Santa's Little Helper | Port Brewing

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Santa's Little HelperSanta's Little Helper

Brewed by:
Port Brewing
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Santa’s Little Helper, our Imperial Stout, starts with an emphasis on dark cocoa and roasted coffee aromatics. The finish lends hints of sweet crystal malt, warming tones of alcohol and a touch of hops, making a perfect accompaniment to leftover fruit cake and sugar cookies.

Added by Boilermaker88 on 12-11-2003

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Reviews: 575 | Ratings: 1,474
Photo of ArkyVaughan
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 22 oz bottle. This is a nice straightforward imperial stout. No adjuncts, not barrel aged, very roasty with a thick mouthfeel. Really no flaws with this beer.

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Photo of philbe311
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Hoping this helps with the stout craving I've been having recently...

L - Standard pour yields a voluminous four fingers worth of dark khaki / medium brown colored creamy froth comprised of loads and loads of big chunky bubbles... Excellent retention... Gobs of lacing cling to the sides of the glass... The color is a deep dark brooding brown with faint reddish mahogany highlights... Still with no discernible carbonation anywhere... A really beautiful looking brew...

S - Rich roasted malts... Bitter dark chocolate... Hints of licorice... Some light dark fruit notes.. Just a kiss of soy sauce mixed in as well... Outstanding aroma but a bit more subdued than I would have expected...

T - The roasted malt cuts through everything else and is dialed exponentially on the palate... Next up is the dark chocolate which only provides a glancing blow... Everything else comes next in a highly muddled fashion - licorice, dark fruits, soy sauce and even a hint of sweet milk chocolate as well...

F - On the lighter side of full bodied... A surprising bit of carbonation on the tongue... A bit chewy... A bit sticky... Goes down smoothly and easily enough... Perhaps a bit thin overall given the style...

O - World class appearance... Outstanding smell... The taste and feel our solidly above average... The end result is a really really good Russian Imperial Stout... Just a notch or two below exceptional... Definitely worth seeking out and having in your fridge on a dark, cold even leading up to the winter holidays...

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Photo of josanguapo
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

From Cervezalandia. In Teku glass. Playing The Bug Butcher and Blackwell's Epiphany Sweet, smooth, with no torrefact notes and a noticeable alcohol presence that goes up to the head pretty easily. Very foamy

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Photo of Marius
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared at August THT. Pitch black with a medium height tan head. Notes of roasted malts, dark cherries, molasses. Medium to full bodied with a roasty bitter finish.

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Photo of Bluerabbitbell
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is definitely a winter Russian warmer! Sharp edge with Leah. Sweet, bitter and heavy on the alcohol. If your cold and in need of warming, hit this one! Excellent choice for a cold snowy night!

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Photo of alarmclock314
4.11/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, dated 2014, non-BA version. Pours black with a huge sized dark khaki head; some lacing. Smells of roasted malt, cocoa, coffee, licorice, earthy/lager hops, dark fruit, and char. The taste follows exactly with roasted malt, cocoa, licorice, hops, caramel, coffee, dark fruit, and char; fairly good intensity. Medium sweetness, bitterness, and dryness. No noticeable spice. High carbonation and above average body for the style. Overall, it isn't spiced despite the festive labeling, but it's a solid RIS with some depth. Worth a try.

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Photo of Tdizzle
3.91/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2016 edition.

L - Poured into a snifter, Santa's Little Helper pours black with a light brown head of very effervescent foam. Seems over carbonated for an imperial stout of this stature. Regardless, the head gradually settles to a thick cap atop the beer, leaving a few streaks of lacing clinging to the glass on the drink down.

S - Bold, rich notes of espresso, bitter baker's chocolate, sweet milk chocolate, star anise, and over-ripe dark fruits prevail. A bit of leafy hoppiness and a touch of alcohol phenols linger in the background. However, the hefty 10.5% ABV is very well hidden. A good swirl reveals a kind of woody note, but mostly just augments the enticing stout aromas.

