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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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1,323 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,323
Reviews: 559
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: Boilermaker88 on 12-11-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,323 | Reviews: 559 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of sidetracked
4.27/5  rDev +6.5%
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 +6.2%
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 -0.2%
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 +9%
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 +9%
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%
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 -0.2%
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 -0.2%
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 -10.7%
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 +6%
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 +9.2%
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 +11.2%
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 +1.7%
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 -3.2%
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 -14.5%
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.

4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thick pitch black syrup. Highlights of a reddish chestnut hue. Small raw sugar colored head. Traces of laces.

Bittersweet chocolate, coffee, molasses, dark roasted malt. Herbal pine and a touch of citrus. a waft of booze.

Toasty bittersweet chocolate, smokey roasty coffee and caramelized molasses. A herbal spruce tree and touch of grapefruit rind. A great complementary scotch/bourbony alcohol bite. Bitter coffee and resinous pine in the aftertaste. Tastes like Christmas should taste!

Smooth with a kick of booze. Chalky coffee grounds, chewy resins. Great creamy full bodied, perhaps a tad lighter than some RIS.

Perfect cold winter xmas brew. Tasty, very hoppy for a RIS, Awesomely bitter and flavorful.

Photo of ShadesOfGray
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of a bomber (22oz) into my Corsedonk snifter. Pours a solid black with small frothy brown head. Lacing is there, but nothing special.

Aroma is solid! Great strong chocolate, fruity, spicy, roasted malts. A little bitter on the back side...expected.

Lots of fruit and chocolate flavors. Pretty complex. Carbonation is nice. Semi-creamy mouthfeel. Fruits are lighter sweet fruits...apricot maybe? Great stout!

Photo of thequeen711
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What a mighty fine winter brew. Pours a awesome chocolate colour, leaving light lacing. Nose of a usual stout, chocolate, coffee, toffee, malts...but there's something special about this stout..I purchased approximately 2 cases of bombers in the last 5 weeks. This is the sleeper hit of the season....so highly recommended by moi, just taste it and you'll agree!!!!

Photo of sisuspeed
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A whip cream chocolate head sits on top of a roasted dark brown, almost black body. The head itself is about half a finger, but remains across the top of the stout.

Chocolate, caramel malts rise up from the tulip glass along with a touch of anise and a bit of oak. Swirling the glass leaves some sudsy lacing on the sides, slowing weaving its way back down to the head.

Smokey, chocolate oak washes across my tongue. The second sip reveals the anise once again and a little bit of ethyl alcohol burn. Some bitterness from the darker malts, but balanced out by the typical RIS sweetness. Overall though, not as sweet as some RIS's. Roasted coffee beans also come through to an extent, mixed with some wood aging.

Mouthfeel is fairly smooth, not as velvety as some, but still good for an RIS. Nice thick body.

Drinkability is also fairly good. Most RIS's are sippers and this one is the same, but if you are a fan of the style you'll probably be able to do a bottle of this by yourself.

In short, this is a well put together RIS. It has all the characteristics of the style, but I feel like it doesn't quite belong in the A range. It needs a more defining characteristic to separate itself from the many other great RIS's out there. I will most likely pick it up again when I see it next year, but I think Old Viscosity is a more impressive beer from Port Brewing.

Photo of abuliarose
4.19/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter, revealing rich black body and one of the thickest and darkest heads I've ever seen on an RIS, one which bubbles down nicely into a turgid foamy mess of a surface. Smells ok with notes of dark chocolate, metallic tinge, and roasty goodness.

Tastes quite smooth and with a good balance of sweetness and bitterness that really comes through at the end. The roasted malty character isn't abrasive and there is a strong raw chocolate flavor. Carbonation is small-sized, tingly and mouthfilling, adding body to an already heavy beer, but makes for smooth, creamy drinking. Goes down very, very easily and leaves a pleasant, much needed warmth for the season. I could drink from a bottle of these after coming in from the cold.

I am debating whether I find this more appropriate as an imperial porter or stout. Either way, it's quite nice. A year more on it would be interesting.

