1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Payback Porter - Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

Not Rated.
Payback PorterPayback Porter

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

210 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 210
Reviews: 78
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 9.69%
Wants: 15
Gots: 20 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Murchmac on 12-21-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 210 | Reviews: 78 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.84/5  rDev -2%

Picked this up on Haight St after the barleywine festival.

Pours out a sturdy dark brown onto the desert playa. Seems to have ample carbonation and head. Was worried about freshness, but a vibrant coffee, hops and chocolate aroma still bursted from this one.

Taste, man, total porter/cascadian dark ale hybrid I guess. Very hoppy, a little more thin on the mouthfeel from the malt perspective, of some porters. Being that I drank this about 4 months after purchase, I was worried about the hopping. Man, it was still huge. Price at $6 for a 22 was more than I wanted to pay, and the beer is probably challenging to those outside of its niche, but I would definitely have it again. Not sure how it differs from their blacktop iba though. Both good.

Beerandraiderfan, Aug 17, 2010
Photo of StJamesGate
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%

Pours impenetrable black with rocky cafe au lait head that is slow to fade but sheets and cathedral. Nose is dark roast coffee, molasses, creme brulee and orange undertones. Soil, ash, fig, burnt sugar up front followed by roasty bite and lemondrop hops. Citrus punch on the finish. Minty clean linger. A bit salty and metallic at the end. Lt-medium, slight heat, some cling.

Not subtle! Big + bold, but balance between hops and roast. Lots of other reviews here say chocolate brownie, which I can see. Not up to Ed Fitz/Anchor levels, but a good hoppy California porter.
But since it doesn't bill itself as an Imperial, takes a half point hit for drinkability for the high ABV.

StJamesGate, Aug 17, 2010
Photo of RustyDiamond
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%

No date on bottle. Very dark pour into a stein, almost black. 3 fingers of cappucino foamy head, quite frothy.

Powder cocoa aroma, navel orange

Nestle Quik chocolate, cold brewed coffee, touch of citrus. Pretty thin at first before the flavors kick in. Quite chewy with some nice piney bitterness. Nicely hopped.

Dry, roasty mouthfeel finishing bitter.

Quite drinkable.

RustyDiamond, Jul 07, 2010
Photo of djeucalyptus
4.35/5  rDev +11%

Pours a near opaque rich dark brown with glimpses of apricot and ruby at the edges. A warm mocha colored creamy head of a few fingers stays for a good while and leaves behind pretty impeccable lacing.

aroma is roasty, malty, with hints of peat, a touch of wood smoke, and almost a hint of lactose. a touch of vanilla. Clean, smooth, and delicious aroma.

hints of smoke and peat accentuate a deliciously roasted malt backbone with just enough hops to balance everything nicely. Definitely more on the roasty, malty side of things than a hop bomb, which I'm all for. Hints of vanilla and a touch of lactose sugar sweeten to keep it from being overly bitter roast.

Mouth is a touch thin given the abv, but it works nicely with the flavors. Maybe i'm just in the mood for it, but I'm kind of enjoying the smoothness, hint of slickness, and general light and bright mouth that accompanies the roasted flavors. It kind of works.

All in all, this is really hitting the spot. Maybe it's just my mood, but everything is jiving nicely with this one. Complex without being too intense, drinkable without being thin. Not quite sessionable, which certainly makes it enjoyable. All in all, a deliciously roasty example of a porter with an exquisite implementation of west-coast hops to make a beautifully drinkable brew. And I'm really wishing I had brought more than a bomber back in my suitcase. This will definitely be one of the first ones I'll search for when I'm back on the west coast.

djeucalyptus, Jun 26, 2010
Photo of woodychandler
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%

When I had some last summer (July 2009), they were calling it "Hunter's Point Porter". What's in a name? It alludes to the southeast part of The City, where a Naval Shipyard once existed and I visited a few times over the course of my duty in Alameda. Now you know, if you didn't before.

