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
89
very good

543 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 543
Reviews: 184
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 13.42%
Wants: 51
Gots: 178 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 543 | Reviews: 184
Photo of glid02
4.31/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Yikes, quite the divisive beer here. Shared by kp - thanks!

Pours black with a few large light brown bubbles that quickly burst leaving a glassy top without even a thin ring around the glass.

Smells of bourbon and vanilla with good amounts of smooth roasted malts and hints of dark chocolate. Very mild spices waft out from time to time.

Tastes very good. Roasted malt flavors upfront are overtaken quickly by smooth bourbon and vanilla flavors. Midway through the sip the bourbon flavors mellow out a bit allowing the roasted malt back out along with hints of dark chocolate. The ending is mildly bitter and leaves bourbon flavors lingering on the palate.

Mouthfeel is alright. It's missing a lot of carbonation however I still feel as though there are a few bubbles fighting to get through and honestly the beer doesn't suffer horribly for lack of carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could have another.

Overall I thought this beer was unfairly panned simply for lack of carbonation. I think the beer could certainly be improved upon however as it is now it's one I would seek out in the future. Worth a shot as long as you know what you're getting into.

Photo of Kegatron
3.53/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On cask @ the Stone Brewing World Bistros & Gardens on 11/9/09 during the "Tomme Arthur Experience" event. Served in a snifter.

Pours jet black in the glass, with a ½ finger of burnt mocha colored froth. Big rich retention on this, which showers the sides of the snifter with of spotty lace and gooey brown oil. Cola-like Bourbon and tannic oak accents just dominate the nose. The Stout flavors are trying in vain to break through (I'm getting chocolate, roast, and just a bit of dark fruit that's trying to peak out) but it really does struggle against the barrel character.

Thankfully the Imperial Stout shows itself much more in the taste, being frontloaded with sticky notes of chocolate, toffee, dark roasted, coffee, and some fruit. But man, the Bourbon strikes back with a vengeance in the backend of this, with a boozy tasting bite that ends sticky at first and then rather drying in the finish. The mouthfeel is fuller bodied, with a mellow creaminess to it from the cask conditioning that helps sooth things out a bit. Much like the regular Santa's Little Helper, this could be called overly hot (and the Bourbon sure doesn't help), leaving a warm hazy feel on the breath. All in all though, the alcohol presence probably isn't as bad as it could have been.

Well after hearing the horror stories about this beer in the bottle, I have to say that having the opportunity to have this on cask was probably the best case scenario for it (hooray for carbonation!). At the end of the day though, this was still just too warm and boozy to call it anything better than good. I'm glad that I got to try this here, as that will allow me to sit on the bottle that I've got for a long...long time.

Photo of brdc
1.44/5  rDev -63.5%
look: 1 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Large capped bottle received directly from the brewery through their Sinners membership.
Poured into a snifter.

This is very very hard to describe. Although you can find a few notes here and there that suggest something good took place here at individual parts in the brewing process, the overall result is a horrible mess that ended in a drainpour, as the two people present could not finish a first glass.
The disappointment starts opening, as it has as much pop as a whisky bottle. Going into the glass full speed, not a single bubble. Nothing.
Nearly pitch black, but it look quite ugly as there is no head, nu bubbles, and obviously no lacing. Diet coke looks better.
Aroma is boozy and malty, but also not much going on. I do not know if this is a result of my disappointment, or the lack of carbonation impairing the aroma form going up.
Mouthfeel is just absolutely horrible as well; I understand the argument for low carbonation, but here we have ZERO.
The taste suffers incredibly from that. Boozy and sweetish, with no zip to it.
I would not drink this again if it was free. Another spectacular disappointment from Lost Abbey/Port Brewing.

Photo of rye726
4.84/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours near black with shades of deep brown around the edges. Not much head.

Nose has bourbon, oak, vanilla, cocoa, dark malts, coffee, molasses, subtle hops and ripe pitted fruits.

