1. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $14.99 (US/print only). Offer ends April 30. Subscribe now! (Because great beer deserves great stories AND readers.)

Hammerhead Ale - McMenamins

Not Rated.
Hammerhead AleHammerhead Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

114 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 114
Reviews: 37
rAvg: 3.61
pDev: 10.8%
Wants: 0
Gots: 13 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
McMenamins visit their website
United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  5.93% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-09-2003

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (56) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view more.
Ratings: 114 | Reviews: 37
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.57/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Guy for sharing this one at GRG1313's tasting.

Pours a murky honey orange with a foamy bone head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, citrus fruit, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is much the same with citrus zest and citrus juice flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with solid citrus forward hop qualities all around.

Photo of Redrover
3.74/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I had this one at their outpost on Broadway & 15th.

It was served in a Guinness style glass. The beer is amber with gold highlights. There is a skim of beige head.

Aroma of caramel with some cascade-pine notes.

Taste tracks the smell, mid-range bitterness and caramel undertones. Classic old school apa. Taste is comforting.

The mouth could be turned-up a notch but it works.

I enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

Photo of Fatehunter
3.53/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

One finger of fluffy head with dark amber colored body.
Smell is a nice pine and citrus.
Taste is pine all the way with a nice malt balance. Solid and tasty.
Soft texture with moderate carbonation and medium body.
A nice and drinkable IPA with a good profile.

Photo of flagmantho
3.88/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer on-tap served in a pint glass at McMenamin's in Mill Creek, WA.

Appearance: rich orange hue with lots of haze and a creamy orange-tan head. Quite good!

Smell: mild and yeasty, but rather nice. Not particularly hoppy, though.

Taste: yeasty and malty with a nice helping of citrusy hops. Bitterness is good, if a little bit rough. A nice example of a Northwest-style cloudy pale ale.

Mouthfeel: creamy and smooth with a medium body. Creaminess is pretty high despite low carbonation; I like it!

Overall: this beer makes a good session quaffer -- I like it.

Photo of MaltsOfGlory
3.63/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A pretty standard, maybe a tiny bit aggressive pour, gives me a huge three finger head, almost annoying in size. I poured it into my standard pint glass, the head is just a hair off white and is pretty darn fluffy and pillowy, but it's also a little soapy. Not sure about lacing yet, I'll know once I get the the bottom of the glass. The body is a very nice amber color, which some hints of orange in it, maybe a little bit darker than I would like a pale ale to be, but oh well. The carbonation looks just about perfect, it looks dead even on medium. Visibility is eh, ok, I can see a few things on the other side of the beer, but for the most part it's too dark to see all that much. Really it's the perfect visibility for a pale ale. Head retention is pretty good, I only have about a one finger head left, but the head overall hasn't been going anywhere too quickly. We'll see how the lacing goes, but so far this beer looks very nice. The smell of this beer is a little interesting. Overall the smell is very big, it has a lot of hops, and a lot of malts. The problem is I think the malts are a tiny bit too heavy, it's pretty well balanced, but sometimes that's a bad thing, depending on the style. I dunno, usually I don't complain about a pale ale being balanced, come to think of it, it's really a beer that should be balanced, so maybe I'm just not a fan of the malts they are using. Yeah, I think that's it, the malts just smell too sweet, like in a irish red or something. The hops are just about perfect, but the malts are bothering me. The smell overall isn't too complex, maybe some fruit in here, but for the most part it's just the hops and the malts. It is a big smell though, and that's a plus. Overall a good smell, but the malts are for sure scaring me a bit. Either way it's a solid smelling beer. Maybe it deserves a 4 for the smell, but I'm gonna give it a 3.5. Wow, that's not what I was expecting at all on the taste. The taste really isn't a big as the smell was, at all. The smell was pretty much as big as you could ask a beer to be, and the taste is just standard. It's a good taste, and it's for sure not weak or anything, it's just not as big as the smell was. The malts aren't the kind of malts that I like, but they aren't the offensive, the hops nullify them pretty well. The beer is pretty well balanced like I thought it would be. Eh, on second thought the malts are a bit annoying, nothing huge, but still. The hops really hit the spot on this beer, they are just what the doctor ordered in a pale ale, it's too bad the malts aren't the best. I want lighter malts in a pale ale, I'm assuming the malts are what's making this beer darker than I would like, and they are for sure what's making it sweeter than I would like. It's a very solid taste, and I keep consider giving it a 4, but it's just not quite there yet, it's really close, but not quite there. The mouthfeel however is pretty spot on, the carbonation is just perfect, and the body is exactly what you want in a pale ale, not too thick, not too thin. The drinkability is very nice, it's a pretty tasty beer, it's not too boozy, and it goes down pretty well. Overall it's a very interesting beer, not exactly what I want in a pale ale, but very very close to EXACTLY what I want. I mean the hops were just killer in this beer, but the malts brought the taste down a fair amount for me. The smells was the same story really. Mouthfeel was very good though. Overall a good beer, and a few tweaks here and there and it could be a great beer.

