Santa's Little Helper - Port Brewing

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

1,348 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,348
Reviews: 563
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.45%
Wants: 78
Gots: 219 | FT: 6
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: Boilermaker88 on 12-11-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,348 | Reviews: 563
Photo of scotorum
4.26/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Cellared this for a year, perhaps a mistake since it's an Imperial, but perhaps the base flavor will be improved at the expense of the loss of any hop flavor.

Cute label graphic of either a silhouetted Santa (?) and Rudolph hoisting brews at a bar tended by an elf holding a candy cane aloft.

Poured from the 22 oz. bomber into a Samuel Smith English tulip.

a: Opaque black with slight ruby highlights when seen through light. Enormous three inch tall tan head dissipated slowly to rocky surface foam and patchy lacing. First pour only filled 40% of the pint glass, the rest was head.

s: Mild dark malt.

t: Smooth dark roasty malt with considerable balncing hop bite. Bitterness lingers at the sides of the tongue, lessens gradually. Bitter finish which mellows out later.

m; Medium to full, silky smooth body, lots of carbonation tingle.

o; Cellaring does not seem to have hurt this powerful brew. Bitterness builds somewhat and the high ABV becomes more evident early on. But it's a helluva holiday beverage which packs a big flavor, hop and alcohol wallup.

Photo of JamesBondGA
4/5  rDev -0.5%

Pours an almost black color, with an inch plus foam. Very Foamy! Caramel and coffee notes.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.66/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle poured into a tumbler. Bottled 9/12/2012. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Black with a nice mocha head and a thick layer of foam that remains.

Smell - Roasty chocolate malt. Very roasty. Simple, but good.

Taste - Lots of roasted malt. Bitter chocolate and coffee. Intensely roasty and bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - A little boozy and the finish is a little harsh from the intensity of the roast.

Overall - It pushes the line of too one-dimensional on the roasted malt flavor, but it still works.

Photo of tmzl
4.06/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Taste-off: Santa's Little Helper (S) vs. Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged (SBBA)

Look:
S: Pours with a huge, thick, creamy, billowy mocha head, has a good slow, equal retention (breakdown of medium sized bubbles). A very thick, medium-sized, creamy layer stays on top. Dark brown, heavy pour, fair amount of lacing.
SBBA: The head is a lot smaller, higher degree of medium/big bubbles, mocha head a bit lighter. Has a faster retention, mostly diminishing. Looks a bit more transparent and watery.

Smell:
S: Cherry, dark fruit on opening, dominating roast, coffee and milk chocolate, stuffy, mostly dark malt driven. Light sourness, bit salty, soy sauce and some cookie dough.
SBBA: More dark fruit esters on opening, then goes to rum-kokos Casali chocolates with a lot of oak, vanilla. Roast, milk chocolate more on the side here. Alcohol with booze feeling, oak the most dominant aroma here.

Taste:
S: Light acidity and molasses, burned sugar start with fruity forest esters. A bit rum-like transition into milky, dark malt medium sweetness that ends with medium dark coffee bitterness, it's well developed. Small boozy spike towards the end.
SBBA: Bourbon oak dominates this one. Medium molasses, burned sugar sweet start with acidity turned down, the middle, which is overrun with oak dominance, a bit of milky backbone felt, but a lot more subtle. Ends with strong bourbon oak spike that dominates the after with turned down roast, coffee bitterness and alcohol.

Mouthfeel:
S: Full, light heavy body, soft carbonation lingers on the tongue, quite pleasant.
SBBA: A bit lighter on the body (higher alcohol), light warmth, no carbonation to detect.

Overall:
The non-barrel aged version is a lot smoother and very drinkable. Solid, not too demanding take on imperial stouts. The bourbon one is a lot sluttier, the oak is (too) heavy and goes down a lot slower. The age in barrels didn't make it better IMO.

Photo of ONUMello
3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle dated 8/20/13 poured into a pint glass
A: Pitch black with a 2+ finger mocha-colored head
S: Roasted coffee, roasted malt, cocoa, though a touch muted
T: Largely matches the nose, a noticeable bitterness from the coffee & cocoa comes through as well. Perhaps a touch one-dimensional but tasty
M: Full bodied/dry/bitter
O: Worth a try and a decent beer. Of the RIS I've had some have been better, this is right in the middle of the pack

Photo of metter98
3.72/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A:The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a finger high tan colored head that died down but consistently left a short head covering the surface, a collar around the edge, and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light aromas of chocolate and roasted malts are present in the nose; the taste becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
T: The taste mostly follows the smell and also has hints of burnt malts. A little acidity and licorice are noticeable towards the finish, which also has a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels medium bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O:it seems that you really need to let this beer warm up as the complexion in the beer become stronger.

