1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Santa's Private Reserve Ale - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
Santa's Private Reserve AleSanta's Private Reserve Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,950 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,950
Reviews: 1,141
rAvg: 3.76
pDev: 13.83%
Wants: 42
Gots: 71 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Rogue Ales visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
10 Ingredients:
Carastan 30-37 & 13-17, Crystal 70-80 & Rogue Micro Barley Farm Dare™ & Risk™ Malts; Chinook & Rogue Farm Revolution & Freedom Hops; Free Range Coastal Water and Pacman Yeast.

65 IBU
73.1 AA
26.75º L

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-29-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Santa's Private Reserve Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,950 | Reviews: 1,141 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of nomad
4.08/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark tawny amber, like an oud bruin. Had tiny carbonation that created a lattice of microscopic stain, as well as a fair head. Smelled wonderfully of grapefruit and cherries, but with a melon rind edge to things. Its body was a big caramel malt with roasty accents, but round and full - nice for a holiday special. Had a big bitter taste, in fact quite salty until you get used to it. Occasionally a cherry note, the body was a roasty malt with a rough and grainy hop finish. Its moderate mouthfeel was right on, though it felt a bit filling.

One of the better Holiday Seasonals, mainly because they don't use the spice and fruit gimmick. Just beautiful big malts and hops, please.

nomad, Dec 02, 2003
Photo of Weissenheimer
4.5/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This dense, brooding dark amber pint transforms into a deep, coppery red when held up to the light. It has a nice medium head which pillows slightly to become a dreamily sinusoidal cloudscape. The lacing forms the same distinctive shark's teeth that the bottled version produces, but this time the little teeth are mixed in with big, thick pillars. Overall it's a joy to behold, and the scent is similarly appealing. Each time I sniff this beer I break out into a smile. It's invitingly fresh and balanced, with the spices forming the backbone of the scent and the hops shoring it up.

My initial reaction upon taking a swig is "Hops, hops, and more hops!" The taste profile is essentially an inversion of the scent, with hops predominating and the spices singing backup.* At first I just let the various hoppy taste sensations climb over me like children on a jungle gym. Then, looking closer, I admire the way that the hoppiness coalesces on the middle of my tongue, spreads out to a bitter and tingling ring, and then finishes with a sharp, woody taste high on my tongue that never crosses over into unpleasantness. My overall impression is that the hoppiness is like a grill, and the spices are sizzling on it.

I could quite happily drink this all night.

*This is the main difference between the bottled and on-tap versions; the bottled one seemed to be about as spicy as it was hoppy; as a matter of fact it reminded me of a grand cru.

Weissenheimer, Dec 01, 2003
Photo of RoyalT
4.13/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Beautiful, dark ruby in color with a deep brownish hue. The head frothed up nicely and hung around for an eternity, pitting well as it laced the glass.

Smell – Sharp, piney hops along with a sweetish malt balance give this one a classic nose for the style.

Taste – Very sharp pine at the tongue along with some complimentary citrus hops. The malt base is smallish (lightly sweetened) but noticeable. There’s some nice floral hopping in there as well.

Mouthfeel – The flavors are sharp but the mouth is mild. It’s medium-bodied but just so. This ale is dry and very crisp.

Drinkability – This is a classic Rogue rendition of the style. Love it or hate it; I love it.

Update – I first reviewed this with a 2003 vintage so thought it would be fun to take another look at it with an ’05. It’s a bit bigger and maltier then I remember it, which improves the balance IMO. I’ll keep the ratings the same and high-five the Santa pic on the bottle as I drain this wonderful offering from Rogue.

RoyalT, Dec 01, 2003
Photo of Loki
3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled from the famous, or infamous, Rogue 22oz bottle with lots of information about beer except dates.

Appearance: Dark amber color with a very small, wispy head. Very little lacing.

Smell: Malt then big grassy, floral hops. So this is Chinook, ah I have made a new friend, and my wife has a new enemy. Wonderful bouquet of wild flowers, citrus, and grass, with hints of pine.

Taste: Hops from the first taste, then a nice transition to roasted malt, then a sucker punch back to the wild flower hops and grass. Wonderful flavor, but not all that balanced. Very enjoyable brew for me, for my wife who is not the biggest hops fan, not so much.

