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Everyone knows you're supposed to leave a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa Claus when he visits your house on Christmas Eve. But wouldn't it be nicer for the big guy if, when he popped down your Florida chimney (uh huh), he was greeted not by sweets and dairy but by a frosty mug full of Rogue Santa's Private Reserve?
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Well, I know what I'd rather find waiting for me.
Santa's Private Reserve is a seasonal brew (duh) from Rogue that's based on their Saint Rogue Red, which we've previously reviewed in Beer of the Week. A double version of its younger brother, SPR is a malty, full-bodied red ale with a furious amount of aromatic hops. Chinook and centennial -- two woodsy, potent varieties of hops -- power the brew in addition to one undisclosed hop variety known only as "Rudolf." I guess that's what makes Santa's Private Reserve's nose so red. (Ha ha ha ha!!! Er...)
Pour a glass from a 22 oz. bomber or six-pack and you'll find a thick head with heavy lacing. Nuts, biscuit, citrus, and pine flavors come out swinging hard, but they mellow smoothly after a moment. The body is sturdy but not thick, with a perfect amount of fizzy carbonation. At six percent alcohol, it's a brew that will do the job well, but not one that's likely to knock you over after a single glass. The bright hops and citrus flavors will help SPR hold up against strong flavored foods like chips and dip or lighter fare like crudite. Yep: Consider this a cocktail hour beer.
You can find SPR at Total Wine, of course. You'll want to stock up before the season ends. Just make sure to pick up an extra bottle for the big boy.