Santa's Little Helper - Port Brewing
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Ratings: 1,088 | Reviews: 536 | Display Reviews Only:
4.05/5 rDev +1%
Thanks to sirhc for this one.
Pours a 22 oz. bottle poured into a nonic.
Pours an absolute onyx black with an unimpressive one finger brown head after an aggressive pour. Stickiness is very good, almost a complete blanket on the sides. Smell is of licorice and fresh french roast coffee. Big caramel malt and molasses apprears in the nose as well. Taste is pretty damn smokey but not all that strong. Santa must like his brew with a good charcoal burn to it. Starts off with a charred wood flavor and a nice espresso-like sting. A toast flavor then emerges with some caramel malt on the tongue as well. Pretty slick across the tongue with a lighter than expected mouthfeel, but I really like it. Very solid brew in a tough style of beers. Definitely a must try.
10-25-2007 00:33:44 | More by BeerTruth
4.33/5 rDev +8%
Obtained fresh from Pizza Port Carlsbad back in March, I cellared it until yesterday.
Appears a very dark brown, almost black color, no light shining through at all. Pours with very little head and a ring of tiny bubbly tan foam with little lacing. Smells very sweet and somewhat charred, with hints of cherries, molasses, dark chocolate, and coffee. Taste is very bitter from the start, but with enough sweetness from cherries and the molasses flavors to give it a nice balance. Very thick in body and hides the alcohol content wonderfully. A beer I will definitely be seeking out again when it's released later this year. Not the greatest RIS out there, with some imbalances, but extremely tastey and very flavorful.
07-25-2007 23:17:34 | More by HopDerek
3.05/5 rDev -23.9%
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.
07-13-2007 23:03:50 | More by largadeer
4.22/5 rDev +5.2%
Cracked open a 22 oz'er of Santa's Little Helper with the label that has Santa & Rudolpg drinking together.
Pours a solid India Ink midnight buh-lack hue topped with a settled scant khaki collar.
Nose is a molasses and roasted espresso coffee bean with grain waffle sweetness. Perhaps a tad burnt and charred but not to a fault with a cigar ash.
First swigs: Roasted malts abound. Italian espresso coffee flavor. Burnt and toasted. Hints of banana with the bready thick dough. This is a Russian Imperial that you need a fork to devour.
Feel is thick full bodied with a tongue lashing that is on the level of a nun's ruler.
Last swigs: Tad messy with a scattered gunshot all over the place but a tough rough and ready RIS nonetheless. Kind of lke a hand grenade RIS. Thick, wild, scattered, big, ballsy, bold and brassy. Problemo is that it's a hot stout with RIS qualities. Look out.
Beer is good and big. Happy RIS beering.
06-26-2007 06:04:22 | More by blitheringidiot
4.08/5 rDev +1.7%
Had this at the Brickskeller the other night.
The beer pours a dark black color, but with minimal head retention and fairly decent lacing. The nose is quite complex, consisting of licorise, expresso and roasty malts. On the palate one gets a strong coffee/expresso flavor, with some licorise and vanilla. The beer is on the sweet side, but is not cloying or tiring to drink. This stout is quite smooth and very light on it's feet for such a big beer. It is entirely too easy to drink as the abv. is very well disguised.
While not the best RIS I've ever had, this is still a very good stout.
06-22-2007 17:33:16 | More by John_M
4.55/5 rDev +13.5%
This is an excellent stout. Thanks to Crosling for providing it as part of a recent trade.
The beer pours to a very dark brown color, not quite as inky jet black as other Imperial Stouts I've had, but still incredibly dark and opaque. Has a big mocha colored head with a weak retention but good lacing. Looks nice.
The smell is very good. Very robust roasted barley aroma with plenty of sweets to back it up, including molasses, chocolate malt, and even a little bit of brewers licorice and/or anise.
The taste is wonderful as well. Sweet up front with a very in-your-face roast. Plenty of vanilla and caramel with a boat load of chocolate and coffee. Plenty of molasses. Very subtle black licorice flavor. Decent amount of hops, though it is hard to say what kind they are with the very robust roastiness. A very delightful treat, all in all.
