Charles River Porter | Cambridge Brewing Company

very good
74 Reviews

Brewed by:
Cambridge Brewing Company
Massachusetts, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-22-2000

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 74 | Ratings: 154
Photo of WunderLlama
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draft poured tasting glass

Black liquid with taupe foam ring

Aroma of coffee

Fresh brewed taste, lightly toasted malts

Light carbonation , light to medium mouthfeel , clean, little aftertaste

Light tasting porter

 219 characters

Photo of Beric
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving: On tap, pint
Served: Oct 2014

Appearance: Pours a deep dark color, which was hard to truly make out in the dim light of the CBC brewpub. Nice white head that eventually dissipates and leaves some slight lacing.

Smell: Muted roasted coffee or espresso notes.

Taste: Nice assertion of roasted malts lending notes of espresso, French brewed coffee, and dark bitter chocolate. The beer has a nice edge, which I find more common in porters than stouts, where the flavors are a little rounder. There is the slightest ever smokiness here too, which really rounds out the flavors.

Feel: Excellent body on the tongue.

Overall: An excellent porter, and one of CBC's best regular offerings. Will probably pick up a growler of this next time I'm near Kendall Square.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.81/5  rDev -4.3%

From 09/16/14 notes. Had at the brewpub in Cambridge, MA.

Pours a deep mahogany brown with a reddish tint, one inch of light tan head and moderate carbonation evident. Smells of sweet chocolate, roasted malts, milk choclate, cream, vanilla...nose is really great, some caramel as well. Taste more chalk and bitter chocolate. Medium to light body and low to moderate carbonation.

Overall great nose but taste is lacking and a bit weak.

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

On-tap at Cambridge Brewing Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A- Dark cola brown body. Looks substantial, with a one finger nitro-like off-white head. Great retention. Lots of lacing.

S- Chocolates galore. Earthier dark chocolate, milk chocolates mixed in with a slight bit of roast malt and hints of smoke. Actually a somewhat decadent smelling porter.

F- As in the nose, lots of chocolate malts are present with roast character. Sweet but tempered quite a bit by the earthy hops and yeast.

M- Medium bodied, slightly thin but well carbonated and creamy. Very drinkable porter.

O- Excellent local year-round porter. Can't argue with this choice on most days.

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

Poured on-tap and served in a shaker pint at the brewpub, the beer is a dark brown coloring with ruby highlights and a thin, filmy, sparse, light tan head. Nose of coffee roast and bitterness, with hints of bittersweet baker's chocolate. Roast forward, with a chocolate and coffee blend providing bitter and charcoal characteristics. Thin, slightly dry body. The aftertaste is bitter and roasty, with a dry, bitter lingering finish. Robust beer.

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Photo of Omnium
4.06/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On Tap at the brewery
A - Nice black brown, half a finger of khaki head, thick lacing.
S - Nice smokey roasted malt and coffee beans, touch of vanilla and some dark chocolates
T - Nice roasted flavor with a surprising dark hop bite, smokey and chocolatey on the end.
M - More of a medium feel but coats your mouth with a creamy texture, excellent aftertaste.
O - Excellent example of a porter, nice smokey traits and a good hop balance

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Photo of WildMaverick1200
4.7/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I always like to try different porters at bars, and this time they had Charles River.

It sports a nice, dark appearance with a nice brownish head which seems to be just the right size. I have to say this is the best smelling beer I've ever come across. It was like being in a dark chocolate factory mixed with a gourmet coffee shop. It's so good, strong and yet not overpowering - perfectly balanced.

The beer itself is what you would expect of a perfect porter. Bitter and espresso reminiscent, yet perfectly balanced and so smooth it's almost unreal. It goes down quite easily, as it doesn't really feel strong, like the average porter does.

I certainly will look for this in the future and their other brews. If you see this on tap, be sure to try it out!

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a nice tan and creamy head that dissipates quickly. Leaves a lot of lacing on the glass. The head still leaves a ring around the inside of the glass. The beer itself is a dark chocolate with slight hints of dark chocolate and a bit shiny. The beer smell has strong hints of dark chocolate and roasted malts with a slight hop note and a tiny hint of vanilla. Also, smoky notes through out the beer. The beer taste is similar to the smell. The stronger notes are those of roasted malts, coco, and dark chocolate with stronger hop notes in the bitter aftertaste as well as smoke. In addition to the hops, the aftertaste has a strong dark chocolate presence. The vanilla note is still there but not as prominent. The feel is thick bodied with biting carbonation. Overall, a pretty good beer and worth getting again.

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Photo of jlindros
4.14/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Tap at the brew pub.

Pours a dark almost black beer with no real light coming through, nice creamy decent head.

Nose brings some dark malts, a little roast, little cocoa, hint of coffee, caramel toffee even, and hint of a nutty malt even, then hops, light earthy spicy hops bring a decent hop aroma to robust porter.

