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

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel AgedSanta's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged
Very Good
642 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 642 |  Reviews: 200
Photo of Sammy
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Tops Tasting Room in Tempe, with the staff. The most knowledgeable person promised it was the barrel aged version, arrived recently, and tasted bourbon in it. I found it just a very good imperial stout. Black appearance, though no noticeable head. Very drinkable and smooth, some wood but still boozy. Coffee, chocolate.

 334 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: very thin head on a very dark body with some light getting though. scattered lacing.

S: sweet whiskey/bourbon mostly which overall is excellent. some vanilla and oak notes.

T: alcohol is a little strong in this one. whiskey and bourbon up front. The roasted character is significantly diminished compared to the non barrel aged version. nice oak and vanilla finish.

M: semi dry finish but much less than the base beer. medium body and lighter side of moderate carbonation.

Overall: excellent whiskey/bourbon character, a little strong on the alcohol end for the flavor but still a very nice barrel aged stout.

 617 characters

Photo of Texasfan549
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.41/5  rDev +11.1%
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!

 760 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque black with a very small 1/2 inch dark khaki head that fades to a thin film. Random sheets and spots of lace cling to the glass on the drink down. Smells of bourbon, vanilla, wood, and some cocoa notes. Taste is very bourbon forward with lots of vanilla, wood, and alcohol flavors along with some dark roasted malt and bitter chocolate flavors on the finish. This beer has a low level of carbonation and seems a bit flat and thick in the mouth. There is an alcohol warmth in the back of the throat with each sip. Overall, this is a pretty good bourbon barrel aged stout with more of an emphasis on the bourbon than the stout.

 640 characters

Photo of kjkinsey
3.25/5  rDev -18.1%

Photo of GRG1313
3.66/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle appears with red label and appears identical to Bourbon aged but indicates "Oak" in lieu of Bourbon. No date stated on label but believed to be a summer 2010 release.

Pours black with no head. Even a good swirl or a very slow pour will not yield a head of any kind. Edit: Bottle was open for 15 minutes and poured again and got a very short lived tan head.

Nose is semi sweet dark chocolate, sweet dark black coffee, whiskey and light vanilla (oak).

Mouthfeel is medium full to creamy and by second or third taste gives nice creamy "coated" feel. Light carbonation and would like to see more. Unfortunately, ability to age is lessened by diminishing carbonation - this one is already very lightly carbonated and it fades even more as it sits in the glass.

Flavors are intense semi sweet black chocolate, molasses, big semi sweet dark coffee, whiskey and light sweet soy. Flavors seem to improve and become more and more appealing with every sip.

Finish is a big chocolate, sweet coffee, light whiskey alcohol character. You get some of the alcohol (the sweet character of higher alcohol) in the flavors and especially in the finish. Long coffee bean/espresso finish.

This beer will likely age nicely for a year or two but is very nice to try now. Surprise choice for what I believe was a summer release. Nice effort.

 1,330 characters

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of Knapp85
3.25/5  rDev -18.1%

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of nmann08
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%

Photo of metter98
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is essentially jet black in color. It poured with a thin tan head that quickly faded away, leaving delicate lacing covering the surface.
S: There are strong aromas of bourbon in the nose.
T: Like the smell, flavors of bourbon really stand out in the overall taste and become even stronger as the beer warms up.
M: It feels a bit more than medium-bodied on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation. There is lots of warming from the alcohol.
O: This beer packs in lots of bourbon aromas and flavors without making the taste too alcoholic. However, the bourbon seems to be too strong really masks any of the flavors of the underlying beer.

 664 characters

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%

Photo of biboergosum
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12.7oz, caged and corked bottle, 12% ABV, thanks be once again to the good doktorzee for procuring this for me from SoCal.

This beer pours a solid, light-destroying black abyss, with the barest of cola-tinged basal edges, and two fingers of wanly puffy, tightly foamy, and somewhat bubbly tan head, which leaves a bit of awkwardly arched lace around the glass as it genially recedes.

