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Santa's Little Helper - Port Brewing

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,118 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,118
Reviews: 536
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.97%
Wants: 73
Gots: 157 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Port Brewing visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: scottoale on 12-09-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,118 | Reviews: 536 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BMan1113VR
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Indicated 9.5% abv. Aroma of coffee, chocolate, with some hop undertones. Typical stout coloration with a finger width darkbrown head that diminishes fully. Flavor is very nice, I like to see stouts with their coffee and chocolate elements a bit concealed and this one does that well. Creamy mouthfeel upfront, with a nice little carbonation caused bite out back. I like it.

BMan1113VR, Feb 07, 2008
Photo of Fish113d
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown color, almost pitch black actually with a frothy, 2 finger-thick head forming on top that sustains for quite some time leaving a sticky lacing on the sides of the glass.

Sticking my "sniffer" in the glass, I get the aroma of dark roasted chocolate malts, along with some burnt caramel. The alcohol comes out on the nose also along with a faint hoppiness that will help balance this one.

Sipping reveals a very full-thick-bodied brew with a burnt chocolate roasty malt. Some hops also come through on this one that really takes the sweetness out and gets dry and bitter at the finish. Very nice, smooth body. The finish, as said before is quite dry, and alcohol really dries out and numbs the center of my tongue. Nice overall.

Very warming brew. The body is very thick, but smooth and nice. Saddly, this could be too much of a good thing if consumed too much. The abv. is quite high, and it's such a good brew, that the abv could sneak up on you!

Fish113d, Feb 06, 2008
Photo of tpd975
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one came from Southbay Drug Thanks Joey!

A: Love the bottle with an elf pouring a cold one for santa and rudolph. It pours black as night and darker than a lump of coal. Very flat pour with a tiny head. A collar does hang on, but it produces no lacing.

S: Tons of roasted charcoaled malt aroma with hints of chocolate, and toffee.

T: Wow this is one hoppy brew. I love pizza port and this is the reason why. Nice sweet cocoa right up front with hints of vanilla. Dark fruits like raisins and figs in the middle. Charocal and an alcohol burn in the finish. The charcoal is very hoppy I must say.

M: Medium bodied and boozy. One of the hoppiest RIS' I have ever had.

D: Yeah, I dig it. This is a hopped up, boozed up west coast style RIS no doubt.

Overall: I love West Coast brews, hops, and RIS' and let me tell you Port Brewing combined them all in one bottle with this one. Tons of flavors mingled in with booze and hopped to the max. Holy shit this one has kick. I can't wait until next year now that I know what Pizza Port brings with this one. I will order a case, as there will be no coal in the stockings of my BA Buds. Each and everyone will receive a bottle of Santa's Little Helper. Joey Thanks and put me down for a case on 08!

tpd975, Jan 23, 2008
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber> 24 oz snifter glass

This one is totally black, opaque. A dense brown head is smooth and fluffy, dissipates real slow and leaves great clumps and sticky lacing all over the glass. lookin' good.

Roasty and sweet malt, smokey caramel, oak wood chips, cream of wheat topped with brown sugar. big tingle of heat on the nose. Very complex malt scent with peanutbutter and chocolate almonds....ponder it for a while!

The flavor is a caramel-sweet malt upfront and a buzzing a heat but it adds complexity. The malt is roasty oats and nuts, brown sugar and cocoa so the balance of roasty and sweetness in th malt is very good. A mild, herbal but slightlly bitter hop rounds out the flavors.

This is as full-bodied as you can get without exteneded cellaring. Very thick and smooth, big heat warms the mouth...whiskey style.

This one is right on. Although I can only imagine what it would be like after 10-12 months of cellar time. The 9.5% ABV feels more like 15% but it's a sipper.

GratefulBeerGuy, Jan 18, 2008
Photo of yourefragile
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2007 22 oz bottle poured into a snifter

A: Pours a very dark, near black color with a nice dense, thick mocha head. Nice retention with a ring around the edges and some small bubbles in the middle. Nice lacing.
S: Nice smell, typical of RIS. Malty, roasty, some dark fruit and alcohol is peeking through. Nothing remarkable
T: Wow, this is much hoppier than expected but I guess that's not surprising. Roasted, malty, slight chocolate flavors are there like a RIS but the hop bitterness in finish is different. Alcohol is present, but not distracting.
M: Fuller side of medium bodied, with moderate carbonation. Finish is slightly thin however without being watery. Also, some unpleasant bitterness/dryness in the aftertaste. This almost isn't malty enough.
D: I'm conflicted since this is very easy drinking for a near 10% abv RIS and it's different than others but there's just something off in the taste that I don't enjoy. I will try cellaring my remaining bottles of this and trying again in a year.

