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Santa's Little Helper 2011 - Mikkeller ApS

Not Rated.
Santa's Little Helper 2011Santa's Little Helper 2011

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

36 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 36
Hads: 96
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 6.92%
Wants: 7
Gots: 12 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Mikkeller ApS visit their website
Denmark

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  10.90% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: brotherloco on 11-13-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

A 9.1 % variant was sold in Sweden.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 36 | Hads: 96
Photo of SudSavant
5/5  rDev +28.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is only the third beer to which I've issued a perfect rating. I know it strays a bit from the typical review of this beer, but it has everything I want.

Aroma 5/5
At first it smells as a mild Belgian yeast strain should smell, but even that is behind a lemon citrus. As it sits in the glass, all sort of interesting flavors rise to the surface. Before I describe those any further, let me say that this beer surprised the hell out of me by pouring like a stout! I was expecting some lighter, maybe amber, frou-frou holiday ale that has all the cinnamon, nutmeg, etc, etc in their usual starring roles. This beer flowed dark from the bottle and even evoked a "What the..?!" from this reviewer. Now back to the aroma. While starting off with the lemon zest and Belgian yeast, two things I definitely didn't expect to smell in a beer this dark, it quickly turns to its dark roast for the majority of the aroma. The roast is rich and dark, but has an aroma that accompanies it so closely I can't be sure if it's the same thing or not. There is a sweetness to the roast, almost like a rye, but sometimes mingles with the lemony notes that I can't put my finger on it whether it IS a rye or just the dark roast mixing with the lemon and perhaps grassy & piney hop characteristics. There is only a hint of alcohol warmth and it is found only during the deepest of inhales. In case, you couldn't tell by the length of this paragraph, this smell's complexity is only eclipsed by its unique nature. Full marks. I've never smelled anything like it.

Appearance 5/5
Ok, seriously. How come nobody ever mentioned that this beer is this dark? It really surprised me! This is darker than most recent stouts I've had. It's black to its core and shows only bits a pieces of a coffee brown at the very top of the class. The brown head is giant, light as if it has been whipped, and very creamy. It left tons of ornate lacing. This looks dark and amazing.

Flavor 5/5
Oh. My. Dad. It starts a little creamy from some body-enhancing malts and allows one to still catch a glimmer of the Belgian yeast, but crescendos perfectly into an absolute mountain of chocolate malt (the beer ingredient, not the frozen treat). The chocolate isn't incredibly dark -it still allows a creamier milk chocolate texture- but it blends marvelously with the roasted notes and the present-but-not-subtle warmth. The finish is more "roasted chocolate" (roast + chocolate), but with a new, distinct, resinous hop bitter and a brief wash of dark fruit. The mouth is initially left a bit sticky, but as the alcohol and hops have their way, the tongue is left rather dry in the aftertaste and with a slight tingle of warmth. Oh so good!

Mouthfeel 5/5
This beer is ridiculously creamy, but without weighing down the drinker with a huge, heavy body. The carbonation doesn't foam a lot, just enough to lend a more silky texture to the beer. I should also mention that the carbonation is plentiful, but doesn't effect the over all composition of the beer. Normally, stouts or other dark beers shy away from higher levels of carbonation to achieve a better beer as a whole. This beer doesn't shy away from carbonation. It instead embraces it and uses it as a tool to make the beer better.

Overall Impression 5/5
This beer is right up my alley. Unique taste, aroma is interesting, body and mouthfeel are perfect, and it breaks convention with the norm. This is not your average Belgian Strong Dark Ale! It keeps all the things you love and brings even more to the table. I love even more how far it strays from the typical Christmas/winter offerings available from most brewers. It shows creativity, independence, and some damn high quality brewing.

Total 5.0/5.0
In case I didn't gush enough praise earlier, here's my chance to really heap it on. However, I will do so with one caveat. I checked BeerAdvocate after I finished my review to see if others thought this beer as excellent as I do. They don't. Thus the subjectivity of taste comes into play. For me this beer has everything I want, roast, chocolate, smokey, sweet, warmth, Belgian hints, dark fruit, great carbonation, and the list goes on.... To be honest, I'm not sure how folks have ranked it so lowly on BeerAdvocate.

