Santa's Little Helper - Port Brewing

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Santa's Little HelperSanta's Little Helper

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1,348 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,348
Reviews: 563
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.45%
Wants: 78
Gots: 219 | FT: 6
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: 1,348 | Reviews: 563
Reviews by arfenhouse:
More User Reviews:
Photo of CHickman
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2014 Bottle: Pours pitch black color with a huge foamy 2-3 finger tan/brown head that had a ton of tiny bubbles in it and faded very slowly, leaving caverns as it dissipated and great foamy lacing with thick rings as it went down. The head never fully goes away with a 1/4 inch foamy layer lingering the whole time – second pour looked just as good, a damn fine looking RIS.

Smells of chocolate, burnt grains, coffee grinds, faint vanilla, light bourbon, molasses, charred wood, smoked malts, licorice, piney hops and herbs that keep the sweetness in check with the fine roasted notes. Bakers chocolate, cocoa powder and coffee come through the strongest and seem to come on more as the beer warms up.

Tastes like it smells with chocolate, smoked malts, vanilla, coffee beans, burnt grains, cocoa powder, caramel, light bourbon, molasses and charred wood. After the initial swallow the bakers chocolate/dark chocolate (think Hersey’s Dark), licorice, burnt brownies, piney hops, some dark fruit, citrus hops like grapefruit as well as herbs which like the nose keep the sweetness in check with the fine roasted notes and slight hoppy bitterness. This has milk stout qualities and some of the high ABV comes through, but the complex roasted malts and chocolate just dominate the palate and let all of the complexities deliver a really finely crafted stout. The hops jump out at times, but then get washed away by either chocolate, light booze or smoky malts. I can overlook the hop bitterness being out of whack for the RIS style because the flavor is so damn good.

Mouthfeel is very thick, chewy and viscous with a slick milk stout feel across the tongue somehow as this juxtaposition of feel doesn’t make sense but indeed does come from the same brew. Heavy body with a slightly bitter chocolate, coffee finish that has a hop nip and some mild roasted sweetness that trails off like a Starbucks bold coffee. Really fine stout, represents San Diego area well and one I highly recommend and will seek out again. I like this on the fresher side as the hops played a nice part in the dynamics of the flavor profile.

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 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 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 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 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 tigg924
3.25/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: minimal head, black in color, opaque

Smell: chocolate, roasted malt, and cream

Taste: chocolate, roasted malt, and cream

Mouthfeel: medium/heavy bodied, light carbonation, sweet start, bitter middle, sweeter end.

Drinkability: A slightly above average RIS, that I would not turn down nor seek out. Chocolate takes the lead here, but most flavors are standard for the style. An OK beer.

Photo of badbeer
3.28/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2007 Version.

Black, but dark brown around the edges. Somewhat fizzy tan head develops but recedes almost as quickly. Smell is quite roasty. I also get sweet molasses, coffee, a hint of piney hops, and a little sweetness. Roastiness paired with smoke is what I get on the tongue first. From there there is just a touch of molasses; I get quite a few different charred flavors. Highly carbonated and less than medium bodied.

Photo of magictrokini
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Cask @ Solana. Dark brown pour with a short creamy brown head. Aroma dominated by chocolate and crystal malts. The barley gives it a chicory-like quality, both in the aroma and flavor. Lots of chocolate and hops give it a more complex taste than the normal overly-chocolate stouts. The alcohol is almost undetectable Very, very enjoyable.

Photo of pat61
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours brilliant dark brown with an exuberant 3” tan head that persists and leaves heavy lace. The nose is prune to plum with coffee and a hint of chocolate in the background. The beer is clean and the bubbles are so fine that they suggest a nitro beer. A very effervescent, creamy palate starts malty with a dark, nutty biscuit background coupled with big grain flavors seasoned with chocolate and coffee finishing with a dry bitter chocolate astringency joined with grain on the finish. Big body with very fine, soft carbonation.

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

Sent to me in an awesome package of generosity from rsyberg01 for the holiday sponsor a BA. 2008 vintage. Thanks again!

