Samuel Adams Holiday Porter | Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

2,459 Ratings
Samuel Adams Holiday PorterSamuel Adams Holiday Porter

Brewed by:
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Massachusetts, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by DFN on 10-17-2004

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,459 |  Reviews: 1,185
Photo of VaTechHopHead
3.36/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Deep dark brown with a dark red hue only if held to bright light. Nice head and decent lacing.

S - Roasted scent, remnants of chocolate, toffee, and caramel....the usuals.

T - It's a nice lighter porter with nice roasted flavors. It has a sweet taste at the beginning like brown sugar but finishes like dark chocolate and has the black coffee dryness to it.

M/D - It has a medium to heavy body with slight carbonation, I like that. Easy to drink and the dry roasted aftertaste makes it savory as well.

 508 characters

Photo of Tdizzle
4.05/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased as part of this year's Winter Classics mix pack. Poured into an imperial pint glass.

A- Pours dark brown with molasses hues when held up to light. The one-finger head is light brown in color and takes a while to settle in the form of a thin layer over the beer. Some edgy rings of lacing line the glass.

S- Chocolate and dark fruit notes up front, with a good amount of hop spiciness and bready, cakey smelling malts in the backgorund. Ginger bread too?

T- Rich flavors of dark fruits, bittersweet chocolate and molasses with a flash of cocoa bitterness on the finish.

M- The mouthfeel is typical of Sam Adams' beers: thin to medium-bodied with carbonation that feels too aggressive for a nice flavorful porter.

D- I could have had a few of these in a sitting. The 5.8% ABV just adds to this beers outstanding drinkability. They should put this and Old Fezziwig in six-packs.

Good stuff here.

 911 characters

Photo of Spikester
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Opaque dark brown with a good three inch tan head. Plenty of lacings. Aroma is brown sugar.
Taste is sweet toasted malts, some coffee, a touch of vanilla, and mildly bitter dry finish.
Mouthfeel is good for the style, somewhat astringent.
Drinkability is better than average.
Nice winter porter with no bad traits.
Use by: April.

 330 characters

Photo of hckyfn9999
3.97/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a nice tan head that has pretty good retention and leaves a bit of lace on the glass. Aroma is of molasses, chocolate, licorice.

Taste is of roasted malt, burnt sugar, licorice, toasted grain, and a bit of slighty bitter hops, with molasses noticeable towards the finish. A very nice porter that I would buy year-round if available. I would like to see it on its own as a seasonal at the very least.

 422 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark brown with a quite nice head that settles to a thin swirl but but leaves some nice lacing. Smells lightly roasty, slightly vinous, amd with some light cocoa and fruit notes. The taste is similar, but the cocoa notes are stronger and more bitter and the roastiness is a bit more pronounced. Still some light notes of fruit and wine. The chocolate really lingers- this is quite nice. Smooth and a bit tannic in the mouth, this pleasant

 449 characters

Photo of GreenCard
3.34/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: dark ruby-brown, good clarity, thick layer of tan spongey foam with great head retention, lace

Aroma: light perfume of chocolate, roast, and woodsy hops

Flavor: medium malt sweetness, then an acerbic bitterness from roast and hops; chicory, vanilla, burnt cocoa, and unripe pears; finishes semi-dry with a lingering vegetal bitterness

Mouthfeel: medium body, gentle carbonation, crisp

Other comments: Better than Old Fezziwig, but not necessarily a great example of the porter style. Pretty good paired with chocolate.

 534 characters

Photo of JayNH
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- pours a deep brown almost black. A small tan foamy head that doesn't hang around long.

S- Sweet and slightly alcoholic. Some coffee and chocolate going on in there.

T- Starts sweet and alcoholic. Followed by some hops and coffee/chocolate malts.

M- Very smooth and a little creamy.

D- excellent. A very smooth drinking porter. Brew gets better as it warms.

 363 characters

Photo of gciccarelli
3.78/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into pint glass.

A - Dark brown appearance, large beige head. Ruby highlights around the edges. Medium lacing.

S - Chocolate and malt - a very sweet smell. Caramel as well. Not much diversity to the scent...

T - Very, very sweet. Slight hint of roast, but mainly a sweet malt and light chocolate flavor. Finishes with a mild bitter aftertaste from the hops. A pretty interesting flavor.

M - Very light body, moderate carbonation. Not much left in terms of residue.

D - A decent tasting beer, but too sweet for me to drink more than one or two.

 561 characters

Photo of Vendetta
3.36/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Original Rating Date:
October 24, 2008

Aroma is malt, not too much roastiness. Taste is different- a ton of roasted malt, very dry, coffee and chocolate. Super creamy palate. Thick lacing. Very enjoyable, my love for porters continues. This is another winner from the Boston Beer Company.

 289 characters

Photo of Overlord
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a ruby-ish dark brown. Interesting looking. Large creamy off-white head.

