Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dogfish Head Brewing Company - Palo Santo Marron

The beer I am reviewing tonight is from Dogish Head Brewing Co. A new brewery here on The Delicious Beer Blog; but most likely not unknown to many craft beer drinkers out there. The new TV show on Discovery Channel (Brewmasters, information found here) follows the owner Sam Calagione on various brewing adventures in addition to chronicling life within a working brewery. They are based in Milton, Delaware, and have been serving up "Off-centered ales, for off-centered people" since opening their doors in 1995. Sam is credited with growing the smallest craft brewery in the nation to the 24th largest in record time, and now enjoys a worldwide reputation and penchant for serving up and brewing some of the most unique, and highest quality ales on the planet. Dogfish Head is best well known for their 90-minute IPA, Punkin Ale, Midas Touch, Raison D'etre, and more recently (due to the show) Bitches Brew. They now brew over 31 different beers throughout the year. A full list can be found here.

A little background information on Palo Santo Marron: It is listed as a brown ale, but perhaps a better category would be imperial brown ale. At 12% abv, it is not to be taken lightly. The "Palo Santo" or "holy stick" in spanish, refers to the type of wood used to age the beer. Dogfish Head Brewing Co has constructed a 10,000 gallon tank composed entirely of this Paraguayan wood. According to the interwebs, Palo Santo is found in South America in both the interior regions of Paraguay and Argentina, and is used for incense, brewing tea, ancient inca religious rituals, and even possibly for wine production. It is prized because it is extremely hard and durable. Demand for the wood has since fallen off because of the modern technological development of alloys and other more durable polymers, but is still listed as an endangered species. For the brewer the likeable traits come from its ability to lend caramel-like and vanilla-like notes to beer. The "Marron" in the name of the beer means "brown" in spanish.

Name: Palo Alto Marron
Category/Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 12%
IBU: 50
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Unknown
Hop Types: Unknown
Yeast Type: Unknown
Additives: Unknown
Bottled: 07/14/10
Bottle Size: 12 oz

The Pour: Nice and dark, might be slight mahogany/slight red orange brown coloration around the edge of the glass, but not much light penetrating this one. Light tan thin head, a little lacing. Looks like the kind of beer I want to drink.

The Nose: Vanilla, sweet, malt, caramel, some spice-like notes. Cinnamon? Alcohol, almost warms my nose (It's 12%) sweet and delicious. Smells like warm-fresh-out-of-the-oven spice bread. Maybe some ginger. Smells incredible, I want to drink it real bad.

The Taste: Brown sugar, malt, caramel. Alcohol travels up the nose. Vanilla, spices and bitterness midway through. Smoke on the finish? Or is that just the wood coming through? Slight bitterness, roastiness, and cocoa powder on the finish. Woody/reedy notes, especially on the finish. Warmth on the back of my throat. Full bodied, light to medium carbonation...

The Verdict: Very nice offering. Difficult to ascertain the brown ale qualities in this one, and at 12% it's a huge beer, and should be consumed over a long period of time. The vanilla and caramel was very nice and evident from the intial testing of the nose. Definitely roasty with hints of chocolate interspersed, very similar in body and flavor to that of an imperial stout. Quite a unique beer, considering the story behind it and the construction of the 10,000 gallon open-air wooden tank using Paraguyan wood. If you can track this one down you might give it a shot for that reason alone. It should be great for sipping on late-night or sharing with a friend ;]

Thanks for reading!


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