As we eagerly await the arrival of Kris Kringle, we have decided to keep ourselves busy by getting into some Tasting Notes on Santa’s Private Reserve 2017 from Rogue Ales (Newport, Oregon).
In case you missed it, a few weeks ago we hit you with the news that Rogue Ales is taking a new approach to this year’s release of Santa’s Private Reserve. Instead of going with the long-running, “double-hopped” Amber Ale that is typically brewed as their Holiday Ale, the brewers at Rogue decided to go in a new direction by creating a “Belgian Strong Ale made with cherries, raspberries, Belgian Candi sugar and Imperial Gnome Yeast.” This results in a 7.8% ABV Santa’s Private Reserve 2017 that “delivers a delicious sweet and tart flavor.”
Santa’s Private Reserve 2017 is available now in 22 oz. bottles and on draft. If you feel the holiday spirit take hold and wish to seek this brew out, you can find this Limited Release available at craft beer establishments in Alabama, Florida, Oregon and throughout the rest of Rogue’s nationwide distribution network.
That should be just about enough chatter concerning background information. What do you say we just cut to those Tasting Notes so that we can see what this new and improved Santa’s Private Reserve is all about?
Tasting Notes for Santa’s Private Reserve 2017 from Rogue Ales
Appearance: Santa’s Private Reserve pours up a rich, dark maple brown in color with deep red highlights. When held to direct light, the color softens a touch to a dusky garnet that has a solid brown core. The beer is mostly opaque, but a meandering carbonation activity can be observed moving around in there. Well over half a finger of tan foam was built from a careful pour. Showing some nice retention, that head eventually falls to a tight, creamy half finger that draws some elaborate lace patterns on the glass throughout the experience.
Aroma: The nose is first greeted by big pops of Belgian yeast and Belgian candi sugar. Caramel, light chocolate, a touch of dark fruit and some roasted malts snuggle up to that Belgian character to solidify a full-on Belgian Strong Dark Ale presence in aroma. Things shift gears at the end of the profile as some tart and lightly sweet raspberries surface.
Taste: The flavor picks up where the aroma left off by leading with a serious amount of tart raspberry. That tartness is quickly tempered by some caramel, Belgian yeast and candi sugar. This opens further to produce some rich and comforting dark fruit tones – plum, raisin and prune. Just as you think the profile will finish sweet, a sneaky cherry presence turns up to close it out with a nice note that is lightly sweet but mostly tart.
Mouthfeel: This brew falls on the heavier side of medium in body with a soft carbonation level. There is a good balance of tart and sweet on the palate. The beer’s slightly creamy texture keeps it from drying out too quickly, allowing flavors to linger. At 7.8%, the ABV brings a welcomed element of warmth to the throat and belly. The aftertaste leaves behind a fair amount of Belgian candi sugar and cherries.
Final Thoughts: They may have gone in the opposite direction from their holiday-themed Amber Ale of old, but the folks at Rogue Ales absolutely justified the style change by delivering this interesting and tasty new take on Santa’s Private Reserve. Sure, it gives you the trademark Belgian sweetness expected from so many Holiday Ales, but it shakes things up a bit by having the cherries and raspberries supply a not-so-traditional dose of tartness. That tart quality is just enough to be different, but its intensity is dialed in to act as a complement to the Belgian yeast, dark fruit character, and candi sugar. Above all, those flavors and aromas come together as a comforting reminder of the holidays without at all relying on the overpowering spices associated with the season. It is subtly complex, full of surprises and unmistakably festive . . . kind of like jolly old Saint Nick himself. If you are looking for a last-minute Christmas beer or just wish to carry the holiday spirit into the New Year, you should probably be on the lookout for some Santa’s Private Reserve 2017. Prost!