Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged
Port Brewing

Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel AgedSanta's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged
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Stout - American Imperial
Ranked #2,009
Ranked #6,589
4.02 | pDev: 12.69%
Port Brewing
California, United States
Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel AgedSanta's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged
Reviews: 203 | Ratings: 650 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of RyanK252
RyanK252 from California

4.31/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a snifter

A: Pours dark brown with a frothy tan head that settles to a light layer and leaves a little nice lacing.

S: Big brown sugar, toffee, and smooth bourbon, peppery spice, coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, a little earthiness, and light of herbal pepper minty notes.

T: Roasty, smooth bourbon, brown sugar, vanilla, chocolate, a touch of peppermint, earthy slightly herbal notes, and a little coffee.

M: Full body, mild carbonation, creamy smooth, with just a touch of warmth.

O: This bottle has some years on it. I'm not sure exactly how many, at least 3+, and it's aged well. I'm drinking it side by side with the standard and the bourbon barrels bring so much more to the table. Perfect on a cold December night.

Dec 31, 2020
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REVZEB from Illinois

3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Somehow missed this one from the past. Tons of bourbon all the way through the taste and smell. Molasses, coffee, dark chocolate, slight vanilla and licorice all present. Not the heaviest, in fact pretty dry and thin for an imperial stout. Booze is so powerful, begins to burn as you go down the glass. Like the regular version better

Jan 15, 2019
Photo of patre_tim
patre_tim from Thailand

3.79/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown to black with a quarter finger of beige head.

Smells of black liquorice, molasses, soy sauce, umami, brown sugar and a hint of vanilla.

Tastes of umami, soy sauce, and black liquorice. I get a bit of the bourbon barrel but its really faint.

Thick, syrupy, oily body with moderate to low carbonation. Burn in the throat.

Got this at Liquor Barn this evening, drinking in Redding, Dec 1st, 2018. Same same, I don't know why I keep trying some of these imperial stouts, but there it is.

Dec 02, 2018
Photo of monkist
monkist from Hungary

5/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Now this is something amazing!
Port Brewing makes outstanding beers and make wonder out of imperial stouts and porters, just like Old Viscosity (that is one of the best imperial stouts I have ever had).
Here we are again with the Bourbon Barrel aged Imperial Stout and it is just stunning. Pitch black, thick like tar, smells boozy at 12% ABV. The taste is very intense full of sweet caramellized malts - not sure about hops though but there is quite a distinct taste to it, which is perhaps to the combination of the malts and no hops, as we are talking about a truly imperial stout.
I mean, here we are in SoCal where you would look for (imperial pale) ales but Port can make a heavy stout that suits the all-year-long-summers and not just winters.
An instant classic, from the moment you pull the cork.

Mar 31, 2018
Photo of bret717
bret717 from Pennsylvania

4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter after being out of the fridge for 15 minutes. I think this is a vintage 2014, but the date is smudged so I'm not sure.

Look- Pours pitch black with a thin tan head and minimal lacing. Some tan sediment settled on the bottom of the glass

Aroma- mostly chocolate with some black licorice and bourbon

Taste- follows the nose in that it's predominantly chocolate with bourbon and some roast, black licorice and vanilla rounding things out. Bourbon and and very mild bitterness from the roast linger in the aftertaste

Feel- medium bodied and creamy. Moderate carbonation

Overall- this was very pleasant to drink with full, smooth and balanced flavors.

Dec 25, 2017
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PBRmeasap1980 from Indiana

4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Black
S- Chocolate and bourbon. Smells great
T- Bourbon and cola, kind of overly sweet like cola
F- Medium thin
O- Good but not great. I don't think I would seek it out again.

Nov 16, 2017
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Boccu from New York

4.59/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black nice brown head that fades quickly. Light lacing. Aroma of dark chocolate, molasses and plums. Taste dark passion fruits, molasses, brown sugar,vanilla and raisins. Nice light bourbon finish. Very tasty bourbon stout.

Apr 04, 2017
Photo of TheManiacalOne
TheManiacalOne from Rhode Island

4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On-tap 3/19/2017 at Natty Greeneā€™s Tavern in North Attleboro, MA, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a large tan head that fades slowly and leaves a very thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains bourbon, chocolate, roasted malts licorice, dark fruit and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of chocolate, bourbon and molasses. Then a hearty roasted malt character comes in. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings a very good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Very tasty, goes down easily, slightly filling, strong kick, very good representation of style, this is a very solid big stout to drink for a long time.

Mar 20, 2017
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Smakawhat from Maryland

4.26/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass.

Light to reddish mahogany brown body color off the pour, with virtually no head creation at all. Settles to a fine tan collar though, and leaves a pretty solid faint whispy top.