Smells like caramel malt with a bit of chocolate. This is a very sweet beer. Maybe a bit of roastiness, but not much. Almost overwhelmingly sweet malt with some chocolate adding a bit of complexity. Would not have called it a "porter." More like a light Wee heavy (tee hee).

Mouthfeel a bit thin, but perhaps my favorite of the holiday mixed pack someone got me.

 444 characters

Photo of bobsy
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Off-black pour with ruby highlights and a smooth tan head that had very good retention and laced well. Sweet, spicy fudge aroma is pleasing and appropriate for the season. A fairly sweet porter with the typical roasty notes there, but mellowed out and accompanied by a nice dose of chocolate and caramel. A bit of cinnamon and nutmeg in the tail along with a light bitterness. Medium body and mouthfeel.

A nice Christmas beer for sure. Thanks Shawn for sharing!

 462 characters

Photo of phantomwyse
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: beautiful pure black with slim garnet highlights along the edges. Thick 2 finger tan head which produces a patchwork lacing.

S: Chocolate cherries, dark roast coffee, caramel, and a hint of oak.

T: Soft chocolate, light coffee, a turned milky bitterness, but it's a welcomed foil to the maltiness that comes in at the front.

M: A bit thin for my liking, but nice and smooth with a mild tingle.

D: I'm down. A nice mellow porter that's unobtrusive with a good all around flavor that won't get in the way of anything.

 522 characters

Photo of williamherbert
4.08/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Glassy dark dark red; brown without a bright light behind it. Massive, thick mass of blizzard-frost tan lace. Head sloshes around for a while. Really great.

The smell is dark butterscotch, almost like a scotch ale. Heavy toffee and dark caramel. A darkly sweet porter aroma. No coffee to be found. Slight semi-sweet chocolate.

The taste is toffee, molasses, dark caramel. Really sweet but not cloying. It's comforting, like a hot chocolate is. Dark brown sugars and butterscotch. A tad smoky as it warms.

The feel is creamy and milky. Thick motor oil on the palate. It's an uncommonly sweet porter. Very caramel/toffee-flavored. (For comparison, it's akin to Saranac Caramel Porter.)

 686 characters

Photo of eporter66
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass. Bottle from the Samuel Adams Winter Pack

A - Poured almost black with some red highlights in the light. A two fingered head that slowly came down to a light coating over the top. Decent lacing.

S - A rich sweet caramel aroma dominated

T - Slight roasted flavor with a little bitterness. Not as sweet as the small, with some chocolate and caramel hints. Good if not great flavor.

M - Medium body, left a little burn in the back of throat, and a sweet thickness on tongue, almost like a honey coating.

D- This was a smooth porter, good drinking beer for the winter months. Sits well

 616 characters

Photo of CHSLBrew
3.26/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass.

A-A dark brown (nearly black) beer, clear with garnet highlights when held to the light. Head was dark tan, about a finger. Slowly reduced with nice lacing.

S-Quite a bit of caramel, perhaps some butterscotchiness.

T-Mostly toffee, with some subtle chocolate and caramel. On the finish, a bold bitterness takes over and lingers through the finish.

M-Carbonation was moderate to moderate-high. Mouthfeel was smooth, even with a higher carbonation level.

D-Enjoyable, but not terribly memorable. I'll probably drink this one a couple more times over the rest of the holiday season, and will fully enjoy it, but I won't really miss it after the season is done. Pretty easy drinking, decent flavors, overall a pretty OK brew.

 752 characters

Photo of CityBoy1986
4.23/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown with a tall tan head. The head hangs around for a while and leaves good lacing.

The nose is roasted malt, chocolate and butter. The taste is heavy with chocolate and coffee. I think I tasted some spices as well.

The mouthfeel is medium with good carbonation. This beer is very drinkable, but I think three 12 oz. would be enough.

 355 characters

Photo of Clydesdale
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A dark, deep brown color, not quite black. A tall, creamy tan head with very good retention and lacing.

S: Roasted malts, molasses/toffee, semisweet chocolate. Some earthy and coffeelike notes as well.

T: Toasty dark malt flavor with some cocoa and weak espresso. Some earthy hops provide a bit of balancing twang. Some hints of dark fruit are available. Some toffee and slightly astringent alcohol as well at the finish. Maybe some nutmeg or other spice off in the background.

M: Medium-ish body, with a fairly creamy feel. A bit of roasted astringency at the finish.

D: This is, predictably, a nice, if sub-stellar offering from SA. I'd certainly never refuse one of these and it's one of the highlights of the holiday sampler. I'd prefer it were a bit more aggressive, but it's very drinkable.

 806 characters

Photo of scaliasux
3.36/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - Dark brown. Opaque. Tall tan-brown foamy head. Retention appears good. Cascading effect on pour.