Taste continues where the aroma left off, dark malts, a little roasted character bringing a hint of coffee and faint faint touch of light burnt flavors, then cocoa, powdered chocolate, and a little caramel toffee sweetness. It has a light creamy oat like character but barely, before the hops strengthen. A decent earthy spicy hop character, meaty hops with a nice bitterness. Finish is dry and bitter, more bitter hops and light roasty malt character as well as light chocolate lingering.

Mouth is med to fuller bodied, little creamy, nice carb.

Overall pretty much almost exactly what I expect for a nice robust porter, nothing wrong with it at all, tasty well blended, if I'm looking for a nice robust porter this is exactly what I want.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

First had: on tap at CBC

Served in a small tumbler, dark brown-black with a small tan head that dissipated almost completely; no lacing to speak of. Aroma of dark roasted malts and cocoa. Pretty basic, pretty good. Good classic porter profile in the taste as well, dark malts, chocolate, some coffee bitterness. Smooth mouthfeel, body was not quite full, but still pretty robust for a porter. Quite good overall.

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Photo of thebigredone
3.18/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had on cask with extra Fuggle hopping, possibly dry hopped?

A little dissapointed in this. The beer looked pretty tasty, but was completely overwhelmed by the hops. There was no way I would ever have been able to tell this was a porter if I had been blindfolded. No roasted malt, chocolate, or coffee tones present. Just hops. Not a terrible beer, but not one I enjoyed or would consider drinking again.

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Photo of brewandstew
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this last night at the brewpub.

Poured a very dark brown with a tan-colored half inch head with aromas of roast malt, pine, cacao nibs, chocolate.

Taste is a lot of dark malt with an underlying citrus - pine flavor. Low carbonation allows the beer linger on the palette.

I enjoy cask porters and cask beers in general. I have not had the original version of this beer, but I really enjoyed it on cask.
I'd like to have it on cask without the cascade dry hop.

 468 characters

Photo of Firkin-Bunghole
4.45/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes
Had this beer during an awesome dinner at CBC a month bank. The server recommended Charles River Porter to be paired with dessert of a Charles River Porter hot chocolate brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Appearance-both beer and dessert came out at same time. Beer had carbonation clinging to edge of glass, but minimal head.
Smell-Cocoa nibs, milk chocolate, oats
Taste-This beer paired exquisitely with the Charles River Porter Brownie. Would have probably purchased a growler of this, but I know I wouldn't be able to replicate the chef's recipe. The beer had a smooth, chocolate taste, some light roastiness.
Mouthfeel-Light mouthfeel, decent carbonation. Glad the beer wasn't heavier as it may not have complimented the dessert so well
Overall-I can't think of a better dessert that I had recently. Huge kudos to the staff as CBC for amazing brews and for an equally amazing time. Wish I lived closer to Cambridge.

 949 characters

Photo of beerbiatchMD
4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Charles River Porter Challenger hopped (cask)

A: dark brownish black, two fingers of thick frothy brown head that sticks around for a long time.

S: thick cocoa, vanilla, nicely malty.

T: Vanilla, oak, a hint of chocolate is there as well.  There is also an earthy flavor that is difficult to place.

M: very smooth, not much carbonation, nothing special.

O; good beer, glad to have had it on cask, great dark beer for a cold day.

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Photo of JustinAniello
3.02/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours pitch black with a one and a half finger cream-colored head. Dissipates to a nice sticky lacing and light cap.

S - Heavy coffee with a hearty chocolate and caramel taking up the rear. Light maltiness with a mild sweetness as well.

T - Light dark chocolate and bitterness at first. Turns to heavier bitterness with a smokey flavor. Maltiness on the swallow turning to burnt toast.

M - Medium body and carbonation. Decent for the style.

O - Not a paticularly good porter in my book. I am a little afraid that my growler went bad since I noticed it had a crack in the cap, but it still had plenty of carbonation so I am doubting it. Way too much smokiness and lack of anything else but bitterness. Awful aftertaste, I wish it tasted like it smelled, which is excellent. The only bad beer I have had so far from CBC. May try again just so I can see if something was wring with this batch.

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Photo of Kranders
3.86/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brought this growler back home for thanksgiving. Poured really dice deep black that I was excited to dive into. Nice rich aroma and a fantastically deep flavor. Really complex, slightly bitter with a good bit of chocolate on the back end. Great overall. I'm not sure what the reason, but as I drank more and more of it, the beer just kind of diminished. Still, great growler to be shared.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Cambridge Brewing

A: The pour is a very dark brown, almost black, color with a finger of khaki colored head.

S: Strong roasted malt and dark chocolate character. Plenty of licorice and molasses with lots of earthy qualities to it as well. There is a bit of toffee sweetness, maybe some hints of smoke.

T: The flavor is quite nice with a subtle bitterness from the roast and the hops. Lots of roasted malt flavor including coffee and bitter dark chocolate. Some more earthy notes, molasses, and toffee.

