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Steelhead Extra Pale Ale | Mad River Brewing Company

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222 Reviews
Steelhead Extra Pale AleSteelhead Extra Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Mad River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.60%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by OldFrothingSlosh on 03-24-2002

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Reviews: 222 | Ratings: 415
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.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.74/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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. An underlying, sweetness consisting of honey and cereal grain.

Taste - Starts with mellow floral and spicy hop flavors, then shifts to some sweeter malt notes of honey, cereal and faint caramel mid-taste and continues into the finish. Good balance, with lingering spice and sweetness in the aftertaste.

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.

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Photo of pweis909
2.97/5  rDev -17%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was looking forward to my first Mad River Steelhead beer and it left me disappointed.

The beer poured out a dull golden color, perhaps a touch of haze, and a big foamy head. Even as I took my eyes off the glass to read the bottle, I smelled some hop goodness. When I looked back to the glass, the foam was gone. GONE. Never have I seen a beer go from foam to no foam so fast. Maybe I have a dirty glass? The hoppy aroma faded fast, but there is some pleasant hop in the taste, accompanied by a light sweetness, and unfortunately, a lingering chemically bitterness and a bit of astringency.

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Photo of tony223366
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Nice 3 fingers of white fluffy head after a vigorous pour. Very sticky as it's settling. The color is a straw golden yellow color with some fogginess due to the unfiltered nature. Tons of nature from the carbonation. Seems like the carbonation will be high. To be honest it looks a bit like a fizzy yellow beer but I know it'll taste way better.

S: Huge biscuity aromas actually. Some citrus from the hops as well. There is certainly some fruitiness to this beer too. Primarily I get the pale malts though.

T: The taste is actually quite nice! Although certainly not your typical west coast pale ale. It starts out with some light citrusy hops but then it becomes a pale malt show. Big doughy, biscuity flavors. All along there's a general fruitiness and then a lightly bitter finish. The beer leans on the sweet side though and I would dare say it's almost cloying.

M: Medium to light body with prickly carbonation. Very drinkable. Not particularly "slick" as you would see from a beer with lots of hop oils.

O: Well, this isn't a bad beer but I'm not sure if it fits nicely in the American Pale Ale. It feels more like an English American Pale Ale. Is it called Extra Pale Ale as a play on E.P.A or English Pale Ale? Can't say which makes it hard to grade. As an American Pale Ale it's not all that great. I'll stick it with an above average score.

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Photo of DocJitsu
4.46/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a gorgeous clear, golden color with a white, bubbly head that attenuates to a thin cap. The cap is perpetuated by carbonation bubbles that migrate from the bottom of the glass to the top of the beer. White lacing remains on the glass as it is being drunk. The bouquet is characterized by light notes of orange peel and grapefruit. This beer has an almost perfect mouthfeel in that it balances a heavier slickness with a mild scrubbing on the back of the tongue. This tastes how I would make an APA taste if I could make an APA this good. Sweet grapefruit and lemon balanced by just the mildest tart citrus at the finish make this a phenomenal drinker. I love it!

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Photo of ZekemusMaximus
2.9/5  rDev -19%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A-Really light golden hue, totally see through. Very little lacing.

S-A small amount of citrus and fresh pine. It's pretty faint and doesn't hit my nostrils as hard as i'd expect.

T-For an extra pale ale I expected this to be super bitter but it really wasn't. There were citrus notes to start that ended in a biscuity, cracker taste. Not too much to say after that, fades quick.

M- Really clean, not too much carbonation.

O- This was alright, nothing to out of the ordinary. I was let down with it being labeled as an extra pale ale. Fairly easy to drink but I wouldn't go out of my way to drink this again.

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Photo of aranheaney
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a nonic pint from a 12 oz bottle

A-pours a clear yellow with a bit of head and lacing

S-citrus, pine etc all the usual pale features are here

T-follows the nose, nothing excellent here this is ok but nothing out of the ordinary

M-average at best

O-nothing outstanding

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Photo of KMcG
4.05/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bright gold, slightly hazy, 1 finger of head that dissipates to only a few lace patches. 

Toasted light grain and floral hops, some grass.  The nose is strong, but difficult to describe. 

Floral hops, slight bitter character, a touch of faint lemon and a biscuit/cracker finish.  

This has a light to medium body. It's refreshing and easy to drink. Overall a fine APA.  