yourefragile, Jan 16, 2008
Photo of sfoley333
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bottle at Churchills Pub on 1-9-07. Poured into pint glass a midnight black with heavy mocha head with good retention. Smell is roasted malt, currant, dark fruit, a hint of coffee. Taste is heavy roasted malt flavor with chocolate and hint of vanilla, again faint coffe flavor. Mouthfeel was full body but not to dry or cloy instead a nice satin creaminess. I had to drink this beer pretty fast to catch our movie so with that said while not a chugger, it is still very drinkable for an IRS.

sfoley333, Jan 10, 2008
Photo of sholland119
4.25/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a goblet from the 22 oz bottle.

A-pours fairy dark, black with a cedary brown edge. Not motor oil black but a nice color. Very small head with little lacing.

S-Mostly a raisiny, dark fruit scent, mixed with some dark chocolate.

T-Delicious. Some malty sweetness, a bit of toffee with a bit of a warm alcohol finish.

M-Smooth if a little thin. Similar to a barleywine in mouthfeel. Moderate carbonation.

D-A wonderful beer if you limit yourself to 1 bomber. It is not nicknamed "Santa's Ltittle Hangover" for nothing.

sholland119, Jan 10, 2008
Photo of Wasatch
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice deep black color, some carbonation, nice little fizzy tan head, very little sticky lacing follows. The nose is malty, smoky, roasty, slight oaky/bourbon, vanilla, toffee, chocolate, and caramel. The taste is slightly sweet, big roasty/toffee/chocolate/caramel taste, nice touch of vanilla/oaky/bourbon. The alcohol is hidden very well. Medium/full body, complex brew. Very drinkable, absoultely delicious, highly recommended.

Wasatch, Jan 04, 2008
Photo of phisig137
3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to IntriqKen for this one.

Not sure of the difference between this and the Santa's little helper listed under Pizza Port Brewing, but my bottle looks like the one pictured, despite the bottle cap distinctly saying Pizza Port. Anyways, here it goes.

A- Pours a deep dark black that only lets a hint of brown in arond the edges, with a 2 finger head. Decent retention, but poor lace.

S- Aromas of coffee, sweet malt, and a bit of alcohol. Nice, but nothing outrageous.

F- Big dark chocolate flavors, rum soaked raisins, brandy soaked cherries, and a hint of coffee. Fairly sweet front front to back, but a twinge of hop flavor lingers on the tongue after the swallow. Alcohol is apparent, but not overbearing.

M- Smooth and slick, but a bit thin for the style.

D- Pretty good.

Overall, a pretty good beer. Not the best imperial stout I've had, but also not the worth. If you have a chance, pick one up and try it, but I wouldn't go out of my way to find this one....

phisig137, Jan 03, 2008
Photo of ggroller
2.53/5  rDev -36.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I gave a bottle of this beer to my brother for Christmas and we cracked it open a couple of days later.

Cool label.

I've enjoyed some great brews from Pizza Port in the past so I'm really anxious to try this one.

Black, almost opaque in the glass. Very little head, very little lacing.

Smells a bit burnt. Some caramel and raisin.

Tastes vert hot. Lots of prickly heat from the alchohol on my tongue.

Not very drinkable. I think it could be, though, with some age. I'm going to get another bottle and cellar it for awhile.

ggroller, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of akorsak
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 650 mL bottle, vintage 2006 with a clear view of Santa, from a January 2007 trade with Marvz.

A: The RIS pours beautifully, viscous and black with motor oil. No light gets in or out of this glass. A tan colored head measuring around a finger caps off the ale and leaves perilous bubbles of foam clingning to the sides of the glass.

S: Mmmm, graham crackers. This stout packs a big nose, full of spices (cinnamon), coffee, chocolate and burnt toast. A lot going on here, a year seems to have done the beer some good.

T: Even with a year under its belt, this stout is hot. A blast of warm alcohol ignites the tongue, managing to hide the burnt malts that lie underneath. Burnt bread highlights the post-alcohol taste. The charred flavor offers up acrid espresso notes and semi-sweet baker's chocolate. A vinous complexity that results from the dark malts is intriguing, filling the mouth with many, MANY flavors.

