Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

Beer: Palo Santo Marron
Brewer: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE USA
Type: Strong ale
Bottle: 12 fl. oz. bottle
ABV: 12%
Served in: Pint glass
Place of Purchase: Silver Liquor, Sherman Oaks, CA
Price: $15.99 per 4-pack

Recently, one of our Beeraucracy readers brought it to our attention that Mugsy and Jugsy had been focusing way too much on West Coast breweries, and he reminded us that there are some excellent breweries "East of the Rockies." Of course there are! And we are only too happy to drink (and review) them for you!

Having said that, Mugsy and Jugsy were also beginning to realize that there were a few too many Belgian and IPA reviews and not enough of all the other styles of beer. We're rectifying this immediately! (Although, we still reserve the right to review our favorite styles!)

The Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron calls itself a "Malt Beverage aged on Palo Santo Wood" and according to the bottle, this special Brown Ale is aged in handmade wooden vessels measuring 10,000 gallons - the largest brewing vessels built in America since before the Prohibition. This brew's distinctive caramel and vanilla flavors actually come from the Paraguayan Palo Santo wood used to make the tanks.
As an aside, "Palo Santo" means "Holy Wood" in Spanish (not to be confused with Hollywood, which is just over the hill from Mugsy & Jugsy's place!)

To quote directly from the bottle: "We have wood. Now you do too."

In every proper review, the Beeraucrats will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.

Palo Santo Marron


Mugsy: Dark! This beer looks like a cup of black coffee. Absolutely impossible to see through, even when held to light. Have to look very closely to see carbonation. Thin, but malty looking light brown head. One could easily mistake this for a glass of Coca-Cola. Lots of creamy head retention as glass empties.
Jugsy: Super dark black / brown - no light penetrates this brew! If I squint just the right way, I can see ruby tones near the bottom of the glass and a slight pinkish hue in the medium, tan frothy head. Leaves behind thick lacing.


Deep, roasted malt mixed with chocolate. Slight hint of vanilla also, maybe Bourbon vanilla? If sniffing this with the eyes closed, I would think it a glass of chocolate milk.
Jugsy: Sweet! Heavy chocolate, toffee and vanilla candy scents right off the bat. Caramel and coffee aromas are secondary. The faintest touch of roasted malts are present as well. If I were blindfolded and had to go on smell alone, I would think I was smelling a sugary iced-coffee drink!


Incredibly chocolaty, like cacao. Strong flavor of roasted malt. Tastes like those candy chocolate malted balls. Surprisingly, there's a little bit of hop flavor in there, too. Aftertaste is of vanilla. Tastes very much like a porter.
Jugsy: Definitely sweet and chocolaty. The beer equivalent of a coffee ice-cream flavored root beer float! Surprisingly sweet with a complex flavor palate. Toffee, chocolate and coffee flavors linger alongside toasty malts in the aftertaste. The vanilla flavor almost masks the high alcohol content. Very pleasant taste!


Very creamy & rich. Very heavy. Imagine drinking a bowl of melted chocolate ice cream that's been watered down with a porter. This is a meal - or at least a dessert - in a glass. Even though the hops are not incredibly present in the taste, there's a fair bit on the tongue.
Jugsy: Creamy, rich and smooth. Carbonation is mild. This is a heavy beer, but absolutely lovely to drink.


A bit too heavy to be a session beer, unless you're on the Arctic Tundra & throwing these back to keep warm! Also, the 12% ABV (12%!!!) would become prohibitive at some point. However, I'm only feeling a little bit of it right now. Guess I'll have to drink more!
Jugsy: If my taste-buds alone ruled this category, I'd drink it all night! However, due to the 12% ABV and the hearty nature of this brew, it needs to be relegated to the oft-neglected "dessert beer" category. One can only have so many root beer floats!


Quite complex and very well-rounded, balanced beer. If not for the "Brown Ale" description on the bottle, I would have thought this a porter or a stout. Would go well with rich desserts, fruitcakes or chocolaty treats. Would love to drink again, especially if the cost were just a little more affordable. (Feeling the 12% ABV now, by the way.) This beer would be great on one of those cold, winter nights in front of the fire with a girl named Jugsy.
Hmmmm... Gonna have to make that a reality... tonight!
Jugsy: I was not excited about reviewing this beer, despite generally being a fan of Dogfish Head, but Mugsy and I were determined to get out of our Belgian / IPA habit. Not excited, I should say, until I smelled it and became captivated by its curiously sweet aroma! This beer was a delight and a dream. For me, it's the first beer I've tasted that can truly be a companion for any dessert. I love it!


Mugsy: 8.05

Jugsy: 8.88


  1. This beer is phenomenal. I am looking forward to pairing it with a good cigar when Chicago finally warms up.

    Great review(s) and blog!

  2. Thank you, Taylor!

    We really did *love* this beer! We've never tasted anything like it before. 'Just wish it was more affordable! Ohhh, the perils of a good palate!

  3. I'm not sure how to drink it. Too rich and sweet, I can barely get a shot past my tongue. I've still got 3.5 bottles I don;t know what to do with. Maybe I can bake it into a pudding?