Headstrong Pale Ale | Big Hole Brewing Company

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Headstrong Pale AleHeadstrong Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Big Hole Brewing Company
Montana, United States

Style: English Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Hand-built with Montana barley. Kettle hopped with massive amounts of bittering and aroma hops for an invigorating , yet well-balanced Montana pale ale.

Added by xlperro on 07-23-2002

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Reviews: 72 | Ratings: 95
Photo of DoctorZombies
3.63/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pale Amber pour with giant fluffy off white head; thick, long lasting cap; moderate lacing; excellent clarity. Caramel malt/candy nose. Flavors of caramel followed by oranges; lightly bitter; more candy sweet than bitter. Medium lite, sticky mouthfeel; moderate minus carbonation. Ok, but I thought it was a little too sweet.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
2.57/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Poured from can into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a golden amber color with a tiny head of fizzy white foam. The head fades rather quickly, leaving a trace of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the brew is strong of a rather grainy smell mixed with a decent sum of an off cardboard and vegetal smell. There are some hints of a caramel and toast smell as well, but overall the aroma is not all that pleasent.

Taste – The taste begins with a moderate showing of a bready and grainy taste with a decent showing of some caramel and a little bit of corn. As the taste advances the sweeter flavors fade a bit all while the grainy flavors grow more intense in nature. Toward the end a little bit of a grassy and herbal taste join the flavor profile and with a loss of some more sweet and more cracker and biscuit like flavor taking out the bready tastes, one is left with a somewhat crisp but sorta odd flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the average side in both its thickness and it carbonation. For the style it was fairly good, although nothing all that exceptional.

Overall – Ah... nothing really all that fantastic here. Maybe one to try if you can get it at a decent price, but otherwise don’t bother.

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Photo of Sark
3.49/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- very nice bright orange with swirling carbonation, pebbled light tan head with good lacing

Smell- light aroma of citrus and earthiness

Taste- caramel and light malt, hop finish is limited yet balanced, little astringent last finish

Mouthfeel- Medium-light, light carbonation tingle, relatively smooth

Overall- A good pale, something nice for an outdoor activity and for a session but not really standing out

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Photo of Florida9
3.2/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Big Hole Brewing HeadStrong Pale

A: Clear amber in color. Forms a minimal white head. Little retention. Light lacing.

S: Mild caramel malts and some light earthy and herbaceous hops.

T: Flavor is mildly malty, light caramel, and a bit of bread. Very light piney hops.

M: On the lighter side of medium. Mild bitterness. Appropriate carbonation. Mildly dry.

O: As much as I like big holes, I found this beer to be an unexciting and very average pale ale.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.49/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

473 mL can from the LCBO; listed at 5.5%. This was one of the first craft beers I ever tried, some time back around 2006-07. I don't recall much about it, didn't bother reviewing it, and - until now - had never seen it since. Also, it's really cheap, so why not give it a retry?

Pours a lovely copper colour, bright and clear, topped with one finger of puffy, off-white coloured head. Very good retention; the head lasts many minutes and leaves plenty of sticky lacing behind before finally dying down to a rocky cap. It's quite attractive visually, but the aroma isn't much to write home about. It smells of bready caramel malts, light citrus and honey - not off-putting, but nothing exceptional for the style.

The flavour leans on the sweet side, with grainy malts, toasted bread and brown sugar rather prominent. Some vague fruitiness that is hard to put my finger on - it's a little citrusy, but the sweetness and buttery mouthfeel reminds me more of brown pears. Decent hop presence that comes forward at the finish - their earthy, slightly herbal dryness make a valiant attempt to cut through the sweetness, but do not completely succeed. The aftertaste is mostly malty, with some honey sweetness. Light-bodied and a bit watery, with restrained carbonation that still provides a decent bite. Very easy to drink.

