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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.
very good

555 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 555
Hads: 1,372
Avg: 3.99
pDev: 16.54%
Wants: 85
Gots: 236 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 555 | Hads: 1,372
Reviews by mpenske:
Photo of mpenske
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

More User Reviews:
Photo of CHickman
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

 2,124 characters

Photo of john0721
4.64/5  rDev +16.3%
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.

 289 characters

Photo of tmzl
4.06/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

 1,930 characters

Photo of oberon
4.15/5  rDev +4%
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.

 510 characters

Photo of RoyalT
4.62/5  rDev +15.8%
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.

 1,051 characters

Photo of aszatk01
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of GameOfBeers
4.44/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of SanFranJake
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of BubalooBrewMaster
3.75/5  rDev -6%

Photo of jose_alehouseSD
3.12/5  rDev -21.8%

Photo of MikeC144
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
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!

 1,020 characters

Photo of danthehopslamman
3.75/5  rDev -6%

Photo of NWer
4.47/5  rDev +12%
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

 504 characters

Photo of freshflesh
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of DaftPatrick
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of csmartin6
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of warnerry
3.75/5  rDev -6%

Photo of Beaver13
3.03/5  rDev -24.1%
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.

 520 characters

Photo of Fcip78
5/5  rDev +25.3%

Photo of Doomcifer
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of JakerLou
3.75/5  rDev -6%

Photo of megamass
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of Billolick
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
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

 515 characters

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Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 555 ratings.