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Steelhead Scotch Porter - Mad River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Steelhead Scotch PorterSteelhead Scotch Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

227 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 227
Hads: 327
Avg: 3.93
pDev: 9.92%
Wants: 13
Gots: 18 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 227 | Hads: 327
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

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Photo of aahynick
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

about 60 degree F into a pint glass
A- dark garnet to black with thick fine head.

S- strong peat aroma with caramel

T- lots of peat and caramel, a little chocolate.

M- smooth with medium body and slight acidity.

D- overall a good crossover that I'd be willing to drink again

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Photo of tigg924
2.7/5  rDev -31.3%
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.

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Photo of avalon07
4.17/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a mahogany color and a thick, cloudy texture. There was a half inch of foamy, off white, fairly long-lasting head. Pretty good lacing.

S: A very nice aroma of chocolate, coffee, malt, and possibly a nuttiness.

T: You get a big dose of chocolate, along with hints of coffee and roasted malt. A well balanced flavor.

M: A nicely carbonated beer with a dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: A very drinkable version of an English porter.

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Photo of biglite351
2.75/5  rDev -30%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - a good bit of light coming through, tight head bit no lacing.

S - very light. Mild porter crossed with a bock.

T - average porter taste plus something mild that I didn't care for.

M - medium coating with a light tingle on the tip of the tongue.

D - not for me.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up from 99 Bottles Federal Way, WA

A: Poured a nice deep brown with good carbonation and a nice tannish head

S: Peat, roasted malts, chcolate

T: Sweet and dry at the same time with a very big peat presence from beginning to end. Chcolate notes and roasted malt

M: Nice, creamy, medium bodies, light booze

D: Very good

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Photo of jwinship83
3.65/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle with no freshness information drank from a standard american pint glass.

A- the pour is a pretty dark brown with a little bit of ruby red highlights when held up to the light. a finger of beige head forms on top and lasts for a little while. little to no lacing left behind.

S- roasted malts are the first thing i notice. theres some caramel in here too which adds a sweetness to the nose. milk chocolate and coffee finish this one up.

T- the roasted malts i could smell come through, but not as dark tasting as i was expecting. the sweet caramel comes through with force. milk and dark chocolate and coffee also. i think i might also detect some citric hops, but very faint.

M- medium bodied with a soft level of carbonation that really works here.

D- pretty easy to finish, but not interesting enough to wish i had picked up an entire sixer vs the single i bought. there are some floaters that become visible towards to end of the glass.

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Photo of chickenflea
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, near black body with a medium, off-white head.

Smell: Aroma of sweetened coffee with dried dark fruits and anise. Roasty malts with subltle peat notes.

Taste: Dark, roasted maltiness with some lesser toasted qualities and a crystal malt sweetness. Hint of dark fruitiness. Pleasant smoked maltiness with a distinct touch of peat. Mild hop character with the bulk of the relatively low bitterness coming through from the roasted barley. Roasty, sweet and sour finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Low, easy-going carbonation.

Drinkability: Scotch porters are not my favorite style, but this was very nice. Not overly sweet. Balanced and drinkable. The scotch ale qualities balance the porter nicely.

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Photo of Zekezilla
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a 6 pack on a whim. Porters and stouts are probably one of my favorite types of beer so I'm always looking to try new ones. Appearance: completely black, with moderate lacing. Smell: wood, chicory maybe? Taste: Wood, smoke, chocolate. Mouthfeel: very light carbonation, nice warmth to it. I couldn't have more than one of these at a time. Not because it's not an excellent beer but the complexity, warmth and chewiness is not something that I would want in excess. Excellent desert beer or an excellent choice with cheese.

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Photo of oregonskibum
2.91/5  rDev -26%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Pours a realy dark to the point of being black except for a touch of amber along the edges. Nice 1/2 inch tan head that faded to a thin ring along the edge of the glass fairly quickly.

S: Lots of caramel and molasses flavors, some roasted coffee and smokey notes as well.

T: Kind of a confused, slightly sweet mess. Smoke comes through more promimently on the taste. Starts a little sweet with molasses, maple and a little chocolate. Finish is slightly bitter.

M: Medium body with high carbonation. Appropriate for a porter, but a little light bodied for the sweetness.

D: This tasted a little like a porter and a scotch ale that were blended after brewing rather than being made as a Scotch Porter. It was drinkable, but not the most enjoyable brew.

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Photo of silentjay
3.3/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a very dark, hazy brown with an eggshell-colored head that leaves quickly and doesnt leave much evidence of itself on the glass.

smells like a scotch ale and porter mixed. (hence the scotch porter) lots of molasses, maple syrup, some chocolate, a bit of smoke, and a hint of black coffee.

taste is much more smoky than the aroma. reminds me of overcooked bacon or hot dogs cooked over the campfire. some chocolate is there, plenty of molasses, a tiny bit of maple. brown sugar, maybe a hint of dark fruits, but its mostly smokey malts.

medium bodied and creamy with a chalky feel. drinks ok. not a fan of smoky beers or meat, and the smoked pork flavors that dominate this beer just arent my cup of tea, though i do think many people would like it.

