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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

322 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 322
Reviews: 226
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 10.23%
Wants: 13
Gots: 13 | 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: 322 | Reviews: 226 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Crosling
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown with ruby edges below a large and creamy head of light tan foam. Aromatics of rich malts waft upward providing scents of chocolate, cocoa, roast and a slight hint of smoke. A very lovely aroma bordering on incredible. In the flavor, a unique blend of rich malts provides a chewy body and a lovely profile of chocolate, fruit, cocoa and a slight element of smoke. A tasty surprise.

Photo of Jredner
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rich chocolate aroma along with a slight smokiness and lots of sweet dark fruit notes that I find quite appealing. A black body supports a thumb thick tan head that fades quickly. Fore is smooth and chocolatey with a hint of vanilla, dried cherries and caramel. The flavor is very nice, subtle in intensity, but with good range.

Photo of Zorro
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep clear dark brown beer with a voluminous light brown head that fills the class to the brim.

Smell is quite sweet with molasses aromas and a good strong pine hops aroma too. Good scent of roasted malts and peat with a bit of smoke to it. Mild chocolate and coffee aromas with a surprisingly strong mint and menthol scent from the hops.

Taste is sweet with a sharp sour snap from dark malt in the first sip. Tart snap fades quickly and leaves chocolate and smoked grains as the main flavors with some burned sugar flavors. Flavor never develops as well as the aroma suggests.

Mouthfeel is good.

This beer had good promise at the beginning but just never really delivered anything else except an OK porter. This is worth trying but not anything really special.

Photo of Mitchster
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This appeals to me...a Scotch Porter...sounds good as I don't think I've had one before. That probably equates to adding a little peat-smoked malt to liven things up. This one pours out to a hazy very deep mahogany, forming a modest dark tan head with fair retention and decent lacing. I was expecting a gusher, as there was a huge gust of gunsmoke upon opening, but no such harm followed. The aroma is exactly what I would think of as a Scotch Porter....the porter characteristics are there with milk chocolate, heavily roasted grains and a semi-baltic character with some faint figs and dates, mixed with the heavy amber and syrupy malts of a Scotch Ale and a twing of smoke. This all adds up to "Nice...". The carbonation is moderate. The mouthfeel is a little spritzy for the style with a medium body..it smells heavier than the body actually is, but retains an oily sheen. The taste begins with some grassy hops followed by bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, black walnut, and a touch of soap. There is a very brief glimpse of fusels in the middle, but they quickly retreat and don't get worse with warming. There is too much hops in the finish, akin to a Stone Smoked Porter or more appropriately, a Sierra Nevada. This is good, but quickly wears on the palate, hampering it's drinkability. As a matter of fact, this is very close to a Stone Smoke Porter in all qualities. The finish is of wood and black walnut. No perceptable off-flavors not already mentoned. The yeast character tastes either like California Common or Munton & Fison (It's heavily cemented in the bottom of the bottle)

This is a very good brew, but perhaps a little too much for me tonight. As a single, this would be much better. The hops just don't *feel* right. I normally could drink "good" porters all-night long, but I'd be hard pressed to do it with this one. Despite this, it's still a very good brew, just minimally sessionable.

Photo of mentor
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Scotch porter? Now *this* sounds interesting. Pours a, whoa, four finger light brown head over a black liquid. Small ruby edgings when held to light. Smells chocolate, soured caramel, and soured citrus. Some black patent and a hint of woody smoke. Taste starts with smoked chocolate that's tempered by a middle milk sweet kick and finishing with a roast grain dry. Wow, what a transition. There was alot going on in that first taste that I didn't capture in words. I'd like to add west coast hops (cascade?) as a base flavor that persists through most of the beer and a nice caramel undertone that appears late and persists as an aftertaste. This caramel keeps the roasty finish from being too much and I'd say the roast turns the caramel into more of a toffee flavor. Yes, I now see chocolate as part of the aftertaste. Yum, this beer is wonderful. Mostly dark and heavy, but with a lactose or oatmeal lightness edge. Like rounding a brooding Beethoven piece with a hint of Mozart frivolousness. Md-light body, but coats the inside of the mouth. Moderate carbonation that works well with the roast. An enjoyable beer that I'm happy to recommend.

Photo of germaniac
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a deep, dark brown. Almost looks black, but chestnut highlights are able to force their way through the depths. Head is volcanic, topping my beer with a foaming, fizzing maelstrom.