M: The swirling mouthfeel packs a wallop, betraying its significant alcohol content along the way. The flavors mix well and the whole package easily overwhelms the tastebuds.

D: At 9%+, this is no pounder. I'm gonna try my best to finish this before midnight, as my last beer of 2007. If this is how it ends, it was a pretty good year.

akorsak, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of Trueant1
4.6/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This stout pours dark brown and sits in the glass black and looks thick. The head is creamy, thick and brown sugar brown. The brown lacing finely sheets the side of my oversisised merlot tulip crystal. Exceptional!

Smells intense! Hops, coffie, spice, smoke, ect ect are all in here.
Some off smells I do not like.

Taste in a nutshell:

Tastes intense! This is a HUGE beer. Roasted chocolate covered espresso beans describe this one all wrapped up in a thick chewey mouthfeel. Alcoholic burn and hop burn in the swallow and aftertaste. Can a RIS taste any better? No. There are about 10 in my book that are a 5 in taste and this is one.

I could drink several bombers of these and keep on going this is such a drinkable, good, tasting strong RIS. I only have one...so now I am going to finish this beer and watch season one of M*A*S*H which I got for CHristmas.
For me, Christmas is today with this Port treasure!

Trueant1, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

BuckeyeNation, Dec 23, 2007
Photo of Kegatron
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 release.

22oz bottle into a goblet.

Pours a pitch black with a good sized beautiful looking tan head that settles down into a smooth creamy covering that left great lacing. Aroma is burnt coffee, cocoa sweetness, dark fruits, and a little twinge of alcohol in the back.

The taste is more of the same. A nice balance of roasted coffee bitterness, chocolate sweetness, and some cherry tartness as it really starts to warm up. Finishes with a mix of bitterness and a strong sting of heat. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and creamy but then gets way too hot for a 9.5% Stout.

This is a nice Imperial Stout, and a good representation of the style, from Port Brewing. Ultimately though, the amount of heat this guy finishes with hurts the drinkibility for me somewhat and keeps it from being great. It's still a good drinker though, especially if your going to use it to warm up on those cold winter nights.

Kegatron, Dec 17, 2007
Photo of MmmIPA
3.38/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Completely black with no head but what is there is tan.More of a small ring.Nice little carbonation coming up from the bottem of the glass from my Chimay goblet.No lacing what so ever.

Fruity in the nose, I think they are hops.Chocolate notes also.Smells very vinous and alcoholy plus some oak.

Very silky smooth,raisons,burnt bitterness in the taste also.Coffee and chocolate also.Dry aftertaste.

Dry aftertaste,carbonation is perfect.Warming abv. that is distracting.

Nice beer but there are plenty of better ones out there.Nice try thought PP.

MmmIPA, Dec 17, 2007
Photo of jaxon53
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased at Yankee Spirits in Attleboro, Mass. Served at cellar temperature, into an Imperial pint glass, from a twenty-two ounce brown bottle. Poured a deep thick black that had deep ruby highlights when held up to the light. Beer was topped off with a rich, creamy tan head that had great retention. Plenty of thick sticky lace was left behind on the glass. Excellant nose on this brew. Nose was a thick roasty/toasty chocolatey aroma. Notes of wood, smoke, and just a bit of bitter coffee. The smell is almost like a fresh baked chocolate cookie. Taste was a little different than the smell. Tons of semi-sweet chocolate, some bitter espresso like flavors, and a little more smoke that was noticed in the nose. Finished quite smooth with quite a bit of alcohol heat, and some tingly carbonation in the back of the throat. Mouth was pretty much silky smooth untill the burn starts. Nice full rich mouthfeel. Better than average drinkability, but definitely a sipper in my opinion. A very well made Russian Imperial Stout. Good and strong like it should be.

jaxon53, Dec 16, 2007
Photo of theopholis
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Wow. this stuff is as black as Pete Rose's soul. Has a nice tan head with good head retention and some lacing.

Aroma- Strong on the roasted malt character with some yeastiness and a hint of caramel or molasses.

Taste- Pretty much like it smells. Strong roasted malts, with a hint of malt sweetness, hints of chocolate and some yeastiness in there. Yum.

Mouthfeel- Body a bit lighter than expected. Nice, tight CO2 level.

Drinkability. A nice, RIP.

theopholis, Dec 12, 2007
Photo of TheManiacalOne
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a short, dense, light brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of dark fruit, roasted malts, chocolate, coffee and a touch of hops.