The body is quite thick. The carbonation is very smooth and creamy. Lots of residual sweetness, though it is very well balanced by the lingering roast and hops bitterness. Very little alcohol flavor for 10% and what little there is actually accompanies the other flavors very well. Very easy to drink considering strength and intensity of flavors. Very well done. I love Pizza Port.
06-04-2007 05:47:29 | More by neonbrown82
4.33/5 rDev +8%
Got this one from metallitone1 in the BA Anniversary Bomber BIF
Poured into an Imperial pint glass. A chocolate milk brown colored head that stands about a fingers width. Quickly recedes to a thin filmy cap. Very little lacing. Color is a rich dark black that doesn't let any light through.
Smell has a charred malt aroma mixed with a mild bitter chocolate. Taste continues with the charred flavor, though it is well balanced, not overwhelming. It is mildly bitter with an even sweetness. Alcohol is completely hidden.
Mouthfeel has a nice slick body to it. Very enjoyable
05-26-2007 16:17:58 | More by bort11
4.08/5 rDev +1.7%
Poured this 22 oz bottle, the 2006 Winter Release, into a pint glass. Served at slightly cooler than cellar temperature.
A: Impenetrable blackness with a 1/2 finger of dense, creamy tan head, fading ever-so-slowly to a thin ring and an even thinner gauzy film. Very nice clinging bands of lace. One of the prettiest, richest-looking RIS's I've had.
S: Sweet maltiness & charred grain. A decent amount of raisins, gooey cherries, coffee grounds, vanilla and dark chocolate - all the usual suspects in a quality RIS. Nicely complementing one another, nothing outstanding...just a rich, savory smell.
T: Acerbic sourness and intense bitterness from the start with (fortunately) a sweeter molasses, cherry and raisin-y flavor to complement. Finishes with caramel and burnt malt, layering sweet on top of a pungent bitterness. Complex, yet wobbly - not quite imbalanced, not steady either.
M: Luscious at first sip, then a more sour/astringent bite, ending of coffee bean bitterness. Sticky on the lips and clingy on the tongue, this lingers for a very long time afterward. Full bodied. Alcohol is well-concealed.
D: A nice-for-sipping RIS, warm and agreeable. A little out of context on a warmer than average May evening in Oregon, but a pleasure still. This isn't the smoothest or richest RIS I've had, but it's still well-done and is one worth seeking. Thanks go out to metallitone1 for sending. Recommended.
05-18-2007 00:16:24 | More by msubulldog25
4.4/5 rDev +9.7%
A- pours black with a two finger tan head that has one hell of a hold to it, thick and clingy tan lacing
S- roasted and burnt malts, creamy sweetness
T- lots of burnt malt astringencies, roasted malts, coffee, dark chocolate, subtle hints of alcohol at finish, burnt bran cookie flavor throughout aftertaste, creamy sweetness throughout, nicely balanced
M- full body and creamy, some warmth and drying at finish
D- easy drinking and awesome flavor, well masked alcohol, complex as any imp stouts, highly recommend this brew
05-07-2007 00:35:13 | More by tonistruth
2.23/5 rDev -44.4%
When I poured it, a sickening cake of yeast coated the neck of the bottled. Wierd. Strike one. This one has a very thin body that doesn't carry the flavors of this big beer. Strike two. It's got a hard water mouthfeel, and a big dark chocolate bite, but goes nowhere. Black pepper and licorice. Nothing like I was expecting, but certainly not good enough to be different. It struggles to make a one-dimentional stout. Strike three, you're out. This bottle got dumped.
Note: I lined this one up against 16 imperial stouts, and this was the only one we all hated. Sorry, such a great brewery, but no cigar here.
04-19-2007 04:43:36 | More by rayjay
4.6/5 rDev +14.7%
Bottle of 2006 that is now from Port's new production brewery. Now a winter seasonal. I did have this once on tap at Port Carlsbad but my first review.
