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: 1,473
Photo of Aaron_Ramson
4.44/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich, oily jet black with a frothy mocha head. Strong nose of leather, anise, burnt caramel, baking chocolate. Flavors of licorice, sweet espresso, and molasses. This is a very smooth and tasty RIS, almost like an American Brown on steroids. Would drink again!

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Photo of Paincane
3.43/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A%3A Almost black body in color with foamy khaki head %26 great lace. Excellent head retention. %0AS%3A Nose is dominated by smoky roasted malt%2C coffee %26 chocolate. %0AT%3A Flavors follow nose with burnt sugar%2C ethanol%2C smokiness %26 malt%2C malt and more malt. Coffee and bittersweet chocolate notes accent the back end. %0AM%3A Chewy%2C big and warming.%0AO%3A A big RIS that definitely warms the winter chill.

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

Santa's Little a big beer and one bottle will be enough to help anyone pass the time with in-laws! The beer poured a opaque black with big foamy tan head that is lacing like a naughty Ms. Klaus. The scent is a typical of most stouts....roasty with touches of coffee. The taste is a warmer fo shizzle. There is a strong roast quality with hints of espresso and perhaps chocolate....the abv...numbs the pallet. The mouthfeel is full bodies and big carbonation....which I think is affecting the taste somewhat....perhaps a tinge overprimed. Overall this is a winter warmer sipping by the fire beer. No way one can session this bad boy.

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Photo of HopBomb515
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Nice beer to pour, big coffee/khaki colored head with some fallout as it builds. Head holds on for a while and laces as it dissipates. Nice lacing on the drink down. Pretty beer.

S - Malt, malt, coffee, malt, burnt sugar, malt, and a touch of chocolate.

T - Huge malt bill to this beer, burnt and slightly smokey, burnt sugar mid palate finishing with a nicely bittering coffee and chocolate combo. Taste is nice but somewhat disjointed. It never really came together it just went from one nuance to the next.

M - Full body and chewy with appropriate carbonation.

O - I really enjoyed this beer. Nice holiday RIS. Not a RIS I would seek outside of the holidays but for the season I really enjoyed it as a change of pace.

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

Poured from the bomber to a snifter.

A: Poured black with a two finger brown head.

S: Faint roastiness. Slight coffee/chocolate. Smell is not that big.

T: Roasty malts, lots of smokiness/charred flavors. Almost a chalky taste as well. Chocolate/coffee is distinguishable, but everything tastes very burnt or smoked. Seems like it carries a lot of hop bitterness as well.

M: Medium bodied. Slightly above average carbonation. Bitter and almost spicy finish.

Overall a good stout but nothing I would seek out again. The flavors just seem to battle eachother. I thought it did get better as it warmed though.

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

A: Fairly aggressive pour leads to a monstrous head. Three fingers. (10% abv, no less) Beer is jet black. Retention is moderate, with stellar lacing. Head is a dark espresso creme/leather.

S: Chocolate, raisins. Some woody/leathery notes. Deep undertones of espresso, licorice and malted chocolate.

T: Fairly sweet up front. Mid palate is engulfed with a huge roasted barley bitterness. Lots of coffee, chicory and astringency. Some dark fruit, smokiness and a tiny trace of chocolate are in there as well. Finish is woodsy, herbal and peppery, with discernable heat. Aftertaste of chicory.

M: Fairly light, especially considering the style. Oily, a bit slick. However, the carbonation is a bit obtrusive and tickles the tonge. Not quite as creamy or viscous as one would imagine a beer of this magnitude to be.

O: This one is decent. It's a bit harsh in its bitterness and the mouthfeel is somewhat lacking. There are much better RIS's out there.

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Photo of Glennlawless
3.11/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass

A- Poured a thick black with a 2 inch brown head. looks heavy as hell.

S- Getting hints of coffee, dark fruit and maybe some dark chocolate. Touch of booze as well.

T/M - getting all the same as the some bittering hops on the back end.

Overall.... I was expecting some Christmas fall spices to be happening all im really getting is darkfruit, bitterness, and a ton of alcohol heat. This beer kinda let me down. Also not to big into russian imperials, but if you are give it a try cause the people that are into these, really really dig this beer.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.91/5  rDev -2%
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 beergoot
3.74/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Review taken from notes dated 12/7/13 during BAs 1st annual Winter Warmer Pub Crawl: Denver Style. This beer was poured at the Star Bar in LoDo.

Deep, dark body with a thin yet creamy head. Aroma and taste came across as slightly spicy with bitter chocolate notes. Medium body; semi-dry finish.

A rich, boozy, pleasantly bitter beer with a mild holiday spiciness.

Update: 1-8-2014 - updates based on a 22 oz bomber bottle. Upped the 'Smell' rating from 3.5 to 3.75 (richer, more pronounced character).

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Photo of Furlinator
3.57/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 08/13/13.

