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Steelhead Scotch Porter - Mad River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Steelhead Scotch PorterSteelhead Scotch Porter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

315 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 315
Reviews: 226
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 10.2%
Wants: 14
Gots: 9 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: kbub6f on 01-23-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 315 | Reviews: 226 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by IchLiebeBier:
Photo of IchLiebeBier
3.59/5  rDev -8.4%
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

IchLiebeBier, Dec 12, 2013
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a nice rich looking deep brown with nice fluffy light brown head,smell was sweet and caramelly.I got the taste of roasted nuts and some light chocolate tones.Real liked the body of this one,pretty rich and velvety.First so-called"scotch porter" I think I have had,real nice.

oberon, May 12, 2003
Photo of Zakk
4/5  rDev +2%

Zakk, Jun 05, 2012
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate magazine Vol. II Issue VII:

Scotch Porter? Yeah, that's what you get when you blend an English Porter (dark and robust) with a Scotch Ale (sweet and caramelly), and then decide to add some Scottish peated malt (intensely smoky) and German rauch malt (smooth and smoky) to further confuse palates around the world. That said, some of the most confused beers tend to be the tastiest.

Pours a dark, rich, opaque brown with a brief cascading carbonation effect that produces a thick, creamy, beige head, which sticks to the glass and retains a healthy looking lace. Brown breads, freshly malted milk, and a soft smoky and roasty malt aroma. Full, even, thick body with a smooth mouthfeel and prickly carbonation around the edges that helps lifts things a bit. Sweet upfront--not overwhelming though--with caramel candy, carob and buttered brown bread. A bit robust and roasty, with some mild coffee notes too. Throughout the experience there's a slight tangy smoke character, hint of char and a smoothed out peat that's laid down on the foundation. Hop character is moderate, with some spice, leaf, and slight citric snap that rides off the carbonation. Finishes with a semi-bourbonesque quality (less the heat), followed by dry lingering grain, carob and a soft peat linger.

Last time we tried this beer was back in 2003. Although things seem to have been refined, that's not necessarily a bad thing, as the beer remains unique, complex and fun on the taste buds. If you're a fan of Porters, Scotch Ales, bourbons, or any combo of the three ... you need to buy and try this beer.

BeerAdvocate, Sep 13, 2010
Photo of Todd
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz short brown bottle. No freshness date.

Hmm ... a "Scotch Porter." Let's see what we've got here:

A meaty looking beer. Brown, but it's so dark it's nearly black, topped with a creamy coffee coloured head with unfiltered chunks dancing beneath it. A sticky and awesome level of head retention this beer has. Citric, smokey, woody with aromas of freshly milled malt.

Hell yeah! Big, smooth, chewy, malty mouthfeel. Initial flavours range from coffee, caramel, toffee, molasses, distinct and standout-ish peat/smoke character, plenty of dry chocolate, wood, earth and notes of black currant and purple grapes. This complex burst on the palate is immediately followed by a bitter splash of sharp citrus, a moderate amount of hop spice, salt, leaf flavours and notes of grass that cut through the hearty malts, providing balance and all of that stuff. Smoke remains after the hop fire, and lingers into, through and after the finish with notes of grain that dry the palate to the bone. Smoke gets amplified as the beer warms.

Boo-yah! I'd rename this beer to "Smoked Porter," but that's just me. Regardless, this is a very interesting beer, and I like their approach at brewing a more traditional Porter (whatever that means these days). Oddly complex. Tasty. Intriguing. I want more.

Todd, Jul 10, 2003
Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.98/5  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.

BuckeyeSlim, Apr 10, 2012
Photo of Jason
4.43/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz short brown twist bottle with no freshness date to be found. Thin layer of sediment on the bottom of the bottle.

Appearance: Very black with ruby trim, a wonderful tan varied bubbly sized lace that leaves a dusting trail even to the finish.

Smell: Mix of roasted malts, subtle hop and a mild charcoal like smokiness in the aroma. Peated malt and crystal malt give a smoked caramel impression.