The appearance turned out to be pretty darn good. The lacing wasn't perfect, pretty patchy, but it still followed me pretty far down the glass non the less. The carbonation and visibility were good on the body, but the color wasn't my favorite. The head was very nice, although it didn't last forever, most heads don't. Overall it's a good looking beer, a solid 4.

Photo of olfolxholme
3.83/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12

22 oz bottle poured into a large shaker glass from Big Horn Brewing Company

A - Standard brown bomber bottle with classic Hammerhead logo. Poured a thick tan head w/ large bubbles. Good head retention, bubbles last until the end. Decent lacing. The beer is a clear copper color and stays noticeably still. (no rising bubbles, head is going nowhere)

S - Pleasant yeast aroma with hints of Cascade hops and fresh bread.

T - An understated beer that leans towards the hops. A really nicely balanced pale ale that isn't trying to be an IPA. Some caramel and bread in the background.

M - Nice medium mouthfeel with a bit of creaminess. Pleasant aftertaste. Very thirst quenching.

O - An American answer to a well-balanced British ESB. I believe Cascades are related to Fuggles, and this relates to the character of the beer quite well. An enjoyable, albeit mild-mannered, example of a great beer that doesn't need to slap you in the face. (not that there's anything wrong with that) Recommended.

Photo of velosuds
3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Thompson Brewery and Public House in South Salem. Thought this was more like an amber than an APA. Either way, a fairly unremarkable beer.

A-Presented with about a one inch head. Beer was a slightly hazy orange amber. Decent.

S-The Cascade hops are readily evident, contributing a pleasant citrusy/spicy aroma against the malt bill, that was more reminiscent of an amber.

T-Malty sweetness is definitely the most prominent, which made believe I was drinking an amber. Sufficient bitterness to be an APA, but the hops didn't contribute much to the flavor.

M-Was a little thin and not adequately carbonated.

O-Very mediocre and won’t have again.

Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.08/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a dark, cloudy orange with an average sized white head. Solid retention and rings of lacing left on the glass.

S - Not much here. Some carmel sweet malts, slight floral hops, and that is it.

T - Sweet malts, grass, leafy.

D - Good carbonation, medium body.

O - Average all around. Zzzz

Photo of PDXHops
3/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at the Edgefield in a shaker pint. Just getting around to reviewing this after having it countless times over the years. Dark, slightly hazy amber with a modest off-white head and scattered bits of lacing.

Smells of buttered brown sugar toast and caramel, light citric and earthy notes. A smoothish brew on on the thickish side of medium-bodied. Loads of caramel malt with just enough citric, earthy and spicy hops to keep it from getting bogged down. Not especially memorable, but always serviceable.

Photo of isualum12
2.62/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

First had: on tap at McMenamins Pub, Oak Hills in Beaverton Or

Poured orange with a haze through it. It had a white lace on it.

