Steelhead Extra Pale Ale - Mad River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Steelhead Extra Pale AleSteelhead Extra Pale Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

391 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 391
Reviews: 220
rAvg: 3.58
pDev: 12.85%
Wants: 8
Gots: 21 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Mad River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  5.60% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: OldFrothingSlosh on 03-24-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 391 | Reviews: 220
Reviews by cps98:
Photo of cps98
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A – Deep yellow in color, 1 finger white head. Decent lacing was present.

S – Light pine notes with some citrus mainly lemon thrown in.

T – Mild hoppy citrus characters.

M – A nice crisp light bodied beer.

O – Overall a decent pale ale with good hop notes and a nice clean finish.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.79/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Was suprised at how hazy this was,the color was a hazy orange,decent head that left some lace.Hop presence was the dominant in the aroma floral and a little grassy.Good balance of malt and hop here,real fruity and fresh tasting.A good well balanced pale ale.

Photo of Todd
3.8/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz short brown bottle. No freshness date.

Another unfiltered offering from Mad River ... pours a cloudy/hazy light amber beer topped with a pure white head, settling to a bubbly lace. A couple of chunks here and there ... but that's the yummy stuff.

A bit perfume-like in the nose, with notes of yeast, bread/raw dough, pepper and fermenting beer. Some esters, too.

A smooth, even bodied beer with a slight chewiness. Malt flavours are thin and fairly neutral overall, lending to more of the body of the brew, with a mild sweetness in the background. Hop flavour is uniquely sharp, becoming more pronounced by the beer's spritzy carbonation. Very dry and crisp; a bit reminiscent of an English Pale Ale in the feel on the palate. Nice citrus snap to the hops, and spicy with some hints of salt and white pepper. Malt sweetness pulls through right after the hops with suggestions of honey, providing a rather nice balance. Gets a bit fruity as the beer warms; peachy. Finish is a bit dough-ish/yeasty and dry.

A really nice Pale Ale. Sturdy, very drinkable and refreshing to quaff.

Photo of grynder33
3.77/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clean, fresh, grassy hop malt aroma, a little bready on the second whiff, gold with a little amber color, Initial sweet malt taste, with just a touch of hops aftertaste. Reminded me of a fine European pilsner. Nice beer, but the aroma promises more than the taste delivers

Photo of Jason
4.09/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz short brown twist bottle with no freshness date to be found. Thin layer of sediment on the bottom of the bottle.

Appearance: Faint chill haze upon the bright golden hue, minimal yet long lasting white lace rests on top.

Smell: Delicate flowery hop with undertones of citrus and a mild spiciness. Pale malt sweetness is quite evident also, smells a bit of freshly mashed malt … a little doughy.

Taste: Rich malt sweetness of milled malt and honey, hops take a bite into the palate with a spicy bitterness that keeps clean. Flowery hints and a mild fruitiness hit in the middle and the malt flavour seems cracker like. Suggestions of nutmeg and white pepper come from the spiciness of the hops. Leaning towards the dry side with a grain and spicy finish.

Notes: This is their flagship beer, pretty much your all American session brew as well as a fall back beer. I brew I would want in my fridge more often than others. 4.5% abv.

Photo of merlin48
3.53/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy, medium yellow, with an appearance of overcarbonation, judging by the tall, rocky, foam head that resulted from a slow and careful pour. The head drops quickly enough, however, and retains a small frothy film head all the way down.
Aroma is grass and hay, a little pine, and a sweet caramel malt backbone.
Mouthfeel has a peppery, hops bite, and seems overcarbonated.
Taste is mostly pine, lemonrind, and grassy hops. There is a rough, bitter character to the predominant hops, and this imparts a sharp biting character. The sweet malt emerges as the glass warms, and lends a touch of balancing smoothness. The finish is dry and bitter, and leaves a rough, astringent aftertaste.
Overall, a little too rough and out of balance. Still, this is worth a try if you enjoy a sharp, hoppy pale ale.

