hints of vanilla and dark malts.

T- Malty with strong wood notes. Tastes somewhat like oak, but smoother and more complex. Can taste a little vanilla maybe some caramel.

M- Smooth. Delicious.

O- This is probably around the 15th bottle I have had, but I decided to review it tonight. Palo Santo is a great beer. Much more complex and stronger than anything in the traditional "brown ale" category, it almost deserves a category of it's own. Must try if you find it.

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Photo of Jayli
4.24/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured in to a pint glass

A: This beer pours a thick, deep, dark opaque brown with a 1/2 inch of medium brown head. Head recedes somewhat quickly leaving slight, very slight whispered lacing.

S: Nose is big oaked caramel notes with a decent amount of citrus hops. The most prevelent notes are totally oak, woodiness though.

T: OMG yum!!!! Caramel, toffee and a bit of date hit in the forefront.... some molasses after taste lingers before the woody, oaked, slightly oh so slightly oaked smokey goodness comes through. Ohhh this is the best woody, oak mingle that I've come across in a hot minute! Really pleasant, easily balanced.. just a WOW yea, I could hit this up on the regular!

M: Medium body, medium carbonation, crisp yet a touch oily.

O: Goes down easily, VERY tasty, not overly filling, ridiculously well hidden kick, crazy representation of style. Yea - BIG BIG BIG fan of this beer. The oak and wood notes are solid and just are amazing in my opinion. The 12 % is so ridiculously well hidden ... yea wow - if you don't' love this oaky goodness, you need to check yourself!

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Photo of output01x
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle (no date) into a snifter glass.

A vigorous pour yields a 2-finger tan-colored head atop a near black mahogany body. The head recedes after a few minutes to a thin dusting and thick foam ring. A little lacing is noticed as the beer disappears.

Dark, sweet malts give notes of dark fruits, brown sugar, caramel, toffee, roasted nuts, boozy, and, of course, wood. The aromas are deep, dark, and delicious.

Sweet, dark fruit flavors of cherry and raisins start each sip with a little tartness. Notes of vanilla, milk chocolate, and light coffee are then matched with a strong wood flavor. A decent alcohol booziness finishes each sip but does not indicate the full 12% ABV in this beer.

Full bodied with decent carbonation, this beer coats your mouth well but is a little sticky. The carbonation is not extremely noticeable but is just enough to help make this beer drinkable. For a brown ale, this beer is thick, but for a dark beer, it is smooth.

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Photo of SolipsismalCat
3.97/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Completely opaque dark brown. Two-finger, light brown creamy head that diminished after a couple of minutes. Okay lacing.

S: Wood, coffee, and dark chocolate.

T: Moderate sweetness and hop bitterness. Spicy with dark chocolate and fruit. Coffee and wood? Very rich with a long finish.

M: Light to medium body that was dry, creamy, and smooth. The carbonation was almost undetectable, which wasn't a bad thing in this case.

O: I was expecting a brown ale with unique character. When I took my first taste, I had to double check the ABV. I didn't realize originally that it was 12%. I would say this is too strong to be classified as a brown ale, but I still really enjoyed sipping it. Not bad.

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Photo of Duff27
3.92/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a thin dark tan head above a dark brown body. Head recedes fairly fast. Little lacing.

Dark fruits, black cherries?

Dark malts, very boozy. Woody, molasses, faint smokiness. Some spices, cinnamon? Again with the alcohol.

Medium mouthfeel. Low end of the carbonation spectrum.

Booze takes the cake on this one for me. A definite sipper. Other than that, it was very unique with its wodd flavors. Would try again.

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Photo of jondeelee
4.68/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Midnight black with a coffee-foam brown head, this brew smells of vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar.

