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Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged - Port Brewing

Not Rated.
Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel AgedSanta's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

177 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 177
Hads: 547
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 8.44%
Wants: 50
Gots: 179 | FT: 9
Brewed by:
Port Brewing visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: scottoale on 07-25-2009

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 177 | Hads: 547
Reviews by JoeMayo:
Photo of JoeMayo
2.99/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

A- Pours thick, black and oily with absolutely no head, even after a very aggressive pour.

S- The smell is quite complex. Very rich aromas of cocoa, vanilla, and toffee with hints of rich, dark malt, malted milk balls, caramel, oak, and a touch of delicious bourbon-y goodness.

T- The taste isn't quite as pronounced as the smell. Many of the same characteristics come through, but are masked by a strong alcohol presence. I was hoping that any alcohol would have faded after almost 6 months, but no such luck.

M- This is truly the downfall of this beer. The mouthfeel is just wrong, wrong, wrong for this style. A little on the thin side, but oily thin, not watery thin. Zero carbonation. Not even a little tickle of the tongue. Completely flat and hot with alcohol.

D- I split the bottle three ways and found it difficult to finish my ~7 oz. pour. I might have had better luck if I lined up shotglasses for this one. (922 characters)

More User Reviews:
Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of BubalooBrewMaster
3.38/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of jose_alehouseSD
5/5  rDev +31.9%

Photo of orbitalr0x
2.6/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 1.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

22oz bomber via Sinner's Club. Pours into my glass completely and utterly flat, looks basically like soy sauce. Not overly heavy, but ultimately lifeless. Disappointing. Aromas of smooth dark malts with a solid sweetness bathed in a woody, boozy bourbon. Vanilla and caramel accents with a touch of dark fruits. Touch of chocolate and coffee. Well, it smells pretty good at least.

First sip makes me feel more like I AM drinking bourbon as opposed to a beer. No carbonation at all as it rolls across the tongue. Bourbon and wood lead the way with vanilla and dark fruit flavors. A bit of caramel and chocolate meld in. Flows down with a fumy alcohol kick that works its way through the nostrils as well. Might be better off serving this one in shot glasses!

Mouthfeel is slick and boring, again it's more like a liquor than a beer. Not very refreshing and quite hard to drink. Overall, I don't know what I will do with my second bottle...cook with it maybe?? Milkshakes?? Either way, this shouldn't have been released like this and I'm a bit upset I spent my hard earned coin on it. Blech. (1,091 characters)

Photo of gregmoscetti
4.27/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

My personal favorite of the Christmas in July Party, this baby is thick, chocolatey and viscous. Definitely a dessert beer, I was blown away by its intensity and flavor. BASLA has a velvety sweet taste, similiar to BCS with a surprisingly low level of alcohol burn. I think if cellared a year or two this could be delicious. Only tick was that I drank too much of it. I would keep this one to a 4-6oz serving at a time

Granted I am drinking it from a tap, I was surprised by the complaints about it being flat. I am hoping the 2010 version is not as problematic as the 2009 considering we all seem to continue funneling money into Tomme Arthur's wallet for flat beer. (668 characters)

Photo of freshflesh
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of DaftPatrick
4.24/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Beaver13
3.08/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle - 2012 version 12% abv. Pours opaque black with a smallish brown head that quickly goes to a thin film that leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is sweet baker's chocolate, some roasted grainy malts and some light bourbon.

The flavor is sweet fudgy chocolate with a lot of roast and a big sharp alcohol in the finish. The mouthfeel is kind of light bodied for an impy stout.

Overall, it's a bit subdued other than hot alcohol. (439 characters)

Photo of Fcip78
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of megamass
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of mctizzz
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of aquazr1
4.11/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Wespatrick
3.47/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Opened my bomber and got nary a peep of carbonation pop. I poured it into my Duvel snifter as briskly as possible. There were few bubbles, but in 10 seconds they were all gone and the beer was completely lifeless. What this beer lacks in carbonation it more than makes up for in the nose. Loads of bourbon! Molasses and vanilla are also present, but definetely in a supporting role. Flavor is pretty much identical to the nose. Alcohol heat comes up big in the finish. No hiding the 10 %ABV here. Mouthfeel is ok body wise, but the lack of carbonation is problematic. This beer could be phenomenal with even some carbonation. Truly a pity! (639 characters)

Photo of Mora2000
4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of mar.

