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Steelhead Scotch Porter - Mad River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Steelhead Scotch PorterSteelhead Scotch Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

326 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 326
Reviews: 228
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 9.97%
Wants: 13
Gots: 15 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Mad River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
English Porter |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: kbub6f on 01-23-2001

This traditionally styled Porter has complex malt characteristics balanced with a mild hop profile. Scottish smoked and peated malts lend added complexity and a mild smokey flavor.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 326 | Reviews: 228
Photo of loubar
4.39/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle from BevMo. Nose of roasted malt with some chocolate and char. Taste of milk chocolate upfront, followed by a light coffee bitterness giving way to moderate peat smoke. Hint of caramel and bread in the aftertaste. Excellent flavor and balance. Goes down very easy. A great example of a classic English porter.

Photo of CrazyDavros
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours black with an off-white head.
Nose shows roasted malt and cocoa, soft bready notes and some liquorice too.
Dry roasty flavours, some toasty malt and liquorice. Perfectly balanced.

Photo of Fatehunter
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%

Pours a finger of light tan head on a dark brown body. The aroma is roasted malt and a little chocolate. The taste incredible. Roasted malt, chocolate move to a smoky and woody finish. Only a hint of bitterness. Smooth and soft texture. Excellent flavor profile.

Photo of droomyster
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a black body with a small tan head that quickly dissipates. Delicious aromas are big on roastiness, molasses and drying whiskey barrels. The flavor are as intense as they are harmonious. I get some coffee bitterness right up front before sweet flavors like tootsie roll and burnt sugar rush into the mid-palate, before a long and pleasant Irish coffee bitterness. Hefty body is appropriate to the intensity of such dark flavors. I love this beer!

Photo of delta490
3.84/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured out a deep brown. A small amount light gets through. A thin tan head barely hangs on past the first minute and no lacing is left behind. There is a good amount of detritus floating around. Definitely a negative. There is a small amount of smell, just nondescript malt and a hint of alcohol. The taste, though, is full of flavor. Deep roasted malt notes, with a nice earthy hops and not-unpleasant astringent hit. There is a decent weight to the body, my preference would be a little fuller but it's not thin by any means. The flavor for me is what does it a not complex but very good taste.

Photo of BenHesk12
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Mad River Steelhead Porter served from a bottle with no freshness date on it. I did notice a high amount of residual yeast and musty things in each bottle. Here we have a decent porter with a flair for scotchy smokiness. In between sips, I noticed a long lasting smoke taste in my mouth as if I had been smoking a nice cigar or drinking an Islay scotch. At 6.5% alcohol with medium body, this beer isn't going to overwhelm or inspire you, but to me it's an above average beer of a niche style. Once again, the beer is mild for something called a 'scotch porter' which might scare away most casual beer drinkers. This is a beer that critical drinkers will appreciate and adventurous laypeople will like too. Malty with well balanced molasses and smoke. Overall, an average porter with some additional intrigue and smoke flavor make this beer something to check out.

Photo of dbrauneis
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours an opaque but clear very dark brown in color with moderate amounts of fine gentle visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and some dark amber highlights. The beer has a two finger tall dense foamy tan head that slowly reduces to a large patch of thin film and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant amount of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of chocolate malts with light to moderate amounts of molasses and roasted malts. There is also a light presence of smoked peat/scotch.

T: Upfront there are moderate flavors of roasted, smoked, and chocolate malts with notes of smoked peat - much like you would expect from a scotch ale. Slightly sweet with some hints of coffee bitterness in the finish.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly thin.

O: This is an enjoyable beer and somewhat a hybrid of the current versions of the porter and scotch ale. Easy to drink with well hidden alcohol - I would definitely grab another one of these when I come across it.

Photo of Cylinsier
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz.

Pours jet black, tan film for a head

Smells of molasses, scotch, oak and vanilla. Also some brown sugar and biscuit.

Oak and scotch over brown sugar and biscuit malt with some mesquite and vanilla underscoring.

Full body with a tingly carbonation on the tongue.

This is an amazingly flavorful porter given the abv. I am very pleasantly surprised. Good flavor and aroma and very good body. Definitely worth trying.

Photo of IchLiebeBier
3.59/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: dark chestnut; small off-white head; lots of sediment floating around

Smell: Initial whiff of chocolate that dominates it; don't get a lot more; hops are very subdued; very faint peat smoke, probably would have missed it if I didn't know it was supposed to be there

Taste: Sweet malt right at the get go; just enough hops to keep it from being overly sweet, but it is a sweet beer; tastes a lot like a sweet stout I brewed once that had lactose added to it; website doesn't say it's in there, but it certainly tastes like it is

Mouthfeel: malty and a little less than medium body; mouthfeel is like a half-flat coke

Remarks: tasty overall, but a little too sweet

Photo of ADZA
3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Love a hybrid brew and keen for this one which pours the darkest brown non see through hue with a creamy two finger head and subtle clingy lacing,the smell is peated smokey malts,dark chocolate and roasted caramel,the mouthfeel is medium bodied with above moderate carbonation and on taste it starts off like a scotch ale and finishes like a porter with tastes first up of smokey peated malts,a touch of whiskey,roasted caramel,a dash of coffee liqueur and finished with a dark chocolate bittersweetness and overall it's definitely half scotch ale and half porter which works and I for one enjoyed it and buy again without doubt cheers.