Pours opaque black with a huge 2 inch tan head that settles to a thick cap on top and leaves heavy lace. Near perfection.

Smell starts off strangely bitter, almost metallic with faint coffee and a hint of vanilla.

Taste is of roasted malt, coffee and faint chocolate with a hoppy bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is heavy bodied and thick with medium carbonation

This Imperial Stout looks and feels beautiful but, there is something in the aroma and taste that is slightly bitter, somewhat metallic and is out of place and unsettling.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank you, Jared. Bottled 9/12/12, consumed Thanksgiving night.

Pouring jet black with a dense, dark brown head with excellent retention and lacing. The nose is excellent. Big, roasted malt character with mild acridity (pleasantly so, lending a nice acidity), there's cocoa, cream and a pleasant coffee grounds character. Mildly hoppy with an earthy and faintly herbal note, this really is a very nicely done straight up RIS. On the palate, the blend of roasted malt, burnt toast, black patent bitterness and acidity dominate, enhancing the unsweetened cocoa character that's present. Faintly creamy, this really is all about dark malts without any unnecessary sweetness. Medium-full in body with moderate, creamy carbonation, this beer finishes long, dry and roasty with more than a modest grainy bitterness. Enjoyable, recommended.

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Photo of ISmith87
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - 4 - Nice dark brown/black opaque, with tan head that lasts forever and leaves nice lacing on the glass.
S - 3.75 - Nice roasty chocolate malt taste, coffee, espresso, roasted malts, but then some vinegar - not sure where it's coming from, but it sucks.
T - 3.75 - Pretty rank vinegar taste up front accompanied by some roasty dark malts. Coffee, espresso, not that great.
M - 3.75 - Nice roasty taste upfront, alc completely covered, aftertaste roasty chocolate malts. Alc covered. Medium - heavy mouhtfeel
O - 3.75 - YEa, it's alright, but not the best.

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Photo of Fatehunter
4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours three fingers of tan head on a pitch black body.
The aroma is loaded. Roasted and burnt malt, coffee, dark chocolate and milk chocolate.
The flavor is complex but still balanced. Alcohol heat, roasted malt, chocolate, mild coffee bitterness and finishes with a chocolate bitter note.
The texture has some stickiness to it; crisper with soft edges with moderate carbonation.

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Photo of evanforbeer
4.27/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

pours a deep black with big angry beautiful light brown head, bottle date 9/28/13

aroma- vanilla, dark cherries, cocoa, little oily coffee

taste- follows with some bold coffee bean, cocoa, vanilla, dark cherries, some hops come through with orange rind and some floral notes, finishes with some oak, cocoa and char

feel- great imp stout, medium-full bodied, fairly boozy

what a great brew. I'm going to have to pick up the bourbon barrel aged version soon. I'd also love to compare this to Old Viscosity, but this is great

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

This big brew is up to the style standards by the look of it. It's very dark brown, close to black with a little ruddiness in the very edges. It grows a firm tan head that shows lots of resilience, sticking it out at a finger for the duration. Patching is thick and clings in plenty.
This beer's flavor follows the smell stingily. It's nice and robust, well on par for what's perhaps the biggest beer style in the world in terms of heft (sometimes ABV, but of course that varies). This one's got lots of malt fortitude, laying lots of flavor on a hefty base while maintaining similarities to a big Scotch ale (Wee Heavy), as though an Imperial Stout and a Wee Heavy had a baby and added some extra hops for measure. It's smoky, earthy and peaty with a piney aftertaste that, in the context, does just work, with a sort of meaty smokiness leading into the finish. Check the previous; this may have been a threesome with a Rauchbier.
The feel is medium-heavy, the body just falling shy of full, and it's got a bit of a bite to it. Crispness doesn't supercede smoothness, but they're even.

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Photo of IAmAPenguin
3.73/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Aroma - Definite chocolate malt, dark roast characteristics, slight licorice, distinct coffee bean.
Appearance - Jet black with a mocha foam and decent lace.
Taste - Tons of deep chocolate, fudge, cocoa overtones with dark roast, campfire, burnt sugar, burnt caramel, charcoal and slick molasses. Overall, this is a dark roasty treat. Very nice, rich stout.

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Photo of pkalix
4.59/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

beautiful super dark brown color with ultra creamy chocolate-milk head. Guinness-like coating on the glass and a wonderful barrel-type of aroma mixed with some fairly typical coffee and chocolate nibs... smells a tad like a bourbon barrel-aged brew, but it says 'oak' on the label....
very good so far... except for the Total Wine store OVERCHARGING me on this.... so let's see what it tastes like...
thick(er), bitter (a little), alcohol presence, and the typical stout flavor. the 'barrel' part of the flavor is fairly pronounced but does not detract from the overall flavors. typical espresso, dark bitter chocolate, maybe some licorice... vanilla.... get some 'bourbon' from it although there is no claim to the bourbon barrel... some distinct alcohol heat but it IS 10%, and not all of them can disguise it so well....
I've seen this on the shelves before but never tied it. probably due to the 'cartoon-like' label.... hard to take them all so seriously, ya know. this is a good one; better than average, but not quite outstanding, if ya know what I mean... I have my standards for 'outstanding' these days.... unfortunately it costs a proportional amount of money for them....
this is a beautiful-looking brew when poured; can I find it on draught, I wonder?

