Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Steelhead Scotch Porter | Mad River Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
228 Reviews
Steelhead Scotch PorterSteelhead Scotch Porter

Brewed by:
Mad River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: English Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by kbub6f on 01-23-2001

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 228 | Ratings: 328
Photo of Billolick
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ouncer, no freshness info. Pours dark mahogany, minor and short lived medium tan head and next to no lace. I got just a hint of chocolate and dark grains in the nose. Low carbonation levels, creates a nice soft feeling in the mouth, with notes of more chocolate, light scotch, without much else. Pleasant enough, but nothing special going on here.

 350 characters

Photo of malthead
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

 522 characters

Photo of RixBeer
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a medium chocolate brown and cascaded 3". Then the head fades from a quarter inch to a thin layer on the top.

Deep roasted chocolate and caramel with a funky smell of raspberry preserve. So weird. No wait it's strawberry jam. WTF?

Tastes of chocolate and melted caramel. Tiny hint of coffee that is barely present. Was there some sort of jam actually used in the fermenting tanks? F'n weird! Good though. Not great but good. It has a very interesting flavor.

Very smooth drinking. Seems that all the Mad River beers have that smoothness. Lingering carbonation that sits a minute.

Very drinkable. A little too much nothing for me. But I could see why people would like this beer. Not as good as some other porters but it's a decent pick!

 747 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is a beer with a lot of flavor. It does not have superior aroma or an appearance that wows. But the brew is better than average for these areas. Nearly black with a modest head. Pleasant cocoa nose. Thin body with a high nearly soda pop-like carbonation. Nice blend of chocolate and mild bittering hop.

 307 characters

Photo of EPseja
3.78/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served from a 12oz. bottle in a pint glass at just below cellar temperature.

A - Pours a dark, almot opaque mahogany brown with deep crimson highlights. Big, fluffy tan head rises, buoyed by medium to large bubbles. Retention is very good. Lacing is webby and cohesive.

S - Toasted caramel and crumbly-topped baked pie. Hints of mild hops and mocha.

T - Robust maltiness with a great smoky backbone. Just enough sweetness, with the alcohol somewhat forward in the profile. Slightly tangy and floral in the back of the mouth and throat, with a persistent drying sensation and a tasty malty aftertaste. Very interesting!

M - Somewhere on the lighter side of creamy, with a bit of tingle and a chewiness to it. Swallow is a tad bubbly and filling.

D - An excellent take on a classic American style. Could use a bit of taming on the alcohol presence and carbonation, but overall this is a very drinkable and enjoyable beer.

 934 characters

Photo of crayphish
3.78/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

After being absolutely floored by Mad River's DIPA, I eagerly grabbed the Scotch Porter when it arrived at my local shop. Deep brown liquid with moderate carbonation and only a scant yet dense head. Even the most careful pour results in chunky butterscotch colored goodies. Smell is sweet chocolate and a smokey malt blend. A bit of alcohol. Needs more aroma. Taste takes care of that let down. Big chocolate punch with dry dark fruits and a splash of alcohol heat. Mouthfeel is sticky and chewy. These are one at a time brews. drinkability better suited to night caps.

 569 characters

Photo of cokes
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark, dark brown. Treated with ruby too, all around the edges. The head is compacted, groping, and tan.
Hops dominate the aroma. No mistaking where this is from. Piney grapefruits. But mostly pine. Smoky backing.
Begins sweet and roasty with caramel injected coffee. Lingers here for a moment or two. Lightly earthy, smoky twinges. But, really, this showcases the hops. Pine boxes and breakfast juice. All grapefruity and foresty. Lightly resinous, but lacks the sticking properties. As it warms, the earthy hues replicate. Like boggy toffee. But still, the hopping dominates.
This weighs in around medium, but seems to thin where it should fatten.
All told, its a good, unbalanced, west-coast-styled porter. But when "Scotch" is placed on the label, I expect it to come to fruition. And it doesn't really here.

