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

1,183 Reviews
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

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Reviews: 1,183 | Ratings: 2,456
Photo of bubseymour
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Nice looking beer and smell has some roast and breadiness. Taste is quite nice. Sweet upfront with a crisp bitter finish. Actually for Sam Adams, its got quite a lot of punch on the hops than usual and more aggressively flavored than many of their brews.

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.77/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Samuel Adams Holiday Porter is a full-flavored porter inspired by the famous drink of London's Victorian era luggage porters. Brewed with generous portions of Caramel, Munich and Chocolate malt, this hearty porter finishes with traditional English Fuggles and East Kent Goldings. Cheers! Brewed in the style of an American Porter, although it certainly does have its roots in the English Porter.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a snifter. Served north of 54º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a medium-thick mocha-white head of a creamy froth texture. Body color is a very deep brown with mahogany highlights. Carbonation is plentiful and active. Head retention is quite nice- it thickens into a thin cream cover but lingers for a significant time. The lacing is thin and streaked. Very nice appearance overall. 4.25

(Smell) Aroma contains traces of caramel, semi-sweet chocolate cream and coffee bean compliment a clean roasted malt backboard. Biscuity malt character with some mild dark fruit accents. Light, earthy hop presence with a mild floral afterglow. Despite the complexity, potency is very muted, even at higher temperatures. 3.5

(Taste) Sweet chocolate malt amongst lightly toasted caramel bread malts. Mild nutty dry finish paired with a mildly bitter floral hop assortment. The flavors are all more pronounced than in the aroma. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) Medium creamy, slick texture. Medium+ bodied for the style, medium body overall. Very filling. Not watery or thin taste. Finish is mildly bitter. 4.25

(Overall) Great porter, lots of flavor and depth. 3.75

Boston Beer Company's
Samuel Adams Holiday Porter

Vertical Notes:
Winter 2011 (1 year, 6 months aged)

Very little change in appearance- retention is a touch worse than the fresh batch. Aroma is similar, although most of the subtleties are gone, and a mild sourness has set in to the roasted malt character. Flavors are wet toasted bread malts and a pinch of candied sugar with a mild oxidation on the finish. Mouthfeel qualities are the same, albeit a slightly dryer finish.

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Photo of TeamMathis
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Black. Quickly dissipating dark tan head.
Smell: Deep chocolate and coffee.
Taste: Roasted. Chocolate and coffee.
Mouthfeel: Nicely carbonated. Smooth and slightly creamy.

I'm so impressed with this year's Holiday Porter. It really is a great tasting porter. The subtle taste and smell of a coffee and chocolate blend with a smooth feel gives this brew an all-around, great experience. I will get this again next Christmas.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an Elysian snifter. Pours a very dark brown, appearing black in the glass. Fine two finger light brown head with good retention and lacing. Light aroma of toasted malt, chocolate and unidentifiable spicing. Flavor follows with lightly toasted malt, light chocolate and coffee. Finish is slightly dry with residual malt and a hint of hops and chocolate. Light to medium bodied. A pleasant, but subdued American porter. Not sure what the holiday connection is, but certainly would be as drinkable then as any other time. No stand out features, but like most Sam Adams, well made, looks good and nice to drink.

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Photo of CommanderOfAwesome
3.28/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Twelve oz bottle poured into New Belgium glass.

A: Pours a dark brown with 2 finger light brown head.

S: Roasted malts, toffee, some slight caramel and sweetness on the nose.

T; Toffee, slickly sweetness, roasted malt. Watery chocolate taste.

M Medium bodied, leaves with a sticky residual sweetness that coats the mouth.

O: Decent porter, worth a shot if nothing better is available.

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Photo of deebo
4.35/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a pint glass this porter has a thick dense tan head which laces the glass nicely while the head breaks down into a thin layer. Transparent when held to the light the color is black with ruby highlights.
Aromas of dark malts which are very chocolate-like. The taste is rich roasted malt with a slight end note of spicy slightly peppery hops. Mouthfeel is pretty smooth with a bit of a carbonation bite in the finish. Overall this beer has a clean malt bill with nice rich chocolately malt flavor without being bitter which is often a problem with porters. Well done, tasty brew with high drinkability and good flavor.

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Photo of Cavanaghty
2.9/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a Sam Adams glass.

Appearance: Dark brown/amber in color with a thin beige head.

Smell: Chocolate and roasted malts mostly.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Medium bodied. Taste was bitter all around, roasted malts and carmel with a hint of chocolate.

Overall: Not really a fan of Porters, I did not really care for this one. Just personal taste.

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Photo of ElCommodoro
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This smells like chocolate and hops. That's about it. It has a very clean aroma and flavour. Maybe I've just been spoiled on very yeasty beers, but it seems very clean and thin to me. Not necessarily in a bad way. It's nice to have porters like that every now and then. Cocoa nibs are what hits first in flavour and it's what hits last too. There's some nice, simple balancing hops too. But there's really not a lot going on outside of the chocolate. It looks surprisingly awesome despite how thin the mouthfeel is for a stout. It's almost Guiness-thin. But that makes it refreshing, like a black lager. The feeling it leaves in your mouth is very sticky, though, and strongly of cocoa. This is basically ,an average, run-of-the-mill thinish stout with a very chocolatey edge. So, if that's what you're going for, this delivers.

