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Steelhead Scotch Porter | Mad River Brewing Company

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very good
229 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

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Reviews: 229 | Ratings: 329
Photo of nickfl
3.86/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with one finger of tan head on top of an opaque, black body. The foam settles quickly but leaves decent lace.

S - Mild aroma of caramel and toffee with little else. No roasted malt or hops.

T - Lots of carmel and toffee notes up front with bready malt. Some light, grassy hop flavor comes out in the middle, followed by chocolate malt and cola flavors in the finish. Lingering notes of toffee and smoke.

M - Medium body, moderately high carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - I was a bit disappointed in the aroma as there is really nothing going on there, but it redeemed itself in the flavor department. The malt is rich and heavy on medium-dark, toffee flavors which gives this porter a definite scotch ale twist. The flavor really builds towards the finish with lots of rich, bittersweet chocolate character coating the palate. A nice beer, I would drink this again.

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Photo of dolemite77
4.04/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours more or less still, with a thin dissapaiting head... read some reviews talking about a good head, so it might have been my glass... the color is a nice reddish/black. Aroma kicks in with heavy duty roasted malt... flavor is my favorite kind of malty... not just caramel, cloying sweetness, but roasted, peaty, and smoky... campfire would be a good comparison... moutfeel is a little thin, but the flavors round it out... that final salty note on the swallow gives it a very nice, almost imperial, type porter feel... good beer.

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

Enjoying this beer with some Sunday football and leftover ribs from Redbones. Quite the combo. At first pour this beer is very impressive - attractive dark brown hue with reddish highlights. Most impressive is the head retention - five or ten minutes after the pour I still have a perfect one finger's worth of creamy tan head resting peacefully on the beer. Aroma is full of malt, with some earth and a subtle peat smoke, contributing the "scotch" aspect of this porter. Nutty and spicy notes come through in the flavor supporting the big malty profile. Just a touch of herbal, spicy hops mixes well with the light smoke. Lots of subtle complexities here combining in a simple way to make a really flavorful yet easy drinking beer. Smooth an robust feel. Really a big fan of this one. Cheers!

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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.

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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.

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Photo of bump8628
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a chocolate brown color into a standard 16oz pint glass sporting 1 inch of tan head.

Aroma is lightly roasty with notes of cocoa and caramel malts. A noticeable element of smoke is also present.

Chocolate, caramel, and toasty flavors mingle with smoked malt and are balanced by a firm hop bitterness. A few spicy hop flavors flash up here and there but overall the flavor is dominated by rich malts. While the flavors present are all pleasant, they seem a bit too muddled.

Mouthfeel seems a little light for the style. I prefer a more robust body in my porter.

Overall, a nice porter and I particularly enjoyed the smoky twist on the style. Something I could drink several of but I would probably pass on this in favor of other porters.

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3.65/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've enjoyed other brews from Mad River, so I'm setting forth with fairly high expectations.

This pours a dark, coffee-colored brown--mostly opaque, but still with some efervecance around the rim. I also enjoy the sort of two-toned head. Seems to be a whipped mocha topping for a fancy Starbucks beverage, but with a sophisticated "burnt" look around the edges.

Smells heavily of coffee and caramel malts.

Taste is highly enjoyable. I was fortunate enough to enjoy this with a hearty stew--made from scratch by Mom. This porter complimented the Autumn night's dinner quite well.

Again, the initial feel is fairly viscous with heavy caramel malts--but eventually dissipates into a dry finish. Perhaps that of a scotch finish. Wonderful.

As heavy as this brew was on certain malts, everything seemed well in balance. Nothing too complex unfortunately, but easily drinkabble.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle purchased as part of a 6-pack from Yankee Spirits, Sturbridge, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/4" tan head over the slightly cloudy reddish brown brew. Head holds well, with average lacing. Aroma is peat, dark grains, touch of fruit. Taste mirrors the nose, without the fruit, but with a clean, lightly hoppy close. Mouthfeel is extra smooth, and drinkability is so easy. Nice brew.

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

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, near black body with a smallish, off-white head.

Smell: Aroma of dark, roasty malts with notes of sweetened coffee and chocolate and, of course, the peat-laden smoked malts. Hint of dark, ripe fruits as well.

