I'm probably going to have my beer drinker membership card revoked for this statement, but, I often overlook Rogue. I know–I know, They're arguably one of the most important players in the development of American craft beer over the last twenty years. Nevertheless, I have a tendency to walk past the Rogue section. There's nothing wrong with their stuff, they're just not one of my go to breweries. Something was different this last trip to the beer store. Maybe I'm starting to be a little more open-minded or maybe it was the influence of a little holiday magic. Whatever it was, I went right for the Rouge, their Santa's Private Reserve, to be exact—and I'm glad I did.
You will notice two things immediately upon tasting this beer—it's bitter and it's hoppy. I mean way bitter and hoppy. I was expecting a soft, smooth amber with a hint of cinnamon and clove, but no—BAM! Right in the mistletoe with a crazy punch of American hops. It's pithy, like grapefruit rind, and a bit piney with some citrusy tartness. The malt, however, brings a mild sweetness and a nice bready, roasted note that works—I can't say in balance with—but in tune with the bitterness. This one took me unaware. This was the "surprise" gift of my beery Christmas—the unexpected cool thing under the tree. I was assuming socks and a tie and ended up with a Ducati café racer. Although, thinking about it, I've now ruined your surprise—sorry, you've still got the socks, right?