T - Flavors of heavily-roasted grain, bitter espresso, and dark chocolate hit the palate, accompanied by more bitterness in the form of hops and a fairly prevalent phenol alcohol presence. The finish is very dry, leaving a lasting bitterness of both the astringent and roasted variety.

F - This beer is over carbonated. Aggressive bubbles scrub the palate clean between sips. However, the texture is viscous and a bit chewy. You can tell that there's a great imperial stout "feel" competing with the carbonation.

O - This would be a terrific imperial stout if it weren't for the off-kilter carbonation. Still, this is certainly a beer worth trying. I pick it up once every other year or so, just to check in on it. Not bad, but just misses the mark. I can forgive the boozy quality of the flavor because I'm sure the brewers created this with a "built to age" philosophy behind it.

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Photo of ccg
3.71/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Once it settles down, it looks excellent. It leaves tons of lacing on the sides of the glass while it's the head is settling, and head retention is excellent. It looks rich and dense. The only problem is that it initially looks way too carbonated. The head filled the whole top two-thirds of the glass.
The smell is very oaky or woody. As it warms, more of a chocolatey, roasted-grain smell emerges with some earthy hops behind it, but overall, there's not a lot happening on the nose.
Good flavor. Nothing earth-shattering here, but it's a well-balanced (if somewhat mild) stout. There's roasted grain, a hint of chocolate and vanilla, and some earthiness. Sweet and bitter are balanced. Despite the name of this beer, there's no "winter spice" here. It's a regular stout, and it's solid.
Mouthfeel is also fairly nice. It's soft and chewy, almost like an oatmeal stout, but the carbonation keeps it feeling light.
This a pretty good a stout. Considering that's a $9 bomber, it's a bargain too.

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Photo of Seh4fredom
3.69/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Very nice beer from Port Brewing Company. This is their bourbon barrel aged version of Santa's Little Helper, but released in July. Poured from a 12oz botte into two tulips. Very dark, sweet and boozy. A bit boozier than I prefer but a great beer overall. Worth the try!!

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Photo of chinchill
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle served in a goblet in July 2016.

Black, opaque body with a thick, durable tan head.

Appealing aroma of toffee and dark malts with hints of vanilla, dark chocolate and brown sugar. A bit mild, especially in comparison to the flavor.

The flavor largely follows. Excellent balance. Plenty of dark roasted grain without significant smoke, char or other burnt qualities.

Excellent mouthfeel from the full bodied, well (medium) carbonated liquid, although there is some mild alcohol heat.

Overall: no need to restrict this beer to winter, it's more than good enough to enjoy year around. Rich and robust enough to serve as a meal (which it may if my wife doesn't wake up for dinner).

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Photo of Uscjojo
3.71/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Just opened a 6month old bottle.
L- black with dark brown trim. It did not pour thick and oily like I would have liked.
S- smell is light Vanilla, Molasses, Roasted Malts, Dark Chocolate, and Coffee.
T- Sweet Raisin, coffee, Light Chocolate, burnt malts, and bitter hops linger at the finish.
The taste sweetens as it warms up, but the bitterness at the end stays.
F- Medium body feel.
This is a good RIS for the price of 5.99, when I bought this.
Good stout to enjoy, will buy again when it comes back in November..

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Photo of Pray_For_Mojo
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served from the bottle at cellar temp.

Appearance: black, void of light with a tan 1/2 finger head that lasts indefinitely. Well presented.

Aroma: raisins, molasses, sweet crystal malt and roast. Inviting.

Flavor: raisins, molasses and roast malt. The aroma didn't lie. The alcohol is a contributor to the flavor. Burnt toast flavors in the finish.

Mouthfeel: velvety mouthfeel, medium body.

Overall: Not bad at all! I paid $5.99 / 22oz bottle. This is a nice affordable imperial stout. It has been too long since I had Old Viscosity for me to accurately compare it to Santa's Little Helper, but given the discounted price of SLH, I'd say it is the better choice. A solid beer at a solid price.