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Photo of illidurit
3.36/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce stubby bottle poured into a pint glass. Pours a dark black-chestnut color with a dense cap of tan head. Aroma is light on the smoke, I get mostly chocolate and toffee. There's a light sourness, hard to put my finger on exactly. Almost like a slight rottenness, but it's too faint to be repulsive. When cold, the flavor and body are actually quite nice. The low temperature adds a viscosity that is rapidly lost with warming. The flavor is dark chocolatey with a whisper of smoke, but the body fails to support this as the beer warms. Very unroasty, strictly porterish. There's no mistaking this for a stout. Negligible bitterness. I've been rather sensitive to astringency lately and thankfully this beer has almost none. I guess it's really not bad for a Mad River beer.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.73/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle

A- Poured into a pint glass. Pours a very dark brown color, almost black. The light tan head possesses excellent retention and lacing. This beer looks great in the glass.

S- The aroma is dominated by sweet chocolate with some coffee, molasses and roasted malts. Very nice!

T- The taste like the aroma starts out with some roasted malts which makes way for sweet chocolate and coffee flavors with a good dose of hops in the finish to help balance out some of the sweetness.

M- The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

D- Overall, Steelhead Scotch Porter is definitely a brew worth picking up to try. Good beer!

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Photo of endincolorado
4.1/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown, almost completely opaque with chunks of floating yeasty sediment (if you decide to pour it in). Great finger and a half of light tan head settles slowly. Light on lacing.

Aroma is of roasted malt, with notes of coffee, cocoa, and some toast. Faintest hint of hops in background.

Flavors are also heavy on roasted malt. Cocoa and toast, with some caramel, and a slight, bitter-dry hop character to balance. Taste overall is very tasty and not over-the-top

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and satisfying. with a healthy amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is a tasty offering, and definitely a solid session beer.

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Photo of jstilwell
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well I am certainly 3:3 with this brewery! They know how to bring the malt, no doubt there. An aggressive pour releases a dark brown lightish black brew with a medium thick brownish head. Lacing lasts throughout, even when it warms. Swirling makes this nose shine! Hazlenut, caramel, roasted malt, cream and butterscotch. There is a great deal of flavor in this one with a thick creamy mouthfeel. Although my knock is going to be too much carbonation, the taste follows the nose with a tremendously balanced blend of sweet malt, crisp hops and warming alcohol. Why is this beer and this company not getting the props? Is it a scotch or is it a porter? Its more reminiscent of Founders dirty bastard than a porter. For this style, and a 6% brew, what more could one ask for?

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Photo of womencantsail
3.83/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The pour is a rich black liquid with a finger's worth of mocha colored foam

S: The nose has some aromas of smoke and peat which are quite nice. There's a little bit of roasted malt and some sweet caramel.

T: The flavor is a bit sweeter than I was hoping for, especially up front. The finish has a bit more of the roasted malt and the same peat that I picked up on the nose.

M: The body is a nice medium feel on the tongue with a mild to moderate level of carbonation.

D: I've sampled this beer a couple times before, but was more impressed with it in those instances. It's still a good beer, but I might have to try it again to see which perception of the beer wins out.

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Photo of pmcadamis
4.48/5  rDev +14%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - This is a nice black/brown color that suits the style, and the tan head looks pretty despite it's short life. Some sticky lace is smattered around the edges of my snifter, but only in random spots. Looks pretty good, but not outstanding.

S - Oh shit. Dark chocolate, charcoal, campfire, wet ash, cigar smoke, dark chocolate coated coffee beans, birch bark, cigarettes, and a vague hint of sweet Count Chocula marshmallow cereal. Ridiculous!

T - The flavors "follow the nose!" To quote Toucan Sam. Cigar smoke, woody campfires, wet firewood outside of an old cabin, gentle hints of sushi with soy sauce, and "musty (but pleasant) old house" notes if that makes any sense.

M- Medium bodied, but honestly on the light side for such a heavy hitting brew in the flavor department.

D - Killer. This is a well made porter that will stand the tests of time. I've never heard of the brewery, but I will seek out more of their brews if I can find them, and I would buy this stuff again in a heatbeat.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.15/5  rDev -19.8%
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.

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Photo of stephens101
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Near pitch-black with some faint dark brown hues. Some sediment floats in the bottom. The tan head is a full two-fingers and fades fairly quickly leaving a small stripe of lacing right above the brew. Big sweet and toasted malts float to the nose. Tastes very sweet and malty, but not cloying, only well-balanced with a subtle hop bite at the end. A little caramel, pine, sweet chocolate and burnt wood exist in the very back. Goes down smooth and creamy with a little alcohol noticed at the very end. This is a near-perfect combination with the initial sweetness complimenting all the other porter-like elements.

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Photo of jlindros
4.27/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A friend of mine tipped me onto Mad River beers. I've only tried the Extra Pale so far, so here comes the Scotch style porter.

