Santa's Little Helper | Port Brewing

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Santa's Little HelperSanta's Little Helper
1,514 Ratings
Santa's Little HelperSanta's Little Helper

Brewed by:
Port Brewing
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.90%

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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,514 |  Reviews: 586
Photo of Sammy
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very thick IS. Pours black with white head. Roasty aroma, instense, with coffee and chocolate. Bold taste has East Kent Goldings, Mt. Hood, Liberty, and Challenger hops. On the sweet side, with brown sugar. Drinkable though alcohol is powerful stuff.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: two finger tan frothy head with nice lacing on a near jet black body with little light getting through.

S: very sweet with lots of vanilla, dark fruits mostly raisins and plum, light bourbon notes as well. roasted malts are mild.

T: nice roasted and coffee flavor throughout and late into the aftertaste. Nice bourbon, dark chocolate, vanilla and toffee flavors mostly up front and in the middle.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation. fairly dry finish.

Overall: well balanced beer and hides the alcohol well. Drinkability may be hurt for some by the coffee and bourbon but for me its excellent.

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Photo of jaydoc
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage.

Pours a thick pitch black with a tiny 1/2 inch chocolate milk colored head. Smells of roasted coffee/espresso beans, bittersweet chocolate, molasses. Very rich and delicious smells. Taste is of roasted coffee, cocoa powder, bittersweet chocolate. Pronounced bitterness on the tongue after each sip. I was not expecting this level of bitterness from a RIS. Light to medium level of carbonation allows for the beer's smoothness to come out. Somewhat of a medium body on this beer. Drinkability is good on this Christmas seasonal. Something I will buy every year from now on.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

enjoyed 2011 and 2013 vintages side by side. this drinks better fresh than aged, with the older one losing a lot of its body and pop. deep dense brown color, not as viscous as some big stouts, but not by any means thin. it doesn't hold on to its inch of mocha foam very long either, but it looks tasty enough. nose of burnt barley, milk chocolate, and English style hops. not as dark as some, but the booze is well disguised, at least in the nose, and a residual sweetness abounds. the flavor starts with the heavy roasted barley and moves into a coffee and hop bitterness complex, before finally being rounded out by a little candy sweetness as it finishes. I like this, but ill bet the bourbon barrel addition has a few more layers that make it amazing. as this one stands, it could use a little more body, maybe some oatmeal or something. also, nothing about it really says Christmas to me, no spice or anything, so its hard to judge it in that context. heck of a buzz on it too, better to share this than drink it solo.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a firm thick tan head and really nice thick lacing.

Nose is huge cooked fruit and sweet black chocolate and chocolate espresso beans. Very inviting.

Mouthfeel is rich and creamy; bold.

Flavors are difficult on this year's Little Helper since from the first taste the alcohol is very strong and assertive. You first have to get through a strong alcohol presence before getting to rich coffee and bitter dark chocolate.

Strong alcohol finish, as well. And, alcohol doesn't "burn off" or get better with age....alcohol is alcohol.

My initial notes for the 2008 show that I loved that year and commented that it could be an every day drink it was so appealing. The 2009 is simply not as integrated, balanced or drinkable. The huge presence of alcohol really hurts this one.

Re-tasting several times shows complexities and consistency. Still a bit alcoholic but I've adjusted my scores based on recent tastings in 2013.

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Photo of kjkinsey
1/5  rDev -75.1%

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%

Photo of nmann08
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.77/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of Taphouse_Traveler
4.11/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of metter98
3.72/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A:The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a finger high tan colored head that died down but consistently left a short head covering the surface, a collar around the edge, and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light aromas of chocolate and roasted malts are present in the nose; the taste becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
T: The taste mostly follows the smell and also has hints of burnt malts. A little acidity and licorice are noticeable towards the finish, which also has a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels medium bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O:it seems that you really need to let this beer warm up as the complexion in the beer become stronger.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.65/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of oline73
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of WillieThreebiers
4.16/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of zeff80
4.29/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a one-finger, thick, tan head of foam. It left thin rings of lace.

S - It smelled of bittersweet chocolate. Some floral notes were detected. It really smelled great!

T - It tasted like chocolate milk with a bitter hop kick. A subtle boozy, alcohol presence emerges as it warms up.

M - It was soft, smooth and creamy. A medium bodied beer that is surprisingly easy drinking despite the ABV.

D - This is a really interesting Imperial Stout. Strong chocolate flavor without an overpowering sweetness.

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Photo of superspak
4.16/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 8/27/2012. Pours dense pitch black color with a 2 finger dense and fluffy tan head with fantastic retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Nice dense foamy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big dark chocolate, roasted malt, caramel, toast, brown sugar, char, candi sugar, raisin, light coffee, and earthy hop spiciness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark malt notes with moderate hop balance. Taste of big dark chocolate, roasted malt, pine, char, caramel, toast, brown sugar, coffee, and roasted earthiness. Fair amount of roasted pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, roasted malt, caramel, char, toast, brown sugar, coffee, pine, and earthy spiciness on the finish for a while. Very nice balance and complexity of roasted flavors, dark malt sweetness, and piney/spicy hops; with no cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and full bodied; with a creamy, slick, and lightly prickly mouthfeel that is very nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very excellent Russian imperial stout. All around nice complexity and balance of roasted/dark malt flavors with moderate piney/spicy hop balance; and very smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of brentk56
4.34/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 bottling; consumed 3/21/10

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown with auburn highlights but only a wisp of a head that quickly fritters away

Smell: Dark chocolate and dark fruit; still boozy with a hint of minty hops

Taste: Dark chocolate and fruit, up front, with the boozy alcohol making its presence felt by mid-palate, along with a bit of residual hop bitterness, even after all this time; after the swallow, tobacco and chocolate notes dominate the finish

Mouthfeel: Thick bodied with low carbonation

Drinkability: This is one fine RIS; just wish it had a bit more carbonation but it still tantalizes the tastebuds

Thanks, mreusch (from the other site), for the opportunity

N.B. Re-visited the 2015 version - the carbonation issued have been addressed and the beer provides all the stout theatrics - rating changed accordingly

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.52/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a light foamy head with good retention and some very good lacing. Aroma of black chocolate is quite intense with some light roasted malt notes also discernable. Taste is somewhat vinous with some great black chocolate notes, light dry roasted malt notes. Full body with some good carbonation and no discernable alcohol. Creamy texture is really enjoyable. Very complex but still very enjoyable and easily drinkable.

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Photo of LXIXME
3.89/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of SocalKicks
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%

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Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
Beer rating: 4.01 out of 5 with 1,514 ratings