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Santa's Little Helper - Port Brewing

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Santa's Little HelperSanta's Little Helper

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1,333 Ratings
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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
Photo of Bung
3.81/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. Oily dark brown/black pour, half finger of dark cream head with excellent retention. Limited lacing but the appearance is still what you would expect.

Aroma is a bit subdued, burnt malt, dark and or bakers chocolate. Just a whiff of earth and pine.

Taste is rather roasty, maybe just a bit overly so. Malt and anise, good dark chocolate also. A little ashy burnt malt charred wood. Finish is not quite as harsh, more of a dark chocolate with slight espresso.

Mouthfell was a bit bubbly, but still a good medium body. Not boozy, but warming. Some age will smooth this out much better.

The carbonation and harshness definetely hurts a bit right now, kind of like the Black Butte XXI. So their is potential and worth taking a chance if you can.

I bet the barrel aged version works excellently with the somewhat dry nature of the base brew.

Photo of brentk56
4.21/5  rDev +4.7%
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 Popkas
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 bottle from the cellar.
The pour is kind of a flat black with a very thin head. Smell is of roasted malts a dark chocolate. The taste is big roasted malts, some dark fruit and chocolate. The body is a pleasant medium feel. Drinkability is pretty decent.

Photo of billshmeinke
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into Duvel tulip.

Black as they come perhaps the slightest hint of brown around the edges when looking at it in extreme light. Finger and a half khaki/mocha head. Resides to a bubbly layer of foam on top. Great lacing.

Roasted malts in the scent up front. Chocolate, cocoa, caramel and a slight hint of alcohol.

Bitter dark chocolate, roasted smokey flavor, caramel, and a hint of toffee. Very slight hint of dark fruit (plumbs/raisins) as well. Nice bitter piney hops too.

Sharp tiny bubbles. Creamy. Full bodied, and quite viscous. Somewhat dry.

Good drinkability for the abv.

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

Bought at 38 Degrees, Alhambra, CA. 2009 bottle.

Poured a very dark, motor oil like black in glass. Very small head but definitely carbonated. The smell of nuts comes thru the glass. Taste is a strong coffee stouty flavor. Alcohol is definitely there. Nice. Mouthfeel is a lingering stouty taste but not too strong. Drinkability is good with an interesting taste lingering in the mouth. Overall, a very good Imperial Stout. A take time to drink beer as its a bit potent in a good way. Very good on a cold night or any night.

Photo of mithrascruor
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle (2009) poured into a mug.

Appearance: Pours a completely dark black color with thick creamy 1-finger caramel-tan head. Good retention and lacing.

Smell: Unique flavor, a bit different from what I anticipated. It is fairly airy, with some coffee, marshmallow, sugar, and roasted malts.

Taste: Very much in line with the smell, it has a nice flavor of chocolate, coffee, marshmallows, and some bitter/roasted flavors. It is a relatively light flavor; not too heavy. There's a hint of alcohol in the finish and into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: While still rather viscous, it has a lightness to it. Very minimal carbonation and smooth.

Drinkability: Despite being nearly 10% ABV, the alcohol doesn't really stand out in the taste. For this style, I think the beer is quite drinkable.

I think this works great as a holiday Imperial Stout with the different flavors and aromas going on. While I'm not such a big fan of the chocolate flavor in general, it works really well here.

Photo of Cyberkedi
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep opaque coffee brown, not much of a head but still appealing. Aroma is more like a barleywine but still has smoky and unsweetened chocolate undertones. Rich flavor is chocolaty with hints of coffee, licorice and molasses and a firm alcohol bite. Texture is thick, smooth and tingly and has a fierce alcohol edge.

Photo of TheJollyHop
4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a viscous, ink black with a light brown head, gentle mountain shaped lace, and thick finger's worth of head.

Strong roasted scents mixed with coffee grounds on the nose. Dark fruits (plums) and dried fruits become more noticeable as the beer warms. If I had to choose a dessert, dark chocolate cherry cake would be it.

