I’m way behind on Beer Reviews (I’ve sampled them, and have pages of notes, but haven’t yet written them up). I will try to catch up in the next few of weeks, but for now I offer my observations on a couple of special release beers. Please read responsibly!
Santa’s Little Helper: Port Brewing, San Marcos, CA. 10.5% ABV.
Port Brewing makes a lot of delicious beers. Santa’s Little Helper is a winter seasonal release. This Imperial Stout pours pitch black with a creamy 2″ cocoa colored head that lasts for several minutes before fading to a thin layer, and finally to a small ring around the perimeter of the glass (I used a tulip glass). The aroma is roasty with notes of licorice and caramel.
The flavor is coffee, bitter chocolate, licorice, sweet, and nutty. There is a lingering bitterness in the aftertaste from the roasted grains. The body and mouthfeel is medium/heavy. The alcohol is well hidden, not really noticeable in the mouth, but it quickly goes to work, so be careful with it. As this beer warms, dark, semi-sweet chocolate predominates, with notes of toffee and coffee.
Overall, this is very pleasant beer. It’s typical for an Imperial Russian Stout – roasty and complex with a fairly high alcohol content. It’s good, but not the best IRS I’ve ever had.
Ginger Bigfoot: Sierra Nevada Brewing, Chico, CA. 11.4% ABV
Ginger Bigfoot is one of the “Trip In The Woods” Barrel-Aged Series releases from Sierra Nevada. It is their Bigfoot Barleywine aged in whiskey barrels, with ginger added.
Ginger Bigfoot pours a dark murky brown, with no head, but a very thin ring that faded away. The aroma is slightly sweet, vanilla, and oak, with a bit of ginger. The flavor is vanilla, ginger, tobacco, and raisin. The aftertaste is all ginger. It’s well carbonated with a medium to heavy body. As it warms, the whiskey aroma steps forward, but the ginger becomes even more pronounced in both the aroma and flavor.
The whiskey barrel flavor is quite subdued in this beer. It is VERY ginger forward, which is not to my liking. I really like Bigfoot Barleywine, and I generally love bourbon barrel aged big beers, but this offering from Sierra Nevada is all about the ginger. Since I don’t like ginger, I didn’t like this beer. That’s not to say this is not good beer. It’s very complex, and if you like ginger, you very well may like this one.
I purchased both of these beers at Costco. I don’t remember the price, but both were reasonable. I think Santa’s Little Helper was about $6.00 (22 oz.) and Ginger Bigfoot was about $12.00 (750 ml). Neither one is available at Costco now, but I have seen both at several other locations. So, I recommend Santa’s Little Helper, but I did not like Ginger Bigfoot, and would only recommend it to someone who likes ginger. Caveat: if you’re a fizzy yellow beer drinker, don’t bother with either one.
Well, that’s all for now, beer lovers. I will try to publish more beer reviews right away, so check back soon.