Smell - Mild toasted malt aroma. Caramel or coffee, perhaps. Only very faint hops.

Taste - Begins with a rather dark roasted malt flavor. Almost burnt tasting. Fades into a bitter hops. The overall impression is somewhat bitter dark toasted flavor with coffee or dark chocolate undertone. Flavorful, but not among my favorites.

Mouthfeel - Medium to fulll.

Drinkability - Features strong flavors. Definitely a beer one can taste and ponder. One's probably enough for me, though.

 592 characters

Photo of EnojysAnyBeer
4.3/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Big brown head on a opaque dark brown body

S- Smells like lots of good roasty malts with something that smells like nutmeg to me

T- The malts dominate this brew but the bitter hops help to make it very refreshing

M- Nice and chewy, but also easy to swallow

D- Very good for a hearty porter

 296 characters

Photo of colts9016
3.62/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The pour is a dark brown with hints of red. The nose is roasted malt, chocolate, roasted coffee and spices. The taste is full body velvety toasted malt and coffee with molasses and spices with hints of hops. The finish is long and pleasant. A very tasty holiday porter

 268 characters

Photo of malcontent
3.38/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Lush, billowing mocha head and sticky lacing atop a deep ebony body.

Buttery, roasted and nutty are the descriptors that op out right away. Alluring to say the least.

The buttery nose turns out to be diacatyl which ends up clashing with a burnt roastiness. Add to these strong off-flavors a watery finish and things aren't looking so hot. The bitterness is mostly burnt astringency not hops...At least it gets a bit better as it warms.

Decent body with balanced carbonation. Overall, disappointing as porters are typically one of my favorite styles and I've been so impressed with most of BBC's winter offerings over the past two years.

 639 characters

Photo of schellsbeer
2.56/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Very disappointed with this one this year. Not up to the Porter name. Weak in almost every area. Sam...what are you doing?

Dark brown but thin. Not up to the norm.

A - Good but this is the highest mark that I can give.

S - Average at best.

T - Bland and weak. What is happening? Are you cutting corners this year? Easy to forget with all of the other great porters out there. Glad I just got one Winter Sampler this year.

M - Low marks again. Thin and not up to snuff.

D - Ok. Lower alcohol than most good porters but this is not the reason that I drink a porter. A good porter should taste like something....not just look like one.

Until next year Holiday Porter...I hope you get better next year.

 706 characters

Photo of kylephillips
3.7/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Color is a deep dark brown. Poured with an inch of head which is tan in color. Pretty good lacing on the side of the wine glass.

The aroma is very rich. It starts out with malt smells, but there is a hint of something sweeter, almost a cookie dough smell. Definitely some chocolate in there too. Smells like it would go great with holiday cookies and deserts.

Mouthfeel is not as thick as the color suggests, but not a light bodied beer either. CO2 is minimum.

The flavor is... kind of all blended together. Nothing really jumps out at me. It does not taste as sweet as it smells, rather it is kind of a dry beer to me, which is not a bad thing. Maybe a touch of chocolate or coffee like flavors but really it tastes almost like a stronger brown ale to me. The aftertaste is bitter for sure.

This is not the porter I would want year round, but I suppose it is in fact labeled as such.

 891 characters

Photo of HoustonTX
3.23/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sam Adams Holiday Porter pours out nicely with a dark mahogany body, with an ample amount of translucency. Big frothy mocha head with good lasting retention.

Aroma of rich aromatic chocolate malt, blueberry and creme.

Taste is roasty and rich upfront, with fringes of dry chocolate and toasted breadiness. Odd bittering florals midway, distort flavor and add metallic notes to the beer. Leading to a quite bitter aftertaste, yet still throwing in that off note of metal.

Mouthfeel is thick for a Sam Adams, and the drinkability is average.

This beer had a lot of potential, and it almost nailed it. But that one metallic note in the flavor just had me hung up. Still not a bad beer though, it just could have been so much more.

 733 characters

Photo of Jettanbass9
3.43/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This porter is listed as an American Porter, I would have to disagree on that. It definitely has more roots akin to Brown Porter, the English variety. Since there are major differences between American Porter and Brown, I will be reviewing this as if it were listed as a Brown Porter.

A - Deep mohogany brown with ruby red highlights. This brew is spot on with light carbonation and a persistant head.

S - Notes of roast, amber and/or brown malts, light earthy hop note, toffee and caramel. Roast aroma is a little too light.

T - Amber and brown malts, caramel, molasses, and more caramel. Roast character lingers, however, never becomes that present. I keep searching but thats all thats there.

M - Almost a cloying sweetness and low carbonation make this beer almost viscous. Definitely within style but could be a tad dryer.

D - an Imperial pint or two is enough to satisfy on a cold winter evening, i wouldn't suggest anymore.

 938 characters

Samuel Adams Holiday Porter from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
3.74 out of 5 based on 2,459 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.