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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

313 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 313
Reviews: 225
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 10.2%
Wants: 13
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Steelhead Scotch Porter Alström Bros
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Ratings: 313 | Reviews: 225 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.13/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Part of the latest trend to add scotch or bottles in or with wood or bourbon. I tasted the scotch, the porter part was not great. There was smoke but it subtracted also. Letdown, like the Unibroue version better. Maybe with some barbeque food. Malt in there, and something different, but not my cup of tea.

Sammy, Dec 19, 2004
Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev +2%

t0rin0, Oct 23, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky dark brown with a 1 inch puffy tan head that settles to a thin film. Foamy chunks of lace form on the glass on the drink down. However, there is a sludge-like substance that sinks to the bottom of the glass after the pour. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and coffee. Taste is the same as the smell with a emphasis on roasty flavors - especially with the malt and coffee. A very mild roasty bitterness quickly fades after each sip. This beer has a high level of carbonation with a very crisp mouthfeel. A bit too much carbonation for the style in my opinion. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but nothing really stands out for me.

UCLABrewN84, Nov 24, 2011
Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%

zestar, May 31, 2014
Photo of metter98
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high tan head that quickly died down but never completely faded away.
S: There are moderate aromas of chocolate malts, molasses, roasted malts and smoke in the nose.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and has some initial sweetness—much like you would expect from a Scotch ale—while flavors of roasted malts and notes of coffee stand out in the finish.
M: It feels medium-bodied yet a bit thin on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I would definitely consider trying this beer again because it’s a unique blend between the two styles and has complexities in the smell and taste.

metter98, May 13, 2011
Photo of brentk56
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a fairly dark brown color with a bubbly head that leaves some streaks of lace behind

Smell: Wafts of chocolate, coffee and a touch of peat

Taste: Starts with a chocolate-flavored coffee (with a wee bit of peaty whisky) aspect that flattens out in the middle; after the swallow, there are modest elements of bitterness and smoke but the flavor drifts off at the finish, although there is a touch of mint in there that is odd, but welcome

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with spritzy carbonation

Overall: This beer could be so much better; clever idea, but the execution is lacking and the flavors never really come through the way, say, Alaskan Smoked Porter, does (Note, the comments include input from a re-review in 2011 when the beer has been re-named Steelhead Porter and the ABV upped to 6.5%)

brentk56, Feb 10, 2007
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.13/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fuliginous mahogany with a beautiful, bright ruby border. The golden ecru cap has a texture that promotes persistence and a stickiness than promotes lacing. Thick rings of foam are slathered on the glass as if by a butter knife. A great look.

The nose is dominated by chocolate. Next in line are roasted barley, a wee whiff of citric hops and a tendril or two of smoke. No coffee, no molasses, no peat.

The flavor profile is a three-headed Hydra whose heads are named chocolate, coffee beans and grapefruity hops. Let's throw dark caramel in there as well. Smoke is nowhere to be found until the finish, when a mild char becomes evident.

The wonderful flavor is complemented by a perfect amount of sweetness and bitterness, both individually and relative to one another. The long, borderline lingering, finish would easily achieve lingering if the body was bigger and tad more viscous. It's big enough for a porter, but bigger yet would be great.

Mad River Steelhead Scotch Porter is designated as a smoked beer (note: since changed to an American Porter). Prior to popping the cap, I wondered whether it would be more Scotch ale, porter or smoked beer. Conclusion: it's a porter and a damn good one. It's bursting with flavor and is more complex than most. Recommended.

BuckeyeNation, Aug 26, 2005
Photo of BEERchitect
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Admittedly, I'm trying this beer too cold, but as it warms, I can decipher some great characteristics. The pour delivers a dark brown hue, that shows dull chesnut highlights and a fairly hazy complexion. Dense, but terse head retention soon fell to a trace, and then held firm. The aromas have a firm, but not assertive chocolate scent and a complementary nutty - coffee scent. A sweet malt / lactose character also wraps up the aromas. Flavors kick off with a rich malty taste, but not particularly sweet. Confectionate and complex roastiness blend with chocolate, bread, and barley make a moderately flavored, complex, but still not agressive, flavoring. The feel is not heavy, but very full and round with a lot of non-fermentables and weightiness. The finish is quite clean and powdery for such body and disquised flavor. A lingering earthy / diry / smokey note finishes the beer. Very good and clean Porter, just wanted more of an emphasis on the cocoa, coffee balance.

