Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged | Port Brewing

very good
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Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel AgedSanta's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged

Brewed by:
Port Brewing
California, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by scottoale on 07-25-2009

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Reviews: 196 | Ratings: 631
Photo of FARGO619
5/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

BOTTLE 22oz into tulip. 55 degrees. Glass room temp.

A - Pours a deep black with some thick with a nice mocha head.

S - Strong vanilla and caramel aromas followed by some dark roasty smells. Bourbon is very noticeable, but not in an overpowering way...smells very good.

T - Smooth and creamy tasting with some spice and vanilla, caramel, brown sugar and molasses flavors. Lightly roasty and a well balanced bourbon flavor mixed with slightly hot alcohol.

M - Full bodied with a lowish carbonation level.

D - Excellent barrel aged beer...smooth and creamy, lots of barrel character, mild bourbon heat...enjoyed this very much.

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Photo of BastardKing24
4.87/5  rDev +26.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I have had this about 5 times over the years. Once it was flat, other times thin. This year very nice.

Pours a jet black with a finger of foam that dissipates to a thin layer with aggressive lacing. tan head with nice bubbles.

Smell is immediately bourbon and chocolate, molasses, roasted malt, coffee, toffee, raisin, plum, chewy leather, and wood.

Taste is the same as the smell with a big smack of bourbon soaked dark fruit and oak, some nuttiness, roasty malt, slight lingering bitterness from oak and dark malt, along with this very nice cookie dough flavor i have come to love from certain barrel aged imperial stouts. Very impressive by me as not a lot of these meet my standards and this is my favorite beer style.

Mouthfeel is a little light this year but still viscous enough to pack a wallop of a taste. Lingers on the palate for about 30 seconds. Good carb this year (its had issues with that) and i feel its hard to get it any better.

Over all i feel this beer is extremely underrated and it is quite a warmer to sip by a fire or share with friends. Highly recommended to anyone able to find it. Cheers!

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Photo of rye726
4.84/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours near black with shades of deep brown around the edges. Not much head.

Nose has bourbon, oak, vanilla, cocoa, dark malts, coffee, molasses, subtle hops and ripe pitted fruits.

Taste also has a big whiskey, vanilla and wood presence from the barrels that is well balanced by chocolate malts, espresso, cherries, plums and bitter molasses.

Thick, creamy body is a bit under carbonated but still drinks well.

Another world class barrel aged ale from Port/Lost Abbey. Talented brewers with great barrels.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.83/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Comes out of the bottle a rich, warm sable just a whisker above jet with a fairly thick light tan head that leaves substantial lacing. Smoky aroma has an overtone of bourbon and notes of chocolate and molasses plus a hint of toffee. Splendiferous flavor fills the mouth with a symphony of tastes: bourbon, chocolate, molasses, burnt oak, toffee, caramel, coffee. Each sip seems a little different. Over all is a firm but not fierce alcohol bite. Full-bodied texture is smooth as fine silk and has a subtle but lasting fizz. This nice beer is well worth the "naughty" price!

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Photo of NickMunford
4.79/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours an opaque dark brown to black with little head. Some retention consisting of larger bubbles.

S: Perfect mix of espresso & bourbon.

T: Same as the smell, with super dark chocolate thrown into the mix. Picks up some charred wood flavors in the finish as it warms up.

M: Little carbonation, bitter aftertaste, slight booze burn, in the best possible way.

O: Tastes like an imperial stout poured over a shot of bourbon. Love it!

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Photo of Hooshpower
4.75/5  rDev +23.4%

Tastes vary when at different temperatures.

Right out of the fridge:Smooth. Chocolaty. Slight spice. Cloves.

About 40 degrees Fahrenheit: Start tasting that bourbon a lot more which also ups the spiciness of it. Pronounced chocolaty. The best way to describe it is a bourbon liquor chocolate.

About 50 degrees Fahrenheit: I can't remember ;) I think it was awesome!

