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

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

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BA SCORE
85
very good

177 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 177
Hads: 547
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 15.04%
Wants: 50
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 177 | Hads: 547
Photo of alcstradamus
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
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 (1,339 characters)

Photo of ThirstyBird
3.91/5  rDev +3.2%
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. (499 characters)

Photo of jdklks
2.22/5  rDev -41.4%
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. (1,283 characters)

Photo of cbanker
3.22/5  rDev -15%
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. (2,017 characters)

Photo of rayjay
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
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! (1,637 characters)

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 vacax
2.83/5  rDev -25.3%
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. (1,044 characters)

Photo of Arbitrator
1.67/5  rDev -55.9%
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. (1,887 characters)

Photo of Proteus93
4.18/5  rDev +10.3%
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. (1,040 characters)

Photo of CrellMoset
4.06/5  rDev +7.1%
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. (2,382 characters)

Photo of largadeer
3.71/5  rDev -2.1%
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. (992 characters)

Photo of 100floods
3.87/5  rDev +2.1%
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 (1,015 characters)

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 jjayjaye
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
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. (483 characters)

Photo of seaoflament
3.77/5  rDev -0.5%
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. (1,827 characters)

Photo of OlieIPA
3.31/5  rDev -12.7%
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! (1,474 characters)

Photo of Halcyondays
4.4/5  rDev +16.1%
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. (514 characters)

Photo of corby112
2.68/5  rDev -29.3%
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. (906 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
3.66/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

22oz bottle from Sinners Club. Shared with friends at Dave's new apartment. Served in Dogfish Head pint glass.

A - A thing layer of big bubbles that quickly dissipates to a ring. Looks like cask ale. Deep black color with a hint of brown at the fringes.

S - The smell is super-intense barrel, bourbon, vanilla, boozey heat, roastiness and s'mores (yes, s'mores - marshmallow, chocolate, and graham cracker). It could stand to have a little less heat, but it was otherwise pretty delicious.

T - Taste is a bit of a step down. Roasted malts, bourbon, butterscotch and vanilla, with a woody tannic aftertaste. Again, it's slightly hot, and seems a little less rich than the smell, but it's still quite good.

M - Pretty much flat, syrupy aftertaste, thinner than I'd expect for a 10% brew. I've had straight-up bourbon with more texture than this stuff.

D - 6-8oz of this stuff is more than sufficient - I'm glad I had some friends helping me out on this one. The alcohol isn't particularly well-hidden either, as I remember asking Dave if this was 11% or 12%. The smell and taste are pretty good, and I can see them getting better over the next year or two, but without more than the mildest carbonation the experience ultimately falls flat (pun intended). (1,258 characters)

Photo of waltonc
2.41/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

I've been looking forward to trying this beer since last year when I first heard Port put this into the barrels. But it came out flat.

Dark brown color, no head.

I wonder if Port intended the beer to be uncarbonated? If so, I have to reconsider whether I want to be a member of the Sinners Club next year, because I just don't share the same view that uncarbonated beer is good. If it was unintentional, I wonder why Port released it. Based on other reviewers' statements that the tap version has carbonation, it sounds like Port once again screwed up.

As a result of the absence of carbonation, the mouthfeel is medium bodied, and unpleasant, and with that high ABV, this just isn't drinkable. Between two people, we didn't even get through half the bottle.

Perhaps some will find the overall score I'm giving this beer harsh. But a 3.0 is average, and 2.0 = not impressed. I think it's fair to say this is not impressive. And disappointing that Lost Abbey has made it clear at this point that they do not intend to learn from past mistakes (a la releasing the brandy angels share before it had a chance to carbonate). I thought the new bottling line was supposed to solve these problems.

10/22/09 UPDATE: Still flat as water. I blended it with a highly carbonated porter to give it some carbonation. (1,306 characters)

Photo of Bitterbill
2.99/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A small hiss when I popped the cap, it pours a pitch black with no head of foam and the tiniest bit of lacing.

The smell is big bourbon, some dark fruitiness, and maybe a touch of chocolate? The bourbon pretty much overpowers everything else.

The taste is, again, big huge bourbon, vanilla, some dark fruits that give some slight tartness, cocoa, toffee, and lots of warming. Overall, I'd have preferred the bourbon was toned down big time but even then, despite the nice flavours I mention, they do not come together very well at all.

A solid medium mouthfeel with very little, ok, zero carbonation but I think this works by the skin of its teeth.

