After thoroughly enjoying the hoppy, yeasty Goose Island Minx, I was ready to cleanse the palate. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a Dogfish Head malt bomb, aged in Paraguayan wooden barrels. Yes, friends, my next stop at Bodega was to the Palo Santo Marron. On tap.
The Palo Santo has to be one of the more ridiculous beers you’ll ever try. Seriously. Who thought it would be a good idea to put a malty beverage in barrels (pictured) made out of some of the most bizarre and obscure wood on the planet? The Ryan Howard imitators at DFH, that’s who. When they strike out, they whiff badly. But when they connect, as they have with the Palo Santo Marron, they look like hitting prodigies…and the ball doesn’t stay in the park for very long. Palo Santo (literally “holy wood”) is replete with spicy resin, which gives off a powerful, sometimes overpowering, aroma. Moreover, it’s so dense that it’s one of the few types of wood on the planet that will not float on water.*
*If you have 20 minutes to kill and want to know the whole story, the New Yorker wrote an article about DFH two years back that starts with the story of the Palo Santo. Well worth the read (as is the case with nearly every New Yorker article…except for that goofy-haired Gladwell character).
My prose is of such a quality–clumsy and often unnecessarily halting–that it will never afford the Palo Santo the justice it deserves. Doc Drinkale gave the beer its due in one of Beerford’s Conundra, but didn’t provide a rating. What I can add to his review is simple–the Palo Santo Marron is a unique experience that should be a must-drink on any Alehead’s list.
OK, OK, I’ll add some more. The beer arrived with a head, but it dissipated fairly quickly. Mouthfeel is creamy and chewy, with a touch of syrup. However, carbonation was high enough to lighten the dense, syrupy forces that lay within. The dark brown brew’s bold flavors coat your gullet. Coffee, tobacco, vanilla, cherry, chocolate, and molasses all find their way into the mix somehow at the front, and then just a touch of hoppy bitterness finds its way into the flavor at the finish line. The brewmasters deftly incorporate an amazing array of flavors with incredible balance. This is the extreme opposite of a one-note brew: what you get here is an organized symphony of flavors. The alcohol burn at the end (12% ABV!!!) is present, but it’s cut nicely with the strong, aromatic palo santo resin.
It may not be for everyone, but this is easily one of the more innovative beers I’ve ever sampled. 4 hops for the Palo Santo Marron from Dogfish Head.