Pilgrim's Porter
John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House

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American Porter
3.85 | pDev: 12.21%
John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House
Massachusetts, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Reviews: 20 | Ratings: 25 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by seakayak:
Photo of seakayak
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

More User Reviews:
Photo of Todd
3.35/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this at the Cambridge location ...

Dark brown, near black with a thin tan lace. Pretty clean aroma. A bit nutty, dry, crisp with a touch of astringent roasted flavour. Chocolate, faint caramel, fruity grape, light raisin in the malt character. Hops get a bit lost. Thin layer of smoke and a that "Burtonized" flavour and feel in the beer's backbone.

A fairly decent Porter ... that's all.

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Photo of Jason
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap in Cambridge.

Appearance: As close to black as you can get, nice light tan lace to boot.

Smell: Mildly acrid and burnt malt aromas, thin layer of hops as well in the nose.

Taste: Snappy character from the crispness of the carbonation and the roasted grain add bitterness as well as an acrid burnt level. Medium bodied and a touch slick on the tongue. Roasted flavours of mostly charcoal do not go overboard yet mingle with the hop bitterness to give a complex bite in the middle. Dry in the end with more lingering acrid roasted flavours.

Notes: This is an upfront in you face yet light styled porter. Very nice balance in keeping the roasted character in check. It was served cold and was fine … I actually preferred it that way also.

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Photo of pbrian
3/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A cookie cutter beer from a cookie cutter brewpub. No head, served too cold, cloudy appearance, barely any aroma, weird chalky mouthfeel. Behind all of this there was some signs of chocolaty dark malts, but the whole package was average at best.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A black porter with an excellent taste some hoppiness, smooth easy to make an afternoon of this but we were travelling - :(. The ABV is 5.25%.

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Photo of ADR
3.91/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Cambridge brewpub...

Dark with dull brown highlights. Head died in 20 seconds, bubbles below the surface (glassware soap?). Dotty lacing. Sweet aroma, slightly raspberry with mocha tones. Lower carbonation, not quite creamy but rather granular in texture. On the other hand, nice flavors, lightly fruity with a mild chocolate impression and pretty even-handed but sharp hop bitterness at the close. Lightly oily coffee-ish aftertaste. Pretty serviceable in most departments except presentation and slight texture problems for me. Good balance and agreeable flavor.

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Photo of StevieW
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

64 oz Growler from the Long Island, NY location. Transported to Florida in a cooler and consumed 4 days after it was poured.
Full muddy brown color, nice rich bubbly tan head. Initial smells of burnt toast, and bitterness. Some mocha, and coffee smells after a bit of rattling. Nice Smooth chocolate bitterness, just as expected from a quality porter. Small hop snap lingers. Chalky residue lingers on the tongue, as the flavors fade. Easy drinking. Midly carbonated and very well going down. I was impressed with how well the beer and flavors held up. But I am easily impressed by good beer.

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Photo of IrishRedRock
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was pleasantly surprised with this brew. The JHBH in Wayne, PA seems to do darker beers quite well, better than their lighter offerings.

This came to me a thick, near-black substance with a dense, somewhat chestnut colored head. The head retained quite well to my surprise. Aromas of raisins and chocolate come to mind. Equally impressive flavor! Very malty, clearly a number of different malts went into making this one. Coffee and chocolate notes come through very strongly, balancing the subdued hoppiness. Creamy mouthfeel. I could definitely enjoy a few of these, although I agree with past reviews that it was a tad on the cold side. ABV listed at over 6%.

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Photo of packetknife
2.83/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

It's ok for a porter. A bit too thin. Otherwise it seems like any other run-of-the-mill cheap porter.

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Photo of BillyBrew
3.93/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A bitter porter via the cask. Black-black colour with a fine creamy, sticky head that went the distance. Chocolate and toasted malts fill the nose with slight hop oils. A mildly chocolate taste and a strong bitter bite. Smooth medium body with a fine cask-carbonation.

