Glassware: Amber ales are not huge impactful beers, but they do possess a lot of great subtle characteristics and with Rogue that is understood to be true. The hops and rich malts emanate a wonderful aroma that must be enjoyed to get the full impact of this beer. A willi becher pub glass is a perfect choices along with a snifter or nonic pint.
Description: Santa’s Private Reserve pours an amber hue with a rocky off white head that leaves a thick layer of lacing on the glass. The aroma is hop forward with touches of pine and grass with a sweet malt backbone present. The taste follows the nose with perfect balance and a wonderful crisp hop bite. The sweet malts cascade over the palate first with notes of sweet biscuits and a pine, resin filled hop bite follows quickly but maintains balance. The world renowned Pacman yeast from Rogue is present and imparts its smooth, well rounded flavor to the beer. The long dry finish makes for a very refreshing beer. The medium body and moderate carbonation make this beer very invigorating and crisp and not something many will think of for a winter seasonal. This is certainly a winter seasonal for hop lovers who want a bit of a hop bite without having their palate wrecked.
Food Pairing: The sweet malts and kick of hops makes Santa’s Private Reserve a beer with a strong flavor presence but one that can also pair with a wide variety of foods. Thankfully the holidays afford us a few lazy days with great opportunities. This is a great beer with brunch foods. Try pairing Santa’s Private Reserve with Huevos rancheros, the spices will gravitate toward the hops while the sweet malts keep the spices in check for a wonderful late morning pairing. This is also a perfect beer to have with any rich roasted meats that many of us enjoy around the holidays and goes perfectly with roasted chicken, ham, pot roast and spare ribs. The sweetness of the sauces will melt into this beer with the spices combining for a wonderfully invigilating experience. Most hop forward beers, even those with a touch more sweetness than others, do not make for great dessert beers but Santa’s Private Reserve is wonderful. Try pairing with fruit based dessert such as a chocolate cake, vanilla cheesecake, lemon meringue pie, cookies of any sort or with a generous helping of your favorite ice cream.
The Final Word: Rogue Ales has long been a staple on the craft beer scene since opening its doors in 1988. They help popularize craft beer throughout the world and have been the gateway brewery for many beer lovers. Rogue continues to push the boundaries and brew great beers. Santa’s Private Reserve has been a wonderful seasonal offering from the brewery. It’s hop forward, balanced and crisp. This is certainly a beer that Santa could enjoy and still be able to get his job done.
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.
Brewer: Rogue Ales
Beer: Santa’s Private Reserve Ale
Style: American Amber/ Red Ale