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Mad River Brewing


Crafting award-winning beers on California’s north coast since 1989.

Often noted as the best beer in Humboldt, Mad River Brewing Company has been
crafting award-winning beers on California’s north coast since 1989. Mad River Brewing Company founder Bob Smith dreamed of opening a small brewery in Humboldt County, California, that would specialize in craft beers. During the late 1970’s, Bob was a member of the original “Humbrewers Guild” - a group of local Humboldt County home brewers, and he became acquainted with Ken Grossman who sold brewing supplies in Chico.

Ken shared his plans of building a brewery called Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and Bob was determined to open a similar company in Humboldt County. Years later in 1989, Sierra Nevada had outgrown its starting brewery, and with a larger facility under construction, sold their original equipment to Bob Smith. With a group of investors to help the brewery get started, Bob established the Mad River Brewing Company later that year.

The company, named after the nearby Mad River in Blue Lake, California, released their flagship brew, Steelhead Extra Pale Ale in early 1991 and the response was remarkable, as the brewery sold twice as much beer as projected in its first full year. Demand has continued to increase and Mad River now features a number of award-winning ales renowned for their unique flavor profiles and consistent quality.

The current Brewmaster at Mad River Brewing Company is Dylan Schatz. Originally from Blue Lake, Dylan started work at the brewery in 1999 in the packaging department, on the bottling line. He immediately fell in love with the beer industry and after taking classes at UC Davis and perfecting his brewing techniques, took over as Mad River’s Brewmaster in 2005. He also absorbed the quality control and lab analysis responsibilities in addition to introducing a number of new beer recipes under Mad River’s Artisan Reserve Series.

Dylan has been making some incredible beers for Mad River and has achieved a number of awards, including Small Brewery and Brewer of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival in 2010.

Now in their third decade, Mad River still uses Sierra Nevada’s first brewing system and maintains their commitment to producing the finest Ales, combining the most traditional, hands-on brewing methods with an environmentally sound approach.

Map of the area

Dylan Schatz - Brewmaster