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Photo of David121
4.75/5  rDev +23.4%

A great flavorful beer that is not for the inexperienced beer drinker. The last few drops taste like strait up bourbon. Great beer I will drink this beer where ever I find it.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.71/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 bomber (12%ABV) poured into a Duvel Tulip Style Glass. Liquid comes out a dark brown color, stays about the same color the whole way through, but not as easy to see through. There are some slightly lighter highlights on the edges and where the liquid gets a little thinner, nothing tooo major though. Light tan colored head with various sized bubbles, nothing too crazy in the lacing department, but it gets the job done. The head itself comes out pretty big, but goes away fairly quickly.

The smell is really good, and a huge step up from the look of the beer. There's plenty over roasted and charred grain here, which eventually produces a nice both but more bitter than sweet chocolate aromas and maybe some slight hints of coffee as well. Easy to say theres plenty of woody hints of oak and vanilla as well. It's really good, straight to the point.

Taste is a slightly bigger step up from the smell. It's decadent without going over the top. Like I said before plenty of roasted grain but there's hints of earthy, rich chocolate, and bourbon characteristics of a fresh oak and outdoor vanilla flavors everything meshes together to a delicious blend. There's even a feint earthy hoppy taste at the end, but it's a back feature to everything else. Like everything on the flavor of this beer.

Mouthfeel is perfect, bar none. A nice full bodied beer (really regardless of style, it just works). Very smooth with a medium carbonation level, small bubbles each individually getting the job done. So smooth the whole way through with a nice earthy finish at the end Really nothing not to like about this beer. No hard bite from the alcohol, yet I must admit this is the perfect beer for a cold December night; really a warmer upper. This one really gets the job done and goes down much quicker than expected. Had it both fresh and with some age and each time it's satisfied. Get this beer and drink it up or sit on it, it'll do the job either time. A very underrated beer in my opinion.

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Photo of Boccu
4.59/5  rDev +19.2%
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.

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Photo of DCon
4.54/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared a 1 PINT 6 FL. OZ. bottle of this w/ STLWIll & Friends @ The Royale. Poured from the Red Labeled bottle w/ Santa and Rudolf at the bar & an Elf tapping beer that looks like an ice cream shop pour into a 12oz Shaker Glass. 2010 Bourbon Barrel Vintage but no bottled on date.

Aroma- There is a huge booze mixed with chocolate aroma from the start to finish. Very deep malts and hops with a rich background. Fantastic!

Appearance- Pours a .5 finger head that is dark brown but dies quickly. Has a very dark brown colored body that has almost no clarity. Leaves suds behind on the glass.

Flavor- Bourbon rich, Cocoa sweet, and roasted grains all come out at the beginning. VERY complexed and tough to search out all of the attributes. Can till this has been aged! Also has a light bitterness level at the finish.

Mouthfeel- Medium-Full Bodied, Light Carbonation, Smooth, and leaves tons of bourbon on the palate at the finish.

Overall Impression- This one was very well developed and time helped this out! Would definitely like to trade for a bottle of this soon and enjoy again in the future. Highly Recommend for a 2X Stout!

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Photo of brew3crew
4.52/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

In line at founders for CBS

A-maroon or brown. One of those worjs

S-sweet mix of makt and Bourbon. Very inviting

T-very, very good. Sweetness on the bourbon makes it for q sweet taste

M-medium body and smooth

O-very fucking good. Glad I havvone one the cellar

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Photo of scottoale
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a new release for the Lost Abbey Sinners club this year... a promising brew for sure.

22oz. brown bomber with a label depicting Santa in Summer attire, hoisting a pint to Rudolf, being served by one naughty little Elf...get the picture?

Pop the cap, with very little pop at that and pour a very black liquid that is very low in carbonation, but not too worry, it's appropriate just the same.

The smell is mostly of toffee, with a bit of roast, some chocolate and a wee lump of coal...don't fret, you weren't that bad, were you? Some small bourbany notes in there as well...niiice!