Taste: Dark, roasted maltiness with some lesser toasted qualities and a crystal malt sweetness. Taste of morning coffee dosed with sugar and chocolate. Hint of dark fruitiness. Pleasant smoked maltiness with a distinct touch of peat. Mild hop character with the bulk of the relatively low bitterness coming through from the roasted barley. Roasty, sweetish finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Low, easy-going carbonation.

Drinkability: A tasty, quaffable brew that takes a different spin on the humble porter. Why not give it a try?

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Photo of sweetbrew82
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. into a pint glass/ no freshness date

P: This one is blacker than a lot of stouts I've come across, only showing a sliver of pecan brown light on the very edges of the glass. Huge, 3 fingered head of khaki foam is really thick, sturdy, moussy, and fluffy like a cumulous cloud. Showed good retention but didn't as much lace as expected. Still, this looks really good!

A: Quite powerful in the nose with big whiffs of roasted malts, citric hops, caramel, English toffee, wood, and a little smoke. I was expected to find some coffee in here somewhere, but never did find it.

T: Roasted malts hit first with big, bold flavors of cocoa, caramel, and that espresso that I knew would show its face sooner or later. Hops stay hidden behind the curtain of malts for the most part, but do manage to peak through with some citrusy notes. Nice woody undertones with some molasses, toffee, and a little hint of booze toward the back. Damn, this is big, bold, and full-flavored for sure. I'm impressed!

M: Medium-full bodied but feels like the flavors should have warranted a little more "meat" on this one's bones. It is smooth, but it's slightly oily and not as creamy as I would have liked. Maybe a little more chewiness would have helped the flavors shine even brighter on the taste buds than they already do. Nitpicky? Maybe.

Notes: This is a really good porter! Nice complexity with bold flavors that you don't seem to find in a lot of porters (at least not the ones I've tried). As mentioned, the body could use a little more to it, but this is a rock-solid offering that I will have to try again. Nicely done!

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Photo of oriolesfan4
4.27/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice dark mahogany color, nice big head that dissipates and a small amount of lacing to this one. Nice roasted malt aroma to this beer.. I love that smell. Taste is nice and creamy with a nice mouthfeel, nice smokey flavor overall to the beer. Seems very well balanced with finishes nice and smooth.. nothing really off here. I actually thought it could have used a tad more flavor or the smokiness.. I know it might be too much for some people but I just think it adds a cool flavor profile to a beer.. anywho, solid beer.. wish they distributed to CT tho!

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Photo of mountdew1
3.15/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a dark brown, and was slightly cloudy, with a fair amount of bubbles rising from the bottom. Head was practically non existent, but left a small patch on the top, along with a thin ring around the glass. Smell was brown sugar, wheat bread, with a small hint of fruity sweetness. Taste was earthy, slightly burnt, with spiciness that reminded me of Asian foods. Felt tingly in the mouth, due to the carbonation that kept rising, almost like a soda. Also was a bit thin. Hard to drink due to the carbonation.

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

12 oz bottle received as part of a cellar purchase from another local BA who is moving. Poured into a standard pint glass.

A: Pours a very dark brown with red highlights at the edges. There is a small amount of head that disappears pretty quickly. There is really no lacing since there isn't really any head.

S: Roasted malt aromas with a hint of smokiness and a dash of chocolate.

T: The taste follows the aroma. The smoke is not at prevalent in the taste as it is in the aroma. It really seems more like a scotch ale that it does a porter.

M: Medium thickness body, but it could stand to be a bit more smooth.

D: A very easy drinking brew.

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Photo of NorCalYeti
3.6/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

taste- chocolate, malt, smokey

color- deep red like a stout

smell- medium smoke and malt

body- mellow, mild bitterness

overall impression- nice solid porter

notes and comments- dry finish, complex malt balanced with mild hop flavors...scottish peated and german rausch malts are used in the making of the beer

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Photo of morebeergood
3.67/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had a few with my brother this past weekend. Poured into a pint glass. Leather brown color. Not much head. I noticed a lot of sediment in this beer, which I thought was weird for a porter. Did not look like an especially good beer. Smell was like powdery chocolate. Taste was an odd combination of slight smokiness and sweet chocolate. Different and interesting. Somewhat thin body for a porter, which I do not prefer. The "unique" flavor and the someone watery body makes this a barely above average beer in my book. I've had better from Mad River.