This is actually a pretty decent beer - and given the price, I might even buy it regularly (if it were available locally). It's not memorable, but it's a decent session ale that I wouldn't mind having the option of. As far as session beers go, I am not always in the mood for hoppy ones, or dark ones with lots of roasted malts, or pale lagers/pilseners. This is an enjoyable compromise that offers an alternative to those categories.

Final Grade: 3.49, on the higher end of a B-. Headstrong Pale Ale isn't going to blow anyone away, but it's still a highly drinkable ale that I wouldn't discourage others from trying. It's only two bucks - what have you got to lose? Not especially English in style, but definitely not exactly American-style either, so there's no reason to quibble over such details. Pretty good value for the price.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
3.53/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - clear deep copper brown, thick creamy head left lots of random lacing
S - some grassy and earthy aromas, biscuity and sweet with a metallic hint
T - much like the nose with a bit of added spiciness and mustiness
M - slightly creamy and a bit prickly, finishes with slight dry bitter
O - a decent pale that has more of an ESB flavour, pleasantly surprised

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Photo of claytong
3.53/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

appearance - very clear golden color with an eggshell color head thats pretty big and last pretty well and laces pretty well.

smell - grapefruit, pine, something odd, interesting.

taste - figured out the oddness, chlorine and horse hair. a nice combination but not what i was expecting here. naturally theres some yeast flavors, pale malts, and pine

mouthfeel - good body with good carbonation, still i like it oddly enough. interesting... might've just been my batch. but i liked it quite well.

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Photo of SebD
3.35/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: It has a nice golden/copper colour to it. It has a nice off-white head that dies down moderately and leaves some lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitly give out hints of sweet caramely malts with some piney hops and some citrus and grapefruit.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a roasty caramel malt feel with some piney/floral hops and some citrusy notes ending with a slight bitterness.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice overall balance of malts and hops.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with decent flavours and aromas.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.43/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

473ml can, 5.5% ABV. Somehow I missed trying this last month when I was in Montana, where it was available in every grocery store and gas station that I trod through. Yet, it's now made in Utica, NY?

This beer pours a clear medium copper colour, with three fat fingers of foamy, rocky pale beige head, which leaves some very nice honeycomb lace around the glass as it settles. It smells of biscuity, bready malt, and herbal grassy hops. The taste is bready, crackery malt, with a bit of caramel, and a decent bitter grassy, earthy hoppiness. The carbonation is average, the body medium-light in weight, a little clingy, but generally smooth. It finishes off-dry, yet with the hops more or less running the show, in an herbal, musty sort of manner.

Not a bad pale ale, definitely British in style, but the edgy herbal character leaves me somewhat non-plussed, especially when the can proclaims "Cold Hopped with Cascades". Caveat emptor, I suppose.

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Photo of bryehn
3.16/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice rusty caramel colour with a frothy tan-coloured head that survives as a collared film while leaving a spongey lace.

The aroma is a tad too mild, but mostly inoffensive. Ripened fruit, mineral water and overcooked bran muffin.

The taste has an almost sour, biting metallic tinge to it at first, though it wears off after breathing. Reminds me of Christmas cake; slightly spicy with syrupy sweet fruit and brown grains.

Thin at first followed by a prickly carbonation from the long-lasting collar. More metallic tones on the tongue before a lingering syrupy aftertaste arrives.

In many ways similar to Wells IPA or other inexpensive English-style ales. Takes a minute to get used to, but very drinkable with snacks for watching sports, playing poker or hanging out in the back yard. Decent session ale from Montana.

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Photo of BigBry
3.75/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

650ml bottle. The beer pours a dark amber color with a small white head. Left some thin, but continued lacing on my pint glass. There is a bit of hop smell mixed with malty sweetness. Also some aroma of toffee or brown sugar. This is a nice example with more malt flavor than hops coming through. Some biscuit malt flavors combined with, but not overpowered by, hoppyiness. It finishes with a bitter aftertaste.
A pretty decent beer, pleasantly suprised and better than expected

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Photo of spinrsx
2.68/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

473ml Can

Appearance – Clear copper colour with an above average size frothy white coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for 5 minutes or so before it was gone.