The aroma is mainly of semi-sweet chocolate, with a nice roasted malt warmth and a slight hoppiness.

Tastes of roasted, smoky malt, with a hop bite following close behind. The chocolate is there, too, working nicely with the overall smokiness this brew imparts.

Carbonation levels are just about perfect, and a silky smooth finish tops everything off. I would almost call this a "session" beer if the alcohol content was a little lower. Definitely worth seeking out.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
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.

Photo of gbontrag
4.4/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Fantastic froth; produces a wonderful toasty-looking meringue. Smells strongly fruity with smoke all over. This is very black, and looks thick. No color escapes this porter. Smells again like smores. That's deelish.
Oh, there's a thick smokey bite chased by a nice bitterness. Polite, but still assertive. The fruit comes across quite sweet like ripe bing cherries. There's a full and long mouthfeel that doesn't cloy. This is sweet, rich and juicy. Very good.

Photo of fretlessman71
4.29/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pertinent Preliminary Comments: First time I had this was on the recommendation of an employee at a local beer store south of town, and I was more than skeptical, but very surprised. Mad River also makes an excellent stout, IIRC. Website claims that this beer “makes an excellent marinade for both cook and meal.” Cute.

APPEARANCE: Near black with faint ruby highlights. Off white/tan head didn’t last too long; a gentle swirl brings it back. Almost no lacing.

AROMA: Baker’s chocolate and hints of red wine, with a few hops thrown in for good measure.

FLAVOR: Chocolate up the yin-yang right off the bat! Whoa! Nice bitterness in the middle and finish. Red wine notes show up again, but a nice smooooth flavor here. Easy drinkin’ to be sure.

MOUTHFEEL: Just a little bit of carbonation tingle on the tip of the tongue; other than that, medium/heavy weight. Goes well with the flavor.

DRINKABILITY: Only strike against it is the 6.6% ABV, which puts it in the company of some barleywines I know. The alcohol is almost perfectly hidden.

OVERALL COMMENTS: A really nice, smooth brew, without a single detrimental thing I can say against it. Chocolate lovers, get out your ice cream – we’re makin’ floats!

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.19/5  rDev +7.2%
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!)

Photo of Truh
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Wore a black tartan with this one on 4/14/2005. 12-oz. bottle poured in a shaker glass.

Thunder heads of battling initial ¾-inch head that settles to an isthmus-like covering with a great pastiche of lace. Brown black hue, like root beer without the carbonation as nothing at all can be seen inside of it. Huge peat smoke presence on nose, with a jammy malt skeleton and some earthy tones, somechocolate. Smoked oak and chocolate malt on the tongue, with some ginger snap and brownie sweetness; surprisingly medium-bodied – had expected a bit more body with this.

All in all, passable, but with the lighter-than-expected body I ended up somewhat disappointed. With its moniker, I wanted something more full and complex.

Photo of malthead
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is beautiful, black with a dense tan head. Smells of cocoa, dark chocolate and smoke. It has an astringent aftertaste which I'm not fond of... and more hops than I would like. tastes more like a stout than a porter, whatever a 'scotch' porter is... Decent mouthfeel, but it's marred by that overly astringent aftertaste. I like drinking Scotch and all, so it's not that it's simply too harsh for me, but rather that it's too astringent and bitter to fit this style. Decent drinkability, though, inspite of that.

Photo of ElGordo
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black with a half-inch khaki-colored head that has some staying power. Nice aroma of rich roasted malt, mocha, and some peaty smoke. Palate is dominated by smoky malt, with notes of espresso and caramel and a touch of hops. Body is a little thin, but still pretty rich. Probably couldn't have more than one of these in a night, but a good beer overall. Less agressive than other smoked beers, which in my opinion is a definite plus. It doesn't have the beef jerky taste that puts me off most other beers in the category.

Photo of kbub6f
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A tiny brown head dies in twenty seconds. The beer is dark, dark, toffee brown. It's almost black. Sweet toffee liqueur in the alcohol-rich nose. Some chocolate and pure vanilla too. Up front are the toffee and chocolate, with just a little smoke. A malty, toffee syrup middle shows some nice, cool milkiness. Finish is dry with bitter chocolate, some veggies and a little smoke. Nice. It's a good, toffee-chocolate porter.