Drinkability? It tastes and feels stronger than what the abv says and the flavours do not come together very well. A very disappointing beer. (794 characters)

Photo of hoppymeal
3.87/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours black in color, an aggressive pour reveals a very small gathering of pumpkin pie orange head atop the beer that settles to a small ring around the glass. Aroma is quite nice, some very strong vanilla and caramel sweetness, some bourbony booziness, sweet sugary malts show some fruit, berries, apples, and a bit of leather. Taste follows with a big dose of the vanilla and caramel with a big whiskey, boozy warmth and bite. Some nice woodiness in the flavor as well. Mouthfeel is big, thick and rich. Carbonation level is definitely low, though there is carbonation present, not completely flat. Though the carbonation could be a bit higher to help cut through the somewhat heavy body and the stroing vanilla sweetness. Some dry woodiness comes in towards the finish as well as a decent bite at the back of the throat, and a slight warmth from the alcohol strength. A very good beer, the aroma was crazy good, and the taste followed it up very nicely, the low carbonation level was somewhat detracting but a very very good, sweet night cap. Thanks Kyle for the opportunity. (1,078 characters)

Photo of jwolfie70
2.76/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

You would think this brewery would figure out carbonation issues after the amount of flak it has taken. Popped the bottle to utter silence, which sent off alarm bells. Even with a vigorous pour was unable to get even a hint of carbonation. The beer poured a deep black. It smelled of bourbon, and molasses. Taste was not as off putting as the last batch of brandy barrel angel's share with the lack of carbonation, but the lack of carbonation really made the beer feel watery in the mouth (which is not good from a barrel aged stout). The beer was a little hot, and could use a little age (but I usually like that). I get the sense that this could be a decent beer if it had some carbonation. (692 characters)

Photo of Overlord
2.33/5  rDev -38.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Early in my reviewing career I vowed to give it to everyone straight. Well, here we go ...

Lost Abbey has been hit or miss with carbonation issues this year. D.D. Gooze seems perfect, Red Poppy and Cuvee de Tomme were appropriate for their respective styles, and the Bourbon Barrel Angel's Share release, while fairly flat, was actually excellent. The Brandy Barrel Angel's Share, on the other hand, not only was utterly flat, but it just didn't taste good (and not at all like my notes for prior releases indicated). Older V. was also flat and bad.

Now, I wasn't a huge of the base beer for this brew. I gave Santa's Little Helper a 3.65, which is one of the lowest scores for this style I'd ever given. I was wondering how a beer I found underwhelming would fare after being bourbon barrel aged. The answer: meh.

Pours black with brown edging. Zero pop when the cap came off. Zero. I'd put these at room temperature for a few months. Pours with no carbonation. Just the faintest bit of bubbling that died down immediately. Sloshing and aggressive pouring did not remedy the situation. Son of a b****.

Smells pretty good, actually. If you like bourbon. I'd say the aroma is the best thing about this beer. Bourbon, with a whiff of chocolate and coffee. Still, I can tell this is going to be a bourbon bomb.

The flavor might have been enhanced with. any. amount. of. carbonation. There's luscious bourbon swirling around with some dark chocolate, a bit of sweet ... brown sugar?/molasses/cocoa? And more bourbon. And yet more bourbon. The base beer just wasn't strong enough to hold up to the barrel aging that it was subjected to. Maybe when the heat dies down, but right now, it's too hot. There's a bit of espresso bitterness in there that as you make your way through the bottle seems more prominent. I'd say you need at least 12 oz. in your gullet before you get used to the bourbon and can pick out other nuances.

Mouthfeel is unacceptably thin and flat. If it's going to have no carbonation, it needs to be viscous and creamy.

So what's the upshot? Bourbon barrel fans will be loving it, those who were looking for a more nuanced approached to barrel aging will probably be left disappointed. (2,210 characters)

Photo of Floydster
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle purchased for twelve dollars last weekend at the brewery, also had a few samplers of it there, also opened one of these last night with Dane since he had not had it yet, poured into my Dogfish Head snifter, I preferred the draft version to the bottle but did not take notes on that seving type, color is
pretty much black with minimal light shining, 1/2 inch tan foamy head, people were complaining about this being flat but that did not seem to be an issue in the two bottles of this I have opened, small amount of lacing, head stayed around for almost ten minutes too, aroma consists of bourbon, burned chocolate, coffee, roasted scents, vanilla, oak, and mild booze, starts off with bourbon and some vanilla but not sweet, roasted caramel and coffee beans in the middle, finish consists of more bourbon and rich dark malts, lingering oak in the finish, warms up a little sweeter than its initial flavor, dry, roasted, slightly hot, and on the verge of sweet mouthfeel, full bodied, moderate carbonation, taste lingers for a few minutes, drank a bottle once but this stuff seemed heavier tonight, alcohol is hidden well but it is rich and not completely smooth at times, still pretty good drinkability, should develop with age, good now but has potential to be much better later on, glad I have some extra bottles to cellar, will be drinking again, worth trying (1,380 characters)

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