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Hammerhead Ale - McMenamins

Hammerhead AleHammerhead Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

85 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 85
Reviews: 36
rAvg: 3.62
pDev: 10.5%


Brewed by:
McMenamins visit their website
United States

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

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-09-2003)
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Ratings: 85 | Reviews: 36 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of MaltsOfGlory
MaltsOfGlory

Oregon

3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2011 04:26:01 | More by MaltsOfGlory
Photo of olfolxholme
olfolxholme

California

3.85/5  rDev +6.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-23-2011 21:44:39 | More by olfolxholme
Photo of Gueuzedude
Gueuzedude

Arizona

3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2006 03:46:26 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of clvand0
clvand0

Kentucky

3.95/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2004 19:02:46 | More by clvand0
Photo of kmpitz2
kmpitz2

Tennessee

4.43/5  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.

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2004 16:42:05 | More by kmpitz2
Photo of SheepNutz
SheepNutz

Kentucky

4.3/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bomber poured into a pint glass. It pours a medium amber color with one finger of head. There is almost no lacing on the glass. The smell is full of citrusy hops, and lots of em! A nice strong hoppy character never hurt nobody! The taste is a good balance of caramel maltiness and juicy hops. Just a little bit more on the hoppy side, which is awesome. The body is rock solid. The drinkability is great as well. A nice APA.

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2004 04:56:49 | More by SheepNutz
Photo of ngandhi
ngandhi

Illinois

3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
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.
ng

Serving type: bottle

07-15-2004 04:04:42 | More by ngandhi
Photo of ManekiNeko
ManekiNeko

Virginia

4.2/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber served lightly chilled in a pint glass.

Appearance: Cloudy orange amber topped by a large and thick offwhite head. Visible carbonation helps the retention of a thick layer of foam. Lacing typical to the style was left on the sides of the glass.

Smell: Wonderfully fruity smell of orange and grapefruit citrus. Undertones of spruce and gummi bears. Peppery notes. That's just the hops. Pale malt aromas pick up their head every now and then.

Taste: Hoppy, but not aggressively so. Bready malts in perfect balance with snappy citric and peppery hops. Lervely. Long-lasting bitter hop aftertastes and belches.

Mouthfeel: Solid medium body with nice crispness. Quite refreshing.

Drinkability: Session beer for sure. I can see why this would be a top seller for them as it's an exemplary pale ale of the West Coast sort. Would go great with pub fare like fish and chips.

Other: A big thanks to my coworker for schlepping this back from Oregon for me. Dude's gonna get married in a brewery/vineyard. How cool is that?

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2004 03:31:23 | More by ManekiNeko
Photo of Reidrover
Reidrover

Oregon

3.9/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ok had to go home to the wife..but bought this to go in the 22 oz bottle ( brown).
Very nice looking ale , when poured carefully ( this seems to be unfiltered, loads of yeast at the bottom of the bottle)..nice light brownish almost glows small but persistant off white head..nice carbonation.
Nice aroma of malts hits my nose fast and stays..its fresh at leat.
Taste is very balanced indeed..first there is the sweetness of the malts then the hops appear suddenly to give bitterness..very good.
Very good on the palaye smooth .
Very drinkable..i could drink quite a few in a sitting.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2003 15:22:31 | More by Reidrover
Photo of Elemental
Elemental

Oregon

3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2003 22:37:13 | More by Elemental
Photo of feloniousmonk
feloniousmonk

Minnesota

3.65/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2003 22:52:32 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of Redrover
Redrover

Illinois

3.74/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

03-18-2013 17:47:41 | More by Redrover
Photo of Fatehunter
Fatehunter

Oregon

3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

12-27-2012 00:30:16 | More by Fatehunter
Photo of flagmantho
flagmantho

Washington

3.9/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

12-06-2011 04:39:34 | More by flagmantho
Photo of velosuds
velosuds

Oregon

3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

09-14-2011 03:35:41 | More by velosuds
Photo of HuskyinPDX
HuskyinPDX

Washington

3.08/5  rDev -14.9%
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

Serving type: on-tap

09-06-2011 20:17:03 | More by HuskyinPDX
Photo of PDXHops
PDXHops

South Carolina

3/5  rDev -17.1%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

08-06-2011 13:31:40 | More by PDXHops
Photo of isualum12
isualum12

Idaho

2.6/5  rDev -28.2%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

07-24-2011 13:19:35 | More by isualum12
Photo of Rifugium
Rifugium

Pennsylvania

3.35/5  rDev -7.5%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

05-21-2011 19:48:10 | More by Rifugium
Photo of jmbranum
jmbranum

Oklahoma

4.22/5  rDev +16.6%
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)

Serving type: on-tap

05-19-2011 02:20:59 | More by jmbranum
Photo of RJLarse
RJLarse

Washington

3.35/5  rDev -7.5%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

05-17-2011 17:45:07 | More by RJLarse
Photo of djbreezy
djbreezy

Washington

3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
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

Serving type: on-tap

02-07-2011 04:31:45 | More by djbreezy
Photo of chumba526
chumba526

Oregon

2.6/5  rDev -28.2%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

12-27-2010 04:38:03 | More by chumba526
Photo of Offa
Offa

California

3.75/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

09-23-2010 21:51:36 | More by Offa
Photo of Docer
Docer

Washington

3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

Serving type: growler

09-05-2010 02:17:56 | More by Docer
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Hammerhead Ale from McMenamins
82 out of 100 based on 85 ratings.