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: 5,815 |  Reviews: 2,091
Photo of pershan
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have to disagree in calling this a brown ale. First of all, the beer poured a thick, black color with a thin, dark head into a 12-oz pilsner glass. The smell was of caramel, currants, roasted malt, and just a hint of vanilla. The appearance and smell were more in line with a stout (an Imperial stout, I guess, due to the 12% ABV). The initial taste was of sweet caramel malt, thick and viscous, transitioning into a very full-bodied toasted malt and alcohol finish - very "stout-ish". Very smooth and balanced for a 12% ABV brew - possibly the smoothest high alcohol beer I've ever had. I can't honestly say I could pick out the contribution the Palo Santo wood made to the beer, but this is a great brew nonetheless, even if the style categorization seems to be wrong.

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

Appearance: Brown ale? Wow. It's jet black from my perspective. Very generous creamy, tan two and a half finger head. Excellent retention and lacing.

Smell: Roasted malts roll off the top. There's some toasted nut, hints of dark fruit, and chocolate aromas added to the mix. Very light espresso or coffee smell. Alcohol is masked pretty well, but is noticeable. Very faint spicy and hop aromas on the tail.

Taste: Roasted and chocolate malts are most prevalant. It is sweet and a bit spicy. Toasted nut and plum flavors mix well. Very light espresso taste. Light hops provide just the right amount of bitterness. It has a bit of a smoked flavor to it (could be the wood effect). Alcohol is not very noticeable in taste.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's medium bodied and extremely smooth. Carbonation is excellent. It is strong at 12%. I probably wouldn't drink more than one or two in a sitting. But, it's extremely drinkable. Definitely not hard to put away. Overall, this is a damn fine beer. Very unique. I would strongly suggest picking it up while you have the chance.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.48/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I bought this one on the raving review given by my local liquor store beer guru. Expectations were high before I even got home.

Poured in a tulip glass. It had a very little, lacy, bone white head which disappeared quickly.

The beer was much darker than I would have imagined for a brown ale. No light passes through this one.

On a blind taste test I would have called it an imperial porter. It has the sweetness of vanilla at first but a surprisingly dry finish, perhaps because of the alcohol content.

Speaking of which, I notice the warmth in my belly after just a few small sips.

This is an intensely special beer and one should take the time to enjoy it. Like most Dogfish Head brews, it's expensive but worth a try. Next time I have one, it will be at cellar temp. I hope this will bring out more of the subtle flavors.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, bottled on 2/11/08. Served in a Dogfish Head snifter, the beer pours dark brown with about a half inch brown head. Head retention and lacing are both OK. The aroma is great and very unique. I assume the stronger part of the aroma (since it's something that's not familiar to me) is from the Palo Santo wood. I can also smell some vanilla, toffee, and cream. The taste of this beer is just all over the place. With each sip it seems like I can taste something different. I can taste wood, chocolate, toffee, vanilla, roasted malt, molasses, coffee, dark fruit and little bit of booze. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy, coating and a little bit slick. Drinkability is pretty good too, it's smooth and it doesn't seem like a beer that's 12% ABV. I don't think I could drink more than a couple of these at a time, but it's very enjoyable. This is one of the better (and most unique) beers I've had in a while. I definitely recommend this, get some if you can!

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Photo of satowns
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 2/11/08

PS Marron pours completely opaque with a quickly receding head of dark brown. I guess I didn't check this bottle in the light. I was expecting a beer of deep brown or auburn. What a surprise!

Vanilla bean and alcohol fill the initial waves of aroma. Some whipping cream in there somewhere. Smells like an amazing butter cream desert. I get a little toffee in the end. I have no idea what Palo Santo smells like, but I don't get any traditional woodiness in the nose.

Wow! I don't know where to start, except that you don't get any of the 12% abv in the flavor! Extremely complex flavor components. Chocolate, green grape, vanilla, sweet Bing cherry. Amazingly easy drinking.

Beautiful body, great mouthfeel.

This is a great strong ale. Flavors melt together well to form a rich and complex deliciously tasting experimental ale. I admire the spirit of DFH because they stick to the essence of why we advocates of beer drink the beer we do; to experience new flavors. They are mega scale home brewers because they are not afraid to try something new. I have had several DFH beers that I did not like, but there wasn't a beer that I didn't enjoy. Its all about the experience; and trying something new and outside your comfort zone is a major factor.