Smell was appracots and hops.

Taste malts hops with hops winning out in the end. Nothing that will blow your tastes buds away in my opion.

This was a dry beer. I couldn't drink 2 or three in an evening.

Photo of Rifugium
3.33/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at McMenamins Pub, Mill Creek, WA

Poured a dark amber with a small white head that receded to a fine layer of bubbles. Caramel malts in the aroma and some crisp hops coming through. Similar taste, with a pretty decent balance of malts and hops, but nothing overly distinctive. Light-medium mouthfeel with a decently dry finish; fairly drinkable.

Photo of jmbranum
4.2/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice hoppy American Pale Ale. Nice dark honey colored liquid with a slight haze.

Excellent balance of rich malt and hops. Brown bread and copper notes matched with both floral and bitter hops. Dry at first but leaves a lingering sweetness.

Very drinkable. nice medium mouthfeel.

(enjoyed on tap at McMenamin's Six Arms in Seattle)

Photo of RJLarse
3.33/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at the Spar Cafe in Olympia, WA.

Pours a copper/brown and hazy. Small foamy whitw head.

Smellis faint with a sweet breadscent. Smells short on hops.

Taste is a pale ale with sweet bread caramel and cinnamon flavors.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and clean. The beer is mildly carbonated.

A nice average drinkable pale ale.

Photo of djbreezy
3.68/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance - pours a darkish amber, good head and retention, medium lacing

smell - mostly malts, some hop aromas

taste - a very balanced apa, could be more hop forward but the bready notes are very tasty, has some decent pine/pineapple as well

mouthfeel - good carbonation, consistent, excellent body

drinkability - very balanced apa, good flavor

Photo of chumba526
2.6/5  rDev -28%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appears amber.

It smells of caramel, grapefruit and grass.

It tastes initially citrusy; there is a mild caramel flavor, a slight pine like taste. It does not taste bad but it is lacking in flavor. Also the caramel flavor is a little weird and metallic. This would be better ale if it had a larger body.

The beer has medium carbonation.

The drinkability is ok. I could drink a few of these.

This is not bad ale though I think the ale could be cleaner tasting and that the flavors could be a little stronger. Overall this is slightly below average.

Photo of Offa
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a good, solid, well-rounded pale ale that I had on tap at the McMenamins' Ram's Head in Portland.

Red-amber, it has a thin, off-white head soon thinning to a thin ring.

Aroma is light citrusy hops, some grapefruit, light caramelly fruitiness, light floweriness, but a bit muted and weak.

Taste is nice, zesty-flowery hop with citrus but not too much, jammy with firm orange marmalade, balanced with light caramelly-raisiny sweetness and light toasty grain stronger in the finish. Taste profile leans to the hoppy, but in bitterness and sweetness, it is fairly balanced, leaning slightly to the sweet side. Overall, character is a bit basic, lacking depth or complexity, but the character has enough balance and firmness while it is very drinkable.

Photo of Docer
3.51/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Just filled a growler.. but it's basically fresh off the tap....

- Dark semi-cloudy ruby copper color... thin later of white head down to a thin cake of fine foam.

- Sweet malts, English malts... nutty... bready... yeasty.. light citrusy and floral hops.... but malt dominates the nose.

- Sweet bready grains, nutty flavor.. smooth caramel, balanced with a nice bitter touch of hops with a shallow blend of citrus and floral qualities. Certainly balanced and smooth.

- Medium bodied... slightly creamy.. light bitter dryness.

- Overall a staple beer of theirs... it's been around for ever. Does it hold up to a lot of the craft beers out there today? Barely... but it still holds its own.