It smells of big 'n sweet Bourbon barrels - acridly boozy vanilla, caramel, wood, and spiced grain - bittersweet chocolate, gritty caramel malt, biscuity toffee, black licorice, dark muddled orchard fruit, milk-dosed coffee, Japanese stir-fry umami, and an earthy, weedy, and slightly leafy dryness. The taste is still big on the Kentucky barrel-aged spirit essence straight-off, with the same testy vanilla, caramel, rye spice, and besotted woodiness from the nose, alongside a heady toffee/caramel maltiness, dark cocoa pudding, melted licorice, cafe au lait, a waning Teriyaki weirdness, and overwhelmed earthy, musty hops.

The bubbles are pretty understated in their frothy temerity, the body a hefty medium-full weight, and generally smooth, what with that 24-proof booze gnashing at the outer gates, and perhaps even a tad creamy. It finishes on the sweet side, the Bourbon, chocolatey caramel, and milky coffee kind of tightening the reins.

A pretty tasty and engaging imperial stout, aged in Bourbon barrels, at that. The wood does some good, and some not so good, but in the end, the positives outweigh the negatives. And yeah, the 12% ABV is sublimated enough that I didn't think to mention it outright until now, which I suppose is sayin' something. Cheers, Santa - after that particularly long day of work, you do indeed deserve to drink this stuff for the rest of the year!

 1,779 characters

Photo of oline73
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of kojevergas
3.44/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a generic pilsner glass in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Acquired at Wally's Wine in Westwood.

A: Pours a half finger head of fair cream, decent thickness, and abysmal retention. It's gone right after it settles. I had to give it a vigorous poor just to see it. Colour is a solid black; nontransparent. I'm concerned that it's undercarbonated, but the ABV is certainly high enough to destroy the head.

Sm: Extremely strong aroma of bourbon, oak, and caramel. The bourbon overpowers any other more subtle notes that might be present. Sweet Jesus that's strong.

T: Heavy bourbon notes over top a smooth foundation of oak, chocolate, cocoa, and light caramel. It's certainly strong in alcohol, and the flavour is heavy without hitting you over the head. The finish is delightfully creamy, keeping the aftertaste from burning. It's certainly quite rich. The chocolate/cocoa comes through most in the third act. The oak is magnificent; I'd like it to come through more. It's certainly complex and bold, but the bourbon might be too strong, disrupting the balance. I do like it, but it's not built with balance really in mind - to its detriment.

Mf: Smooth and wet. The alcohol burns in the stomach, but it's a pleasant warming sensation. It suits the flavour generally, but in this style I prefer a thick, coarse, creamy texture.

Dr: It's a heavy beer that's just a little more drinkable than most sippers. It lacks the balance and subtlety to be truly great, but it's enjoyable for what it is. I expected more coming from this brewery, but I don't know that I'm disappointed. It will please fans of the style, but there are certainly better examples. I'd like to try it without the bourbon barrel aging.

 1,805 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

After a disastrous experience with the 2009, time for another look at this. With a 2010 in hand, let's see if we can improve the score from a "D."

Appearance: Espresso brown with just a tinge of brown highlights on the edge; a thin layer of foam appears (a good sign) and some of it sticks to the glass

Smell: Bourbon filled chocolate, with more than a hint of blackstrap molasses

Taste: Dark chocolate, up front, with licorice and the Bourbon character taking over by mid-palate, bringing vanilla and oak; after the swallow, the booze impacts the profile just a bit too dramatically, although the chocolate, vanilla, licorice and molasses make a nice combination

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with low carbonation; lots of warmth on the gullet

Drinkability: While there is more carbonation in the 2010 than the 2009, this shows that Tomme has a clear view about the carbonation levels he wants in his beers; while I would like a bit more, I don't mind the lower level on this one as much as I did on the 2009; overall, characterize me as impressed - a bit too boozy and a bit too flat, but still a nice brew

