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Santa's Little Helper - Port Brewing

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

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1,301 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,301
Reviews: 558
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.72%
Wants: 78
Gots: 213 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Port Brewing visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: scottoale on 12-09-2006

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,301 | Reviews: 558 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rfgetz
3.76/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a rich dark, near black. Minimal head. Smell is very unplesant, almost pure rubbing alcohol. Taste is thankfully a nice blend of rich bitter dark chocolate and dark roasted espresso beans. Lacks charachter - needs fruit flavors to be a true RIS in my book. Body is full but very smooth and clean. Good beer, but the unrefined scent and lack of charachter hurts.

Photo of Dankuel
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured the beer into a snifter glass, has a nice a nice dark color to it with a decent peach head. It smells like a typical Imperial, dark, rich roasted character with chocolate and coffee tones.

The taste is interesting, it is definitely that of a imperial stout with a nice dark chocolate resounding, there is something else, almost like a bit of hoppiness, its hard to put my finger on. The alcohol is noticeable after a bit of time on palate, but not bad for a 9.5%.

The mouth feel is very thick and slightly bubbly, it goes down warm and has a kick, this is a decent beer for a long winters night.

Photo of LibraryTom
2.76/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

2009 Bottle

I have to say I was disappointed with this beer this year.

I poured this into a 6 oz taster glass, and a small tumble produced a gorgeous cascade of CO2 bubbles rising up to form a full-bodied head, that left good lacing.

The nose leads you in, barely hinting at the alcohol within, consisting mostly of coffee and nuts.

But right out of the gate this beer blasts you with the alcohol after the first sip, and then lingers on, far after the taste of the beer has left. There is some beautiful malt characteristic behind it somewhere, but once must search, rather then sit back and enjoy the ride.

Next year...

Photo of Eldalonde
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(2008) Pours a solid black. No head formation at all, looks rather thick. Smells of sweet roasted malts, chocolate, and a hint of licorice. Some hoppy aromas are intermingled as well. Very thick mouthfeel. Very rich roasted maltiness coupled with sweet and bitter chocolate; licorice is also noticeable. There is some warming from the alcohol. The finish is bitter and hoppy. Very good stout! Love it!

(2009) Pours a very dark and deep black lettting no light escape. A full thick brown head formed and remained throughout most of the beer. Not very much lacing left behind though, this beer looks fantastic in the glass! Smells of deep roasted coffee, booze, and some sugar as well. The taste is fairly intense, full and deep. The dark roasted coffee is the most dominate flavor, but there is some bitter chocolate, licorice, and perhpas some anise in there as well. The finsh is very long, but wonderful. Absolutely lovely beer!

Photo of mykie73
4.26/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to ipafool who brought this back to me on his San Francisco beers. This beer impressed me. I think there should be a new category for Imperial stouts that are for barrel aged versions cause it's a little unfair to compare non-barrel aged versions to the better rated ones.

A) This beer was beautiful. I poured the beer ten minutes before coming back to it and and a 1/2 inch head remained. nice dark black with hues of brown.

S) dark roast, molasses. chocolate, and hit of licorice: nice

T) delicious. everything that i smelt but less chocolate with some nice wooden notes... kind of like a love child of old raspy and stone RIS.

M) This (and the look) is where this beer shines. thick, yet drinks like silk. nice full coating of the mouth. excellent carbonation. Should be made an example for other imperial stouts.

D) a little high in price for a non barrel aged beer... but i have had many worse barrel aged imperial stouts for twice the price (dark lord, darkness, etc ). This is a solid beer.

Photo of felipe2toes
4.01/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black black black with a one-finger, brown head that dissipates fairly quickly. Good lacing.

Smells are fairly muted, though I detect some milk chocolate, and some espresso. Not much else.

Taste is more robust than what was on the nose. Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, and a lingering bitterness--almost like burnt sugar. Maybe even some hints of bourbon and vanilla. Really nice.

Mouthfeel is good, some nice thickness for an imperial stout. Very drinkable as well despite relatively high abv.

Photo of GRG1313
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a firm thick tan head and really nice thick lacing.

Nose is huge cooked fruit and sweet black chocolate and chocolate espresso beans. Very inviting.

Mouthfeel is rich and creamy; bold.

