Santa’s Little Helper
Tasting: November 2, 2013
Style: Stout (barrel-aged)
Beer #: 498
Last year, I really enjoyed the green-labeled version of Santa’s Little Helper (88 points). I discovered a little too late that there was a red-labeled version that was barrel-aged. I set a mental reminder to seek it out this year. I guess I wasn’t alone, as the shelves were well-stocked with the green-labeled Santa’s Little Helper and I had to reach deep into the shelf to get one of the last bottles of the red-labeled barrel-aged versions.
Santa’s Little Helper is a little boozy out of the gate – but some nice cherry, creamy chocolate, some mint and mild coffee. You can easily pick up the oaky barrel influence. On my second pour, I see a floating mass at the top of my glass. At first, it looked like a blob of ice cream on top of a root beer float. I take a sip and almost gag as I fish out some snotty, sticky strands. I’m a bit icked out. This is a first for me and while I do not think the blobs were anything that would cause harm, I’d like to find out what the hell I almost swallowed.
I sent an email with the above photo to the quality assurance department of the brewery. They whisked off a quick explanation:
The gelatinous glob in Santa’s Little Helper is from the starches in the malt. The chocolate malt, oatmeal, and roasted malts have formed a starch like substance from the high levels of beta-glucans in the wort. They are not dangerous and they will not affect the flavor. The barrel-aged Santa’s was from the beer from the previous years, and it was prior to us taking the correct actions. That being said, I am sure that was quite disturbing.
Port Brewing and its sister brewery Lost Abbey make excellent beer and one so-so episode will not sway my opinion. I think so highly of them that I plunked down $13.99 the very next day for a replacement bottle to finish this review. No change in my impressions – this time the booziness seems a little more amped up and get some additional fudge/cocoa flavors that I don’t recall the first time around. It’s a solid seasonal stout and I recommend you put either versioin of Santa’s Little Helper on your Christmas list – 92 points.
Read my thoughts about the regular version of Santa’s Little Helper — Click Here