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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.

1,204 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,204
Reviews: 542
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.97%
Wants: 76
Gots: 187 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: scottoale on 12-09-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,204 | Reviews: 542 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of woemad
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber of the 2008 vintage purchased at J.B.'s in Spokane for $5.99. First time I'd seen it around here, though I've since seen it at Huckleberry's.

Poured a color so dense and dark I was looking for an event horizon. When held up to the light there is the tiniest brownness at the edges. Virtually no head on the poour, but a thin tan head forms briefly and is easily re-agitated back to life. Thin sheets of tan lace that quickly recede, leaving many tan spots abandoned on the sides of a UK-style pintglass.

The aroma features chocolatey notes - both bitter and sweet - , roasty coffee, some brown sugar and some boozy notes. Some dark fruits as well, but not as strong as in other Impy stouts.

When this beer hits the tastebuds it's with a twin assault of brown sugary sweetness and roasty bitterness. Then other components come out and play. Like in the nose, there's both dark and milk chocolate to be tasted here. There's a rich dark French Roast type coffee thing, and some warming alcohol notes. Unlike in the smell, the dark fruit flavor one often notes for this style of beer is more obvious, lending a dark cherry like flavor that hovers in the background like a velvet cloak. Dry hoppy bite at the swallow.

Thick coating mouthfeel, just as one would expect for a beer of the style.

A very tasty Imperial Stout, and at a nice price. While this won't make me forsake Abyss anytime soon, it's a bit more approchable and easier on the wallet. If it were brewed regularly, I'd buy it regularly. Good stuff!

Photo of aforbes10
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown to black with a reverse cascade of tiny chocolate brown bubbles rising quickly to form a short head. Head falls off fairly quickly. Cool melted chocolate and coffee nose, hint of truffles. Flavor is rich and somewhat bitter. Big heaping chocolate flavor, sticky and rich. Bitter coffee grounds and alcohol, held up by the chocolate base. Barest hint of dark fruits on the finish. Lingering bitterness and roasted chocolate malt. Full bodied. Drinks well. Overall, its quite good but it doesn't stand alone in any particular way.

Photo of littleg
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been waiting for the right time to pair this with my wife's snickerdoodles.

Beer poured a dark as coal black into my Belle-Vue Snifter. The brown head was minimal, dissipated quickly, and left no lacing on the class.

Smells of fresh ground dark roast coffee with a slight hint of burnt toffee.

The taste developed nicely as the class began to warm. What I first thought was a very simple stout has turned more complex as the beer warmed. Flavor started out with notes of bakers chocolate and finished with a slight sweetness similar to dried cranberries.

Overall a good sipping beer that paired well with the cookies. Not overly complex but enough depth to make it worth your while.

Photo of GPHarris
4.25/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a - poured a dark brown coffee-colored head into a snifter. the body was dark black. looks great but the head didn't stay around too long which was disappointing.
s - roasted malts and chocolate. hints of cherries and other dark fruits.
t - roasty and dry with hints of chocolate and fruit. a little too hoppy for this style in my opinion.
m - medium thickness.
d - solid beer and goes down very easily.

Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a deep rich dark brown, practically black. looks like a bottle of liquid coal. Nice dark tan/medium brown head. good retention level and solid amount of lacing.

S: huge aromas of roasted malts, some coffee, chocolate and some cherries. moderately hoppy aroma for a RIS in the nose.
some strong notes of alcohol.

T: big bold flavors. tons of roasted malt notes. chocolate and coffee mostly, with a huge amount of hops. nice punch of hops with the malts. wow this a beefy beer. some hints of licorice in there as well.

M: big bold mouthfeel. mild carbonation level. very thick and chewy.

D: a bomber at most based on ABV, or one to share. solid flavors for the style and another delicious brew from Port Brewing.

Photo of coldmeat23
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

GLASS: Young's Imperial Pint Glass
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees
Merry Christmas!

