REVIEW: Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve Ale

Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve Ale

This probably says more about me than I’d like it to, but whenever I picture Santa, it’s as likely to be with a beer in his hand as a glass of milk (or Coca-Cola).  As in all things, I blame my upbringing — my parents, savvy operators that they were, convinced me early on that what Saint Nick could really use on Christmas Eve was something to take the edge off.  Over time this was phased out in favor of the more traditional milk, but there are home movies of me at about 2-3 years old, bringing out cookies and a glass of wine for Santa.  (Predictably, I spilled it on the carpet and, yes, I did try to pick the liquid up with my fingers.  I was not a smart child.)

Honestly, I’ve always pictured that right jolly old elf through more of a working class lens than I think most do.  The poor guy busts his ass all year long to meet the tightest delivery window on Earth, and as soon as he gets back home Christmas morning, no doubt all he wants is to take a load off in his favorite chair with a beer in one hand and the remote in the other.  Mrs. Claus does not get a lot of help around the house in January, is what I’m saying.

But what I didn’t realize until a couple of years ago is that Santa actually has a microbrewery at the North Pole.  It makes sense – you have to figure not every elf is cut out for crafting dolls and iPods, so the rowdier ones are put to work brewing Santa’s own personal ale, which he briefly makes available to the public every Christmas season.  Now that’s a man who has mastered the spirit of giving, as have I, so allow me to give you the low-down on a product that just might get you through the holidays in one piece.

Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve Ale 2Santa’s Private Reserve pours out a nice darkish red/copper color, exactly the hue you want in a winter beer.  (Summer beers must by law be golden yellow, of course.  Basically, summer beers should look like your pee when you’re really dehydrated, winter beers should look like you have kidney stones.)  I’m not usually one for smelling my drinks, but the aroma is pleasant, slightly citrusy.  I’m also not a beer snob, so I won’t bore you or myself by getting too technical; but it IS quite hoppy, which translates to bitterness. 

To me that’s a selling point, but be warned if wheat beers and Corona are more your style.  (College students will, of course, want to stick with Natty Light, as this is not a good beer for chugging out of a plastic cup with a ping pong ball in it.)  You’d normally expect a winter seasonal beer to have a lot of spices in it, but they’re understated if not nonexistent here, taking a back seat to more of a roasted caramel taste.  In terms of thickness, it’s about medium — certainly you’re not going to confuse it for Guinness, but don’t expect it to go down like your mother at a Molly Hatchet reunion tour either.

The ABV is 6.0 percent, pretty standard for a craft beer, although those of you who mainly drink light beers should be careful.  In my immediate post-college years I could have polished off three of these without feeling it, but these days more than one is enough to rosy my cheeks and merry my dimples.  That works in your favor, though, as Two-Drink Drew is 65 percent more likely to tell embarrassing family stories and use the word “ass” in reviews than Zero-Drink Drew.  (Both are preferable to Five-Drink Drew, who can’t figure out how to work a keyboard.)  And not that it should influence your purchasing decision, but the packaging is nice — simple artistic images of a cheerful Kris Kringle hoisting a tankard.  Skol!

I have no doubt there are better, far more knowledgeable beer drinkers than I who could describe this Christmas ale to you using terms like “mouthfeel” and “juniper” and “pretentious.”  I just know what I like, and I like this beer.  It’s bitter, it’s smooth, and it leaves you with a pleasing aftertaste long after you’ve finished drinking it.  Plus it makes you feel like you and Santa are old drinking buddies.

Sure, everyone gets presents, but you’re one of the privileged few the big guy allows to tap his personal stockpile.  It’s a special, manipulative marketing-driven feeling, and that’s something you can’t put a price tag on.  Or rather, you can, and it’s $11.59.  Not dirt cheap, but for a once-a-year treat, it’s worth it.

Item: Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve Ale
Price: $11.59
Size: 6 pack (12-ounce bottles)
Purchased at: Joe Canal’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Stupid children.  Helps Santa recover from Christmas.  Good color.  Smooth and easy, like your sister.  Two-Drink Drew.  Tastes better than egg nog.
Cons: Bitter as an old man talking about today’s youth.  Not good for drinking games.  Misleading marketing – Santa doesn’t actually want to drink with me.  Not free, even if you make the “Nice” list.