M: Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

O: A solid porter. I could have used a bit more chocolate flavor/sweetness, but still solid.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at CBC in boston

Pours an opaque deep brown color which is almost black, topped off by a fluffy beige head. Retains nicely, leaving some slick film and patchy lacing on the glass.

A cornucopia of scents, including roasted malts and chocolate followed by toasted nuts and hints of smoke. Light sweetness and coffee as well.

Full flavored and roasty up front with plenty of somewhat rich malt tones. Caramel and chocolate mixed with nuts. Some edges of coffee beans followed by a wisp of smoke. A nice combination of flavors which all seem to work together in harmony. Finishes a little sweet and dry.

Fuller medium body, nice carbonation, smooth and easy on the tongue. A solid, drinkable, flavorful porter - I'd definitely drink this again.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a nice porter, yet it's shy on being an American porter. It seems stuck between English and American. Maybe Canadian...nyuk nyuk nyuk...or just a brown porter.'s a nice beer. Dark pour, white head...perhaps off white; lights are low.

Pleasant aroma of cocoa, coffee, nuts and dark fruit. I'm not getting much spice or hops in this one.

Then again, the taste has some hops to it. The cocoa and coffee come together for some toffee I suppose. Smoked berries and raisin. Slightly robust mouthfeel. A nice beer to be sure.

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

Had a pint at the brewpub yesterday while touring Boston for $5.00.

Beer was server dark brown with a solid brown head.

Nose had hints of coffee and cholcolate.

Taste was very well balanced between the malt sweetness, hints of coffee and chocolate, and a decent hop finish.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied and pretty smooth.

Overall a solid, likeable, sip all day kind of porter. Unfortunately our time was short in Boston so i needed to try another wonderful brew from this brewpub.

 485 characters

Photo of Chincino
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this beer on-tap at the Cambridge Brewing Company.

It poured to be very dark, almost black in color with a about a 3/4 inch of mocha colored head.

The aroma was strong of malt with hints of fruit and toffee or caramel. The taste was full of maltiness, but the malt taste was not overpowering.

This beer was well-carbonated. Good drinkability. You could easily drink more than one in a sitting.


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Photo of pburland23
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at CBC last Saturday. Served in a standard 16 oz. shaker pint.

Beer pours a deep, dark unyielding black with a finger or so of light brown colored head.

Smell is dominated by roasted malts. Smells deep and inviting. Taste is also very much centered on roasted malts though there seems to be slight undercurrent of coffee and some dark fruit - blackberries, currants. Really nice tasting pint. All components play well with each other.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and slightly chewy. Ample carbonation and very high drinkability. A very nice porter from CBC.

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Photo of celticfutblclub
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from a growler into a pint glass into my mouth.
**disclaimer** this in no way tastes like what i imagine the charles river does.. no sewage no medical exams post consumption.. it tastes like if you filled the charles with coffee and malts **end disclaimer**

A - extremely dark with a nice brownish head that recedes slowly.

S - roasted coffee, malts, and then some. i can smell a tiny bit of citrus on the side but mostly its coffee and malts.

T - trifecta of coffee, malts and hops. you taste the malts from start to finish in the this thing. coffee is very prevalent at the start but slowly fades out as the hops take over. great combination and inter-change in this one.

M - good carbonation. this has a bit of thickness to it which definitely works for me given there is a nice coffee presence and i dont like watery coffee.

D - exceptionally drinkable for a porter. easily spend a night putting these away.

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Photo of FrankLloydMike
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler purchased from the fridge at CBC

A: Darker than a black steer's tookus on a moonlight prairie night...there was no bottom; pours with little head (not too surprising or disappointing given the growler), but maintains a thin lacing. Quite attractive.

S: Malty, grainy, bitter chocolate/coffee smell with a hint of hops, and distantly noticeable is a bit of dry alcohol. This is a very nice smell, and much less muddled than many porters.

T: Roasted malt dominates, but the hops are more present here than in many other porters I've had. The hop bitterness is a very nice counterpoint to the malt sweetness; unlike some other porters this is not accomplish through perfect balance, but rather by letting the two play off each other while being distinct. It's a very nice take on a traditional style.

M: Medium-bodied, with a light finish, but a lingering dryness afterward. One of my biggest reasons for preferring porters over stouts is the mouthfeel, and while Charles River is definitely in the porter camp, it leans a tad more toward the stout fullness. Still, it's very pleasant.

D: Drinkability is quite good--this is an excellent, flavorful, interesting beer, but the sweet dryness on the finish leaves me reaching for a glass of water by the end.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours very dark with a bit if a light brown head and not. Uch lacing. Nose brings some smoke as well as coffee, chocolate, and roast. The taste is mostly roast with a bit of smoke. Pretty good body and a bit dry. Drinks fairly well but was a bit of a letdown.

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Charles River Porter from Cambridge Brewing Company
3.98 out of 5 based on 154 ratings.
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