 817 characters

Photo of Fatehunter
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%

Pours a finger of light tan head on a dark brown body. The aroma is roasted malt and a little chocolate. The taste incredible. Roasted malt, chocolate move to a smoky and woody finish. Only a hint of bitterness. Smooth and soft texture. Excellent flavor profile.

 262 characters

Photo of jdhilt
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

 324 characters

Photo of BeerManDan
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

 264 characters

Photo of MrVonzipper
3.82/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep rootbeer color with a bubbly head with little head retention. A slight bit cloudy, probably due to the visible yeast floating about.

Deep roasted malts, coffee, bourbon and chocolate on the nose

Flavors include deep roasted malt, smokey scotch flavors come through quite a bit, roasted coffee

Very similar to any other scotch porter I've had so it obviously fits the style. I don't see myself drinking 4 or 5 of these in a sitting. But it definitely has good roasted and smokey flavors that are pretty well balanced with scotch draw. Not incredibly complex, but I've yet to have a scotch porter that strays too far from the standard guidelines of the style. No bitterness really. Nice smokey aftertaste. Would be great with a cigar.

 749 characters

Photo of Suds
3.82/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

 519 characters

Photo of djeucalyptus
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours a rich dark brown with amber highlights around the edges. a fairly decent buff colored head fades to a frothy cap that leaves bits of lacing.

earthy, peaty, and hints of hops. malt and bread with more herbal, earthy hops. somewhat subdued, but a pleasant, earthy malt.

Rich and dark, with a hefty malt sweetness. some smoke, peaty, dark cocoa and chocolate with hints of burnt coffee and rye. hints of wood. There's a nice and subtle bitterness at the end to remind that the hops are there.

Full bodied although a bit lighter than the aroma alludes to. The carbonation is a touch on the heavy side - could be the tap. makes it a touch on the bubbly, fizzy side for the flavor profile, but not horrible.

This is one of the few brews where the bottled version outshines the tap. I was able to compare both side by side, and the bottle has more complex, earthy, and smoky elements that just fall fairly flat off the tap, which is unfortunate. Still a good brew, but the bottle is better.

 994 characters

Photo of womencantsail
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
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.

 677 characters

Photo of ADZA
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Love a hybrid brew and keen for this one which pours the darkest brown non see through hue with a creamy two finger head and subtle clingy lacing,the smell is peated smokey malts,dark chocolate and roasted caramel,the mouthfeel is medium bodied with above moderate carbonation and on taste it starts off like a scotch ale and finishes like a porter with tastes first up of smokey peated malts,a touch of whiskey,roasted caramel,a dash of coffee liqueur and finished with a dark chocolate bittersweetness and overall it's definitely half scotch ale and half porter which works and I for one enjoyed it and buy again without doubt cheers.

 636 characters

Photo of delta490
3.84/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured out a deep brown. A small amount light gets through. A thin tan head barely hangs on past the first minute and no lacing is left behind. There is a good amount of detritus floating around. Definitely a negative. There is a small amount of smell, just nondescript malt and a hint of alcohol. The taste, though, is full of flavor. Deep roasted malt notes, with a nice earthy hops and not-unpleasant astringent hit. There is a decent weight to the body, my preference would be a little fuller but it's not thin by any means. The flavor for me is what does it a not complex but very good taste.

 597 characters

Photo of ElGordo
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

 532 characters

Photo of stephendr
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle- color of brown with slight reddish ting, with a thin tan head - nose of black current, chocolate, hint of smoke and mocha – taste of mocha, milk chocolate, and vanilla- body is medium, slightly chewy, and with low carbonation – aftertaste of mocha, milk chocolate, and some red berries

 302 characters

Photo of tatoodkelt
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Consumed 9/10/09- from notes.

Brown 12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- Very dark brown, black in the middle, reddish hues around the edges when held up to the light. Thick one finger tan head, decent retention but not a whole lot of lacing.

S- Coffee, caramel, dark fruits and roasted malt.

T- Very rich flavors. Caramel, smoke, coffee, some oakish wood and dark fruit hints, and a nice smoky flavor.

