Santa's Private Reserve Ale | Rogue Ales

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very good
1,190 Reviews
Santa's Private Reserve AleSanta's Private Reserve Ale

Brewed by:
Rogue Ales
Oregon, United States | website

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.30%

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

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-29-2001

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Reviews: 1,190 | Ratings: 2,291
Photo of mickeymac
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My kids got a kick out of seeing me come home with a beer with Santa on the label. It's billed as a variation on St. Rogue's Red and certainly tastes like it. They say double the hops. It's certainly hoppy, but it doesn't taste like double St.RR. After giving my olfactory senses more than enough time to give it a going-over, I kept smelling something that reminded me of adhesive tape. Somehow, it worked with the robust malty smell and the abundant hops. The hops don't bushwack the tastebuds and the malt is enough to keep things at least closed to balanced. This is good beer, but it didn't strike me as a Christmas beer in any way.

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Photo of Edwin
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a 22oz bomber bottle.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful amber color with a nice tn head that stays in the game for a full four quarters.

Smell: Some caramel, nuts and maybe some spices mixed within. Tough to put a finger on one alpha-dog in the mix.

Taste: A nice nutty taste with some type of spicy aftertaste. Some citrus or fruit mixed within.

Mouthfeel: Not bad. Low carbonation makes for a welcome feel. Nothing offensive in there.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. Not too overbearing so it can make for a good night. I could easily put away a sixer of this. I knew it was easy to drink when even my girlfriend said she could kill a bunch. Enjoy!

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Photo of beergeek279
4.45/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 22 oz. bomber. The color was a very dark amber, with a foamy white head with excellent retention. The smell was a very nice hoppiness. The taste was a nice dry hopping on top of a nice amber malt base. Mouthfeel was very nice and smooth. As for drinkability, could drink this one all day.

A fantastic offering from Rogue. A delicious amber ale that actually may be my favorite of the style. Certainly one I'll be looking for next year.

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Photo of crookedhalo
4.42/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful deep copper color with a nice, rocky beige head leaving good lacing in the glass. Strong hoppy aroma mixed with some decent malt notes; lots of dry hopping going on, obviously. Kind of like a souped up Rogue St. Red. Tastes initially malty then moving toward the cloying hops. Almost punishing. Gorgeous, though. Touch of cocoa in there as it warms up. Can't say I taste much other spices, other than the sprucy hops that one might find winter seasonal-tasting. Nice balance of intricate malt and aggressive hops throughout. Dig this beer a lot.

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Photo of ithacabaron
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a crystal-clear deep ruby, with a thickened foamy head that sticks around pretty much till the last sip.

Aroma is strongly maple and roasted nuts, particularly hazelnut, with dried orange peel overtones. Hops are quite active here as well, but not astringent or bright. Instead they are very much enveloped in the velvetine malt body.

Suprisingly, after this, the hops take the lead when the liquid hits your tongue. Again, these re not bright and "wow" hops, they are deep and potent hops, as if they had dry-hopped this for years to make it such an integral part of the beer. Orange peel, and light butterscotch play around on the palate, leading to a finish that tastes of the white vines and skin found surrounding segments in oranges and grapefruits. Very drying, and excellent.

Mouthfeel is right about where it should be, just like a velvet santa suit.

Drinkability is pretty good. Although definately a winter beer, this is certainly one I hope to enjoy more than once this holiday season!

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Photo of GreenWBush
4.36/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

There are just not enough good American christmas beers out there. After being strongly disappointed by most US micro's offerings, I knew that I would either love or hate Rogue's version.

And after the first taste, it is clearly love.

The beer pours out a "santa" scarlet with a nice pillowy head that leaves a nice lacing on the glass. The smell is beautiful, imagine somewhere in between SN Celebration and Three Floyd's Alpha King.

This beer's taste is amazing; strongly hoppy but also not hollow or lopsided - very supported by malt without the sweetness sometimes found in Rogue beers. I have serious doubts about the listed 6.0% ABV. The mouthfeel is also quite admirable.

I am starting to get the sneaking suspicion that Rogue is skimping majorly on their six-pack offerings and are focusing their craftsmanship on the bomber bottles. One small bit of proof for that is I am pretty sure the last Dead Guy I had was not bottle-conditioned.

