Payback Porter | Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

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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

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Reviews: 91 | Ratings: 282
Photo of seedyone
2.5/5  rDev -36.2%

12/19/13 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. Not very impressed. More aroma than flavor. Not much body but experience dictates that can be the nature of porters. With all the choices in front of me this doesn't make the cut.

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Photo of Philousa
2.78/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Sits black with half a finger tan head in the glass. Chocolate, sweet caramel, a little hop aroma. Sweet chocolate flavor fades to bitter chocolate, burnt grain, some tart, bitter flavors on the back end. Mouthfeel is middling, but it felt a bit under carbonated.

This is a big meh for me. I'm not much for the uber malty beers in the first place, but this really just didn't stand out to me. Some hop characteristics or maybe a yeast that produces better carbonation would really help this beer. Not sure if I'd get this one again.

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Photo of DoubleJ
2.81/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

On-tap at Verdugo Bar in LA, on to the beer:

Opaque color with hues of dark brown. Good lacing action on the glass. Light aroma, some coffee and a bit of astringent roasted malt. Taste...roasted fruit? Quite a bit of booze and fruity esters in the flavor, too little chocolate and smoke. Fruity towards the end with a bit of chalk in the finish.

Not very robust at all, and not very enjoyable either. Next...

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Photo of kbuff13
2.96/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured out of a 22 oz. bomber. Poured a very dark brown almost black. Very little head that quickly faded and not much lacing. Very heavily roasted flavor. A little bit too bitter for my taste. Not a bad beer overall but I don't this I would go out of my way to buy it again.

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Photo of jimilayne
3.04/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle into a chalice glass.

Beautiful chocolate appearance with a big thick cola head.

Major popcorn butter in the nose with some caramel mixed in. Very unique.

Tastes of melted butter with hints of coffee. Very rich. The buttery taste starts to wear on you about halfway through.

Nice touch of carbonation gives a very subtle bite but its very oily.

Interesting. Never really had anything like this. While reviewing this beer I've just been informed that the popcorn butter quality is considered a flaw. I love Speakeasy beers but won't go back to this one.

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Photo of BeerSox
3.18/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On-tap into pint glass @ Birreria Paradiso Georgetown, DC

Pitch black with a one finger light brown head that leaves behind solid lacing. The aroma is very roasty with a little bit of a slight sour aroma. The flavor has the typical robust porter flavors: coffee, cocoa, burnt malts, but this one added a little extra in the way of tart dark fruit. This comes with an acerbic feel.

I had no problem finishing this one but then again it has a bit of a tartness that I don't think is supposed to be there.

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Photo of slammo
3.38/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Recently had the Betrayal Imperial Red which I liked vey much but cannot say the same here. It was above average but nothing special when so many other Potters I have tried are better. The appearance was dark and chocolate but still not totally inviting. The head was gone before you can say bada bada bing bang. Tasting it was better and had some depth to offer. Finish is great with smoky malt notes.

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Photo of Offa
3.38/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This strong porter is pretty good, but not very, being a bit one-dimensional and alcoholic, with too little character or complexity for the strength.

Essentially black, it has a very big dark tan head slowly shrinking to a foamy ring with thin wisps. It has some nice lace.

Aroma is rich roasted barley and dark toast, some caramelised prunes,, leaves, dried figs, hints of leather and dark chocolate, overall very nice.

The taste, feel, and drinkability are far less impressive than appearance or smell. It starts with some charcoal, singed leaves, faint hints of prune and fig, with some dark toast and citrus bitterness. However, alcohol soon becomes quite evidence, if not overly so or harsh, bitterness lingers a bit too much, and initial promise of complexity soon fizzles into a fiarly one-dimensional, alcoholic-raisiny roastiness that is a tad too bitter for what else it has. Feel is fairly good, solid, but not great.

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Photo of TruePerception
3.42/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Speakeasy's Payback Porter. 7.5% ABV.

A: A little over a finger of chocolate milk colored head. Black in the glass; very dark brown in the dimple. Thin lacing. Decent sheeting.

S: Roasted coffee, with a touch of dark cocoa. Slight char note.

T/MF: Taste is more of the same, with the coffee coming forward even more. Slightly more char in the mouth.

It's alright. Nothing special.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.52/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on-tap in a pint glass at Special Brews in Lynnwood, WA.

Appearance: nearly black hue with a thick head of frothy tan foam. Head dissipated slowly leaving a nice lace on the glass; quite attractive.