Smell – Malts, hops, apples/pears, tea

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste lots of malts and tea and some very very light hops. There are also some pear/apple flavours and some notes of oranges. It finishes with a malty and fruity aftertaste.

Overall – The beer had some promise based on the look and smell, but the flavour was just way too unbalanced for me. Also the taste that it does have comes across as very artificial. I wouldn't buy this beer again.

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Photo of Stocean1
3.12/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - poured a frothy one finger head that quickly evaporated to a thin film - little lacing - copper amber colour reminded me of brandy (perhaps foreshadowing the off putting malt liquor flavour later).

S - sweet malt and pine throughout but not overpowering - not bad at all

T - Initially I enjoyed the taste - not bitter, lots of sweet malt, pine throughout, pinesol at times - as it warmed it became increasingly cloying and took on a malt liquor taste and feel

M - medium bodied, a little syrupy, not dry enough for my liking, light carbonation, little bitterness for a pale ale

O - finally buckled and grabbed one at the LCBO (you never know what you are missing) - initially I was pleasantly surprised by its oily pine and malt smell and the taste was decent however as it opened up it really became unbalanced and I swigged the last couple of gulps to make it go away - based on the first half it was a B-, the second half it was a D, hence the C.

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Photo of Duff27
2.69/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A- Poured a half-inch head that quickly dissipated to a thin...well, nothing much now. Cloudy amber beer. No lacing.

S- Sweet fruits. Spice. Caramel.

T- Follows the nose. Spice zip. Has a certain grainy/grassiness to it. More caramel.

M- Might be the highlight. Well carbonated and gives a good bite.

D/O- I noticed I'm the first review of a bottle of this beer in two years...wondering if they even bottle anymore. If that's the case this is an old beer (no date markings), so who knows. It's not a bad beer per say, the caramel notes started to grow on me...I don't think I'd want another though.

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Photo of peensteen
3.48/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper amber colour, 2 fingers of white head, sticky with nice lacing all the way down the glass. Smell is of light pine, malty, resiny hop, bitterness but not a hop bitterness, faint lemony citrus. Taste is malty, lightly hoppy, again bitter but not hop bitterness, dry citrusy finish, touches of pine come and go throughout. Medium weight, mildly creamy, hop oils, slick and resinous, medium carbonation. This brew is actually quite good, not great but its quite cheap and enjoyable.

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Photo of Kartoffeln
3.52/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a clear copper with a dense, beige head. Dissipates rather quickly to a patchy cap, but leaves some lacing.

S: Not too strong, but pleasant: caramel malts with spicy, floral hops and undertones of honey.

T: Slightly sweet, slightly roasty malts with a toffee taste. The spicy, floral hops are prominent, earthier than in the nose, and a particularly astringent citrus taste comes out - reminds me of grapefruit.

M: Medium-bodied and smoothly carbonated, with a long, distinct (that grapefruit taste) bitter finish from the hops.

D: An interesting English Pale Ale, reminiscent of an APA on account of its hops. Not exactly what I'm accustomed to, but solid and worth trying at least once.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.53/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

473ml can poured into pint glass

A clear copper with lots of bubbles feeding a thumbs width of light tan head the retains for a few minuets leaving a couple patches of lace

S a little herbal toffee and some citrus

T more hops then on the nose but pretty similar just with a faint metallic taste

M a little slick well carbonated and has a nice little bite to it

O I could have another one with ease, not a bad pale ale but not worth searching for

this is a decent buy here in Alberta at just a couple bucks for a pint I may drink it again

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Photo of kwjd
3.86/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an amber-copper colour with huge fluffy white head. Tons of lacing on the glass. Smells of citrus hops with a big caramel malt base. Nice bitterness in the flavour. This reminds me of a weaker American Pale Ale than an English Pale Ale, but either way it is nice. Good medium-bodied carbonation level. I haven't had this in a year or so and this is much better than I remember.

