Monday, December 20, 2010

Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve Ale

Santa’s Private Reserve is not your father’s Christmas ale. Usually when you think Christmas beers, you think traditional holiday spices. You think ginger, you think cinnamon. Santa’s Private Reserve is by all means a Christmas beer, but this is a winter warmer that’s hopped rather than spiced. And when I say that it’s hopped, I mean that it’s hopped! Basically it’s a variation of the St. Rogue red ale - with literally twice the hops! Chinook and Centennial hops are the stars of the show along with a secret hop simply known as “Rudolph”, giving the beer its piney, citrus character. Like any great winter warmer, it’s heavily malted – its savory caramel notes brought on by Harrington, Klages, and Munich malts. But even with all that sweet malt power, the hops easily prevail. This isn’t to say that the beer isn’t nicely balanced. It’s just that the hops are so big and bold that the malts really have to fight for your attention. And that’s probably a good thing. I’ve tried a lot of winter warmers that are just too sweet, and they kind of leave me wishing for a touch of hop bitterness. Santa’s Private Reserve provides that and then some. It's a big, tasty beer that ought to be served at every Christmas dinner table. With its bready, fruity complexity, it almost suggests a holiday fruitcake – but I’ve never had a fruitcake in my life that was this good!

At 6 percent ABV, Santa’s Private Reserve packs a lot less alcohol than the typical winter ale – a good thing considering it comes in a 22-ounce bottle! No sense in capping that bad boy - you can't help but drink it all in one sitting! Of course it ain't cheap, but you know you’re getting quality stuff with a Rogue beer. Your run-of-the-mill brew sure isn’t made with free range coastal water and John’s proprietary top-fermenting Pacman yeast. I can totally see why Santa would pick this as his preferred holiday beverage. The man delivers toys to millions of children, all in one night, capping an exhausting season of personal appearances, letter-reading, reindeer training, and careful observation of who’s been bad or good. After all of that, he deserves only the best.

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