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Thunderhead IPA - Pyramid Breweries, Inc.

Not Rated.
Thunderhead IPAThunderhead IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.

649 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 649
Reviews: 428
rAvg: 3.38
pDev: 15.68%
Wants: 4
Gots: 19 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Pyramid Breweries, Inc. visit their website
Washington, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  6.70% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Jason on 09-16-2001

A golden nectar with a striking floral aroma, Thunderhead holds a harmonious balance between its bold hop bitterness and subtle malt background.
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Ratings: 649 | Reviews: 428 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.31/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Transparent tangerine with a few streams of lazy bubbles gliding up to a pale lemon colored cap. It doesn't look like the typical head that one sees on exceptionally hoppy beer, but it still looks good. Pillars of thin, sudsy lace appear on the glass eventually.

For a beer that is 'bursting with hops' (to quote the label), the nose sure isn't bursting with hops or with anything else. It's way too mild for an IPA. I wouldn't even let an APA get away with an aroma like this. As it warms, the beer smells a little like sweaty feet.

On the palate... there's still no bursting goin' on. The malt bill consists of 100% Tomahawk for those who care. As the ounces pass, I'm beginning to sense that Thunderhead IPA is hoppier than I've given it credit for. The citrusiness, kept in check by an impressive maltiness, still manages to make an impression.

There's so much sweet, sticky malt present that the hops don't have that bright, high-intensity flash that I crave. In the end, just enough flavor finds its way to my taste buds for me to bump the flavor score one more notch. An impressive amount of bittersweetness lingers on the tongue, a testament to the sheer amount of ingredients packed into this ale. So why isn't it more flavorful? I suspect the answer is that it's brewed by Pyramid.

The mouthfeel is on the full side for the style. All that malt provides a wonderful lushness and the aforementioned sticky, sappiness. A low, but still effective, amount of carbonation is also a definite positive.

Thunderhead IPA needs one thing and one thing only to be a pretty fair version of the style. The brewers need to find a way to unlock more flavor from their chosen hop. Or, better yet, come up with a new hop bill. Something starting with the letter 'C' perhaps. This is my favorite Pyramid beer to date. Not that that's saying a whole helluva lot.

Photo of jamesdergen
4.02/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a standard light honey color with an ample foamy off-white head that dies out in a minute or so.

Smell: Big strong citric hop aroma

Taste: Aggressively hopped with some nice bitterness in the aftertaste. Nice nutty maltiness in the back. Pleasantly surprising.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied for the style and the hop assault on my taste buds is not too intense.

Drinkability: The alcohol is well-hidden and it goes down smooth.

A nice, inexpensive, underrated IPA. I'll probably pick up a sixer sometime.

Photo of TastyTaste
4.23/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not sure if this is the same as the old IPA, but here goes.

Appearance: A nice copper color, good visible carbonation. Nice loooking head.

Smell: Nice fruity hops, piney and citrusy, very full.

Taste: Wow, holy hops. I don't remember this from the pyramid IPA. What a large amoutn of hops, this is bordering on a double. Lip smacking, slightly sweet, very good.

A very nice beer, big and hoppy, fairly priced, and one that I could see myself going back to.

Photo of Ricochet
3.62/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've tried many IPA's , so much that it's getting to be the same , each one I try. I find myself liking them more than the APA because I'm all about the hops hops hops. Here is another good IPA. I could easily drink a few of these tonight. Rough day at work.

Smell was odd, it didn't smell really fruity, really hoppy, a sweet smell that is hard to describe, but not welcoming. Appearence was orange with good head. Average really

Mouth, a little different, low foam factor, went down really quickly. I'd say better than average because it drinks fast.

It's bitter, it tastes a little like grapefruit, but the plus, it seems to make neither of those notes appear center stage. Alcohol was well tempered, and this didn't have the IPA edge. Like it or hate it, it is more like a Pale than an IPA, yet it's all IPA. I loved it.