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Photo of BBP
3.85/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchase from the LCBO which stated it was from Big Hole Brewing in Utica, NY. Also 5.5% ABV & the same label.

A- Golden copper with medium carbonation and a fairly frothy head.

S- Hops, honey, and bready malts.

T- Pretty good balance of sweet malt, a bit of citrus, honey, and hops. A hint of skunk in the aftertaste. Leaves a nice aftertaste with a good bready malt effect.

M- Medium body, good carbonation, and pretty creamy too.

D- Easy to down, and hits the spot. Not overly impressive though. Pretty economic which is nice. No major flaws.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.08/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Purchase from the LCBO which stated it was from Big Hole Brewing in Utica, NY. Also 5.5% ABV & the same label.

A - Poured yellow with a tinge of amber throughout. One finger of bubbly somewhat thick white head. Moderate carbonation.

S - Faint bitter hop smell with some sweet caramel malts.

T - Some bitter earthy hops up front but not overly strong. Basic bready malt backbone that has a very faint hint of sweetness.

M - Light body, moderate carbonation.

D - Good pale ale but not one I would seek out again.

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Photo of Tone
3.38/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy, copper color. One and one half inch head of an off-white color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of sweet malt, slight yeast, slight hop, grain, and some tartness/acidity. Fits the style of an English Pale Ale. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp with a very high carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, yeast, grain, slight hop, and strong tartness. Overall, not well blended, weak in body, and too tart.

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Photo of kjyost
3.2/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Purchase in Ottawa, ON from the LCBO as a pint can from Big Hole Brewing in Utica, NY... Also labelled as being 5.5% ABV, but the same label.

Poured perhaps a toucb too stiffly and it produced a large white foamy head that lasted shortly but lingered as a 1-2 mm tall head that sat atop an orangely yellow brew. Not as orange and red as I was expecting, but not outside the realm of a pale ale. The beer smells of smeet malt with a light floral note. When sampled the beer hit immediately with the malty note found on the nose, with a touch of bitterness and none of the floral nature I initially found upon the nose.

After having topped up my glass that floral note is upon the nose again, but try as I might it is not found on my palate as I drink.

Nice enough, but not great.

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Photo of ecoastman
3.77/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - a clear amber with a pillowy head to start that recedes to a thin layer. Little lacing.

Smell - a mild nice blend of sweet honey malt and citrusy hops.

Taste - a mild but decent APA. A little bready and grainy. Nice long aftertaste with light honey, orange and grapefruit. Some butterscotch in the background too. Fits the style.

Mouthfeel - Light refreshing, watery. Just a touch on the coarse side. Good carbonation.

Drinkability - Very drinkable. I'll buy again if the price is right.

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Photo of mdwalsh
3.75/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at the Lake Yellowstone Inn. I was glad to see such beer options out in the wilderness.

A: Dark for a PA, with a small head. This was so dark it was practically red.

S: Smelled pretty weak, mostly malt, only a little hops.

T: I taste midwest style hopping, pretty well balanced but tending towards malt.

M: Medium body, very aimable, but served too cold.

D: Eehh, just something I couldn't finger that wasn't happening with this beer. Would have gotten something else but I stuck through with it throughout the meal.

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Photo of mintjellie
3.31/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The golden orange body shines. Three fingers of white head has so-so retention. Some lace is left behind. It has a meek aroma of caramel, freshly baked bread, earth, and citrus. What little aroma it has is inviting, I just wish it was bolder. It tastes of sweet bread, caramel, and oranges. Herbaceous finish. Bitterness is mild but somewhat lingering. Very smooth and soft in the mouth. It's a decent pale ale, but nothing to go crazy over if you're a hophead.

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Headstrong Pale Ale from Big Hole Brewing Company
3.47 out of 5 based on 95 ratings.
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