Photo of kzoobrew
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received in trade from SpdKilz, Cheers Carleton.

2009 version, abv listed as 10.0% on label. Snifter is the glassware of choice this time.

Dark inky black liquid poured moderately strong into snifter. Modest head measures 1 finger tall. Brown sugar in color this brew has fairly decent head retention. Fades back to a razor thin cap covering the top leaving fine sheet of lacing around the perimeter.

Dark malt and bittersweet chocolate aromas are abundant. Caramelized almost burnt sugar attributes settle in just behind. Bootstrap molasses followed by a strong helping of hops. The hops deliver a citric and slightly piny aroma which break through the dark smells creating some much welcome dimension.

Dark and extremely rich flavors are very intense right off the bat. Heavily roasted almost charred malt flavor leads. Copious amounts of dark chocolate pushes its way through. Alcohol heat in present as a slight burn is noticed right away, this is not off putting however as it is personally an enjoyable quality for the style. Burnt not caramelized sugars provide a rather dark sweetness to sit along the deep chocolate flavors. Hops are certainly detected on the after taste. While there can be no arguing this is a well hopped ale the darker flavors certainly keep the hops from dominating any portion of the flavor.

Mouthfeel is truly exceptional on this one. Very full and thick while not overly viscous. Texture is creamy yet slick and oily on the tongue. Carbonation is low but appropriate. Despite what rumors may be fly, there are some carbonated beverages which come out of this brewery.

Drinkability is completely a personal opinion and I know many will disagree on this one. Santa's Little Helper is big, boozy and abrasive. It is challenging yet enjoyable. While there are those with in the style which are incredibly smooth and all too easy to drink it is nice to see the opposite end of the spectrum every now and again. This may not go down as easy but is every bit as enjoyable as the smoothest of the style. Great beer and highly recommended.

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

Reviewed last night, from notes. Pours pitch black with a one finger dark tan coffee colored head. No real retention at all on the head. Clouds of dark tan stay around to coat the beer. No lacing but the suds drop very slowly on the side of the glass. Smell is hugely sweet roasty malts, cocoa and a bit of coffee. Very roasty and imperial stout-like but nothing special sticks out to me. Some earthy hops come into play under the roast. The taste is hugely roasty and cocoa once again. Some coffee notes in there but the sweetness is way too high on this. It distracts me and makes me grimace sometimes upon sipping. The nice imperial stout flavors are there but the sweets are masking it. Some earthy hoppiness and towards the end I get a licorice, molasses flavor. Mouthfeel is good. Thick and creamy body with medium carbonation and a huge coat of roasty malts. Tiny alcohol warmth. Drinkability is decent. The price and flavor are alright but I probably wont have this again. There are other imperial stouts that I enjoy much more than this one.

Photo of atremains
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer pours opaque with a light tan head that reduces to a ring around the brew. No lacing. Smell is roasted malts chocolate slight alcohol and coffee bean. Taste is all of the above with some molasses, licorice, and more cocoa-esque flavors. The mouthfeel is pretty creamy and warming.

Photo of Goliath
4.02/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black, like motor oil. There was no head produced on the initial pour.

The aroma is quite nice. There's some nice chocolate tones with a touch of coffee as well.

The taste is also quite nice. There's a nice dose of chocolate and a touch of coffee as well. There's a touch of molasses and a slight bitterness.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and syrupy with a light dose of carbonation.

Drinkability is high. The flavor profile is quite pleasing and really brings me back for another sip. The ABV is well incorporated as well which is always nice to see. All in all it's a really solid RIS.

Photo of snpub540
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep black that only gives a hint of brown when help wery close to a light source. Tiny ring of tan bubles, but what do you expect from a beer with a high alcohol content. No lacing.

Smell was very much coffee. Also roasted malts and a slight licorice hint in the mix.

Taste was very dominated by coffee and there was some bitter chocolate in there as well. Pine and toasted malts were also present. Warming alcohol in the finish made this a nice winter brew.

Mouthfeel felt slightly thin, but the drinkability was good. Became a little more aggressive as it warmed, but definately a delicious beer.

Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 1,323 ratings.