Charles River Porter - Cambridge Brewing Company

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Charles River Porter
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very good

137 Ratings

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Ratings: 137
Reviews: 75
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 10.86%
Wants: 2
Gots: 6 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Cambridge Brewing Company visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  5.90% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-22-2000

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 137 | Reviews: 75
Reviews by jlindros:
Photo of jlindros
4.14/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Tap at the brew pub.

Pours a dark almost black beer with no real light coming through, nice creamy decent head.

Nose brings some dark malts, a little roast, little cocoa, hint of coffee, caramel toffee even, and hint of a nutty malt even, then hops, light earthy spicy hops bring a decent hop aroma to robust porter.

Taste continues where the aroma left off, dark malts, a little roasted character bringing a hint of coffee and faint faint touch of light burnt flavors, then cocoa, powdered chocolate, and a little caramel toffee sweetness. It has a light creamy oat like character but barely, before the hops strengthen. A decent earthy spicy hop character, meaty hops with a nice bitterness. Finish is dry and bitter, more bitter hops and light roasty malt character as well as light chocolate lingering.

Mouth is med to fuller bodied, little creamy, nice carb.

Overall pretty much almost exactly what I expect for a nice robust porter, nothing wrong with it at all, tasty well blended, if I'm looking for a nice robust porter this is exactly what I want.

More User Reviews:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.27/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: On tap.

Appearance: Opaque with a tan, whispy, lace.

Smell: Citrus in the nose, well hopped. Earthiness, slightly roasted.

Taste: Light bodied malt profile, roasted to burnt barley flavours. Somewhere in between a grapefruit bitter flavour enters the taste realm. Finished grain dry with some ending grapefruit and sweet/sour flavours.

Notes: WOW! What a Robust Porter! We could drink this all night long. They have no need to change anything with this porter ever. Done just right!

Photo of Jason
4.27/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap and served in an American Pint tumbler. Big fat roasted malt character on the palate but not with overly burnt flavour, more of a soft roasted char flavour. Maltiness is thick in the middle with a splash of sweetness, almost bready. Dry finish with a refreshingly mild acrid twang. This is one of the better porters brewed in the US and one that I always go back to.

Photo of Sammy
3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on tap at the brewpub. Solid porter with expresso coffee and above average mouthfeel. Bitterness without being mouth puckering. Very dark brown colour with tons of lace following through. Carbonation was right there. Chocolate stouty aroma, some licorice in the taste. Drying finish.

Photo of tempest
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I had a glass at the CBC. This is a mighty fine porter. I usually bemoan when porters are too thick, but the body is spot on here - a satisfying, but not too-filling body. The flavor started with a deep, black roast, but quickly sweetened a touch with toffee and caramel bread crust notes. Overall, a classic American porter.

Photo of bewareOFpenguin
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

When the barkeep brought it, my wife thought it was a stout. Very dark, with a great robust, toasted taste. I personnally like the addition of the hops. It added to the overall taste. When I go back to CBC, this beer will be on my mind.

Photo of Kegatron
3.78/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the brewpub.

Pours a dark brown with some ruby highlights and a finger width of light tan head that settles donw into a nice creamy retention that left some pretty big lacing. The aroma is notes of caramel and chocolate sweetness that is balanced by roasted malts and coffee.

The taste is filled with pleasant notes of roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate. There is just the tiniest amount of residual sweetness in the finish but for the most part, the majority of the character is dry and roasty. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with good carbonation and a creamy feel.

This a good Porter from Cambridge and definitely fits the "dark beer" role in their lineup of staple beers. I usually like a touch more sweetness and maybe a little less roast in that style but it just wasn't to be in this guy. It's still definitley worth your time though.

Photo of mydeadguy
3.92/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep inky black with little caramel colored head, that trails down the glass. Nose is full of roasted malt character, hints of chocolate and smoke.
Taste is roasted malty goodness, with a nice hop balance in the finish, and hints of sweet fruit. As it warms the alcohol is slightly represented in the taste and nose. Mouthfeel is creamy, smooth and full bodied with little carbonation.
I would have another of these in a second.. great local beer..

Photo of Franchise
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a jet black but probably more really dark brown in better light. It left a thick tan head frothy and nice, it was served a little too cold for a cask but that didn't detract from the offering. The nose is chocolate, roasted nuts, coffee, and a caramel sweetness. The taste starts bitter espresso upfront that is then followed with a smooth milky syrupy coating of toffee sweetness on the throat that finishes bitter on the palate for a nicely balanced porter. Another great offering from the CBC.

Photo of BeerSox
4.45/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap into pint glass at Johnny D's in Davis Square - Somerville, MA.