Photo of blindtiger24
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bomber poured into a pint glass.

A: Not quite obsidian with a slight brown hue. Mocha head with stripping on the side of the pint glass. Active carbonation flowing from the bottom of the glass and collecting in the head.

S: Coffee, vanilla, boozy bourbon, coca nibs, rum soaked rasins, fruit cake, roasted malts.

T: Semi-sweet and bitter chocolate, cereal grains, toasted malts, vanilla and slight caramel flavors. A bit of hoppy bitterness as well at the end. There's a noticeable and almost overwhelming saltiness as well.

M: Creamy and a little syrupy. A little drying on the finish and boozy on the back of the throat.

O: A pleasant but flawed imperial stout that has complex aromas and taste. The saltiness was too much in my opinion and took away from my overall enjoyment.

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.49/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

split a bottle of this with my bro - poured into British pints

A: jet black liquid, exceptionally voluminous foam (wondering if the bottle was infected), some messy swirls of foam that linger, very little lace

S: kind of a mess of aromas, all somewhat muted, seemingly cancelling each other out.... soft scent of roasted barley atop sweetish, cookie-esque malts, Munich in there perhaps.... the roasted and dark malts are mellow while a subtle, somewhat vinous, somewhat medicinal booze creeps up from the back

T: super-dense malts, only marginal roast character.... bit of that odd vinous alcohol squashed in below... not much of a funky or infected quality, as I feared.... overall, the taste is fine, just kind of pedestrian and boring, dull even... bit of a mineral tinge in the finish.... my bro didn't even want to finish his....

M: sense of great fullness though it lacked viscosity, finishing heavy and fairly dry

O: I'd previously tried the bourbon-barrel aged version of this twice - which I thought wasn't too shabby - but having tried this, I can see that the base beer itself seems to lack refinement and/or distinction

Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a Belgian tulip.

A- Dark khaki-colored head forms three to four fingers thick... Huge carbonation bottles amid the head... Very frothy and chewy... Dark, espresso-like liquid... Very nice to look at.

S- Dark roasted malt, sweet malts and cream, hints of chocolate and coffee.

T- Much more happening on the flavor as opposed to the nose. Baker's chocolate is prominent and lingers on the finish and this is something I can rarely resist. Some booze can be tasted on the tongue as well. The middle is sweet and creamy, very reminiscent of a milk stout, but boozier. As a matter of fact, I do even get oak and bourbon notes. Also, as the beer warms, vanilla and toffee notes emerge as well.

M- The beer is slightly astringent due to prominent booze, so this is a bit of negative. However, the sweetness and creamy, thick mouthfeel are a plus. The beer gets much creamier as it warms as well.

Overall a good beer, but one enjoyed much more as it warms. The booziness resides and the beer becomes more expressive.

Photo of IPAdams
3.99/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance- Pours pitch black with a thick and creamy tan head that lingers through the entire time.

Smell-Roasted malts, a bit of chocolate and herbal hops. Not a very strong smell.

Taste- Starts off with a taste of root beer and chocolate. As It warms I get some bittersweet chocolate, black coffee and herbal/pepper hops. Very balanced.

Mouthfeel- Full bodied and creamy with good carbonation for the style.

Overall- Very good beer. The flavors really come out as the beer warms, very drinkable despite the high abv.

Photo of travolta
4.06/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Massive head on this imperial stout. Tons of rocky volume. Leopard spotted lacing. Great head retention. Beautiful head.

Nose: Chalky, malty, chocolate, with some slight bourbon vanilla at the end. Some tiny oak charcoal at the end as well.

Taste: Great mouthfeel. It is bitter, but balanced in malty sweetness. Unsweetened cocoa, some alcohol heat in the middle which carries through. It has some alcohol hotness and ether. A tiny bot of raisin in the middle and end.

Notes: What an imperial stout should be; a slap in the face.