Thanks, mrmiles, for the chance to re-visit

 1,151 characters

Photo of Kurmaraja
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of SocalKicks
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of dbrauneis
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage

A: Pours an opaque jet black in color with light hints of dark brown at the edges of the glass when held up to the light. The beer has a quarter finger tall mocha head that reduces to a very thin ring at the edges of the glass. Minimal amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Huge aromas of bourbon upfront with this beer - notes of bourbon sweetness, oak, and vanilla. That is followed by coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, dark fruit, and light notes of alcohol.

T: The flavors of this beer really follow the smell, there is a nice roasted malt flavor with some coffee notes and dark chocolate, molasses, and dark fruit sweetness. There is a significant amount of bourbon flavors including the oak, vanilla, and some light alcohol.

M: Just shy of full bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Light to moderate amounts of alcohol heat in the finish.

O: There is a nice complexity to the flavors of this beer and it smells exactly like it is advertised - bourbon barrel aged American Double/Imperial Stout. Really enjoyable but not the easiest beer to drink because it is really big - sip slowly and enjoy.

 1,132 characters

Photo of mothman
3.34/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into snifter glass.

Pours a pitch black color. Absolutely no head. None. Zip. Wow, big letdown already.

Aroma: Bourbon and heat, vanilla, chocolate, oak. It is too hot already.

Taste: A lot of bourbon and heat, vanilla notes, chocolate, some nut flavors. Big malt flavor. Not too bad but too much heat.

Mouthfeel: Flat, dry and not. Full bodied with a super low amount of carbonation. Ends with a lot of heat in the mouth.

Overall, not impressed with this one at all. LA needs to start stepping up their game with the carbonation issues. This is an absolute joke.

 575 characters

Photo of largadeer
3.71/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Black and viscous in the pour, but with no carbonation to speak of, and obviously no head.

The aroma is thankfully more impressive, with plenty of bourbony goodness up front, contributing vanilla and caramel to counterpoint the chocolate and roastiness from the malt. As it warms, a fruity and vinous aroma comes out along with a backbone of molasses. Nicely balanced and not very hot at all for a big barrel-aged stout.

There's quite a bit more heat on the palate, but it's well-integrated and doesn't dominate the complex flavor. Vinous and chocolatey, boozy and fruity, there's a lot going on here, but it's marred by the lack of carbonation. A low-to-moderate level of carbonation would really benefit this beer and probably take away some of the heat. Mid-palate I get a lot of vanilla and caramel, which transitions into a roasty, bitter, lightly tannic and very boozy finish. Enjoyable but disappointing on the whole - this would be an excellent beer if it were properly carbonated.

 992 characters

Photo of jlindros
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap @ Armsby Abbey on LA/Port takeover night. Also have to thank Ineedabeerhere for a bottle he sent me a while back that I'm aging.

Just about pitch black colored beer with a light creamy dark head with lacing.

Nose of bourbon and light oak, dark malts roast chocolate dark chic, little vanilla and caramel, little booze, oatmeal.

Taste is rich with lots of chocolate, baker's and dark as well as cocoa nibs. Chewy oatmeal dark malts, little vanilla and caramel, some bourbon but not as much as the nose, pretty boozy too. Some bitterness spicy tingly booze. Bitter from malts and earthy spicy hops. Plenty of roast and coffee. Finishes smooth and long bitterness chocolate roast and more bourbon. Boozy. Rich creamy thick mouth. Some woody esthers and smooth oak.

Mouth is pretty thick and somewhat boozy, with decent carbonation.

Drinkability is OK, some booze and a bit of stickiness, but otherwise drinks smooth and well.

 939 characters

Photo of DrBier
2.5/5  rDev -37%

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Santa's Little Helper - Bourbon Barrel Aged from Port Brewing
Beer rating: 3.97 out of 5 with 642 ratings