Taste: Fullish body of a semi chewy malt mouth feel, kicks quick into the robust roasted grain flavour of espresso and mildly smoky charcoal (earthy). Hints of peat smoked malt enhance the roasted character, hops are a touch oily with a restrained yet pungent bitterness that somewhat hide behind the malt. As the beer warms up to cellar temperature the sweet alcohol mingles and gives a ghost impression of licorice and evergreen. Caramel hits middle to finish though the slightly astringent roasted flavour is still dominant throughout the beer.

Notes: Huge and brave, not for the faint of heart. This is a porter that wants respect and gains more character as it reaches cellar temperature. Makes for a most excellent night cap. 6.43% abv.

Jason, Jan 23, 2001
Photo of merlin48
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark chestnut body with a small tan head. Good retention and some patchy lacing on the glass. Aroma of milk chocolate and a hint of smoke. Medium body with subdued medium carbonation. Taste is chocolate malt, hints of burnt coffee, vanilla, and a note of fruity hops. No smokiness in the flavor. A decent American porter.

merlin48, Nov 02, 2007
Photo of Billolick
3.78/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ouncer, no freshness info. Pours dark mahogany, minor and short lived medium tan head and next to no lace. I got just a hint of chocolate and dark grains in the nose. Low carbonation levels, creates a nice soft feeling in the mouth, with notes of more chocolate, light scotch, without much else. Pleasant enough, but nothing special going on here.

Billolick, Mar 19, 2009
Photo of MisterDeeds
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Well, I'm not sure what a dark porter beer has to do with fishing for Steelhead, but if we can get past that, we're in good shape.

Pouring from a 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Perfect Pint glass.

Dark. Really Dark. Bag over your head in the trunk of a cadillac dark. Almost pure blackness, but you can catch a tiny glimpse of light coming through at the bottom. Poured a thick creamy looking head that retreated quickly to a thin lacy white residue.

Smells like a mix of day-old coffee some type of of dark chocolate bar.

This is a very high quality porter. Starts off with a chocolately toffee sweetness, that balances well and finishes with a slight bourbon-like bitterness. Definitely could warm you up, or get you through a chilly tailgating day. Tastes a lot stronger than 6% abv, but isn't that the beauty of a good porter?

Muthfeel is almost on the level with a glass of whole milk. Very nice.

Not sure how many I could put away, almost like a Guinness or another heavy stout, but it is very tasty and inviting for a porter. One of my new favorites, and I can't wait have one outside in the snow while I am waiting for kickoff.

Or, perfect when you've just come in from the cold.

MisterDeeds, May 31, 2008
Photo of tigg924
2.68/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, dark brown in color, cloudy, sediment

Smell: peat, toasted malt, alcohol, and chocolate

Taste: peat, toasted malt, alcohol, chocolate, and a small bit of coffee

Mouthfeel: low carbonation, moderate body, semi-sweet

Drinkability: Not a favorite. It seems as though the alcohol really overpowers the good malty taste. This seems like two different beers and the flavors do not combine. I will pass in the future.

tigg924, Jul 26, 2010
Photo of jcdiflorio
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured into a nonic glass from a 12oz. stubby brown bottle with a twist-off cap

Deep reddish/brown lets a bit of light pass through.1" tan head qiuckly dissapates into a slight coating of foam.

Moderate,complex nose smoky peat,roasty,earthy,woody pine and molasses

Very complex taste with a good smokey/roasty aroma,lots of burnt carmell
piney,woody/earth/peat-like, tastes of molasses with a hint of burbon.Finishes clean and very balanced with a nice tartness.

Medium mouthfeel,very smooth with a bit of cloying. Good taste,goes down very easy, good sessionability for a porter. A very good porter with a complex taste definately worth a try.

jcdiflorio, Mar 06, 2007
Photo of BenHesk12
3.61/5  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.