Taste also has a big whiskey, vanilla and wood presence from the barrels that is well balanced by chocolate malts, espresso, cherries, plums and bitter molasses.

Thick, creamy body is a bit under carbonated but still drinks well.

Another world class barrel aged ale from Port/Lost Abbey. Talented brewers with great barrels.

Photo of paco1029384756
3.54/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep black color with no head save for a few random tan bubbles popping up.

Scent of sweet bourbon, sugars, oak, dark fruit and grass. If it were up to the scent, this would be a very good beer, unfortunately no other part of the beer could live up to this.

Taste of bourbon, chocolate, oak, vanilla, dark fruit, sugars, and a hint of alcohol. Nothing great, the flavors are nice, but don't quite meld together very well.

Mouthfeel is medium heavy bodied and flat, like chocolate milk.

Photo of HopHead84
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Consumed in a snifter on 11/09/2009 on cask at Stone's Tomme Arthur Experience with largadeer.

The beer bas a gorgeous creamy 2 finger light brown head with excellent retention and a thick sheet of lacing is left behind. The liquid is black.

The nose is roasted with a lot of bourbon. I get chocolate and cocoa powder. Alcohol is apparent but it's pleasant. Dark fruits are evident. Behold the power and majesty. Such wonder and glory I smell. Distinct cocoa powder.

The flavor is strong bourbon and strong roast. The beer has some heat but it's pleasant. The beer has a vinous dark fruit quality that I can't quite pinpoint. The finish is roasted cocoa powder with potent heat lingering.

Mouthfeel is smooth and silky, and carbonation is at a nice moderate level that is perfect for the beer. This beer was awesome from the cask.

Photo of tpd975
3/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to retorp for the share.

A: Pours a dark flat black hue with no head. No lace to speak of either.

S: Straight booze. Lots and lots of bourbon, light oak, and subtle vanilla.

T: Wow this is one boozy monster. Fudgy start, with some light dark fruit.... Then BAM booze. Bourbon straight from some basement in Kentucky. Light oak and vanilla, but mostly bourbon and not the fine sort.

M: Very full in body, thick, low carbonation which actually did not hurt this one too much.

D: A boozy mess. Love the regular Santa's Helper, not so much with this one.

Photo of alcstradamus
3.92/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dismally flat black with some air bubbles creating a collar. Smell is a nice chocolate, vanilla, toffee, and oak blend. Typical great bourbon aroma with the addition of the extra chocolate characteristic.

The taste is actually pretty damn good considering the lack of carbonation to bring it all together. I was anticipating a hot mess, and what I got was a damn tasty chocolate and bourbon treat. Out of the 4 flat Lost Abbey beers I've tried this year, this one probably suffered the least from the flatness. Surprising considering the poor reviews. Perhaps the few months that mine had to mellow out helped out a bit?

As I have stated, the mouthfeel is flat and lifeless. But in this case it works because the heavy, viscous nature of it helps that chocolate undertone marinate on the tongue. Of course, it also helps the alcohol burn marinate on the tongue which I could definitely do without.

I really came into this beer wanting to judge it based on its merits rather than use it's flatness to pre-judge it. In the end, I feel that it works and works well for that matter. Definitely a sipper and a dessert/nightcap.

EDIT: As this beer warms, the alcohol really started to burn more and more. Started to get a bit messy. I dropped the taste and drinkability scores down a half point each to factor in this negative change

Photo of ThirstyBird
3.91/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to blisscent for sharing!!
A- This one pours a deep black brown color with no head save for about 6 bubbles on the surface.
S - Huge nose of bourbon, wood, vanilla, some chocolate
T - Huge bourbon mix up. Chocolate and prunes.
M/F - Well this beer was all but flat. Not the way it should be but it was still tasty and I was not about to drain pour it. A beer with less flavor, maybe. Medium to full body.
D - This beer was so tasty that despite there being no carbonation I still give it a 3.