Well the taste, no surprise...a toffee and malty brew with a bit of bourbon and a nice charcoal aspect...very much like coal, sort of. Me thinks this flavor will definitely grow bigger and bolder as time carries on. Very tasty now and will age gracefully as far as I can see. Nice balance and well carried for a brew over 10% matter what!

Placid in the carbonation dept., this brew still carries itself well and into the larger scheme of big, barrel-aged beers...nothin wrong with that in my book, at all.

 1,118 characters

Photo of ChugginOil
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage

Pours pretty black with cola edging. There is surprisingly a finger of mocha head that sits briefly.

The nose is big bourbon. A lot of vanilla, oak, and butterscotch make this brew smell like a straight dessert. Im excited to sip this. Very inviting as the abv is nicely masked.

The taste is a bold robust blast of sweet vanilla and butterscotch. Again, the abv is well hidden and allows for the wonderful flavors of butterscotch, cocoa, toasted oak, and chocolate. Not overly bourbon infused but just right. I can still taste a bit of the base beer.

The mouthfeel is heavely viscous and carries the characteristics of milk. Thick, affluent, and delicious.

Overall, I think that that this brew may have failed in the past due to internal problems but this one is straight up amazing. Great bourbon offerings added to an already good beer=awesome.

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Photo of john0721
4.46/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

375ml bottle

flavors started subtle as did the nose, but improved significantly as it warmed.

black, light brown head, nice lacing.

caramel, vanilla some bourbon in the nose and flavor initially.

As it warmed started to get raisin, raspberry, chocolate.

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4.44/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1pt 6floz. Bottle. Oversized wine glass. Pours very dark brown in color. Dark beige froth builds close but thin & lasting crown. An aroma festival to the nose: prune & bigarreau cherry aromas, hints of chocolate, notes of marmalade, cane sugar & molasses, ginger & toasted malts. Smelling evokes rhum fragrances. Flavors are complex as expected from the aromas are involved by gentle warming sensation. Full body. Soft carbonation. Moderate oily texture. Subtle bitterness in the middle is covered by rhum & anise hues. Notes of chocolate & dried nuts on the aftertaste. Celebrate Xmas no matter what month is!!!

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Not seeing the date on the bottle but just came in so i'm assuming 2012. Shows 12%, not 10. Reads "Oak" not "Bourbon" barrel.
appearance: very dark though compared to older vis it's downright pale. Crimson highlights. almost no head other than some tan bubbles on the pour.
smell: Smooth bourbon, oak, coffee, vanilla and chocolate treat. Decadent and well...oh so good.
taste: More of the same. This is why I loves the new wave of beers over stuffy wines.
overall: I had thoughts of waiting till Christmas but screw it. August deserves a beer like this too.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Blaine for the share. I am surprised the ratings on this beer are what they are, given the usual fanfare of all things -bal. The brew pours with the average good look expected of the style: brownish-black, capped with a thin head of deep umber, murky as crude. The nose is not terribly potent, but it is very pleasant, offering notes ranging from roasted grain and espresso, to buttery oak and vanilla and booze. The taste follows the nose in dynamic and subtlety, though it shows more oak character and less bourbon on the palate than the aroma. The feel is silky smooth; the brew has a good weight. I enjoyed this one quite a bit, and would gladly have another.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.41/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I like this almost as much as older viscosity I think. Just a huge stout with as much bourbon on it as any beer I've ever had. Hershey's syrup dark brown and sludgy with a flash of mocha fizz before it settles to nearly still. The nose is all bourbon, vanilla and raw molasses spice with heave dark barley and chocolate malt, charred oak, and marshmallow. The flavor is just like the nose, do much going on but do well integrated. It's almost too much, a sensory overload that is best in small to medium doses. Sweet from the vanilla but not too sweet, and really heavily oaked. Fully bodied and teeth coating, but more flavorful than others. It feels Christmasy and may have a touch of spice in the Finnish. As strong it seems as a shot if bourbon, I love it!