M- Medium bodiedand slick, a little more watery than I expected.

D- This was a sipper for me. Very good brew but I wouldnt have more than one in a sitting.

I was wondering how the Scotch Style would be represented in a porter and if I tasted this blindfolded I would have leaned towards this beeing a Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy. Very well done.

 757 characters

Photo of PintOHops
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glass - Nonic

A - Very dark blackish/brown in color that you can't see through at all. A hue of ruby/brown on the very edge is visible. It produced a 1-finger head that dissipated to a thin foamy ring quickly. A thin ring held atop my beer but no lacing was left.

S - Mild sweetness with dark bakers chocolate notes. It's got a dry char quality to it with hints of grape and raisin. A simple and inviting aroma.

T - Roasty, woody and chocolaty flavors throughout. Very dry as well. Mildly sweet with dry chard flavors on the finish, and a date and raisin like fruity character.

M - Thin-medium in body with moderate-high crispness. A little smooth.

D - I like it. I like that it's not too sweet, although it is very dry. I enjoyed the flavors of it and I'd drink it again, very tasty and flavorful. I could drink 2-3 pints of it so I think it's pretty darn drinkable. Worth a try for sure. Cheers!

 902 characters

Photo of flagmantho
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: extremely dark brown with a ginormous tan head. Nice.

Smell: sweet with notes of raisin and chocolate. An interesting combo; I like it.

Taste: very interesting. Again, sweet with big flavors of raisin and plum. There are hints of some roasted-malt chocolate and coffe flavors only at the very end when some of the fruit has subsided. Not at all what I think of when I think of porter, but it's tasty and, you know, porter's a pretty broad style.

Mouthfeel: medium body, pretty typical but not bad.

Drinkability: this stuff is pretty good, but the fruity character is a bit much for me to enjoy in a session setting.

 677 characters

Photo of JosiahS
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

glass: Nonic

A: Pretty dark, looks like a good porter. Nice mocha -colored 2-finger head.

S: Charred wood surrounded by chocolate, butterscotch and dark grapes.

T: Rich chocolate flavor right upfront, follows by a tart grape flavor that hangs for a bit, finishes with more rich chocolate, nuts and a bit of roasted malt bitterness, very mild bitterness though.

M: Mouthfeel is spot on, it's lighter than a stout but heavier than a red. It has a rich, almost creamy feel with medium carbonation.

D: Very good, as a person that gets full very fast, i would only have one, but it would be highly enjoyable.

 608 characters

Photo of leftmindedrighty
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The name of this beer was reason enough for me to shovel out $2.50 for a single bottle, lets see if it was money well spent. Poured into a pint glass.

Smell is in line with a porter, very sweet, with a smokey edge unique to this beer.

Taste was a surprise, I taste my usual porter suspects, sweet malt, some hops, but there is this smokey flavor, something that reminds of, well, a smoked porter. If I close my eyes and pretend I'm tasting scotch, I do. But if I keep my eyes and taste buds open, the only thing I taste is a fine porter with a smokey background.

Overall, I'm not sure why this is called a "Scotch Porter", but its very well made, and I will have to pick up a sixer the next time I see it.

 715 characters

Photo of OtherShoe2
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky dark brown with a tan head and some very good lacing.

Smells of roast malt, some sweet cocoa notes.

Nice roasted malt flavors, smokiness and cocoa powder. A bit of an acidic bite to it as well, with some very well balanced bitterness. Really good combination of flavors here. Sweet, hearty, smoky, bitter.

Medium bodied and mouth coating, but very inviting for another sip. Bought a single, wish I got a 6. Really easy to drink this and really worth trying. A winner.

 485 characters

Photo of Minkybut
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into tumbler at 48 degrees. Beer had a decent tan head. Biscuit/coffee notes coming from it with just a hint oh hoppy smell. Taste was burnt malt chocolate peat tasting. Beer was a very nice porter one that I will ceertainly but again.

 254 characters

Steelhead Scotch Porter from Mad River Brewing Company
3.92 out of 5 based on 328 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!