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Steelhead Scotch Porter | Mad River Brewing Company

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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
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Reviews: 228 | Ratings: 328
Photo of StonedTrippin
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

excellent excellent porter. pours chocolate syrup brown with a tall lace head. smells peaty, like a nice scotch, a bit smokey, and full of deep roasted chocolatey malts. flavor is complex as the peat notes really come through. gentle coffee bitterness creeps in at the end to round everything off. feel is nice, full bodied and properly carbonated. this is easily my favorite mad river brew ive had, and one of the better porters ive enjoyed this winter. really nice beer

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Photo of tdm168
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark brown with a mountain of thick, dense, foamy, brown head that has great retention. The nose offers notes of soft, roasted malts and faint coffee. There is also a faint musty smell that is natural to English beers. The taste is rich and malty with notes of dark, roasted malt and faint coffee. There are some very faint hops in the finish that add balance and a mild bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth with the perfect amount of carbonation.

This is a very enjoyable, smooth, easy drinking porter. I would have this again.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- This be a pretty Porter. Thin frothy khaki head. Head, while diminutive in stature, retains well and leaves curtains of lace. When held up to the light I can see through it but only very slightly, not because its opaque, just because its quite dark.

S-Nose is sturdy to say the least. Chocolate, coffee, smoke and even some nuttiness. Smoke is definitely the most prominent feature in the nose. Much of the traditional Porter aroma is there as well (coffee/chocolate).

T-Nose and taste are similar. Smoke rules but is not overbearing. More chocolate and coffee appear as they should. I normally am not very enamored by a smoked element in my beer, but here I find it to be quite pleasant. Molasses dances around after ever sip too.

M-Medium body. Carbonation is fairly prickly. A bit dry but has a nice smoothness that lingers after each sip.

O/D-Super-deal ($4.99 a six-pack) makes this a ridiculous deal. I enjoyed this more than their DIPA. Smoke is set to an elegant tune. A solid, sturdy, brawny porter.

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Photo of mactrail
3.23/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sweet and smokey. Dark brown in the pint glass. Very grainy with tastes of oatmeal and buckwheat. Smoke pretty well gets in the way but it's not a bad smoke. Campfire and charred wood rather than peat. Malt gives some rich, slightly sweet flavors. Light mouthfeel. Something of a dishwater aftertaste. Not particularly pleasant for drinkability.

On tap at The Linkery on 30th for San Diego Beer Week.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.59/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky dark brown with a 1 inch puffy tan head that settles to a thin film. Foamy chunks of lace form on the glass on the drink down. However, there is a sludge-like substance that sinks to the bottom of the glass after the pour. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and coffee. Taste is the same as the smell with a emphasis on roasty flavors - especially with the malt and coffee. A very mild roasty bitterness quickly fades after each sip. This beer has a high level of carbonation with a very crisp mouthfeel. A bit too much carbonation for the style in my opinion. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but nothing really stands out for me.

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Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a really dark brown color from a 12 oz bottle. Almost pitch black once it is in the glass, and a lot of visible sediment floating around the edges till it finally settles.
One finger tan head that dissipates very quickly.
Aroma is high on chocolate, malt (more like chocolate malt balls) with hints of roasted coffee.
Taste upfront is slightly sweet, with the sweetness slowly consumed by a hint of bitterness in the finish. Surprisingly inspite of the bitterness, the finish is a nice lingering sweetness.
This is a very delicious porter. Medium bodied and easy to drink.
Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Murrhey
4.11/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle poured into a Pilsner glass

A: Very thin, tan watery head. Half a finger width and zero retention rate. Deep chocolate dark, moderate lacing. Weird little floating bits?

S: Roasted malt, coffee overtones. Some sweetness in there as well.

T: Coffee and chocolate flavoring. Smooth and tasty. Would go great with chocolate.

M: Wonderful, smooth all the way.

O: Nice Porter, despite the poor head and retention. Mouthfeel and taste are top notch.

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Photo of BerkeleyBeerMan
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark ruddy reddish brown. with a creamy finger thin cream head. Deep full appearance with a total opacity. I have never seen a beer with so mysterious an appearance. I really love the interlaced red and brown.

Smell is of dark fruits, roasted caramel smoke and tobacco. Mildly yeasty and some esters.

Taste is malty and sour. Big roasted flavors and a light hop backing. Coffee and milk chocolate. Dark fruits, cherry and dates.

Mouthfeel is chewy and heavy. Finishes slightly dry and sour This is a beer to drink at a casual pace.

I enjoyed this beer and would drink it again. A wonderful porter. Enjoy with food or on its own.

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Photo of barleyroad
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

DARK in appearance, nice brown, nice carmel foam. Smell is complex, smoke, coffee and malty. Mouthfeel is nice in and out with some malty aftertaste, not bad. Taste has a well balance of flavors. This is a good scotchish beer you can almost taste a hint of peat. This is going in my bq sause. Overall this has its place in the fridge.

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Photo of bubseymour
4.31/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I had a Steelhead Porter (not Scotch Porter) at 6.5 ABV but I didn't see the Porter on this board, so I went with the closest option for review purposes.

Appearance - this was a perfect pour with black color, 3 finger compact bubbled head looking superb in the pint glass

Smell - really nice complex scents with a smokey, chocolatey hoppy presence.

Taste - A wonderful flavorful porter, with really complext and balanced flavors. Nice chocolaty and malty flavors balaced with a slight smokey and slightly hop crispness.

Mouthfeel - Decent but slighty watery for the higher ABV

Overall - this is a superb porter that I really enjoyed and will seek out to buy again. Easy to drink yet quite flavorful...a great combo.