T: The taste is nicely balanced for a big stout, with flavors of dark chocolate, dark fruits and roasted coffee. The malt character is what you would expect from this type of beer, hearty but not quite as thick as most. There’s a good hops presence for the style along with a slight alcohol sting. The after-taste is slightly sweet with some residual hops bitterness.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium-to-heavy and viscous body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, slightly filling, strong kick, very good representation of style even if it wouldn’t my first choice for an RIS. Overall, however, this is a nice beer to chill out with late on a cold night as you unwind in front of the TV.

TheManiacalOne, Dec 11, 2007
Photo of smcolw
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pleasant two-finger beige head, very good lace. Black in color with absolutely no light passing through

Mocha aromas with a generous amount of cream...relatively mild, lots of cream smells.

A combination of chocolate and coffee. For a stout the body is spot on. There is a wonderful hop bitterness in the swallow and the aftertaste. The only negative might be that this beer doesn't have the typical oiliness of an Imperial Stout.

This is a thouroughly enjoyable stout. The flavor is very good but not as one would expect from an Imperial Stout. As a regular stout, this would be an excellent session beer.

smcolw, Dec 10, 2007
Photo of ppoitras
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle purchased as a single from Julio's, Marlboro, MA.

Poured into a heavy glass chalice, formed a 1/4" dark brown head over the opaque black brew. Head lasts well for the style, with plentiful lasting lace. Aroma is roasted dark malt, slight anise, and fruity alcohol. Taste follows the nose, with the anise and alcohol hanging on at the end. Mouthfeel is velvety smooth, and drinkability is good. Enjoyable seasonal offering here.

ppoitras, Dec 09, 2007
Photo of yemenmocha
4.58/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours deep black, opaque perhaps, with tan/brown head.

Nose has a musty chocolate character.

Palate is dark chocolate, alcohol, cocoa butter, and some spice 'n hops in there to somewhat balance. On the whole, the profile is towards the roasted malt & chocolate sweetness.

Finish is long with cocoa powdery chocolate flavors. I'm falling for this beer.

yemenmocha, Dec 07, 2007
Photo of YonderWanderer
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark black color with a one-finger light tan head. Head dissipates slowly.

S: A nice blend of coffee, chocolate, and dark fruits hit the nose, with a slight burn of alcohol behind it.

T: Chocolate and roasted malts lead the way, with a slight hint of coffee and dark fruitiness behind it. The alcohol warms on the way down and makes its presence known.

M: Smooth and viscous, with a bit of alcohol warming at the end.

D: This is a pretty solid imperial stout. Not my favorite, but pretty tasty, and worth drinking from time to time.

YonderWanderer, Dec 07, 2007
Photo of franksnbeans
4.4/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Busted out the tree and the wife decorated the place so its only appropriate to crack open this Christmas brew. '06 bottle. Pours out jet black with a pillowy cocoa head that sticks around for awhile. Sheets of tan lace along the sides of the glass. Smells of dark chocolate, some dark fruit, a smidge of vanilla and coffee. Taste starts big on chocolate and bakers chocolate, gives way to a little dark fruit then finishes with a bitter hazelnut coffee finish. Lots of layers and nothing overpowers, I think the age has done this wonders. Velvet in the mouth with an insane drinkability with no ABV noticed. Early Christmas for my tastebuds.

franksnbeans, Dec 03, 2007
Photo of meatyard
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The appearance is a very dark brown that allows light only through the edges. The head head is short and drops to a thin cover quickly.
The smell is of chocolate, coffee & dark dried fruit.
The taste is not overpowering. There are a number of more suble flavors up front like chocolate & dried fruits and there is a bit of burnt bitterness in the end though less so as it warmed.
Mouthfeel is medium and the beer holds onto just enough carbonation throughout to notice,
Drinkability is very good. I could drink two drafts but 1 22 oz. bottle is enough.

I like this well enough but not as much as several other RISs. Definitely worth a try from a premier brewer.

meatyard, Dec 02, 2007
Photo of fartingdog
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 bottle, opened 11-19-07

A- Pitch black, tan head is almost non-existant.

S- Caramel, roasty, sweet.

T- Rich. Cocoa, coffee, roasted malts, hints of bourbon, boozy.

M- Full bodied, malty, smooth. Warming on the finish.

D- Very nice. One of the better RIS I've had, perfect to ward off the winter chill. I love the boozy character it has to it.

fartingdog, Nov 30, 2007
Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 1,118 ratings.