Photo of Billolick
4.1/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ouncer, lacking any freshness dating. Pours a cloudy yellowish very wheat like shade of amber, white head, tiny bubble film and respectable lacing. Nose is pleasingly floral. This is a tasty light, flavorfull and refreshing quaffer of an APA. Its nicely hopped, with citric notes and piney. Its light to medium bodied, and finishes with a smoothness that makes you want to suck down a few more. Alas, I only had one bottle, too bad.

Photo of Byeast
3.77/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: a mildly cloudy golden color with a half inch white head,the brew is filled with tons of tiny yeast particles.

Smell: creamy citrus hops, pepper, some maltiness, and a hint of honey.

Taste: The hop flavors come first with some tart citrus rind, floral notes, then a bit of spicey pepper character, the malt is balancing with some effort all the while with a tea-like flavor and plain bisquits, also a hint of alcohol.

Mouthfeel: soft , the malt makes for a fairly full feel.

Drinkability: A very drinkable APA with some of the expected flavors as well as a good dose of unique character, especially the hops. The malt balances the strong floral quality , but just barely imo, goes down easy none the less.

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
3.85/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12oz. squat brown bottle. No freshness dating.

Appearance: Poured a very cloudy, even opaque lazy golden color. Lots of "floaties" in the glass. Tightly-bunched, tiny bubbles form a fizzy head that quickly disappears.

Smell: Bouquet of freshly-cut flowers. Some citrus aromas hovering in the background.

Taste: Initially, a pleasant malty sweetness (even a little honey?), followed by a crisp and refreshing (though mild) hoppy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Fuller and creamier than some of the more aggressively-hopped pale ales. A moderate amount of carbonation, followed by the somewhat crisp and clean finish make for a really nice experience.

Drinkability: A great session beer. No lingering aftertastes.

Photo of magictrokini
3.22/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tap @ Pizza Port Solana Beach. Hazy gold with a big white head. Floral, grassy nose. Crisp, hop flavor with white pepper, citrus, peach, and a very small amount of malt. Refreshing. Yet, I was happy to have this on tap instead of being forced into buying a 6-pack. I wish it was easier to buy singles...

Photo of jcdiflorio
4.13/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice white thick creamy head,slightly cloudly nice golden color,good clean fresh aroma not real hoppy or malty.A very slight spicey smell too.Tastes fresh and clean not real hoppy or malty,but very refreshing a beer you could drink all night. A crowd pleaser.

Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: It pours a hazy gold (from chill haze) under a 2” off white foam cap that dissipates fairly quick.
S: Can smell the hops from a couple of feet away
T: big fruit and malt flavors, some melon but it finishes dry with some hints of lemon and orange in the finish.
F: Medium body, medium to medium low carbonation
O: Very tasty, well composed and well balanced.

Photo of Thrasher
3.8/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is another standard California pale ale, lighter in color than Sierra Nevada. The hops are at play here, as is to be expected. What I didn't expect was how floral and perfumey the hops were, just a little too much. It's interesting to see that for their pale ale, Mad River eschewed the typical West Coast grapefruit hop quality in favor of a more German character, but I think they overdid it.

Still, one becomes accustomed to the flavor relatively quickly, and Mad River Steelhead Extra Pale Ale settles comfortably into the role of a session beer. The malts are light and crackery, and the finish is dry but not astringent. The mouthfeel is ample and pleasing, while the drinkability is as good as could be desired. It's a fine beer, with a single glitch, and a confusing name. (Despite this being brewed by Mad River, the beer is called Steelhead, which is the name of another West Coast brewery.)

