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Santa's Little Helper - Port Brewing

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

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1,322 Ratings
no score

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Ratings: 1,322
Reviews: 558
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.47%
Wants: 75
Gots: 217 | 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: scottoale on 12-09-2006

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,322 | Reviews: 558 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very thick IS. Pours black with white head. Roasty aroma, instense, with coffee and chocolate. Bold taste has East Kent Goldings, Mt. Hood, Liberty, and Challenger hops. On the sweet side, with brown sugar. Drinkable though alcohol is powerful stuff.

Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage.

Pours a thick pitch black with a tiny 1/2 inch chocolate milk colored head. Smells of roasted coffee/espresso beans, bittersweet chocolate, molasses. Very rich and delicious smells. Taste is of roasted coffee, cocoa powder, bittersweet chocolate. Pronounced bitterness on the tongue after each sip. I was not expecting this level of bitterness from a RIS. Light to medium level of carbonation allows for the beer's smoothness to come out. Somewhat of a medium body on this beer. Drinkability is good on this Christmas seasonal. Something I will buy every year from now on.

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%

Photo of nmann08
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Photo of GRG1313
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a firm thick tan head and really nice thick lacing.

Nose is huge cooked fruit and sweet black chocolate and chocolate espresso beans. Very inviting.

Mouthfeel is rich and creamy; bold.

Flavors are difficult on this year's Little Helper since from the first taste the alcohol is very strong and assertive. You first have to get through a strong alcohol presence before getting to rich coffee and bitter dark chocolate.

Strong alcohol finish, as well. And, alcohol doesn't "burn off" or get better with age....alcohol is alcohol.

My initial notes for the 2008 show that I loved that year and commented that it could be an every day drink it was so appealing. The 2009 is simply not as integrated, balanced or drinkable. The huge presence of alcohol really hurts this one.

Re-tasting several times shows complexities and consistency. Still a bit alcoholic but I've adjusted my scores based on recent tastings in 2013.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.3/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to checkii for sending this out as an extra. It was enjoyed in early Autumn around a campfire with some good friends. Poured into a snifter.

I really enjoyed the barrel-aged version of this, so I had some high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite my favorite. Color was essentially black with a half-finger mocha head that quickly faded. The nose brought some strongly-roasted malt as well as a bit of black licorice, chocolate, and some really light smoke.

The taste brought a good dose of booze as well as some roast and chocolate. Additionally, I also got some slight dark fruit and the smoke coming back again. Body was nice and full with a bit of smoke and then there was a light amount of carbonation. Drank fairly well, but not up to the caliber that I expect from Port.

Photo of kjkinsey
1/5  rDev -75.1%

Photo of metter98
3.72/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A:The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a finger high tan colored head that died down but consistently left a short head covering the surface, a collar around the edge, and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light aromas of chocolate and roasted malts are present in the nose; the taste becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
T: The taste mostly follows the smell and also has hints of burnt malts. A little acidity and licorice are noticeable towards the finish, which also has a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels medium bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O:it seems that you really need to let this beer warm up as the complexion in the beer become stronger.

Photo of olradetbalder
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Photo of kylehay2004
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: two finger tan frothy head with nice lacing on a near jet black body with little light getting through.

S: very sweet with lots of vanilla, dark fruits mostly raisins and plum, light bourbon notes as well. roasted malts are mild.

T: nice roasted and coffee flavor throughout and late into the aftertaste. Nice bourbon, dark chocolate, vanilla and toffee flavors mostly up front and in the middle.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation. fairly dry finish.

Overall: well balanced beer and hides the alcohol well. Drinkability may be hurt for some by the coffee and bourbon but for me its excellent.

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%

Photo of brentk56
4.21/5  rDev +5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2008 bottling; consumed 3/21/10

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown with auburn highlights but only a wisp of a head that quickly fritters away

Smell: Dark chocolate and dark fruit; still boozy with a hint of minty hops

Taste: Dark chocolate and fruit, up front, with the boozy alcohol making its presence felt by mid-palate, along with a bit of residual hop bitterness, even after all this time; after the swallow, tobacco and chocolate notes dominate the finish

Mouthfeel: Thick bodied with low carbonation

Drinkability: This is one fine RIS; just wish it had a bit more carbonation but it still tantalizes the tastebuds

Thanks, mreusch (from the other site), for the opportunity

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.52/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a light foamy head with good retention and some very good lacing. Aroma of black chocolate is quite intense with some light roasted malt notes also discernable. Taste is somewhat vinous with some great black chocolate notes, light dry roasted malt notes. Full body with some good carbonation and no discernable alcohol. Creamy texture is really enjoyable. Very complex but still very enjoyable and easily drinkable.

Photo of jaydoc
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Photo of SocalKicks
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Chimney soot black with the slimmest sliver of dark mahogany along the bottom edge of the glass. The densely bubbled crown is the exact color of golden brown sugar, an ingredient used during brewing if my source is correct. As the foam slooowly melts, a solid sheet of lace is beginning to be laid down. This is what an RIS ought to look like.

The nose reflects the murderer's row of malts used. Obviously, the lighter members of the malt bill are completely obliterated by chocolate, black and roasted. The brown sugar is hard to isolate. It's more of a melted bittersweet chocolate and molasses cocktail of an aroma. Oh yeah, with a bunch of citric and piney hops for good measure.