So, yes, I'll get this again. Reasonably priced and I don't have to smell it if I drink out of a bottle. Good stuff Pyramid.

Photo of BEERchitect
3.13/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Ok, the new branding got me interested in trying the beer again.

After comparing notes to the beer I had four years ago, this seems to be a simplified IPA. It has a moderate hop aroma that edges on pine, lemon-grass, and pine. Malts obviously take a backseat going into the taste. Before then, the beer takes on a brilliantly clear copper appearance, but with little head formation or retention. Malt profile remains moderate to light because of great attenuation and crispness; maybe too light or thin in the end. It seems that the malts are all fermented out. Hops are much more stong in the bitterness than in the aroma or flavor, making it a quite bitey and nearing astringency in the end. Despite the light body and maltiness, the beer acheives a bold alcohol content that becomes evident in the dryness and sensation on the palate.

Ultimately, I think the beer is quite nice because of the moderate price. But compared to the best IPA's this beer doesn't have the togetherness or the restraint on the alpha-acids that it takes to compete.

Photo of nlmartin
3.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer was poured into a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a light amber coloration. The head was an inch thick off honey coloration. Thick lacing was left behind on the glass.

Smell: The beer intially smelled malty then gave way to floral hoppyness.

Taste: Sweet and bready on the intial taste. This gives way to a pine needle hoppyness.

Mouthfeel: The beer is light to maybe meduim bodied. Slightly more carbonation would help this beer.

Drinkability: The beer is not particularly complicated. This beer is a solid drinking beer with minimal geeking. Over all this is a good IPA for the price.

Photo of kdog630
3.46/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured to a nice light amber with a good head that lasted a good long time. Very clear with a healthy effervescence.

The bottle said it was bursting with hops and the Web site boasts 67 IBU. The hops are there, but is it really bursting? I'd call it average when compared to some of the higher rated examples of the style. Maybe it's the Tomahawk hops that I'm just not used to.

That said, the taste and mouthfeel were excellent. The malt fills the entire mouth as the sweetness gives way to the bitterness of the finish.

A very drinkable brew. Refreshing for sitting around with friends after dinner or while cooling off after mowing the lawn. I will have it again.

Photo of imrichbeeeatch
4.01/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into pint glass. Copper (new penny) colored with nice head containing big bubbles. Aroma is full; citrus, pine, mint, follwed by malty sweetness. Very nice hope flavor, definitely American. Flavor contained everything listed above, no surprises. Finishes bitter, but not harsh. Very balanced beer, not particularly exciting, but I would drink this again.

Photo of blackie
3.48/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: Pours a 1" off white head that recedes to a nice looking layer of bubbles on top. The beer is a light copper color.

smell: Balanced towards the aromas of citrusy hops and tropical fruits, with just a little malt character. Slight alcohol presence. Smells good, but nothing stands out.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is smooth, just around a high medium. The body is on the lighter side of the medium range.

taste: There is a big, citrusy hop bitterness that makes itself known at first contact to the tongue and lasts well into the finish. There is definately not enough malt here to balance it out, but it does provide some sweetness. Some hints or caramel, pine resin, and tropical fruit are found.

drinkability: easy to drink, but just a so-so beer as a whole

Single 12 oz. bottle purchased at Whole Foods on a whim

Photo of Toddv29424
4.23/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The smell of this beer is a little strange...its a bit like spoiled yeast. Usually with an IPA there is more of a hint toward the hops, but I can discern almost nothing from the smell. The taste however is terrific. The initial taste is much like a traditional ale with a bland taste, but about half-way through the sip the taste of hops explodes in your mouth and takes over. Its a very fruity taste unlike many of the IPA's out there, which tent to forsake hop amount over flavor. Much like other Pyramid ales, this is very focused on taste and is a treat to enjoy.