REVIEW: Ed Hardy Sangria

Ed Hardy (by Christian Audigier), the leading purveyor of fine douche-wear such as faux-tattoo print T-shirts and trucker hats, have finally taken the next logical step and created their own “V.I.F. Drinks” (which I assume stands for Very Important Fuckface) beverage line. You know, like that old saying goes: If you can do one thing shoddily, why not do a lot of things shoddily. Or something like that.

Sangria isn’t what is traditionally known as a “manly” thing to drink – what with the wine and the fruity bits and whatnot. And despite the skull wearing a cowboy hat with an arrow through it and a snake sitting on top of the hat and an eagle attacking the snake and some other snakes and fruit and stuff juxtaposed about the label, Ed Hardy Sangria still doesn’t strike me as a particularly manly thing to drink. Like for instance, I don’t know if I could see Jon “Fat Asian Spencer Pratt” Gosselin actually drinking Ed Hardy Sangria, but I could definitely see it as something he would offer to one of the many low-class women he attempts to bed. For anyone unfamiliar with sangria in general, here is the testimonial that can be conveniently found right on the back of the Ed Hardy Sangria bottle:

Produced in Spain and popularized throughout Europe for hundreds of years, Sangria is the perfect party drink. Mixed hundreds of different ways, or just poured over ice, fruity and delicious, Ed Hardy Sangria is everyone’s favorite, fashionable party guest.

Although after sampling this product, I personally don’t really see how Ed Hardy Sangria can be mixed “hundreds” of ways. In fact, I can really only think of “two” different ways it can be served: In a glass by itself or in a glass with a handful of roofies mixed in. Because while real sangria is mixed with ingredients like red wine, brandy and fruit liqueurs, and packs quite a punch; Ed Hardy Sangria contains a laughable 7 percent alcohol per volume and therefore would probably not get a young lady intoxicated enough to have sexual relations with Jon Gosselin on its own.

Likewise, Ed Hardy Sangria doesn’t taste particularly “alcohol-ey” either. It mostly tastes like something I would have sipped out of a little box and straw when I was in elementary school. If I had to compare it, I’d say the flavor most resembles Capri Sun’s Fruit Punch. On that note, while at face value I really wanted to hate Ed Hardy Sangria, I couldn’t even muster up the hatred for it that I usually reserve for things that come packaged in Ed Hardy, like 33-year-old men who hit on college girls. It was sweet, but not obnoxiously or cloyingly so, like eight letters handwritten in crayon pleading for daddy to come home for Christmas – and overall fairly innocuous. There was just nothing notable about it whatsoever, positive or negative. As far as alcoholic beverages go, it was just pure, unadulterated mediocrity.

To compare it to leading competing products, I would have to say it’s definitely more pleasant-tasting than your Boone’s Hill or Arbor Mist. But overall, if you were in the market for a cheap wine(-ish) product that doesn’t really taste much like wine, I’d go with something in the Franzia family. Because not only does Franzia give you a bigger bang for your buck, but you’re also not putting your money into encouraging what could eventually be Ed Hardy brand® breakfast cereal and Ed Hardy brand® toilet paper.

Item: Ed Hardy Sangria
Price: $6.99
Size: 750 ml.
ABV: 7%
Purchased at: Pennsylvania State Liquor Store, Philadelphia 40th & Market Location
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Was surprisingly not gross. Convenient screw-top cap. Real homemade sangria.
Cons: Ed Hardy, obviously. Fat Asian Spencer Pratt. Won’t get you drunk. The fact that this product even exists.

REVIEW: Joose Mamba JOOSE

Back in the day when young adults in the suburbs wanted to be rebels, they would pay their local hobo to pick them up a six-pack of wine coolers or a bottle of Boone’s Farm. A decade later the drink du jour for the underage set was Smirnoff Ice. Today, young folks turn to alcoholic energy drinks to make them knock themselves on their asses, rip off their clothes, put a lampshade on their heads and run around in circles while repeatedly singing Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” — the Eric Cartman version.