Appearance- Pours the same opaque black as most beers of the style do with just a thin sheet of dark brown head across the top that almost immediately dies to a ring. No lacing left as I drink.

Smell- Interesting combination of sweet and bitter going on here. In the nose I get bitter chocolate, sweet roasted malt, and a mild whiff of alcohol in the background.

Taste- Lots of rich roasted malt, dark chocolate, and warming alcohol going on here. Additionally, there is a mild but noticeable residual hop presence which I think I am noticing here as well. A solid and complex palate.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Mouthfeel is slick and heavy with just enough carbonation to keep it moving. Drinkability is solid for the style but with a fair amount of warming alcohol even after a year in the bottle. Definitely a sipper.

Overall, a very good RIS. Not the best I've had to date but a better than solid offering and quite complex.

Photo of far333
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown and opaque with a two-finger head of rocky foam that lingers long. Aroma of dark malt, caramel, cocoa and coffee. Deep, rich flavors of darkly kilned malt, not to roasty or bitter, but very flavorful, with notes of dark chocolate, espresso, licorice, root beer, and charred bark. Subtle hop flavors and bitterness balance it well. Full mouthfeel, a bit tingly. Nice beer.

Photo of Soonami
3.56/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a small 12 oz. goblet at cellar temperature at SPTR

A- opaque black--with a rocky mocha colored head, great lacing and cling

S-Burnt toast and chocolate

T-roasted coffee, bitter chocolate with a nice sweet finish

M- sticky, astrigent, and a little thin

D- good, not great. I had one 12oz. glass and I think that was just enough and I wouldn't want more

Photo of OStrungT
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I have been sitting on this bottle since Christmas, and I just couldnt wait any longer. Luckily, I still have a bottle left. This beer pours jet black with a dark brown head. When held to the light, no light shines through the thick tar like liquid. The head is very thick. It fades very slowly leaving very thick laces. This beer smells very strongly of coffee. Also, I detect a very strong chocolate aroma. The alcohol is also very present in the aroma. It smells slightly of caramel. It smells sweet. That beer tastes very strongly of coffee. The alcohol warms my throat as it goes down. It has a chocolate flavor. Also, is tastes slightly of caramel. The malty sweetness is also present. I dont detect much in the way of hops, but that is probably because the strong malty flavors are so present. This beer is still carbonated well despite the 10 months of ageing. It goes down smooth leaving a warm, coffee flavor on my palate. I dont think this beer would make a very good session beer because it is very aggressive, and the alcohol content is high. But this beer is wonderful. It is great in small doses. This is one of the best Imperial Stouts I have ever had.

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a tulip glass)
A- This beer pours a jet black with a cocoa tan head that last for a bit. It is a bit too dense to see any carbonation.
S- The roasted black malt has some cinnamon qualities to it with a dark chocolate aroma in the finish.
T- The big roasted malt flavor has some astringency to it, and some licorice notes. There is a dry cream note and dry spice note in the finish. As the beer opens up there is a dark nougat and fusel alcohol taste in the finish that grows.
M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel and no real alcohol heat it is mostly in the flavor.
D- This beer has a nice stout richness but not a lot of depth. On the second pour there was a large slimy gelatinous lump that popped out of into my glass. Even after fishing it out and examining it I couldn't finish the beer.

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

Got this one in my poker winnings from jkane101. Thanks a lot!

Poured a dark black with a nice about of tan head on it.

Smell was roasted malts, chocolate and coffee with some alcohol coming in at the end.

Taste was also roasted malts with the coffee flavor coming though. Bit of alcohol in the finish.

Mouthfeel was medium-full. Definitely a beer to be enjoyed.

Overall a great tasting beer. I don't drink a lot of stouts but I did enjoy this one and would drink it again.

Photo of pwoods
3.74/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to MiScusi for this nice extra. I've gotten 2 more of these either by extra or trade... I forget and I forget from whom... so my apologies ^^;;

22oz. brown bomber poured into a tulip.