Music enjoyed whilst sampling: He's Back by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones

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

Original review: Reviewed on: 02-23-2008 02:04:24

12oz bottle poured into my Duvel tulip at near cellar temp. Bottled all of 11 days back!

A: Brown ale? Heck this is black with a thin dark tan head. Appealing on this winter night

S: Unique. It's got caramel, toffee, roasted nuts but it's also got this wonderful smell that's quite distinct - a sweetish, spicy aroma that i guess is from the wood. Very good

T: This is like a Scorsese movie - long, twisting and enthralling. Starts off with some caramel and chocolate malt, turns sweet and then all of a sudden, becomes rather dry and then the hops kick in. Mildly done for a DFH beer but well in balance here. The finish is dry with a definitely woody taste to it.

M: Very good - not too light, not too heavy, not too slick - it's got it all together

D: One and done - that's all you need but what did you expect from a 12%abv beer?

Try it at least once - it's interesting!

**Edit: 31 July 2010.**
I've had this over two years now, and my palate's changed a LOT since I last had this.
The nose is excellent, with a blend of vanilla, a light woody character, a little incense and some caramel. As it warms up, the wood grows, but is unique, very perfumey and quite like sandalwood in some respects. With some cocoa to round out the nose, this smells excellent.
The palate opens with a spicy, woody character, with the caramel and little cocoa working very well with it. In some ways, it's like a heavily but slowly caramelized loaf of pumpernickel bread with a dusting of caraway on top. A touch tannic on the finish, this helps balance out the moderate sweetness that's present. The chocolate character really comes through mid-palate, quite cocoa-like. The finish is quite excellent, with a nice, lingering woody spice character. Alcohol is quite spectacularly hidden, this is an excellent beer, one I wish I'd drunk more of.

**Edit 15 Oct 2014**
My last bottle of batch 1. 6 Years!

Age has softened and smoothed this beer, bringing out the deep, fragrant wood, earthy, spicy and mildly tannic. The base beer has held up pretty well too with just a touch of oxidation (unfortunately mildly papery). Some buckwheat honey. The palate opens with caramel and cocoa before segueing into burnt toffee, buckwheat honey, earth and spice. Really, really impressive stuff. 4/4.25/4/4.5/4.25

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Photo of mcallister
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Well something mysterious about this beer in its appearance. As a brown ale it looks fantastic. A dark chocolate colored or even fudgy in appearance. A distinct creamy mocha head settles quickly into a light mist within seconds after pouring. Carbonation levels are obviously high as the snifter is swirled.

Chocolate in color and chocolate in aromas. Semiweet chocolate actually. Some dark fruits leaning toward plums and dates with a rum soaked raisiny edge. Than the wood sneaks in. Somewhat of a rustic scent with earthy undertones. And things mellow out in a thick brown sugar, and roasted malty aroma.

This is a good beer. A damn good beer in fact. Mouth coating with maybe the longest finish I've had in a brew. It just sticks with you and stays and stays and stays and...well you get the picture. Very rich and creamy. Tastes nearly like it smells with very litte in way of the wood used. Not sure how much of the wood could really infuse the beer anyway being a 10,000 gallon barrel. Gooey brown sugar with rummy raisins, roasted almost burnt malts, date, black fig, plums and nutty berry like middle. A damn good beer however this one is so big and rich it could take quite awhile to drink one let alone more. With age in the bottle I see that changing.

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Photo of beerkeeper
3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A- The look of this beer was very inviting. Poured a dark brown seemed to be a little thicker beer then usual brown ales. Good head which disapeared as beer warmed. Left behind a good lace all the way down the glass.

S- Sweet. With a bit of a burntness to it.

T- Flavor explosion up front the first sip you take. Stays on your mouth for a while. I had a problem with the finish though. The after taste was a little bitter.

M- Loved the mouthfeel like how it coated your mouth and stayed with you till you let it go.

D- Not so drinkable 1 maybe 2 beers a sitting. I drank it by itself thought maybe if paired with food if maybe the taste and drinkability would increase

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Photo of pjb171
3.8/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Dark brown color with a bubbly tan head. Very thick and remained around the edges for quite some time. Good lacing.

Smelled very malty

Taste was similar to the smell. Lots of malt flavor up front followed by a flavor I could not put my finger on. I can only assume this to be the wood.

Was a bit of a strange mouthfeel for me which detracted from the overall enjoyment.

It's pretty drinkable and would be far better if it didn't have the odd mouthfeel.