BenHesk12, Jun 16, 2014
Photo of bpfrush
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%

bpfrush, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of yankeeheel
4.08/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours the usual black with a small but worthy cafe colored head. Moderate lacing. Smells quite milk chocolatety with a bit of the old coffee bean too. Super malty strong. Nice burnt malt acid wash followed by all the desireable porter flavors. Coffee, chocolate, licorice, and raisin. Slightly acidic hopped and burnt ending makes me want more. Full bodied and very drinkable. Worthy of a try.

yankeeheel, Oct 29, 2004
Photo of gunnerlincoln
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%

gunnerlincoln, Sep 16, 2014
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.13/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Love Mad River brews, but this isn't one of my faves of theirs. Brown scotch ale poured out, good head. Couldn't really tell you the difference between a porter and this scotch ale, they really looked similar here. All I know, is I usually like porters more than scotch ales, usually because of the different malts used, the lack of peat and better hopping.

The alcohol is hidden better by the usual, stronger malt profile in a porter. Probably hopped more than most scotch ales I've had, save McEwans, this one is easier to drink than McEwans, but not as good.

This is a beer to have once in a great while, but I just can't see drinking a 6er of this in a night. Its not a bad beer, its just my least favorite of anything they make.

Beerandraiderfan, Nov 26, 2009
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance has ruby highlights when held to the light but normal presentation is dark cola brownish black, forms a large tan head leaving behind scattered strands of thin lacing. Aroma has upfront smoked peated malt with other specialty roasty malts bringing out some chocolate and toffee sweetness, a touch of anise seed while the finish contains herbal hops that are not as aggressive as some west coast hopped porters. Flavor contains creamy dark chocolate waves with a balancing flow of grassy herbal hops coming through touch of roasted marshmellow and English toffee candy the subtle smokey nutty edge causes a dryness after each sip. Mouthfeel is velvety smooth creamy texture flows on the palate yet the body is medium rather than other more robust porters carbonation level is dead on really even not too much or not enough. Drinkability is great a wonderful complex variation of the American porter that is so interesting and flavorful will definitely keep you hunched over with your nose in the glass, good beer here.

WVbeergeek, Jun 26, 2007
Photo of chinchill
4/5  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.

chinchill, May 07, 2012
Photo of stereosforgeeks
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%

stereosforgeeks, Dec 17, 2012
Photo of LXIXME
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%

LXIXME, Apr 22, 2014
Photo of InfernoBoss
4/5  rDev +2%

InfernoBoss, Jul 15, 2012
Photo of NJpadreFan
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mad River- Porter

A- Deep dark brown with a huge thick foamy head. Good chunky lacing.
S- Light roasted coffee beans with sweet fruity malt and cocoa.
T- A nice mocha latte meets fruity malt blend. Sweet cherry and plum like fruit flavors mingle nicely with a fresh green hop presence.
M- Sweet, malty and dry with a big malty ody and hoppy finish that starts bitter but has a thick sweet malty crescendo.

Overall- Quite nice. Sweet hoppy porter here. Definitely pick this 1 up, very enjoyable.

NJpadreFan, Oct 15, 2008
Photo of tastybeer
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hard to see through brown crimson color under an attractive creamy light woody brown tinted head. Lace is wet, but sticky. The aroma is real yummy and hits my nose just right. Dark and devious with a good amount of luscious malty character. Toasty and roasty nuts, sweet caramel, soothing earthy hops. Nice well malted mix. Mouthfeel is smooth, airy and velvety. Thick medium body and roasty bittersweet finish. Very drinkable too.

Not bad...quite good.

tastybeer, Dec 05, 2006
Photo of MrVonzipper
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep rootbeer color with a bubbly head with little head retention. A slight bit cloudy, probably due to the visible yeast floating about.

Deep roasted malts, coffee, bourbon and chocolate on the nose

Flavors include deep roasted malt, smokey scotch flavors come through quite a bit, roasted coffee

Very similar to any other scotch porter I've had so it obviously fits the style. I don't see myself drinking 4 or 5 of these in a sitting. But it definitely has good roasted and smokey flavors that are pretty well balanced with scotch draw. Not incredibly complex, but I've yet to have a scotch porter that strays too far from the standard guidelines of the style. No bitterness really. Nice smokey aftertaste. Would be great with a cigar.

MrVonzipper, May 18, 2011
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Steelhead Scotch Porter from Mad River Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 315 ratings.