If you like your Russian Imperial stouts to be hopped to the gills, then sign up to be Santa's Little Helper. I might have classified it as an American double stout for that very reason, but RIS works as well... unless you're a real stickler when it comes to style assignment. Since these guys brew in hop-crazed Southern California, the big hops aren't a big surprise.

To be world-class, this seasonal needs a few more shovelfuls of malt. It seems a fraction light (for the style), but is beginning to prove that initial observation wrong as it warms a few degrees. There's a fair amount of sweetness that is in no danger of becoming cloying due to the rampaging little green cones. It's obvious that this batch is on the fresh side.

The flavor profile follows the nose directly. Charred malts give a pleasing, sooty smokiness and a caramelized sugar character to the brew that makes me think that it spent some time in bourbon barrels, although I don't believe it did. Blackstrap molasses is still at full boil and anise filters in at the edges.

SLH is one of the hoppiest Imperial stouts that I've had in quite some time. That could be because I rarely review them fresh. The end result is that every malty jab is met with equal force by a resinous hoppy uppercut. The Scotch pine-like flavor of the hops gives the beer a certain Christmas tree flair. Maybe that was intended.

The body/mouthfeel has improved noticeably from a starting temperature of 50 degrees to a current estimated temperature of 60 degrees. It still isn't massive enough for the big numbers to be granted, but I'm enjoying its impeccable smoothness and its lightly sticky finish.

Screw the milk and cookies. Santa needs to take a load off his feet and polish off a bomber of this wonderful stout before going back out into the winter wonderland to pass out more gifts. Thanks to Port Brewing for giving me my Christmas present a few days early.

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%

Photo of mikesgroove
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I finally get a chance to try this one this year. I had somehow not run across one previously and was not about to make that same mistake this year. I let this one warm up to around 50 degrees and then proceeded to pour it into an oversized wine glass. Consumed on 10/28/2008.

The pour was very nice. A very rich, and very deep, dark black color came gurgling out of the bottle, splashing down into the glass and rising up a tremendous head. Three solid inches of chocolate colored foam then spread throughout the glass, clinging to everything that it came across, all the while slowly settling down into the abyss below it.

The aroma was very big, very full. Lots of cocoa, dark chocolate like notes, hints of light coffee and a touch of licorice all mixed in very subtly. An almost smoky, peat like touch added in as well, as there was no mistaking that this was not going to be one to fool with this time around. The flavor was almost as rich and full. Nice notes of chocolate, bitter touches mixed in throughout providing a decent amount of depth to it. An interesting mix of cookie dough and what seemed like licorice mid palate, which suddenly dove into a burnt malt like flavor. Smooth and creamy, with a subtle carbonation profile, that did not let it come off as too terribly big. I was able to struggle through the bottle, not due to the flavor, but it was strong, this beer was not messing around.

Overall I have to say I really thought it was excellent. For a nice seasonal release, this was pretty damn good. Solidly positioned in the second tier of the big RIS's, I would not want to miss this one.

Photo of womencantsail
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the 2009 release.

A: The pour is almost black with a thin mocha colored head.

S: There's a big dark fruit aroma right off the bat. Lots of plums, prunes, cherries, and figs. Lots of roasted malts, a bit of burnt sugar, approaching ash, but works quite well. Some licorice and a bit of alcohol, too.

T: Tons and tons of roast, lots of burnt sugar, licorice, and molasses. There's a slight bitterness to it, likely from the roasted malts. The fruit character is not as pronounced as on the nose, but still there.

M: The body is medium with a low to moderate level of carbonation and a bit of warming alcohol.

D: For a big beer like this, it's pretty easy to drink and quite enjoyable (probably the best of the Santa's vintages I've tried).

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

enjoyed 2011 and 2013 vintages side by side. this drinks better fresh than aged, with the older one losing a lot of its body and pop. deep dense brown color, not as viscous as some big stouts, but not by any means thin. it doesn't hold on to its inch of mocha foam very long either, but it looks tasty enough. nose of burnt barley, milk chocolate, and English style hops. not as dark as some, but the booze is well disguised, at least in the nose, and a residual sweetness abounds. the flavor starts with the heavy roasted barley and moves into a coffee and hop bitterness complex, before finally being rounded out by a little candy sweetness as it finishes. I like this, but ill bet the bourbon barrel addition has a few more layers that make it amazing. as this one stands, it could use a little more body, maybe some oatmeal or something. also, nothing about it really says Christmas to me, no spice or anything, so its hard to judge it in that context. heck of a buzz on it too, better to share this than drink it solo.

Photo of largadeer
3.06/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pitch-black without much of a head, just a small ring of foam around the edges of the glass.

Smell: Pleasantly roasty with notes of milk chocolate and coffee.

Taste: Creamy and rich, sweet, a bit milky. Dark and roasted, but not at all over-the-top. This is a very mellow, drinkable imperial stout. The 9.5% alcohol is completely hidden; it drinks more like a 6% or 7% stout.

Mouthfeel: Fairly heavy and full-bodied, lightly carbonated - very gentle for the style.

Drinkability: One of the most drinkable RIS I've had, this stuff is deceptively strong.

3/15/2011: Revisited this beer, don't particularly care for it anymore. Found it ashy and acrid.

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Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 1,322 ratings.