Monday, March 14, 2011

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

Dogfish Head and its founder, Sam Caligione, have created a wide array of different beers, such as the Theobroma, which is based on an ancient Aztec recipe and the Sah'tea, which is a take on the Finnish beer. My favorite beer produced by Dogfish Head is the Palo Santo Marron.  Last year, Clare and I took her parents to Dogfish Head's restaurant in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, where it all started.  When we left, we bought a couple of four packs home to enjoy at our leisure.

According to Dogfish Head, the Palo Santo Marron is an "unfiltered, unfettered and unprecedented" brown ale that is is aged in handmade barrels made from Palo Santo wood brought from Paraguay to the United States.  Palo Santo or "Holy Stick" is actually bulnesia sarmientoi, a heartwood that grows in the Gran Chaco, a region that straddles Paraguay and Argentina.  The wood is used for making posts and engravings, as well as charcoal.  Dogfish Head used the wood to build large wooden tanks holding 10,000 gallons each, making them the largest wooden tanks in use in the United States since Prohibition.

The Palo Santo Marron pours as dark as a brown ale can be poured before turning black.  The nose of the beer is intertwined with alcohol and caramel, with roasted notes most likely from roasted malts.  The brewer describes the taste of the beer as having caramel and vanilla notes, along with the Paraguayan Palo Santo wood.  The caramel is definitely there, as well as coffee.  The vanilla is also present, although it is subdued somewhat by the alcohol.  The beer has an ABV of 12%, which next to the Samichlaus, is the second highest ABV of a beer that I have reviewed on my blog.

The brewer suggests steak, chorizo and Cajun food as the pairing for this beer.  These suggestions are understandable, because strong beers should be paired with foods that have strong or rich flavors.  I paired the Palo Santo Marron with the Broiled Tilapia with Crawfish, primarily because I thought that the roasted malt flavors of the beer would be a good complement to the spiciness of the crushed red pepper and the smokiness of the smoked paprika, both of which were used to create the sauce for the crawfish.

I love this beer, although it is one that I enjoy only on a rare occasion.  While the Palo Santo Marron is available year round, but it is pricey at about $17.00 or $18.00 for a four pack. The beer can be found at Rodmans and other stores that sell Dogfish Head.  If you would like to enjoy just a glass of the Palo Santo Marron, it is usually available on tap at the Dogfish Head Alehouse restaurants.


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