Huge roasty malt nose with a whole lot of fruity fermentation. I get coffee and burnt toast and black treacle from the malt and black cherries, overripe plums and red grapes from the fermentation. Little bit of spicy hops in the background too.
Deep black colored with a very small tan head. It's strong enough that it actually has "legs."
Huge flavor, black licorice, more black cherries, chocolate, and a little red-wine vinuous fermentation effect. Then there's coffee and big roast malt in the aftertaste. Pretty hop bitter, but there's so much malt behind it that it's just there for ballance. Overall, great impy stout flavor.
Big bodied but the carbonation level is a little light. Not quite flat but not really lively.
Definitely a solid sipping beer. But it's very well balanced so it's approachable on it's own but also a great match for spicy food or a big thick steak. Very nice.
04-03-2007 06:01:26 | More by czechsaaz
4.08/5 rDev +1.7%
Appearance: Inky black. Thin brown head. Lace is ample enough. Inviting Black Goodness.
Aroma: A little alcohol. A little fig. Some dark fruits. Anise oil.
Taste: Some nice deep roasted malt tones up front. Licorice. Black currants. Some definite char. Baker's chocolate. Pretty good blend of flavors. An oily bitterness lingers.
Mouthfeel: Low carbonation: Medium bodied. Some alcohol is present, but it's not distracting.
Drinkability: There's a nice depth of flavors in this Impy, but it's not an over-the-top-in-your-face type of IS. It's quite drinkable actually.
04-01-2007 04:28:52 | More by Bighuge
3.98/5 rDev -0.7%
Poured deep black with a minimal brown head.
The aroma was of rich roasted malts, chocolate, some hops, and herbal notes.
The flavor of the beer was richly roasty and chocolately without being harsh or ashen. The malts cascaded through a variety of flavors. There were subtle notes of licorice. The hops were well balanced and weren't too powerful.
The mouthfeel was thick and creamy. The carbonation was spot on. The drinkability was good. This is on the lighter side for American brewed Russian imperial stouts and that helped make it very drinkable.
03-08-2007 19:08:53 | More by SacoDeToro
3.85/5 rDev -4%
Pours black with a thin reddish tan head that quickly dissipates. Aroma is somewhat smoky, nutty roastiness and a nice dose of bourbon and whiskey. chocolatey and sugary up front in the taste, followed by a smokiness and roasted flavor and finishing with a nice acidic tang that gradually gets stronger mixing with some bitterness and a warmth of alcohol in the back of the throat. fairly good size body, smooth up front, a very small amount of dryness in the finish. Tasty stout, I am not blown away flavor or aroma wise, but extremely drinkable especially considering the alcohol content.
02-23-2007 23:47:33 | More by hoppymeal
4.43/5 rDev +10.5%
A: Deep ebony color, completely opaque. Head started nice but fell quick, leaving a truffle colored film behind.
S: Oily chocolate, almond butter, vanilla extract, coffee mascarpone, licorice and candied prunes.
T: Begins very chocolaty leaning towards the mousse end of things. Nice dark berry sweet and sourness toys along, waiting for the coffee to emerge. Coffee does sometimes have berry aspects to it, so this is quite a natural transition for the flavors. Vanilla, some black pepper and buttery roasted grains move in next allowing the beer to crescendo into a bitter peak. Some piney hops can be found lurking about but are overwhelmed by the robust flavors. Finishes slick and oily, like if bitter chocolate separated and the oil was poured straight into this beer.
M: Full body, nice mouthfeel with just a touch of fuzzy carbonation.
D: Very tasty beer. Good balance with flavors hitting all over the palate.. Unfortunately, there has been a monumental amount of good imperial stouts on the market recently and this one could get lost in the crowd. Ha, 4.35 and it could get lost in the crowd. I suppose I drank too much Abyss and Darkness ;)
02-23-2007 05:12:13 | More by Westsidethreat
3.9/5 rDev -2.7%
thanks to intriqken for this via trade! I always enjoy an imperial stout so how interesting to find a holiday imp stout?
