Payback Porter | Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

very good
90 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Payback PorterPayback Porter

Brewed by:
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
California, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
American hops provide a smooth distraction for Payback Porter’s robust strength, which is concealed within the shadows of dark imported malts. Brewed with English chocolate malts and rolled oats, this Robust Porter pours a deep chocolate brown and is rich in roasted malt aromas and coffee flavors. With notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, and sweet, toasted maltiness, Payback finishes with a creamy mouthfeel.

Added by Murchmac on 12-21-2009

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 90 | Ratings: 281
Photo of flydudehsv
5/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz. bomber from bevmo. Pours a dark brown color with a good inch of thick cappuccino like head. Pleasant aroma of roast malt, coffee and cocoa powder. The taste kicks off with a strong roasted malt flavor backed by citrusy hops and bittersweet chocolate. Also some light roast coffee and orange peel in the mix. There’s a surprisingly strong citrus presence that nearly overpowers the dark, roasty flavors. The alcohol is also much more subtle than I was expecting. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill Porter.

 514 characters

Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
4.65/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark as pitch with a fat two finger head. The head recedes quickly and leaves a small amount of lacing. Smells of dried plums, coffee and a bit of chocolate. The taste is fantastic. Much like it smells but not too fruity. Bitter and sweet with a very earthy finish. Mild carbonation makes this go down super smooth. I love this porter. It doesn't taste quite as good in the bottle but it is still top notch beery deliciousness.

 427 characters

Photo of stoutfiend27
4.65/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

bomber sent my way again by genghis22..cant thank you enough james...poured into a tulip and half finger head....sticks around for a while...lacing is there..

s-big rich coffee and chocolate malts..lots of roast...a hint of sweetness steps in before the bitter coffee notes carry this one off

t-starts off with a ton of coffee and chocolate..the sweetness steps in ....the hops are there to keep this one in check only...finishes on a bitter dry coffee note

m-thick and chewy...up there with edmund...creamy smooth as well...coats the mouth well and leaves a tad bitterness behind..

d-man i wish i could get this all the time...i would....goes down way to smooth especially on a chilly evening in NC...

overall a sold porter def in my top 5....James you are killing me with these boxes...

 808 characters

Photo of bonbright7
4.55/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I split this porter with a friend after closing at Bellport Beer and I was easily enamored by the seductively dark ale in my glass. The Payback looked good in its pure darkness with a brown oatmeal head that never went away, it only sank lower in the glass. The aroma exhibited an elaborate mix of roasted malts, coffee and chocolate, which invited the first taste.

Wowed by the medium to heavy taste that reminded me of a milkshake, I bought another bottle without finishing the glass just because the first taste told me this was so good. The mouth feel and the ease of drinking more were merely after thoughts, like frosting on the cake.

 642 characters

Photo of djeucalyptus
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a near opaque rich dark brown with glimpses of apricot and ruby at the edges. A warm mocha colored creamy head of a few fingers stays for a good while and leaves behind pretty impeccable lacing.

aroma is roasty, malty, with hints of peat, a touch of wood smoke, and almost a hint of lactose. a touch of vanilla. Clean, smooth, and delicious aroma.

hints of smoke and peat accentuate a deliciously roasted malt backbone with just enough hops to balance everything nicely. Definitely more on the roasty, malty side of things than a hop bomb, which I'm all for. Hints of vanilla and a touch of lactose sugar sweeten to keep it from being overly bitter roast.

Mouth is a touch thin given the abv, but it works nicely with the flavors. Maybe i'm just in the mood for it, but I'm kind of enjoying the smoothness, hint of slickness, and general light and bright mouth that accompanies the roasted flavors. It kind of works.

All in all, this is really hitting the spot. Maybe it's just my mood, but everything is jiving nicely with this one. Complex without being too intense, drinkable without being thin. Not quite sessionable, which certainly makes it enjoyable. All in all, a deliciously roasty example of a porter with an exquisite implementation of west-coast hops to make a beautifully drinkable brew. And I'm really wishing I had brought more than a bomber back in my suitcase. This will definitely be one of the first ones I'll search for when I'm back on the west coast.