The Mamba JOOSE’s can design makes Sparks look like a little pussy bitch, and I’m pretty sure Joose would say that right to Sparks’ face, if aluminum cans could talk. In return, Sparks would come back with, “Well, at least my name doesn’t rhyme with douche.” Joose would get super pissed off and beat the shit out of Sparks with its tribal tattooed arms, if aluminum cans had arms. This is the kind of alcoholic beverage we’re dealing with here, and I’m pretty sure after two cans of this D-Bag, or shall I say J-Bag, you’ll probably be exhibiting the same behavior.

The Mamba JOOSE is a premium malt beverage with our good energy fiends taurine, ginseng and caffeine. It tastes very fruity (don’t you dare say that to its face) and I kind of like it. I can’t really describe the flavor more in depth, because after a few sips my mind kind of voids anything, but then suddenly becomes alert and jittery. It does this better than a Red Bull and Vodka.

Clocking in at 9.9 percent alcohol, it packs a serious wallop. Let’s put it in perspective. Your run-of-the-mill Budweiser has only half of that, and the classic malt liquor, Olde English 800 (a.k.a Ol’ E) has only 5.9 percent. This combination of high alcohol content, taurine, caffeine and ginseng can’t be good for you. In fact, as of last month the FDA has given the makers of Joose and other alcoholic energy drinks 30 days to prove “clear evidence of safety” or they’ll take them off of the shelves. I’m not really crying over this, but I would like to at least try one of the other flavors.

I like a good beer, but I will admit I sometimes enjoy swillin’ some old school malt liquor, especially if I’m pregaming. I’m positive that Joose was made solely for pregaming activities, because there’s no reason to actually want to drink this other than wanting to get hammered quickly without having to tolerate the taste of beer.

If that’s what you’re looking to do, this Joose will get you loose.

(NOTE: Please drink responsibly.)

Item: Joose Mamba JOOSE
Price: $2.50
Size: 23.5 ounces
Purchased at: Steak & Hoagie Factory
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: High alcohol content for the price. Tastes really fruity. Good for pregaming. Not having to pay a hobo to get you booze. Cartman’s version of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. More than one flavor available.
Cons: Taurine, caffeine and ginseng makes you way too jittery. Boone’s Farm. Doesn’t have the street cred like Ol’ E, Colt 45 or St. Ides. Might make you loose. Might not get to try another Joose flavor before the FDA bans it.

REVIEW: Long Trail Blackbeary Wheat

Beer and college go together like peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs, Bret Michaels and anti-fungal medication, Botox and the cast of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, RuPaul and surgical tape…

Okay, I think you get the idea. But, how about beer and fruit?

“Beer and fruit you say? I don’t want no fruity stuff in my brewski. I don’t even want that little pansy orange when I get a Blue Moon. Fruit and beer!?! Knock it off with your crazy talk, stop blocking the TV and go make me a turkey pot pie, woman.”

Well, Mr. Stereotypical Domestic Beer Drinker, I guess you wouldn’t be willing to try Long Trail’s Blackbeary (yes, Beary) Wheat.

Just like you, Mr. Stereotypical Domestic Beer Drinker, I too am a consumer of beers typically found in packs of 30 due to the crickets that have found a place in my wallet and chirp on cue when I open it just to piss me off and make fun of the fact that I am a poor college student. Those bastards. However sometimes when I want to splurge (especially when I’m in New Hampshire where beer is much cheaper than the Keystone State.) I pick up something that’s local and what I assume has better quality than a 30-pack of The Beast.

Long Trail is a brewery that hails from Vermont and…

“Vermont you say!?! You’re telling me they make beer in the state that got those Birkenstock-wearin’ liberal hippies, ice cream with names that are always a play on words and maple syrup!?! I told ya to knock it off with your crazy talk. And where the hell is my turkey pot pie?”

Well, yes, Mr. Stereotypical Domestic Beer Drinker, Long Trail is from Vermont and, actually, Vermont has more breweries per capita than any other state. Throughout the year, Long Trail likes to put out specialty brews that fit the season, and usually they have cute names and adorable labels with bears skiing or lounging out by trees or, in the case of the Blackbeary Wheat, an angry wife holding a rolling pin about to smack her husband who is attempting to take a piece of pie.

