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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Ratings: 5,844 |  Reviews: 2,103
Photo of sprucetip
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this for the first time a week ago, on tap, thanks to Ryan, Leigh, and Zach having procured it for the Lion's Pride. But this review is based on a bottle bought since then. I liked the draft version better. The sample this review is based on has been in the bottle for just about 3 months.

Some light gets in around the edges, but it's darker than chestnut brown, and quite active. Fizzy, thin, mocha colored head fades fast and doesn't any lacing to speak of.

Smell starts out really woody. Chocolate and vanilla like malty notes come next. I can feel some boozy heat, but not that much, and I don't really smell it.

The wood is prominent up front, and is joined by mild hop bitterness, malty flavors and fleeting sweetness in the middle. There is some vanilla and chocolate like character in the malty part, and something vinous that I can't quite identify. Bitterness returns for the finish, but stronger. Booze is noticeable.

Low/medium carbonation, full body feels rich briefly then dries out really fast. Finishes dry and a little bitter.

I definitely liked this better on tap, but it's a very good beer in either context. The woody character comes through strongly in the smell and taste, and there are some other complexities as well. But this bottle sample is just a little too dry and bitter to call wicked smooth. I wonder how it ages. If I had reviewed what I had on tap I would surely have scored this higher.

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Photo of feylure
4.45/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have been intrigued by this beer ever since I saw an interview with Caligione about how it is made. Bottled on 11/10/10.

Appearance is dark. Almost pitch black in fact with a brown hint around the rim and very little carbonation.

Smell is an amazing dark malt and wood aroma.

Taste is unique. It may be a American Brown Ale, but this is a new flavor. Like the smell, it's quite dark and malty, but the wood finally takes form with a characteristic quite different from oak or any other wood-aged beer I've tried; very caramel and vanilla and complex spices. The brew is also very well balanced.

Mouthfeel is extremely full-bodied beginning to end.

For 12% abv, I find this quite drinkable. It's not overpowering given it's great balance of flavor.

This beer is expensive, but I find it to be worth it. You're really purchasing this for the wood the beer has been aged on. Indigenous only to Paraguay and brought to Delaware by Dogfish (costing $140,000 for one tank according to Caligione), it's the dominating factor in the brew, and that's why I find it to be such a unique beer.


ps - Hopefully in the future we can see Dogfish make a beer as intense as the 120 Minute IPA or World Wide Stout aged with this Palo Santo wood. Just wish thinking!

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.73/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very heavy deep brown, almost black, but with an edging to it that suggests something other than a stout. Head is filmy but supple, leaving a few speckles of lace, if nothing more. Very heavy and thick body, which I guess is to be expected in a beer weighing in at 12% ABV. Look pretty good.

Roasted, but surprisingly light nose, with some notes of crushed undergrowth, but minimal black charred characters. Instead, there's a light astringency and a leavened almost chemical character, that smells like old camera film.

Taste is smooth, but surprisingly light, with a little roasted grain and slight chilli flavour, if not the spice. Slight nuttiness on the back which if anything leavens it more, giving a light character to the dark flavours.

Feel is light. It doesn't match with the flavour.

Nice. Nutty and interesting, with some unusual flavours. Hints of spice and a really surprisingly well subdued alcohol character. Indeed, 12% is a shock when you discover the ABV.

A decent brew. It doesn't do anything astounding, however.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.78/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

on tap at the brewpub - review from notes

Pours a deep, rich brown color with an almost black coffee brown head. Fades out with barely any retention or lacing on the glass.

Richer tones in the nose with raisins, dates and roasted charred malts. Slight caramel sweetness with earthy wood.

Some candied dark fruit up front with fruit sweetness driven by dates and raisins. Caramel and syrupy sweet flavors. Oak smoothness yet earthy, rich, and robust overall. Slight vanilla with a smack of booze towards the finish.

Full bodied, sticky and chewy, lighter carbonation. Pretty drinkable considering the richness and abv. The wood aging gives this an interesting flavor profile that I've enjoyed a number of times.

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Photo of DerekP
3.92/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Notes from 1/29/2011

My wife compiled a six pack of different brews for my birthday and included this curious and mysterious brew.

Dark brown in appearance, nearly black. Dark nougat head. Aroma similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, not that I'm a wine expert. Fruity. Cocoa nibs. Pealed apples (green). Woodsy aromas remind me of olive oil. Fierce alcohol & acidity presenting itself in the midst of a nuance of smell variables. Sticky like jam hands (smell still).