I've gone through my scores and tried to see if there is a portion where I could remove some points. Perhaps I missed something where this beer could have done better, right? Not for me and my palate. This beer is complex, well-made, tasty as can be, boozy, and with a great mouthfeel. I couldn't ask for anything more. Now I know what I need to ask for for next Christmas! (4,615 characters)

Photo of Arborescence
4.53/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black. Pours a very thick head that develops quickly, pour gently!

Aroma: Dark chocolate, alcohol, burnt coffee, malt.

Taste: Strong malt attack with coffee and chocolate flavours, develops into an aftertaste typical for barley wines; warms you up on the way down. Not your typical Christmas Ale flavours, although they do claim to have added some spices to it. Plenty of sweetness too from the added sugar and syrup.

Mouthfeel: Very thick and soupy, yet smooth.

Overall: Interesting! Mikkeller, which is a very productive and experimental brewery, has gone to Belgium to brew this year’s Santa’s Little Helper (not that I’ve tried the previous ones) and they have produced a fine Belgian Strong Ale. This one has elements similar to Rochefort 8 or 10, which are among my favourite Strong Belgian Trappists — Mikkeller’s version is much sweeter though. The sweetness is a bit much after a few sips, but I guess it’s ok given that it’s a Christmas Ale. The high ABV helps to balance the sweetness a bit, and makes this a beer to be enjoyed slowly. Certainly worth looking for. (1,108 characters)

Photo of dahlen22
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black and velvety with a decent brown head (almost like a Guinness Extra Stout from Ireland)

Aroma: Malt, dried figs, caramel, and other dark fruits.

Taste: The taste is what I expected once I got a whiff of the aroma. Malty, nutty, with figs, raisins, plums, coffee, and other candied fruits.

Overall: The price (12.99) is steep, but that being said, this beer is exceptionally smooth for almost 11% and is tasty for the cold long nights of winter up here in the Northeast. This is not a session beer, but one or perhaps two by the fireplace is worth trying. Cheers!! (583 characters)

Photo of Immortale25
4.45/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Dogfish Head signature snifter. No freshness date.

A- Pours a seriously black color with a full two-finger tan crown which retains for a good long while before sliding down to a 1/2 inch head that has great lacing following it. I can also see little specks of sediment in the body.

S- Smells of potent alcohol combined with a musty malt aroma. As the nose gives way, it leaves an aftersmell of red delicious apple. Some earthy hops are also detected.

T- Initial flavor of well-balanced malt/hop duality that doesn't lead to the boozy quality until afterward. In a word: smooth. Very smooth. There's also some spice trying to fight its way to the front of the line but it's weighed down too heavily by the key ingredients. There's just a dash of astringency that's only really detected when I swish.

M- Heavy, but not too much so. A bit dry and tingly from the high alcohol and medium-high carbonation.

O- Probably my favorite "Christmas" beer to date just due to the sheer extremity. (1,004 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.31/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Black, but slightly transparent. Huge mocha head. Never dies away, just settles to a thick layer of foam.

Smell - Dark chocolate malts. Sweet dark fruits. Coffee.

Taste - Very chocolatey with a nice dark fruit presence. Figs and dates and the like. They get stronger into the finish.

Mouthfeel - Creamy, medium body. Well carbonated.

Overall - Reminds me of Black Albert, but more chocolately. This was $3.99 because it was a seasonal "past season." Can't beat it. (540 characters)

Photo of drtth
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a nonic glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As served the beer is a dark brown almost black color that looks very stout like. The ½” light tan head receded fairly soon leaving a ring around the glass, and a thin island of foam on the liquid. Sipping left a few sparse patches of lacing from the ring but there was not much lacing at all for most of the beer.

Smell: The aroma has a strong component of chocolate. There also seem to be some dark fruits and coffee here. Is this a BSDA or a stout?

Taste: As expected from the nose there seems to be some nice dark fruits here mingled with the chocolate. A coffee note balances off against the chocolate and the fruits.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is on the full-bodied side of medium with a moderated amount of carbonation to keep things active. The finish is on the long side of medium and slides out to dryness from a sweet balance between the chocolate and the fruits to a somewhat lackluster finish.