“Cute and adorable you say!?! Beer ain’t supposed to be cute or adorable. I need a beer that uses hot babes with their jugs bouncing up and down in their commercials, not some damn cartoon bear. Speaking about pie, where the hell is mine!?!”

Oh, Mr. Stereotypical Domestic Beer Drinker, you are so right. Beer shouldn’t be about how cute the label is; it’s all about the taste. The right amount of hops, how much alcohol it has, how quickly you can pound it during a game of beer pong, or with Long Trail Blackbeary Wheat, the perfect fruit to grain ratio.

“Ratio!?! What the hell are you talkin’ about, ratio? When I’m drinkin’ a nice cold one I don’t wanna think about some damn mathematical equation!”

Nor do I, Mr. Stereotypical Domestic Beer drinker, but when I do drink a fruit type beer like Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, I keep in mind the unification of fruit and grain. However, I couldn’t find any unification whatsoever while drinking the Blackbeary Wheat. In fact, I had to do a double take at the label to make sure I was drinking a fruit infused brew. The fruit flavor was nonexistent, like Spencer Pratt’s brain, which left my mouth wanting something with more substance even after I downed two of them.

“See, I told ya. Don’t buy those fancy, pansy-ass beers with cute names, stick to brews that got one syllable names like Bud or Miller.”

Um, Mr. Stereotypical Domestic Beer Drinker, Miller has two syllables…

“One. Two. Same difference. Now what did I say? Stop blockin’ the TV and go make me a turkey pot pie, woman.”

Item: Long Trail Blackbeary Wheat
Price: $11.99 (on sale)
Size: 12 oz – 12 pack
Purchased at: Shaw’s
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: It’s beer. Funny/adorable label. Beer commercials. Playing beer pong. Only 6 grams of carbs. Being able to purchase beer at a grocery store. Poking fun at misogynistic stereotypes.
Cons: Literally no trace of blackberry. Literally no buzz. The crickets in my wallet rubbing it in that I purchased this instead of a 30-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

REVIEW: Bud Light & Clamato Chelada

(Editor’s Note: Today’s review is based on the popular Bud Light Real Men of Genius ads. If you’ve never heard or seen these ads, check out this site to get a taste of them.)

Bud Light presents Real Men of Genius

(Real Men of Genius)

Today we salute you, Mr. Bud Light & Clamato Chelada Inventor.

(Mr. Bud Light & Clamato Chelada Inventor)

Combining the watery goodness of Bud Light with the tomato clam juiciness of Clamato is usually only done by mad scientists and really, really, really, really, really drunk people. You also added salt and lime, but those don’t help the fact that you probably created the most ghetto bloody mary ever. Dr. Frankenstein used scavenged body parts to create his monster, but your hodgepodge creation would probably make him squirm.

(I ain’t going to drink that!)

Those who have balls big enough to drink it may not be able to smell and taste the clams or the beer, but the tomato is there punching their senses with a salty tomato soup look, smell and taste that only hobos can love. It’s somewhat tolerable, didn’t make me gag too much and I might’ve been able to nurse it until it was gone, except you weren’t kind enough to put it in a regular 12-ounce can.

Oh no.

Instead you decided to put your clammy concoction in a huge 24-ounce aluminum jug, making it impossible to finish without it getting warm, which makes the Chelada feel like someone rinsed their mouth with it and spit it back into the can.

(You sadistic bastard!)

So crack open an ice cold Bud Light, Champion of the Clamato and Backer of the Bud Light, because you’re going to find out if it mixes well with Grey Poupon.

(Mr. Bud Light & Clamato Chelada Inventor)

(Nutrition Facts – 12 ounces – 151 calories, 0 grams of fat, 15.6 grams of carbohydrates, 1.9 grams of protein, and 4.2% alcohol/volume.)

Item: Bud Light & Clamato Chelada
Price: $2.49
Size: 24 ounces
Purchased at: Wal-Mart
Rating: 1 out of 10
Pros: Didn’t make me gag too much. It contains alcohol. Bud Light Real Men of Genius ads.
Cons: Tomato punching your senses. Mixing Bud Light & Clamato. It comes in a 24-ounce can. Tastes much worse when warm. Would make Dr. Frankenstein squirm. Bud Light mixed with Grey Poupon.