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Photo of Omnium
3.94/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bomber > Snifter

A - Pitch black with a nice two finger dense bubbly tan head, thick lacing. Looks good
S - Huge dark roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, burnt caramel and toffee sweetness, some smokiness to it.
T - Intense dark bitter chocolate, mild malt sweetness of that carmel, some vanilla in there as well, but faint, kinda taste the alcohol, lends itself to be a bit like licorice in moments. Finishes kinda acrid and bitter.
M - Bitterness hangs on forever, a bit dry too, and wow, good amount of warmth, almost like heartburn.
O - Good initially then kinda gets to be too much once it warms up, but overall and good RIS

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Photo of M_C_Hampton
4.03/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured from a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass, dark brown almost black with a large dark tan head that lingers leaving good lacing, clear

S: coffee, chocolate, cocoa, bourbon, vanilla

T: coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, slightly smoky malt, bitter hops present in finish

M: thick with good carbonation, hint of alcohol

O: nice sipper

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Photo of Bierman9
4.19/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bought a 22oz bottle ($7.99) at Krugel's on 28JAN16 and enjoyed the next day at Ft Indiantown Gap.

Poured a deep, dark, opaque brown; almost black and dense, like crude oil. Had a lovely beige head, frothy at about 1/2" which ebbed away slowly. Lacing on the vessel was quite good. Aroma possessed roasty, choco notes which were not overly strong. Solid in the body area, being medium-plus, and it felt rather smooth, all-in-all.

Tasted lovely! Was a combo of milk chocolate and dark choco with some roasty malts thrown in. Also had a hint of espresso and licorice. Had nice bitterness in the finish, with some floral hopping subtly evident. Solid all around! Prosit!

4.19/5 rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25


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Photo of mkh012
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Sampled on Christmas 2015. Pitch black with a finger of fluffy tan head. Smells of roasted malts and bitter coffee. A strange, almost savory note is in there as well. Taste is piney, roasty, and intense but still smooth. Fairly bitter. Could maybe use some vanilla or cinnamon or something to that effect to mellow it out. A good RIS, but not particularly Christmas-y in any way, and a little one-note as well.

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Photo of DenverHopHead
3.82/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 2015 release, 22oz bottle; into a pint glass.
Appearance - aggressive pour produces a dark before dawn brew with a very thick, foamy light brown head that quickly diminishes to a thin to medium layer. Lacing is practically nonexistent.
Smell - thankfully there is no overly holiday themed notes here, but rather dark chocolate brownies and coffee!
Taste - very bitter coffee and dark chocolate that unfortunately damper some other smoked and toasted flavors.
Feel - not as big a body as I expected; an odd bitter coffee feel right off, but finishes smooth, yet dry.
Overall - lacks uniqueness, other than the over bitterness, but still a good quality big stout at a decent price.

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Photo of Brew_42
3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours jet black with a dense and frothy coffee colored head that stays around

Smells of roasted malts, coffee, and chocolate.

Taste follows the nose with a little vanilla sweetness

Heavy body with little carbonation with a little warmth from the high ABV

Overall a good stout with a warm kick for winter month.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.63/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From the 650 ml. bottle. The date stamp was unreadable. Sampled on December 10, 2015

The pour is deep dark brown to nearly black with a tremendous, soft tan head.

Lovely aroma that includes milk chocolate, roasted malt, barley notes, and mellow hops and no booze.

Medium to bold body. Smooth.

A pleasant milk chocolate flavor to start and there is a big bitter bite that kicks in on the backside.

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Photo of gratefulbeerhead
4.04/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle of '09, cellared since one of my first trades in the same year. Very pleased with how well it held up in the cellar. Still had good carbonation and lots of great bitter chocolate, coffee, and vanilla flavors.