Drinkability and Overall Impression: I quite enjoyed sipping my wayt through this one and would gladly have it again. Its an interesting beer in that it seems to be a nice blending of styles with some characteristics of a BSDA and some of a stout. You could have told me either style and I’d have believed it from the appearance, aroma, and flavor. My overall impression is that once again Mikkeller has sought and found a nice niche in the space between stouts and BSDAs. (1,484 characters)

Photo of russwbeck
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Rustico for their Festivus event.

A: Dark pour, viscous, with a very small light brown head. Lacing doesn't last that long 4

S: Roasted chocolate smell with a nice underlying dark fruitiness. Sweet overall 4

T: The roastiness from the smell is huge on the backend. Really surprises me thinking this would be traditional Belgian. The dark fruits and booze cone up front, chocolate plays throughout 4.5

MF: Heavy body with good carbonation. Extremely dry finish 4

O: This was good, but the taste wore on me. Nothing spectacular here, but worth a try. 4 (565 characters)

Photo of brotherloco
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml foiled and capped bottle. 2011 vintage. Served in a tulip.

Pours a very deep brown, almost opaque black. Big two and a half fingers of dark tan pillowy foam. Slowly settles to a generous thick ring with medium amounts of lacing.

Aroma of sweet and roasty chocolate malt and fruity esters. Pineapple seems to dominate. Dry christmas spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice are quite prominent. There is also a noticeable hop presence, much like you get in a Black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale. Also, a touch of alcohol.

Flavor is a lot drier and less sweet than I was expecting from the nose. Roasty malts and hoppy bitterness starts sharp and spicy and then quickly gives way to a softer soda water middle and finish. Fruit notes are there, orange being more prevalent than the pineapple in the nose. Still, they sit somewhat quietly in the background. Aftertaste lingers a bit and is mildly bitter. Overall the flavor is good, but emptier than I'd like. I should note though, that it improves as the beer warms.

Body is on the lighter side of medium with medium-high, soft and natural carbonation. The big 10.9% ABV is very well buried, which is quite impressive given the mild flavor, so this is quite drinkable.

Apart from the fruity esters from the yeast, this beer is very subtle about it's Belgian nature. There's a lot of American influence here too. (1,375 characters)

Photo of FeDUBBELFIST
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Draft pour into a 13oz chalice for $7.75. The menu indicated 10.5%. Sampled on 12/9/11.

A: Served with a minimal head that fades quickly leaving behind a small, crescent ring shaped collar. Very little activity on the surface. The body is black with dark amber brown edges when backlit. Lacing is just above non-existent.

S: Deep fudge, chocolate, light shoe leather and (seemingly) some type of wood treatment. I may be way off here since no other reviewer mentions bourbon or barrel, but I certainly picked up on something that made it worth mentioning. Maybe the combination of big booze and a highly phenolic yeast strain tricked me. All of the aromas are big and I find a great balance between them.

T: Taste is a hybrid of BSDA and stout, and firmly leaning toward the latter with the presence of roasted malt. Some raisiny dark fruits lay low in the flavor profile adding to the complexity. Excellent flavor, and one of my favorite beers by Mikkell.

M: Medium full and semi thick. This beer is probably over carbonated, but at least this helps to keep the finish nice and clean.

O: The aroma and flavor *definitely* came as a surprise. But a very GOOD surprise. I'd gladly order again and would be very interested in trying this beer from the bottle. My experience seems quite a bit different than the majority of the reviews... (1,340 characters)

Photo of ngeunit1
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown-black with a finger of frothy khaki head. Fades fairly slowly.

S - Dark caramel malts, dark fruits, Belgian yeast, clove, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, other spices, chocolate, and a bit of booze.

T - Sweety dark caramel malts, raisin and other dark fruits, Belgian yeast, clove, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, other spices, chocolate, a hint of roasted coffee, and a bit of booze.

M - Full bodied, moderate carbonation. Smooth with a sweet, spicy, and warming finish.

