Santa's Little Helper
Port Brewing

Santa's Little HelperSanta's Little Helper
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #500
Ranked #5,638
4.03 | pDev: 10.17%
Port Brewing
California, United States
Santa's Little HelperSanta's Little Helper
Notes: 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.
Reviews: 600 | Ratings: 1,556 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of mushroomcloud
mushroomcloud from Texas

3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle - no visible date (2019 vintage). Opened 12-25-19.
1/4" tan head on a black stout. Head falls to a sudsy ring quickly. Light lacing.
Earthy roasted malt, coffee grinds, woody chicory, hint of licorice.
Intense roast / charred malt. Espresso coffee bitterness. Dark fruit. Baker's cocoa.
Full body, thick mouthfeel, low to medium carbonation. Rich, roasty, malty medium to long finish.
Good - vanilla and cacao are imperceptible here. Good flavors and a big beer but would have liked to taste the vanilla and cacao as anticipated.

Dec 25, 2019
Photo of Beer_Right_Back
Beer_Right_Back from Arizona

3.43/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

We found large raisin notes upfront with a smooth and muted finished that paired well adequately with our cigars. Overall, this was a classic example of a decent stout, nothing too showy about it.

May 23, 2019
Photo of chitoryu12
chitoryu12 from Florida

3.56/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Look: Pitch black. One finger of tan head with decent retention.

Smell: Mild coffee and chocolate, sweet treacle, and a little hops. Not as bold as I would have expected.

Taste: Mostly booze and mild bitterness. A larger gulp brings some mild taste of roast coffee.

Mouthfeel: As thick as tar, with little noticeable carbonation.

Overall: Maybe something went wrong here?

May 04, 2019
Photo of ryan1788a5
ryan1788a5 from Massachusetts

4.48/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pitch black pour with a brown head that retains at an inch. Thin rings of lacing.

S: Thick fudge sauce, heavy roast. French roast coffee beans. Smokey. Bitter dark chocolate.Whiff of earthy hops.

T: Stifling blanket of roast (in a good way). Dark chocolate, smoke, french roast coffee. Heavy dose of earthy and mildly citrusy American hops. Minty, perhaps. Vague fruitiness deep within. Brush of alcohol. Long and roasty finish.

M: Thick, rich, and chewy in body. One could cut it with a knife. Creamy like chocolate melted in the mouth. Scrubbing carbonation. Warming alcohol.

O: Damn good. Really damn good. A textbook American Imperial Stout, executed flawlessly. I'm very glad they brought this to 12oz bottles now.

Feb 12, 2019
Photo of REVZEB
REVZEB from Illinois

4.02/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap. Actually liked this better than the bourbon ba version! This has more intensity in the flavor complexity without the intense booziness. Still plenty of alcohol, but coffee, sweet elements like vanilla, brown sugar, and chocolate, and the bitterness of the cocoa allowed to shine more. A boozy sweet stout for the holidays

Jan 16, 2019
Photo of RonaldTheriot
RonaldTheriot from Louisiana

4.85/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Santa's Little Helper has a thick, tan head, a very dark brown appearance, and moderate lacing. The aroma is of sweet malt, cream, and coffee. The flavor is similar, with minimal acrid char. Mouthfeel is high medium, and Santa's Little Helper finishes medium sweet.


Jan 01, 2019
Photo of BlackBeerPirate
BlackBeerPirate from Illinois

4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Taste: rich, roasted dark chocolate, malt, coffee with some hop bite mixed in. Same with the nose. Black/reddish hue, semi opaque, with tan foamy head and some lace. Full but not heavy body. Coffee and cacao smooth out this stout.

Dec 15, 2018
Photo of GuyFawkes
GuyFawkes from Illinois

3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Released November 2018; drank 12/12/18 @ the Yarchives.

Black appearance.

A violent pour yielded a HUGE dark tan head (careful pouring!); a thick curtain of tree-rung lace.

Fresh earth, cream & dark roast coffee bean notes in the nose.

Medium thick mouthfeel.

Fresh earth & mild cream flavors up front; dark roast coffee bean & faint booze heat notes on the finish.

A harsh, unpleasant mistress; the coffee & cacao add no ballast to this beast. Not for me.

Dec 13, 2018
Photo of patre_tim
patre_tim from Thailand

4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown, almost black with a hair of ruby tinge when held to the light. Topped with 4 fingers of deep, beige head.

Smells of cocoa, chocolate, and a hint of cinnamon.

Tastes sweet and chocolaty, cocoa, hot chocolate, smooth and rich all the way through. Hints of vanilla and ash. Covers the ABV big time.

Smooth, fluffy body with a pillowy texture. Little carbonation.

Got in Redding, drinking here Dec 3rd, 2018. Excellent, smooth drinking imperial ipa. Extremely different altogether from the bourbon barrel aged version.

