Friday, June 22, 2012

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron (2012 original review)


This is actually one of DFH's most acclaimed beers, but I've just never gotten around to trying it. Not even at one of the many DFH "tap takeover" events I've been to. So last time I was at the beer store I picked up a bottle and decided to finally give it a try. Would it be worth the wait?

4.6
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (680) - Albany, New York, USA - JUN 21, 2012
It’s funny how an amazing beer can eventually become just another bottle on the shelf. That’s the way I’ve always thought of Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron. I’ve heard rave reviews of it by friends and other beer reviewers, but I just kept putting off reviewing it until it became another bottle at my beer store I’m not interested in. For whatever reason I finally picked up a bottle and decided to give it a try. And I’m glad I did! Wow, this beer has everything going for it - a delicious, complex, well-balanced palate that’s very drinkable for such a big beer.

I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pitch black body with a very dark brown frothy/foamy head. It dissipates rather quickly, but never completely and does leave some lacing on the glass.

Smell: Similar to a Belgian quad but without the Belgian qualities: black cherry, plum, raisin, sour grape, and a vanilla/toffee undertone.

Taste: Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron claims to be a very big brown ale, but there’s a lot of styles it would seem more aptly classified under. Stout, Belgian quad, imperial porter and barleywine all come to mind. It’s got the qualities of all these beers in one. Huge dark fruit flavors right up front, especially with a black cherry and plum taste dominating, but without any tartness.

As it starts its descent a noticeable hop bitterness kicks in. Similar to the taste of coffee or that of a stout. Slightly dry, slightly roasted. Bittersweet dark chocolate is also present, but the fruit flavors never go away. Chocolate-covered cherry is definitely a flavor to discover. There’s a noticeable kick of alcohol right as it finishes, followed by a sweet, confectionary flavor of toffee and vanilla plus cough syrup-like cherry again. The aftertaste is cleaner than you’d expect with just a slightly sweet presence, but nothing cloying or sticky. Quite simply this is one of the most complex and delectable palates I’ve ever encountered.

Drinkability: While it’s no secret that Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron is a big beer at 12% ABV, it doesn’t drink like something with such numbers attached to it. The mouthfeel is certainly full bodied and thick, but not quite syrupy. It coats the mouth like an imperial stout, but leaves only the slightest wake. It goes down ridiculously smooth - so much so in fact you may have to make a conscience effort to savor the beer instead of glugging it down. A fantastic dessert brew or nightcap, yet I could see myself drinking several of these because of the taste alone.

Grade: 10/10