D - Nice spiced BSDA. Good overall balance. (522 characters)

Photo of Ruds
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

served on tap into a half pint 'tulip' style glass at the Craft Beer Co, Clerkenwell

dark brown to black colour

smells fruity, dried fruits, raisens, orange peel, cranberry

mouthfeel, creamy with a dry-ish finish, great taste and feel in the mouth and on the palate

tastes of mildly spiced fruits, berries, toffee, caramel a hint of nutmeg perhaps overall a rich complex beer that did not dissapoint! (404 characters)

Photo of jayhawk73
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, dark brown (almost black) with a perfect two finger chocolate head. Massive amounts of lacing on my snifter glass. The head sticks around for the entire session- amazing. The nose is chocolate, coffee, some dark fruit, and spices. I'd like the nose to be a little stronger, but it's still very good. Taste is heavy on the coffee (a little too much so), some chocolate, hops, malt, dark fruit, and a hint of grapefruit. It's very good, although different than what I expected. Feel is medium, with a dry finish. Slight alcohol burn on the aftertaste, but it's not overpowering. The malt really has a silky coating effect on your throat as well- excellent. Overall, this is a very good beer... VERY close to great, but just not quite there. Still, this is definitely worth picking up if you're a fan of the style. Cheers. (833 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shared by jayhawk73. Thanks Jeff.

The beer is near black with a thick beige head. Lasting retention and decent lacing. The aroma brings classic Danish roast scents, rich roasted malt, dark chocolate, yeast. Smells similar to a Danish stout. The flavor is rich and smooth. Drinks more like a European stout than a BSDA. Relatively light in body for the style, but by no means thin. Alcohol hidden very well. A solid beer. I would definitely have this again. (457 characters)

Photo of rarbring
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer is dark foggy brown, has a very high tan head that settles slowly leaving loads of lacing and good curtains.

Smell of spices, chocolate and coffee, dark dried fruits and grape-fruit peel.

Starts sweet with dark syrup, burnt crust, figs and raisins, citric zest and seeds.

Medium carbonation, smooth and sticky, big body anda good smooth dryness.

In all a potent and good winter ale. (395 characters)

Photo of dansmcd
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Extreme dark brown, almost black body. Two fingers of dense tan head and huge helpings of sticky lacing everywhere.

S - Spice, yeast, caramel, chocolate, coffee and dried apple.

T - Yeast, burnt toast, plums, figs, raisins, orange peel, and some alcohol heat.

M - Medium bodied, feels right, dry finish.

O - Really nice, complex, flavourful, wintery ale. (362 characters)

Photo of ianjsullivan
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ST: 750ml poured into a chalice. The bottle lists the ABV and vintage.

A: Espresso bean black with a huge half-a-finger brown fluffy head (like coke foam). It has nice retention and thick streaks of lacing.

S: Roasted malt, coffee, dark fruit, Belgian sugar, citrus hops.

T: Coffee bean, roasted malt, chocolate (bitter and sweet), spice and hops on the finish with bitter chocolate.

M: Heavy and smooth.

O: It is hard to believe this beer is almost 11 percent; the alcohol is blended so well. Strong winter flavors join slight fruity notes to create a big beer that certainly would be of help to Santa during his cold yearly visit. (639 characters)

Photo of metter98
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Mugs Alehouse, Brooklyn, NY

A: The beer is essentially jet black in color. It poured with a finger high tan colored head that died down but left some lacing on the surface and a ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are light to moderately strong aromas of chocolate malt.
T: The taste has flavors of dark fruits along with notes of chocolate.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The beer is very well balanced and makes for an interesting sipper. (530 characters)

Photo of DustinSmall
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got on tap at the roast house in frederick md 12oz pour into a snifter

A- dark dark brown almost black, minimal to no head as soon as its there its gone, small bubbles around the edges of the glass, and when swirled it leaves a brown film on the glass, good looking beer

S- Malty, slight rasin smell, sweet tobacco, leather, also getting hints of cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg, it really smells awesome

T- Sweet malty flavor, dark fruit, slight dark chocolate, yeasty pretty complex changes alot as it goes over the tongue, outstanding beer

M- medium to thick mouthfeel, coats the mouth very silky, slight carbonation

O- great beer, looks good, smells good, taste great i will deff be oging back for more of this (719 characters)

Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a dark, dark brown color with a two-finger head of light brown foam. It left thin rings of lace and a good deal of sediment in the glass.

