Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

Santa's Little Helper - Port Brewing

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

554 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 554
Hads: 1,356
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 9.8%
Wants: 77
Gots: 225 | 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: Boilermaker88 on 12-11-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 554 | Hads: 1,356
Photo of IPAdams
3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
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. (523 characters)

Photo of travolta
4.06/5  rDev +2%
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. (546 characters)

Photo of Altrurian
4.58/5  rDev +15.1%
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. (532 characters)

Photo of mjmadden
4.3/5  rDev +8%
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. (512 characters)

Photo of Aaron_Ramson
4.44/5  rDev +11.6%
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! (268 characters)

Photo of Paincane
3.43/5  rDev -13.8%
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. (421 characters)

Photo of WoodBrew
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
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. (645 characters)

Photo of HopBomb515
4.1/5  rDev +3%
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. (732 characters)

Photo of Joshpu
3.71/5  rDev -6.8%
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. (610 characters)

Photo of McStagger
3.82/5  rDev -4%
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. (955 characters)

Photo of Glennlawless
3.11/5  rDev -21.9%
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. (590 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
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. (1,023 characters)

Photo of beergoot
3.74/5  rDev -6%
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). (504 characters)

Photo of Furlinator
3.57/5  rDev -10.3%
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. (556 characters)

Photo of DefenCorps
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
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. (834 characters)

Photo of ISmith87
3.77/5  rDev -5.3%
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. (560 characters)

Photo of Fatehunter
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours three fingers of tan head on a pitch black body.
The aroma is loaded. Roasted and burnt malt, coffee, dark chocolate and milk chocolate.
The flavor is complex but still balanced. Alcohol heat, roasted malt, chocolate, mild coffee bitterness and finishes with a chocolate bitter note.
The texture has some stickiness to it; crisper with soft edges with moderate carbonation.
Excellent. (390 characters)

Photo of evanforbeer
4.27/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

pours a deep black with big angry beautiful light brown head, bottle date 9/28/13

aroma- vanilla, dark cherries, cocoa, little oily coffee

taste- follows with some bold coffee bean, cocoa, vanilla, dark cherries, some hops come through with orange rind and some floral notes, finishes with some oak, cocoa and char

feel- great imp stout, medium-full bodied, fairly boozy

what a great brew. I'm going to have to pick up the bourbon barrel aged version soon. I'd also love to compare this to Old Viscosity, but this is great (526 characters)

Photo of Brenden
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This big brew is up to the style standards by the look of it. It's very dark brown, close to black with a little ruddiness in the very edges. It grows a firm tan head that shows lots of resilience, sticking it out at a finger for the duration. Patching is thick and clings in plenty.
This beer's flavor follows the smell stingily. It's nice and robust, well on par for what's perhaps the biggest beer style in the world in terms of heft (sometimes ABV, but of course that varies). This one's got lots of malt fortitude, laying lots of flavor on a hefty base while maintaining similarities to a big Scotch ale (Wee Heavy), as though an Imperial Stout and a Wee Heavy had a baby and added some extra hops for measure. It's smoky, earthy and peaty with a piney aftertaste that, in the context, does just work, with a sort of meaty smokiness leading into the finish. Check the previous; this may have been a threesome with a Rauchbier.
The feel is medium-heavy, the body just falling shy of full, and it's got a bit of a bite to it. Crispness doesn't supercede smoothness, but they're even. (1,086 characters)

Photo of IAmAPenguin
3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Aroma - Definite chocolate malt, dark roast characteristics, slight licorice, distinct coffee bean.
Appearance - Jet black with a mocha foam and decent lace.
Taste - Tons of deep chocolate, fudge, cocoa overtones with dark roast, campfire, burnt sugar, burnt caramel, charcoal and slick molasses. Overall, this is a dark roasty treat. Very nice, rich stout. (357 characters)

Photo of pkalix
4.59/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

beautiful super dark brown color with ultra creamy chocolate-milk head. Guinness-like coating on the glass and a wonderful barrel-type of aroma mixed with some fairly typical coffee and chocolate nibs... smells a tad like a bourbon barrel-aged brew, but it says 'oak' on the label....
very good so far... except for the Total Wine store OVERCHARGING me on this.... so let's see what it tastes like...
thick(er), bitter (a little), alcohol presence, and the typical stout flavor. the 'barrel' part of the flavor is fairly pronounced but does not detract from the overall flavors. typical espresso, dark bitter chocolate, maybe some licorice... vanilla.... get some 'bourbon' from it although there is no claim to the bourbon barrel... some distinct alcohol heat but it IS 10%, and not all of them can disguise it so well....
I've seen this on the shelves before but never tied it. probably due to the 'cartoon-like' label.... hard to take them all so seriously, ya know. this is a good one; better than average, but not quite outstanding, if ya know what I mean... I have my standards for 'outstanding' these days.... unfortunately it costs a proportional amount of money for them....
this is a beautiful-looking brew when poured; can I find it on draught, I wonder? (1,265 characters)

Photo of KYGunner
3.66/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thick black and viscous , this poured like oil into the snifter and left a bold brown head.

The scent seems one dimensional with a nice balanced chocolate aroma but I strain to find much else.

The flavors are awash in alcohol but chocolate, malt and a light caramel stand out.

The metallic tang of alcohol seems to leave an inprint on the feel as well but it does have a nice fullness to the swallow.

This seemed to be less than stellar and might have simply been this one bottle, unfortunately they are hard to come by. (525 characters)

Photo of BeerDawgs
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A bomber dated 8 - 2011, so this one has aged 2 years.

A - Pitch black, or charcoal according to the bottle. Lots of tan head, sticky lace on glass. Looks like motor oil! Impressive.

S - Coffee, dark grains, booze.

T - Big coffee/chocolate. Sweet, but not too much. Alcohol well hidden. Tasty!

M - Big bodied.

O - An excellent Imperial Stout. A little highly priced, but will definitely shell out for a pint around Christmas time. (438 characters)

Photo of shleepy
3.71/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into a trappist-style ("chalice") glass. My bottle said 12% ABV, so it seems like the recipe has changed since the beer was created.

A: Black, with very dark head.

S: Chocolate milk, faint vanilla.

T: More "spicy" than I'd like, with noticeable hot alcohol. Other than that, it's got chocolate and coffee notes.

M: Fairly creamy and smooth.

O: For such a strong beer, does not seem to be complex enough, and the hot alcohol is off-putting. Maybe I'm just not feeling it tonight, but I am not finding it pleasant at the moment. (550 characters)

Photo of pants678
3.06/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Bottle of 2012.

Black with a big, dense frothy head. Belgian-y.

Coffee. There's the slightest buried sweet chocolate. I think I never smelled chocolate before beer.

Coffee. Lot of coffee. Too much coffee. Hard to call this rich but it's rough and so hot. This is a lot to handle and there's nothing else going on here. Iced coffee is easier. If you let it sit there's just a tinge of caramel. There are some beers you feel challenged by but, for whatever reason, this isn't it.

Creamy but has a hot back end. (513 characters)

Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 554 ratings.