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Photo of PatrickJR
4.49/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into nonic pint glass.

A - Dark brown, but mostly clear. Garnet highlights on the edges. 2-3 fingers of light brown head rise. Short to moderate retention with minimal lacing.

S - Great stuff. Huge milk chocolate backed by a modest sour fruit smell; sour cherries and overripe dark fruits come to mind. A smidge of brown sugar is hiding and a good deal of wood/smoke is present on the back end. Pretty straightforward, but robust and impressive.

T - This stuff is as close to chocolate milk as a beer can come. Is there lactose in here...? Milk chocolate abounds for most of the taste but slight sourish dark fruits kick in mid palate. While great, I do wish there was more of a sourish presence; this would get a 5 were this aspect more prominent. Late palate yeilds a bit of roasty character with a mild bitterness. Aftertaste brings out some surprisingly noticable wood characteristics.

M - Absolutely perfect for the style. This is what others should aspire to; this is the aspect that takes porters and stouts from "good" to "awesome." Smooth as silk, but with a body big enough to keep it sticking to the palate. On the light side of full bodied with a very low carbonation.

D - I picked this beer out of the fridge as sweetish nightcap expecting something medicore, but boy was I wrong! An exceptional porter. Goes down the gullet like no other, and a marvelous accent on the sweeter end of the spectrum with a great accent of smoke and wood character. A sixer or three is definitely in the cards.

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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.

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Photo of riversider76
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours brown with a creamy tan head that gives way to a nice laceing. Aroma is of carmel malts,and maybe some roasted coffee. Body is lighter than I expected with some carbonation. Taste is a great mix of carmel,brown sugar,coffe and hints of butterscotch.Excellent!

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Photo of biggred1
4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really dark brown with a whipped, creamy sand colored head that leaves some fine lacing behind. Smell is chocolate, coffee and caramel and a faint whiff of peaty smokiness. Tastes of rich, smoky cocoa and caramel and molasses with floral hops struggling to get through. Medium sticky mouthfeel with a long smoky finish. Good stuff.

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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.

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Photo of Genghis22
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours a nice rich brown color, almost looks like a pint of microbrewed rootbeer. Small head dissapates quickly with little lacing.

S - Malts! Big roasty malt smell, but not heavy. Small hints of fig and tobacco.

T - All malt. Good flavor, with a slight alcohol finish. Doesn't taste like most american porters I've had. Not as thick, or as sweet.

M - Very thin. Medium carbonation.

D - Good beer to pick up when you want something a little different. Good flavor, but not a heavy beer, goes down easy and does the trick.

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

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark reddish brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramel, coffee, vanilla, dark fruit, roasted malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste is sweet but not as malty as most other porters, with flavors of coffee, vanilla, dark fruit and caramel. There's a touch of smokiness and mild but complementary hops presence that brings some balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style with a little bit of a twist to it. This is a good beer to drink for a while if you're looking for a slightly different porter.

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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.

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Photo of jonziefle
3.11/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Poured a very dark brown with a one finger khaki head. Decent head that reduces to a thinny "spotted" layer. Some lacing.

Smell: Smooth light chocolate malts, and some nuttiness possibly. Hops hidden deep down.

Taste: Dark and malty. Nutty. Some chocolate, but now much. Kind of an indescript taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and chewy.

Drinkability: Very average porter. Smooth enough, but nothing special.

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Photo of MisterClean
4.07/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Total Wine.

A - Pours brown with a mocha three-fingered head, which dissipates moderately and leaves nice lacing.

S - Lt coffee, chocolate, smoke, and slight grapefruit. Pretty darn good. Not necessarily a scotch porter either, think I brewed something very similar.

T - Light coffee, chocolate, smoke, and white pepper. Yeast might have been scottish giving it a pepper ester.

M - Full bodied, well-balanced, with malt domination lending a sweet and smooth mouthfeel.

D - Very easy to drink for a 6 percenter.

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Steelhead Scotch Porter from Mad River Brewing Company
3.92 out of 5 based on 329 ratings.
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