Real nice aroma. Fruity and spicy with dark chocolate notes and hints of spicy cherries. Slightly hints herbal as well with some nice milky chocolate tones, even minty. Definitely has a Christmas almost minty candy cane quality to it. Very very nice.

Pleasant first sip. Light bodied for barrel aging, but the barrel is imparting flavors and has a good solid roasty malt backbone. Minty mid palate and really nicely accented by hop and herbal mint like character. Roasty and chocolate milk hit the mid palate, and there's an almost mint and brandy warmth going on here.

Real nice beer for the December holiday season, fits the characters well and very memorable.

Dec 31, 2016
Photo of KTCamm
KTCamm from New Jersey

4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12/18...pours dark black, flecks of brown, some brownish foam rings but none on top. Strong bourbon based nose, more powerful than the combo from the stout. Milky stout flavor overwhelmed by a whisky snap. Packs a punch. Bourbon throughout. Really well blended. Solid.

Dec 20, 2016
Photo of Brolo75
Brolo75 from California

4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

375 ml bottle poured into a snifter

A: Pours pitch black with a soapy tan colored film, no head retention, slight lacing, low carbonation, looks like motor oil.

A: Very hot, bourbon, toasted coconut, vanilla, oak, dark fruits, dark chocolate, alcohol comes through pretty strong.

T: Big bourbon barrel notes up front, oak, vanilla, aroma is much better than the taste, not a lot of complexity or depth to the taste, very hot, overwhelmingly hot and straightforward. Some chocolate notes come through as the beer warms.

M: Medium bodied with a thick oil like mouthfeel, semi-dry finish.

O: Great look and aroma, however, the taste doesn't live up, still very good but it lacks depth and complexity due to the alcohol coming through very strong on the taste. Some time in the cellar might help to balance the beer out, still very good and enjoyable, will cellar a bottle and check it in a year.

Oct 24, 2016
Photo of billshmeinke
billshmeinke from California

3.03/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

Corked and caged 350ml bottle, poured into a wine glass.

Look: Impenetrable blackness. Quarter inch of khaki head. Dies down to a ring of foam with little lace.

Smell: Soy sauce, butterscotch, alcohol, and bourbon. Pretty astringent smelling. Booze is super prevalent. There's maybe some dark chocolate there too.

Taste: Tastes a LOT better than it smells. Chocolate-y, buttery, vanilla, oak, char, some estery dark fruits, and bitterness round things out. Honestly I was a little scared when I smelled it. The soy sauce and alcohol where so harsh and prevalent, but not nearly so much on the palate. There's still a lot of butterscotch and salinity though. Still not that great.

Mouthfeel: Huge, sticky, light carbonation. Heat kicks you in the back of the throat.

Overall: It's alright, not worth the price. Lost Abbey/ Port are very hit or miss when it comes to barrel aged stouts.

Aug 14, 2016
Photo of ccg
ccg from Virginia

4.16/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Legs look a little thin and gritty, the barrel-aging has tamed the overly carbonated base beer. This barreled version pours with minimal head. There is only a thin ring of light-tan-colored bubbles around the edge to show the carbonation here.
The smell is huge bourbon, oak, vanilla, and some cocoa. It smells like a huge beer. Having just tasted the base beer immediately before this, it makes sense. The base has a mild, subtle smell, and in this version of it, the barrel aging has completely taken over. I love that bourbon/oak/vanilla smell, but the base beer is lost in the mix.
The taste is almost identical to the smell. Huge bourbon, oak, and vanilla. It's delicious, but at the same time, it's almost more like drinking an oaky bourbon/cocoa cocktail than a stout.
It has a slick, tongue-coating sort of feel to it. Oily. A little bit light for a BA stout.
Overall: If you're a fan of the style, it's delicious. It's boozy and very much bourbon-forward. Tons of oak and chocolate and vanilla as well. Not a lot of base-stout complexity made it past the barrel, though. The roasted grains and hops are in the mix, but the barrel is the star of this show.

Aug 05, 2016
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber from Washington

4.24/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours pitch black, opaque in the glass with a half finger light brown head with great retention and lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt and bourbon with light hints of coffee and chocolate; slightly boozy. Flavor is semi-sweet dark toasted malt with light char, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon. Finishes with nice chocolatey malt and bourbon with a light oak note. Great creamy body with a medium to heavy mouth feel. A very nicely made bourbon aged imperial stout. The base stout is great and is one of my favorite stouts, and the bourbon adds its usual magic. There is a bit more booziness to this, almost as if actual bourbon were added to it, but overall its very well balanced and full flavored. Fantastic mouth feel. Top notch barrel aged stout. This was bottle from the basement fridge and I don't remember when I bought it; it may have a few years on it. If so, it has aged superbly. Note to self: buy more.