Smell: very light malty aroma with a little caramel character. Almost too light, really.

Taste: kind of on the rough side; coffee and roasted malts along with some vegetal hops and a fair amount of astringency. Not bad, but a little rough.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a nice, well-integrated carbonation. Quite creamy, which is an interesting juxtaposition to the rough-and-ready flavor. I like it.

Overall: being on the rough side affects drinkability. This isn't a bad beer, but it just isn't my speed.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22-oz. bomber into a pint glass. Just about a finger of head. Color was black with hints of brown. Minimal lacing on the top. Some sporadic film on the sides of the glass.

Smelled of a mixture of smoky fire, coffee and dark chocolate. Nothing too special, nothing too surprising.

Initial taste was smoky fire and charcoal. That outweighed the coffee and dark chocolate by a long way. Usually not a fan of smoky charcoal type beers, but this wasn’t too bad. Really nice finish.

Full body. Creamy texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth finish.

Nothing too great about this beer, but it was decent for the smoky style. I’d probably try it again.

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Photo of seand
3.56/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a very dark brown, near black, with a huge foamy tan head. A fair amount retains fairly well and leave lots of lacing.

S: Roasted malt with coffee and brown sugar notes, as well as a touch of booze.

T: Malty but not all that sweet; it has a bit of a black liquorice flavor going on. Somewhat bitter towards the end, finishes quite dry.

M: Light to medium body, much lighter than I expected. Fairly low carbonation, leading to an overall effect that's a little watery.

D: The light body and lack of intense sweetness or bitterness tend towards drinkable, but the flavor and ABV hold it back from being sessionable.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into pint glass. Extra from dgb3, thanks!

This beer poured a light black to very dark brown with visible edging. Very nice fluffy medium khaki head with minimal lacing. It smelled a roasty with some smoke and burnt malt. The taste was roasted coffee and chocolate, some of the smoke and fairly bitter. The hops are most noticeable on the back end. The mouthfeel was medium and kinda thin. This porter is decent, not the best but a good offering and easy to drink.

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Photo of krisandajt
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Working on a hat trick worth of tasty beers courtesy of cloudskipper. Many thanks Chris!

Appearance: A rough pour into my Sam Adams glass shows the beer to be very deep dark brown in color. There's a plentiful inch + worth of coffee colored head sitting on top of this fine brew. Retention is impressive, and the lacing ain't too shabby either.

Smell: An interesting smell dominated by an overly roasted, almost burnt coffee smell blended in with bitter chocolate. I have to focus on the coffee, it really reminds me of a pot of really good coffee that has sat in the pot a bit too long. Not really offensive, and certainly not bad, but not as refreshing as I would have liked.

Taste: Taste drifts away a bit from the coffee and leans a bit more towards the bitter chocolate. The coffee is still present, but not as strong as the smell would indicate. Not a bad tasting brew.

Mouthfeel: A little thin for my tastes, but pretty typical for the style. Carbonation is good, not intense enough to take away from the smooth texture. Body is good, light to medium.

Drinkability: This is a simple, straightforward, easy drinking porter. Not complex enough to require indepth taste analysis, but not so simple that you forget what you're drinking. A quality beer that I wouldn't turn down if offered.

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Photo of tpd975
3.66/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours dark brownish black with a khaki colored head. Moderate retention and some nice lace.

S: Aroma of roasted malt, chocolate, and a mineral like sharp almost urine type aroma.

T: Milky chocolate, bold roast, fresh coffee, tinges of sweet molasses. Tastes a hell of a lot better than it smells.

M: Medium in body, smooth.

D: Pretty good flavors in this one.

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

Chilled bottle into a glass.

A: Pours a pitch black body with an initially fluffy mocha head. Retention is pretty good, and after a minute or so it retreats into a scattered film on top of the brew. Some lacing.

S: Roasted malt / coffee, toast, chocolate. Interesting dark fruit nuances to it; not too strong, but enough to distinguish the bouquet.

T: Same as the nose suggests: strong roasted malts / coffee and chocolate up front. The mid-taste has a nice dark fruit character, seemingly plum-ish, but there is more that I can't quite place. It's very subtle and nicely decorating. Toast in the exhalation.

M: Medium-bodied. While not dry, it's definitely less malty than a stout. Goes down pretty nicely.

D: A pretty solid intepretation of the style. I wasn't expecting a whole lot, but Speakeasy managed to impress on this one.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Deep and robust dark brown color, 1/2" lesser brown head. Aroma went with chocolate, coffee, hop bitterness, roast, i was impressed.