Photo of jdklks
2.22/5  rDev -43.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

though this beer is, or course, not carbonated, its appearance deserves at least some attention. While it lacks anything remotely resembling a head, its a very elegant looking deep black body with cherry hues and leaves a thin transparent film on the sides of the glass. if it was carbonated, it would have a 5 for appearance. the smell is of bourbon, vanilla, sweet dark fruits (especially cherries). very pleasant.

Imperial stouts need not be all that carbonated, but NO carbonation whatsoever cannot possibly do any beer justice, and this is no exception. the alcohol stands out more so than anything else, which clearly points to the lack of carbonation not being able to release much of the other flavors. there is a slight sweetness up front, but just alchol through the middle and finish, and this is topped off with an unpleasant roasted bitterness (unpleasant in its obscurity). a hint of chocolate noticeable on the palate deep into the after-taste saves the flavor from receiving the fateful "1". this is a drain pour less than a quarter of the way through.

mouthfeel is extraordinarily light and obviously uncarbonated. drinkability=4 sips, drain pour.

great job again port/lost abbey. you've managed to bottle yet ANOTHER beer with great potential and no carbonation.

Photo of cbanker
3.22/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

2009 version, 22oz. bottle purchased at brewery. Poured into 8oz Stone VE glass.

I love Lost Abbey, Port Brewing and Pizza Port and am certainly not biased against them, but this year of this beer is definitely not one of their better beers. I have tried other years and have liked them, just haven't gotten around to reviewing while I have one on hand.

A: Deep brown-black, minimal head, doesn't look very well carbonated.

S: Smells strongly of bourbon, with hints of caramel, vanilla, and chocolate.

T: Initially, it tastes like a decent bourbon, with a lot of vanilla and caramel taste. However, the alcohol taste quickly takes over. The finish is alright, but the alcohol is still overpowering, and gets worse with further sips.

M: The mouthfeel is smooth, but a bit syrupy and undercarbonated. The carbonation is almost non-existent.

D: The first sip was pretty good, but this beer wore on me very quickly. The alcohol taste is just too overpowering. I've never had trouble finishing a bottle before, but I really had to struggle to finish this 22. If it were less expensive, I would have probably dumped out half the bottle. For a 10% beer, the alcohol is way too apparent. In comparison to the 11% Lost Abbey Serpent Stout, this has far more alcohol taste to it. It really tastes like a bourbon, and not even one that is worth drinking neat. I think some carbonation would really help lighten up the body and flavor and make it much more drinkable.

Overall, a poor beer and the only beer I've struggled this hard to finish. I feel like it could be much better if it had more carbonation. I have liked other years, so it seems like the lack of carbonation made a huge difference here.

Note: A friend of mine bought a case of these and recarbonates them using a "carbonator" cap. We've begun to call these beers "Santa Needs a Little Helper". It's actually any outstanding beer when properly carbonated, so it's truly a shame that it had almost no carbonation and tasted so boozy the way it came.

Photo of rayjay
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the brewery, into Stone RIS goblet.

Crown pops with a dull poof, and it pours lazily into the glass with the smallest head one could imagine. Black and menacing beer, doesn't do much in the glass coating department. All in all it looks pretty good if you knwo what you're getting yourself into.

Lots of rough alcohol on the nose, which gradually gives way to sweet bourbon aroma and deep stout aromas. Swear there could be some coffee in there. Smells very much like an American brewed double stout. Could be a bit more mellow. Like other barrel aged black beers from these guys it reminds me of an alcohol-soaked cherry cordial.

Flavors (esp aftertaste) are much more mellow than the aroma suggests. Very big, rich, and powerful stout flavors, which I expect to blossom into a big roasted bitterness...but it never quite gets there (but more as it warms), and is instead morphed into a mellow sweetness a few steps heavier than artisan well water. You can detect lots of esters, alcohol, bourbon, and wood, but they all are kept in check. Overall, shows a rich complexity and gentle mellowness that I'm digging. There are better, but this is very good.

Mouthfeel is light compared to what I was expecting, probably considered a medium-light body for the style and strength. Carbonation is very very low, but I'm not put off by it and it works well for the beer (I felt the same about this year's Older Viscosity). It's not too thick at all so it doesn't necessarily need the extra CO2 to boost the body.