Pours such a dark brown that it appears to be black. Very nice. One-finger coffee colored head of foam. Minimal retention and not much lacing, at all.

Nice big roasted malt nose with big woodiness, also. Lots of dark fruit notes, cherries and figs, mostly. Scents of coffee mingle with chocolate and caramel. Very slight booziness.

Very nice roasted malt flavor with a slight caramel sweetness. Big chocolate notes with a fair amount of roasted coffee flavor. Notes of fig, with hints of raisin and cherries. Very mild spice bite. Traces of wood smoke and molasses.
Nice and complex. Very tasty.

Nice medium bodied brew. Not quite oily, but getting close. A little heftier body would greatly enhance this one.

For me personally, this is a very drinkable brew. Then again, I love Imperial Stouts, though. This one is a good solid example of the style, flavor-wise.

Photo of vacax
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 vintage bomber enjoyed Christmas Eve 2008.

A: Black for all practical purposes with a characteristically tan head. Good looking but not gorgeous head.

S: Mild hops with some nice roastiness and biscuity elements. Not too aromatic.

T: Balanced amount of roast with some bitter hoppiness. No big flaws, but nothing really outstanding either. Some dark fruit present.

M: Rich but not thick-thick mouth with a pretty high level of carbonation for an RIS.

D: A respectable Russian Imperial Stout, but nothing thrilling that begs to be drank. Much smoother alcohol than fresh bottles, my suggestion is definitely to hold on to the fresh stuff and drink it later.

Quality but middle of the road Russian Imperial Stout. Recommend drinking this one aged, as I find it a little abrasive fresh.

Photo of Jwale73
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this one on Christmas Eve 2008. 2008 vintage served in my Terrapin snifter. Poured one shade shy of black with a half inch mocha-colored head that quickly dissipated into a swirl of foam and clusters of ringlets. Some random spatters of lacing present during the tasting. Nose was coffee, cocoa, malt and some alcohol. Taste follows nose with a subtle hops bittering detectable towards the finish. Mouthfeel was medium-bodied and lightly carbonated; not at all viscous but a nice slick sensation across the tongue that lingered between quaffs. Easy drinking and flavorful RIS. Alcohol was well-hidden and flavors exhibited a nice balance. Definitely in my top 10 for the style.

Photo of corey0212
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nearly pitch-black in color, faintest brown highlights around the edges, decent size mocha-colored head fades into a foamy collar around the glass, sheets of lacing hang on for dear life. Big dark chocolate aromas, rich roasted coffee aromas, espresso, all slightly charred around the edges. Taste follows right along, strong black coffee flavors, and some spicy alcohol heat on the back of the tongue. Perfectly carbonated for the style, some nice belly-warming alcohol, maybe a touch thinner than some Imperial Russian Stouts, but not to the detriment of the beer. Really probably as good as any Imperial Stout I've had, and I love the tie-in to the holiday. Fantastic stuff!

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

2008 edition.

A- Poured into my new New Belgium snifter, Santa's Little Helper pours jet black with a light brown, one-finger head that settles to a patchy layer over the beer, leaving some spotty lacing behind on the glass.

S- Bold aromas of chocolate, roasted malts, coffee and dark fruits. Only a trace of the hefty 10% ABV.

T- Dark chocolate and dark fruits up front with a pronounced coffee bitterness and a bit of alcohol warmth on the finish. The alcohol becomes pretty noticeable as the beer hits room temperature.

M- A heavy, thick, almost syrupy mouthfeel with tiny carbonation bubbles.

D- Great drinkability. The high ABV is exceptionally well-hidden and the big flavors leave you wanting more after each sip.

In my opinion, this beer is on the same level as many of the top imperial stouts. I'll be looking forward to this every year.

Photo of snaotheus
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Strong, bittersweet, dark black, with a thick hefty chocolate theme and a little bit of a floral overtone. It's like a smoothed and polished Old Rasputin. It does a great job of hiding the fact that it's even stronger, in fact.