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.4/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Blue Palms,

A: Pours a virtual black with a light smattering of bubbles, quite imposing.

S: Strong bourbon whiskey, vanilla, what you'd expect, very rich.

T: Here we go, very good integrated bourbon and wood flavours into the nice chocolate backbone of Santa's Little Helper, very impressive, good complexity, it's not all just whiskey and ethanol.

M: Smooth, full-bodied, viscous, mild carbonation.

D: An outstanding effort from Port, like this a fair bit better than regular Santa's Little Helper.

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Photo of vic21234
4.39/5  rDev +14%
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.

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Photo of KettleBellFreak
4.39/5  rDev +14%
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.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
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

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Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
4.37/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle - says Oak Barrels on label, not Bourbon as the photo suggests. Make no mistake, this was aged in Bourbon Oak Barrels.

I'll start by saying...I can see how this beer gets a overall B- if it were one of the flat bottles. This 2010 bottle is carbonated perfectly and hit me right in the nose the minute I popped the cap. I didn't have high expectations for this beer but this was the biggest Bal-aged surprise of the year for me especially because I'm not a big fan of the base beer. I was also skeptical of the more than reasonable price tag for a Bal-aged Imperial Stout. $10.99

Poured into a snifter:

Appearance - Solid. Opaque with a nice charcoal head that quickly dissapates. When held to the light a little brownish tint from the Barreling shows up at the edges or the ring of the top of the glass.

Smell - Chocolate and Molasses dominate equally so as the Bourbon. The balance between the 3 is simply fantastic. Like a Bourbon German chocolate cake with very slight hints of vanilla showing if I look for it.

Taste - See smell. Exactly follows. Reminds me a bit of a less intense Parabola minus the extremely silky mouthfeel and a bit more chocolate forward than Parabola.

Mouthfeel - Fantastic. It's a sipper and feels the 10% that the beer is. Not that it's hot, the booze in the Whiskey is slightly apparent and expected but it has good viscosity, giving you the 10% feel. Love it!

Drinkability - Very Good. One bomber is the perfect amount to one's self on a winter's night.

Final Thoughts - For the $10.99 price tag, this is a value if I've ever seen one. This beer I found fantastic. Enjoyed this one much more than Old Rasputin XII and at 1/2 the price. I also enjoyed this much more than Older Viscosity as there was so much more going on than just bourbon which I experienced with Older Viscosity. I didn't chill this beer at all, popped at very near cellar temp. A must try to all you other BAs.

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Photo of GregSVT
4.37/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a snifter - 2010 Vintage

A: Pours a dark black with a nice dark khaki head that fades to a ring and leaves lacing on the glass. I did have to pour it pretty rough to get the head but there it is...carbonation!

S: The nose is intoxicating...tons of vanilla, molasses, cocoa, and dark fruits.

T: The first sip erupts with flavors of molasses, fudge, vanilla, and coconut. As I sip it I get chocolate malts and charred flavors from the barrel on the finish.

M: The feel is thick and creamy. It coats the mouth leaving the tastes on the finish for a while.

D: This is very tasty and one I would search out again. The ABV does make this a one and done bomber though. I was surprised to see carbonation in a big Port beer...hopefully they've figured things out.

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Photo of Beerenauslese
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 bottle, purchased in November. Label reads "ale aged in oak barrels."

Very black body with a moderate tan head, eventually dissipates to a fine ring leaving some lacing.
Rich nose of roasted malt with strong chocolate aroma, bourbon, and vanilla.
Tastes boozy, with loads of roasted malt balanced by moderate sweetness and loads of chocolate and vanilla. There is some dark fruit in the background, lending a port-like dimension.
Body is full, with enough round bubbles to produce a fairly creamy mouthfeel.
A delicious and robust winter ale that I found very satisfying.

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Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged from Port Brewing
3.85 out of 5 based on 631 ratings.
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