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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

501 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 501
Reviews: 176
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 13.99%
Wants: 50
Gots: 165 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: scottoale on 07-25-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 501 | Reviews: 176 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
4.1/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Tops Tasting Room in Tempe, with the staff. The most knowledgeable person promised it was the barrel aged version, arrived recently, and tasted bourbon in it. I found it just a very good imperial stout. Black appearance, though no noticeable head. Very drinkable and smooth, some wood but still boozy. Coffee, chocolate.

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.63/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque black with a very small 1/2 inch dark khaki head that fades to a thin film. Random sheets and spots of lace cling to the glass on the drink down. Smells of bourbon, vanilla, wood, and some cocoa notes. Taste is very bourbon forward with lots of vanilla, wood, and alcohol flavors along with some dark roasted malt and bitter chocolate flavors on the finish. This beer has a low level of carbonation and seems a bit flat and thick in the mouth. There is an alcohol warmth in the back of the throat with each sip. Overall, this is a pretty good bourbon barrel aged stout with more of an emphasis on the bourbon than the stout.

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of Thorpe429
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a carbonated bottle. Didn't read too far down the reviews but I assume many of the lower scores and the overall rating from this have been affected by carbonation woes. I'll have to check.

Pours a dark brown with an off white head and spotty lacing. Nose is pretty intense with good amounts of bourbon, chocolate, oak, dark fruits, and a bit of roasted malt. Taste is pretty heavy on the bourbon with the other flavors playing nice complements. Feel is quite nice. Again, liking what the bourbon has done, especially as I am not a big fan of the regular version of this brew. Very drinkable and one of the better of its kind that I've had lately.

Photo of nmann08
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%

Photo of Texasfan549
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%

Photo of GRG1313
3.68/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle appears with red label and appears identical to Bourbon aged but indicates "Oak" in lieu of Bourbon. No date stated on label but believed to be a summer 2010 release.

Pours black with no head. Even a good swirl or a very slow pour will not yield a head of any kind. Edit: Bottle was open for 15 minutes and poured again and got a very short lived tan head.

Nose is semi sweet dark chocolate, sweet dark black coffee, whiskey and light vanilla (oak).

Mouthfeel is medium full to creamy and by second or third taste gives nice creamy "coated" feel. Light carbonation and would like to see more. Unfortunately, ability to age is lessened by diminishing carbonation - this one is already very lightly carbonated and it fades even more as it sits in the glass.

Flavors are intense semi sweet black chocolate, molasses, big semi sweet dark coffee, whiskey and light sweet soy. Flavors seem to improve and become more and more appealing with every sip.

Finish is a big chocolate, sweet coffee, light whiskey alcohol character. You get some of the alcohol (the sweet character of higher alcohol) in the flavors and especially in the finish. Long coffee bean/espresso finish.

This beer will likely age nicely for a year or two but is very nice to try now. Surprise choice for what I believe was a summer release. Nice effort.

Photo of olradetbalder
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%

Photo of metter98
4.18/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is essentially jet black in color. It poured with a thin tan head that quickly faded away, leaving delicate lacing covering the surface.
S: There are strong aromas of bourbon in the nose.
T: Like the smell, flavors of bourbon really stand out in the overall taste and become even stronger as the beer warms up.
M: It feels a bit more than medium-bodied on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation. There is lots of warming from the alcohol.
O: This beer packs in lots of bourbon aromas and flavors without making the taste too alcoholic. However, the bourbon seems to be too strong really masks any of the flavors of the underlying beer.

Photo of kjkinsey
3.25/5  rDev -17.3%

Photo of brentk56
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

After a disastrous experience with the 2009, time for another look at this. With a 2010 in hand, let's see if we can improve the score from a "D."

Appearance: Espresso brown with just a tinge of brown highlights on the edge; a thin layer of foam appears (a good sign) and some of it sticks to the glass

Smell: Bourbon filled chocolate, with more than a hint of blackstrap molasses

Taste: Dark chocolate, up front, with licorice and the Bourbon character taking over by mid-palate, bringing vanilla and oak; after the swallow, the booze impacts the profile just a bit too dramatically, although the chocolate, vanilla, licorice and molasses make a nice combination

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with low carbonation; lots of warmth on the gullet

Drinkability: While there is more carbonation in the 2010 than the 2009, this shows that Tomme has a clear view about the carbonation levels he wants in his beers; while I would like a bit more, I don't mind the lower level on this one as much as I did on the 2009; overall, characterize me as impressed - a bit too boozy and a bit too flat, but still a nice brew

Thanks, mrmiles, for the chance to re-visit

Photo of kylehay2004
4.1/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: very thin head on a very dark body with some light getting though. scattered lacing.

S: sweet whiskey/bourbon mostly which overall is excellent. some vanilla and oak notes.

T: alcohol is a little strong in this one. whiskey and bourbon up front. The roasted character is significantly diminished compared to the non barrel aged version. nice oak and vanilla finish.

M: semi dry finish but much less than the base beer. medium body and lighter side of moderate carbonation.

Overall: excellent whiskey/bourbon character, a little strong on the alcohol end for the flavor but still a very nice barrel aged stout.

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of mikesgroove
3.65/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

So I have had these bottles for like 2 years and I decided it was about time i just got it over with and opened one. What the hell right. Cracked it open after dessert of 5/31/2010.

The pour was alright. Deep, dark, and black as night with a light ring of tan that circled the glass for maybe a minute before fading out of site and leaving it completely bare. Not my idea of the greatest of looks but what can you do.

