Santa's Little Helper - Port Brewing

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Santa's Little HelperSanta's Little Helper

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1,239 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,239
Reviews: 551
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.72%
Wants: 78
Gots: 198 | 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: 1,239 | Reviews: 551 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this brew from thethrone, Thanks Adam!

22oz bottle, dated 2008, served in a tulip glass.

L - black color with a small brown head that left 'ring-trails' of lacing.

S - dark fruit and roasted malt aroma.

T - rich, creamy sweet taste upfront followed with a bitter chocolate taste and espresso-like finish.

F - smooth and creamy full bodied stout.

D - smooth and easy to drink. Drink slowly, as to fully enjoy this tasty treat.

Photo of brewone
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours with very low head and little carbonation. Color is dark, as expected and no light gets through at all.

First smell is peppermint with some background of fruity yeast character and just a touch of hop aroma. Cocoa, caramel, raisins, figs, chocolate, roast malt all show up in the aroma. The only thing that doesn't belong is just a hint of soy sauce.

Flavor is excellent! The chocolate, roast and caramel meld into a fantastic, enjoyable drink. No peppermint as in the aroma, but the raisin and fig flavors are there also, but not dominant. Hop bitterness is moderate and hop flavor is low. There is an earthy quality to the hop flavor which works very nicely in this beer.

Medium full body is accentuated by the low carbonation. This beer with more gas would probably not be quite as drinkable. Even with the strong alcohol content, this beer would be tough to walk away from.

Photo of NEhophead
3.65/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 fl oz brown bottle; served in a snifter.
Vintage 2008.

Inky, opaque deep brown, molasses in color beneath a delicate caramel head. A thin layer of film works outward to the snifter's rim. Very faint lacing if any.

Semi-sweet, rich dark chocolate and caramel. Very fragrant earthen, floral hops; notes of tobacco. Cherry and plum with virtually no traces of the 10.0% abv. More earthen aromatics than what I was expecting from a Russian Imperial Stout.

Rich, chewy, roasted maltiness with milk and dark chocolate flavors, as well as somewhat bittered caramel. Earthen, chewy hops with a slight mustiness. Following the mouthful of hops is a wave of young, sharply acidic alcohol. Stagnant alcohol and powdered chocolate in the aftertaste following a slick finish.

Full in body; chewy and rough prior to the slick alcohol presence by mid-sip.

The flavors come across as extremely bulky. My guess is that this is partly due to the unbalanced, straight-forward alcohol presence. Based on the positive feedback, I am disappointed as this one falls short in aroma, flavor, texture, and drinkability.

Photo of HopHobo
3.65/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 22oz. bottle into an oversized Duvel tulip

A-pours jet black with a little over a one finger head that diminished to a thin lacing after the first drink. Head is tanish brown, with low carbonation totally appropriate for a RIS. Little to no lacing left on the glass as I drink this beer

S-not much to report here, smells of bitter chocolate, sweet sugar and alcohol

T&M-Taste is much the same as the smell, sweet tasting witt a bitter chocolate aftertaste. Alcohol is very prevalent from the time it hits my mouth to the time I swallow it. I would have enjoyed a little more roasted profile with the malts. Overall, the beer is very thin which is an immediate turn off for me. I like my RIS to have a nice malt backbone.

D-This is not a bad beer by any means, but when compared to some of the great RIS and double stout out there it just doesn't stack up. I probably wouldn't drink this one again.

Photo of BeerImmediately
4.25/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wow, my 100th review. Good for me...

Aggressive pour yields a faintly growing, but thin tan head, quickly pulling to the sides and leaving just a light lacing. What color do you THINK it is? And opaque? Of course.

Roasted maltiness, dark coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and brown suger. Inviting...

Tasted like rich chocolate truffles, blended with Peet's Arabian Mocha-Java coffee, and a drop of molasses. Good bitterness in the finish to balance this beaut.

Mouthfeel was terrific - good bite, and just creamy and rich enough in the balance to keep you wanting more.

For a 10% RIS, this is great on the drinkability scale. And holy freaking crap, is this good with cheesecake.

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

Santa has come and gone but his little helper was still in the fridge. Time to find out what this beer is all about...

2008 vintage, 10% ABV.

Pours into a curvy Sam Adams glass almost black in color with just a hint of redish brown edges. The tiny bit of tan head is gone quickly with no lacing to speak of.

Aroma is roasted malts above all else but with a certain underlying hoppiness that isn't too common in the style.

Flavor is really well done with the roasted malts giving tastes of bitter chocolate, french roast coffee, port wine, and oak. It starts sweet but the bitterness from roasted malt and hops creeps up on the palate and finishes with a pretty swift punch.

Mouthfeel is really good being creamy full-bodied but not overly thick.

Drinkability is very good. The strength will inevitably catch up with me but the first few sips go down with ease.

Not a winter warmer or Christmas beer as the label would suggest but a very good all-around russian imperial stout.

Photo of robbyc1
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A good looking Stout, black with tan head notes.

Great nose of chocolate and malt, a roastiness to seek for this type.

Flavor follows as this is one big stout, brewed nicely for the season, nothing fancy, just loads of malt with chocolate, tobacco, coffee notes.

Full and creamy, not much better than this.

Really overpowering but great, one would be enough, a full 22ozer that is!

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

Was given to me as a Christmas gift from my girlfriends parents. She's a keeper.

Black in color with a dark brown, the liquid is a little watery looking though. No head or foam. The aroma is black barely dipped marshmellows. Plus black currants and roasted plums in espresso. Alcoholic marshmellow espresso hit the tastebuds first. Roasted currants and plums, plus a few chestnuts. Very roasted and warm. Nutty and fruity espresso with some noticeable but well integrated alcohol. The kind of warmth leaves a happy feeling in the bottom of your throat.

Photo of Reagan1984
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage consumed "fresh" I have another bottle in the cellar for next year.

Poured with a thin tan head that faded rather quickly. Even with an aggressive pour there not much of a head formed. No lacing to speak of. Virtually pitch black. Dark brown hues at the edges.

Aroma was of dark roasted malts, dark chocolate with some slight boozy notes.. A little lighter than I would have imagined, but nice none the less.

Nice dark chocolate notes, rather smooth and well balanced. A bit of spice with the roasted malts working nicely with a nice level of sweetness.

The mouth feel was big and the body was thick. A bit of a warming feeling from the alcohol.

A sipper and one to have with dessert. Very drinkable. Does not hide the alcohol as well as some others. I'm looking forward to see what this is like with a little age on it.

Very good and very enjoyable. One to sip when sitting in front of the fire.

Photo of barefootbrewer
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a dark brown (almost black) color with a thin head. A few bubbles stuck around, but it mostly dissipated quickly. The aroma was coffee, malt and spicy ( we couldn't peg the spice - perhaps a spicy hop). The taste was bitter, malty and coffee with that undetermined spice note yielding to a slight welcoming alcohol bite. The mouthfeel is full and lush with a slick aftertaste. This is a fantastic beer. Would love to come across it more often.

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.

Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 1,239 ratings.