Dec 04, 2018
Photo of HellsRanger
HellsRanger from Pennsylvania

4.17/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

It pours as said by others...dark with rich semi dark foam along with somewhat heavy lacing...the aroma is mild yet filled with roastiness, dark chocolate , & coffee. The taste follows with nose, but with a lot more definition in all areas and a slight more sweetness...very slight, but there. Can't agree more with "ZebulonXzogg" that it has the resemblance, much like "Old Rasputin" almost identical...very nice !!! The feel is somewhat on the slightly drier side, but still very much similar, and enjoyable. Overall a great stout and a must try if you can find it.

Dec 02, 2018
Photo of BayAreaJoe
BayAreaJoe from California

3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle from 2017, consumed 11/23/18

Poured deep black with a small dark tan head & good retention that left lots and lots of lacking.

Decent RIS aroma of sweet malt, a little bit of dark fruits, smoke, and dark chocolate.

Taste is pretty much in line with the aroma, sweet malt taking the front with the rest in a complementary role.

Feel is a solid medium-full, slick and oily, good carbonation, a bit of low bitterness.

Overall a decent RIS. Maybe priced a bit high for a revisit but enjoyed it all the same.

Nov 23, 2018
Photo of ZebulonXZogg
ZebulonXZogg from Illinois

4.27/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours an almost black with a small tan head, leaving behind a little lacing and an oily film on the glass. Snot locker get some heavily roasted malts, some coffee, dark fruit, maybe some toffee. Taste buds get the same. Nice thick body, moderate carbonation. Overall this is a terrific brew. It reminds me of Old Rasputin, and that's a good thing.

Oct 26, 2018
Photo of stortore
stortore from Illinois

4.14/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into a snifter. Had 12/10/17.

Pours near black, opaque, with a one inch head of darker foam and some spotty lacing. Aromas of malt, dark chocolate, molasses, light vanilla and smoke, some coffee and raisins, a hint of licorice. The taste is malt, dark, bitter chocolate, molasses, some coffee, light caramel, light vanilla- more as it warms. A good amount of bitterness throughout, but a little less as it warms. Smooth, a good full body, well carbonated.

Roasty, bitter, very good flavor and aroma. Liked this more as I drank it. Certainly worth a purchase.

Mar 22, 2018
Photo of IronLover
IronLover from Pennsylvania

3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Black in color. Poured with a thick, creamy, espresso crema colored foam with moderate retention. Rich, roasted malt and sweet dark malt aromas with earthy hop and dark chocolate notes. Full bodied with a thick, creamy smooth feel. Medium light carbonation fights its way through the viscous feel. Pleasant, boozy warmth as the finish approaches. Medium high dark roasted malt flavors. Medium hop bitterness through the middle that lingers into bitter roasted malt flavors and bittersweet dark chocolate on the back end. Boozy warmth slowly builds to the end as this finished with a coffee-like bitterness with sweet dark chocolate and roasted malt notes. Aromatic and tasty with a fabulous feel. Intense maltiness nicely hides the booziness.

Jan 03, 2018
Photo of jlindros
jlindros from Massachusetts

4.44/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What, somehow never reviewed this. 2017 vintage, so fresh

Pours a mocha colored thick rich 1/2 finger head that fades at a slower pace, nice sticky lacing, pitch black beer

Nose loads of dark chocolate, about as pure and dark chocolate as you can get, a bit roasty, biscuity malts, touch of anise in the background and cookie notes, touch of char but not acrid, fudgey, little caramel,

Taste big rich dark malts and dark chocolate, thick chewy nougat and caramel, a little roast, fudgey notes as well, baker's chocolate and biscuity cocoa cereal, bit of bitterness mostly from the malts, but not acrid, some earthy hop bitterness, no alcohol, some anise notes and cookie characters

Mouth is fuller bod, thicker lush, nice fluffy carb, a bit creamy too, no alcohol

Overall a great stout, one of the best basic imperial stouts out there, one of the staples for sure.

Dec 24, 2017
Photo of rodbeermunch
rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.67/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Been drinking these at my family's business Christmas tree lighting party every year. Well this and the barrel aged version.

Pours a typical black color and above average viscosity to it. 1/3" dark tan head on the top. Aroma of roasted malt, a little bit of dark fruit noise coming from the yeast here no doubt. Russian Imperial Stout status established and corroborated.

Taste is equal parts roasted malt and dark fruit bitterness. I dunno what the commercial description is about, there is nothing sugar cookie going on here, this is a traditional RIS with some export stout like notes to it as well. Nothing sugary adjunct going on, round here. There is a little bit of warming alcohol but nothing too harsh. That prune and roasted malt combo just dominates in this beer over anything else. Pretty good, but at $10 a bomber, I'm just drinking down my ones in the cellar and not buying more.