On the tongue, it's an explosion of flavors so sudden and profound that it's initially difficult to wrap your head around what's going on in your mouth. Heavily malty, one of the first sensations is of dark sugars and darker fruits: caramelized bananas drizzled in molasses; turbinado sugar. Deep beneath is a light layer of coffees and, if my tongue doesn't lie, a smattering of chocolate malt. There's also a moderate current of hops streaming through, nicely illuminating and setting off the sugars. It's also obvious that this was aged in wood--"exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood" to quote the bottle--due to the hint of woody, maple syrupy flavors that wind through.

I'm quite astounded by this beer, both for its audacity and craftsmanship, as well as the melange of flavors that is at once beer and cognac, and always complex and imaginative. Some may find this brew overly sweet or sugary, but to say so takes away from the many layers of sugars (in itself quite amazing), as well as the coffees and grapefruit bitters that lie just underneath. Five stars.

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Photo of zaphodchak
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Even a high pour created only a thin orangey head that dissipated into some lightweight surface memory. Body is completely opaque.

Smell has some wood and some fishy tartness... not bad, but odd. Trace of cherry.

It's tangier than I anticipated, for sure. There's some bitter (wild?) cherry, and I'm guessing this is the wood that's coming through. Body is slightly sweet, very malty. Finish has some alcohol and bitterness. Not my first time having this, but it's been a while. I'm not inspired to seek it out again. I got pretty much none of the vanilla or caramel suggested on the bottle. As it warms though, it does mellow out, and develop some mushroomy character.

Mouthfeel is not carby, but pretty syrupy-thick. Aftertaste has a syrup presence as well.

Overall, from Dogfish, and with the description, I was anticipating more. Maybe it wants to be cellared?

EDIT: Tried an '08 bottle at DFH Brewing and Eats in Rehoboth Beach in Dec 2011.
The nose is potent and malty, maybe some kola nut.
The tangy (wood?) flavor is well developed-- curiously also some iron and spice as well. Textured held up well with age. While it did improve, it's still not outstanding.

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Photo of sergeantstogie
3.1/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bottle dated 11/11/10 B

Required a very vigorous pour that produced a nice big fluffy head that dissipated pretty quick with no lacing in my Duvel tulip.

Gorgeous dark brown color.

Smelled of alcohol and slight caramel malts. I blew my nose several times to check if something was off with me. No change though.

The taste surprised me. I remember loving this beer. This time around it just seems like strength for the sake of strength. I am not getting any wood notes or vanilla that I remembered. I had to check the bottle to note it's 12% ABV. Makes sense that most of what I am getting flavor wise is alcohol accented with some roasted grain.

It is smooth though for being such a big beer. Those guys at DFH know what they are doing with big beers, but I am thinking maybe those 10,000 gallon Palo Santo tanks they built are past their usefulness.

Overall, I am grateful to drink this but I won't be searching it out. I really am grateful a great BA was kind enough to send this to me and in no way want this review to reflect on Doublesimcoe's generosity. I really wanted to be (re)blown away by this beer solely on his kindness, but I have to be honest. I did not get wood from this beer.

Also, American Brown Ale. Really? Maybe American Strong Ale is a better fit for this brew.

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Photo of jdense
2.85/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle pilfered from buddy's fridge poured into Duvel tulip.

Virtually no head to speak of, resulted in a thin circle of head in center of glass. Dark brown opaque body, no visible carbonation. The wood aroma is somewhat balanced by caramel malts with little hop odors and a overpowering booziness. Taste is overwhelming boozy, not any balance at all. Pretty full mouthfeel with little effervescence, significant alcohol heat. I didn't like this at all and won't have any in the future. One of my least favorite beers I've had the entire year. Perhaps the issue is the Imperial Brown category, not a big fan of this, lacking in balance and nuance. Evidently I'm not an Off Center Person. Avoid.

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Photo of Yagman3000
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a 12oz. bottle into a goblet.

Appears a pretty straight dark brown with maybe the slightest hint of maroon. A thick foamy head was created by pouring relatively slowly and come creamy lacing is sticking to the sides.