Drinkability is good. It's got plenty going on to keep it interesting, and it's pretty delicious. I'd buy again. Cheers!

Photo of orbitalr0x
2.6/5  rDev -34.2%
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.

Photo of vacax
2.83/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Bomber from Christmas in July, where this was excellent on tap.

Pours black, slightly dark brown along the rim of the glass... where a ring of foam should currently be. No sound when the cap was popped and after pouring there is a complete absence of head. Some even legs show its potency.

Nose of marzipan, toffee, tobacco and an quite invitingly integrated classy bourbon. Best part of the beer, easily. Tastes of copious dark sugars, hot bourbon, somewhat herbal on the midpalate. Some roast in the finish, but the sweetness covers up most of it. Obviously this is flat and suffers for it, it is resultantly overly sweet which covers up the roastiness, and the lack of bubbles makes it hot and herbal on the midpalate. Finish is slightly earthy and herbal. Reminds me of pancakes... flat, syrupy sweet, and light.

This is drinkable, though something that should probably be avoided. I do not review bad bottles in general, but this is not a bad bottle--all the bottles are like this and no reports of Lost Abbey treating it as a problem.

Photo of Arbitrator
1.67/5  rDev -57.7%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Chilled bottle into a glass. Generously shared by largadeer for Koopa's Birthday Blend, but we sampled it on its own ahead of time.

A: Pours a deep chestnut body -- it appears black at first, but you can see it lightens to brown in small quantities. No head, carbonation, or lacing. No legs. Basically a flat imperial stout. I don't expect a huge head on this style, but I expect some bubbles just to be "average" in this category. Sub-meh.

S: Bourbon-barrel aged Tootsie roll. Got lots and lots of bourbon and chocolate up front, some tannins and vanilla. Nothing else. Surprisingly pungent for a flat beer, but very one-dimensional just the same. Too much barrel, in my opinion.

T: Very promising. Again, lots of -bal aged Tootsie with caramel and vanilla, but as it warms, it takes on molasses and a hint of dark fruit character (dates, mostly) -- I could see it being really complex if it reduced the strong barrel character. Roasted malt makes an appearance near the end taste. Strongly tannic finish with a cheap, hot boozy burn that I overlooked at first, but which started to get tiresome toward the end of even my small sample pour.

M: Completely flat, and this really hurt the taste -- we actually force-carbonated a bottle and I sampled the flat-original side-by-side with the carbonated version. It was like night and day. The carbonation suppressed the booziness a bit (not enough for my tastes, but it is an improvement just the same). Closer to full-bodied than medium.

D: I honestly wouldn't drink this again. I know people are really excited about barrel-aged beers, and I am part of that crowd. But the popularity of bourbon-barrel RISes has made it apparent which ones are poorly done and which ones are excellent. If I made a list of all the BBRISes I have ever tried, this would rank near the bottom (if not dead last). As such, it really merits its score.

Photo of Proteus93
4.18/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is an odd beer.... unfortunately, the bottling is somewhat flat. There is a touch of carbonation, but it is certainly under-carbonated, so that could hurt the mouthfeel and appearance. That said:

A: Deep and black, with just the tiniest collar of bubbly head that sticks around for a few moments and recedes to nothing. With each sip, there are some hints of brown through the edges.

S: A strong scent of bourbon, with a strong vanilla and wood. Some creamy chocolate and nougat. This is a fabulous smelling beer.

T + M: Chocolate, slightly tart but not quite fruity. Slick and oily bodied. Unfortunately, it is short of carbonation, but the flavours make up for the body in many ways. There is a smooth feeling vanilla, alcohol spiciness, dark chocolate that manages to work well with being 'creamy' feeling.

D: A bit of boozy heat, and a slower drinking beer, but nice to work with over the course of the night in a flavour and aroma sense. I could smell this beer for hours, but the body does cause it to fall a little short.

