Well, the results of my experiment with steel wool pads are in: DO NOT USE THEM!
I am an idiot, that is for sure. I had a feeling while I was using them that it may not be a good idea, but I stuck with it and the results are conclusive. I now have a beer that tastes like metal. Not palatable at all.
Apparently, steel wool is just nasty. It has all sorts of machined oil on it and it is not treated at all, like stainless steel is. Do not confuse plain ole steel wool with anything stainless. There are vast differences. Someone on the forums also mentioned that the process of transferring the beer from the fermenter to the keg through the steel wool would cause oxidation which is also not good. Good to know.
So, this will be my first batch to dump. I knew one was gonna be bad for some reason, I'm glad it turned out to be because of my stupidity, and not a bacteria or something (which, I guess would be my fault also...)
I was finally in a position to roll from one batch right into the other, with another batch in the works, but that is out of the question now. I got another 4 weeks until the Porter is ready, so I'll have to figure something out in the meantime...
Lesson learned. It's evolution baby!