S - It smelled of plum, raisin and some spices.

T - It tasted malty and sweet with a touch of booziness. Good dried fruit flavors with notes of raisin and plum.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is a really good beer. Nice to find it on sale after the holiday season. (482 characters)

Photo of codsmith
3.98/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours jet black with a finger high light tan caramel head that dies down and leaves a small covering just over the top.

S: A dark, strong, and rich malty sweetness with mild esters and a very apparent alcohol aroma. Not really picking up a lot of spice on the aroma.

T: Similar to the aroma and packs a heavy alcohol taste. The spice really comes in to play here and provides a little bit of a spice kick.

M: High carbonation with a little acidic bite and has a fairly creamy finish.

O: A dark and complex Belgian that has a heavy alcohol taste. (553 characters)

Photo of JayS2629
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, almost black with low carbonation, a one finger head that fades fast and little lacing.

The aroma is full of dark fruit, and belgian yeast fruity esters. Coffee and cocoa with spice, vanilla, and burnt edges.

The flavor has fig, raisin, plum, and vanilla with coffee and cocoa in the background. Slight tart edge through a spiced sweet toffee rounds things out.

Medium body, low carbonation, smooth

Overall, a nice Christmasy beer...sipper...a one and done. (487 characters)

Photo of Rifugium
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at TJ's, Paoli, PA

Before tasting, this beer seemed quite stout-like to the senses. Dark, opaque brown-black in color, no head whatsoever. Aroma of coffee, predominantly, with tones of dark malts and dark, dried fruits. Coffee and dark roasted malts in the taste--again somewhat reminiscent of a stout, but the mouthfeel tells you otherwise--and additionally notes of yeast and fruity esters, that should leave no doubt that this is a Belgian strong ale. Hints of soy sauce as it approached room temperature. Medium mouthfeel, moderate booziness as expected, and a bit bland in the finish. Good overall. (622 characters)

Photo of StaveHooks
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml served in a St. Bernardus chalice.

A - Pitch black body with a creamy mocha head that retains well. Sticky speckled lacing left behind.

S - Strong and rich dairy chocolate, roasted barley, sweet vanilla coffee, chocolate fruit cake, cherries. Good stuff here.

T - Chocolate hits first, creamy and sweet with some bitter roast behind it, hints of oxidation, some muted cherries, and raisins, also getting some charred wood in the middle. The finish showcases powdery dry yeast with some bitter roast at the very end.

M - Full body but light and very creamy as well, moderate carbonation, no alcohol heat at all.

Haven't had this fresh but at 1 year this tastes great. Not your typical BSDA but very smooth, creamy bold flavors that have seemed to blend well. Drinks more like a stout.
The way that this beer hides the ABV is very impressive. It's almost non-existent. Well done. (889 characters)

Photo of MsRif
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on-tap at TJ's in Paoli, PA. Poured a dark, opaque black color with a thin chocolate head that receded slowly, leaving lacing along the glass. Had an aroma of spices, sweet malts and yeast. Taste is certainly booze-forward, with spices, yeast and sweet malts. Pretty limited in terms of complexity, but well-balanced.

Heavy side of medium in terms of body, with low carbonation. Smooth, but not too sessionable simply due to booze taste. (442 characters)

Photo of Heatwave33
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle to a DFH Snifter.

Color: Black with a light brown head.

Smell: Roasted and caramel malts, chocolate, bread

Taste: Same as the aroma except with some nice cinnamon and nutmeg spices.

Mouthfeel: Great carbonation, slightly coarse with a mid dryness on the palate.

Overall: This brew has a great balance. Drinkability is pretty decent considering the ABV. I didn't detect any hops in it. Still good. Cheers. (436 characters)

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Santa's Little Helper 2011 from Mikkeller ApS
87 out of 100 based on 36 ratings.