BEERchitect, Aug 03, 2007
Photo of mikesgroove
3.68/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

brown with a creamy tan head. Nice lacing on top as well. Slow settle revealed some nice side glass lacing and a small pillow of tan on top.

The aroma was steep with roasted malts. Rich notes of caramel and molasses. Light grain touches and a bit of a herbal note persisted. Nice robust flavor, rich and sweet with a dry finish. Lots of roasted malts and a classic coffee and chocolate profile. Smooth, mellow and quite nice actually with an easy sessionability

mikesgroove, Jul 15, 2011
Photo of womencantsail
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

womencantsail, Feb 16, 2010
Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev +2%

spycow, Mar 10, 2013
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

Smell: Aroma of dark, roasty malts with notes of sweetened coffee and chocolate and, of course, the peat-laden smoked malts. Hint of dark, ripe fruits as well.

Taste: Dark, roasted maltiness with some lesser toasted qualities and a crystal malt sweetness. Taste of morning coffee dosed with sugar and chocolate. 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, sweetish finish.

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

Drinkability: A tasty, quaffable brew that takes a different spin on the humble porter. Why not give it a try?

ChainGangGuy, Jul 24, 2009
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 largadeer
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark ruddy brown, almost opaque but not quite there. Half an inch of head rises from a hard pour and remains for several minutes before receding to a ring.

Smell: Roasty and dry. There's some coffee along with a hint of smoke and cacao.

Taste & mouthfeel: Mildly peaty and smoky initially, those flavors transform into a long note of dark chocolate and coffee bean before the dry and roasty finish. Medium-light in body, I'd appreciate a bit more thickness for the level of flavor, but it's a small complaint. This is a well-crafted porter, subtle but unique and very drinkable.

largadeer, Aug 22, 2008
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 TheManiacalOne
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark reddish brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramel, coffee, vanilla, dark fruit, roasted malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste is sweet but not as malty as most other porters, with flavors of coffee, vanilla, dark fruit and caramel. There's a touch of smokiness and mild but complementary hops presence that brings some balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style with a little bit of a twist to it. This is a good beer to drink for a while if you're looking for a slightly different porter.

TheManiacalOne, Mar 05, 2009
Photo of nickfl
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

nickfl, Oct 09, 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 Kegatron
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%

Kegatron, May 02, 2014
Photo of russpowell
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark mahogany with a 3 fingers+ tan head. Average head retention & lacing

Smell: Roasted malt and strong fruitiness

Taste: Toasted malt, slight iron taste & coffe notes. Fruitty & dry finish

MF: Rich, creamy & moerish. Good carbonation

Pretty quaffable & quinching for its strength. Nice subdued smoked porter. Very much reccomended

russpowell, Apr 04, 2006
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep, dark appearance, near black, with clear crimson at the bottom. Nice brown head dissolves in a trice.
Aroma is rich and vibrant, roasted and toasted, a thick malty thing. Molasses and carob, bittersweet coffee and a twist of anise. Dark, but lively.
Thick, full feel on the mouth, stygian in character, a black morass that edges into deliciousness.
Smooth and downright downable, with a sticky, lasting, lingering finish. Full-bodied.
A very smart brew that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Were this readily available in my environs, I'd pick it up with regularity.

(cheers to Chaz!)

feloniousmonk, May 20, 2005
Photo of StonedTrippin
4.35/5  rDev +11%
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

StonedTrippin, Mar 03, 2012
Photo of jlindros
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
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.

jlindros, Nov 13, 2009
Photo of WesWes
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep dark black color with a thick frothy tan head that fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich black and chocolate malt scent that is dry and a tad grainy. The taste is good. It has a very black flavor, rich in patent and roasted barley. It is dry and slightly bitter with a creamy aftertaste. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a fine porter. It has a nice dark palate and a wonderful mouthfeel; a good drinker.

WesWes, Jul 22, 2004
Photo of mactrail
3.2/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sweet and smokey. Dark brown in the pint glass. Very grainy with tastes of oatmeal and buckwheat. Smoke pretty well gets in the way but it's not a bad smoke. Campfire and charred wood rather than peat. Malt gives some rich, slightly sweet flavors. Light mouthfeel. Something of a dishwater aftertaste. Not particularly pleasant for drinkability.

On tap at The Linkery on 30th for San Diego Beer Week.

mactrail, Dec 01, 2011
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Steelhead Scotch Porter from Mad River Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 313 ratings.