Photo of CrellMoset
4.06/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Bankhead, shared and split at a tasting, poured in to a tulip.

Appearance: Pours a dead-looking, nearly pitch black-bodied brew, completely devoid of head save for a few faint bubbles atop the surface around the collar and a faint dusting that actually disappears kinda quickly. God how I wish this one were carbonated.

Aroma: Bourbon is incredibly pungent and strong, earthy, slightly sweet, spicy, and - well - alcoholic. The base beer is here, and definitely prominent - cocoa, toast, faint dark fruits, toast, dark toffee, and caramel are all over the place. It's pungent, intense, and powerful, but it's good.

Taste: Well shit. This brew is absolutely stellar tasting. Huge amounts of cocoa, huge toasty earthiness, sweet roasted notes, incredibly dark toffee, faint toasted astringencies. Dark fruits meld with hugely dark malts, actual bittersweet chocolate - powdery, sweet, and authentic - and a slew of other dark malts. Bitter hops exist somewhere in the background, though they're an afterthought. Bourbon barrel aging adds vanillin notes, coconut, and a good amount of oaky, wooden notes. Just ... absolutely stellar, complex, balanced, and well-brewed.

Mouthfeel: Just absolutely dead. A thick, sugary body - thinned out slightly by the bourbon addition - makes for a slightly unpleasant delivery vehicle. It's really a shame too, even more so than I think the appearance was a shame, because now I know what's being offered in the aroma and taste I think that this could be a truly stellar, amazing brew.

Drinkability: I feel like I'm doing precisely what everyone else here is doing ... mouthfeel and appearance suck ... aroma and taste are amazing. I may be emphasizing too much of either end of the dichotomy to make a point, but it is truly quite a variance between what this beer IS and how this beer is PRESENTED, if that makes any sense. No wonder the discrepancy between the scores of this beer on tap and this beer out of the bottle.

This is a plea to Port/Lost Abbey - please, please, please figure out your bottling carbonation problems. You are amazing brewers, and are capable of truly great things. I don't want to rate your beers like this. I would love nothing more than to rave uniformly about your beers and trade my kidneys and other spare organs I have for them. Please, allow me to trade my spare organs for your beers.

Photo of largadeer
3.71/5  rDev -6.1%
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 100floods
3.87/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I am drinking one of the many uncarbonated batches provided by us from the people at port/lost abbey. To be honest, for this beer, i'm not crying over it.

The bottle opened with nothing fizzing up. It poured with no head, which I prefer with my stouts. it just gave way to a luscious black abyss that smelled of sweet alcohol aroma, very subtle. this RIS is on the smaller side, nice alternative if u don't want a kick in the mouth.

the body still has some presence, the lack of carbonation here has minimal effect. This is kinda what I imagine a RIS would feel like after years and years of aging.

The taste isn't bad either. Mild roast blended with some reasonable bourbon action, holding hands. It makes for a very sweet, candy-like combination. Definitely doesn't have a huge alcohol presence.

overall this isn't a huge loss. I would drink it right away. I hope Tomme and the gang get this problem under control, soon. They can get away with with once, but if this happens again, oh boy... they're in for it

Photo of Wespatrick
3.47/5  rDev -12.2%
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!

Photo of jjayjaye
3.84/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Opaque darkness and even when poured aggressively leaves no collar or lacing. The smell is strong and primarily licorice bourbon...not bad. The mouth is hot and tangy from the alcohol and the body is on the light side. The flavor is just what the doctor ordered, but the lack of any texture is letting this one down. I like the bourbon chocolate and licorice taste. It cleans up quickly instead of coating and lingering like my favorites in this style. Flat tire, but it tastes good.

Photo of seaoflament
3.77/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I purchased a couple of bombers of this at the recent X-mas in July event and shared one Tuesday night at La Bella with Joey and Danny.

Split three equal ways for some reason Joey's glass had better head formation and retention. My glass had a few bubbles when it was first poured but the bubbles disappeared quickly, leaving the beer's appearance very still and dormant. Yet, for a high alcohol barrel-aged beer I don't expect a large head, even on tap it was quite low.