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Photo of cyclonece09
3.41/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle from a beer of the month 6 pack from Vintage Cellar in Blacksburg, VA into a pint glass. Pours a nice straw color with a one finger white head that dissipates somewhat quickly, but leaves some nice lacing. Has hints of floral and citrus notes, but not overly strong. Has a more subdued hop and malt taste, but it is well balanced. While the carbonation seems a little high, it goes down quite well and definitely a sessionable beer. Overall, a decent beer.

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Photo of hopfacebrew
2.56/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Note: This review was a re-post from my former account, jmkratt, which was hacked and I lost all my reviews...sorry for the redundancy.

On-tap at Uptown Brothers in Denver.

A - Pours a perfectly clear and crisp golden color with a thin head and minimal lacing. Bubbly film lasts throughout the glass.

S - Not much aroma at all, if anything hints of crystal malts and a tiny floral hop, but overall pretty disappointing.

T/M - The beer starts with a bit of bready malt character and slowly transitions to a middle of biscuit, very mild bitterness, and fruit. The beer ends quite thin and crisp. Light body with decent carbonation though tasted almost diluted.

D - Not impressed. I'd argue it's a less than average Extra Pale.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend the beer. It tasted like an average pale ale mixed with Coors Light. That's how I described it to my server.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 01-28-2011 20:41:35

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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.

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Photo of tdm168
3.46/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pale copper with a mountain of dense, white, foamy head. The smells is soapy with notes of pale malt. The malt character is slightly bready and the hop character is faint. There are buttery and floral notes throughout each sip. The mouthfeel is lighter in body, crisp, and smooth.

This is a decent APA. There's not much to rave about; solid malt character but lacks elsewhere. If APA's are your thing then this is worth a try.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours a hazy honey-yellow color. Nice cap. Bright white in color and with both good size and retention. Leaves periodic lace continents on the glass.

S-More sweet and bread/grainy than hoppy. At first sniff I immediately think of cereal; Corn Flakes to be exact. Cracker notes. Hops are quite muted. I am getting some light floral hops. Aside from that I could stretch and say some citrus. Like most people, I like my Pale Ales hop forward; this one doesn't initially seem to fit the bill. But a maltier Pale Ale could still be good.

T-The taste actually lends some hops to the palate (albeit a minute amount). Hops are floral and citrus mostly. The cereal/cracker malt easily balances out the hops found here. A very subdued bitterness lingers shortly.

M-This may be its best area. Nice carbonation with an easy-drinking medium-to-light body. Crisp and fairly refreshing.

O/D-$4.99 a six-pack at the local store...deal, deal, and deal. If I were to describe this beer in one word it would be "bright". Not very memorable, and it certainly won't 'wow' you, but this is a solid, drinkable Pale Ale. A beer can still be good without being intense or unique.

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Photo of JustinAniello
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a cloudy straw color with a foamy two finger head. Dissipates to a nice lacing that sticks to the sides and a decent cap.

S - Fruit takes up the majority of the aroma, with pear and orange being the main fruit. Light maltiness in the background.

T - Taste matches the smell almost perfectly. Pear and orange flavors take up the majority of the flavor, being more pronounced on the swallow. Light caramel tones throughout wild an extremely mild bitterness in the aftertaste.

M - Light body and carbonation, nice and crisp as well. Goes well with the flavors.

O - A very good ale, I could see greatly enjoying this on a hot summer day. Nice fruit flavors and aromas that meld well throughout. A slightly heavier bitterness would improve this, but only barely. Recommended and would have again.

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Photo of dlbrockmiller
3.45/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I liked the Steelhead Extra Stout so well I had to try the Steelhead Extra Pale Ale as well. Not quite as impressed with the Pale Ale. It is a pretty golden color and pours nice with a medium head. The aroma was flowery/spicy with a little hops thrown in. The taste was pretty mild, nothing like the stout. Overall a drinkable beer but not one I will probably drink that much.

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Photo of MoreThanWine
3.4/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a 2" white head. Slightly hazy straw yellow color. Smells mildly of hops but they don't come through in the taste. Taste is interesting though, it has a little citrus, some corn, some mild malt. And there's a fairly decent finish. After a little while warming I noticed much of the taste had mellowed out to more of a BMC. But all in all this is pretty good for a value beer.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.62/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pilsner g lass. Color was light golden. Maybe an inch of head. A nice layer of lacing on the top of the glass and a small amount of film on the sides.

Smelled citrus and pine with grapefruit grabbing dibs. Also a light whiff of caramel malts. Decent smelling beer.