Photo of Altrurian
4.58/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Delivered in all its burnt umber opacity in a conical pint glass from the tap at Monk's Cafe. A thin, tight, dark tan head caps it, leaving a fetching, persistent coating on the glass as it recedes in succeeding circles with each sip. The taste is surprisingly free of cloying sweetness: full-bodied, but almost sprightly compared with what I was expecting. Further analysis reveals a backbone of bitter baking chocolate, moderated by dark bread notes. A mature, subtly bitter aftertaste rounds it out. Pillowy mouthfeel. A delight.

Photo of mjmadden
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a jet black with a slight oil and dank characteristic with a slight tan head out of a 22oz bottle. Smells of malts, coffee, dark chocolate, toffee, and a hint of dark fruit. Taste is chewy (in a good way) with flavors of dark chocolate, espresso, toffee, and toffee. This is a full bodied beer with a lot of dankness to the mouthfeel. This was a really enjoyable brew almost a slight twist of older viscosity (a personal favorite), am definitly going to try to grab another bottle before I head back east.

Photo of Aaron_Ramson
4.44/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich, oily jet black with a frothy mocha head. Strong nose of leather, anise, burnt caramel, baking chocolate. Flavors of licorice, sweet espresso, and molasses. This is a very smooth and tasty RIS, almost like an American Brown on steroids. Would drink again!

Photo of Paincane
3.43/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A%3A Almost black body in color with foamy khaki head %26 great lace. Excellent head retention. %0AS%3A Nose is dominated by smoky roasted malt%2C coffee %26 chocolate. %0AT%3A Flavors follow nose with burnt sugar%2C ethanol%2C smokiness %26 malt%2C malt and more malt. Coffee and bittersweet chocolate notes accent the back end. %0AM%3A Chewy%2C big and warming.%0AO%3A A big RIS that definitely warms the winter chill.

Photo of WoodBrew
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Santa's Little Helper....is a big beer and one bottle will be enough to help anyone pass the time with in-laws! The beer poured a opaque black with big foamy tan head that is lacing like a naughty Ms. Klaus. The scent is a typical of most stouts....roasty with touches of coffee. The taste is a warmer fo shizzle. There is a strong roast quality with hints of espresso and perhaps chocolate....the abv...numbs the pallet. The mouthfeel is full bodies and big carbonation....which I think is affecting the taste somewhat....perhaps a tinge overprimed. Overall this is a winter warmer sipping by the fire beer. No way one can session this bad boy.

Photo of HopBomb515
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Nice beer to pour, big coffee/khaki colored head with some fallout as it builds. Head holds on for a while and laces as it dissipates. Nice lacing on the drink down. Pretty beer.

S - Malt, malt, coffee, malt, burnt sugar, malt, and a touch of chocolate.

T - Huge malt bill to this beer, burnt and slightly smokey, burnt sugar mid palate finishing with a nicely bittering coffee and chocolate combo. Taste is nice but somewhat disjointed. It never really came together it just went from one nuance to the next.

M - Full body and chewy with appropriate carbonation.

O - I really enjoyed this beer. Nice holiday RIS. Not a RIS I would seek outside of the holidays but for the season I really enjoyed it as a change of pace.

Photo of Joshpu
3.71/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bomber to a snifter.

A: Poured black with a two finger brown head.

S: Faint roastiness. Slight coffee/chocolate. Smell is not that big.

T: Roasty malts, lots of smokiness/charred flavors. Almost a chalky taste as well. Chocolate/coffee is distinguishable, but everything tastes very burnt or smoked. Seems like it carries a lot of hop bitterness as well.

M: Medium bodied. Slightly above average carbonation. Bitter and almost spicy finish.

Overall a good stout but nothing I would seek out again. The flavors just seem to battle eachother. I thought it did get better as it warmed though.

Photo of McStagger
3.82/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Fairly aggressive pour leads to a monstrous head. Three fingers. (10% abv, no less) Beer is jet black. Retention is moderate, with stellar lacing. Head is a dark espresso creme/leather.

S: Chocolate, raisins. Some woody/leathery notes. Deep undertones of espresso, licorice and malted chocolate.

T: Fairly sweet up front. Mid palate is engulfed with a huge roasted barley bitterness. Lots of coffee, chicory and astringency. Some dark fruit, smokiness and a tiny trace of chocolate are in there as well. Finish is woodsy, herbal and peppery, with discernable heat. Aftertaste of chicory.