Photo of Magpie14
3.35/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: deep hazed copper color, looks like pennies in a glass. No head just a thin ring

S: thin floral and grassy hops, touch of caramel

T: kick of hops, caramel and malts sit way in back. Medium to heavy hop profile. Overall the hops are prominent, but the brew lacks in overall complexity

M: mild body, medium carbonation

D: hops hit you and not much else, hops reminiscently stale to some degree. Nice average-plus pale ale and by far the best showing I have had from McMenamins

Photo of carln26
3.97/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark mildly hazy copper with a thin head. Toffee caramel aroma with a stiff citrus grapefruit character. The taste has a nice bitterness throughout. Dark caramel with a grapefruit orange finish, light herbs. Slick and smooth mouth feel good drinkability. Hammerhead opened my eyes to the Northwest beer scene almost 10 years ago. It’s still the APA I use to measure others, and it never disappoints. Enjoyable, and drinkable.

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.58/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy amber color and is topped by a frothy, three-finger thick, light tan colored head. The aroma is sweet and redolent of crystal malt as well as hop notes of orange peel and grapefruit. The aroma is definitely dominated by hops, though it is certainly not as full as say an IPA, which it shouldn't be.

The beer has a solid hop bite to it up front that carries through to the finish. The finish also has a slight spritzy note that tastes like orange zest. The beer is only lightly sweet, but has a fairly full mouth-feel driven by crystal-type malts. These malts add a bit of balancing sweetness and caramel notes, which, while not that noticeable under the hop character, certainly helps in balancing the hop notes. The hops gives this a certain zippy twang that is quite nice, but in the end something seems to be missing from this beer. Perhaps the malt could be a bit more clean.

Photo of brendon
4.3/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cask conditioned is the way to go with this flagship McMenamins brew. This is why God created the Cascade hop. For only using a single hop this ale achieves a tremendous balance of bitterness, aroma and taste. The cask-conditioned serving provides the best cabonation, just enough and the right temperature. The crystal malt balances well with the hoppiness. This is a gold-standard Northwest pale ale.

Photo of charlatan
3.66/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I never would have guessed this was a pale ale, but I certainly enjoyed it.

This was cloudy and I can best describe its appearance by saying that it looked like cider. Not what you Americans would call hard cider, but the non-alcoholic grungy apple juice stuff. There was little head to speak of.

I was unable to discern any smell.

If I had to fault this one I'd complain that it was too watery, which is a standard complaint with McMenamins brews for me. Otherwise it was delightful. It was sweet and malty (pale ale? where are the hops? what is going on here?), but in a rather unusual manner which I can't quite put my finger on. This is very possibly one you have to drink to comprehend.

Photo of clvand0
3.97/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Came in a 22oz bottle. Poured an amber color with a small head and left almost no lacing on the glass. The aroma is mostly hops with citrus being the most prominent. The flavor was full of hops as well. The citrus is apparent. Slight bit of spice. Finish is bitter and clean.

Photo of GreenWBush
3.57/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

As I sat drinking this beer in Eugene Oregon I couldn't help but think that the world is slowly being dupped into the hazy area between IPA and Pale ale. Handed to me blind, I would have guessed this beer to be an IPA with the possible exception of the wateriness. That said, the Umpteen IPA on-tap at the same time was about equal in mouthfeel.

This beer is slightly grainy on the palate with an initial and final rush of hops. Middling are the sweet hints of malt, book ended and overshadowed with the ubiquitous Cascade lemon blast.

Personally, I would find this beer best reinvented as a lower alcohol cask bitter. The wateriness is rather annoying. I feel the only thing that put this one slightly ahead of similar examples is the inherent freshness of on-site brewing.

Photo of kmpitz2
4.42/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is nice. It pours a nice golden orange color. The nose is great. There are nice citrusy hops in the nose with a bit os the sweet malts in the background. Tasting this one is a treat. The taste goes citrusy hops, sweet malts, with a nice hop finish that doesn't linger but fades nicely. This is a fine beer. The beer is moderate to thick, with a nice balance of carb. Drinkability is very high on this one. What a nice beer.

to view more.
Hammerhead Ale from McMenamins
82 out of 100 based on 114 ratings.