Photo of Dope
4.06/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle just says "steelhead porter", no sign of "scotch" but there's no other porters listed so I'm assuming this to be the same beer.

A: Pours a nice solid brown with a dense, fluffy sort of light brown head. Head fades slowly, leaving great spiderwebs of lacing behind. Quite good retention too.

S: Nice mild roasted malt with a little chocolate and char. A hint of caramel to sweeten it up in fact. Touch of smoke?

T: Nice smooth roasted malt. Again with the chocolate, quite mild with a little char up front. Then turns quite sweet, a nice chocolate syrup flavor into the middle and finish. Smooth and mellow. Pure chocolate between sips. Surprisingly nice.

M: Smooth and medium bodied. Very drinkable.

O: A nice porter. Chocolatey for sure. Very mellow flavors and smooth drinking. Goes down very easy. A great example of a simple english porter.

Photo of Jonny
3.87/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- root beer in color w/red hues and minimal head retention

S- to me, this is where this beer does very well. Scents of sweet cream and milk choc dominate.
do i smell maple syrup?

T- sadly, not so much like the smell. quite smoky/ashy with some bitter hops that stick around a while.

M- full, with prickly carbonation. Long dry/bitter finish that makes you want another sip.

O- I tend to lean toward stouts/porters anyways, so it don't take much to get my vote for this style. However, if your a porter kinda BA, grab yourself a 6'er. Very pleasant.

True to style IMO.

Photo of TheSixthRing
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a deep cola brown color with a tan, finger width head. Fair retention, leaving a thin layer of microbubbles covering the surface. Lots of yeast sediment floating around. Leaves thin rings and spots of lace around the glass.

Smell - A healthy amount of deep chocolate overtones make up the bulk of the aroma, while lesser notes of coffee and earth play it up nicely.

Taste - Doesn't quite live up to the strength of the nose, but still kicks with great flavor and balance. Milk chocolate upfront, followed by a light coffee bitterness before giving way to a moderate, perfect amount of peat smoke character on the back-end. Touches of caramel in the aftertaste. This is really, really good.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with moderate, somewhat lively carbonation. Goes down smooth; slightly silky.

Overall - Quality brew. Good flavor; incredibly smooth and drinkable. Dare I say, sessionable? Incidentally, I had a slice of chocolate topped cheesecake toward the end of my drink, and the pairing was nothing short of heaven. Wish I'da paired them together a lot sooner. For those that think the Stone and Alaskan Smoked Porters are too smokey, give this one a go. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Photo of beergoot
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice brown body with a thick, chunky faint tan head; sticky lacing. Dark malt and cocoa in the smell. Bitter chocolate and sugary sweetness make up the bulk of the taste; some sweet caramel and a soothing, light bitterness builds up at the end of the taste. Medium-light in body; clean with a lightly sugary finish.

A fair porter that delivers on the basics. Nothing over-the-top, and no real wow-factor, but very enjoyable overall.

Photo of allforbetterbeer
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. No fresh/expiration dates.

Pours a nealry black dark brown body under a compact finger of head that falls slowly.

Certainly smells more English in style, with peaty light smoke over frothy chocolaty malts. Little to no hops to speak of.

The flavor takes this in a new direction. The smoke and chocolate are minor in comparison to the fruity dark malts and coffee flavors. This is almost going baltic in profile. The dark fruit and coffee are quite dry, and accented nicely by a touch of smoke. This lands somewhere near Irish dry stout, English porter, and Baltic porter. at points it almost seems like this is dark chocolate with cherry. Quite nice.

The mouthfeel is full at first by surprisingly dry, with just a touch of acididy. This very well may be like the real original English porters.

Conclusion: Amazingly true to style. Well done Mad River! This is the first of their beers than I have tried, and I wasn't expecting something this good.

Photo of BB1313
3.32/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

No date. 12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pours a hazy brown, nice khaki head, nice lacing and retention. There seems to some sediment. The aromas are pretty subtle. Lots of milk chocolate, malts and grains. The flavors match the aromas, subtle. There's more chocolate blended with skim milk. I'm picking up a touch of caramel, butterscotch and toffee, but it's muted. There's a decent bitterness that lingers with this one. Maybe a touch of black coffee, but it seems faded. Mouthfeel is pretty nice, smooth, light, nice amount of carbonation. Alcohol goes completely unnoticed.

Overall, average and kind of boring. I'm thinking this was possibly an old bottle. It actually isn't bad, but everything seems so subtle and one note.

Photo of plaid75
3.31/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a deep brown hue with a half finger foamy off white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured soft cocoa and a touch of caramel.

The taste consisted of creamy chocolate and soft caramel malt. A good dose of lactose detected as well.

The mouthfeel was full and creamy.

Overall a muted chocolatey porter.