Flavors are difficult on this year's Little Helper since from the first taste the alcohol is very strong and assertive. You first have to get through a strong alcohol presence before getting to rich coffee and bitter dark chocolate.

Strong alcohol finish, as well. And, alcohol doesn't "burn off" or get better with age....alcohol is alcohol.

My initial notes for the 2008 show that I loved that year and commented that it could be an every day drink it was so appealing. The 2009 is simply not as integrated, balanced or drinkable. The huge presence of alcohol really hurts this one.

Re-tasting several times shows complexities and consistency. Still a bit alcoholic but I've adjusted my scores based on recent tastings in 2013.

Photo of OtherShoe2
3.73/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black with a nice brown bubbly head. This dissipated to a skim at best, no lacing.

Heavy dark roasted malt aromas and some chemical alcohol.

Good charred malt flavors, with a hint of smoky french roast coffee and some light sweetness peeking thru -- almost molasses-like. Alcohol in the finish.

A bit thinner in body than expected, but it still works.

Overall, even in the thinner state and the brightness of flavor, I still found this to be a real sipper. The bomber was more than enough for me, and although I enjoyed it, it became a task to finish at the end. A very decent stout that I'd have no problem revisiting, and would easily share with someone. From 2009 batch.

Photo of woosterbill
3.31/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2009 bomber into a Duvel tulip.

A: Solid black body topped with three full fingers of rich, dense, medium-brown head that just barely poke above the rim of the glass; incredibly persistent retention and a practically solid sheet of lacing. Maybe I just have a soft spot for imperial stouts, but this is about the third beer of this style I've given a 5 for appearance. I just couldn't imagine this looking any better.

S: Medium-strength nose, with inviting notes of toasty malt and chocolate. Nothing terribly complex or interesting, but a wholly enjoyable aroma.

T: Follows the nose, plus an added hint of ripe stone fruit (plum) and some bitter roasted astringency, plus a highly boozy finish. The fruity complexity is welcome, the astringency is not. It starts out great but finishes with a major disappointment.

M: Medium-bodied (and therefore a bit thinner than I'd like from the style), but with a perfectly lush onslaught of carbonation.

D: Shows its strength quite clearly, and therefore falls short of any seriously high mark for drinkability. While its youth and potency are both extenuating factors, this is as much of a night-ender as I've ever encountered. I have a bad feeling about tomorrow morning.

Notes: This is a solid entry in a crowded field, but clearly isn't helped by its lack of age and finesse. I may pick up another bottle to age until next Christmas, as this impresses me with far more potential than current performance.


Photo of BARFLYB
3.69/5  rDev -8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into some small snifters, been a while since I had this one.

Santa looks the part with a big inky black color that looks quite thick. A one inch tan mocha head stays on top with nice retention. Although once the foam settled a black loogie/spit was engulfed on the surface. I scooped it out and it looked like snot, disgusting. Points docked, sorry port.

Once this little helper warmed a nice roastiness from a big malt base is a good scent. Under that some bittersweet chocolate, light coffee, charcoal and some hops, kinda reminds me of a aged storm king.

Santa tastes like a RIS with all of the above ingredients mixed in. Chocolate, coffee and big roasted malt come together but is rather bland. With some warming I get a big tootsie roll taste that is not huge but makes for a good sweetness. Sometimes I get alot of tootsie roll which is not good, but it works here.

Medium bodied with a low amount of carbonation, well this is a port beer so it's to be expected. A bit hoppy with some small bitterness in this fresh bottle. The ten percent is not in the taste at all but it's still high so sharing a bottle might be more doable. Hopefully next ear is better.

Photo of cpetrone84
3.93/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 Bomber

A-very deep black color, almost a jet black but it does seem to have a slight brownish tone (so slight) with a deep caramel brown colored head that is pretty thin and doesn't really leave a lacing

S-not huge in the aroma department, the biggest smell is a roasted malt that is backed by light amounts of chocolate and coffee

T-the taste mirrors the nose, big roasted malt flavor, a hint of malt sweetness, some chocolate, not really much coffee in the taste, there is a light citrus balance towards the back

M-this is so thick and viscous, it is quite smooth down the throat but there is a hit of burn from the carbonation at the back. the alcohol, however, is hidden pretty well, just a hint towards the finish

D-it is decent to drink, the taste is pretty nice, nothing special, and is so thick which is nice. However, I couldn't drink two or I'd be completely stuffed.