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Photo of mwilbur
3.53/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into shaker pint glass.
A: Pours a dark brown hue with a hint of red around the edges. 1/4 inch tan head with decent retention. Moderate lacing.
S: Chocolate malt and toasted grains...not a ton here.
T: Chocolate malt, black pepper, toasted grains, and a hint of caramel malt.
M: Light body. Some sticky sweetness. Hint of hop bite in the finish.
D: A decent, but not great porter. Good sessionability.

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Photo of Bills453
4.04/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle.

Appearance - dark brown, it looks like coffee.

Smell - smells of roasted cocoa...mmm.

Taste - cocoa flavor. Roasted aftertaste. Very good flavor.

Mouthfeel - nice thick smooth

Overall - a great porter and great offering from Sam Adams.

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Photo of FlatRabbitRed
4.5/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great beer, love getting this one every year in the variety pack every year, I allways have one of these and then an old fezzywig...great combo! Very hearty tasty brew, one of the best handcrafted artesian brews!

Malty, coffee, roasted caramel ...thats right, just like it sounds super mega deliscious!

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a black color porter with a nice off-white foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma consists of light dry chocolate notes with medium roasted malt notes. Taste is a mix of roasted malt with dry bitter notes and some light black chocolate notes with some subtle floral notes form the Golding hops. Body is about average with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Not the most complex porter put there but well brewed and easily drinkable.

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Photo of Damian
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Drank from a 12 fl. oz. bottle
For brewery-fresh taste, enjoy before month notched MAR
Served in a pint glass

Thanks to my dad for saving me one of each beer from the Winter Classics Variety Pack.

Dark brown in appearance with ruby highlights. A tight, creamy, two-finger, tan colored crown topped the liquid. Impressive lacing. Thick, drippy patches coated the top half of the glass.

A mix of roasted and caramel malts dominated the nose. Good balance between sweet and dry. Dark and milk chocolate notes were noticeable. Some cold coffee as well. Overall, not super intense but pleasant and fragrant.

The flavor profile was a bit drier than the aroma. Good amount of roasted malts on the front end. Espresso notes appeared in the center. The finish was dry and roasty and contained hints of English-style bittering hops.

I had a difficult time determining whether or not I liked the mouthfeel. It seemed to alternate between slick and creamy and watery and airy.

Samuel Adams Holiday Porter is a fairly typical example of the style. While enjoyable, I probably would not seek it out.

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Photo of TheQuietMan22
4.03/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. The “enjoy before month notched” is “MAY.”

Appearance: Poured into a Becker glass. The color is deep, ruby brown. Two fingers of dense, billowy, light tan head dissipated slowly, leaving trails of foam along the glass and a frothy, cappuccino-like ring around the edge.

Smell: At first it smells like a dark English pale ale. Lots of toffee, caramel, and grassy hops. As it warms, scents of vanilla, honey, dark fruit (mostly plum), chocolate, and roasted malts emerge.

Taste: Excellent mouthfeel. The bitterness from the roasted malts lingers after the first sip. The roasted malts play a much more prominent role in the flavor than they do in the smell, which I like. Caramel, toffee, dark fruit, a hint of grassy hops, chocolate, and a little coffee.

Drinkability: I like it. It is not heavy but does provide a lot of nice flavor.

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Photo of punky796
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

A - Dark brown, like a porter ought to be, with about a finger of big-bubbled head. Dissipates, but leaves moderate lacing.

S - Mostly chocolate malt and breadiness.

T - Chocolate malt, barley, a bit of coffee, and breadiness. Not as much breadiness in the taste as in the smell.

M - Pretty thick feel, but smooth, if a little too over-carbonated for my taste, for a porter.

O - Pretty decent porter, but not what I remember from the first time I tried it a couple years ago. The alcohol-y taste is a bit too pronounced.

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Photo of abenf
3.96/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a bottle into a tulip glass, accidentally aged a year in my dad's fridge, I can't say I have much to compare it to because I'm relatively new to beer, especially porters. Very tasty beer. Not a lot of head. Really pretty held up to the light: black with dark, translucent red coming through. The nose didn't jump out at me but there was definitely a little caramel as indicated on the bottle. The taste was very chocolately with some caramel in the background. Toasty, nothing resembling coffee, but a lot of chocolate and vanilla and caramel and toastiness. Creamy mouthfeel, not a lot of carbonation. Very enjoyable, especially on a cold day.

