Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

March 5, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | Filed under Brewer: Dogfish Head, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Brown Ale.

12% ABV bottled

I turn out bartenders like Iceberg Slim turned out hos.

And that’s a good thing because the price of a pint is a handsome penny in Manhattan and your resident Vice Blogger is thrifty with the nickel.

It was only recently that I started noticing how whenever I go out drinking I am awarded countless free rounds if not flat out comped most of my beer and liquor.  So I started analyzing why this is.  I figured that perhaps every drinker gets treated as I do.  In New York it’s a pretty standard unwritten rule that fourth round’s on the house.*  But I had been doing even better than that.

I thought maybe it flukily had to do with the fact that I eschew paper money and solely use cards.  What with a busy watering hole the bartender could easily forget to add a round or two to my tab, maybe even accidentally add my adult beverages to a card belonging to some other poor schnook with a Jewy sounding last name.  Again, though, I don’t think that was it.

Likewise, it’s not to score a huge tip from me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fine tipper, a highly competent tipper even, especially when I’m wasted, but I’m not throwing my bills around like Shaq nor making it rain like Adam Jones.

Nor am I getting any sort of “regular” treatment.  I’m known by name and face at a good half-dozen bars in the city by at least a baker’s dozen of drink slingers but I don’t patronize any place with a frequency and ubiquity that merits me getting treated like family, that merits me getting to say things like, “Throw in on my tab” in that 1940s way that means, “I won’t be paying for these drinks any fucking time soon.”

No, I’ve finally come to realize that the reason I drink with such discount at most bars is an incredibly simple one:  I’m nice, I’m cool, and, most importantly, I quickly establish a legitimate rapport with the bartenders**.

That seems like nothing, right?  Believe me, it is something and it is something huge.  Next time you go drinking, watch how most people treat the bartender.  Few are outright rude, but most all are curt.  Most barely cordial enough to throw out some pleasantries, look the bartender in the eyes.  Most simply wishing they could attract the bartender’s attention in order that they may quickly pronounce their order in an abrupt fashion.  “Stella two gee and tees Blue Moon no orange five Jameson shots.”

They treat the bartender like a means to an end.

Now, I’m not exactly one to talk.  In pretty much every other aspect of consumer life I try to deal with as few of people as possible.  I order most things off the internet in order to not have to go to stores and when I do go to stores I use self check-out if I can.  I hate having to have a human middle-man between and my product.  But until a computerized bar comes into existence–not the worst idea in the world actually–the beer and booze will always have a gatekeeper.  A human being known as the bartender.  And I seem to be one of the few people that talks to him, gets to know him, fuck, even learns his name***.  And that’s appreciated.

Also appreciated is just being a cool, interesting, funny person.  Women aren’t the only people on the planet that a man has to amuse and seduce.  What’s so wrong with entertaining another man, especially one that can reward you with free bourbon?  So while the other horndogs at the bar are slobbering over the butterface female bartender in the hot pants, drunkenly throwing out the lamest lines and the most bloated tips, I’m in the corner getting to know the bored male bartender–who usually hates his female cohort by the way–shooting the shit with him and getting free drinks in the process.

This is a lesson that could easily be applied to women.  Most guys treat women like they treat bartenders.  Again, as a means to an end.  This time the end being sex.  In the same way they over-tip bartenders to try and finagle free drinks they over-spend on women to try and inveigle their way to the bedroom.  Instead of bringing something, anything, to the table–a funny anecdote, a witty observation, a bon mot!–they just sit still like a boring slug, hoping the woman will like them, expecting the woman to like them for simply being in her presence, in the exact same way they expect the bartender to slobber over them simply because they have a few twenties in their pocket and want a macro pint.  World doesn’t work that way, fellas.  Start trying to give as much as you take.  What’d Paul McCartney say in “The End”?  “The love you take is equal to the love you make?”  There’s some parallel there, but I’m too drunk on Dogfish Head’s delightful Palo Santo Marron to figure it out.

Brown ale is not usually a style that you think can reach heights of greatness.  There’s plenty of decent ones–Newcastle, Brooklyn Brown, even DFH’s Indian Brown–but they’re all kinda ordinary.  Tasty enough, sure, but lacking in complexity, bite, flavor.  That why when a brilliant brown like Surly Bender or especially Palo Santo Marron comes around your mind is blown so hard.  Is it any wonder that, as per usual, it’s Dogfish Head destroying these beer barriers?  I never knew a brown could be so good and quite frankly I would have guessed this was a very complex stout if I didn’t know beforehand.  Roasted and malty with very pronounced wooden tastes from the Palo Santo tanks the brew is aged in.  A great vanilla and caramel sweetness gives the brown a bourbon stout like boozy taste which reminded me greatly of Goose Island’s brilliant Bourbon County Stout.  This a beauty of a beer and I highly recommend you pick it up.  Another job well done, Dogfish Head.  Bravo.


*In authentic (as opposed to “authentic”) Irish pubs it’s often third round gets you a knock on the bar.

**When I’m not getting 86ed from piece of shit establishments.

***Female bartenders are a whole ‘nother story.  99% of my bartending friends are male and 99.9% of bartenders that give me free drinks are male.  Not to sexually stereotype, but it seems like female bartenders are both more “by the book”–as in against tossing around free drinks–and money-grubbing.  I may cover this topic someday but most female bartenders, even the ones that are my friends, are closer in mentality to strippers than to other service industry pros.

5 Responses to “Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron”

  1. anton says:

    I second your theory on female bartenders. Was in Atlanta this past weekend. Probably a 7 bartender, who was pissed for a good 30 minutes after our arrival, in some total shit hole, packed with about 20 people in total, 7 of which were with my group. Friend is drunk, gives her a great first tip, she becomes our best friend. Pure stripper-esque. Wouldn’t even talk to any of the rest of us, as he was clearly the only one paying. They should be forced to take their clothes off.

  2. BDH says:

    Probably your wisest post to date. Nice work.

  3. Thanks for the dap, BDH!

  4. Great article! We tried this beer recently and found it to be quite enjoyable also.

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