Holy Wood Brown

I almost never write about gustatory matters here, but I’ll make an exception to rave about a particularly outstanding offering from one of America’s most creative microbreweries, Dogfish Head.

Dogfish Head specializes in unusual and high-strength ales. Their best-known products are their highly hopped IPAs (the 90-Minute Imperial IPA, weighing in at 9% alcohol by volume, is universally acclaimed, and rightly so). But the IPA series is actually rather middle-of-the-road compared to some of DH’s more exotic brews.

One of these is something called Palo Santo Marron, a completely over-the-top brown ale, thick and sweet and sticky and almost black. The name refers to a specially made 10,000-gallon vat that the ale ages in, made of “palo santo” wood (Guaiacum sanctum, also known as “lignum vitae”). Among its many uses, palo santo is the same wood traditionally used to make British police truncheons — and at 12% ABV, a couple bottles of this stuff will have roughly the same effect.

The rich flavor of this ale is so complex as to make description difficult. It is caramelly and malty, not hoppy, and evokes coffee, dark fruit, and even cocoa. Behind it all is the smoldering warmth of that 12% (for perspective, Budweiser is 5% ABV).

I could go on, but others already have. Read some reviews here and here.

In short: this is amazing stuff. Get some if you can, beer lovers.

5 Comments

  1. Kevin Kim says

    This sounded familiar, and then I remembered that my buddy Charles had mentioned Dogfish Head in this post.

    Posted February 4, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink
  2. the one eyed man says

    Time to work on that brew-gut.

    Posted February 4, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Pete, can you get Dogfish Head beer out there? It’s made in Delaware. Can’t remember if I’ve seen it in CA.

    Posted February 4, 2013 at 10:39 pm | Permalink
  4. the one eyed man says

    I’m not sure – when it comes to beer and wine, we have an embarrassment of riches out here. However, based on your enthusiastic review, I’ll be sure to find out.

    Posted February 5, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink
  5. David Brightly says

    Hi Malcolm,
    By happy coincidence, just a short while after reading your post I happened to meet a colleague from Wilmington, Delaware over here on business. I asked if he’d come across Dogfish Head. Turned out he’d brought some bottles with him to share with another UK colleague. So I now have a bottle of the 60 minute IPA to try this weekend. To your very good health,
    David.

    Posted February 23, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

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