Pretty bitter for a porter, but its smooth, warming 'caskiness' makes this one a drinker. Drink. Cheers!

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Photo of UnionMade
4.68/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Casked at the Manchester, CT location.
The beer is a slightly hazy deep burnt umber, very nearly black. A thick, creamy dollop of sandy colored head tops the beer. Lots of lace, forming sip rings down the pint, with amazing nitro-like retention. A small pool of head remains after the last of the beer is quaffed.
The aroma is very full and robust. A rich roasty coffee maltiness, with equal hints of toffee and chocolate. Excellent malting, retaining a wonderful bittersweetness. Very clean aroma, with no off notes. Slight plum and raisin esters, with a rather bold citric hoppiness. Balanced and welcome, yet unexpected.
The beer is so smooth it just glides into your mouth and down your throat, caressing every tastebud. A rich, robust roasty coffee flavor starts out the sip, with some chocolate as a sidekick. Some toffee flavor comes through towards the middle, with some light hints of pear, plum, and raisin. The chocolate flavor peaks as the finish starts, giving way to a mild citric hoppiness. The roastiness continues all the way through, melding with the hops to provide a mildly dry finish. A bit of yeast flavor throughout, with perhaps some lactose? I could be imagining things. A very smooth, creamy mouthfeel, with soft, natural carbonation that allows the flavors to bloom. A dark roasted coffee aftertaste, with the slightest citric tang. Medium bodied.
This is most certainly a beer that's meant to be served cask conditioned. The richness and depth of flavor really shine with the proper temperature and natural carbonation. One of the best porters I've ever had. It's hard to think of anything to improve the beer, save a bit more fruitiness in the middle.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at the Pittsburgh (Monroeville) location,

Appearance: Deep ruby brown nice tan head fluffy leaves thick bands of lacing appeasing appearance here. Aroma: Chocolate, mild coffee the deep roasted malts are evident here with a mild hopping for aromatics. Taste: Creamy fruit covered with milk chocolate amazing with deep roasts causing the slight harsh bitterness on the palate but flavors blend very well together. Mouthfeel: Creamy light and fluffy I love cask conditioned beer, it's delicious. Drinkability: Very nice on cask, that may have other wise been a rather uninteresting run of the mill porter.

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Photo of Truh
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Washed up on the shores of Plimoth with this one on 12/7/2004. 16-oz. poured to the brim shaker glass at the source.

Mocha bulb of middle carbonation island is surrounded by a tumultuous ocean of thinning stuff. Darkest brown to light black hue, and impenetrable, at least to my eye. Roasted notes are first items noted on nose, walnuts, but an almost equal amount of malt character is present. To taste, a roasted nuttiness is evident with a nice chocolate malt tang that stays, but is not overdone. As the pour warms, more roasted characters come out and the level alcohol does not disturb. Overall, a nice rendition.

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Photo of far333
3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark rich color, nearly black, with a low brown head. Smell is roasty malt with a faint hint of cocoa. Flavor is rich, with many flavors of dark malt, chocolate, burnt coffee, caramel, molasses, and brown sugar swirling around the mouth. Finish is light hop, with no real lingering aftertaste. Only complaint is that the mouthfeel is thin and watery.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at the brewpub.

Shaker pint glass presentation. 1/2" dark brown head over the almost opaque dark brown brew, with good lacing. Aroma is deeply of dark malts, yet remains well-balanced. Taste is of dark malts, with the sweetness of chocolate slightly outweighting the bitterness of coffee, and hops enter in at the end to balance it all out. Creamy mouthfeel and drinkability are both excellent, and I would certainly revisit this during my next visit to John Harvard's.

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Photo of smcolw
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Here is the cask-conditioned version of their "standard".

As a friend of mine said, "this is closer to a stout". I agree, this is firmly on the border between the two style. I like the cask version as it is closer to a homebrew with a notable amount of yeast flavor. Lots of black patent malt in the flavor which provides some of the bitterness. The rest comes from some balancing (and peppery) hop. Full-bodied as expected. An easy beer to have a second.