It was presented to me with a finger of deep-tan head with decent retention. Nose smelled like a fresh fudge brownie, direct from the oven. Color was a deep, dense brown with ruby highlights. Mouthfeel was light-to-medium with a wholly chocolate taste on the tongue, This was a dessert beer, to be sure! There is no way, given its 8.5 ABV (that was what was listed at the time) and its sweetness, that I would want a steady diet of this beer. Finish reminded me of chocolate cake, fudge brownie, chocolate chip cookie and chocolate ice cream, all wrapped up in a single package. If that seems appealing to you, have at it. For my own sake, I'm taking a lay-down. Wow!

woodychandler, Jun 24, 2010
Photo of Beerenauslese
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%

Pours dark reddish brown with a decent head that lasts awhile, leaves substantial lacing.

Aromas of coffee, chocolate, hops.

Tastes of chocolate and coffee, with a tangy fruity acidity which I like. Sweet and sour elements. Finishes dry and hoppy.

Body is light for a porter, with good amount of carbonation, in the Deschutes Black Butte porter style, but with a little more substance in the mouthfeel.

This is quite drinkable. The tangy fruit, slightly sour taste keeps me wanting more.

Beerenauslese, May 31, 2010
Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
4.7/5  rDev +19.9%

Dark as pitch with a fat two finger head. The head recedes quickly and leaves a small amount of lacing. Smells of dried plums, coffee and a bit of chocolate. The taste is fantastic. Much like it smells but not too fruity. Bitter and sweet with a very earthy finish. Mild carbonation makes this go down super smooth. I love this porter. It doesn't taste quite as good in the bottle but it is still top notch beery deliciousness.

OBeerMeGreatOne, May 30, 2010
Photo of EagleTalon
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%

Pours to a thick tan head and opaque dark brown color. Aroma is roast coffee, dark chocolate and earthy hops. Flavor is a malty, roasty explosion backed up by malt sweetness and hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium and moderate CO2. Overall, I would say this stuff is a very well made and tasty American porter.

EagleTalon, May 15, 2010
Photo of andyfrancis
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%

Black beauty in a glass. Nice brown head that's holding up nicely and condensing in to a froth. Roasty malt on the nose, hint of something sweet. Nice. I loves me a good porter and this one passes my test. nice subtle carbonation, drinkable without being too watery. Wouldn't want more than two or three in a sitting, but I'd gladly come back to it again.

andyfrancis, May 04, 2010
Photo of 100floods
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%

nice dark hue with a tan/mocha head. Rich chocolate aromas blended in with some darker roasted notes. Thin-Medium body. Notable carbonation. The roasted flavors come through in tasting it, some sweet after flavors. Dark chocolate flavors linger at the back of my tung The body is where it falls short for me. There's nothing compensating. There's nothing really wrong with this beer, just nothing outstanding. This is, however, a good porter to have around that won't make a dent in your wallet. I think I still prefer the Hunters Point Porter which is very similar to this (why they didn't just bottle that, I don't know), but HTP has some more body to it. I'll still go out and buy this beer, it's good and available which I am thankful for.

100floods, Apr 13, 2010
Photo of WestValleyIPA
3.88/5  rDev -1%

Poured into my Zatec fluted glass. A great looking 3 fingers of head. Tan and firm. Smells like cream, coffee, chocolate. Light smoke. Typical Porter. Tastes strongly of bitter chocolate along with light bitter hops. Mouth feels slightly powdery/chalky. Very little evidence of the 7.5 abv. Goes down nicely for such a big beer.

WestValleyIPA, Apr 12, 2010
Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev +2%

A: The pour is a dark brown color with some slight reddish highlights and a minimal off-white colored head.

S: The nose is pleasantly roasty with some nice notes of coffee and a touch of smokiness. There's a bit of sweetness to the smell as well.

T: The flavor is much like the aroma would lead you to believe. A touch of smoke along with plenty of roast and coffee and just a hint of chocolate. A light bitterness on the finish to work well with the other flavors.

M: The body is medium with a tingly and medium level of carbonation.