A - Nice midnight black, robust rich tan head. Some sediment in the bottle. Bottle conditioning - yeah!
S - Not sure what I was expecting. Modest classic imp stout aromas with an undertone of vanilla and cocoa. I say modest because the typical strong roast malt / sweet malt was not as strong as many I've had as of late.
T - similar to the smell but a nicely blended swirling of the aromas.
M - medium to full bodied. smooth across the tongue. Finishes clean.
D - Went down real easy. Not even a wiff of the 10% ABV in this one. One bomber was plenty for an evening. I would gladly drink this again. Luck west coasters!
01-24-2007 15:25:03 | More by barleywinebrewer
4.13/5 rDev +3%
Poured into an oversized wine glass.
Appearance: Pours with a, dare I say, cute coffee bean colored head, about a quarter's finger thick. Lacing is a bit above average, a lot of dots coat the ring of the glass after a good swirl. A dark crude body with no penetrable light. Hard to judge a stout by its body color, however, as most are, generally, pretty uniform. Just sort of the nature of the style, however.
Smell: Cream, a roasted nuttiness, Toblerone-like chocolate. Man that hoppiness is unexpected. It's almost a lemoney spritz or a chocolate covered citrus fruit aroma, lurking a few layers under the chocolate. Reminds me a bit of Big Bear Black Stout by Bear Republic in this sense. A general hop sting also hits your nose, unlike that beer, however, which suggests this is one of the hoppiest RIS's in existence. A definite alcohol under there, but it's about the level of a Double Stout, less "hot" smelling (and tasting) than some other RIS's I've tried, which sometimes is an RIS's downfall, in my opinion. Does get a little hotter as it warms up, however. Some coffee and caramel notes. A pretty damn interesting nose, with the aforementioned hop character taken into consideration.
Taste: Roasted malts, coffee, again with a slightly unidentifiable citric hop presence, which has the same chocolate-covered orange effect as the nose. It's a little less pronounced here, however. Light coconut milk - a flavor I've noticed in quite a few stouts lately. A general creaminess. Deeper bodied coffee. Less hot than the nose in terms of alcohol. A good taste, but I'm disappointed that I pick up less hoppiness in the taste than the aroma.
Mouthfeel: Considering Port's first bottlings have a reputation for carbonation problems/being flat, this seems relatively unscathed. Smooth, lightly carbonated, even downright creamy. Every so slightly astringent, but really nothing to raise an eyebrow to.
Drinkability: This is a very drinkable, excellent RIS that, like Big Bear Black Stout, would serve as a good stepping stone for Hopheads looking to get into stouts. Even on its own, however, it is a very interesting an excellent example of the style.
01-17-2007 03:59:36 | More by RidiculedDisplay
4.28/5 rDev +6.7%
This beer pours a coal black liquid, but doesn't form a head.
Smell is sweet and candy like with a good scent of Kahlua at the start. Fruit aromas of figs and cherries mix well with a chocolate aroma. Sweet and mellow this something like spiced chocolate in scent.
Taste begins sweet chocolate with a spicing of carrot tasting hops. Good flavor of coffee and patent malt kicks in and joins the California signature of lots of hops. The one beer in the world like this is Gonzo Imperial Porter, another very hoppy strong dark beer.
Mouthfeel is milkshake.
A good beer this is nearly a clone of Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter.
01-15-2007 01:36:48 | More by Zorro
4.4/5 rDev +9.7%
Pours dark to black. Only the slightest traces of light can be seen through the glass. A creamy tan head thins out a bit and stays around for the long haul. Super, wavy lacing.
Somewhat subdued aroma, or I'm getting a slight cold. Cocoa and dark malt aroma. More patent like than roasted malt. Slightly malty and caramel.
Roasty with a slight dark fruit touch. Very slight alcohol. Whats really stands out is a piney/spruce like hop flavor. Quite a nice touch for a RIS. Good bitterness.