Finally, I have another big criticism to make and it has nothing to do with the contents of the bottle, but rather the bottle itself, or more specifically, the small label on the neck. Without exception, every bottle in my six pack has had a poorly attached label on the neck of the bottle. After twisting open the bottle, the neck label has come loose and fallen off. This is not a big deal, really, unless it falls off during the pour and lands in your glass, in the middle of the beer. (This happened to me. Twice.) Watch out for loose labels! Nobody wants a tiny piece of paper (with dried stickum on one side) floating in his or her beer. Hopefully this is a temporary problem for Mad River, and future neck labels will be as adhesive as all get out.

Photo of Soonami
3.14/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Mad River Steelhead Extra Pale Ale is very pale in color, about the color of a light lager or pilsner, but without the head. There was virtually no head or lacing. The pour also dislodged some rather large clumps of yeast/turds from the bottom of the bottle, that turned the bright beer ruddy with large globs of poop. I really dislike it when beers have this much sediment. The beer smells faintly malty, but I don't want to swirl it around too much or else I'll dissolve the junk at the bottom of the glass. The beer is surprising not dry, but sweet with a very orangey hop flavor and little bitterness. Carbonation is too low and the alcohol flavor too pronounced.

Definitely not the worst, but I would not buy this again.

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.98/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Cloudy hazed pale orange golden glow thick fluffy white head leaves big chunks of intricate lacing, nice. Aroma: Citrus peel, grapefruit hop tones matched with pale biscuit malts giving the beer a nice sweetness. Taste: Surprisingly alot sweeter than I was expecting touch of sugar and breadiness with fruit undertones, along with a zesty hop bite that is just right in the finish. Mouthfeel: Medium bodied nice easy going carbonation goes down incredibly smoothly I could see why this is Mad River's flagship brew. Drinkability: I like a nice pale ale that retains a good bit of sweetness yet let's the hop flavors shine as well, good mix of flavors very drinkable brew in my book.

Photo of chinchill
3.45/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Undated 12 oz bottle.

Pours hazy golden with some unattractive particles floating about. It is topped by a largish and thick white head that has good retention.

The flavor is a bit better than the aroma, with adequate hops for style.

Excellent lively but smooth feel with a near medium body and medium-high carbonation.

Photo of Neckhide
3.7/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I moved to Humboldt county a few years back and this has been my "go to" beer a good amount of the time since I moved here. Safe bet, easy drinker.

Appearance; First time I've poured one into a glass. Bronze, gold when held up to light. Tiny champagne like bubbles stream to the top, moderate carbonation. 1 inch head, fast receding into nothing. No lacing on this one, moderate lacing at times.

Smell; Subdued. Slight grapefruit, tangerine, and lemon rind. A tad mossy/earthy if you look for it, which is where it bears a slight similarity to the original California APA, Sierra Nevada. But, it's slight, and mild. A bit of chalky pale malt hits the nose on the freshest specimens. The weak point of this beer is the nose.

Taste; The slight citrus hits first and plays ping pong with the sweet pale malt on the palate. The malt wins in the finish, lingering with a doughy/biscuity flavor, slight underlying fresh grain. The citrus is gone by the finish, and the slight forest moss is the only hop flavor that continues to spar with malt at this point. The fresher you get this beer, the more the doughy malt really sticks out in the flavor profile, and this is most pleasing for my taste buds. Handles the shelf well, but the fresher the better.

Mouthfeel; Right alongside the taste as the best aspects of this ale. It's got more heft than your average pale, easily medium bodied, but still and clean and dry finish. Fine, delicate carbonation gives a slight seltzer like feel to it. Well executed.

Overall; Good session beer. If you are a fan of Scrimshaw pils, you will probably be a fan of this slightly heavier/maltier ale with a similar hop flavor profile. It's got a better malt profile than most Nor-Cal brews, most definitely in the top 25% of Nor-Cal beer, which might be saying less than you imagine.

Photo of LXIXME
3.05/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A small off white head quickly dies into a thin lacing above a clear honey golden colored beer.

Light aroma of citrus fruits and floral notes and a hint of pine.

Light citrus hops taste that has a very slight bitter edge on it.