Photo of mmmbeer
3.35/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz. bottle, brewed with 2-row, wheat, US and UK crystal, roast, black and chocolate malt. Hopped with Phoenix, Challenger and East Kent Goldings, and fermented with WLP001 and their house strain. It settles to a jet-black body, with a thin khaki head that dissipates with time and leaves no real lacing. Alcohol, chocolate and licorice lead off in the nose, followed by molasses, coffee, leather?, tobacco?, and some dark fruits. The boozy character fades with time, but doesn't disappear. On the palate, the loads of dark malts lend an acidic tone to the brew, along with a dose of chocolate. There's also some green hoppy flavors, a pretty good bitterness, a sweet backdrop and some late esters. Warming and drying, with a long finish, but a little thinner than I would like. This is too young for full enjoyment - it needs time for the alcohol to mellow and the flavors to marry. Perhaps a year or two in the cellar would do the trick.

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

A - Poured a black color with a brown head that fades quickly but leaves lacing behind

S - Is of roasted malt that give off chocolate scents and a hint of alcohol

T - Pretty much follows the nose for the most part the alcohol is less noticeable in the taste

M - This beer has a fuller body with medium carbonation to it

D - I enjoyed this beer quite a bit but it tastes like it has a higher abv than it does its still worth checking out though

Photo of rhinos00
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass. 2008 vintage.

A- Pours a dark, charcoal black color. Produced half fingers width of cocoa colored head, dissipated instantly. Zero clarity.

S- Molasses and burnt malts are all that I smell. Just nit complex enough or appealing for that matter.

T- As this warmed it became much better. Chocolate malts along with a slightly charred character are the first to hit the palate. I was afraid that the burnt quality would be overdone, but it is barely noticeable in the taste. Midway through molasses flavors come through, transitioning the way into a semi-sweet finish.

M- Medium to heavy bodied. Good carbonation for a RIS. Could have been a touch more viscous. Finishes on the dry side.

D- Pretty drinkable. Alcohol is not really a factor here.

Overall, a pretty solid RIS. If I had this available to me on a regular basis I would have one every now and then. Since I am in Ohio, I'll probably just leave it alone.

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

2009 Bottle

A: I poured all of this baby into a 24oz snifter. Thick, black body with a nice, finger's-width brown head. After a few minutes the head fell to about half it's original size but stayed right about there for the rest of this beer.

S: Very malty with a big aroma of dark, roasty chocolate. The alcohol wasnt as present as I was expecting. I think i may have even picked up a hint of vanilla in there.

T: Great blend of toasted black malts, a bit of sweeter caramel malts and lucious chocolate malt. The finish was very nice. Just about all chocolate. Again the alcohol was very subdued.

M: Nice creamy body. Very smooth. Carbonation was just noticeable enough to pair perfectly with the viscous body. Finish leaves a nice wet feel which I would prefer from a beer like this.

D: I enjoyed this beer very very much. I liked it a lot better this year then i remember from years past. Opened an 08 recently but the 09 was head and shoulders above the 08. I guess the fact that I easily drank the entire bottle says a lot.

Photo of wknight167
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Apearance - Pours opaque black with 1 finger tan head that slowly fades to a crown and leaves some great lacing.

Nose- Roast malt, chocolate and coffee are all strong. It makes my mouth water.

Palate- Chocolate then coffee, sweet then bitter. The bitter is a combination of coffee, darkchocolate and hops all wonderfully balanced. Alcoholic warming is acceptable.

Mouthfeel- Creamy full bodied with medium to low carbonation.

Drinkability- Great beer for a cold night.

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

OK, so it was summer when I tried this! What's wrong with some Christmas in July?! The colour was absolute black with no head. The aroma was coffee and sweet malt with brown sugar. The palate had loads more coffee with plenty of bittersweet chocolate, bitter edges and a very long finish that went on and on and on!

Photo of bulletrain76
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle, 2008 vintage. Near black with a small beige head. Dark chocolate, dried fruit, and hoppy aroma. The flavor has plenty of hop bitterness and some dark chocolate, with dried fruit and alcohol. Full-bodied, but not too thick for style. A hoppy and bitter version of the style, but with a nice malt character.