 1,484 characters

Photo of hman43
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: It pours dark brown, almost black, with a moderately brown head that does have a bit of lacing.

Smell: It has aromas of chocolate, dark fruits, coffee, and citrus.

Taste: There are sweet flavors from the beginning from the chocolate. There are also flavors of coffee, citrus, plums, and toast.

Feel: It has a moderate feel that is smooth and creamy. It finishes moderately bitter.

Overall this is a chocolate ale from the initial flavors that turns into a complex blend of malts and hops that is easy to drink.

 525 characters

Photo of glid02
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had on-tap at Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown in Washington DC.

Pours black with a half-finger brown head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of dark chocolate and roasted malts with a good amount of underlying earthy aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Large dark chocolate flavors mix with roasted malts up front. Near the end of the sip a very faint hint of dark fruit flavors sneaks out before a mildly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is very good. It has a great thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I finished my glass quickly and could have another.

Overall I was impressed with this beer. Halfway between a porter and a stout I'd say this is worth a shot.

 725 characters

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

A: Near black--some translucent crimson near the edges--with a decent-sized, creamy, coffee colored head. Almost looked like a nitro pour.
S: Strong chocolate, roasted malts, and caramel.
T: Mainly chocolate--closer to milk chocolate rather than the bitterness of dark and finishes sweet. Has a bit of a smoky beginning.
M: Lots of carbonation but still smooth.
D: An overall good, solid porter. Not too complex or out of the ordinary but still interesting and a great session beer. Definitely masks the abv. Will definitely have to pick up a six-pack

 551 characters

Photo of Bunman3
4.24/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Damn. I'm not sure why I was hesitant about this brewery, but I'm glad I put in my big boy undies. This is a rich and balanced coffee Porter - dark roast, chocolate and overall tasty smoothness prevail. I really enjoy the coffee exclamation point as it disappears down your throat. Wonderful!

 292 characters

Photo of m1ked
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler from Bowery beer room WF

A- Pours a pitch black with a dark mahogany edge on the bottom when held up to the light. A very generous mocha like head that is full and fluffy with significant lacing.

S- No real surprises for a robust porter....bitter chocolate, fresh roasted coffee beans, vanilla hints, alcohol burn, bready, raisins.

T- Very similar to the nose. Nothing very strong or overpowering. Bittersweet chocolate, roasted coffee, some woody notes. Lingering bitter notes.

M- A touch heavier than the average porter, which I like, but not stout heavy. Creamy, light & crisp carbonation. Really nice.

D- I like this style, I think this is a very good rep of this style. I think people are often expecting a stout when they are ordering a porter. I would get this again, especially for the cold weather coming.

 827 characters

Photo of GRG1313
4.21/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a big, thick, firm and pillowy off-white/tan head. Nice looking.

Nose is sweet ripe pears and peaches with hints of apricots.

Mouthfeel is rich and "half and half" consistency that is pleasant and welcoming.

Flavors are big and bold roasted grain, rich black coffe with an underlying hit of sweetness and black chocolate.

Finish is bitter espresso/bitter black chocolate. Beer is complex and layered but with really nice integration. Very much like a big stout it belies the name Porter. A rich, roasted grain brew all around.

 551 characters

Photo of Beerenauslese
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark reddish brown with a decent head that lasts awhile, leaves substantial lacing.

Aromas of coffee, chocolate, hops.

Tastes of chocolate and coffee, with a tangy fruity acidity which I like. Sweet and sour elements. Finishes dry and hoppy.

Body is light for a porter, with good amount of carbonation, in the Deschutes Black Butte porter style, but with a little more substance in the mouthfeel.

This is quite drinkable. The tangy fruit, slightly sour taste keeps me wanting more.

 494 characters

Photo of willjschmidt
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Rosamunde in SF.

A: Pours a near jet black with tan head.

S: Roasted malt, bitter chocolate.