Photo of whynot44
3.7/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear copper/amber color with a nice ivory head that subsides to a thin layer but continues to leave a nice lacing on the glass all the way down.

The aroma is all hops - pine needles and grapefruit.

The flavor is much the same, the hops strike right up front and continue through the aftertaste with only a hint of caramelly malt surfacing in the middle. This is definitely a hophead's brew. Personally, I enjoyed it with burgers and polish sausage. The hops worked well to cut the grease and clean the palate for another bite.

Definitely worth a try if you are a hops lover.

Photo of masikon
3.38/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a very pale amber, with yellow as well...fairly light for style. Head development and retention were grade A+ with a perfect 2 finger white head that left lacing caked on the glass. Nose was very hoppy, full of mostly pine cone scents with very little maltiness to be found. Tastes how it smells, lots of piny hops without much else, no real malt backbone here to save the day. Overall this is ok although it really isnt't very complex at all, the hops are done in a way that makes them one dimensional....I'm not sure if it's just the varity/varieties used or they technique but there is some depth missing. Also the lack of any real malt lends the bitterness to be slightly repulsing after half a pint.

Photo of Brent
3.85/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not a bad effort at the pumped-up style. Poured a hazy apricot. Aroma of fresh hops. A touch syrupy sweet in the malt with substantial mouthfeel that was a bit too sticky. Blunt fresh hops bittering, with lingering bittersweet finish. An APA that sticks a toe in the double IPA pool to check it out. ABV is a little prominent at first. Reminded me of a more assertive Bert Grant's Fresh Hop Ale.

Photo of Iguana
4.37/5  rDev +29.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearence - Pours a coppery amber with a nice half inch frothy head.

Smell - Smell is a nice grassy citrus hoppy scent, smells pretty darn good.

Taste - This is good, tastes hoppy, with a nice hint of citrus. Not too bitter, just very hoppy. Really enjoyable which is nice since I havent cared much for any other offering from this brewery. This one hit the spot though.

Mouthfeel - Pretty smooth, nice hop/malt balance which tones down the bitterness which for me is good.

Drinkability - This one is a winner for that hot afternoon, or when I get back from working out. Could toss a few back in a session.

Photo of amicar
4.3/5  rDev +27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice orange- tinged amber with slight white head. Smells flowery and citrusy. Taste is a smooth hoppiness giving way to crisp bitterness and malt predominating. Refreshing with a nice mouthfeel. I could knock a few of these back easily. Very nice.

Photo of silver0rlead
3.32/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy golden copper color, and a thin white head despite a vigorous pour. The aroma has some nice juicy citrus and pine character, as well as some sweet caramel.malt. The flavor has a muted (for american IPA standards) citrusy and floral hop component, and what really comes through is a caramel sweetness, as well as some toasted bread. Mouthfeel is medium with moderate carbonation, but drinkability is quite good. It seems like they were reaching for a broader audience with this beer, and dumbed it down...a descent IPA but there are a hundred better examples out there for the same price.

Photo of DogFood11
1.98/5  rDev -41.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

This highly filtered IPA is Orange to copper and forms a skim layering of head.

Grassy, some faint caramel and a sweet but subtle malt presence.

Grapefruit, hints of apricot. Musky middle to finish really detracts from the overall score as it lingers and is a bit rough in the smell and taste. I have to say on the upside I think this brew just needs some tweeking as the hops are delicious and the malt profile seems decent enough there was just a killer musty musk that I coundn't get passed. It was a fresh sample.

As much as I like pyramid beer this is not their best effort as the middle of this beer gets muddled. it wasn't for me.

Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.35/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I don't know how to tell this is "Thunderhead Pale Ale", but the picture looks like the bottle I have.

Appearance: Poured a hazy golden yellow color with a small 1/4" head that didn't retain at all. There were a few bubbles rising, but they only maintained a small ring around the top of the beer.

