The following is a review from Travis Curran (@THSeamonsters), a writer, actor and semi-pro beer drinker in Portland, ME. Travis is one of the four titular “Tasty Dudes” of Tasty Dude Films, and the author of Travipedia.
Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron – 12% ABV – 50 IBU
Mr. Christie entered the apartment on a Friday, through the back door, when no one was home. He set this beer down and left, without a trace. Neither myself nor the other Tasty Dudes were notified, and so the Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron appeared. So I did what I had to do, and I’m making a real time of it. It sits beside me even now, like a deep well you can test by dropping a small stone down to see exactly how deep it goes.
A malty brown ale it is like the Smutty Farmhouse Saison, a black sheep. The majority of browns top out their ABV around 5%, having historically been a lower gravity style of ale, but not the Palo Santo. Twelve percent alcohol by volume. This renegade is typical of Dogfish Head, throwing unique crafts at you from both left, right and center. But God bless them for it. With the higher ABV, this mouthfeel has a serious bite to it. Right from the start, straight to the back of your throat, this beer’s got your attention. You’re not at a party, sipping away while politely chatting with your guests, hoping they notice your intelligent choice of beverage. Not with this beer. You have to sit down and focus. I’ve almost lost focus twice now writing this, such is the drawing power of the spiral into a night of jet-black bier resting here on the desk.
The taste has distinct flares of vanilla, which sit so nicely on the palate after the thick body slides down. The malt is sweet of caramel, from the Santo Palo wood chosen as both the namesake and brewing vessel for aging. Lignum Vitae, meaning “wood of life” reigns from South America and is known best for two spectacular reasons: a) The wood Merlin carved his staff from, and 2) The replacement material for the electric feed insulators of the streetcar system in San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake, when provisions were short. The former because magic is totally awesome, and the latter because I once lived in San Francisco and rode streetcars over those insulators. The undeniable powers that lie within magic and reminiscence make this a strong drink, but does it account for the wicked, wicked alcoholic strength?
I don’t know. It’s either because they chose this rare special wood to age it, or the fact they built a 10,000 gallon tank from it. This is the largest wooden tank since pre-Prohibition America, and Dogfish Head is proud of it. So proud, they let the yeasts party as long as they could, kicking it in that tank. So much, that my glass is empty. And I am quite slanted. Seriously, I’m listing over here. My empty pint taunts me.
You win this time, Christie. But this war is far from over. No matter how heavy this beer was, or how it tasted like Merlin’s staff.
I need some spaghetti.