Santa’s Private Reserve Ale.
Like the other Rogue Ales products, Santa’s Private Reserve is very IPA-like. It’s a red ale, double-hopped with Rogue Farms Newport, Rebel, and Freedom hops. All this hopping makes the beer clock in at an impressive 74 IBUs.
It pours a clear dark copper color with finger thick tan head that dissipates fairly quickly.
The aroma is very much that of an evergreen tree. This is backed by only the most subtle hint of malt.
The flavor matches up well to the aroma. It starts, continues, and ends hoppy. The finish is very pine-like and bitter, and this bitterness will stick with you long after you finish drinking. There’s not a lot of complexity here… it’s hops and malt, with hops making up probably 90% of what I taste here. For a guy who likes a nice complex, spicy, fruity Belgian style ale, this is a one-note melody… and that one note is hops.
Since I’m not the typical Rogue Ales customer, you’ll have to excuse my 4 out of 10 rating. It simply means that this is just too hoppy for me to find it very pleasant. I’m in the minority, though. Rate Beer gives it a 92 overall. Beer Advocate is similarly pleased with it, giving it an 85-91 rating.
If you’re not as interested in a hoppy beer, you may want to check out the article “The ‘Christmas Past’ Experiment” that I posted back in January. This article compared a one-year-old cellared bottle of Santa’s Private Reserve to a fresh from the brewery bottle. The differences are interesting and worthy of note.
Santa’s Private Reserve has been spotted on store shelves at Kenny Road Market, Cost Plus World Market at Tuttle, and a few other local store shelves. The large “bomber” size is typically around $5.49 and the smaller bottle, reviewed here, will set you back about $2.69.
Sweet, Malty, Dry, Bitter, or Sour: Bitter
Spice Level: Non-existent
Hops Level: High
Dominant Flavors: Hops, pine
My Rating: 4/10