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Hammerhead Ale - McMenamins

Not Rated.
Hammerhead AleHammerhead Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

38 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 38
Hads: 124
Avg: 3.57
pDev: 20.73%
Wants: 0
Gots: 19 | 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 (70) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 38 | Hads: 124
Photo of kscaldef
2/5  rDev -44%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

At McMenamin's Edgefield.

Wow, this is wretched. A turbid, under fermented mess. I can't believe they are actually serving this keg. This certainly isn't my favorite APA, but it's not usually this bad.

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Photo of chumba526
2.6/5  rDev -27.2%
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.

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Photo of isualum12
2.62/5  rDev -26.6%
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.

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Photo of PDXHops
3/5  rDev -16%
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.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.08/5  rDev -13.7%
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

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Photo of jcalabre
3.2/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I originally sampled this brew on 25 August 2002. I am writing this review from my notes
If you're travelling in Oregon w/ kids, like I was, McMenamin's is the brewpub for you: good food, kid friendly, better than average beer.
This is a cloudy amber colored ale w/ a hoppy flavor. It has a large tan head. Very nice, drinkable beer.

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Photo of henrysunset
3.21/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Slightly darker than mac&jack's; brownish unfiltered amber. Nice tan head. Smells just like a clean IPA with only a noticable hoppy scent.

Taste was hoppy with a twang of citrus. Flavor resembles that of an IPA, but it has a a less clean taste, with a slightly wheaty flavor as well.

Since it isn't filtered, it has a nice and sorta thick texture. All said, pretty nice, if only a bit too acidic.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.33/5  rDev -6.7%
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.

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Photo of RJLarse
3.33/5  rDev -6.7%
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.

 331 characters

Photo of Magpie14
3.35/5  rDev -6.2%
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

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Photo of Elemental
3.51/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Great head retention with a good copper brown color. The smell is a little off, it has almost a bit of a sour smell. I was a little turned off by the smell, but the taste made of for that. The taste is a bit sweeter when it comes in the bottle rather than having it from the pub on tap. After the sweetness comes the finishing taste which offers a dry slightly bitter taste. Overall the beer is pretty good but I would suggest trying it at the brew pub rather than in the bottle.

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Photo of Docer
3.51/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

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Photo of ngandhi
3.51/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Hammerhead Ale is one of only a handful of American pale ales I've encountered with such a long, telling nose. Everything is there in all its forms. Hops, of course, in all their grapefruity glory, but also a tinge of caramel and a creaminess -- if you can smell creaminess -- from the yeast.

And, as the nose grows bigger, the truth wears weak and thin. The palate is destroyed by a watery body that does nothing to accentuate the hops or malt. Instead of going the way of some thin pale ales and giving us a disgusting hop tea, this beer seems aware of its own ineptitude, raising the white flag before we even go to war. There is some buff to the beer. In the midpalate the body seems awakened, soft and filling. But then the flavor itself is too thin, washing out to nothing more than afterthoughts of dried hop flowers and an old bar of nougat.

What is there is pleasant -- classic PacNW tropical/grapefruit Cascade profile that is almost noble, softer than other notable Cascade beers like Sierra Nevada Pale; light grain on the finish to round out the beer; delicate caramel for color, body, structure, and just a hint of residuals in this otherwise overattenuated beer; a creaminess as satisfying as any APA; and a perfect 1/8-inch head that won't quit.

But if there is a single identifiable element to this beer, it is the mire of its mass production. Anyone could make this beer. Anyone has.

Relax, relax.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

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Photo of GreenWBush
3.57/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.57/5  rDev 0%
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.

 583 characters

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

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Photo of Thrasher
3.63/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Bagdad. This is not the best pint of Hammerhead I've had; I wonder from which McMenamins brewery it originates. It's still pretty good though, I had no trouble polishing off a pitcher of it over the course of the movie. This is an exceptionally fruity pale ale, a ripe orange amber color and more reminiscent of New England beers such as Magic Hat or Ipswich than some other West Coast ales. The head is good and lasting but the mouthfeel seems a bit thinner than I remember other samples being. There's a judicious amount of hops but the beer is not overly bitter. I think this is one of the all-around better beers McMenamins offers, which stands to reason since it's available at all their pubs.

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Photo of MaltsOfGlory
3.63/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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Photo of beerguy101
3.63/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Medium copper color, slightly cloudy. Medium head. Aroma is floral hops and a touch of malts. A medium bodied pale ale. Malts are nutty and slightly sweet. Hops are grapefruity and floral. Nicely balanced. Sweet, but with a nice hop bite. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Finish is slightly bitter with a touch of floral hops.

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Photo of velosuds
3.65/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

 661 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.65/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color is a typically aley dark orange, head is a nice white that knows it's place. Aroma: fresh, citrusy, grapefruity, nice, and tasty, but nothing to shout about. Fits perfectly in the form of "American Ale", without going overboard in any way. This seems to be the "male" version of the two bottled varieties this company offers. The other is called Ruby Ale, and provides hints of fruit over a wheaty base, for the girls, you know.

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Photo of charlatan
3.66/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

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Photo of djbreezy
3.68/5  rDev +3.1%
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

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Photo of Redrover
3.74/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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Hammerhead Ale from McMenamins
82 out of 100 based on 38 ratings.