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Photo of DrJay
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer was nearly opaque, very dark brown, with chestnut highlights. It was covered by a thin cap of tan foam that showed fair retention, settling into a long-lasting ring with wispy bubbles coating the surface. Fine, sticky lace coated the glass, becoming fairly solid as I worked my way down the pint. The aroma was heavy of roast, with burnt notes and toffee/caramel sweetness. Bitterness was solid, but not strong, and increased towards the end. Caramel kicked things off, along with a roasty, burnt character. Cocoa filled out the middle and played well with the light floral and citrus hop notes, which became more grassy into the finish. Medium bodied with lowish carbonation. Very drinkable and a tasty pint - my favourite of the night at John Harvard's. I'd definitely have it again.

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Photo of warriorsoul
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark black w/ no light passing through...creamy tan head, a full finger's worth on top. Lacing is thick and clings nicely to the side of the pint glass.
Aroma is faint w/ roasted malts detected.
Taste is more like what I expect from a porter...awesome blend of carmelized malt, coffee, chocolate (slight) and just a hint of hop.
The mouthfeel is almost perfect...not sticky, but not thin. With the perfect carbonation and freshness this brew is dispaying, this is definitely a session beer.
One of my favorite porters to date.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

Photo of MarineHokie
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Thick opaque dark brown-black. Thick creamy head with staying power, light lace left behind.

S - Woodsy, Oaky aroma with fuggles (I think) overtones.

T - Hop and dark malt bitterness rounds slightly with a small hint of malty sweetness. Short finish, crisp & dry with burnt toffee notes.

M - Initially medium to light bodied, seems to thicken in the middle. Finished quickly crisp and dry.

D - Smooth fairly light and drinkable. Too rich with dark malts to make a session beer for me. could be a good session beer for others.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.17/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-cask 10/25/07 at the brewpub in Manchester, CT served in a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a short light brown head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is very smoky with chocolate and roasted coffee beans, dark malts and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste is creamy, smoky and very malty with flavors of dark chocolate and coffee. There’s a very mild hops presence but just enough to provide a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Very smooth with a little crispness, medium-to-heavy body, light carbonation, very clean finish for the style.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, very good representation of style, this is a very good beer to drink slowly throughout a whole evening.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.36/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This one pours a Dark brown with vibrant red hues in direct light. A small and thin frothy head and bubbly head is scattered and dissipates slowly, leaves some lacing behind.

There is a roasty malted scent but this is really domnated by a light, fruity hop scent. Interesting for a porter.

The first hit: This is one hoppy porter!! (cascade)It features a deep roasty oak-like malted flavor, not bitter and feels crisp and clean....maybe a bit to clean for a Porter, I like my porters a bit thicker and heftier than this. This has a full body look with a light body feel, easily one of the lightest feeling Porters I've had.

This one was interesting in that it tasted and felt like they had mixed there IPA with the Porter! Very hoppy. Very easy to drink but a bit strange for the style.

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Photo of DudleyRose
4.7/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really nice beer. Nearly black in color. Nice head and carbonation. Lovely roast smell with a full mellow taste. Unlike some, this isn't a thin bodied porter. On the other hand, it has mellow, not heavy taste. It's easy to like. I would be glad to have this one anytime.

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Photo of Jayli
4.17/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer is a very dark brown color, borders on black. About a 1 finger tan head to it. Decent head retention that leaves thick lacing throughout. Scent is outstanding! Smoked nose, roasted coffee, malts, and chocolate notes are very present. Taste is of chocolate and coffee with great malt flavoring. There is slight carbonation on this beer, but not overpowering - it adds character to the beer with detracting from the taste. Definitely leans more towards a heavy body. This is a great beer to kick back and enjoy slowly for a night.

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Photo of rusty3335
3/5  rDev -22.1%

Pilgrim's Porter from John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 25 ratings