Santa's Private Reserve 2018 Belgian Dark Ale with Tangerines & Bosyenberries

Review Date 1/3/2020  By John Staradumsky


OK, so as I type this, I need to provide a bit of background. It’s the 4th of January, 2020 and I just recently drank a bottle of Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve 2019 (not to worry, I’ll tell you about that shortly). It was very wonderful indeed, and after imbibing I was discussing it with a longtime beer pal and comparing it to prior year’s iterations.

One will recall that for many, many years Santa’s Private Reserve was perennially a hoppy red ale. The original Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve was a staple each Christmas in my beer fridge. In 2017, though, something changed. Santa changed his Private Reserve, magically transforming it into a Belgian dark ale with cherries and raspberries.  It was a truly wonderful beer indeed, and I actually still have a bottle I socked away and may drink soon.

Anyway, as I said I was reflecting upon the 2017 and 2018 versions of Santa’s Private Reserve ion relation to the latest release. I went back to my thoughts on the 2017 linked to above, then went to see what I had penned about the 2018. It was then I realized I had never formulated my tasting notes into a review. So here I am.

Luckily, Rogue’s web page for the beer is still up to add detail to my notes. They say:


The 2018 vintage of Santa’s Private Reserve is certain to bring the holiday cheer. At Santa’s request, we brewed him a special ale. This Belgian Dark Ale is packed with tangerines and boysenberries and is guaranteed to turn even the worst grinches into the most spirited Holiday goers.

Ingredients from the website:

Ingredients: 11 Ingredients: Munich, Carahell, Special W, Caramalt & C-75 Malts; Magnum & Rogue Farms Independent Hops; Dark Belgian Candi Sugar & Brown Sugar; Imperial Workhorse Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.

Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve 2018 has an alcohol content of 7.9% by volume with 22 IBUs. My purchase history from Total Wine shows that I paid $7.99 for my bottle. I drank it on Christmas Day of 2018.

Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve 2018 pours to a dark mahogany color with a medium head of tan foam and a soft nose of fruit and dark malts. Taking a sip, the beer is smooth and dark malty with a hint of funk, tart tangerine citrus fruit and bright berry cherry notes. It hints at chocolate too and finishes like a Toblerone bar. I think the bright fruit occludes the Belgian character and this is not as good as last year’s (but only slightly less so), but I’m glad I bought a bottle as it is tasty all the same.

Glad I tried it?  T

Would I rebuy it??


*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.

(B)=Bottled, Canned