Smells nice, looks gorgeous, little to no lacing or head. Feels thick and meaty, which I like. Probably too strong to drink steadily for a night, but I'd drink a couple end to end if I had the opportunity.



2009 bottle this year: Excellent. Medium frothy brown head, less chocolate, more bitter.

Photo of RustyDiamond
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Stone IRS glass. Slight beige head that quickly disappeared. Sweety aroma of hops, peppermint chocolate, and hot alcohol.
Big flavor...10% abv immediately noted. Big Mexican cocoa flavor, dryish coffee notes. Hop bitterness and cocoa bitterness with the 10% slightly stinging the tongue. Long lasting bitterness. This one is a little "all over the place." A little too jagged for my liking...I'll try another bottle in a few months.

Photo of MisterClean
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from City Beer Store. Um, in the City, yo.

A - Pours midnight black, with a half finger head into a pint glass. Head is mocha chocolate, and dissipates moderately. Very low carbonation.

S - Chocolate, licorice, and roasted coffee.

T - Dark roasted coffee, chocolate, anise and slight amounts of pine and citrus hoppiness.

M - Very smooth, but slightly thin.

D - Very easy to drink, but stll missing a full mouthfeel. Good, but wishing for more viscous.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 bottle saved for a year and opened for the weekend before Christmas. Pours pitch black with a thin head. Notes of raisins, caramel, chocolate, and a slightly beefy aroma. The flavors are deeper and add roasty notes and some treacle as well as some lingering bitterness. Bitter chocolate is also pretty prominent. The flavors are pretty well integrated but don't seem blunted by the time that has passed. The nice bitterness is also not subdued. This is a powerful beer with big flavors, but the alcohol has been tamed a good bit by time. Mouthfeel is big and rich, but not thick. A very nice winter sipper.

Photo of number1bum
3.15/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark brown color, nearly but not quite black, although it is mostly opaque in the glass. Some reddish hues around the edges. Two fingers of tan head on top settle to a nearly full lace and leave a little bit of spiderweb stick here and there.

Smell has some sweet milk chocolate and plenty of roasted malt. Some dark fruit, raisins maybe, and alcohol round it out.

Taste starts off quite roasty, with roasted malt being the dominant flavor all the way through. There is some bitter dark chocolate with a hint of sweetness here and there, but still the roasted dominated. As it warms there is a bit more sweetness, but also some booze. Finishes with a deeply charred roasted flavor and some lingering dark fruit, which along with some alcohol form a lingering aftertaste that I don't really like that much. Flavor is ok but the aftertaste knocks this down a peg for me, and the astringent charred flavor hurts the drinkability and mouthfeel. The booze is also just way too forward.

Mouthfeel is close to full bodied, pretty chewy and thick, but it's a bit harsh and astringent. Booze and burned flavor don't help.

I really hate to say this but I had a hard time getting through this bottle. I think maybe this is a bit young, because it's really rough right now. The roasted flavor dominates, but to the point where it gets astringent. The alcohol is also quite prominent. This has absolutely nothing on Old Viscosity. A disappointment for sure.

Photo of JacktheRabbit
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle - Pours thick but viscous, color of a french roast coffee bean. Unfortunately poured it cold, so little brown-tinged head, and little lacing from sip to sip.

Smells bitter with touch of sweetness from chocolate and molasses.

First sip faintly bitter, which dark bakers chocolate and roasted coffee quickly dispels. Slight alcohol warmth at the end.

Mouth feel is smooth and pleasant

Great way to start my winter Stout hibernation.

Photo of russpowell
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up one of the last 2 bottles at Spring Liqour outlet today, was really tempted to snag them both... This one is 10% abv

Pours like 5,000 mile motor oil, but with effervescence! and with a sliver of caramel/butterscotch colored head.Above average lacing, sort of looks like two people holding hands, wacky & average head retention

S: Cocoa powder& a bit of licorice

T: Cocoa powder, roasted grain, licorice & a touch of chicory up front. Dark chocolate with some leafy hops show up as this warms, plus a bit of booze warmth & a kiss of vanilla oakyness. Finishes a bit dry, with much cocoa, a bit of figs & nice mocha flavor

MF: Chewy, oily, with low, but noticeable carbonation

Drinks pretty easy, but the abv & thickness show up to the party early enough, to give pause. Not a perfect IMP stout, but damn good, bet you this gets better with some age on it

Photo of roadhouse
3.48/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a snifter.