Almost pitch black, but some ruby and amber highlights show up toward the bottom of the glass. A one finger tan head slowly settles to a pillowy cap. Couldn't get much aroma, but from what I could get there was plenty of roasted malts and a little bit of dark coffee. The flavor was fantastic, with burnt malts, a little cocoa and some more of the dark coffee. Maybe a little caramel in there as well. Hop bitterness was on the low end, not really noticeable. Full bodied.

I had to order another round of this one while at the restaurant. I was tempted to order a third. Very drinkable, almost sessionable, and very recommended.

Photo of u2carew
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A) Pours with a finger thick head, tan and creamy. Lacing is thin and sticky. Body is opaque.
S) Smoky. Chocolate. Hints of coffee. Prominent caramel.
T) Smoky caramel malts. Notes of dark chocolate. Just a slight hop bite in the finish.
M) Crisp. Fizzy. Dry. Full body.
D) A delicious porter. Robust flavors with great aroma. Pour me another!

Photo of PEBKAC
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Growler purchased at the CBC Beerunch & subsequently cradled through numerous potholes & stares from salivating passengers on my way back to NYC. This is what $11 can get ya. Read all about it.

Glug, glug, glug, it pours pretty savagely, but I manage not to spill it. As a result, a strong head develops. It is pretty resistant to any poking or prodding, much like the foam insulation poking through my shoddy apartment wall. Major lacing; the glass is pretty much enameled at this point. If only it was this easy to frost my windows during Christmas.

Smells of robust, unground coffee beans & yummy Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars flow over the edge of the pint. The chocolate isn't anything special, but the sugary sweet raisins & I would guess almonds(by default), really work well together.

On the taste, there is a race between the roast & the bitter resin on opposite sides of your mouth. The chocolate comes through, but at the same moment, so does that persistant jab of bitterness. It does eventually overpower, & linger for quite a while. Clapping your tongue & the roof of your mouth together brings back some of the coffee notes, but the bitterness, while weak, still marches on. Depending on how you like it, this can be viewed as a good or bad thing. A calming grope(depending on how much you like to be groped) of vanilla tries its best to smooth the experience out.

The carbonation does it job, & moves all the flavors around. Mouthfeel was overall average, if not on the thinner side. While that didn't give a great score to itself, it made the drinkability quite more favorable.

I'm glad I had the chance to partake.
Great breakfast by the way. :)

Photo of SixpointJMH
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

probably my favourite of the cbc brews. it's basic but it's damn tasty. this one purs a dark brown to near black colour with a nice but moderate tan head. the smell and flavour were of chocolate, caramel and malt, with a hint of coffee thrown into the mix. it tries to inch its way toward being a stout at times but remains consistently a porter, which is nice because it ends up being a bolder (but basic, as i've said) porter. the roasted malt and chocolate balance in the flavour is really very very nice and there's a ouch of eathy sweetness here and there as well. mouthfeel is spot on as this is a medium to full bodied brew. i could easily drink this one often.

Photo of StevieW
4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Murky deep dark brown color. Head was beige, smooth, foamy, and ample. Very rich inviting sweet smells, hints of chocolate and roasted coffee. Taste was a combination of sublte chocolate malt, and slighty bitter coffee flavors. Crisp dry hopped finish. Creamy,medium bodied, smooth, easy to drink Porter. I could see drinking this all winter long if I lived up there. My favorite beer from my recent trip to CBC.

Photo of HattedClassic
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a nice tan and creamy head that dissipates quickly. Leaves a lot of lacing on the glass. The head still leaves a ring around the inside of the glass. The beer itself is a dark chocolate with slight hints of dark chocolate and a bit shiny. The beer smell has strong hints of dark chocolate and roasted malts with a slight hop note and a tiny hint of vanilla. Also, smoky notes through out the beer. The beer taste is similar to the smell. The stronger notes are those of roasted malts, coco, and dark chocolate with stronger hop notes in the bitter aftertaste as well as smoke. In addition to the hops, the aftertaste has a strong dark chocolate presence. The vanilla note is still there but not as prominent. The feel is thick bodied with biting carbonation. Overall, a pretty good beer and worth getting again.

Photo of donkeyrunner
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

@ Atwoods, Somerville MA

Opaque black with a 1 finger tan head. Stellar retention left big, fat lace rings like my glass was wearing a foamy striped rugby shirt.

Smells like sweet, smokey bacon. I think it's the rich, sweet roastiness of dark, dark coffee combined with a mild sour that gives off the bacon impression. Whatever it is I like it. Cocoa powder and almond nuttiness gives an Almond Joy impression. So, in summary Almond Joy + applewood smoked bacon = Cambridge Porter.