D: A very nice porter by Speakeasy. I never would have guessed the beer is 7.5% ABV. I'd pick this one up again.

womencantsail, Apr 09, 2010
Photo of stoutfiend27
4.65/5  rDev +18.6%

bomber sent my way again by genghis22..cant thank you enough james...poured into a tulip

a-black...one and half finger head....sticks around for a while...lacing is there..

s-big rich coffee and chocolate malts..lots of roast...a hint of sweetness steps in before the bitter coffee notes carry this one off

t-starts off with a ton of coffee and chocolate..the sweetness steps in ....the hops are there to keep this one in check only...finishes on a bitter dry coffee note

m-thick and chewy...up there with edmund...creamy smooth as well...coats the mouth well and leaves a tad bitterness behind..

d-man i wish i could get this all the time...i would....goes down way to smooth especially on a chilly evening in NC...

overall a sold porter def in my top 5....James you are killing me with these boxes...

stoutfiend27, Mar 23, 2010
Photo of GRG1313
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%

Pours black with a big, thick, firm and pillowy off-white/tan head. Nice looking.

Nose is sweet ripe pears and peaches with hints of apricots.

Mouthfeel is rich and "half and half" consistency that is pleasant and welcoming.

Flavors are big and bold roasted grain, rich black coffe with an underlying hit of sweetness and black chocolate.

Finish is bitter espresso/bitter black chocolate. Beer is complex and layered but with really nice integration. Very much like a big stout it belies the name Porter. A rich, roasted grain brew all around.

GRG1313, Mar 13, 2010
Photo of Billolick
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%

22 ouncer, purchased this evening at DeCicco's in Ardsley, NY for $6.99. No freshness info offered. Pours near black, very dark khaki head, initially over 2 inches, then slowly fading to a thick and blotchy film, leaves nice looking thick sheeting in spots and plenty of scattered ribs of stickage. The sniff is of dark malts and vanilla. Bold porter, more then ample dark malts, more vanilla, milk chocolate, then quite dry hops in the finish to balance things off. Highly enjoyable American style porter, go get some and enjoy this quality brew

Billolick, Mar 10, 2010
Photo of tpd975
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%

A: Pours dark brownish black with a khaki colored head. Moderate retention and some nice lace.

S: Aroma of roasted malt, chocolate, and a mineral like sharp almost urine type aroma.

T: Milky chocolate, bold roast, fresh coffee, tinges of sweet molasses. Tastes a hell of a lot better than it smells.

M: Medium in body, smooth.

D: Pretty good flavors in this one.

tpd975, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of bonbright7
4.6/5  rDev +17.3%

I split this porter with a friend after closing at Bellport Beer and I was easily enamored by the seductively dark ale in my glass. The Payback looked good in its pure darkness with a brown oatmeal head that never went away, it only sank lower in the glass. The aroma exhibited an elaborate mix of roasted malts, coffee and chocolate, which invited the first taste.

Wowed by the medium to heavy taste that reminded me of a milkshake, I bought another bottle without finishing the glass just because the first taste told me this was so good. The mouth feel and the ease of drinking more were merely after thoughts, like frosting on the cake.

bonbright7, Mar 02, 2010
Photo of 1759Girl
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%

Appearance> Dark, midnight black with a beautiful chocolate malt-looking head.Great lacing.

Smell> Sweet molassess, dark chocolate, burnt toast.

Taste> Good representative of a porter. Balanced. Not too complex.

Mouf> nice, nothing special

Drinkability> Sure thing

1759Girl, Mar 01, 2010
Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev +2%

An opaque chocolate brown body topped by two fingers of tan foam. The head retains well, leaving sheets of lace clinging to the glass. Chocolate, subtle black licorice and roasted malt come to me first in the aroma, with a touch of coffee and roasty acidity behind. It's roasty and dry on the tongue, baking chocolate, coffee and burnt toast flavors lending nuance. There's also a bit of alcohol flavor that reminds me of vodka. The mouthfeel is dry but rich, medium in body with substantial carbonation. Dark fruit, coffee and burnt toast linger on the palate in the dry finish. This is very solid stuff.

largadeer, Feb 27, 2010
Photo of Arbitrator
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%

Chilled bottle into a glass.

A: Pours a pitch black body with an initially fluffy mocha head. Retention is pretty good, and after a minute or so it retreats into a scattered film on top of the brew. Some lacing.

S: Roasted malt / coffee, toast, chocolate. Interesting dark fruit nuances to it; not too strong, but enough to distinguish the bouquet.

T: Same as the nose suggests: strong roasted malts / coffee and chocolate up front. The mid-taste has a nice dark fruit character, seemingly plum-ish, but there is more that I can't quite place. It's very subtle and nicely decorating. Toast in the exhalation.

