Mad River Brewing Company - Steelhead Extra Stout

Mad River Brewing Company - Steelhead Extra Stout

Beer Club featured in U.S. Microbrewed Beer Club U.S. & International Variety Beer Club


United States

Alcohol by Volume:


Mad River Brewing Company - Steelhead Extra Stout

  • ABV:

  • Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs):

  • Serving Temperature:

    50-60° F
  • Suggested Glassware:

    Snifter or Mug
  • Malts:

    Pale, Crystal, Chocolate, Roasted, Black
  • Hops:

    Magnum, Cascade, Willamette
This black-as-night brew is capped by a very dark brown head—one of the darkest you're likely to encounter. Tons to discuss in this complex brew—on the nose, look for a robust coffee aroma, chocolate pudding, some sticky grapefruit-like hop notes, treacle, ash, overripened plums, tobacco, singed maple syrup, black liquorice, burnt chocolate coated figs, and a mild smokiness in the back. A bigly complex beer from a tiny town in Northern California. The massive nose indicates a complicated flavor profile will ensue. All of the elements of the bouquet show up on the palate, but there's an additional chalky dryness that breaks late and helps keep the sweeter elements from becoming cloying. The extended finish lasts for minutes (rather than seconds as is the case for most beers), slowly progressing from bittersweet chocolate to dark-roasted coffee to figs to smoky maduro cigar tobacco to dark, plummy notes—all glazed with subtle citrus flare, and rounded out with a light touch of campfire smoke. While it is labeled as an extra stout, it doesn't quite drive home the potent bitterness that this style typically showcases—which is perfectly fine by us. In fact, we'd say this is like a lower-ABV version of a Russian Imperial Stout (which tend to run in the 8-10% ABV range)—it certainly has all the flavor of that style, but you could safely put a few of these away in one sitting without getting utterly blitzed in the process. A great beer for a stout and vanilla ice cream float.
In the midst of massive redwood trees in northern California is the small town of Blue Lake, population 2,800. This juxtaposition of small and large, and the imagery it conjures up, is fitting on many levels; the Mad River Brewing Company was founded here in 1989 and is itself a microbrewery, started by a small number of people with a big idea, and this tiny brewery handcrafts some very big beers. They have garnered a plethoric array of awards for the brewery—far too many to list here, but we encourage you to check out their awards listing at their website ( Having founded the brewery nearly 20 years ago, brewmaster Bob Smith was at the forefront of the microbrewery revolution. Now, he and his brewery staff are leading the charge of the green/eco-centric movement. The brewery's goal is to have 0% waste. A radical idea? Perhaps, but not impossible. In fact, many cities around the world are moving toward similar initiatives such as 0% landfill waste over the next 20 years (Austin, TX is one such city considering this path). The Mad River B.C. has been able to achieve a waste reduction rate of 98%. How do they do it? They purchase and reuse equipment and materials related to all facets of the beer business. This approach saves money, which is critical for a small brewery, but also reduces pollution that would be directly created by the brewery, and created indirectly in the process from the mining of raw materials, energy generation, and production of new goods. The bulk of waste produced by a brewery is organic (spent grains, hops and yeast) and used water (mainly from cleaning brewery equipment, glassware, etc.) Mad River sends over ten tons of spent barley malt and yeast annually as feed for local livestock or fertilizer supplements & composting material. Likewise, all of their spent hops are composted. In 2000 they added a waste-water treatment plant to the brewery. And we thought they were just bad ass brewers—turns out they're eco-savvy environmentalists too. It's a true feel-good combo. Now helping to save the earth is as simple as drinking a Mad River beer (just be sure to recycle that bottle!!) For more information about the brewery and scheduled tours call (707) 668-5680, or visit their website at
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