Beer of the Weekend #50: Steelhead Extra Stout

The beer this weekend is Steelhead Extra Stout brewed by the Mad River Brewing Company of Blue Lake, California.

Tonight I took my respect for beer to a higher level: I let my pint glasses air-dry after washing them. I’ve known for a while that proper glassware preparation requires air-drying. Towel drying leaves behind tiny bits of fiber that contaminate the beer. What makes it worse is if you’ve dried glasses using the same dishrag you use for plates and pans, like me. Bad combination, but I’ve been too lazy to do the right thing. Who knows how many authentic first impressions have been ruined by microscopic pieces of vegetables and the rank smell of my dish towels after a week of use.

Mmmmm. So fresh and so clean clean.

To take it even higher I would use a separate scrubber or brush to wash, but I haven’t reached that point yet. I’m getting there.

Serving type: Six 12-ounce bottles.

Appearance: Poured an opaque black. About a finger of chocolate head developed on top and dissipated quickly to form a spotted lacing and ring around the edge.

Smell: Impressive. Sweet chocolate with a perfect balance of roasted coffee. Immediately after I popped the cap my nose picked up on the smell. I also caught a hint of plum.

Taste: At first the bitter coffee malts dominated, overpowering the sweet chocolate from the smell. But as it warmed I got a hint of dark chocolate. Not too complex, but still solid.

Drinkability: It’s definitely a dessert stout, speaking for itself.

Fun facts about Mad River Extra Stout:

-Serving temperature: 45-50°F — as listed on BA, but I prefer stout a little warmer, say 55-60°F.

-Alcohol content: 6.6 percent ABV.

-Food pairings: This is from the Mad River website: “Try a pint with a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream. This beer is a favorite as a compliment to any dessert or as a hearty breakfast drink.” Folks, we have a third beer that goes well with ice cream. A hearty breakfast drink, though? Does it go well with Honeycomb?

-Like the Abita brew from last week’s BotW, Mad River is also dedicated to environmentally friendly brewing. Mad River boasts a 98 percent waste reduction rate. Spent barley malt and yeast are given to local farmers for feed and also “soil amendment and composting material.” In 2000, a waste-water treatment plant was built at the brewery in order to minimize its impact on the municipal plant. Also, Mad River buys and uses pre-loved (Volkswagen’s term for “used”) brewing equipment. “This not only saves money,” the website says, “but also reduces the pollution associated with the mining of raw materials, energy use and the production of new goods.”

-I’ve realized that Humboldt County is the Napa Valley of beer. It’s also known for growing high potency marijuana. I need to get a new car and drive up.

The Quiet Man’s grade: B+.

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