M: Medium-bodied. While not dry, it's definitely less malty than a stout. Goes down pretty nicely.

D: A pretty solid intepretation of the style. I wasn't expecting a whole lot, but Speakeasy managed to impress on this one.

Arbitrator, Feb 23, 2010
Photo of krisandajt
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%

Working on a hat trick worth of tasty beers courtesy of cloudskipper. Many thanks Chris!

Appearance: A rough pour into my Sam Adams glass shows the beer to be very deep dark brown in color. There's a plentiful inch + worth of coffee colored head sitting on top of this fine brew. Retention is impressive, and the lacing ain't too shabby either.

Smell: An interesting smell dominated by an overly roasted, almost burnt coffee smell blended in with bitter chocolate. I have to focus on the coffee, it really reminds me of a pot of really good coffee that has sat in the pot a bit too long. Not really offensive, and certainly not bad, but not as refreshing as I would have liked.

Taste: Taste drifts away a bit from the coffee and leans a bit more towards the bitter chocolate. The coffee is still present, but not as strong as the smell would indicate. Not a bad tasting brew.

Mouthfeel: A little thin for my tastes, but pretty typical for the style. Carbonation is good, not intense enough to take away from the smooth texture. Body is good, light to medium.

Drinkability: This is a simple, straightforward, easy drinking porter. Not complex enough to require indepth taste analysis, but not so simple that you forget what you're drinking. A quality beer that I wouldn't turn down if offered.

krisandajt, Feb 13, 2010
Photo of Offa
3.33/5  rDev -15.1%

This strong porter is pretty good, but not very, being a bit one-dimensional and alcoholic, with too little character or complexity for the strength.

Essentially black, it has a very big dark tan head slowly shrinking to a foamy ring with thin wisps. It has some nice lace.

Aroma is rich roasted barley and dark toast, some caramelised prunes,, leaves, dried figs, hints of leather and dark chocolate, overall very nice.

The taste, feel, and drinkability are far less impressive than appearance or smell. It starts with some charcoal, singed leaves, faint hints of prune and fig, with some dark toast and citrus bitterness. However, alcohol soon becomes quite evidence, if not overly so or harsh, bitterness lingers a bit too much, and initial promise of complexity soon fizzles into a fiarly one-dimensional, alcoholic-raisiny roastiness that is a tad too bitter for what else it has. Feel is fairly good, solid, but not great.

Offa, Jan 16, 2010
Photo of popery
4/5  rDev +2%

Good porter. There's not much really to criticize with this beer. It's a very nice porter with flavors chocolate, ash, roasted malt. coffee and brown sugar. My only real criticism is that it's a bit forgettable. Payback definitely takes inspiration from the American style of porters/stouts. The hops are evident, and all of the flavors are relatively big and bold. It's a good beer and one of the better that I've had from Speakeasy.

popery, Jan 05, 2010
Photo of ppoitras
4/5  rDev +2%

Growler obtained via Growling at the Moon from swnicholson. Cool Speakeasy swing-top growler. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" brown head over the almost opaque dark brown brew. Head dwindles gradually, with average lacing. Aroma is rich darkness, a blend of chocolate, coffee and light smokiness. Taste starts with sweet chocolate, finds some coffee in the middle, and closes with a lingering hops bitterness. Mouthfeel and drinkability are both good. Nice brew, and glad I have more pints of this for later.

ppoitras, Dec 22, 2009
Photo of Murchmac
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%

Pretty sure this is their Hunters Point Porter, but now available for distribution in 22oz.s and given a fancy label. Wish they kept the old name, but not old school gangster enough I guess. Fancy picture of a guy with a fedora and a lamppost on the bottle.

Had this beer for years on tap but now happy I can enjoy it in the comforts of my home. Pours a beautiful black with brown highlights, big tan head that leaves lacing around the pint glass.

Great choco-coffee sweet smell, roasted goodness with some bakers chocolate thrown in that teases the olfactory factories.

Good choco-coffee taste, smooth, roasted, taste follows the nose, some hops kick in at the end for a bitter citrusy aftertaste.

Always a good beer, glad its bottled now.

Murchmac, Dec 21, 2009
Payback Porter from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
88 out of 100 based on 210 ratings.