A helping holiday hand
A Review of Santa's Private Reserve by Rogue Ales / Oregon Brewing Co.
Posted on 12/24/2012 by Brew's Your Daddy
Do you hear what I hear kiddos? That tick tock of the holiday clock is getting louder and louder. In a few short hours the fat man in red will be performing his numerous acts of breaking and entering around the globe, while all of us sit back and gleefully take it. Now as if this isn't a strange enough story just based on those facts alone, how about we add an even more odd twist to what would otherwise count as some sort of made for TV horror story at any other time of the year. Not only do we allow a stranger to sneak into our homes and plunder about at will, we also like to leave treats out for the jolly home invader as some sort of reward for doing so. The traditional yummies are milk and cookies, but lets face the facts. That kind of children's book sweetness doesn't fly well here in the land of BrewChief. If that fat bastard wants to wiggle his way down our tiny chimney and leave us gifts after we have had a year full of absolute naughtiness, the least we can do is leave him some sort of delicious brew. And since this is the time of year for giving, what better gift could we leave Santa than the gift that Rogue Ales gives is all in his honor, Santa's Private Reserve Ale.

When poured, Santa's Private Reserve takes on an aged penny copper coloration, and there is a slight bit of haze to it when held up to a light source. There are no visible floaties to attribute this to, so think of it more as a sign of some good body weight. A medium but rocky tan head forms and sits on top for a good while before settling down to about a quarter of a fingers worth of covering that floats on top of the brew, and it provides spotty lacing for the entire session. When you get your nose in close, you instantly realize one of the reasons why this one is allowed to carry the bearded fellows name. It is very hoppy, with pine dominating the nose almost entirely. Get it now? Pine? Christmas trees? Santa puts presents under the tree? Beer that smells kind of like Christmas trees? Look dammit, this makes total sense. Trust me. Now if you give it a minute or two of warming time, a few more subtle notes of grapefruit, spruce, caramel, toasted malts, and fresh biscuits start to come through as well, and they actually end up contributing very nicely to what ends up being a very lively bouquet.

Going in for the first taste, there is really no need to prepare yourself for anything other than what the nose so adequately prepared you for. Pine resin is there from beginning to end in almost every sip. It is there more so in flavor as opposed to bite, but still carries enough kick to keep your tongue on its toes. This should be no surprise to any fan of Rogue Ales. Toasted malts try to cut their way though about every other sip, but their success rate is less than perfect. A caramel grapefruit taste starts to come through about halfway through the session, and it provides a bit of a candied feel that really helps cut the overall pine blanket that covers the beer. Notes of pepper, pineapple, lemon zest, and rye come through on occasion, but none have an appearance rate that warrants dedicated search time. Just enjoy them if and when they come through. Considering that the body is a bit north of medium, there are times when a sense of syrup comes to mind, but the above average amount of carbonation does quite well in cleaning things up and allowing for a surprisingly clean finish.

In true Rogue fashion, Santa's Private Reserve Ale is a real hoppy treat. It is full of delicious flavor that will make any hophead appreciate it as a great session brew. More seasoned drinkers will appreciate it for the same reason, but those still new to the game or still honing their brew chewing chompers might want to approach it with a bit of caution. Santa's Private Reserve isn't a beginners brew, but with a bit of patience it would absolutely make for a nice introduction to the more advanced levels of craft brew. And as far as Santa himself goes, feel free to leave some out for him as well. I totally see one of two outcomes occurring if you do. Either he will hate and leave them, which will just mean one more delicious present under the tree for you in the morning, or he will love them and want to finish them all. If that happens, he will most likely be tipsy enough to leave an extra box or two under the tree for that awesome person who was kind enough to break away from the standard holiday tradition. Either way, more presents for everyone! And to all a good night! And merry Christmas to us all! And all those other Christmas things people tend to say to each other this time of year! Happy holidays from all of us here at BrewChief.com!

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Santa's Private Reserve by Rogue Ales / Oregon Brewing Co.
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