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Photo of CaptJackHarkness
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This has a realy complex mix of tastes, does not have the color or flavour of English Porter. It has an almost burnt but not unpleasant taste. Peatmoss fired maybe?? Nice biteiness in the aftertaste. I would not recommend to someone who never tried Porter before, it would not give a true impression of the style. I would, however drink this again.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.68/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

brown with a creamy tan head. Nice lacing on top as well. Slow settle revealed some nice side glass lacing and a small pillow of tan on top.

The aroma was steep with roasted malts. Rich notes of caramel and molasses. Light grain touches and a bit of a herbal note persisted. Nice robust flavor, rich and sweet with a dry finish. Lots of roasted malts and a classic coffee and chocolate profile. Smooth, mellow and quite nice actually with an easy sessionability

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Photo of ckollias
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this 12oz bottle out of a large snifter glass.

A: Dark black with mild amber highlights and a thick dark brown 2-finger head after a violent pour that sticks around for awhile and dissipates and leaves a wispy lace. Leaves a gorgeous trail all the way down the glass.

S: Smokey roasted malts fill the nostrils with my first whiff. Nice chocolate and hoppy background aroma.

T: Similar to the smell the smokey roasted malts dominate this porter. Great chocolate and coffee overtones, with a solid malt background. Smooth and a little bitter.

M: Medium body and carbonation

O: Awesome porter! Scotch porter? - This is a smoked porter if I ever had one. No matter what you call it I like it! This was my first beer from mad river brewing co – but I will trying more!

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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.

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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.

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Photo of metter98
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high tan head that quickly died down but never completely faded away.
S: There are moderate aromas of chocolate malts, molasses, roasted malts and smoke in the nose.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and has some initial sweetness—much like you would expect from a Scotch ale—while flavors of roasted malts and notes of coffee stand out in the finish.
M: It feels medium-bodied yet a bit thin on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I would definitely consider trying this beer again because it’s a unique blend between the two styles and has complexities in the smell and taste.

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Photo of rawfish
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours black with some brown highlights when held to the light. Capped with a dense three finger high mocha head that subsides slowly leaving small trails of lace.

Smells awfully sweet on the forefront, caramelized and crystal malt blended with coffee. Peat and a smokiness become evident on the back end, pleasant aroma.

Smoky flavor sums it up nicely, very powerful mix of peat and campfire ash, doesn't come off as bright but rather a dank earthy smoke flavor. Sweetness is less than on the nose but that suits me just fine, more deep roasted malts and burnt and toasted grains. Coffee and chocolate flavors aren't really felt here replaced with more of a soft molasses and nutty flavor. Aftertaste is a bit harsh, as some nice medicinal and herbal hop flavors begin to settle in with the drying bitterness there is another rush of smoke and acidity accompanying it which leads to an off flavored mess in the finish.

Rather creamy mouthfeel across the palate, average porter body with stinging carbonation. After the drink there is acidity along with a slick sweetness.

I guess this should be characterized more as a smoked porter than a scotch porter, there is the peat notes which come with the style but the smokiness and acidity in the aftertaste here just take over the whole brew and it's all I can remember. Pleasant in the beginning but I'd take this pill with some food next time.

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Photo of jsh420
2.3/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

pours dark brown with tons of floaties - 1 finger head that left some spotted lacing

smells like a brown - roasted and caramel malts

taste - wow there is an off flavor in this - and it is very medicinal which i think might be the hops???

mouthfeel is thin and i mean watery thin plus the kicker its over carbonated

overall - a complete mess but glad i only grabbed a single

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown to black in color with a light tan head. In the aroma, mellow bourbon, scotch, oak, and a roasty coffee. In the taste, bourbon flavors stand out, with some oak notes, and a sweet coffee roasted malt. A boozy bite and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry bourbon and coffee like aftertaste. Nice bourbon/scotch presence, but a bit thin for what it is, although, quite enjoyable.

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Photo of Rayek
3.57/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a nonic.

A: The deep chestnut brown color is a few shades lighter than black and has light carbonation. A dense cream head slowly falls to a quilt of foam. Leaves occasional rings of lace.

S: A light smokiness comes through first. A slightly acidic coffee and charcoal aroma rounds things out.

T: Starts out with a molasses sweetness that is quickly joined by a nice smokiness that doesn't overpower. Bitterness is burnt and has a light acidity to it.

M: The medium body is dry and slightly chalky. The carbonation feels way too high, as it gets in the way of the flavors.

D: Seems a bit like a light a smoky stout. The overly rambunctious carbonation got in the way of me giving this a better score.

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Photo of mvanaskie13
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass; dark brown, opaque with a creamy tan head that dissipates but clings the glass.

Smell is feint, but roasted malt, slight peat smoke, chocalate and toffee notes as well.

Taste is caramel sweet, but not overdone, followed by chocalate and roast and hint of peat smoke flavor, just the right amount.

Mouthfeel is just right on this beer, the sweetness is not overdone and the smokiness is not overpowering.

Very drinkable for the flavors involved, and tasty too.

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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!

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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.

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Photo of JeffBob
4.01/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Look is a nice dark brown with a hint of red, head is almost none at all but a tanish color.

Smell is almost not at all but slight chocolate coffee

taste is nice! starts out kind of a chocolate coffee turning into a smokey molasses

feel is smooth creamy and a little thick

drinkability good goes down warm, seems like many of these beers would fill you up.

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Photo of bnes09
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark reddish brown ale. Light tan head leaves a small film with some lacing.

Aroma of roasted nuts, wheat toast, chocolate and dark fruits.

Roasted flavors: chocolate and almond. Herbal hop. Dark fruits: raisins and prunes. Molasses sweetness. Well balanced, smooth and roasted overall character.

Medium bodied, smooth texture and well carbonated.

An easy drinking, tasty and well crafted porter beer.

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