Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
Brewed by: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Inc.
Beer Classification and Specs
- Style: Brown Ale
- Variation: Imperial, American Style
- Seasonal: No
- ABV: 12.0%
- IBU: 50
Notes: Dogfish’s 10,000 gallon Palo Santo tank is the largest wooden brewing vessel built in America since before the Prohibition era.
Brewer’s Notes and Ingredients
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.
More Palo Santo Marron Images
Artwork: Follows the Dogfish Head brand label template, with shark swimming over a cut of Palo Santo tree.
Color: Dark, dark brown — if not black.
Aroma: Sweet vanilla and bourbon chips. This should be good.
Arrived in: Bottle
Served in: Pint glass
As Dogfish said: “We have wood. Now so should you.”
Yep. Any dark beer aficionado should have wood after drinking one of these!
Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron was a wooden vessel aged, exercise in brewing perfection. A “vessel” can either describe a watercraft, or any container / cask / barrel. But when the tank holds 10,000 gallons, it’s both — a massive tank, the size of a ship.
This ale was fermented with Sucanat, which is a type of whole cane sugar. What makes Sucanat unique, is it retains its molasses content when processed, for more bold flavor. After fermentation, the beer gets aged in the Paraguayan Palo Santo wood tank.
After it was poured, Palo Santo Marron was the darkest brown ale I have ever seen. It looked like a porter or stout in color, and this won’t be my first comparison of this beer to either of those styles.
Its medium sized, tan head dissipated quickly, and left behind a small, lasting band of froth around the edge of the glass. There was no carbonation to see, but from somewhere in that murky ale, mild effervescence emerged. Those bubbles created a ridiculously creamy mouthfeel, like a stout or porter should have.
Palo Santo Marron featured a substantial malt backbone, with rugged, yet multifaceted flavor. The type of robustness you would find where? That’s right — in a porter or stout.
It started with bittersweet bakers chocolate, with an undertone of earthy sweetness, almost like prunes or plum. Those sticky and sweet molasses qualities had to be from the Sucanat.
From there, the wooden vessel character took over in the finish, where vanilla and dry bourbon emerged. Just when I was done with each satisfying sip, another hint of bitter chocolate chased away the boozy bourbon.
Palo Santo Marron was probably the best brown ale I have ever had. But its almost unfair to call it a brown ale, since it was closer to a well-crafted porter or stout.
Actually, this brown ale would mop the floor with what many breweries try to pass off as either of those styles…
Final Score: 5/5
Palo Santo Marron was dark and delicious, with notes of chocolate, sugary sweet damp fruit, along with barrel aged characteristics of vanilla and bourbon to boot. If you do not like deep, gooey ales, don’t bother trying it.