A: Solid black pour, no visibility. 1/2 inch of deep mocha head with good retention. Nice blanketing of lace.

S: Pretty subtle. Dark fruits and juicy grapes and plums. Light cola.

T/M: Strong alcohol character with rum soaked raisins that give a healthy bite. Deep roasted malts vaguely simliar to coffee but with a fruit sweetness. Hop bitterness with a bit of citrus but mostly overpowered. Body is a bit above medium and carbonation is quite high.

D: Very complex brew but it doesn't seem to know what it wants to do. Mouthfeel and smell are a bit weak, too. Enjoyable and drinkable nonetheless.

Photo of 05Harley
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Botled in 2008.

Purchased @ Julio's Liquors, Westborough, Mass.

Price - $8.99/bomber

Appearance: Pours pitch black with a creamy lite brown cap. Head disappears almost instantly leaving behind a thin silky covering.

Smell: Roasted malts, raisins, bitter chocolate and coffee beans. Smells like a typical RIS nothing special.

Taste: Bitter chocolate, coffee and some hop bitterness followed by booze.

Mouthfeel: Lite bodied and a bit thin for a 10% RIS. It still shows evidence of lubrication on the glass but it is a bit thin on the palate. Little to no carbonation.

Drinkability: Silky smooth for an RIS with this potency. Surprisingly drinkable for the gravity. I have another bottle of the same vintage I'll revisit next Christmas.

Photo of Brenden
4.04/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This big brew is up to the style standards by the look of it. It's very dark brown, close to black with a little ruddiness in the very edges. It grows a firm tan head that shows lots of resilience, sticking it out at a finger for the duration. Patching is thick and clings in plenty.
This beer's flavor follows the smell stingily. It's nice and robust, well on par for what's perhaps the biggest beer style in the world in terms of heft (sometimes ABV, but of course that varies). This one's got lots of malt fortitude, laying lots of flavor on a hefty base while maintaining similarities to a big Scotch ale (Wee Heavy), as though an Imperial Stout and a Wee Heavy had a baby and added some extra hops for measure. It's smoky, earthy and peaty with a piney aftertaste that, in the context, does just work, with a sort of meaty smokiness leading into the finish. Check the previous; this may have been a threesome with a Rauchbier.
The feel is medium-heavy, the body just falling shy of full, and it's got a bit of a bite to it. Crispness doesn't supercede smoothness, but they're even.

Photo of mully
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to psprings and sirhc for sending me this beer in diffrent trades.

chocolate head pours thick and has tight carbonation/ the beer it's self is black with just the smallest ruby hints where the light can get through.

cocoa/ chocolate along with some slightly astringent hops and a little alcoholic heat.

great flavor, strong chocolate flavor and some roast malt bitterness blends into a strong hop backbone. Pretty well balanced a little on the sweet side, may do well with some age on it.

good creamy mouth feel, not as huge as some of my favorite RIS's but still very good.

good drinkabillity for a high gravity beer.

Overall I think this is a very good RIS not at the elite level but for something that is realtively available it is great.

Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a Belgian tulip.

A- Dark khaki-colored head forms three to four fingers thick... Huge carbonation bottles amid the head... Very frothy and chewy... Dark, espresso-like liquid... Very nice to look at.

S- Dark roasted malt, sweet malts and cream, hints of chocolate and coffee.

T- Much more happening on the flavor as opposed to the nose. Baker's chocolate is prominent and lingers on the finish and this is something I can rarely resist. Some booze can be tasted on the tongue as well. The middle is sweet and creamy, very reminiscent of a milk stout, but boozier. As a matter of fact, I do even get oak and bourbon notes. Also, as the beer warms, vanilla and toffee notes emerge as well.

M- The beer is slightly astringent due to prominent booze, so this is a bit of negative. However, the sweetness and creamy, thick mouthfeel are a plus. The beer gets much creamier as it warms as well.

Overall a good beer, but one enjoyed much more as it warms. The booziness resides and the beer becomes more expressive.

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Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 1,348 ratings.