We are led to believe that ‘the dog days of summer’ are the hottest most sultry days of the year and that we should be feeling the heat through July to September. “Great!”…I think each time we approach the not-so-silly-season, dust off the patio furniture, stock up on disposable barbecues and fill the fridge to the brim with summer ales and crisp lagers. Let’s put a pin in that….*pop!*. As I look out of the window I could put a positive spin on things and tell you it’s a scorcher, afterall it is a balmy British 13C, so in principle one would be playing within the rules to adorn a string vest and tie a handkerchief to your head while filling the paddling pool, but if I was to be a ‘glass is half empty kinda guy, then I would need to break-it to you that summer is not here and it ain’t coming! (It’s actually 10pm in the evening, but eight hours earlier I could well have been describing a typical 2011 British summers day – but you catch my drift).
So, to recap…I did dust off the patio furniture, stock up on disposable barbecues and filled the fridge with a fantastic selection of beer in anticipation for being the hostess with the mostess, alas the sun has not had his hat on and I am left wondering did I choose the correct malty beverages? Don’t misundertand me here, I think there is a time and place for most beers and you don’t necessarily have to be led by the season or plan your drinking itinery using the barometer, but I do think there are beers that lend themselves to an occasion. When sitting in the sunshine in your garden, a pub beer garden, any garden! then you’re probably going to reach for a chilled wheat beer, pilsner, blond, IPA or a beer from one of the tens of beers styles out there. Like I say, each to their own but I wouldn’t necessarily see a 12% Brown Ale as a classic thirst quencher. So given the time of day, the storm clouds overhead and the glow of the stove, I picked a bottle I had been resisting for a while but was tempted into drinking by fellow Tweeter @Davomanic who, incidentally, was sharing his thoughts while enjoying a bottle of Hawkshead’s Brodie’s Prime Reserve 2011 (see my review here
Dogfish Head: "We have wood. Now you do too"
My choice, Dogfish Head‘s Palo Santo Marron, is an American Strong Ale brewed in tanks crafted from Paraguayan Palo Santo wood, and at 10,000 gallons each these are the largest wooden brewing vessels built in America since before Prohibition. So, with wood mentioned on the front of the bottle and featured on the back, I was expecting something woody!
It pours dark brown almost black leaving a very thin coffee brown head, which stays until the last sip. Aromas of chocolate, freshly roasted coffee, sherry soaked fruit cake and a prominent hit of vanilla. Flavours of caramel, vanilla and fruit cake and there is a slight smokiness from the Palo Santo tanks. In the mouth it is silky and luxurious and it clings to the glass, which any wine buff would tell you indicates it has good legs! This is a complex beer and one to treat with respect at 12% abv, but as with many high quality high abv beers, they are also devilishly easy to drink.
The brewer’s of Dogfish Head have outdone themselves with the Palo Santo Marron. It’s got the big flavours you should expect from the brewer, the style and the write up on the bottle, but I can also tell you that it delivers as a smooth, warming decadent drink.