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Photo of BeerT3ch
4.11/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Great beer but way too pricey for results. Nice stout but no character flavors. Looking for separation of holiday accents being that it's name "Santas... " Fall/Christmas. Couldn't find it. No different from any other decent imperial stout. Expected more from Lost Abbey

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Photo of OGShotzy
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Christmas in July event house. 22oz bomber poured into a Spiegelau stout glass.

A lot of carbonation for a 10.5% imperial stout. Don't get much smell-wise. The taste, however, has a nice graham crackery, gingerbready sweetness.

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Photo of CHickman
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2014 Bottle: Pours pitch black color with a huge foamy 2-3 finger tan/brown head that had a ton of tiny bubbles in it and faded very slowly, leaving caverns as it dissipated and great foamy lacing with thick rings as it went down. The head never fully goes away with a 1/4 inch foamy layer lingering the whole time – second pour looked just as good, a damn fine looking RIS.

Smells of chocolate, burnt grains, coffee grinds, faint vanilla, light bourbon, molasses, charred wood, smoked malts, licorice, piney hops and herbs that keep the sweetness in check with the fine roasted notes. Bakers chocolate, cocoa powder and coffee come through the strongest and seem to come on more as the beer warms up.

Tastes like it smells with chocolate, smoked malts, vanilla, coffee beans, burnt grains, cocoa powder, caramel, light bourbon, molasses and charred wood. After the initial swallow the bakers chocolate/dark chocolate (think Hersey’s Dark), licorice, burnt brownies, piney hops, some dark fruit, citrus hops like grapefruit as well as herbs which like the nose keep the sweetness in check with the fine roasted notes and slight hoppy bitterness. This has milk stout qualities and some of the high ABV comes through, but the complex roasted malts and chocolate just dominate the palate and let all of the complexities deliver a really finely crafted stout. The hops jump out at times, but then get washed away by either chocolate, light booze or smoky malts. I can overlook the hop bitterness being out of whack for the RIS style because the flavor is so damn good.

Mouthfeel is very thick, chewy and viscous with a slick milk stout feel across the tongue somehow as this juxtaposition of feel doesn’t make sense but indeed does come from the same brew. Heavy body with a slightly bitter chocolate, coffee finish that has a hop nip and some mild roasted sweetness that trails off like a Starbucks bold coffee. Really fine stout, represents San Diego area well and one I highly recommend and will seek out again. I like this on the fresher side as the hops played a nice part in the dynamics of the flavor profile.

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Photo of thedoubler55
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Opaque black in color with a nice one finger of tan head at the top, left some nice lacing around the glass as you drank it.

S: Some chocolate and citrus hops, good nose on this brew, some alcohol coming through on the nose as well.

T: Same as the nose with a lot more roasted characters, coffee prominent and chocolate as well, some citrus in there as well.

M:Medium/heavy bodied, little carbonation, smokeyness.

O: Overall a great beer to have during the holiday and the winter months, well balanced and flavorful, thoroughly enjoyed this one.

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Photo of mxchap
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper (Bottled 8.3.13 enjoyed on 1.27.15)

Appearance: Dark brown to black with a ring of tight, dense bubbles around the edge. Minimal to no head and retention. [3.75]

Aroma: Chocolate, plum, cherries, soy sauce. [3.75]

Flavor: Follows the nose closely. Mild bitterness and fairly sweet. Slight roasted malt flavor. A small amount of tartness as well (and some umami). Definitely get some raisins too. A little bit of alcohol heat on the end. [3.5]

Feel: Rather carbonated for a stout, although it does help cut through some of the sweetness. Fairly thick feel from the sweetness, but it doesn't linger as much as expected. A little disjointed (sweet + high carbonation) but it kinda works. [3.5]

Overall: A passable imperial stout at a good price. Definitely prefer the "fresher" version though. Cellaring this for ~1yr didn't improve it. [3.5]

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Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
3.99 out of 5 based on 1,474 ratings.
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