Smells a little like rum and vanilla. The palo santo wood definitely seems to have a barrel aging effect on this beer. The color seems to make more sense now and I'm excited to see what this tastes like. No real hop bitterness perceived.

Tastes smokier than I anticipated... is this from the wood aging? A bit of dark chocolate and coffee bitterness are picked up after a few sips.

Mouthfeel is a strong burn from the beginning to the end. It's a bit boozy at 12%. There's a little chocolatey bitter aftertaste in here too.

This was good but, as I remember from before I started formally writing up reviews on BA, this wood-aging doesn't impart the flavors I've been typically enjoying. I'd like a little less of a burnt boozy taste and that's what is memorable concerning this beer.

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Photo of chugalug06
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Ouh, la, la! Pours awesome head with great retention! Very thick and sticky. Brew is pitch black and head is nice brown color.

S - Very deep dark vanilla and dark chocolate. Lots of wood. Very little sweetness or heat. The sugars I do smell remind me more of molasses.

T - WHOA! slightly off style due to the uniqueness, i'll forgive that ;) Awesome brew! huge chocolate and malt notes with delicate hop schedule. Very rich with a slight musty twang...

M - Perfect carbonation with awesome bitterness! Slightly dry leaving you quickly. I wish this one stuck around a little longer on the tongue...

O - Every once in awhile it's nice to splurge on a nice 4-pack of Palo... Plus, it ages amazingly!!! A must try if you've never, very unique! Nice work DFH!

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Photo of Sensaray
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Full pour produces a deep dark brown liquid which produces a large foamy fluffy brown head. It looks really good. Retained head entire length and laced glass.

Smells like wood, i assume palo santo wood, dark malts, roasty caramel, roast coffee, chocolate, booze, resinous dark fruit.

Powerful beverage here. A bit spicy leads to some dark fruits and dark chocolate which closes with a alcoholic punch leaving coffee and chocolate mixing on the palate. Toffee, kinda heath bar sort of thing at times.

Mouthfeel is smooth, medium light with small bubbled, barely sensed carbonation.

Overall really tasty beer.

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Photo of chefelf
3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer had a lovely dark black look with brown foam after pouring into a tulip glass. The smell and taste were much more mellow than I'd expected. At 12% ABV I was expecting a much more powerful taste.

I paired this with some barbecued St. Louis ribs and it was great. The alcohol was nowhere near as pronounced a I'd thought it would be. That proved to be a little dangerous and after one glass that was enough for me.

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Photo of BigE90
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a) a dark red/brown color with very little light coming through, a little head appeared at pour but disappeared quickly

s) the wood is noticeable but smells sweet, hints of vanilla and molasses or a dark brown sugar are also coming through

t) this is like tasting some candied wood, a lot of flavors going on but the sweetness and wood are at the fore front, just a hint of alcohol as this goes down, very manageable though

m) very smooth and silky, not lacking in body, perfect for a "brown" ale, more like a great porter consistency, the variety of flavors are kicking in all over the mouth at different times, nicely balanced

o) this is a great beer for a night cap, so much going on I do not see myself getting tired of opening one of these, you can taste the higher ABV slightly during consumption but it definitely can sneak up on you afterwards, 2 of these and time to go to bed!

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Photo of ADZA
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours a dark brown hue with very average carbonation that leaves behind a quarter finger head and no lacing,the smell is oak,brown sugar,maple syrup and boiled candy,the mouthfeel is silky smooth and creamy and the taste starts off sweet with hints of brown sugar,maple syrup,jarrah honey,a tinge of wood and is finished sweet with a sticky date pudding finish and overall even though the high 12% ABV is very well hidden this brew is way to sweet for the anyday brew and is definately more of a nightcap brew suited to sticky sweet deserts cheers.

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Photo of J0E
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A:Poured into a snifter, there isn't much head at all-maybe half a fingers worth. Very dark brown, almost black with a slightly lighter ring when held to the light.

s: Very earthy, smokey, and a little sweet. The woodsy smell from the palo santo is prevalent, but it's not over the top.