Sweet and citrus taste, very light. Bitter finish on the tongue.

Light to medium body. Quick finish after the bitter taste. Average carbonation. Other citrus tastes come in late.

Not a bad beer. I look back on my rating and I want to give it higher, but I have to go with my original picks. Maybe down the road I’ll come back to it.

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Photo of Haybeerman
3.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pale yellow/gold color. Poured a 3 finger foamy white head with good retention to a 1 finger skim. Lightly decanted. Laced in wavy rings.

S: Sweet, bready pale malts. Citrus and light floral character.

T: Same as the nose. Nice hop character balanced between citrus and sweet floral notes. Very mild bitter does provide sufficient balance. Very refreshing pale ale.

M: Light-to-medium body. Moderate carbonation. Smooth, flavorful and balanced.

O: Very sessionable pale ale. Flavorful, balanced and goes down easy.

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Photo of Vanlingleipa
3.38/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Boy, compared to the MRiver DIPA, nothing to see here, move along.

Pours golden yellow, some cloudiness, very small head, light lacing. Faint aroma of light sourness. Light carbonation.

Some brightness to the taste. The tongue is tickled on each side near the middle by a bit of sour citrus - maybe grapefruit. Unfortunately, no dominant flavors come up strong during the middle and close. the initial taste kind of echoes until the next gulp of beer.

That said, the citrus/sour flavor is tasty. I enjoy strong, dominant flavors, which this beer lacks, but appreciate its refreshing qualities.

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Photo of metter98
3.6/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy pale yellow in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high dense off white head that died down yet consistently left a thin head covering the surface.
S: There are aromas of pale malts and citrus and floral hops in the nose.
T: The overall taste has a good balanced between sweet hops and citrusy hops. No bitterness is discernible.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied, relatively smooth and a bit thin on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The beer goes down very easily and is quite drinkable. This is a good beer to drink on a hot summer day.

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Photo of traillme
4.2/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a highly underated and underconsumed beer on the national level.

I love the smooth favor, full head, and well balanced structure to this beer. Pouring out of a bottle provides a nice aroma, although it is a lttle shallow. It it a shame that Steelhead did not give this a little fuller body back in the day because with a little tweek they would have been able to compete with Sierra.

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

a pale with a character that was on the side of grassy. nose of a bit too much water minerals for me. a bit of lemon citrus pine... palate was a nice lemon grass with a minty note to it. nice like feel with carbonation. good balance with a unique flavor. rather basic and proper at the same time though. wouldn't have more than one unless it was with tom yum soup. a good backyard beer.

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

golden amber color with crystal clear clarity came out of the bottle. Lots of visible carbonation was apparent throughtout the session with chains of bubbes rippling up through the glass. A nice two inch hight pillow of white foam then came over the top and settled down qucikly leaving a bare centered crown in its wake. No appreciable side glass lace, but still a more the decent look to it.

The aroma was light with hints of light citrus, lemon mostly mixed in on top of a cereal grain filled base. Lots of whaeat and light earthy aromas blending in, but as it warmed a light hop presenced was dulled out way in the back, the aroma overall though was far too light to be really a knockout in any way. A nicel ight, crisp, and clean flavor was then produced. It was a classic light pale ale flavor, clean with a light wheat base, some light floral, citrus notes spprinkled through, orange, light lemon grass, especially in the finish. Great mouthfeel, with a carbonation that held thoughout the session. Easy drinkability as the flavors were light, crisp and clean, with almost no aftertaste

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.12/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Copper and clear color with a one finger tan head.

S: Pretty good dose of floral hops along with a slight hint of malt.

T: This was pretty well balanced. A good snap of slightly grassy, slightly pine-flavored hops followed by some bready malts. I was definitely a fan of this. It went great with some spicy Thai food.

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Photo of Kshock
3.97/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Bright straw yellow color, white lacing on the edges and hanging on the glass. Very little head retention, but still decently carbed.

S- Earthy note with some hops and a little biscuit. English hops dominate the nose but show some citrus in there.

T- Nice hoppy bit to it, still really earthy hops. Clean finish with almost no residual flavor at all. The biscuit hangs around a little.

M- Nice and soft on the palate, but not too thin. Very nice texture for this style.

O- Easily the better tier of this style that often gets overlooked from other breweries, but i feel its a great staple beer.

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Steelhead Extra Pale Ale from Mad River Brewing Company
3.58 out of 5 based on 415 ratings.
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