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Photo of Minkybut
3.81/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 45 degrees . The beer was dark and poured no head at all. Even though it did have good lacing I was surprised of no head. The beer smelled like caramel and had a nice creamy taste. There was a slight bitter finish but it was not too bad. Liked the beer and would buy again.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.78/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle from Walmart Liverpool NY for 2$

Appearance - Dark brown colour with an average size fizzy beige head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there is some fairly decent lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, grains

Taste & Mouth - There is an above amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and some roasted/toasted/smokey notes. There is also a bit of a coffee bitterness and a graininess. It ends with a malty slightly bitter aftertaste.

Overall - A solid porter that might have a touch too much carbonation. It has enough flavour to keep it interesting and also has terrific balance. I could drink a few of these.

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

Unless you're the person expecting to find coal in your stocking it's very unlikely that anything about Samuel Adams Holiday Porter will remind you of Christmas. I wasn't expecting something red and green but there is positively not a trace of holiday cheer to be found anywhere in this beer, least of all in its dark sooty appearance. Not bad looking for a porter though.

As established, lest seeking disappointment, it's best to leave all thoughts of holiday spicing behind. Porter fans, on the other hand, are likely to be pleased; this mildly roasty, milk chocolate-y aroma is spot-on for the style. Light caramel notes appreciate with warmth. It's a bit lean and unembellished but overall nice enough.

Holiday Porter tastes like an emaciated stout: it has some coffee flavour but a very mild roast, a moderate cocoa component but is not overtly chocolatey. Porters were the precursors to stouts, and some American interpretations drink like 'em. This one, however, is simple and medium-light - a textbook traditional porter.

Historically a blend of different beers, this modern porter is nonetheless a blend of roast and specialty malts, which account for the smoky and nutty-caramel undertones. The brewery describes it as "spicy and savory", which is just plain delusion. A pinch of Noble hops, however, does provide traces of earthiness and zest.

I was glad to have a second bottle on hand; it's casual enough that it doesn't last long. Also, however, it's so conventional that writing about it is, well, a bit difficult. I needed a little further reflection to appreciate some of its subtler components, such as the finish, which features a crystalline malt purity that is quite attractive.

I'm fine with breweries going so on-the-nose with style guidelines (as Samuel Adams typically does) so long as they do it properly. Indeed, this is a buttoned-down, to-the-point porter if ever there was one, but it's good. Here's an idea: Drop the "holiday" part - or else explain to me what makes this "holiday-ish" - and offer the porter as a year-round offering.

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Photo of Damian74
3.2/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a 20 oz Imperial Pint glass
A - Pours a dark brown Black, Obtuse Body, leaving behind some lacing.

S - Moderate strength aroma of roasted grains, chocolate, barley

T - Balanced. Malts/barley hints of chocolate. some bitterness.

M - Thin and kind of watery, even for a porter. Moderate carbonation.

O - A decent porter, nothing great. But do get it every holiday season.

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Photo of NilocRellim
3/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer poured from the bottle into a pint glass. It was a nice dark brown/burgundy colour. The initial smell was slightly roasty, but there was not much to it. The beer tasted bitter upfront, with a malty and roasted aftertaste.

Would I buy this beer again? Probably not.

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Photo of Raime
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep black with a one finger head. No lacing.

S - Chocolate, roasted malt.

T - Burnt rubber, a bit hoppy, chocolate and roasted malt. Pretty much what a porter should be.

M - Heavily carbonated with a light body. A bit odd.

O - Overall, a good porter. Nothing amazing, but good.

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Photo of circus_cat
3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours jet black with a slight burnt orange hue. Dark end of off-white soapy head leaving moderate lacing as it goes down.

S: Roasty chestnuts, semi-sweet to bitter chocolate, coffee, heavy malts that impart toffee, caramel, and dark chocolate. Just a *hint* of vanilla extract. Biscuit notes and maltiness become more prominent as the beer warms.

T: Burned chocolate (reminiscent of the taste of melting chocolate that falls on the bottom of a toaster oven and cooks for a while), goes bitter around the sides of the tongue. Smokiness. Toffee/caramel aftertaste. A little burnt toast. Bitterness is the word for this beer.

M: Pretty full mouthfeel that lingers a bit. Very smooth as well.

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Photo of kshizzle101
3.78/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass

A - Very dark brown - almost black with a 2 inch tan head.

S - very malty, spicy, and some dried fruits as well

T - taste is malty with a little spice. Perhaps some caramel as well. A feint taste of booze at the very end.

M - A bit light for a porter and perhaps over carbonated slightly. medium body, a little sticky

Overall - A pretty good Porter offering from Sam Adams but definitely some room for improvement.

 460 characters

Photo of Hunter
3.52/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Dark black-red brew, thick head of dense tan foam that dissipates quickly.

Smell: Smoke, chocolate, anise.

Taste: The smells come through in the taste, but somewhat muted. The aftertaste has a small amount of alcoholic heat to it. Caramels and malts, licorice blended with coffee.

Mouthfeel: Thin and watery.

Overall: Overall, not terribly bad. It's rare to find decent porters, and this fits the bill.

 419 characters

Samuel Adams Holiday Porter from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
3.74 out of 5 based on 2,456 ratings.
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