Another moment with Mad River
A Review of Steelhead Double IPA by Mad River Brewing Co.
Posted on 11/17/2011 by Brew's Your Daddy
While wandering the grounds at the World Beer Fest in Durham, NC, I found myself looking at a booth with some understandable pause. A while back I reviewed an imperial red from Mad River Brewing Company called Double Dread. I didn't have a good experience with it at all. Maybe it was me, or maybe it was the beer, but in any event I was left with a bad taste in my mouth in more ways than one. But being the good trooper that I am, I refused to let just one singular offering from a brewery keep me from giving them another spin for good measure. I decided that I would let them try to play the redemption game with their Steelhead Double IPA.

In the glass it had a hazy copper coloration with a decent amount of head that was friendly enough to stick around for most of the session. Seeing as how this one claimed to be a double IPA, I was expecting some very big and bold aromas and flavors. In the aroma department, it came through in a big way with a very powerful pine and citrus hops blast to the nostrils. After the initial pop subsided, a sweet caramel malt backbone worked well in bringing things into a seemingly manageable bouquet. The only other smell that I was able to pick out was the standard alcohol tinge that comes with a bit 8+% ABV beer.

The first taste again came through with a very big hops flavor that stayed more in the piney range, and had a pretty big bite on the tongue as well. Some caramel started to level things out about halfway through, and I could have even sworn that a note or two of vanilla was worked in there some how. I just wish they had stayed around a little longer, but that was not the case. The bitterness from the hops came back to rear its head at the end, and seemed determined to make sure nothing else would survive. Mission accomplished.

The mouthfeel seemed to be a bit on the bland side for me as far as a double IPA would be concerned. There was plenty of carbonation in it, and it made sure that things cleaned up very well, but I don't like that feel in my big IPA's. I like for there to be a bit of an oily or thicker feel left behind by them, and Steelhead fell just a bit short in that department.

After my experience with Steelhead, I would have to say that Mad River Brewing has somewhat bought themselves a stay of execution in my book. I might not actively seek out any of their offerings, but I would gladly take one for a spin if I saw it out somewhere. And with that, I would have no problem saying that Steelhead Double IPA is a beer that most any level drinker could enjoy in one way or another. The more experienced drinkers might have a bit of a letdown if they go into it thinking they are going to have a world class Double IPA, but if they looked at it as a good session beer, it's a safe bet. The newer better beer drinkers could at least give it a shot as an introduction to the style. There are some big, basic flavors in it, and nothing in it is shockingly disturbing. But if nothing else, let this review serve as a lesson to everyone. Never let one bad beer experience discourage you from exploring what else a brewery has to offer.

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Steelhead Double IPA by Mad River Brewing Co.
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