Headstrong Pale Ale | Big Hole Brewing Company

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Headstrong Pale AleHeadstrong Pale Ale
95 Ratings
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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Ratings: 95 |  Reviews: 72
Reviews by CRJMellor:
Photo of CRJMellor
3.35/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear coppery color with a fine off-white head, drops off slowly to leave some patches of lace.
Aromas of caramel malt, faint butterscotch and floral hops are evident.
Flavor is malty and somewhat sweet upfront then with a mellow hop bitterness to balance it out. Little earthy in taste but not unpleasant. Medium bodied in the mouth but not super lively. Sort of reminded of cask conditioned British ale that hadn't quite reached maturity.
Decent beer just nothing spectacular

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More User Reviews:
Photo of ADR
4.09/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice deep amber color, and a monster head that was tough to control (settled in at 1/4 inch after 40 seconds or so). Aroma is excellent, fruity and full. Good amount of hopping, in the American tradition, but the malt flavors shine as a counterpart, nice tones of chewy pear and apple, along with a sweetness. Aftertaste is just enough to invite another sip. This is, so far, one of the better American Pale Ales I've run across, and I had fear after the Cream Ale, believe me...

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Photo of JohnLynch
4/5  rDev +15.3%

Photo of MJ63
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%

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 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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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 hotstuff
2.92/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

When poured into my glass, this brew had a small white head with fine bubbles that quickly diminished. It had a fruity aroma and very sparse lacing on the sides of my glass. The body was organish in hue and there was some carbonation observed. It had the typical bitter taste of a Pale Ale. I have yet to be able to acquire a taste for this particular style of a brew.

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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 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 Boilermaker88
2.21/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Found this one perched on the shelf at my local Trader Joe's. Another "one-buck wonder" that I decided needing trying. Headstrong Pale pours an orangy-apricot color with a listless white head that instantly settled to a thin skim.
Smells of lemon citrus and tea. Very mild. Some hops but little to no malt scents. Has a vague minty aroma. Is this a beer or did I accidently buy a Lipton iced tea?
Tastes rather bitter and sour. Bitterness dominates and there's little, if any, malt flavor. Has a faint spiciness in the finish. Actually, it's pretty weak and sour.l
Feel is thin and watery.
Well, this beer only cost me a buck so I don't feel too cheated. However, this beer has more qualities of watered down iced tea than beer. For a buck a beer, I felt it needed to be tried. For a buck a beer, it doesn't rate regular drinking.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
2.56/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz picked up in Montana by Steven's latest trip... pulled out of the Basement On-deck cooler for tonights Pale Ale flight... listening to RIS party mix... Tilly and the Wall, Bad Education. My half was sorta enjoyed out of my New Belgium balloon.

good 1/2" eggshell head floats atop a clear honey amber brew.

aroma is floral hops and pale bready malts... need to concentrate to get more than just "beer" aroma.

Very drinkable.. not much more... low/medium body.. toasted malts.. this beer LOOKS like it should pack more flavor, but is still quite thin. grainy and remincent of a homebrew wort with some oxidation.

I really can't completely pan this brew, I've had it many times on Montana trips, but Steven said he picked it up at a gas station in Big Sky on the way to Bozeman... plus at last check (1-2 years ago), Big Hole was competely contract brewed at some hole in the wall in Belgrade. Everytime except this one, I've been very happy with Big Hole... I will do more research to find out if this was an old bottle... their Wit, Grand Cru, and Dark ale are all very good.

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Photo of Ragingbull
3/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Amber in color approaching dark amber and a little bit cloudy. Some prickle and very light lacing. Sweet malt nose. Malt dominant attack and flavor but finishes with a brief flash of hops. Some sour notes at the finish. Pretty simple and straightforward. An average beer in my opinion as there are many like it and many better and many worse.

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Photo of Fusebuddy
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Noelito76
3.25/5  rDev -6.3%

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 baiser
3.68/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear copper orange, with a fluffy white head, good lacing. Taste was biscuity, toasty, with some fruitiness. Finish is bitter and dry with subtle hop aromas. Very well balanced beer. Good session ale. Contract brewed by Wellington in Ontario. Good, inexpensive fall back. Carbonation is sharp but controlled, smooth mouthfeel, medium bodied. Decent ale.

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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 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 RedAleMan
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of BeerBadger
3.25/5  rDev -6.3%

Photo of ludachris
3.8/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is definately the best interpretation of this style that Ive had so far. Pours a deep golden colour with about a 3 finger creamy white head. Sweet malty smell back by some citrus. Taste is sweet, with a citrus bite and a hoppy finish. Very nice lacing. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy and the hoppy end balances it out well. The only thing that threw me off about this beer was its finish. The hops were accompanied by a strange watery grassy type taste, but even then, this is a beer that Ill definately be buying again.

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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 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 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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Headstrong Pale Ale from Big Hole Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.47 out of 5 with 95 ratings