Syrupy chocolate malt, rich caramel, a nice bitter burst that fades to a sweet dried fruit aftertaste. Plenty of roasted malt and hop bitterness builds early. Nice balance of flavors.

Medium carbonation;full bodied and syrupy. Definitely mouth coating and heavy at that. A very sippable, smooth brew.

Photo of GregSVT
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber into a pint glass.

A: Pours deep black with a dark brown head that fades to a small layer and leaves a tiny bit of lacing on the glass. Little bit of sludge came out at the end of the bomber but that's expected sometimes with big imperial stouts.

S: The nose is excellent, lots of chocolate/cocoa, dark ripe fruit, and roasty malt. One of the better RIS noses i've smelled in a while.

T: The taste is dark fruits, dark chocolate, and a bitterness on the finish. As it warms the flavors are enhanced and the bitterness subsides a bit.

M: The feel is on the low end of full but not as full as other RIS i've had. The carbonation is slightly too bubbly for my tastes.

D: High ABV and the bitterness on the finish makes this tough to drink more than 1 bomber in a sitting.

Thanks to Mike for the bomber! Definitely worth a try.

Photo of socaldesert2007
3.81/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I bought a 2009 Vintage 22oz. bottle of this at O'Sheas Brewing Co. for about 7 dollars.

As I poured into a shaker glass it got about 1 fingers worth of a dark tan head. Which upon settling above a stout that has the appearance of motor oil, let little to no light through.

The aroma was carmally with coffee and very faint cocoa notes. The alcohol was perceptible in the initial whiff I took but not in an intimidating amount.

Drinking Santas Little Helper was very filling and is a truly robust beer. The taste was strong and as it began to warm a little I could definately taste the 10% ABV. The mouthfeel was generous to my pallet, coating my tongue thickly and sweetly.

I would reccomend this beer to stout lovers and especially as a dessert or after dinner beer as I am enjoying it currently.

Photo of sidetracked
4.27/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled dated 2009 (10% ABV listed on the bottle).

Pours black with a light-brown head.

Smells of roasted malts, sweet molasses, raisins, and coffee.

Taste is sweet with hints of molasses up front. The middle is roasted malts, bitter chocolate, and coffee. Slightly bitter finish.

Moutfeel is full bodied and slightly chewy with low carbonation.

Great drinkability--the slight sweetness is very enjoyable.

Photo of Lunch
4.26/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz. bottle (2009) acquired in a trade with volatilesther (Thanks!) into my Cigar City snifter (02/14/10) at cellar temperature.

A: Pours a motor oil black with a one finger cap of an espresso colored head that has some retention and leaves bits of thick lace.

S: The smell is quite nice being comprised of bitter chocolate, graham cracker, milk chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts. The only problem I found was that the aroma was quite subdued.

T: Very rich with roasted malt, chocolate, molasses, graham cracker, cocoa, toffee, and a hint of alcohol. This is perhaps the closet Imperial Stout that I have had to Oskar Blues Ten FIDY in terms of its flavor profile.

M: Full-bodied with a slight syrupy but slick mouthfeel with a low-moderate carbonation.

D: Quite drinkable and very flavorful with the 9.5% abv. hidden extremely well.

Overall this was a great Imperial Stout that only was lacking in its intensity of aroma. Thanks again Esther! Recommended.

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

Pours a deep black with negligible head. The aroma is plummy and roasted, with a character that is chocolatey, coffee-like and bitter. The mouthfeel is a bit of a puzzle - it is at once smooth and creamy, but insanely, mouth puckeringly dry on the finish.

This is a tasty RIS, but not the world's best.

Photo of potownbill
4.37/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up 8 different Pizza Port Beers at the Foodery in Philadelphia. This is the second I have tried, and I want to get back to Philly to see if there are any more. A real treat!
Appearance: Very dark, thick brown. Started off with a 2" dark tan head, that quickly dissapated.
Smell: Roasted malts, sweet, with a dark chocolate aroma. Espresso, etc, etc, etc...
Taste: Starts off with a dried fruit sweetness, then the chocolate hits, with a hint of hop bitterness, followed by alcohol.
Mouthfeel: Smooth
Drinkability: Oh so good, but after on glass, I had enough. Intense and alcoholic.