T: This is a very good porter. Excellent roasted flavors, malt and chocolate. Bitter baking chocolate along with a hint of espresso. All the flavors meld and mesh very well together.

M: Medium bodied.

D: A very good and very drinkable porter. I would have this again for sure.

 385 characters

Photo of corby112
4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark chestnut brown color that appears pitch black and opaque in the glass with a two finger tan head that slowly settles into a thick, lasting ring. Very good retention with rings and streaks of soapy lacing left behind.

Robust aroma with a nice balance of roasted dark malt and earthy, resinous hops. Slightly smokey with hints of burnt toast, oatmeal, espresso bean and dark chocolate countered by sweeter malt notes and dank grassy, piny hops. I'm really surprised how well balanced the nose is with a very inviting floral hop bouquet. I wish that more black IPAs/Cascadian dark ales smelled like this.

Full bodied with an earthy, resinous hop bite up front that provides some dry bitterness that lingers over the complex malt bill into a dry finish. Dry and sticky with grassy pine, dank buds and spruce tip but the hop flavors aren't overpowering with plenty of roasted and sweet dark malts coming through. Subtle smoke character with hints of burnt toast, oatmeal, bittersweet dark chocolate and gourmet coffee with caramel and dessert-like chocolate cake sweetness balancing things out in the finish. I usually do not like darker beers, especially stouts and porters, to have any hop character but I really enjoyed those flavors in this beer. Great balance with interesting flavors bouncing off of each other and the ABV is excellently masked making this beer very easy to drink. This beer was a pleasant surprise and ill definitely be buying more bottles, especially at $6 a bomber.

 1,503 characters

Photo of Celtics17
4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was a solid porter, and it played well with a lot of milk chocolate notes.

Appearance: Thick brown, almost opaque unless you look at how it pours. Head is light tan just about a one finger's length with a hard vigorous pour.

Smell: Chocolate scent, comes off slightly roasted with hints of espresso.

Taste: This porter has a lot of stout feels in the mouthfeel. Slight coffee, but not a lot coming through. This porter has slight Smokey flavoring, but this porter is full of chocolate notes.

 500 characters

Photo of elNopalero
4.17/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This pours a cola coffee with cocoa foam. There's a decent roasty note on it, followed by a hint of cocoa nibs. The flavor has a roasty bite. Lots of chocolate and coffee, with just the right amount of heft.

 207 characters

Photo of preago
4.16/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pretty robust, lots of dark roast coffee & chocolate, the chinook hops really stand out at the end. $5 bomber makes for a great value...doesn't stare back at you.

 163 characters

Photo of FLima
4.13/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Deepest black color blocking light with a thick caramel head with good retention and leaving laces.
Nice and bold aroma with notes of cocoa and coffee.
Flavor with notes of espresso coffee, dark fruits, licorice, oatmeal, mild pecan, roasted malts, chocolate cake, some smoke and a citrus hint. Dry and bitter aftertaste with a long lasting roasted note.
Full body with appropriate carbonation. Very smooth and creamy. Alcohol of 7.5% is simply not there.
Excellent Porter, though it felt to me like a bold stout. Very flavorful.

 529 characters

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

Pours to a thick tan head and opaque dark brown color. Aroma is roast coffee, dark chocolate and earthy hops. Flavor is a malty, roasty explosion backed up by malt sweetness and hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium and moderate CO2. Overall, I would say this stuff is a very well made and tasty American porter.

 310 characters

Photo of Ghenna
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Super hard pour yields a half inch cola colored head atop a typical dark porter.

Really nice coffee/roasted malt/dark chocolte smell on the nose. Not at all acrid.

Very mellow flavor- excellent for a porter. Roasty, but lacking any real harshness or tanins. Milk chocolate, dark malt, no hint of alcohol at all. Super nice.

Medium in terms of MF, which lends itself to drinkability. Really nice example of what a regular porter/stout should be.

