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Santa's Little Helper - Port Brewing

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,333 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,333
Reviews: 559
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.45%
Wants: 75
Gots: 213 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Port Brewing visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Boilermaker88 on 12-11-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,333 | Reviews: 559
Reviews by TheLongBeachBum:
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

December 2004
Bottle #225

Presentation: 750ml green glass bottle, sealed with a small crown cap. Single wrap around white label with a picture of Santa’s sleigh sat atop the Pizza Port location. Listed as ‘Brewed and Bottled by Pizza Port Solana Beach, CA’ and listed as ‘Santa’s Little Helper Imperial Stout’. Lots of bumpf on the back of the label. This is hand numbered bottle #225 with a quoted strength of 9.75%. Not the San Marcos produced stuff from Port Brewing/Lost Abbey but I can't add anything under that location anymore, so it's getting listed here.

Appearance: Shockingly dark, pitch black like my shite after 18 Pints of Guinness. The body has little to offer, capturing and holding any bit of light that happens to fall upon it and holding it prisoner with little to no chance to escape. Rising brown cocoa head, infinitely small bubbles form a rich deeply textured covering that starts at a healthy ½” thick but quickly fizzles slowly like a dissolving tablet. The powder puffy dark tanned head slowly disperses to a thinner covering given time. The carbonation is finely dissolved, gentle Brandy like swirls in my Stone RIS glass. Firm looks and a great appearance.

Nose: Punching roasted malts and a lot of roasted coffee with a background anise and liquorice aroma. Complexity builds as dark fruits enter the fray, but they are low key in strength. The aromas are enticing, complex and yet subliminal at times.

Taste: The sweetness is roasted; chocolate malts pulsate with some nutty roasted horse chestnuts and a soothing warming Port like alcohol which relaxes. The alcohol is not raw here; moreover, it is mature, nicely dissolved into all of the components. Flashing cameos from burnt toast, black leather straps, dark bitter cooking chocolate and a rich exotic finish which is irresistible in the way it caresses the back of the throat whilst punching the cheeks. Lingering finish is lengthy, liquorice and a Pontefract Cake driven finale. Bitterness actually rises as you work through this one; I almost forgot to mention that, such is the lovely deeply entrenched smooth cultured roasted belly of this brew.

Mouthfeel: Smooth as a silky chocolate milk shake. Roasted malts stiffen up the backbone; the scaffolding is root liquorice with an impish finish. The roasted input is mature, well balanced and neatly dissolved into the DNA of this Imperial Stout.

Drinkability: I started sipping this, but after writing a few lines I soon found myself racing through this one. The lingering aftertaste is such a treat. Like a drunken Glaswegian on Boxing Day, this is very dangerous, try not to make direct eye contact and you may be alright, otherwise you'll be gettin' a Scotch Kiss.

Overall: Superb stuff. I always find it hard to open a bottle that I’ve aged for a bit, as was the case here, and to a certain extent I wished I had shared this, but what the heck, this was a present to myself today! Cracking stuff, it will be interesting to see if the new San Marcos produced SLHIS holds up to this previous batch from Solana Beach.

It's aging nicely and its not done yet I feel. A great brew that turns your teeth brown.

Happy F’in Christmas. Bah Humbug!

More User Reviews:
Photo of john0721
4.64/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. color: black, head: well formed, light tan, nice lacing.

I look forward to this one every year. This year's did not disappoint.

An excellent version of a non barrel aged imperial stout.

Also looking forward to trying this year's barrel aged version.

Photo of tmzl
4.06/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Taste-off: Santa's Little Helper (S) vs. Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged (SBBA)

S: Pours with a huge, thick, creamy, billowy mocha head, has a good slow, equal retention (breakdown of medium sized bubbles). A very thick, medium-sized, creamy layer stays on top. Dark brown, heavy pour, fair amount of lacing.
SBBA: The head is a lot smaller, higher degree of medium/big bubbles, mocha head a bit lighter. Has a faster retention, mostly diminishing. Looks a bit more transparent and watery.

S: Cherry, dark fruit on opening, dominating roast, coffee and milk chocolate, stuffy, mostly dark malt driven. Light sourness, bit salty, soy sauce and some cookie dough.
SBBA: More dark fruit esters on opening, then goes to rum-kokos Casali chocolates with a lot of oak, vanilla. Roast, milk chocolate more on the side here. Alcohol with booze feeling, oak the most dominant aroma here.

S: Light acidity and molasses, burned sugar start with fruity forest esters. A bit rum-like transition into milky, dark malt medium sweetness that ends with medium dark coffee bitterness, it's well developed. Small boozy spike towards the end.
SBBA: Bourbon oak dominates this one. Medium molasses, burned sugar sweet start with acidity turned down, the middle, which is overrun with oak dominance, a bit of milky backbone felt, but a lot more subtle. Ends with strong bourbon oak spike that dominates the after with turned down roast, coffee bitterness and alcohol.

S: Full, light heavy body, soft carbonation lingers on the tongue, quite pleasant.
SBBA: A bit lighter on the body (higher alcohol), light warmth, no carbonation to detect.

The non-barrel aged version is a lot smoother and very drinkable. Solid, not too demanding take on imperial stouts. The bourbon one is a lot sluttier, the oak is (too) heavy and goes down a lot slower. The age in barrels didn't make it better IMO.