This beer is amazing, not for everyone, but should please hopheads and be acceptable to the malties.

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.23/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bomber poured into a Santa's Private Reserve flute glass. It pours a deep ruby red color with a tall 3 finger light tan head. There is lots and lots of lacing on this one. The smell is fairly hoppy. You can really smell the chinooks in it. The taste is also very hoppy, almost IPA status. There is a tiny bit of citrus and spruce on the finish. The mouthfeel is very strong and heavy. The drinkability is very nice as well. A good Christmas brew that can almost compete with Celebration Ale.

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Photo of shirfan
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A clear garnet-brown, topped with a creamy, tan head that refuses to quit. Over 3 fingers on the initial pour, it remains a solid cap to the bottom of the glass, with copious lacing.

Aroma of malt roasting in a pine forest.

Taste is very focused on hops; pine resin and a mildly spicy aspect lead the way. There's malt here somewhere, under the blizzard of hops. It does yield a clean but creamy texture, and a decently sweet finish before a fresh citrus and pine squall moves in.

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Photo of HardTarget
3.15/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Aroma: Pine and citric hops dominate a mild malt base with a whiff of cotton candy.
Appearance: Clear amber with a frothy off white head fed by a constant rain of carbonation. Solid lacing with tide marks. The head lasted throughout the beer and would break into sections during a sip before reforming ranks.
Flavor: Massive hop attack. Starts hop, ends hop, and leaves a hop aftertaste for about 2 –3 days. Doesn’t leave a hop bitter, it leaves a hop burn. The hops just crush all other flavors that might be in this beer.
Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, with an intense pucker.
Overall Impression: I’m a bit disappointed. I love hops, I love hoppy beer, but I really was hoping for something a bit more complex for a Christmas brew. Something with some subtle spice, some roasted maltiness, some, something besides HOPS. This is very one-dimensional; I could get this from Stone’s IPA, or just sticking a hop pellet up my nose. Sigh; forgive me Rogue Santa.

Aged bottle vintage 2003 sampled 12/25/2007.
Much nicer experience. Hops had all but faded leaving an old ale base. Very little paper in the back end, not distracting at all. Nice clean yeast element in a toffee malt base. A little pine hop flavor in the finish as well.
Not a GREAT beer to age, but it definitely improved in my book.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Super deep darkened amber color with an overall reddish tone with a evenly thick medium sized tannish head, lots O' bubbles at first, popping down to a creamy top that slowly dwindles down to a mixed thin & thick puffy haze and collar ring that stays the entire glass down. Tons of sticky moth-holed sheets of lace. Smell has a terrific caramel sweet malty aroma with some grassy hop notes. Taste comes across completely different from what the smell gives way to. A dry mild roasty feel and flavor lays immediately across the palate dropping notes of burnt buttered toast and caramel drizzled biscuits. Hops are super dry and leafy with a pine wood dryness and quick dry wood bittering that fades into the finish leaving hints of caramel and cocoa. But overall, quite dry and woodish. Feel is close to full with a nice textured carbonation and a nice hoppy drying finish. Rogue has another keeper with this holiday brew!

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Photo of WesWes
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark red color with a nice tan head that lasts. The aroma is tremendous. There are elements of pale, crystal, and munich malts here. Also, the aroma hops stand out. The taste is good. It is quite hoppy. This is a red/amber ale with a heavy load of hops in all respects. The mouthfeel is good. This is a medium bodied ale that is well carbonated. This is a great drinking beer. You gotta love seasonal gems such as this.

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Photo of Foxman
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours a ruddy red amber, clear in the glass, and sends up a thick, creamy, almost beige head, complete with bigger bubbles interspersed like little clear Christmas lights. The head stays around some time indeed, then settles prettily to a frothy topcoat of velvety foam. A fragile lace trails the beer down the side of the glass.

And the aroma, say hello hops, I say, yes, hello hops! They're a mix of a piney/floral potpourri. The malt comes through gently, with undercurrents of caramel, and maybe even a touch of plum.

