Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper Bourbon Stout

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Beer Profile

  • Brewery: Port Brewing Company
  • Website: portbrewing.com
  • Country: United States
  • State: California
  • Style: Russian Imperial Stout Spirit-Aged Beers
  • Malts: Two Row, Wheat, Domestic and English Crystal, Roasted, Black and Chocolate Malts
  • Hops: Phoenix, Challenger and East Kent Goldings
  • ABV: 12%
  • IBUs:
  • Tasting Notes: Vanilla, dates, figs, caramel
  • Preferred Glass: Snifter
  • Food Pairing:
  • PHM Grade: B

Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper Bourbon Stout

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A base Port Brewing Imperial Stout + Bourbon barrel = deliciousness.  Seriously!  It is good stuff.  Some time back I had the pleasure of brewing for the day with Tim Marshall (former Senior brewer at Rock Bottom-Lombard).  Before we started brewing he let me sample some various beers straight from the Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels which contained his beer.  The flavors of the Bourbon which I found in those various vintages were found in this brew.

It had a fairly huge nose as hints of prunes, dates, figs, dark fruits, vanilla, licorice, and light coffee filled the air.  In the end smooth Bourbon notes took over the aroma.  Earthy hops were spicy and provided a little kick along with the abv adding just a little muscle to the mix.  With regards to the barrel aging, richh tannin notes similar to a Cabernet Sauvignon.  Dark, spicy and jammy.

The head on this beer was thicker, creamier and lighter in color than its non-barrel aged counterpart.  Other than that, the appearance is identical.  Tipping back my snifter the first flavors that hit my palate were vanilla, dates, and caramel.  Mid sip the roasted grains started came to the forefront.  The abv is noticeable in finish which leads into date and fig notes.  The tannins from the charred wood gave a light smokey texture and taste on the back half of each sip.  While there is some hints of chocolate, they are minor and found in the aftertaste.  This beer is good, but not the best barrel aged imperial stout I’ve had.  The Bourbon flavors were rich and smooth, but they seemed to have a fruity mellowed aroma and taste.  I prefer more of cleaner, wood caramel, lighter mouthfeel Bourbon notes in my aged stouts.

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