Photo of BeerManDan
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

When poured it was a dark brown with foam on the inside face of the glass. The smell was of roasted malts is what first filled the nose. The taste was of roasted malts, with a smokey flavor and hints of chocolate. Sort of a thick creamy texture to this scotch ale.

Photo of ybnorml
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very dark brown nearly black beer with a hint of red. Has a small (one finger) creamy light brown head. A good malty aroma with a strong chocolate character and a smokey background. The roasted malt bitterness washes over your tongue followed by a bittersweet chocolate aspect.

Photo of Sammy
3.17/5  rDev -18.9%
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.

Photo of jdhilt
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a two-finger brown head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Almost black. Light-medium carbonation and heavy bodied. Nose is roasted coffee. Starts and finishes with a roasted chocolate/coffee flavor but there is a lingering burnt coffee aftertaste. $2.44 for a 12 oz bottle from Oliver's Beverages Albany, NY.

Photo of yankeeheel
4.07/5  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.

Photo of alexgash
4.38/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark, blackish, and cloudy with sediment. Medium-big, fluffy, brown head.
Peaty, smoky aromas; charred cedar logs, a touch of dark coffee, all underlaid by sweet, roasty malts.
Tastes much like it smells. Smoky elements stand out (yum), with whiskey and fruit also coming through. Roasty-sweet throughout with bitter dark chocolate into the finish. Finish is bitter (but not terribly) and earthy, with some lingering fruity malt. Big bodied; somewhat creamy feel. Delicious.

Photo of RootedFool
4.4/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours nearly black with a blood red aura peeking out around the base. Straight-up Coke-like head. As the head falls, some chunky clots of lace hang on to the glass. Smell is of peanut brittle, coffee with heavy cream, and just a hint of prune-like sweetness through the finish. Taste: opens with a bitter jab on the tip of my tongue, like weak black coffee, and quickly gains mass as it spreads toward the back of my palate. A subtle jolt of alcohol, followed by a creamy sweetness (caramel); and closes on a crisp bitter note with the sweetness receding along the edges. And througout the taste there's a hearty base of musty smokiness. Lovely. Mouthfeel is sticky, makes me smack my tongue against the roof of my mouth, gummy, but everything else about this brew makes up for it.

I purchased a sixer at Pat's, a convienence store in Eureka, California.

Photo of aracauna
3.22/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Cola-fizzy head disapates quickly leaving behind only the dark brown, nearly black, body. Sweet caramel and chocolate dominate the aroma with an undercurrent of smoke. The flavor isn’t quite as dominated by the caramel and chocolate as a charred roastiness accents the smoke, each one bringing out the other.

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

Rich roasted malt and chocolate aroma, very nice. Reluctant, small chestnut colored head turned to a film after a minute. Opaque black colored beer, a caramel hue around the edges. Chocolate malt, roasted barely, a pinch of caramel and raisin. Mild biter chocolate flavor towards the end finishing slightly sweet. Solid, well rounded body.

Photo of mattcrill
4.26/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Beerski for this great brew!

Appearance: pours brown, nearly black with a nice tan head. Leaves sticky lacings down the glass.

Smell: smoky for sure. A little malty and carmel arise after the smoke hits you first

Taste: Smoky and woody. Just like puffing on a nice Dominican cigar. I don't know if I have a word that describes it but this is the taste that epitomizes a good complex porter. A carmel and coffee-like quality that is balanced and not over-bearing.

Mouthfeel: light and a nice warm aftertaste.

Drinkability and overall: I could have drank a bunch of these. A good porter if you are a porter fan. This is by far one of my "top 5" porters. This is a great example of a smoked beer/porter if you are looking for a representative of the style.

Thanks again to Beerski for the sample!

Photo of Suds
3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours as a thick, nearly black (and solid) color with a frothy tan head. The head is long-lasting and fairly dense. The aroma is intensely roasted, burnt and malty. Chocolate, smoke, and malt (perhaps more-so than other porters). Rather than a bitter coffee quality, this porter seems to have a sweet coffee quality. Just a touch of alcohol warming, and a solid, full mouthfeel. It’s rich, tasty, and very smooth. Relatively low hoppiness, but still detectable. Very enjoyable, but a bit too sweet for my expectations.

Steelhead Scotch Porter from Mad River Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 322 ratings.