Aroma surprised me as it was done very, very well. A rich mix of dark chocolate, coffee, lots of bourbon and oak. Warming brought out vanilla and light touches of molasses. Very nicely done I have to admit and I was finding hop this would not be terrible at this point. But then I took a sip. Now, here is the odd part. the feel is horrible. Flat, dull and thin. Just a mess, I cannot see how they could have tore this one up that badly. On the other hand the flavor is rich, decadent, near perfectly aged, so there in lies the issue.

Overall this could have been a very, very good beer, but alas it was a mess because of the lack of carbonation. Fix the QC issues and it would be a winner.

Photo of womencantsail
3.93/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Thick and black with a beautiful mocha colored foam that sticks around for quite awhile. Very little carbonation.

S: Wow! Bourbon, chocolate, coffee, and booze.

T: Just as decadent as the nose. I firstly noted the chocolate flavor and then the bourbon. The coffee flavors are not as present as I would have expected. The booze is very upfront in this one. I cannot wait to see how this tastes in another year.

M: Thick, creamy, and very smooth. Massive body on this beer.

D: The only reason I "marked it down" on this aspect is because the booze is still very pronounced.

Photo of Knapp85
3.25/5  rDev -17.3%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%

Photo of SocalKicks
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.1/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours out a dark brown, near black body and, despite a heavy, energetic pour, no real head formation beyond a few stray bubbles.

Smell: Immediately, there's a strong, heavy-handed, foreboding bourbon presence. If you don't like'm bourbon-y, I guess you could get out now while the gettin' is good. Roasty notes of coffee, molasses, and chocolate sauce suitable for ice cream sundaes. Touch of ripened dark fruitiness also.

Taste: Dark roasted maltiness with a taste of gooey fudge-flavored brownie batter, cooled espresso, blackstrap molasses, and bittersweet chocolate. Some dark fruits mingled in. Then, it comes that strong bourbon taste with its vanilla, brown sugar, and lightly tannic oak wood. Drying, roasty finish with some alcoholic warmth contained within.

Mouthfeel: Fairly full-bodied and flat.

Drinkability: Well, I've had this a few times now and always feel that, while it does taste quite good, some (any) carbonation would've really made it SING. Maybe next batch.

Photo of largadeer
3.7/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Black and viscous in the pour, but with no carbonation to speak of, and obviously no head.

The aroma is thankfully more impressive, with plenty of bourbony goodness up front, contributing vanilla and caramel to counterpoint the chocolate and roastiness from the malt. As it warms, a fruity and vinous aroma comes out along with a backbone of molasses. Nicely balanced and not very hot at all for a big barrel-aged stout.

There's quite a bit more heat on the palate, but it's well-integrated and doesn't dominate the complex flavor. Vinous and chocolatey, boozy and fruity, there's a lot going on here, but it's marred by the lack of carbonation. A low-to-moderate level of carbonation would really benefit this beer and probably take away some of the heat. Mid-palate I get a lot of vanilla and caramel, which transitions into a roasty, bitter, lightly tannic and very boozy finish. Enjoyable but disappointing on the whole - this would be an excellent beer if it were properly carbonated.

Photo of biboergosum
4.01/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12.7oz, caged and corked bottle, 12% ABV, thanks be once again to the good doktorzee for procuring this for me from SoCal.

This beer pours a solid, light-destroying black abyss, with the barest of cola-tinged basal edges, and two fingers of wanly puffy, tightly foamy, and somewhat bubbly tan head, which leaves a bit of awkwardly arched lace around the glass as it genially recedes.

It smells of big 'n sweet Bourbon barrels - acridly boozy vanilla, caramel, wood, and spiced grain - bittersweet chocolate, gritty caramel malt, biscuity toffee, black licorice, dark muddled orchard fruit, milk-dosed coffee, Japanese stir-fry umami, and an earthy, weedy, and slightly leafy dryness. The taste is still big on the Kentucky barrel-aged spirit essence straight-off, with the same testy vanilla, caramel, rye spice, and besotted woodiness from the nose, alongside a heady toffee/caramel maltiness, dark cocoa pudding, melted licorice, cafe au lait, a waning Teriyaki weirdness, and overwhelmed earthy, musty hops.

The bubbles are pretty understated in their frothy temerity, the body a hefty medium-full weight, and generally smooth, what with that 24-proof booze gnashing at the outer gates, and perhaps even a tad creamy. It finishes on the sweet side, the Bourbon, chocolatey caramel, and milky coffee kind of tightening the reins.

A pretty tasty and engaging imperial stout, aged in Bourbon barrels, at that. The wood does some good, and some not so good, but in the end, the positives outweigh the negatives. And yeah, the 12% ABV is sublimated enough that I didn't think to mention it outright until now, which I suppose is sayin' something. Cheers, Santa - after that particularly long day of work, you do indeed deserve to drink this stuff the rest of the year!

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.43/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I like this almost as much as older viscosity I think. Just a huge stout with as much bourbon on it as any beer I've ever had. Hershey's syrup dark brown and sludgy with a flash of mocha fizz before it settles to nearly still. The nose is all bourbon, vanilla and raw molasses spice with heave dark barley and chocolate malt, charred oak, and marshmallow. The flavor is just like the nose, do much going on but do well integrated. It's almost too much, a sensory overload that is best in small to medium doses. Sweet from the vanilla but not too sweet, and really heavily oaked. Fully bodied and teeth coating, but more flavorful than others. It feels Christmasy and may have a touch of spice in the Finnish. As strong it seems as a shot if bourbon, I love it!

Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev +1.8%

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Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged from Port Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 501 ratings.