Appearance is pitch black with a half inch tan head. Sinks down to a skim and leaves minimal lacing.

Aromas of chocolate, dark fruit, that vinous character I hate kind of like Old Viscosity, anise, and some slight coffee.

The taste is dominated by milk chocolate up front. There's a bit of sweetness as well but it is mostly covered up by roastiness. Midway through the dark fruit character comes through mildly with the vinous character thankfully subdued. Finish is still somewhat fruity with coffee tones increasing.

Mouthfeel is medium-full, pretty creamy, fairly easy to drink.

I thought this was a pretty decent RIS but that damn vinous character coming through hurts it for me.

Photo of srandycarter
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Black as all get out. Not much head, even much of a ring. Lacing thing legs.

S - Sweet and bitter, Starbucks Capp.

T - Chocolate milk, espresso and bitter cooking chocolate.

M - Medium body, very coating, not enough carb.

D - Pretty darned tasty.

Photo of magictrokini
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Cask @ Solana. Dark brown pour with a short creamy brown head. Aroma dominated by chocolate and crystal malts. The barley gives it a chicory-like quality, both in the aroma and flavor. Lots of chocolate and hops give it a more complex taste than the normal overly-chocolate stouts. The alcohol is almost undetectable Very, very enjoyable.

Photo of Beaver13
3.13/5  rDev -21.9%
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.

Photo of froghop
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

vintage 2008.

pours a jet black with a small brown head that goes away rather quickly leaving a very nice lacing.

smell is of dark chocolate, some dark fruit in the back, strong coffee, and toasted malts.

taste is thick, bakers chocolate, malt, touch of coffee, roasted nuts, ends a little bit dry and bitter, leaves the mouth thick.

Photo of bum732
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a jet black, not much head at all, head that is present has a chocolate milk color and slightly frothy. Smells of toffee and chocolate standing still, swirled brings out dark fruits, phenols, alcohol very present and hops in the background. Tastes similar to how it smells, dark fruit, prunes, raisons up front, but not too heavy. This transitions to a nice chocolate backbone, very smooth. Finishes quite chalky with a slight hop and alcohol bitterness. Body is a nice medium balance with proper carbonation for a RIS.

A nice winter beer, no real traditional x-mas spices, but no complaint here. A solid RIS, the only knock being the chalky finish. Would drink again.

Photo of kasper
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours like coffee -- a few shades from black. Pour was cold and there was no head, just some chocolate-milk colored bubbles on the ring.

S: Bitter chocolate and some sweet coffee grains.

T: Lost of sweet roasted malt up from, sweet chocolate, dry cocoa and slightly hoppy finish.

M: Heavy with a consistency akin to light syrup. Sticky. Low carbonation.

D: Thick, rich and well done RIS.

Photo of WanderingFool
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Santa's Little Helper pours a flat, inky black into the glass. A thin tan head quickly dissolves to a thin ring around the surface leaving behind only a couple spots of lace on the glass.

The rich malty aroma has lots of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, nuts and a hint of wood smoke. Each sip of this medium to full bodied beer is very smooth. It's very soft on the palate with a gentle carbonate tingle on the back of the tongue.

The flavor is much like the aroma, roasted malt, chocolate, coffee and nuts. Towards the end some hoppy bitterness moves in to balance out all the malt. Once gone some roasted malt and bitter grassy hops linger on the palate.

This is a well balanced, tasty beer that hides it's 9/5% alcohol very well. Other than the flat appearance it's top notch.

Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 1,204 ratings.