Loki, Nov 29, 2003
Photo of granger10
3.55/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I just woke up from my nap the turkey and Batch 6000 gave me and I decided to drink this one stocked in my fridge. I thought that this would be a dark, spicy beer considering the name, but it wasn't. So I went on the site to see that it was an amber, now the flavor and color makes a little more sense. It looks really nice, with a ruby color and a huge tan head that was frothy. The taste left me to wonder if this really was an amber. It was definitely good but more pale ale style to me. Once again Rogue's hops are quite noticeable. Slight amber taste in the beginning but the hops take over midway through and last for the duration. Great balance and more malts come in and out the longer I drink this but it's definitely hop dominant. The mouthfeel was a little too sharp for my liking and that brought the drinkability down a bit too. But overall a well made high-quality beer that one would expect from Rogue.

granger10, Nov 28, 2003
Photo of BeerManDan
4.18/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

When poured, it was a reddish copper color with a tan head and nice lace from start to finish. The smell of hop's, roasted malts and spruce filled the nose. The taste was was a well balance of hops and roasted malts with a sprucy finish, like the bottle said. The flavor was fantastic, but, the bitterness killed some of the flavor in the finish. Still an exceptional beer for the holiday's.

BeerManDan, Nov 27, 2003
Photo of mikeys01
3.58/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz bomber, the Santa's pours out a nice shining bronze with a healthy foamy white head. Aroma is very hoppy and just a bit spicy. Taste is way hugely hoppy and bitter, which I like a lot, but it's a bit unbalanced, may need a little more time to mature/mellow. Malt becomes more apparent in the middle and it becomes sweeter towards the end with lingering hints of spice amongst the piney hop bitters.

mikeys01, Nov 27, 2003
Photo of Boilermaker88
4.35/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I haven't had too many offerings from Rogue but in keeping with my holiday pledge to sample a good variety of seasonal brews, I felt obligated to give Santa's Private Reserve a go. I love the bottle with Santa getting tuned on it (hopefully not a pre-flight ritual). This beer had a clear ochre color and a firm, creamy jaundiced head which left sticky webby lace on the sides.
The smell was all about the hops - loaded with spruce and citrus peels with a nod toward malts. The taste picked up where the smell left off, launching wave after wave of piney hops juice. The mild malt flavor didn't have a chance against this hoppy onslaught. The raging hops juice suddenly pulled back and retreated in the finish, leaving an abruptly subdued end to a full-on bout of high voltage hops. The feel was full and thick with a smooth coating of hops juice across the palate.
Wow, now I know why Santa's cheeks are red. Interestingly, I kept geting lured back to take another sip, another swallow, another drink at an increasingly frequent speed. One big-time hops bomb worth getting for the holidays.

Boilermaker88, Nov 23, 2003
Photo of scottum
4.03/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep maroon with a huge tan fluffy head. Nice and hoppy, just the way I like it! The balance, however, is not quite there. Not knowning anything about the brew I was expecting some big malts. That was not the case. Malts are light, but certainly add to the flavor. Mouthfeel is quite smooth too. Overall a very yummy beer that I will seek out in the holiday season.

scottum, Nov 22, 2003
Photo of francisweizen
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This dark red beer had a nice, beige head of foam. Aromas were heavily hoppy, with different hop varieties being represented across the board. There was also a nice, heavy malt precense as well. The taste was VERY hoppy, but still very malty with a sweet spiciness thatr intrigued my senses. The mouthfeel was a bit thick and the drinkability was quite excellent. A real "winter-warmer" recommended!

francisweizen, Nov 19, 2003
Photo of rkhaze
3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a burnished red/amber with a nice chunky beige head. Left good lace. Sweet malt with some fruitiness and a citrusy hop aroma.
Flavor of sweet and lightly roasted malt, caramel and a subtle spiciness. Fresh piney, oily hop bitterness. Some great strong flavors that didn't seem to come together. Sharp bitter aftertaste.
Medium bodied with decent carbonation. Crisp finish.
Some good stuff going on here, it just seemed out of balance.

rkhaze, Nov 19, 2003
Photo of DESTRO
4.35/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

this bottle is cool. santa is getting his "krunk" on. this pours a nice copper with a good head. i expected some nasty hop smack but the aroma was very pleasant, nice hearty malt with citrus and hops floating around. sweet malt, light vanilla/cocoa right off the bat then taken over by a nice dose of hops, citrus and potent yet smooth and tastey. the mouthfeel is smooth and oh so drinkable, finishes crisp and is very refreshing. i really expected a huge hop profile, but was pleasantly suprised that the hops are there but they come in a strong yet gentle/drinkable way (hey santas a gentle guy). nothing too overpowering and makes for a delicious holiday/anytime brew.

paid $3.99 for a 22oz bomber.

DESTRO, Nov 17, 2003
Photo of Rumrunner
4.03/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle.

Santa is holding a tankard of ale and has a clinched fist held up. Maybe he just finished his route and is celebrating his accomplishment?