Man, oh, man! Alcohol up front (taste). Very warming. That it's aged on wood is clearly evident. Wife calls it "salty" (reluctantly tried it). The alcohol is upfront like I said, but warming as opposed to offensive & aggressive. Washes down smoothly. Nearly a wine, but with the body of a beer. Woodsy notes linger like reverberating chords.

Sip, sip, sip slowly. Any reasonable palate will only permit a savoring of this brew, not a fast, hasty finish. I find it hard to distinguish between the hops & alcohol in this brew as it carries so much depth, but they're both playing their part undoubtedly. Mouthfeel is warm like wine, but offers a broader body with far more discernible death.

Other than slowly sipping this for a cool 45-60 minutes, it almost has zero drinkability. The high alcohol content (12%) renders this brew an "only one" endeavor.

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Photo of vtblackdog
4.26/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark as a new moon night and no light penetrates the pint glass full.

S - You definitely can tell its heavy on the alcohol. Can catch some woody scents.

T - Heavy alcohol, thin malt and slight oaky.

M - Medium to the mouth.

D - Its a bit overwhelming to do more than sipping.

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Photo of emooze
4.28/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Very dark and opaque with a thin, quickly-fading caramel head.

S: Distinctly roasted malt with a hint of something that reminds me of anejo tequila. Must be the wood.

T: The wood dominates with an earthy, herbal taste. Certainly not something I've ever tasted before but not unpleasant. Aftertaste has a hint of chocolate in it

M/D: Thin but the ABV definitely comes through. Dangerous because it's nice and smooth.

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Photo of rpardon7
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the tap a dark ominous brown that could be called black. Small rose color in the bottom of your glass when held to the light, small one finger tight off white head that laced for most of the beer. Smell is roast malt, wood, dark fruit, cofee, chocolate hint of vanilla and a lingering warming alcohol. Taste is fantastic complexity, warm bittersweet chocolate with a bite of wood from the san palo wood, coffee and roast malt mix with sharp hops that fade into more roast and a sweet big malt bill finish. Mouthfeel is smooth and heavy very large body but fills the beer out nicely. Drinkability would be much higher if the abv weren't so high. That being said please pass me another!

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

Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter glass. Pours very dark brown, almost black with a small brown head. Reduces to a whispy covering and leaves a little spotty but short-lived lacing. Aroma is roasted malts, brown sugar, vanilla, and the wood is big on the nose, also some spice. Flavor is vanilla, molasses, malty, and spicy. Long spicy finish. Mouthfeel is on the thin side, medium carbonation. Interesting beer though I won't seek out for it again.

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

This is a solid beer from Dogfish head.

Appearance- Its completely black; can't see through it. Very little head.

Smell- Dark roasted smell. Kind of smoky. The alcohol comes through in the smell, however.

Taste- Very enjoyable taste. It has notes of spice and coffee. The alcohol comes through in the taste though, and that is a negative to me. Couldn't taste the vanilla that was supposed to be there, however.

Mouthfeel- This is a thick and creamy beer. I would not consider it a brown ale, however.

Drinkability- For such a high ABV, this is a very drinkable beer. Goes down smoothly.

Overall this is a decent beer, but I was expecting more from it. I was surprised how much of the alcohol came through in the smell and the taste, but other than that, this is a really good beer. I recommend it.

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Photo of tjsdomer2
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Extremely dark brown, practically black. There's absolutely no light coming through the glass except a bit of red-brown at the bottom of the glass. Nice foam and good lacing. Good!

Smell: Strong chocolate and coffee. Lots of dark spiced fruit as well. This one definitely packs a punch and is very pleasant. Thumbs way up!

Taste/Mouthfeel: Nice sweet chocolate, caramel, and fruit to go with a hint of pine hops at the end. I mark some points off for the strange unpleasant bitter aftertaste. It's subtle but strong enough to take into consideration. Mouthfeel is creamy smooth.

Drinkability: Not overbearing despite the alcohol content. You don't really taste much of it so that helps.

Overall: Very good overall. I would definitely have it again, maybe closer to the source next time.

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Photo of foogerd
4.12/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Poured out of a 12 ounce bottle like oil if I wouldnt know better I would think its a stout. Black body with slightly dark purple hues, pretty much no head, some brown bubbles.

S- Typical Brown Ale characteristics are present along with a sweet creamy lactose smell. I think I might be getting an aroma of fresh wet wood. Some sweet booze at the end.