Photo of oberon
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured jet black with only faint ruby hue when held up to the light,a large mocha colored head atop.Dark fruit stands out most in the nose along with bitter chocolate and dark roast,the fruitiness is the main component going on here.A little more sharp than I like in the feel but it's not overly annoying.Dark fruit and black licorice flavors at the start with some earthy tones and unsweetened chocolate as well,a nice complex palate.A good close to great RIS,tweek the mothfeel and it is great,I enjoyed it.

Photo of RoyalT
4.62/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance - This is a very dark brown in color with a small but retentive brownish-white head.

Smell - The malts here are roasty with a boozy bite. They are very rich and complimented with some fine coffee bean and mild raw sugar. This is a high-quality nose that portends good things to come.

Taste - The roasted malts are spot on here. They are powerful and rich with just enough raw sugars to smooth out the flavor. The hearty coffee aroma is a bit more like a dark espresso bean, and I can even pick up some dark baker's chocolate to boot. This is a real powerhouse.

Mouthfeel - This is a tad bigger than medium-bodied but not full. There's some fine carbonation; not a lot but just enough to keep the mouthfeel lively. The dark ingredients provide some decent bitterness. This RIS is smooth smooth smooth and a blessing to hold in between the cheeks.

Drinkability - I caught a bit of alcohol at the nose but that disappeared once this RIS hit the tongue. This is an exceptional brew and a represents a major accomplishment from Port Brewing.

Photo of aszatk01
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

Photo of GameOfBeers
4.44/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of SanFranJake
4/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of BubalooBrewMaster
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

Photo of jose_alehouseSD
3.12/5  rDev -22.4%

Photo of MikeC144
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle# 427. 750ml bottle brewed in Solana Beach, therefore entered my review here since the master Pizza Port listing will be going away. Cracked this one on my b-day. Pours as dark as night black with a wonderful two inch tan head on top. No light shall escape. Aromas of dark roasty malt with a big chocolate and caramel toffee aroma. Light anise and some burnt coffee in there as well. Slightly nutty with a mild hop background. Quite nice.

First sip brings a lightly roasted dark malt with cocoa, caramel and toffee. Some anise and a bit of spiciness in there as well. A touch nutty as it flows down with a nice bitterness. A faint coffee flavor on the back end. Overall, a tasty, smooth imperial stout. A bit of yeast on the finish and a mild hoppiness. Tasty brew.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, on the lighter side for an imperial stout, but still nice and that makes it more drinkable. Good carbonation. A tasty, relatively easy drinking brew for almost 10%. I will have to get another bottle again sometime!

Photo of danthehopslamman
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

Photo of NWer
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Santa's Little Helper.
The name is disarming but the label tips you off that this is no winter warmer.
Russian Imperial Stout. 10% ABV.
The aroma hits you the moment you pop the cap and it just gets better as you pour it and take the first sip.
Overtones of coffee, chocolate malt. Kept me company while working in the yard. Made yard work a very mellow experience.
I highly recommend this beer and will definitely pick up a few more for the cellar before it disappears from the shelves.
note: dated 2010

Photo of DaftPatrick
4/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of csmartin6
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

Photo of warnerry
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

Photo of Beaver13
3.03/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle, 2008 version. Pours a dark brown with an extremely thin brown head that quickly goes to a very thin collar.

The aroma is very subdued - sweet chocolate, grainy malts.

The flavor is lactic chocolate, slightly tart dark fruits, and molasses with a roasted bitter finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and watery with almost no carbonation.

Overall, I'm not too impressed. This is a pretty weak impy stout - it's light in color, subdued in the nose, and watery in the body. The flavors aren't bad though.

Photo of Fcip78
5/5  rDev +24.4%

Photo of Doomcifer
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

Photo of JakerLou
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

Photo of megamass
4/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of Billolick
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

New graphics and a brown bottle, no feshness/bottling info. Pours
quite inky near black, dark tan head, that leaves a classy tiny bubble film and fine stringy lacing. Chocolate, burnt grains and smoke in the sniff.
Full throttle stout. Rich, flavorful, smoke, dark chocolate, more burnt grains, a hint of mint and crunching/drying hops in the long and flavorful finish. Thick, viscous mouthfel. More high octane/high quality brew from the fine folks at PP. Night capper/sipper/aging prospect. Go get some and enjoy

Photo of ElSid
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The Beers of California


Bottled Date: 9/10/12

A: Classic stout jet black body with a decent of head of light brown foam which leaves a generous curtain of lace on the glass.

S: Moderate alcohol with mocha espresso with some brown sugar and raisin sweetness.

T: Bousy, but on the phenolic, cough syrup side, with mocha espresso, brown cane sugar, and raisins. A base of toasted, dark malt which does its best to hold this brew together. The espresso and chocolate take front stage with little help from the rest of the palate.

M: Good linger in the mouth and lace on the glass with a creamy smoothness which is the highlight of this brew. Ample mouthfeel and just the right amount of carbonation.

O: The Port Brewery's Christmas Imperial Stout offers an average, uninteresting palate dominated by medicinal alcohol notes with little nuances and subtleties which are needed to make a good a beer.

Photo of SuperbikeShaun
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

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Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 1,333 ratings.