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Port Brewing’s Santa’s Little Helper Imperial Stout & The Nightmare Before Christmas

Hey there, Drinkers!

What’s this?! A nightmare after Christmas? Yes, it’s true. And in true Christmas fashion, I’m giving you a gift after the fact now that the crowds have died down at Target. Though, to be truthful, this review was supposed to be out earlier but life decided that the holidays would be a great time for me not feel so hot. But here we are! With Santa’s Little Helper in hand and The Nightmare Before Christmas on  my screen, we’ve lined up a holiday that will be hard to forget!

…unless you’re Jewish like me and always get confused between the concept of Christmas Eve with Christmas Day with Christmas Eve Day with Christmas Day Eve. It really is confusing…But let’s get started, shall we?

On tonight’s menu is the short-but-sweet 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas. And while most people  (albeit understandably) associate this super stop-motion film with Tim Burton, he is actually not the director. Yes he helped write and produce it, but frequent collaborator Henry Selick is actually credited as the director. Yes, Burton’s fingerprints all over this film but I thought it was an interesting distinction to make. But beyond that technicality, I’m just going to assume  that all of you have seen this movie. I mean, I’ve seen it like 50 times. And Jack Skellington, our protagonist, appears on so many angsty teenaged girls’ clothing and apparel that it’s hard not to be familiar with the film at least in an abstract or artistic sense. And while I still don’t really get why the film has become a fashion statement, I do get why this film is frickin’ awesome. Aside from the impressive technical foundation on which any stop-motion film stands, it’s also a musical! With the exception of maybe two songs, the musical component of this film, expertly crafted by the unparalleled Danny Elfman, is utterly engaging. It drives the plot forward, is playful and fully integrated into the core of the film. And, most importantly, the songs are incredibly catchy! Who knew that the simple phrase “this is Halloween” could play over and over in your head?

Let's all sing along with the living incarnation of Death!

Let’s all sing along with the living incarnation of Death!

All fandom aside, I should point out how utterly dark and creepy this film is. What kind of Halloween’s did Tim Burton experience as a child? These monsters are scary and really sadistic (as good monster are wont to do, I guess). I feel like if this Halloween were based on reality, everyone in Halloween Town would have just been really really slutty. But hey, it’s a movie. Let’s suspend our disbelief for a moment. But aside from the creep-factor, those same monsters do provide a clear perspective on how carefully this film was constructed. The individual detail and characterization of every creature is immaculate and fully-realized. What could have easily been a hammy and cliche Halloween village is instead a fully realized universe inhabited with a plethora of distinct characters . Few live-action movies get even that right, so to see it in a movie with no flesh-and-blood actors is truly remarkable and refreshing. Not to mention that Oogie-Boogie is one of the more entertaining bad guys you’ll find on the silver screen. For the none of you who have not seen this film, don’t wait until next Halloween or Christmas to give it a whirl. Watch it now! Remember, This Is Halloween!

Children welcome

Children welcome

And Santa’s Little Helper? Well, for starters, I think it’s an understatement to call a beer that boasts 10% ABV a “little helper.” This Imperial Stout from Port Brewing is one of the stronger beers I’ve reviewed here on BAAM and, to be honest, I’m still feeling it. The beer wasn’t boozy, mind you, it’s just that it’s a high ABV beer and I drank the whole bomber. By myself. Hurray for Thursday nights! But seriously, this imperial stout poured a classic deep, dark black with a rich chocolate-brown head. Instantly you’re hit with a strong nose of chocolate malt with hints of coffee. And that’s pretty much what it tastes like. In my experience, I find that most imperial stouts, while delicious and perfect for that chilly winter night, all have these same basic characteristics. What it comes down to for me with these beers is the body, the booziness and how it warms. In that regard, Santa’s Little Helper holds up pretty well. It’s got an unexpectedly medium-body without too much booziness. This meant that I had an easy drink that didn’t weigh me down or make me pucker up too much from the alcohol. And as it warmed, I found that these characteristics came out even more. In a sense, the warming smoothed it all out. Where the was a hint of booze right after I poured, once it reached room temperature that small bite mellowed out. Overall, this is a very good Imperial Stout. Perfect for sipping over a long period of time. So chuggers, find another beer!

So that’s it, folks. A holiday classic (that’s not an overstatement, is it?) paired with a very good, hearty winter beer. Not that The Nightmare Before Christmas needs a hand, but it was nice having Santa’s Little Helper at my side tonight. I think we’ll call this Christmas a win!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing in a glass.
Port Brewing’s Santa’s Little Helper Imperial Stout:
-Lovely, dark pour
-Rich, chocolate head
-Medium-body & not too boozy

The Nightmare Before Christmas
-A nice change of pace from your other holiday films
-Beautifully realized, even if it is creepy
-Catchiest, darkest lyrics you’ll find

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