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