Santa's Little Helper
Port Brewing

Santa's Little HelperSanta's Little Helper
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Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #497
Ranked #5,322
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
Reviews by mostfadedone:
Photo of mostfadedone
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

More User Reviews:
Photo of CHickman
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
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 tmzl
4.06/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Taste-off: Santa's Little Helper (S) vs. Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged (SBBA)

S: Pours with a huge, thick, creamy, billowy mocha head, has a good slow, equal retention (breakdown of medium sized bubbles). A very thick, medium-sized, creamy layer stays on top. Dark brown, heavy pour, fair amount of lacing.
SBBA: The head is a lot smaller, higher degree of medium/big bubbles, mocha head a bit lighter. Has a faster retention, mostly diminishing. Looks a bit more transparent and watery.

S: Cherry, dark fruit on opening, dominating roast, coffee and milk chocolate, stuffy, mostly dark malt driven. Light sourness, bit salty, soy sauce and some cookie dough.
SBBA: More dark fruit esters on opening, then goes to rum-kokos Casali chocolates with a lot of oak, vanilla. Roast, milk chocolate more on the side here. Alcohol with booze feeling, oak the most dominant aroma here.

S: Light acidity and molasses, burned sugar start with fruity forest esters. A bit rum-like transition into milky, dark malt medium sweetness that ends with medium dark coffee bitterness, it's well developed. Small boozy spike towards the end.
SBBA: Bourbon oak dominates this one. Medium molasses, burned sugar sweet start with acidity turned down, the middle, which is overrun with oak dominance, a bit of milky backbone felt, but a lot more subtle. Ends with strong bourbon oak spike that dominates the after with turned down roast, coffee bitterness and alcohol.

S: Full, light heavy body, soft carbonation lingers on the tongue, quite pleasant.
SBBA: A bit lighter on the body (higher alcohol), light warmth, no carbonation to detect.

The non-barrel aged version is a lot smoother and very drinkable. Solid, not too demanding take on imperial stouts. The bourbon one is a lot sluttier, the oak is (too) heavy and goes down a lot slower. The age in barrels didn't make it better IMO.

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Photo of johnInLA
4.64/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. color: black, head: well formed, light tan, nice lacing.

I look forward to this one every year. This year's did not disappoint.

An excellent version of a non barrel aged imperial stout.

Also looking forward to trying this year's barrel aged version.

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Photo of jaymo18
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of Odysseyalien
3.57/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

Split a 2008 ed. 22oz bomber; poured into a conical pint.

A: Pours very nearly black with two fingers of mocha head.

S: You get a hint of cocoa and coffee here, but there is an overwhelming whiskey aroma. Was this barrel-aged, I wonder?

T: Wow, any hotness that was in the beer has faded with age. There is smooth chocolate, creamy roast flavours and a twang of hop bitterness.

D: Maybe its due to age, but this is incredibly drinkable. The mouthfeel is smooth and sticky and it goes down very easy.

Overall: This was a great example of what cellaring can do to a beer. I have never had it fresh, but from the smell, I know this must have been pretty hot three years ago. This, however, is a delicious, smooth treat.

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Photo of msarver16
5/5  rDev +24.1%

Photo of gouettn
4.04/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Keeling
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Dbot
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of nickhiller
3.58/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: thick and black as fresh crude, no head, it looks like slow burbling tar pit.

S: you can smell that alcohol, it smells more like Kahlua than beer.

T: stale cigarettes, luke warm iced coffee, bitter chocolate, Kahlua, medicine.

M: full bodied and carbonation-less, sort of like drinking cough syrup--which I guess is a good thing as this is a winter seasonal.

O: ok, nothing special or abhorrent.

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Photo of TheSupremeAJ
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Blue Dog in Lansdale, PA

A- Thin, dark brown. Nice tan head. Good lacing for an Impy stout.

S- Real boozey and sweet. Kind of barleywinish.

T- Real balanced and taste like a RIS and Barleywine hybrid. Bittersweet and very good.

M- Nice.... creamy and smoooth.

D- This one is a sipper. The alcohol does not hide and it is very honest.

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Photo of mpdrago
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%

Photo of Noodleboyg
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%

Photo of George_Edwards_III
4.26/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of HopDerek
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Obtained fresh from Pizza Port Carlsbad back in March, I cellared it until yesterday.
Appears a very dark brown, almost black color, no light shining through at all. Pours with very little head and a ring of tiny bubbly tan foam with little lacing. Smells very sweet and somewhat charred, with hints of cherries, molasses, dark chocolate, and coffee. Taste is very bitter from the start, but with enough sweetness from cherries and the molasses flavors to give it a nice balance. Very thick in body and hides the alcohol content wonderfully. A beer I will definitely be seeking out again when it's released later this year. Not the greatest RIS out there, with some imbalances, but extremely tastey and very flavorful.

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Photo of Dougwillhike
4.23/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of MichiganderHB
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of Idrankitall
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

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


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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this brew from thethrone, Thanks Adam!

22oz bottle, dated 2008, served in a tulip glass.

L - black color with a small brown head that left 'ring-trails' of lacing.

S - dark fruit and roasted malt aroma.

T - rich, creamy sweet taste upfront followed with a bitter chocolate taste and espresso-like finish.

F - smooth and creamy full bodied stout.

D - smooth and easy to drink. Drink slowly, as to fully enjoy this tasty treat.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.23/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper, bomber, courtesy of BA user Plenum (trade).

Appearance: Served in a Sierra snifter, the pour produces an out-of-control head, several fingers in height. After some crowd-control, it comes down to two fingers, but still, very exuberant and unexpected for an Imperial Stout. Color is very black and absolutely opaque, with a classic tan head that recedes and remains as a brownish rim around the glass and remarkable lacing.

Smell: Subdued, some bitterness, roastiness. Coffee, chocolate, booze. Dairy. The classics. A tad of bourbon and wood, even though this is not aged/barreled. A lot of reviewers say the nose is too boozy- I don't see that.

Taste: That wood/bourbon thing that was on the nose continues here, subtle but present for sure. Bitter/astringent/pungent, but nice. Some chocolate and coffee.

Mouthfeel: Probably my favorite part of this beer. Lightly carbonated, a bit of a burn at the end, bitter throughout, chocolaty and just oh-so-pleasant all around. Very well balanced, incredibly delicious. Full flavor and body, nice dry finish that lingers around the lips.

Drinkability: A sipper for sure, but I think the alcohol is perfectly well hidden, not overpowering as others say. I wouldn't chug this, but as a nice sipping beer, it is unbeatable. Well done!

I love this one a lot, despite the fact that it is actually all over the board...

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Photo of darcange
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%

Photo of BillyTWilliams
4/5  rDev -0.7%

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