T- Definitely broader than the nose, I get vanilla, roasted chocolate coffee beans, milk chocolate, and some dark sweet fruits.

M- Real creamy and stoutlike feel to this, thickest brown ale ive seen.

D- Excellent for what we're dealing with here.

Dogfish really knows how to stretch the boundries with their brews, definitely seek this out.

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Photo of Glibber
4.16/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I was excited to find this beer on tap on a recent trip to Sacramento. Because of the alcohol content, this was served in a 8 oz stemmed glass. Very dark foam that laced the glass well, otherwise looked much like a stout in color. I picked up some hints of coffee and a little sweetness. A very nice finish and not the strong alcohol presence as I was expecting. Very enjoyable beer to be savored.

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Photo of patelc75
4.26/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this gem at Whole Foods in Chicago. It's like a cross between a barley wine and a coffeehouse porter. I don't know if it I would consider it a brown ale. A little smokey and delicious. The high alcohol content (12%) will calm you down after a long day :)

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Photo of SteveGNC
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow - A very complex beer that just gets better and better with each sip. Flavors definitely change as the beer warms. I noted flavors of coffee, chocolate, and woodsy vanilla. At 12% abv, this is a sipper for sure. I am fortunate that this beer is almost always available in NC. I've had it before and will have again many times. An excellent winter warmer.

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Photo of micromaniac129
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my Chimay goblet this beer looks velvetty when poured, with a very dark brown color. A vigorous pour produced a dense head but only about 1 finger high. It does leave a nice foamy ring about the glass.
Aromas of dark complex malts. Hints of vanilla
wood barrels and alcohol.
Soft flavors of complex malts with sutle hints of palo santo barrels. Similar to oak but not as assertive.The wood barrels are more effident in the aroma then the taste itself.
A full bodied beer here, which is slightly gritty. It's sweet but leans towards the dryer end of the scale.
A well hidden alcohol presence makes this a sipper.

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Photo of Casey10
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is by far one of the best "brown" ales I have had it reminds me in some way of a ris or porter. The taste is one of a kind and a nice steak with a cigar would be great with this.

A - Dark thin chocolate head.

S - alcohol, some of the char woody smell.

T - Definate woody charcoal flavor, alcohol, really gets better as it warms as well.

M - Nice feel leaves behind a nice warm feel after drinking.

D - good very strong brew so you might not want a bunch a once but definately wont turn it down either.

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Single bottle (no date I could find) poured into a Tulip glass.

Appearance: Pitch black on the table, and pretty much black when held up to the light as well. If I look close I can see some very dark cola brown at the edges at the top of the glass. The foam is a dark tan, but not very thick even when pouring. It's a ring around the edge and thin film across the top. There is very delicate lacing noted as I drink it down though.

Smell: Some definite vanilla and faint sweet smells. With some swirls I get some char and smoky smells as well.

Taste: Smooth caramel, roasted malts, and that hint of vanilla again up front, but then it moves into a hot alcohol note, some more roasted malt and sweet flavors, a hint of something woody, and then a lingering alcohol "burn", although that burn isn't as strong as what you get from a whiskey. Definitely has some bite to it. When first poured I can taste some char/smoke/ash flavors every now and then, but as it warms up these mostly go away.

Mouthfeel: Mild carbonation on the tongue, thick on the creamy side of things, and does leave some lingering sensation on the teeth.

Drinkability: Definitely a slow sipper due to the high ABV, and with the higher alcohol bite, I feel that this has to be paired with a meal, and the right meal at that. Stand alone it's a bit much and I seem to remember as a bit more drinkable when on tap. Not a bad beer at all - just something I have to pace myself on and ideally, I'd prefer to have something like this with something else to balance out the high alcohol content. I enjoyed it, but it's definitely one and done by itself.

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

Had this in a bottle at the Flying Saucer during a round of trivia.

This beer reminded me a lot of the (512) Bruin. Definitely a double brown. It poured a dark color, almost a stout... But still definitely brown. The nose was darkly fruity. Thhe taste was along the lines of dark fruits, mellowed by the wood they were aged on. I didn't pick up many wood notes, but my palate might not br adjusted to those. This beer was crazy drinkable for the ABV. It hit a lot of great notes and it was definitely the better of the double browns I've had... even though I loved the (512) version.