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Photo of DIM
4.21/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a: This brown ale is just a degree short of black. It pour with a huge frothy light tan head that has decent retention.

s: Mild chocolate notes with some faint wood and vanilla aromas. After warming a strong alcohol smell emerges.

t: Most noticeable are sweet peaty vanilla flavors, which are not at all cloying. It tastes of earthy dark fruits and a well balanced woody taste. Some bitterness in the form of coffee and chocolate. Absolutely unique and very complex.

m: Very thick and oily, a great body. The carbonation did not last as long I took to savor this.

d: I sampled the first batch at the Rehoboth Beach brewpub in the fall of '06. I remember tasting a lot of wood, vanilla, and booze. It wasn't bad then, but whatever changes they made are a huge improvement. I love DFH for their willingness to experiment. It doesn't always work, but this is certainly a success.

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Photo of ggaughan
4.22/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On taps at Monk's Cafe in Philly for a DFH dinner. This beer is also known at the "Big Brown Woody". Great name. Was planning on taking a trip to the brewpub to try this but didn't have to. This was served along with a desert which was a perfect pairing.

The beer poured a brownish black color with a thick tan head. The nose of the beer was a soothing toasted malty aroma. There was also a touch of coco in the nose. The beer had a full body and the taste gives you more of the strong malty backbone which is very pleasing. With the abv at about 14% this is a ver strong beer but Mike did a great job of melding the taste profile with the high abv. It does not at all overpower the last. Although I didn't get much of a woody taste from the rare wood that it was aged on, it is still an enjoyable beer and if you are lucky enough to come across this at a DFH event, get yourself some.

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Photo of Keith238
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had the pleasure of stopping into the Rehoboth bar and finding this gem on tap. Deep reddish brown in color and peppery to the taste. The GM was on scene and showed me a sample of the paolo santo wood that they age the beer with. Odd looking South American hardwood with a blue tint that gave the beer the peppery taste I mentioned. The taste was excellent and drinkability was good enough to drink 2 or 3 of them. At 12% abv you may not want to drink more than that. Those small snifters pack a wallop. Limited edition beer not available for carry out so stop into the bar while it lasts!

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Entered off of old notes.

This one came a dark black with a woody tan collar that left some nice lumps of lace behind.

Smells of maple syrup, molasses, prunes and an afterthought of coffee that obscured a hint of alcohol.

Tasted of a huge sugary bombardment of cane sugar, corn syrup and maple sap that surprisingly transitioned effortlessly into a dark (overly?) roasted malt.

Feels medium to heavy in body and a bit sticky with little carbonation.

A little too heavy and sweet for me. Perhaps a smaller glass would have been better.

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Photo of Umbra
3.93/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled on tap at Max's during the recent book release party. Poured dark, dark brown and slightly cloudy with a thick dark brown head. "Thick" aroma of hearty roasted malts.
Extremely full flavored brew. Almost porter like roasted malts full of brown sugar, caramel and cocoa, maybe even some hints of vanilla. Apparently brewed with some rare, dense Paraguan wood. Didn't get much woodiness off the flavor, but that might've been because it is so big all by itself. According to Sam, it was actually a clear brew before the addition of the wood.

Finished with a sharp alcohol bite. Lost some drinkability due to the bite, but it was still very tasty. Think it would be perfect for aging if bottled. Doesn't seem like any brown ale I've ever had.

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

From DFH web site....
Palo Santo Marron

(Holy Tree Brown)

This beer is a 12% abv, highly roasty, and malty brown ale aged on the wood of the Palo Santo tree from Paraguay.

Palo Santo means "holy tree" and it's wood has been used in South American wine-making communities.

We were lucky enough to get our hands on 20 blocks of the super-dense wood and the wood was added to the ageing tank after fermentation.

It poured (in a snifter) a very dark, absolutely opaque brownish-black. About a fingers worth of tan head capped it off and left a small amount of very faint lacing.

The smell was light, even after it warmed. Mostly dark roasted malts, burnt toffee, and some lighter dark chocolate and coffee scents. Oh, and of course, wood.

The flavor was roasty, wet cardboard, but in a good way. The flavor of the wood came through good and it was tasty. But it still had a bit of wet carboard coming through...maybe it was the Palo Santo wood flavor.

Overall this is another different, unique creation from DFH. The abv snuck up on me and that made it a 3.5 instead of a 4.0. You don't smell or taste the alcohol, but you feel it. This was a good one, so hurry up and get some before it's gone.

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Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
4.16 out of 5 based on 5,815 ratings.
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