Full bodied and low to moderate carbonation. Smooth yet bittering finish. A touch warming.
Quite drinkable and overall a very good beer. I really like the use of hops in this one. I really would like to try this one on tap.
01-07-2007 00:05:47 | More by BeerRun13
4.85/5 rDev +20.9%
Bomber poured into a chalice. Takes alot of effort to achieve much of a head. I wasn't expecting a ton of froth but pizza port lost abbey is famous in this household for being "head impared" so it was not a shocker and for the style is acceptable. Dark body.
First drink had me thinking "what are the IBU's on this puppy" as they stood out over an incredibly thick and rich toasted malt body. Even besides the hop presence this draws a rather large bitterness aspect from the charred malts. Combine the two and you've got a Large and IN CHARGE brew. Warms you up real quick like a hot coffee and whiskey on a cold morning this will do the trick in spades. This is a beautiful thing. Spices are mild, but again, anything getting through this body has to be bold as hell and they come through with a nice addition to the warming finish.
Notes: Imperial stouts are grand in their very nature so its a tough style for me to judge. This is Very good and enters the elite in my opinion. Whats lacking in appearance it makes up for bigtime in the 2 other big categories.
01-04-2007 05:32:46 | More by DogFood11
4.45/5 rDev +11%
A- Thin dark mocha head on a pitch black body. Thin lacing on top with a collar.
S- Some citrus hops with a huge malt surrounding all the hops. Coffee and roasted malts. Maybe even a hint of oak or a woodish smell. Hint of vanilla too.
T- A lighter tone right off the bat. Like hops come through more and then they just get washed away by a big flavor of malt swarming it. The bitterness manages to linger on the tongue though. Strong coffee flavor as soon as you swallow. The coffee and bitterness linger in the aftertaste. There is a nice big warming from alcohol in the back of the throat too. Maybe some light roasted malts are also thrown in there. Hints of a smokey wood come through too with a touch of vanilla. A lot more chocolate as it warms up too.
M- Medium to full body (more on full side) with low carbonation.
D- It is a nice bitter stout. It's a really well balanced and complex stout. Wish it was easier to get a hold of
01-03-2007 03:59:50 | More by BlindPig
4.6/5 rDev +14.7%
Presentation: 750ml green glass bottle, sealed with a small crown cap. Single wrap around white label with a picture of Santas sleigh sat atop the Pizza Port location. Listed as Brewed and Bottled by Pizza Port Solana Beach, CA and listed as Santas Little Helper Imperial Stout. Lots of bumpf on the back of the label. This is hand numbered bottle #225 with a quoted strength of 9.75%. Not the San Marcos produced stuff from Port Brewing/Lost Abbey but I can't add anything under that location anymore, so it's getting listed here.
Appearance: Shockingly dark, pitch black like my shite after 18 Pints of Guinness. The body has little to offer, capturing and holding any bit of light that happens to fall upon it and holding it prisoner with little to no chance to escape. Rising brown cocoa head, infinitely small bubbles form a rich deeply textured covering that starts at a healthy ½ thick but quickly fizzles slowly like a dissolving tablet. The powder puffy dark tanned head slowly disperses to a thinner covering given time. The carbonation is finely dissolved, gentle Brandy like swirls in my Stone RIS glass. Firm looks and a great appearance.
Nose: Punching roasted malts and a lot of roasted coffee with a background anise and liquorice aroma. Complexity builds as dark fruits enter the fray, but they are low key in strength. The aromas are enticing, complex and yet subliminal at times.
Taste: The sweetness is roasted; chocolate malts pulsate with some nutty roasted horse chestnuts and a soothing warming Port like alcohol which relaxes. The alcohol is not raw here; moreover, it is mature, nicely dissolved into all of the components. Flashing cameos from burnt toast, black leather straps, dark bitter cooking chocolate and a rich exotic finish which is irresistible in the way it caresses the back of the throat whilst punching the cheeks. Lingering finish is lengthy, liquorice and a Pontefract Cake driven finale. Bitterness actually rises as you work through this one; I almost forgot to mention that, such is the lovely deeply entrenched smooth cultured roasted belly of this brew.