Dec 22, 2017
Photo of BB1313
BB1313 from Ohio

3.67/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a tulip. Pours black with a nice chunky dark khaki head that sticks around leaving great thick retention and sticky lacing. The aromas are on the subtle side. It's malt forward. Hints of cocoa. The flavors are a bit bolder. Lots of dark chocolate along with some chocolate syrup. Solid bitterness with a solid malt backbone. Some subtle coffee notes in the mix adding to the bitterness. Alcohol is well hidden. Mouthfeel is very nice. It's full-bodied with moderate carbonation. It's very fluffy, soft and slightly creamy. It's smooth and dangerously drinkable.

This is a solid Imperial Stout. It's not flashy or unique, but it's enjoyable. It's basically your traditional example of the style.

Dec 22, 2017
Photo of WickedBeer
WickedBeer from Alabama

3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap at Eureka.

Pitch black, nice tan head of foam with heavy retention.

Definitely getting a lot of roasty coffee on the nose with dark chocolate and malt.

The flavors are very bitter and roasty. The hops play much more of a part than expected, but not in an unpleasant way. Coffee and chocolate also present and linger.

Thinner than I usually like, but because it has such a prevalent hoppiness, it works just fine. A little sticky, and still very smooth.

Dec 11, 2017
Photo of Ozzylizard
Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

$ 7.41 (Including discount and tax)/bomber ($ 0.337/oz) at Oppermann’s, Saginaw, MI.
Undated bottle stored at 42 degrees. Served at 60 degrees in a hand washed and dried Jester King snifter.
Aroma – sweet malt, chocolate – lasts the entire glass.
Head – large (Maximum 7.6 cm, gentle controlled pour), light brown, medium density froth, excellent retention, good cling, leaving distinct thin rings connected by columns of varying thicknesses. A three mm ring and nearly complete frothy heaped layer remain.
Lacing – fair. Multiple small to tiny islands of tiny to small bubbles. Neither rings nor curtains are present.
Body – pour is dark brown but appears black in the snifter, opaque.
Flavor – initially chocolate and coffee, followed by a muted hoppy bitterness. The bitterness lasts as does a film coating the mouth and making the lips slightly sticky. No alcohol, no diacetyl. Allowing it to warm in the mouth releases copious carbonation but still no alcohol.
Palate - full, creamy, soft carbonation.

A very good interpretation of a Russian imperial stout. At what is essentially half price, a bargain!

Appearance 4.5, Aroma 4.5, Flavor 4.25, Palate 4.5. Overall 4.25.

Aug 04, 2017
Photo of Fordcoyote15
Fordcoyote15 from Kentucky

3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Not the best stout. Certainly not a stout I can see anyone wanting 22oz worth...?

Looks solid. Pours with a fabulous 2 finger mocha foamy head.

Smells rich and sweet entirely remiscent of a imperial milk stout. In fact, I was certain it would have been classified as such until I brought it up here.

Taste is charred and sweet but neither have depth. Its akin to putting 2 extra packets of sugar in burnt coffee. There's nothing appealing here. [Amended to add there's a slight burnt vanilla in the finish - negliable redemption.]

Mouthfeel is like drinking a shaken up Dr pepper. Why is this so volatile?

Overall. Meh to meh-

Jul 13, 2017
Photo of poisoneddwarf
poisoneddwarf from Idaho

4.6/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 backlog. Bomber. 2008 vintage. Aroma of coffee, sweet malt--I want to bathe in it. Pours like midnight with a beautiful tan head and perfect lacing. Tastes of black coffee, hints of bourbon, and a touch of sour. Nice bitterness; the alcohol lingers on the tongue. This beer reminds me of how much I love imperial stouts.

Jun 14, 2017
Photo of tigerbeer90
tigerbeer90 from South Carolina

4.24/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2016 release from bomber

A: Jet black with a big creamy head, almost like a very light mousse
S: Roast and coffee, but getting some dark fruit in the nose. Not sure with allergies atm, but smells great
T: Roasted malts and coffee bitterness. Still getting a little dark fruit on the backend. Finishes with just a splash of hop bitterness
F: Seems a tad bit thin for 10.5 ABV, however being that it is June, it makes it quite nice.
O: Super surprised by this one. Found it discounted on a shelf and picked it up on a whim. It has been a while since I have had a solid no-frills imperial stout. This one is damn near perfect! As one who traditionally stays away from hoppy IRS, this one is done correctly. It has an extremely slight hop bite on the backend that leaves you wanting more (unlike the some that verge on black ipas). Excellent job Port Brewing! Hope I find the barrel-aged sometime, but for now, back to the store to clean out the rest of their supply of these :)

Jun 08, 2017
Photo of ArkyVaughan
ArkyVaughan from New Jersey

4/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

Mar 06, 2017
Photo of philbe311
philbe311 from Pennsylvania

3.92/5  rDev -2.7%
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...

Jan 15, 2017
Photo of josanguapo
josanguapo from Spain

3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
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

Dec 26, 2016
Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 1556 ratings