The aroma on the other hand was anything but "dormant." Intense chocolate notes with a vinous quality wrapped around, young barrel aromas, raisins, black cherries, vanilla notes that intensify as the beer opens up, cocoa, dry oak wood, prunes, dates, fruity alcohol esters in the background, and boozy bourbon. After a few sips I was able to smell some brown sugar, a bit of molasses, burnt toast, chocolate malts, a noticeable amount of nutty malts as well. To me the aroma didn't seem overly boozy, it's robust, but I found it pretty well balanced to the base beer and an improvement too.

On first sip it was very similar to how the aroma started, a rush of chocolate upfront, lots of milk and dark chocolate flavors, sweet coffee, vanilla, vanilla wafers, and raisins in the aftertaste. Bourbon flavors in the finish and a little warmer going down as the beer got closer to room temperature.

The mouthfeel was a tad viscous initially and finishes a bit thin but amazing how well the alcohol is controlled. Hardly any carbonation on the palate and just a touch of it would have lifted the beer and made it a little creamier and would have increased the taste even more. Still, I enjoyed this one...it would definitely qualify as a sipping beer after a light dinner but a bomber of this, with such low to nill carbonation would be a chore to finish.

Photo of OlieIPA
3.31/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into my Bruery tulip glass.

A: Poured pretty much black and contained absolutely no head, lacing, or carbonation. Even after pouring from about 6 to 12 inches above the glass, I still was unable to get any trace of the previously mentioned characteristics. Very disappointing.

S: A definite bourbon influence...very similar to that of Angel Share, or at least the bourbon barrels they used. Along with some chocolate, burnt malt, and roasted notes...that are hardly noticeable. Basically...it's all bourbon.

T: I find it hard not to think about Angel Share with every sip I have of this beer. Tons of alchy bourbon with dark coffee and chocolate flavors to ascent it. Not sure if the malt character was enough to balance out the bourbon...but overall, and above average tasting imperial stout.

M: Full body with absolutely no carbonation...not even a single bubble. Again, very disappointing.

D: A little hot...needs some time to age, and the lack of carbonation put me off a little.

Overall: You know what's funny...I had the regular version on tap tonight and loved it. That's why I opened up this bad boy and to be honest...was utterly disappointed. Not a bad stout by any means, but with the lack of mouthfeel and complexity...I found this brew a failure in my mind for Port Brewing. I typically love barrel aged stouts and Port Brewing in general...but this was a step back from the regular release version. A try it beer at best. Cheers!

Photo of Halcyondays
4.4/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Blue Palms,

A: Pours a virtual black with a light smattering of bubbles, quite imposing.

S: Strong bourbon whiskey, vanilla, what you'd expect, very rich.

T: Here we go, very good integrated bourbon and wood flavours into the nice chocolate backbone of Santa's Little Helper, very impressive, good complexity, it's not all just whiskey and ethanol.

M: Smooth, full-bodied, viscous, mild carbonation.

D: An outstanding effort from Port, like this a fair bit better than regular Santa's Little Helper.

Photo of corby112
2.68/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Got this bottle via trade from Javib458. Thanks man.

Pours pitch black with dark burgundy hues and slight chocolate brown edges. Completely flat without even a bubble of carbonation.

Bourbon dominates the aroma with some nice oak notes vanilla, port, dark fruit, chocolate malt. These other characteristics provide a nice complement to the bourbon.

Very thin with absolutely no carbonation. Not viscous at all and very hot from the huge bourbon presence. Very sweet and syrupy yet is still watered down.

Lots of hot bourbon flavor with nice oak notes, some vanilla, chocolate, toffee and alcohol heat. Everything is pretty much ruined, however, by the lack of carbonation. This is a complete letdown since I really love the base beer. I was really looking forward to this beer but was severely disappointed. Drain pour! Avoid at all costs until Port/ Lost Abbey figures out their carbonation problems.

Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged from Port Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 543 ratings.