Pours an orange brown caramel color. A good sized off white head. Tremendous lacing down the glass. Scents are malty with a creamy caramel. Sweet butter and some hop bite thrown in for good measure. Also there is some crisp spices and pine.

Flavors start bold but if this one is sipped is becomes more mild. Some burnt biscuit in this one. A charred wood flavor as well. Excellent hoppiness for a bitter bite. Then it mellows with some butter and creamy malts. Caramel and some piney spices and even some dried fruit. At the very end there is a sugary butter flavor that actually seems to warm the mouth. It must be the alcohol. The flavors start off unrefined but then settle in to a nice pattern.

Medium bodied, somewhat creamy with a crisp middle and a poppy finish. A real nice drinker and one I will search out and drink again. I would love to try it on tap.

Rumrunner, Nov 15, 2003
Photo of WVbeergeek
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours with a caramel amber hue above the body sits a very nice sized mass of tan foam that as I take each swip forms a ring of fine lacing with dispersed specks of lace packed between each clear ring. Aroma: Deep pine cone scented hops full biscuit malt character with some caramel sweetness complementing the west coast hopping. Taste: Roasted malts, caramel malt tones backed by a whopping hop profile brings out piney and mildly citrus tones a great winter amber great brew. Mouthfeel: Medium in body, overall great crisp finish leaves the hop oils on the tongue pretty damn bitter. Drinkability: More hops than I want for a session brew but a very tasty seasonal offering from our friends at Rogue.

WVbeergeek, Nov 10, 2003
Photo of ManekiNeko
3.93/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2002 edition. Served chilled in a pint glass.

Appearance: Hazy mahogany with a modest off-white head. So-so retention and lacing. Still, kinda pretty to look at.

Smell: Darker malt smells, almost reminiscent of a dubbel/BSDA. Nicely intense malt profile. A smattering of floral aromatics.

Taste: Quite bittersweet. Great blending of dark malts and hops. Toasted and smoky malt flavors on the finish. A bit raisiny at times. Again, reminiscent of a dubbel/BSDA.

Mouthfeel: Substantial body here, much like ol' Santa himself.

Drinkability: Definitely a Yuletide treat. A good hearty ale for the wintertime. I'd say one bomber would do you for the night... or Santa.

Other: Has this one a bit early (late September) since I didn't want to risk it getting stale. The aging probably toned down the hop flavors, but not to the beer's detriment.

ManekiNeko, Sep 29, 2003
Photo of beerguy101
3.8/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2000 release. Dark Red color, medium head. Caramelized malts, hoppy. Good balance. Full flavored. A double hopped version of their red ale. Nice balance. Full round Mouthfeel. Smooth and malty, slightly sprucy. Finish is smooth and clean. Aftertaste is spicy and slightly bitter. A very nice winter ale. Also a very nice etched beer bottle.

beerguy101, Sep 19, 2003
Photo of clvand0
3/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a 22oz. bottle at the local pub. This one pours a dark red color - very attractive - with a thick off-white head and a little lacing on the glass. The aroma is very hoppy with sweet malts and a nutty hint as well. The flavor is pretty bitter. There is a sweetness from the malts and quite a bit of spiciness as well. Not so sure about this one. Love the appearance, but the flavor is a little too bitter for my tastes.

clvand0, Aug 28, 2003
Photo of cerevisiaephilus
3.78/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very hoppy. The citrus, resinous smell explodes out of the glass and in your mouth as well. The malt side of the flavor equation I found to be slightly lacking, this may be simply because of the very strong hop character of the beer though. After another couple tastings (~2/04) I have to come in here and change my ranking of this beer. Found it very lacking. I suppose living in NC will do that to you. When you can't get anything over 6%, Santa's special reserve seems great, but now that I'm drinking Celebration Ale and Alpha king, this beer has taken a hit.

cerevisiaephilus, Aug 21, 2003
Photo of BierReise
3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A deep red color which reminded me of red velvet cake and a dark vanilla colored frothy head. An intense hoppy aroma followed by a sweet German malt presence and a little of something I can't seem to put my finger on. Flavor is hoppy bitterness and a slight spiciness. This is one bitter beer from start to finish.

BierReise, Jul 22, 2003
Photo of UnionMade
3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this on tap at Eli Cannons (Middletown, CT) during the Rogue tasting. It was listed as "Santa's Dry Hopped Red Ale". I'm assuming this is the same stuff. Deep red in color, with an almond tan head. Aroma is very hoppy and manly, almost surly. Almost a surly sea bass. Not much in the way of malt, as far as I can tell in the smoky pub. Flavor is hoppy, with a nice roasty malt balance. Semi sweet, with a grassy herbal hoppiness. Body is medium to full, with moderate carbonation. I wasn't disappointed.

