We’ve tried a couple other Port Brewing beers here at CBS, and the two we’ve had so far have been quite the hop bombs. That’s what I associate with this label now. Santa’s little helper, their Imperial Stout, throws its hat in the Christmas beer ring as well, so they move to the front of the line. So far our experience with Port has been a bit mixed. Some very good impressions, some beers were good but not all that memorable. Time to see how Santa’s Little Helper fares.
The beer pours a dark chocolate color with a nice thick head which could easily support a bottle cap. The scents wafting up from the glass are raisins, dark cherries, a hint of chocolate, maybe some toffee, and a slight whiff of alcohol and roasty malts. Fortunately, it tastes as substantial as it looks and smells. It’s got a nice, full, creamy mouth feel with minimal carbonation, but enough to keep it from feeling flat. Sometimes that carbonations a hard thing to get right, but this is just what I wanted from this beer.
Chocolate, coffee, roasted malts and maybe a hint of licorice are the main flavors with some alcohol warming towards the end. If you’ve ever eaten baking chocolate by mistake (or maybe on purpose), you’ll know what the astringent bitter note is that the beer finishes on. It’s not overpowering, but you can’t miss it, and that might not be a good thing for some people. Then again, if you’re trying a big stout like this, you know the types of flavors your getting yourself into.
Overall, a nice beer by Port Brewing, not a home run, but ringing double for sure. I’m sure you could enjoy this anytime, not just at Christmas. It’s hard to put your finger on what a Christmas beer tastes like exactly, and I suppose this one fits the bill, but there are others I’ve tried which I’d choose over SLH. Still, it’s a great size for sharing, and that’s what you should probably be doing with a beer as big as this.
Taste: A solid B. For the style, it’s nice, hits the right notes for the most part, but it’s not overly complex. I’d never turn it down, but don’t know if I’d seek it out.
Drinkability: C+ Big ABV, and a very rich beer, I’d much rather share one of these with a friend or two and move on to try something else.
Vitals: ABV: 10.0 Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a pint glass at about 50F.