Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Palo Santo Marron - "Holy Tree" Brown Ale



I think I'm enjoying one of the geekiest beers out there tonight. This quirky, unusual brew is Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron. It's a beer aged with Palo Santo wood. According to the brewery's website, "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 it's wood has been used in South American wine-making communities." I heard about this beer a few months ago (I can't remember how or where), but when I went to the Dogfish Head website to look up some more information about it, I found a cool video about the production of this beer. I became more interested in the beer after watching the video and decided I HAD to find a bottle.

So I did, and like I said, I'm enjoying it tonight.

I've been worried that the hype for this beer was too great and that I'd be disappointed, but I'm not. Palo Santo Marron is a magnificent ale. Again, it's a deep dark brown ale that looks pretty good; no voluminous head or huge amounts of lace to speak of, but a solid ring of foam is left behind once the foam dissipates. The aroma is great and what I would expect from a world class strong brown ale. There's lots of candied fruit aromas (figs, plums, along with a little tingle of rummy alcohol in the nostrils.) What's incredible about this beer is the lush mouthfeel (like liquid satin) along with the brown sugar fig-like fruitiness and burnt caramel flavors. As the beer warms up, more leathery notes come forward along with rum-laced coffee with cream character. The finish is just as interesting with a transition from candied fruitiness to a vanilla and coffee liqueur flavor. This is one extremely complex ale.

Overall, an absolutely astounding strong (12 percent alcohol) sweet, brown ale that has got to have a ton of calories. I wouldn't recommend having more than one in a sitting. Not that it's so strong, or too caloric, but that it's rather special.

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