Photo of jsh420
4.85/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2009 edition 10%abv

pours as close as you cn get to jet black - with a 1+ finger tan head that leaves rings of lacing down the glass

smell is big with roasted and chocolate malts

taste is amazing - it is very sweet - but rich roasteed malts milk chocolate and some coffee - some dark fruits come in on the end

mouthfeel is perfect - when i drink a RIS i want a heavy body with a smooth creamy feel to it and this beer delivers

drinkability is crazy - i think i could have drank another bomber but then i would not have been able to function

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

Sample at the Most Honorable SuperHappyFun Stout Tasting. Bottle from Park Lane Liquor in Lancaster, CA. This beer pours pitch black with a medium and foamy light brown head that diminishes slowly. Rings of lacing on the glass. Chocolate, coffee and vanilla in the nose. Full-bodied with flavors of coffee, cocoa and roasted malt, plus some vanilla and raisins. The finish is rich and flavorful with a nice vanilla mocha aftertaste. Good all around.

Photo of mikey711
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008 bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Dark black and syrupy thick with a minimal amount of brown head that dissappated rather quickly

S: Big coffee and roasty notes. Some bitter chocolate.

T: Starts out with some bitter chocolate and coffee. Very roasty as well, but also fairly simple. Good amount of bitter and sweet balance though

M: Very full and creamy. The flavor is really rich but it is not the most complex.

D: A snifter seems like the right amount

Photo of TheKingsOfHop
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz bomber poured into snifter glasses:

A: The body has blackened center with a brown silhoutte where the light tries to shine through. A tan foam encircles the top of this stout.

S: We seem to be having difficulty trying to depict the nuances of this brew. There is mostly hints of bittersweet dark chocolate with some fig, vanilla and roasted coffee beans.

T: Extremely bittersweet; there is some definite heat from the alcohol but not overbearing. There is alot of coffee with in the palate with notes of burt caramel.

M: Alot of heat from the 10% ABV comes through on this medium body RIS. There is only a little carbonation as well.

D: It is very rich but enjoyable. Try and find one that has already been aged.

The Kings of Hop

Photo of kingsdirt
3.73/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

tHIS 22 ended up in the sinner program for lost abbey...
A.. Used motor oil, solid ruby trim and limited carbonation.

S.. Bourbon, vanilla, lite smoke

T.. Vanilla, bourbon, wood, alcohol

P.. bIG, Alcohol bite, bourbon wood.

O.. Solid beer. The bourbon was strong and I love that profile so I am a bit biased. The dessert that accompanied this beverage was a sugary,peanut, chocolate, stout cookie and a small glass of Sazarac RYE. Boozie fun...

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

Big thanks to Jw347 for this one. 2008 vintage.

Pours a pitch black impenetrable dark death with a nice tan head that takes a vigorous pour to form, but retains well and leaves good lacing once built.

Nose is pretty heavy on chocolate and roasted malt. A bit of grain, and some very slight coffee.

Hmmm! A very nice imperial stout! Early signals are full of chocolate. Roasted malt starts to rise after that, and continues to do so throughout. Towards the finish, some slight coffee bean comes out, but the roasted malt is what really begins to take over. On the finish there is a combination of factors attributing to a nice bitterness, those being roasted malt, coffee bean like bitterness, and a medium hop presence.

Mouthfeel is pretty much right where it should be. A nice chewy, viscous beer, not soupy, but definitely full bodied. Carbonation is right where it should be, despite having to raise the bottle quite high on the pour to produce a nice head.

Drinkability is pretty good for the style, and about what you would expect for the abv.

Overall a very fine imperial stout. An excellent example of the style without getting too crazy. I love how all the factors you look for in an imperial stout kind of contribute during different parts of the ride across the palate. Really much better than i expected. I would love to see how this one is with even a little bit more age on it. Could go for a year or two more i'd say. A very nice imperial stout.

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.82/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on 7/21/09. 2008 bottle. Pours black with a thick tan head. Aroma of sweet chocolate, molasses, nougat, and roasted malt. Flavor is sweet and rich initially, lots of molasses, toffee, and chocolate. Slight booziness. Overall, this is a decent imperial stout.

Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 1,301 ratings.