Mouthfeel: Smooth as a silky chocolate milk shake. Roasted malts stiffen up the backbone; the scaffolding is root liquorice with an impish finish. The roasted input is mature, well balanced and neatly dissolved into the DNA of this Imperial Stout.
Drinkability: I started sipping this, but after writing a few lines I soon found myself racing through this one. The lingering aftertaste is such a treat. Like a drunken Glaswegian on Boxing Day, this is very dangerous, try not to make direct eye contact and you may be alright, otherwise you'll be gettin' a Scotch Kiss.
Overall: Superb stuff. I always find it hard to open a bottle that Ive aged for a bit, as was the case here, and to a certain extent I wished I had shared this, but what the heck, this was a present to myself today! Cracking stuff, it will be interesting to see if the new San Marcos produced SLHIS holds up to this previous batch from Solana Beach.
It's aging nicely and its not done yet I feel. A great brew that turns your teeth brown.
Happy Fin Christmas. Bah Humbug!
12-26-2006 04:23:00 | More by TheLongBeachBum
3.98/5 rDev -0.7%
$5.99 at LaBodega in Riverside, CA. First sighted today, consumed today.
Pours a beautiful coal chocolate brown-black, looks like crude oil pouring out of the bottle. But since I know I'm gonna drink that stuff, we will stop that analogy right now. A pretty creamy chocolate milk brown head sits atop, but it quickly fades to nearly nothing. Good while it lasted.
Aroma of bitter chocolate and peat smoke, some almost rauchbier-like notes. Flavor of roasted malts, rich and solid, chocolate-covered espresso beans with a dry ending. Includes some creamy/milky sweetness underneath, but hidden by the overpowering roastiness- much more dry than sweet. Some sour milk. In reading what I just wrote, it doesn't sound too appetizing, but you know what? This works. Alcohol notes (whisky-like) are too strong, a big drawback for me. Some aging would probably mellow that right out (I hope).
I like it, but the alcohol keeps me from loving it. Good stuff.
12-21-2006 02:18:56 | More by Dukeofearl
4/5 rDev -0.2%
Originally reviewed November 26, 2006. On tap at Port Brewing Company. Light, yet piquant, aroma of touching bold cherry aroma, with some kirsch-like syrup qualities. Pour of dark, deep brown, with a ruby glint and a rim of tan. Flavor continues in a boldly cherry and bright red fruit line, again holding an amalgamation of chocolate and cherries, all in a sweet, and tart, and dry way. The dryness of the pits combos with the light roastiness to yield character. The sweetness creates delicious sippable boddy. Well rounded and excellently balanced.
12-19-2006 19:13:41 | More by CharlesDarwin
4.75/5 rDev +18.5%
First released in 1997, this is the latest version of Port Brewing's holiday cheer...fresh from the source 2006. From a 22 fl.oz. brown bomber with PP silver cap and a new label with an elf pouring pints for Santa and Rudolf...it pours a beautiful opaque black with a muddy brown head of 1" thick. Good carbonation for this imperial stout, as the foam settles down you get a bit of lace and a ring. This stuff look's great.
The smell is of sweet dark ripened fruit, toffee chewy malt and a strong hop presence, followed by a belgian strain of yeast.
As it warms a bit, the hop notes fade and some potency from the alcohol is released...it really smells like a STRONG, tasty brew.
Wow...the taste is superb! Big body with some big, bold flavor ...sweet dark fruity and roasty with fig, currants, toffee, licorice, dark chocolate and a spicy hop of a finish...complex brew going on here indeed. Plenty of warmth from the alcohol in this drop as well, I think this years brew will age like a gem.
Excellent beer for the holidays and the cold Winters months...this is a top-notch brew that I know will turn some heads. Fricken cheers and happy holiday's to all !
12-09-2006 07:41:59 | More by scottoale
Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 1,088 ratings.