Roast malt and mild (lactic?) sour tang. Lots of dry char and coal roast flavors. If this was a different brewery it could have a name like "Ol' Smokestack," or something similar. Singed dark chocolate.

Photo of gentlebubbles
4.4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

on cask at CBC 6/27/06

Beautiful black body with 1/2 inch of cremy milk chocolate on top.

Dark malty scent with a hint of smoke.

The smoky bite gives way to chocolate and roasted grains. There's some wineyness to it and a touch of sour lemon in the finish. Complex!

Medium body with light fizz.

I had two pints, thinking I should try it more often.

Photo of ppoitras
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Screw-cap growler provided via trade by warriorsoul. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed an airy fleeting head over the barely translucent dark brown brew. Bubbles that remain huddle along the rim, with small-bubbled lace and lingering legs. Aroma is robust nutty coffee. Taste is what the nose prtends, with balancing bitterness near the end. Mouthfeel is smooth, and drinkability is great. This one had a bit of a rough ride, but still pulled through. I have to break my no-Boston streak sometime, and this will be on the route, for sure, when I do.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours very dark with a bit if a light brown head and not. Uch lacing. Nose brings some smoke as well as coffee, chocolate, and roast. The taste is mostly roast with a bit of smoke. Pretty good body and a bit dry. Drinks fairly well but was a bit of a letdown.

Photo of RBorsato
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted On-Tap 10/01/05 at the CBC in Cambridge, MA.

Black in color with a decent light brown head. Robust roasty bittersweet coffee bean and light chocolate aroma and flavor. Medium bodied and creamy smooth.

One of the top 2 or 3 beers tasted at CBC -- Delicious ! I wanted to take a growler of this one back to the hotel but my friends chose the Pale Ale over this one .

Per CBC website:
OG: 1.060 FG: 1.014 ABV: 6.0%

Photo of Rifugium
3.68/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

First had: on tap at CBC

Served in a small tumbler, dark brown-black with a small tan head that dissipated almost completely; no lacing to speak of. Aroma of dark roasted malts and cocoa. Pretty basic, pretty good. Good classic porter profile in the taste as well, dark malts, chocolate, some coffee bitterness, nothing really in the hop department. Smooth mouthfeel, body was not quite full, but still pretty robust for a porter. Quite good overall.

Photo of sulldaddy
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was the second of the beers we drank while visiting Cambridge Brewing after Head of the Charles Regatta. We ordered a 100 oz tower of the brew.
The beer pours pitch black with no light escaping and gives life to a soft creamy tan head with very tight latticework. The head fades rather quickly to a thin surface layer that remains through sampling. Aroma is cocoa powder and roasted malt hits, also some light nuttiness. First sip reveals a rather prickly carbonation that bites my tongue a little. Beer exhibits a creamy texture after that and the flavors are rich and robust. The sweet chocolate start moves to a coffee bitter middle and bitey finish as well. The bitterness leaves my mouth craving more of the sweetness. The brew is a little rough at first but 2-3 sips in it becomes much smoother and easy to drink.
Overall pretty nice brew!

Photo of jdhilt
2.3/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Good head, good lace and very dark ruby color. Very good body but what was unexpected was the high hops in this porter. I think of a porter as a equal mix of malt and hops but this was totally different.

Photo of smcolw
4.23/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mahogany brown, very much like a stout. It was impossible to shine light through it. Thin head (a bar pour) but it left very nice lace.

Very mild aroma considering the richness of the brew. Chocolate notes; some black patent malt.

This is a full-bodied chocolatey porter. There's a touch of coffee burnt highlights. The most remarkable aspect of this beer is the finishing hops that show up in the swallow and the aftertaste. Simply delicious.

This is an excellent porter--very complex and full flavored with a thick texture that reminds me of cream. It's a shame this is not more readily available for everyone outside of Boston.

Photo of womencantsail
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Cambridge Brewing

A: The pour is a very dark brown, almost black, color with a finger of khaki colored head.

S: Strong roasted malt and dark chocolate character. Plenty of licorice and molasses with lots of earthy qualities to it as well. There is a bit of toffee sweetness, maybe some hints of smoke.

T: The flavor is quite nice with a subtle bitterness from the roast and the hops. Lots of roasted malt flavor including coffee and bitter dark chocolate. Some more earthy notes, molasses, and toffee.

M: Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

O: A solid porter. I could have used a bit more chocolate flavor/sweetness, but still solid.

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Charles River Porter from Cambridge Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 137 ratings.