Photo of chinchill
3.99/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz undated bottle served in a Unibroue snifter.

Pours a hazy, dark brown; semi-opaque. Although the bottle was emptied, considerable sediment remained stuck on the bottom of the bottle. The small tan head is short lived but leaves spotty lacing.

A: Quite pleasant, if unusual for style, with hints of sweet caramel and red wine. Roasted malt aroma is surprisingly faint, even after warming.

T: The flavor is a bit sweet up front, but this changes to a nicely balanced mix of sweet and bitter. Nice complex and dynamic mix of malts, with hints of toffee and dried plums. Rich dark malt dominates the slightly smokey finish and aftertaste. Approaching 4.25

M: Medium+ body; smooth; well chosen medium level of carbonation; some dryness in the finish.

O: "Scotch Porter" indeed, this is about mid-way between a Scotch Ale and a porter. In any case, fine flavor and easy to recommend.

Review slightly revised after further sampling in June & Sept. 2012; May 2013.

Photo of RickS95
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clearish brown color with some burgundy thrown in for good measure. The head is slow-forming, an off-brown color about two fingers thick, with great retention.

Very, very malt forward. The malt backbone overwhelms everything else. Scent is similar to cola so there's a caramel element as well. There is something else, kind of smoky.

It's really good. I don't typically care for malt bombs, but this has a balance taste. The malt is still dominant, though the caramel teams up with it, but the hops finally make an appearance to bring that balance.

Very creamy in the mouth. Only slightly sweet, not close to cloying, with a bit of bitter and smoke near the finish for balance. Great lacing, by the way.

Much better than I expected. It smelled like I expected, but I was blown away by the balance in the taste and feel, and that's what put it over the top for me.

Photo of tronester
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a dark chestnut color, with a thin tan head. smell is a bit of toasted grain. taste is rich velvety caramel malt, followed by a rich peaty smoke flavor. mouthfeel is smooth. carbonation is a bit high, but nothing crazy. overall a great beer, I will be getting this again.

Photo of RudeElf
3.42/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle to a chalice. Tan head repidly dissipated. Overall, a garnet brown color, slightly opaque. Smells of malt with a hint of underlying sourness on the nose. Tastes malty and smokey. A bit thin on the mouthfeel Fine carbonation. Smokey aftertaste lingers for several minutes.

Overall, not a bad porter. Typically I like my porter a bit smoother with more body and a little less smoke.

Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a New Belgium snifter

A - Deep, dark brown and solidly opaque, with a one-finger head of khaki tan brown, tight foam that quickly becomes a thin haze on the surface that lingers during the entire glass. Held to a strong, natural light, the edges of the bottom of the glass display just a trace of deep ruby red.

S - 50% dark chocolate, dark caramel, roasted malts, cocoa with a few marshmallows, all softly wrapped in a soft peaty envelope.

T - Dark chocolate/thick dark caramel with hints of smoke woven throughout. Moderately-burnt toast. Like a dark semi-sweet chocolate Dove bar with chocolate caramel ice cream. What hops are present are very much in the background and there to balance the chocolate, not compete with it.

M - Fundamental creaminess includes enough carbonation to cut through and clean the palate. On the thin side, in the traditional English porter style, but definitely not watery. Good, balanced structure. Not much of finish, although chocolates linger.

O - A bit of smokiness, dark caramels, and some bass in the chocolate dress up the standard English porter quite nicely. No confusing this with a stout, it's been pulled in a different direction. Probably a bit too focused on the chocolate to drink several, but it would pair exceptionally well with anything complemented by chocolate, such as vanilla ice cream or raspberries. Requires a fuller cigar with a dark but mellow wrapper. It should be noted that the "Scotch" has been dropped from the label, but "Porter" is printed on a tartan background. Recommended for non-hop-heads looking for more from a porter but not the burnt bitterness of a stout.

Photo of 57md
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours brown in color with little head. Nose is definitely roasty, but it is not super impressive. This a a solid classic porter - roasted malt upfront with a bitter malt finish. This is a respectable effort and the yield is a solid session porter even if the abv is a bit high for those purposes.

For me, it is certainly a positive bonus that this offering is proudly union made by brothers and sisters in the IAM.

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

excellent excellent porter. pours chocolate syrup brown with a tall lace head. smells peaty, like a nice scotch, a bit smokey, and full of deep roasted chocolatey malts. flavor is complex as the peat notes really come through. gentle coffee bitterness creeps in at the end to round everything off. feel is nice, full bodied and properly carbonated. this is easily my favorite mad river brew ive had, and one of the better porters ive enjoyed this winter. really nice beer

Photo of tdm168
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark brown with a mountain of thick, dense, foamy, brown head that has great retention. The nose offers notes of soft, roasted malts and faint coffee. There is also a faint musty smell that is natural to English beers. The taste is rich and malty with notes of dark, roasted malt and faint coffee. There are some very faint hops in the finish that add balance and a mild bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth with the perfect amount of carbonation.

This is a very enjoyable, smooth, easy drinking porter. I would have this again.

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Steelhead Scotch Porter from Mad River Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 326 ratings.