Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper Bourbon Barrel Aged Review

Last summer I gave you notice to get your bottle of Port Brewing Bourbon Barrel Santa’s Little Helper while it was still available. It’s released every July after aging Santa’s Little Helper Imperial Stout in bourbon barrels for 9 months. Today, I grabbed a bottle from my cellar and pulled the cork. Here’s my review.

Bourbon Santa’s Little Helper pours black with a thin chocolate brown head of foam. The nose is full of bourbon, with vanilla, cocoa, and dried fruits trailing. The non-barrel aged Santa’s Little Helper has a much wider range of aromas. This one is straight-on bourbon. The taste – it’s huge – is bitter chocolate, espresso, bourbon, vanilla bean, with caramel and sweet wood. The Magnum and Centennial hops give it its bitterness. It has a smokey coffee-like finish that just keeps going. It is 12% ABV and warms your throat.

Port Brewing of San Marcos, California is one of the mainstays of the San Diego – Escondido area along with Stone Brewing. In fact, Port moved into Stone’s old brewing facilities a few years back. Another of their labels is Lost Abbey, which focuses on barrel-aged beers. Together they have a 1000+ library of oak bourbon, brandy, sherry and wine barrels for aging beers. How’s that for a commitment to barrel aging!

If you really want to have fun, taste this beer along side the beer it’s made from, Santa’s Little Helper (my review), and see the differences between barrel and no barrel. They are remarkably different. I like both.

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    While it’s difficult to picture Santa as a young man, he was once. He met the future Mrs. Claus one snowy night when she offered him a winter ale that she brewed herself. It was love at first sight – for both the Mrs. and her winter ales. With Santa’s growing fame, his favorite brews became named after his favorite day – Christmas. Santa now travels the world each year to spread the joy that began in a stable in Bethlehem two millennia ago.

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