A: Very dark pure molasses brown color with barely light escaping through its bounds. A decent 1 finger frothy head speaks to me in bubble tongue. It fades eventually to a light head covering. The more I stare at the dark brown color the more it turns black and super dark.

N: The nose is pretty much what you would expect for a scotch ale crossed with porter. Lots of sweet smoked malt and porter aromas, blended with smoked malt, brown sugar, and even some dark fruits. A slight creamy malt aroma as well. Heavy aroma that hits pretty hard. A really good nose. I hope it tastes just like it. A

T: Starts closer to a scotch ale, with some caramelized brown sugar, lots of smoked malts, sweet malt and roasted flavors, dark dried fruits, creamy almost chocolate like malt flavors. Its semi sweet, but not very. The smoked malt comes out pretty well, as well as the roasted malts, a slight chocolate, and dark fruits, all blended well together. Its got a really nice flavor and smooth.

M: Pretty creamy and smooth, slight carbonation.

F: Finishes slightly sweet, and pretty creamy like chocolate milk. A slight earthy flavor comes from stout like roasted malts and smoked malts that linger for a short while, then dry off and finish pretty clean. A slight bitterness hits with a slight charred malts and perhaps a little hops. A very slight spice that probably also comes from some light hop presence.

Final thoughts: A very nice and drinkable porter scotch ale blend. Its got a nice blend of smoked malts, roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruits, and creamy flavors. I almost expected more coffee flavor, but otherwise its really nice and drinkable beer, with a great creamy mouth feel.

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Photo of WYVYRN527
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours very dark brown, almost opaque, with an inch-thick creamy head that slowly settles. Lacing is excellent.

S: Smell is slighlty smoky with hints of chocolate, caramel and toast. Hops are non-present in the aroma.

T: Very rich flavor. Slightly smoky and earthy, with hints of chocolate, caramel, coffee, and some spice. Licorice notes, along with some dried fruit notes linger in the backround. The finish is sweet, smoky, and as long as the finish of a single malt whisky.

M: Full bodied and full of flavor. This beer attacks the palate and then comes back for another round.

D: Possibly the best campfire beer. A style of it's own, Mad River has impressed me once again. Even at 6% ABV, this porter is one that you want more and more of.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured it into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass. One of the more interesting looking beers I've seen in awhile. Dark cherry oak color that's pretty hazy. When held up to the light it looks like it's glowing. It smells really good too. It smells similar to an American Strong Ale to me mixed with a Scotch Ale. It has a lot going on with the smell. The aroma is smokey with a mix of burned malts, hops and even some alcohol. The taste has just as much going on with it. Here's where the porter part comes in stronger. It has a taste of caramelized burned malts, again with a smokey taste. Doesn't taste as much like an American Strong as the smell is, but the taste of Scotch Ale comes in. With all that's going on with the taste, it's pretty well balanced. It starts off smokey than moves to the sweet caramelized burned malts, than finishes of with a bitter hop to it. All in all it's a great, unique flavor. The mouthfeel is very good, certainly full-bodied, pretty drinkable as well.

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Photo of horshack7
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown with mahogany hues around the edges. The head is about one finger thick that leaves a little lacing behind.

Aroma: Wow this one has a huge dark roasted malt aroma. Hints of burnt sugar and pumpernickel. A little bit of a dark roasted hop in the background. The malt scents conquer this porter. Lots of coffee and hints of carob round it out so very very well.

Taste: Light carbonation upon the first sip then it smooths out to a bit of a butery texture. Big dark roasted coffee notes. A wonderfuly malty backbone that is almost as sweet as a scotch ale.

Notes: What a great english porter perfect for a cold night. Cheers.

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Photo of nickfl
3.86/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with one finger of tan head on top of an opaque, black body. The foam settles quickly but leaves decent lace.

S - Mild aroma of caramel and toffee with little else. No roasted malt or hops.

T - Lots of carmel and toffee notes up front with bready malt. Some light, grassy hop flavor comes out in the middle, followed by chocolate malt and cola flavors in the finish. Lingering notes of toffee and smoke.

M - Medium body, moderately high carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - I was a bit disappointed in the aroma as there is really nothing going on there, but it redeemed itself in the flavor department. The malt is rich and heavy on medium-dark, toffee flavors which gives this porter a definite scotch ale twist. The flavor really builds towards the finish with lots of rich, bittersweet chocolate character coating the palate. A nice beer, I would drink this again.

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Photo of dolemite77
4.04/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours more or less still, with a thin dissapaiting head... read some reviews talking about a good head, so it might have been my glass... the color is a nice reddish/black. Aroma kicks in with heavy duty roasted malt... flavor is my favorite kind of malty... not just caramel, cloying sweetness, but roasted, peaty, and smoky... campfire would be a good comparison... moutfeel is a little thin, but the flavors round it out... that final salty note on the swallow gives it a very nice, almost imperial, type porter feel... good beer.

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Steelhead Scotch Porter from Mad River Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 227 ratings.