Photo of hayesez
4.37/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Received this as an extra from vasdef42...my favorite style of beer and I've been waiting to crack it open. Las night, I just couldn't wait any longer! Thanks Jared!

A very thick and viscous pour coats the side as it slowly fills my Bruery tulip. Deep, dark nearly black beer with absolutely no light shining through other than right at the edge of the meniscus. If this thing would have had a bit stronger head on it, it would have been perfect. Dark brown thin cap, that left a surprising amount of lacing on the way down.

Ok, I'm sure it is just because of the label, but I swear I smell mint in this guy. I let my wife take a sniff, and she thinks I'm crazy. I get a light mint hot chocolate type of smell. Smells very impressive with a fair amount of roast, and a bit of hops. I also catch a hint of smokiness in there as well.

So I get none of the mint in the taste...which iterates the fact that I might be reaching there. Very thick and chewy. Coats the way I like from a good Russian Imperial. I do get a bit of the smokiness, however it is dominated by the roasted malts. And there is a surprising amount of hoppiness to it as well. While it was a bit different in that respect, the bitter finish didn't quite seem to fit this style. I was disappointed that it ended the way it did as the rest of this has been so impressive. Outstanding mouthfeel, outstanding smell, and outstanding start to the taste...just finished a bit short.

I very much enjoyed this beer - I love the RIS's just shy of room temperature. This one seems to work perfectly there. Smooth, big, thick, and heavy. The alcohol comes through a bit strong, dropping its drinkability a bit, but I would certainly tip back plenty of these if I were the one spending the entire evening delivering toys!

Consumed: 2/12/2010

Photo of hawks10
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 Vintage - 22oz. bomber poured into my Sam Adams perfect pint glass...

Hard to rate an imperial stout, they all pretty much look the same. Poured vigorously resulting in a very thin, dark pancake batter head floating on top of black oily liquid...

Smells initially of dark chocolate and roasted malts, as was expected. As it warms a bit, some stale coffee aromas surface...overall a very pleasant smell to this brew...

Tastes of dark chocolate mostly, roasted malts and some bitter coffee (pretty "run of the mill" RIS taste). Alcohol is present but has tamed a bit (2009 on tap was hotter), still very warming...

Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy and warming with the booze showing through a bit, a little thinner than expected but still chewy enough...

Drinkability is on par with other RIS', first 12oz. went pretty fast but slowed on the finish of the bomber, one was definitely enough for me tonight...

Overall a pretty decent RIS, really doesn't have much to set it apart from all the other similarly priced RIS' out there. Had the 2009 on tap recently and have to give the nod to the 2008 vintage, it has smoothed out a bit and some of the alcohol burn from the '09 has calmed...

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

Curious about this one, paid $7.19 for a 22 oz.

Appearance is extremely dark brown-to-black with thin tan head that receded to a ring and left a bit of lacing.

Nice strong smell; nuts, malts, chocolate, coffee, whiff of alcohol.

Taste is nice; not as "roasty" as some other RIS's. Dark fruits stood out. Coffee. Bitter cocoa. A bit of smoke and roasted malts.

MF is medium to thick with a little slick coating.

D is pretty good. I drank this with some sweet desserts (cheesecake) which was really nice since it was bitter but had some sweet notes. And the 10% alcohol was not too noticeable. It was tasty and enjoyable, but not something I found to be outstanding or super exciting. Just a nice, decent, Winter, stout. Go for it.

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

Sampled this last night at a central coast BA gathering.

2009 vintage poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours thick and settles opaque black in my snifter. A creamy, dark brown head foamed up and is slowly decaying to a sticky crown. Very nice lacing. Looks kind of flat though.

