26 February 2009

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

Rating: 6.9
Brewery: Dogfish Head (Milton, DE)
Glass: Pint
ABV: 12%
Seller: The Foodery (Philadelphia, PA)
When Enjoyed: 10 February 2009

This is the continuation to the comparative rating of brown ale displayed in their distinctive way by Brooklyn Brewery and Dogfish Head Brewery. Where Brooklyn's Brown Ale demonstrates a modest, but solid representation of the Brown Ale style; Dogfish Head creates a Brown Ale focusing on the experimental.

Dogfish Head as a brewery focuses on creative artistic flourishes of standard beer styles that people have become used to. However these are anything but ordinary. Dogfish Head takes pride on using unusual ingredients and brewing methods to create drastically different and creative tastes on different styles of beer. Palo Santo Marron for the Brown Ale is no exception. The description from the bottle itself explains its unique brewing process. "The caramel and vanilla complexity unique to this ale comes from the exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood from which these tanks were crafted. At 10,000 gallons each, these are the largest wooden brewing vessels built in America since before Prohibition." This kind of eccentric brewing has become much of the norm for Dogfish Head. Always leading to interesting and complex tastes, this offering however falls short in terms of a brown ale.

While experimentation is appreciated in the creation of new craft brews and tastes, this offering seems to have gone too far. It tastes little like a brown ale and often the taste is too complex and conflicting to be greatly enjoyable. The overly strong alcohol content also seems to kill some of the lighter tastes usually present in brown ales and takes a deep caramel and vanilla flavors that often seem to work against each other during drinking. A little less would have done a lot more for this beer and given it more of a brown ale taste that was expected. This beer seems to be the opposite offering of the Brooklyn Brown ale in that it is incredibly interesting but not always eminently enjoyable.