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Photo of KYGunner
3.66/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thick black and viscous , this poured like oil into the snifter and left a bold brown head.

The scent seems one dimensional with a nice balanced chocolate aroma but I strain to find much else.

The flavors are awash in alcohol but chocolate, malt and a light caramel stand out.

The metallic tang of alcohol seems to leave an inprint on the feel as well but it does have a nice fullness to the swallow.

This seemed to be less than stellar and might have simply been this one bottle, unfortunately they are hard to come by.

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Photo of BeerDawgs
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A bomber dated 8 - 2011, so this one has aged 2 years.

A - Pitch black, or charcoal according to the bottle. Lots of tan head, sticky lace on glass. Looks like motor oil! Impressive.

S - Coffee, dark grains, booze.

T - Big coffee/chocolate. Sweet, but not too much. Alcohol well hidden. Tasty!

M - Big bodied.

O - An excellent Imperial Stout. A little highly priced, but will definitely shell out for a pint around Christmas time.

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Photo of shleepy
3.71/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into a trappist-style ("chalice") glass. My bottle said 12% ABV, so it seems like the recipe has changed since the beer was created.

A: Black, with very dark head.

S: Chocolate milk, faint vanilla.

T: More "spicy" than I'd like, with noticeable hot alcohol. Other than that, it's got chocolate and coffee notes.

M: Fairly creamy and smooth.

O: For such a strong beer, does not seem to be complex enough, and the hot alcohol is off-putting. Maybe I'm just not feeling it tonight, but I am not finding it pleasant at the moment.

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Photo of pants678
3.06/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Bottle of 2012.

Black with a big, dense frothy head. Belgian-y.

Coffee. There's the slightest buried sweet chocolate. I think I never smelled chocolate before beer.

Coffee. Lot of coffee. Too much coffee. Hard to call this rich but it's rough and so hot. This is a lot to handle and there's nothing else going on here. Iced coffee is easier. If you let it sit there's just a tinge of caramel. There are some beers you feel challenged by but, for whatever reason, this isn't it.

Creamy but has a hot back end.

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Photo of dgilks
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pitch black with a big, creamy tan head. Great head retention and nice lacing. Pretty.

A big stout. Nice bitter cacao notes with some light coffee and roast. Not acrid at all just a wonderfully rounded stout.

Nice. This has sat around since 2011 and the flavours have integrated and rounded out nicely. Big bitter chocolate and espresso notes. No acrid roast. Nice sweet malt backbone. Solid bitterness. Great.

Medium-full body with moderate carbonation. Solid mouthfeel which accentuates the flavours. Good.

A big American Imperial Stout. Nice balance and it has aged well. Really, really good.

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Photo of superspak
4.16/5  rDev +4.3%
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 vfgccp
3.96/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Killer looking stout. Towering khaki head with thick clouds of lace. Near-solid black with just the lightest rim of cola highlights.

S - At first whiff it feels relatively simple, but a second look shows some remarkable complexity. Light white booze and burnt caramel. Nutmeg, edge of cinnamon, andes mint chocolate, candy cane, and allspice.

T - Spicy for a stout. Dusty mint, burnt chocolate, charred coffee beans. Allspice, booze, gingerbread, and raw licorice root.

M - Medium frame.

O - Great appearance and nice complexity in the nose. Nice spice notes in the flavor profile, but I'm ambivalent about the mint flavors I'm picking up in the beer.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2011 vintage acquired via trade. Poured from a bottle into a DFH snifter. Pours out dark brown, not quite black, with some light getting through. It's almost like an extremely dark Scotch Ale. On the nose I get some dark fruit, vanilla, oak, and bourbon. Sadly, I don't get much in the way of roasty notes. Still nice.

The beer is full-bodied and has intense flavors. I don't get roasty flavors out of this one. No noteworthy coffee or chocolate notes. None of the flavors one expects from an imperial stout. There's plenty of toffee, plums, figs, and of course, bourbon. There's lots of nice bourbon flavor to be found here. It's not hot, but it is definitely warming. The feel is good, though a bit thinner than I like in this style, which seems to contribute to the booziness.

This beer drinks more like an American (very) Strong Ale or barleywine. It's good, but I swear if it didn't say ``Imperial Stout'' right on the label, I wouldn't have been able to identify the style. I'm sure the age has something to do with it, but I wouldn't think that roastiness would vanish and bourbon flavors would intensify and the color would fade. At any rate, a very enjoyable beer, but not one I would trade for again. Cheers!

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Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing
3.99 out of 5 based on 1,473 ratings.
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