The hops take the lead again on the palate, drying the tongue and roof of the mouth almost instantly with a nonetheless pleasant bitterness. Right on the heels of the hops comes the grainy, slightly doughy/roasty sweetness of the malt, swirling about and concocting further hints of tart cherry and slightly-burnt butterscotch. The flavor finishes with a sweet malt/yeast afterglow, leavened nicely by the spicy hops tingle.

It's a medium to full bodied beer, brawny in its Santa-esque way, making you want to chew as you drink, and it coats lithely and ebbs languidly, so that you virtually feel it sliding back, then down, leaving the hops behind for your pleasure.

This is one full beer, for want of a better phrase. The hops are aplenty, and while the ABV is certainly not high, this beer snuck up on me, like Santa, lurking quietly, then making his move. After the full 22 oz., I realized I'd garnered a nice little alcohol glow, more than I'd expected, but it was a glow of happiness, being the season and all, so I was all holiday smiles. After 3 hours hanging lights for The Betrothed, it warmed my belly and soul nicely. If I had more, I'd have had more, but this morning, I'm a bit thankful, as I may not have wanted to stop.
Santa is a lucky man to have this in his stash.

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Photo of Starchild
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Just poured the beer and I can smell it from 2 feet away. Hints of alcohol, toasted malt, and NW hops. Head look’s about a finger pinky width thick, not bad. The taste is pretty smooth. I can’t believe there’s so many different types of hops in this. Man this is one complex ale and so good, It’s got some hops kicking around but the maple vanillia kicks right back. Harmony mid way through the pint. I love Rogue beer, but so some reason I’ve always shied away from this one….big mistake. This is soon to be my private reserve beer.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.23/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After drinking a few milder "winter" brews, this one comes screaming out of the bottle. It pours a ruby-tinged teak. A solid light tan head rests on top. A fresh hoppy, fist full of buds aroma burst out. Sweet malt, berries and light wisps of warming alcohol play a solid supporting role. The dark roasted malt is a sweet biscuity delight. Sharp grapefruit bitterness, peppery spices and a bit of metallic bite makes way for a taste of berries and piney esters. Notes of toffee, bittersweet chocolate and alcohol provide a bit of balance to an otherwise wild and sharp-edged winter brew. Santa's given himself quite the tasty gift this year!

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Photo of avylover
3.11/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Ahhh..the christmas season...GOOD BEER. Found this at my local farm fresh courtesy of TinusTime, and I could'nt wait to try it out. On with the review.

Pours a nice clear mahogony color with a healthy cream head, leaving some good lacing around my glass.Aroma of floral hops hits right away, letting you know this is a Rogue brew. Their hop profile is unique, yet this seems to lean toward the IPA end at least in the aroma. Taste is not quite what i would expect from a christmas ale. There is a hefty hop bitterness, with some major floral taste that is rather overpowering. There is no real spicyness to speak of in the initial taste, but somehow the hop bitterness ends up spicy. The beer finishes grainy, with some corn type tastes showing up. Mouhtfeel is well carbonated and finishes dry due to overhopping. This beer missed the mark for me. I'm a hophead, but this is not the sort of hoppiness I enjoy. There are much better seasonal ales out there.

Note - if you love that signature "Rogue Hoppiness" then this is for you. Think of their red ale X 4

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Photo of TripelJ
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Now Quaffing: Rogue Santa's Private Reserve

Pours a hazy amber brown with a fluffy, hop-empowered head that recedes with some nice residual lacing. Aroma is amazingly enticing with a surprising balance (this is Rogue here) between the malt and hop profiles. Taste is amber sweet at first with the expected dose of hops to follow. There is a medium body and somewhat mellow mouthfeel which increase the drinkability. The hops linger somewhat on the palate. Overall, another fine ale from Rogue. Surprisingly, more balanced than usual, which is nice for a change.

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Photo of nomad
4.1/5  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.

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Photo of Weissenheimer
4.5/5  rDev +19%
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.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

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Photo of Loki
3.97/5  rDev +5%
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.

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Photo of granger10
3.56/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

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Photo of BeerManDan
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

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Photo of mikeys01
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.33/5  rDev +14.6%
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.

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Photo of scottum
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

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Santa's Private Reserve Ale from Rogue Ales
3.78 out of 5 based on 2,291 ratings.
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