Beer pours black with no head. This is one of the flat Port/Lost Abbey beers I have heard about. The aroma is alcohol, chocolate and the notes you expect in bourbon aged beers - oak, bourbon and vanilla. The flavor is similar with the alcohol being pretty hot, but the vanilla and bourbon being very present as well. The mouthfeel is medium but I think the beer would be better if it was properly carbonated. (433 characters)

Photo of olradetbalder
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of GarrettB714
5/5  rDev +31.9%

Photo of 1Adam12
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

08 bottle. Barely any hiss when I popped it. Pours black, but looks a bit thin. ZERO carbonation. Smells of heavy bourbon, a bit of bitter chocolate, and some coffee. Taste is a huge bourbon bomb, but as it warms the chocolate does come out. Almost no carbonation. Mouthfeel is a bit thin for a barrel aged stout. Overall, this made for a really good bottle to get as pretty much an extra in a trade, but I wouldn't seek it out again. Just too one dementional. The bourbon is just too much. I've had the regular version, and this should be a lot better than what it is. (569 characters)

Photo of ImFlyerThanYou
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of jondeelee
3.31/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The bourbon barrel aged version of Santa's Little Helper opens with a thick, mealy aroma, and the heady bourbon overtones make the beer's barrel aging immediately apparent. Typical stout aromas such as coffee, tobacco, chocolate and black malt are present, but cranked up a notch or two, catalyzed and heavily influenced by the bourbon barrel aging, which imparts heavily vanillas, oaks, and smoky charcoals. Touches of figs, caramel, and toffee bring slight Christmas aromas. Overall, the aromas are intense and mouthwatering, marking this as one of the better-smelling Imperial Stouts I've encountered.

On the tongue, the beer opens with an immediate bourbon whang, and in fact the beer initially far more resembles a straight shot of bourbon than it does a beer. This impression lasts throughout the entire mouthful, the stout flavors of coffee, ash, tobacco, and beer malts largely subsumed beneath a heavy bourbon cloak, so that the predominant flavors are vanilla, oak, charcoal, and a thick alcoholic vapor that coats the tongue and makes more subtle taste recognition difficult. Some fig and caramel notes make it through, as does a touch of pine sap from the malts, but for the most part this is bourbon, bourbon, bourbon. Even the aftertaste is largely alcoholic bourbon, lingering in a vodka-strong alcoholic cloud for a long time. Mouthfeel is a strangely watery medium-light to medium, and carbonation is medium-light.

Overall, while the aromas drifting from the bottle were incredible, the beer itself is far too alcoholic and bourbon-like on the tongue, almost as if a good measure of bourbon was left in the barrel before the beer was added. This bourbon-stout boilermaker combination can and does work well in moderation, but here the ratios are too far off, and after only a few sips I'm fairly sure I would spike a breathalyzer test. Perhaps bottle aging would help, but I also wish the beer hadn't been left to age in the bourbon barrel for quite so long. (1,977 characters)

Photo of Cynic-ale
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of TKEbeerman
3.37/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured into my pint glass, this brew pour a super dark brown (not entirely black), with absolutely no head. Not impressive, I expected more, but the bourbon aging has really done a number on this appearance.

S: The aroma is strait bourbon mixed with dark chocolate and maybe a little anise. Not very complex, but if you're a bourbon lover, your mouth will water.

T: The flavor is pretty strait forward like the aroma. Mostly bourbon, sweet notes of anise and chocolate. Hints of the brew's roastiness begins to break free as the beer warms.

MF: This brew suffers from what many bourbon barrel aged beers suffer from...poor mouthfeel. The feel is thin, with minimal carbonation at best.

Overall: This beer is ok. I really enjoy bourbon, but when bourbon becomes the main flavor note and over powers everything else, you have a beer that is average at best. (863 characters)

Photo of KyleMA
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of Seattle_Suds
4.38/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Way underrated, it is complex, smooth and tasty. (48 characters)

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.99/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Chewy black lookin, very nice, but carbonation was on the low side, leaving no head, no lace, nuthin. Aroma, standard stuff, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon warmth, alcohol warmth, barely a trace of wet wood.

Good roast flavor, chocolate in the nose isn't as apparent in the taste, but it didn't leave altogether. You kind of get to understand why the carbonation was on the soft side in the mouthfeel, it allows more nuances to hit you. Nothing over the top and dominating in the flavor profile, heat is less with every sip. Coffee is conspicuously absent in this one.

While there's plenty of just outstanding offerings in this department, this one is still a good offering.

2009 bottle drank at Surly Goat. Have a 2010 & 11 in the cellar, hopefully the carbonation is just a nudge upward, and this can break into the upper echelon of beers, that's really the major factor holding it back, but very good nonetheless. (919 characters)

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Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged from Port Brewing
85 out of 100 based on 177 ratings.