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

Pours a nearly black garnet, hardly anything brown about it. A finger of smooth brown head that dies quickly and doesn't stick much.

Nose is robust with dark malts, molasses, mulled with black cherry, maybe even some impressions of strawberry, raisin, strong esters and very sweet. It's such a complex mass of malt, this is probably going to kick me in the face. The wood lends a smoky quality that sits on top of everything.

The first taste is wonderfully potent and complex. The smokiness is much more prominent, and it still has a huge malt body. The sweet, stickiness of molasses is prominent, and the dark fruit undertones are more noticeable too. The esters are also in full force, the ABV is felt as the body fades. Just a little spiciness in the beginning to break up the sweet malt. Someone mentioned a similarity to English barleywines, and I completely agree. Just a little tartness, and a huge aged malt body closely resemble that style, probably more-so than a brown ale.

Full body, a little chewy, and a sticky finish with lingering sweetness and alcohol vapor. Incredibly smooth and an absolute pleasure to drink. I wish I could have a constant supply because it is a gem of a beer. Definitely fits Dogfish's "off-centered" idea, because this is nowhere close to a standard beer, let alone a regular brown ale.

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Photo of cpmichael
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark mahogany, with little to no head retention

S: A raisin-like smell accompanied with wood overtones and malts.

T: A dominate raisin flavor shows itself early on, followed by malts and maybe a little chocolate. Very complex. and pretty smooth.

M: There could be more carbonation to this brew, but even still, it's a pretty smooth beer.

D: A smooth and drinkable beer. I could throw a few of these back in a sitting. Not bad in the least.

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

Bottle to an Ale glass

A - Pours an opaque deep black, light tan head and thick lacing, no light gets through this one. More like a stout in appearance

S - Smells toasty and warm with cocoa and coffee strongest. Malty sweetness and charred wood

T - Robust and full flavored, a complex earthy start, sweet the whole way through with chocolate and caramel. A semi-dry finish. Thought it would be alcohol strong in the end but its tastes just like a cook fire smells in the finish

M - Heavy as coffee easily the thickest brown ale I've had. Not overly dry or chalky as is with others this deep

D - sneaky strong, I sip this one slowly though. Reminds me of something I would want to drink warm in a whiskey glass...

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Photo of rlee1390
4.26/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Is this a brown ale or a stout? A black color, with a two finger dark head that leaves behind a perfect lacing.

S-Coffee, Roasted Malts (fresh it smelled better, aged it was a little more mellow)

T-Extremely sweet, coffee, roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla. Extremly sweet and great for a brown ale. (Fresh the flavors were much more bold, the aged had a better mesh due to the mellowing. However at a year there was a good deal of fading)

M-Medium bodied, some carbonation

O-For a 12%abv brown ale extremly drinkable. I'd say it was better aged although I think something closer to 9 months would be better due to the year old seeming slightly too faded, although the blend was excellent.

EDIT-Did a side by side tasting of this fresh and at a year old.

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Photo of mjsheehan08
3.97/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours what looks like a carbonation-less liquid. Black, with almost no light. Really looks like almost a pale stout.

Smells like woody vanilla. I dint know if I am just used to picking up bourbon with these notes, but I detect some bourbon as well, but it might just be the contents of the wood used in this brew.

Booze right up front, this is a hot beer that is most likely pretty fresh. Woody, sweetness with a tinge of vanilla and maybe some toffee. Dark fruit, raisins maybe some plum.

Feel is pretty full, poppy and the mild carbonation is perfectly balanced. Coats the tongue with a warm alcohol burn. Booze is def presence, and while I might not be able to drink a bunch of these, the one is def enjoyable.

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Photo of ejeffer11
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

bottled 7/24/08 and stored at cellar temp since purchase in fall of 2008. Served in a snifter.

Brew is extremely dark - cream coffee colored head that is gone pretty quickly - very stout like. Can smell the alcohol, but the first sip does not overpower. Certainly some sweetness here, but the taste is extremely pleasant. Caramel, molasses, brown sugar, vanilla goodness all coming through. The wood aging has produced an extremely smooth drinking experience that gets better as the beer warms. Hard to tell this is 12%.

This beer has held up well at about 2 1/2 years old and could probably go another few years. It has rounded out nicely and blended into quite an enjoyable beer. Always fun to see what age does to these quality brews. This is certainly one that I prefer to drink after having been in the cellar for a while.

Well done dogfish head.

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Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
4.16 out of 5 based on 5,844 ratings.
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