Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rogue Santa's Private Reserve Ale

Beer: Santa's Private Reserve Ale
Brewed by: Rogue Ales, Newport, OR, USA
Bottle: 1 pint 6 fluid oz.
Type: Red Ale
ABV: 6.0%
IBU's: 44
Served in: Pint glass
Place of purchase: Beverages & More (BevMo)
Price: $5.49

"Going Rogue" is more than Sarah Palin's new autobiography - Mugsy and Jugsy are going "Rogue" for the holidays! As our two beeraucrats continue their sojourn into Winter beer reviews, it seems that a little nip of Santa's Private Reserve is just the thing to take the chill off, as everyone waits patiently for "The Man with the Bag."

In every proper review, your trusted husband & wife team of Beeraucrats will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.

Santa's Private Reserve Ale


Medium to dark brown in color which turns into a beautiful copper shade when held to light. Also, when held to light, beer appears extremely murky and cloudy. However, carbonation can be seen through the swampiness if you look hard enough. Thin head which quickly dissipates into a VERY thin head. Very little lacing left on the glass.
Jugsy: Brownish-red and opaque. Looks a little bit like swamp water! Frothy head disappears in seconds (couldn't even capture it on film)!


Sweet, roasted malts are the first scent to strike the nose. Slight aroma of caramel follows, along with just a touch of sweet yeast. The overall aroma comes off as extremely sweet. This is like a candy shop in a glass.
Jugsy: Smells Earthy, like warm honey-wheat bread. Slight caramel and toffee aromas, along with the roasted malts, seem to marry quite nicely with the piny hops scent. There's also more than a hint of sourdough. The aromas are present yet in delicate form, making them different to parse.


Wow. The taste is not at all what I expected after smelling it. Extremely bitter roasted (almost burnt) malts are the first thing to hit the tongue. This tastes almost like rye. Very toasty. The hops are there too, but overpowered by the malt. Aftertaste is that of dark, semi-sweet (emphasis on the "semi") chocolate. There is also kind of woodsy or bark flavor that comes in as an aftertaste.
Jugsy: Call me crazy but is there peppermint candy in this? Because it tastes like someone swirled a candy cane in my beer! Having said that, the taste is predominately roasted malts with a strong hops presence. (Chinook an Centennial according to the bottle.) I can still taste the warm honey and wheat bread in the body of this ale.


While this ale tastes like it would be chewy, the mouth-feel is surprisingly light and almost a little watery. Goes back extremely easily. It does leave a strong coating on the tongue, as if you've been chewing on sawdust.
Jugsy: This is a light-tasting, smooth beer with a lot of flavor (some subtle, some not-so-subtle). Not a lot of carbonation present. Leaves a very hoppy, almost piny or woodsy coating on the tongue.


No problem to have several of these, especially at 6.0% ABV. However, the bark-like aspect of the aftertaste might be a little off-putting, especially if seeking refreshment or just a session night with the guys and gals.
Jugsy: Very drinkable and enjoyable ale. Not only is it flavorful and not too heavy, but at 6% ABV, most of our friends could certainly handle drinking this all night.


Quite interesting. After getting so much sweetness from the aroma of this beer, I was completely surprised by the bitter taste. Now, don't get me wrong - I like bitter beer just as much as a sweeter brew, sometimes more so. And that wood-like aftertaste is so unique. It's quite obvious that the folks at Rogue really do care about what they brew. This beer is fairly complex and certainly not your run-of-the-mill ale or Winter ale, for that matter. However, it all comes down to the question, "would I drink this again?" And the answer is "Yes, but as a novelty." The complexity and uniqueness of flavors are a hit with me, but it's not quite balanced, with the hops being far overshadowed by the bitter malt. And the bark-like aftertaste while without a doubt different, left me kind of wanting to wash it back with something else. Would pair with bold foods like heavy barbecues or rich, dark stews.
Jugsy: I admit that I wasn't expecting much out of this beer. Maybe it was the packaging -- of Rogue's beer in general, as well as the Santa's Private Reserve. It was too cutesy for my liking and I questioned the potential quality of the brew itself. Boy was I wrong! I truly enjoyed the successful balance of flavors in this ale. The folks at Rogue got it right. Although they recommend pairing it with beef or pork, I am thoroughly enjoying on my own! Perhaps it would pair well with our X-Mas Tofurkey? What do you say, Mugsy?

Mugsy: 6.85

Jugsy: 7.50


  1. I always look forward to this beer coming out. You should both try Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red and compare it to this beer. Santa's Reserve is hopped a step above St. Rogue so there might be a slight variation...or not...

  2. Thanks for the tip! This was Jugsy's first Rogue -- beer, that is! Mugsy had tried "Dead Man's Ale" before and hadn't been too impressed. So, we were a little hesitant, but actually enjoyed "Santa's Private Reserve" quite a bit! Looking forward to trying more styles from Rogue now.