Taste was a very hoppy porter. This went in the Sierra Nevada and Deschutes hoppy porter tradition. The malt was far from insubstantial. The bomber format makes it unnecessarily more expensive than had they put it in 4 or 6 packs, but I dunno, I guess if you can get that $ why not from their perspective. Respectable beer for sure.

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

Black beauty in a glass. Nice brown head that's holding up nicely and condensing in to a froth. Roasty malt on the nose, hint of something sweet. Nice. I loves me a good porter and this one passes my test. nice subtle carbonation, drinkable without being too watery. Wouldn't want more than two or three in a sitting, but I'd gladly come back to it again.

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Photo of 100floods
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

nice dark hue with a tan/mocha head. Rich chocolate aromas blended in with some darker roasted notes. Thin-Medium body. Notable carbonation. The roasted flavors come through in tasting it, some sweet after flavors. Dark chocolate flavors linger at the back of my tung The body is where it falls short for me. There's nothing compensating. There's nothing really wrong with this beer, just nothing outstanding. This is, however, a good porter to have around that won't make a dent in your wallet. I think I still prefer the Hunters Point Porter which is very similar to this (why they didn't just bottle that, I don't know), but HTP has some more body to it. I'll still go out and buy this beer, it's good and available which I am thankful for.

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

(From notes)

A - Deep dark brownish black color; lightly tan head

S - Woody and lightly chocolatey; some dark fruits

T - Rich dark roasted maltiness in the flavor that didn't show up in the aroma; nice chocolate hints; richly roasty finish

M - Thicker to medium MF; a little viscous; soft carbonation

D - Nice sipper; but not all that drinkable; a bit heavy in some ways; but enjoyable enough

Overall, spot on for the style and tasty.

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Photo of nick_perry
3.79/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Almost a reddish hue to the color, especially in the head. Surprisingly hoppy for a porter, which affords a nice balance with the malts and an overall unexpected complexity. Thick & creamy mouthfeel.

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

Tap @ Hamilton's. Black pour with a squatty tan head. Old coffee and cream with cocoa powder in the nose. Bitter baker's chocolate up front that melds into a coffee-nuts-malt carpet on your tongue. A bit grainy and metallic at times Some nuts and smoke/roast comes through, but inconsistently. I still liked it despite its warts.

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

Had this on tap at Standings in August exactly one beer before I had my first ever Bourbon County Brand Stout (also on-tap). Needless to say, this wasn't my most memorable beer of the evening. However, I do remember a drunken train ride home.

This struck me at first as average for a well-done porter. That is to say, if you're used to drinking American craft, this isn't going to stand out. If you're used to drinking Bud, it'll blow your mind.

In appearance it's dark brown, with a tan head. Relatively bubbly. It smells of burnt malts, chocolate, coffee. Sweet. The taste follows the nose, and manages to keep some hops involved in the sweetness. Too bad the mouthfeel isn't as big as you'd hope with the malts and carbonation that's present. Drinkable, but maybe not my first choice porter.

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

Brought back from my recent trip to SF. Poured into a pint glass.

4.0 A: Black color. Two fingers of pillowy light brown head with average retention and a good bit of lacing.

3.5 S: Roasty with moderate coffee and chocolate component. Biscuity overall with light caramel sweetness. Smells pretty good other than a faint "industrial" aroma, that may or may not stem from the hops, which are mainly earthy and barely citrusy.

4.0 T: The taste is like the nose, but with different proportions. Equally roasty and sweet. Roasted coffee flavors offset by sweet dark caramel. Mild bitterness with earthy hop flavor. Again there's the industrial component. Not sure what it actually is. No hints of booze at all.

3.5 M: Lighter medium to medium body. Carbonation is a bit more aggressive than I'd like. Reasonably creamy and smooth overall.

4.0 D: A couple categories were borderline next step up. If not for strange "industrial vibe" this brew gives off, it would be a very tasty one. Still, not a bad beer and I would drink it again.

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

22 oz bomber pours a near-opaque dark brown with decent head and lacing. Aroma is cocoa and smokey malt. Taste is coffee, dark chocolate and sweet molasses. Bit of a harsh alcohol burn on the finish. Overall I wouldn't qualify this beer as world class - but certainly something I would have again.

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Payback Porter from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
3.92 out of 5 based on 282 ratings.
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