Light dry aftertaste that holds just a bit of the hops with it on this medium bodied ale.

A little to weak on the hops taste for me in my desired pale ale journeys.

Photo of watermelonman
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This would make a great standby ale. It poured to a light golden color with a decent head. It's very mellow and nicely balanced. There's a hint of citrus and a hint of hops with nothing dominating.

I feel like I could drink gallons of this stuff in a single sitting.

Photo of IntriqKen
4.01/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours beautifully with a 2 finger white head afloat over a cloudy golden orange. Head sticks around for a long time leaving sticky lacing in it's wake.
Aroma is sweet pale malt and white pepper, to me
Flavor is remarkable, IMHO. Sweet pale malt underlies everything...a light fruitiness comes into the flavor especially as it warms....again, a bit of salt and pepper taste spices everything up.
Mouthfeel is crisp from the tiny carbonation and sharp tingling of pepper.
Aftertaste is spice and bread.
Nice summer refresher.

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.47/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Mad River- Extra Pale Ale

A- Bright clear yellow with a big fluffy white head.
S- Light citrus and fresh toasted grain.
T- Sweet buttery grain with a touch of lemon and grapefruit citrus.
M- Light and sweet with a crisp dry finish.

Overall- Not as impressive as I was hoping. Good and easy to drink but a little too toned down.

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.95/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a hazy, golden yellow with an easy finger width of white head, average retention, and a resulting lace that's thick and sticky. There's quite a bit of sediment floating around however, settling on the bottom after the beer has settled down.

Smell - Pungent floral hoppiness. A light touch of spice.

Taste - Starts with mellow floral hop flavors, then shifts to a soft caramel mid-taste and continues into the finish. Good balance.

Mouthfeel - Light to medium body. Feels a tad undercarbonated. Goes down smooth and with a touch of buttery diacetyl.

Overall - Really soft, mellow beer. Drinkable, sessionable. Really rides the edge between an American and an English/Euro Pale Ale.

Photo of asabreed
3.47/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Slightly hazy golden yellow. Not much head retention, with minimal lacing.

Smell: Floral hops, grassiness, minimal fruit and caramel malts, and a bit of hop sourness.

Taste: The mimic of the aroma for the most part, with a semi-dry finish along with sourness from the fruit from the malt characteristics.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied with a coating and fairly full-feeling carbonation, without being spritzy or overly-carbonated.

Drinkability: An above-average example of the style, and I'm glad I tried it, and though it's nothing I would seek out, I could certainly drink a few of these.

Photo of HugePlume
3.18/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Hazy straw hued beer, poured with a loose bright white head that was gone in moments. Uninspiring.

S- Hard to pin down a distinct smell. Smelled a bit of floral hopps, but not much. Also a faint essence of brewing beer.

T- Better and more unique taste than sight and smell would indicate. A sweet doughy malt presents first with a surprising and brisk bite of bitterness that finishes quickly into a spring-like floral hop note.

M- A little chewey, nice carbonation though.

D- The surprising taste complexity that comes from such an outwardly dull package makes this one you can come back to. A good beer to have around for a BBQ if you have non beer enthusiast friends you want to coax into the craft beer world.

Photo of Bcant
3.65/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Unfiltered, this Mad River brew pours a hazy, rich yellow color with suspended particles, a few large enough to quickly descend to the bottom of the glass. Not much head to speak of and the small head that did emerge directly after the pout disappeared quickly.

The bouquet is very grainy, almost like the smell of white bread. There are also some Lemon notes that emerge from behind the bread.

Starts with more malt bread flavors, there is also some spice, perhaps coriander. Decently balanced (certainly not overly sweet), hops pull out the bottom giving this beer more distance than you fist expect.

A nice mouthful, good and chewy for a pale ale. Also very drinkable, long hop tail is crisp and refreshing – drying but not parching.

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Steelhead Extra Pale Ale from Mad River Brewing Company
81 out of 100 based on 391 ratings.