Jul 18, 2016
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rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Black pour with very little head, 1/10" tan range.

Aroma was chocolate, bourbon, oak, heat, mild vanilla and char.

Taste hit with plenty of roast that wasn't evident in the nose. Mild carbonation allows for more of the char and vanilla which are very mild to intrude and play nicely.

Its a good beer, and an improvement on the base, but its a crowded field to stand apart in. Notch this one in the second tier imperial stout barrel aged genre.

Feb 02, 2016
Photo of jcruelty
jcruelty from California

3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Too boozy. The bourbon barrel aging thing has gotten out of hand IMO. Or at least, I haven't enjoyed the last few beers of that type that I've tried. Maybe it's just me. I didn't love this.

Jan 11, 2016
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KettleBellFreak from Tennessee

4.39/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Deep black color
Smoky coffee and booze smell
Spicy chocolate bourbon taste that just got richer and smoother as the beer warmed up.
Sharp mouth feel that didn't hide the booze but didn't let it take over the beer.

Dec 30, 2015
Photo of EmperorBevis
EmperorBevis from England

4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black body and rim of tan bubbles
aroma of dark chocolate & whiskey
Like an Irished up mocha
Great MF, doesn't hide the strength doesn't make it heavy going
liquid perfection or near enough

Dec 25, 2015
Photo of Jovial_Libations
Jovial_Libations from Texas

4.31/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Purchased from the brewery in July. Smells of sweet chocolate and Bourbon. More if a barleywine flavor than a stout. Still very flavorful. If only it were Jess pricey and more widely available.

Dec 21, 2015
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Furlinator from California

4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Slater's 50/50 Rancho Cucamonga on 12/18/15.

All the characteristics of a world class barrel aged stout but, somewhat subdued. A solid effort, for sure.

Dec 19, 2015
Photo of EMV
EMV from Pennsylvania

4.14/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on-tap at the Pour House in Exton, PA. Poured into a snifter.

L: Jet black pour. Thin tannish head falls rapidly. Moderate lacing.

S: Roasted grains, heady bourbon dominates. Vanilla as well.

T/F: Taste follows the smell, with strong oak character.. booze and vanilla. Great roasted malts and mild chocolate. Caramel and burnt raisins. Better and more fullness as it comes to room temperature. Warming from the high ABV.

O: A pretty damned tasty bourbon stout. Lots going on, and a boozy sipper. Would definitely have again.

Dec 15, 2015
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Stevem68 from Ohio

3.89/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a nice chocolate color with almost no head. Aroma is roasted malts with some chocolate notes. You get the bourbon right a way with a sweet vanilla smell too. Flavor is bourbon up front. There are sweet notes of vanilla and chocolate. Leaves a warm mouthfeel front he bourbon. Overall this is a nice beer, but price is the biggest knock. I'd rather have 3 KBS for the same price.

Dec 14, 2015
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BWood from California

3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: dark as night with tan head that dissipates

S:: roasted stout. Not much bourbon smell.

T: honestly just tastes like a normal stout. Would not buy this again. $17 for a 12oz bottle is not worth it. It as a good stout but older viscosity is much better.

F: just normal.

O: I would not buy again. Just average and over priced.

Dec 06, 2015
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leroybrown10 from Missouri

3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black and thick. Almost no head, just a thin layer of khaki foam. No lacing.

Aroma is bourbon and dark chocolate. Roasted malt and vanilla. Nothing is very assertive. Doesn't seem to blend, either.

Taste is dark, bitter chocolate. Bourbon, vanilla, roasted malt, and dark molasses. Sweet cream. Caramel, plum, and licorice. A bit boozy.

Thick, sticky mouth feel. Moderate+ carbonation. Sweet and creamy, almost syrupy. Bourbon and chocolate linger. A bit of bitterness at the end. Some alcoholic heat as well.

Thick, sticky, sweet stout with good bourbon flavor. Aroma was very subdued compared to the taste. Not up to the standard of some of the classics of the style(BCS comes to mind being I'm reviewing this on Black Friday) but still enjoyable.

Nov 28, 2015
Photo of vic21234
vic21234 from Illinois

4.39/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

375ml bottle poured into a snifter. No bottled on date but this is the newest vintage.

A- Pours pitch black as expected, with some sediment that comes to rest at the bottom of the glass. A small amount of khaki head quickly fades.

S- Sweet aromas of chocolate along with some coffee. Oakey bourbon is noted on the back end.

T- Same as aroma initially, with chocolate and some coffee before the bourbon takes over. The bourbon and note are definitely apparent afterward.

M- Heavy, thick, and hot. Each sip leaves a nice warming feeling from the alcohol bite.

Some poor reviews are seen here, but I enjoyed this one. Too pricey though.

Oct 11, 2015
Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged from Port Brewing
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 650 ratings