M: Fairly light, especially considering the style. Oily, a bit slick. However, the carbonation is a bit obtrusive and tickles the tonge. Not quite as creamy or viscous as one would imagine a beer of this magnitude to be.

O: This one is decent. It's a bit harsh in its bitterness and the mouthfeel is somewhat lacking. There are much better RIS's out there.

Photo of Glennlawless
3.11/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass

A- Poured a thick black with a 2 inch brown head. looks heavy as hell.

S- Getting hints of coffee, dark fruit and maybe some dark chocolate. Touch of booze as well.

T/M - getting all the same as the nose....plus some bittering hops on the back end.

Overall.... I was expecting some Christmas fall spices to be happening all im really getting is darkfruit, bitterness, and a ton of alcohol heat. This beer kinda let me down. Also not to big into russian imperials, but if you are give it a try cause the people that are into these, really really dig this beer.

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.91/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

enjoyed 2011 and 2013 vintages side by side. this drinks better fresh than aged, with the older one losing a lot of its body and pop. deep dense brown color, not as viscous as some big stouts, but not by any means thin. it doesn't hold on to its inch of mocha foam very long either, but it looks tasty enough. nose of burnt barley, milk chocolate, and English style hops. not as dark as some, but the booze is well disguised, at least in the nose, and a residual sweetness abounds. the flavor starts with the heavy roasted barley and moves into a coffee and hop bitterness complex, before finally being rounded out by a little candy sweetness as it finishes. I like this, but ill bet the bourbon barrel addition has a few more layers that make it amazing. as this one stands, it could use a little more body, maybe some oatmeal or something. also, nothing about it really says Christmas to me, no spice or anything, so its hard to judge it in that context. heck of a buzz on it too, better to share this than drink it solo.

Photo of beergoot
3.74/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Review taken from notes dated 12/7/13 during BAs 1st annual Winter Warmer Pub Crawl: Denver Style. This beer was poured at the Star Bar in LoDo.

Deep, dark body with a thin yet creamy head. Aroma and taste came across as slightly spicy with bitter chocolate notes. Medium body; semi-dry finish.

A rich, boozy, pleasantly bitter beer with a mild holiday spiciness.

Update: 1-8-2014 - updates based on a 22 oz bomber bottle. Upped the 'Smell' rating from 3.5 to 3.75 (richer, more pronounced character).

Photo of Furlinator
3.57/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 08/13/13.

Pours opaque black with a huge 2 inch tan head that settles to a thick cap on top and leaves heavy lace. Near perfection.

Smell starts off strangely bitter, almost metallic with faint coffee and a hint of vanilla.

Taste is of roasted malt, coffee and faint chocolate with a hoppy bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is heavy bodied and thick with medium carbonation

This Imperial Stout looks and feels beautiful but, there is something in the aroma and taste that is slightly bitter, somewhat metallic and is out of place and unsettling.

Photo of DefenCorps
3.92/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank you, Jared. Bottled 9/12/12, consumed Thanksgiving night.

Pouring jet black with a dense, dark brown head with excellent retention and lacing. The nose is excellent. Big, roasted malt character with mild acridity (pleasantly so, lending a nice acidity), there's cocoa, cream and a pleasant coffee grounds character. Mildly hoppy with an earthy and faintly herbal note, this really is a very nicely done straight up RIS. On the palate, the blend of roasted malt, burnt toast, black patent bitterness and acidity dominate, enhancing the unsweetened cocoa character that's present. Faintly creamy, this really is all about dark malts without any unnecessary sweetness. Medium-full in body with moderate, creamy carbonation, this beer finishes long, dry and roasty with more than a modest grainy bitterness. Enjoyable, recommended.

Photo of ISmith87
3.77/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - 4 - Nice dark brown/black opaque, with tan head that lasts forever and leaves nice lacing on the glass.
S - 3.75 - Nice roasty chocolate malt taste, coffee, espresso, roasted malts, but then some vinegar - not sure where it's coming from, but it sucks.
T - 3.75 - Pretty rank vinegar taste up front accompanied by some roasty dark malts. Coffee, espresso, not that great.
M - 3.75 - Nice roasty taste upfront, alc completely covered, aftertaste roasty chocolate malts. Alc covered. Medium - heavy mouhtfeel
O - 3.75 - YEa, it's alright, but not the best.

Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 1,348 ratings.