Beer/Cigar Reviews: Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron and CAO Flathead 660 Carb

Welcome to another installment of my beer and cigar reviews, where I bring you reviews of some great (and not-so-great) beers and cigars! We’ve got another great lineup for you tonight so let’s just dive right in shall we?

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

This Imperial Brown Ale comes to us from Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware and in traditional Dogfish Head style this take a style of beer and really pushes the envelope. Weighing in at 12% ABV, 50 IBU and aged in Palo Santo wooden barrels, this goes where no brown ale has ever gone before. Normally one associates brown ales with light, sessionable beers but this one is anything but.

Pours a very dark, nearly opaque reddish-brown with a thin ring of creamy tan head. Aromas of dark fruit, roasted malt, vanilla and a subtle smoky wood. The palate is greeted with flavors more like that of an imperial stout than a brown ale – big, bold notes of dark fruit, roasted malt, caramel and chocolate. Undertones of vanilla come through the mix with a slightly spicy, woody finish and a substantial alcohol burn. Thick, syrupy mouthfeel with low carbonation while remaining very smooth. Definitely more of a sipping beer than a gulping one and really sticks to your ribs.

I’m honestly on the fence about how to rate this one. In terms of a brown ale it doesn’t much fit, but again, that’s Dogfish Head for you. It was really tasty but I just think it belongs more in the imperial stout category because it tastes and drinks like one. I did really enjoy it so I’ll split the difference between rating according to style (3/5) and according to my likes (5/5!!!) and go with a 4/5.

CAO Flathead 660 Carb

OK, I’ll be the first to admit: I’m not a fan of big ring gauge cigars in general. They usually are very mild and airy, burn terribly and just make for an all-around miserable experience. Alas, my local lounge was doing a special on these so I decided to take a chance on it. This cigar is a 6″ x 60RG box pressed Gordo vitola (hence the name) featuring a hodgepodge of tobaccos consisting of Dominican and Nicaraguan long filler, Connecticut Habano seed binder and a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper.

First light revealed a loose draw (not uncommon with big ring gauges) but producing more than ample smoke volume and revealing creamy medium-bodied flavors of a sweet milk chocolate with a light earthy undertone and a balanced cayenne pepper finish on the back of the palate and the retrohale. Getting into the cigar the smoke gets thicker and the body ramps up to medium/full while retaining the same great flavor package. Remaining consistent through the first 2/3, the last third transitions to a heavy slightly sweet black coffee and heavier earthiness, dropping the pepper. Ending at 1 hour 30 minutes as the smoke goes hot and acrid for a more than ample burn time and bringing in only a very subtle nicotine strength – mild/medium at the most.

Construction was good with an above-average burn for a 60 ring gauge – it did require a couple of small corrections at the 1/3 and 2/3 point but nothing major. The cigar is packed tight enough so that the draw is not so loose as to not produce smoke – you get a nice mouthful with just single puffs.

Honestly, this is one of those rare big ring gauge cigars I actually enjoy. The flavor profile is right up what I enjoy (fuller bodied, dessert like with a spice component) and a good burn time. Would have preferred a straighter burn but it’s a 60 so I’ve got to be a bit nice here. Rating: 4.25/5.