Smell: Smooth dark chocolate, pine resin, roasted malt, molasses, wood, and dulled hops. Nothing special, but still good.

Taste: Charred malt, dry pine, dark chocolate, and coffee. The beer finishes on a slightly medicinal note, and a touch of alcohol punctuates the end of each sip. I like it, but there's certainly room for improvement.

Mouthfeel: Dry, bitter, prickly, thick, and kinda flat. Oily too. Mouth-coating is great.

Drinkability: I found this RIS to be boring and a bit weird, but it was still worth the try.

Photo of beerman207
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this at Union Jack's Olde Congo Hotel in Barto, PA which is literally 1 mile from my sister's house. That's going to be a problem this summer for sure. She got a brew of this and was nice enough to share so thus the review.

A: Dark as night - about 1 finger of head present and had some nice head retention. Some lace left behind

S: Roasted chocolate malt, almost a whopper smell in the nose. Very inviting

T: Chocolate is definitely present, whoppers come through with the malt addition, maybe even some faint dark fruit present

M: Very good - medium, creamy.

D: High. If I had more time, I would have certainly ordered one for myself. Fantastic RIS.

Photo of Gehrig
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It had been some time since I had tried an unfamiliar RIS, and this was a fine choice for one previous uninitiated in Port Brewery's Santa's Little Helper, no small or unobtrusive helper by any means. Big, bold, and beautiful, Santa's Little Helper is a must-try. Two full, lush fingers of mocha froth atop a deep black body; with ample lacing--gorgeous.

Nice smell, if a little restrained--dark chocolate, dried fruit, molasses, and caramel. The taste realizes these delectable taste far more than the aroma, really bringing home the dry, delicious flavors. As this settles into room temperature, Santa's Little Helper reveals itself as a fine, robust RIS. Excellent, as is the smooth, dry finish.

Tremendous treat, for while I expected this to be good, Santa's Little Helper was considerably better. Refreshingly complex but amenable RIS, a gem from Port.

Photo of Alf7247
4.46/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Poured black with light breaking through at the very edges. No head to speak of (maybe because it was served a bit cold) with almost no lacing.

Awesome complex smell. Alcohol was made its way through as it warmed. Caramel, dark chocolate, malts, and some sort of chocolate decadent dessert I couldn't put my finger on.

Taste was the same as described above, but even more complex. Hops were detected as well as dark fruits, which reminded me of a port. Finish lasted for minutes.

The feel was not very RIS like, it was very thin. Too thin for my liking.

Knocked down points for drinkability because even with food in my stomach I feel a light buzz, though I am a lightweight.

Photo of deereless
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Loads of espresso-like head, some seriously sticky foam that leaves lots of lacing - 4.50, S: Tons of dark chocolate and cherries, alcohol is noticeable though at 10.0% it is generally masked well, dark fruits including dates and dried plums, brandy-soaked fruit cake - 4.00, T: Sharp hop bite and significant alcohol, dark espresso, pureed dates and raisins, a thick ashy sweetness, ever so slight hint of a lactose base, some smokiness and molasses - 4.25, M: A creamy mouth feel with a little grittiness - 4.25, D: A very drinkable and pleasing brew, one I'd gladly have again - 4.00

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

Dec 27, 2007

750ml bottle, big thanks to my sister in Seattle for this one!

Pours a dark brown with a nice tan head that leaves plenty of lacing.

Chocolate, coffee, roasted malts.

Smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Gets better as it warms. Alcohol is relatively well hidden, but there.

Reminds me a lot of Great Divide Yeti. A very nice Imperial Stout.

Photo of PhxHorn
3.43/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On cask at Papago Brewing in Scottsdale, AZ. This one was served in a goblet, dark dark brown with a half inch tan head which quickly dissipated. No lacing at all as I worked my way through it. Smelled mildly of chocolate and licorice, and the taste was mild also, more suggestive of a porter than a stout. Chocolate, licorice, a hint of coffee, but all in all the flavor was lacking. I was not in a big hurry to finish this one, and it was disappointing overall.

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