UnionMade, Jul 21, 2003
Photo of StevieW
4.5/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber. Pours a deep glowing burgundy color. Nice creamy, rich head, off-white to beige in color. Rich hop filled aromas matched with a bit of seasonal nutmeg, cinnamon spices ? Toasted malty flavors peak through. Taste is well balanced and smooth, full of flavors. Initial hop kick, striking. Subtle spiciness, very subdued and good. Malt and hops are well balnced with a lingering sweetness. Amazing combination of flavors and hop kick that you expect from Rogue. Medium to full bodied, carbonation held up fine after having this one in May, bought in March, and who knows how long it was on the shelf before that. This is one I will look for again this Christmas Season. (Christmas in July, from my notes when I was computer-less.)

StevieW, Jul 20, 2003
Photo of RBorsato
4.6/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reddish-copper with a full light brown head, good carbonation, and nice lace sheeting. Nice citrusy hop aroma. Nice hoppy citrus flavor which is more powerful than the malt base but decently balanced. Medium bodied with a hoppy bitter finish.

Very nice fresh and after 6 months. Didn't care for it in the past after aging a year or so. One to buy each year with S.N. Celebration Ale.

Per Bottle: 13 P, 44 IBU, 73.1 AA, 26.75 L & "Chinook and Centennial Hops"

Per website: 60 IBU (bottle is most likely wrong...)

2002 version
Tasted: 07/02/03

($3.59 / 22 oz.)

RBorsato, Jul 03, 2003
Photo of Quaffer
3.68/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. Bottle

Appearance: I popped the top of the bomber and set it down beside my computer. About ten seconds later, I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. What the . . . ? I looked over to find the bottle erupting like friggin' Vesuvius. I quickly got it over a trash can and waited for it to stop. But of course, it didn't. It kept coming and coming. Finally, I just poured the thing. Needless to say the head was out of control. But it looked great. It was a nice tan color and settled down slowly and chunky. It left a great amount of lace on the glass. The beer itself was a deep brownish-red.

Smell: This brew had a very straightforward ale smell. The were sweet and caramel malt aromas, mixed with a clean hops smell. The hops faded the longer the beer sat.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and pretty smooth. It left a nice tingle on the tongue.

Taste: Upfront, there were some short lived sweet (though the sweetness was very subdued) and caramel malt flavors. These were quickly overcome by a rising hops bitterness that seemed to surpass the 44 IBUs stated on the bottle. The hops had a floral quality that lingered well into the aftertaste.

This was a good beer, but not one to write home about. The malt flavors needed to be deeper, in my opinion.

Quaffer, Mar 07, 2003
Photo of ElGuapo
4.05/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

There is a very fluffy tannish foam on top of a red amber color after pouring this fine Rogue. It has very good retention, and I just have to comment on the unique shapes the head forms as it dies a little. I don't like to say a lot about the head of a beer, but this one does not go away, EVER! I have sheets of lace and chunks of foam all over my glass, and I have been done with it for 15 minutes. This may not happen to everyone, but mine had pits and peaks of foam. It looked like a mountain range on top of my beer. The aroma is wonderfully filled with hops and a piney smell, like a Christmas tree but covered in hops.

It is fairly crisp, but most of that is from the spiciness of the hops. There is not a whole lot of carbonation. There is a subtle presence of roasty malts, but this beer is all about the combination of hops. The spices are blended so well with a piney sort of flavor. The aftertaste has lingering spices, but you are also able to pick up some grains. This is yet another good one from Rogue. It is a very good drinker, and I want another one.

ElGuapo, Feb 17, 2003
Photo of RonfromJersey
4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A copper-red body topped by a healthy, just-off-white, whip cream head. Head then settles into a solid table-top. Aroma? I was smelling hops as soon as I popped the top, without it anywhere near my nose. Enormous citrus aroma just floods the nose. Taste opens with a solid malt base, but is quickly engulfed by rush of hops. The hops are much more piney in the taste as contrasted with the aroma. Could use more malt balance, make this a fairer fight. Mouthfeel is full, but too hoppy to be considered smooth. In fact, at times it seems you almost have to come up for air from the hops. A fine hopheads delight, which is a good thing. Just not what I was expecting from a red/amber ale.

RonfromJersey, Feb 07, 2003
Santa's Private Reserve Ale from Rogue Ales
85 out of 100 based on 1,950 ratings.