 449 characters

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

Payback Porter might appear on first glance black, but it's actually more of deep brown - opaque, to be sure - but closer to a black tea than a black coffee, as the colourful mahogany trim around its edges would attest. A great big head blossomed from the pour but modestly trimmed itself back to the point where its only found along the perimeter.

The aroma has plenty of bittersweet character, its roasted malts practically doubling for milk chocolate and coffee, but it also has an underlying fruity component, a black cherry-like note, and a zesty, somewhat pine-y hoppiness that could easily be overlooked given all the roastiness. It certainly grabs the nostrils' attention quickly and keeps them entertained.

And the taste is no less captivating. It has the flavour and texture of chocolate milk, albeit with a coffee-ish roast character and some lingering hops. Almost like a palindrome, if we rearrange the flavour to read "milk chocolate" it'd be equally accurate. Indeed, this has a bit of lactose sweetness and plenty of gooey, sweetened chocolate. This thing drinks as though it were 5% (not 7.5%) and offers a flavour profile that is robust without being over the top.

The roast malts are dry and lightly sooty, where as the hops have a definitive West-coast zestiness. The finish is interesting as it combines dry, roasty, bitter and near-spicy elements. A very low carbonation allows for such a smooth, unwrinkled profile that showcases biscuity-like maltiness, green and very minty hops as well as a toffee-like lingering aftertaste.

As for as I'm concerned, Speakeasy's reputation has been dealt a shorthand; sure, they may not be the most creative or iconic brewery in and around the Bay Area - an area of rich history replete with quality microbreweries - but they do produce a solid lineup of core brands that offer quality, flavour and character on par with any other Californian outlet.

 1,917 characters

Photo of smcolw
4.11/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Deep brown color. Light only passes on the very edge of the glass. Extensive lace on the glass from the modest beige head.

Dark, Baker's chocolate is the initial aroma. I then pick up vanilla and light chalk.

Interesting beginning of milk chocolate which transforms into darker and more bitter chocolate as the taste continues. There's also a distinctly hop bitterness in the swallow. It hits all the right notes and yet remains wonderfully complex. The body and carbonation are quite normal for the style.

 510 characters

Photo of Murchmac
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pretty sure this is their Hunters Point Porter, but now available for distribution in 22oz.s and given a fancy label. Wish they kept the old name, but not old school gangster enough I guess. Fancy picture of a guy with a fedora and a lamppost on the bottle.

Had this beer for years on tap but now happy I can enjoy it in the comforts of my home. Pours a beautiful black with brown highlights, big tan head that leaves lacing around the pint glass.

Great choco-coffee sweet smell, roasted goodness with some bakers chocolate thrown in that teases the olfactory factories.

Good choco-coffee taste, smooth, roasted, taste follows the nose, some hops kick in at the end for a bitter citrusy aftertaste.

Always a good beer, glad its bottled now.

 753 characters

Photo of kojevergas
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into an An Brainblasta goblet in the Porterhouse Central, Dublin. Reviewed from notes. Note that I'm a sucker for porters and stouts.

A: Two finger tan head of lovely cream and thickness. Black colour.

Sm: Cream, caramel, coffee alcohol. Delightfully complex.

T: Cream open shifts to coffee and caramel build with roasted barley and malt body. Cream is present on the finish as well. Well built and balanced. Complex but bold and innovative. I quite like it.

Mf: Nicely coarse for the style, but not quite dry enough.

Dr: Hides its ABV well, but far from worth the price, at least in Dublin. Surely the price would be better stateside, and I hope to try more brews from this brewery in the future.

 728 characters

Photo of JackieKu
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22oz bottle.

A: Opaque deep brown. Poured 2 fingers high of head but sank soon.
S: Medium roasted coffee aroma. Slightly citrus. Slightly cocoa.
T: Intense roasted flavor. Coffee, nuts, and coconut. Dry. Moderate bitterness. Long and citrus finish.
M: Medium high body. Medium high carbonation.
O: Nice roasted characters, strong but not overdo.

 346 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Payback Porter from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
3.92 out of 5 based on 281 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
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.