T: The sweet malts are bringing out some chocolatey/coffee flavors, as well as some raisin or fig. Still there is decent bitterness to it, as it hasn't fallen completely into the sweet side. Almost none of the 12% abv this one touts. Very well masked.

M: thinner than I expected from the appearance. But it fits with the style, and is still enjoyable.

O: Fantastically balanced beer. I wish i had a couple more to cellar for a few years. I'll buy another one for sure.

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Photo of avaldivia
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 is bottle poured into a Belgian style goblet.

A: Nice dark brown color that allows little light through when held up to the light. Nice tan head that leaves nice lacing.

S: Sweet smell reminding me of figs or dates. A bit of a woody scent. I can definitely smell the alcohol in this guy.

T: Very sweet upfront. Reminds me of brown sugar maybe a bit of vanilla. The alcohol is present but not overpowering. As it warms, it gets a bit stronger and stronger.

M: Thick and sticky. Completely coats your entire palate. Very nice carbonation.

O: This is my favorite Dogfish Head brew. On the pricey side but definitely one I pick from time to time.

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Photo of JTSbeerislife
4.67/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Dogfish Head Snifter. Bottled 9/13/10, purchased 2/2011 and well stored.

Pours a nice one finger head which settles rapidly to a 1/8” cap. Very deep, almost black, brown color, very brown colored head.

The very powerful smell is one of huge deep roasted malt and distinct yeast, vinous alcohol, and a rich complex aroma of dried fruits (figs, caramelized apricot, etc.) a true pleasure.

Incredibly deep rich flavor, dark unsweetened chocolate, dried figs, huge malt, yeast, very complex with the flavors constantly changing as one dominates then gives into another, the 12% ABV is here but is very wine like and takes nothing away from delicious flavors of this ale, very full bodied of course with the ABV and intensity of this ale both playing their part, all of this becomes more and more intense as the ale warms to its sweet spot of around 55-60 degrees, light and very fine carbonation balances perfectly.

Just flat out delicious!

The finish lasts forever with the intense malt and dried fruit sticking to your mouth, impossible to wash away. The ABV hangs in the back reminding you that you are drinking a real ale.

This is a tremendous ale and it is a privilege to drink. It was an expensive case at $85 but considering what you get it is actually a bargain. Ales of this power and complexity are rare even in this “Golden Age” of the Craft Brewer. This cannot be considered a session ale, but that being said I find it quite easy to drink three of these over the course of 1 ½ to 2 hours.

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Photo of robertmarsh
4.92/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Overall probably one of the top 3 beers I've ever had. Has the initial appearance of imperial stout. The aroma is fantastic with the aged wood really standing out along with hints of vanilla. The taste picks up right where the aroma leaves off with the warm malty flavor with a high alcohol kick. At 12% you've gotta be careful with this one as it can be very easy to have one too many. By far the best beer in the Dogfish portfolio.

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Photo of Retail1LO
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

What a surprising beer this was. I bought this on the DFH name alone, as I'm a big fan, but hadn't previous tried this. It's a dark beer, given the time of year, but I had to give it a whirl. I freely admit this will be infinitely more enjoyable when the weather cools down. It wasn't until I drank my first two that I realized this was a 12% beer. While it has a nice strong profile to it, the alcohol content is marginally noticeable. Be careful with these. LOL Wonderful woody/vanilla/bourbon profile. Interested in aging some of this.

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Photo of harrymel
3.92/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled: 19APR11

A: Pours a dark brown ale with less than a single finger of tan head. This falls quickly and remains a broken sheet of the same.

S: Strong alcohol, sweet wood, dates, vanilla, sweet nougat notes.

T: Sweet, hints of iron, caramel, coffee, dark malts, vanilla, alcohol.

M: A bit thin with moderate carbonation. Dry finish for the style.

O: Great beer. Even better with a couple years on it.

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Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 88.9% out of 100 with 5,864 ratings
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