Aroma: Super reserved aroma as the beer was cold. As it warms a bit, I can get a bit of the hops, and it seems like there are more British hops in here than American varieties. This is surprising for a brewery from Washington. There is a bit more citrus and caramel coming out as the beer warms a bit.

Taste: Wow! Now this beer has a bitter balance. I didn't see that one coming. I didn't get a bunch of hops in the nose, but there sure are some in the bittering part of the profile. Whew! There is a bit of harshness to it, but nothing more than you get with some of Stone's products. The finish is bitter, and there is a slight warming from the alcohol.

Opinion: Well, I am not too big on IPA's, and for that matter...I didn't really care for Pyramid's Weizen beer. I had preconceived expectation of this beer that I am glad were proven wrong. This beer isn't too bad. The nose is too light for the assertive bittering, but it's not objectionable. I personally would have balanced it differently, but I would try this beer again.

Photo of allengarvin
3.57/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Crystal clear golden orange color, but even when I tried to induce a head by lifting the pour at the last, the foam faded away very quickly. Aroma is better: a powdery, grassy hop nose and a faint hint of malt. Any maltiness in the taste, apart from a crackery biscuitness, is quickly subsumed under a huge hop flavor (tending spicy, resinous) and high bitterness, forcibly drying the beer into a lingering finish. Medium to thin bodied.

A powerfully bitter beer, but I find it unbalanced. It's one-dimensional.

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.08/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From the neck label:"Way back when, IPAs were loaded with hops to stand up to oceans, elephants, finicky Colonists, and spicy curries. Likewise, our India Pale Ale is a powerful beer for bold tastes." On the larger label, "...bursting with hops."

Well, that certainly sounds right up my alley.

Let's see for sure, though.

Appearance: clear, pale tangerine color, brief white head, soon slims to a faint ring...

Aroma: mild hops, soapy, ...floral, a bit spicy, but muted...can't pick out the variety(ies), but it's a very low-key nose, this one. Can't say I approve.

Taste: unremarkable entrance on the palate. Brisk, hoppy bitterness rides along the mouth, sticking to the tongue, gliding around the roof and various crevices and canyons. As for the flavor, we have nothing more than the hops up front, then ...? Surprisingly thinly bodied, with only the bitterness felt, at first.

Further on, I get more fruit, honey, sweetness. But not much more.

Then, I tried something. No elephants or oceans are nearby, but I do have some nicely curried food. Hey, I wonder how it would stack up?

And ....the ThunderHead turns into iced tea next to the spicy maraka sanga hurdi.

A very simplistic, under-acheiving IPA, neither bold, nor bursting. Missing malt, as well something essential: flavor!

3.5/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - 1/4" off white head that disappears quickly to a ring. Hazy orange beer. Light lace.

Smell - Typical grapefruit/pine hop aroma. A little caramel from the malt. Balanced nose for a West Coast IPA.

Taste - Slight citrus. Mild lingering bitterness. A little toffee. Subdued.

Mouthfeel - Fuller bodied almost thick mouthfeel. Fairly dry finish. Low to mid level carbonation.

Drinkability - Average. Tastes more like an APA. Not nearly as juicy a hop profile as most IPA's. Easy to drink none the less.

Photo of ztprez
4.3/5  rDev +27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a golden amber with soft white head. Glistens in the glass. Nice smell of hops. The first taste has just the right bite of hop blending with the sweetness of the malt.

This beer goes down smooth and is great alone or with a nice stew. This beer is great for someone who wants that lingering taste of hops, but does not want to be totally overwhelmed with bitterness.

Photo of mntlover
3.58/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pale dull orange color lightly hazy with a finger nad hald sized white head that laces well.

Aroma is grapefruit dominating everything else might be a bit one dimensional but it smells nice.

Taste is like aroma lots of bitter grapefruit flavors that linger some herbal like hops try to come out. Finish is lingering grapefruit with hints of pine resin. Some might say this is to bitter one sided IPA not much malt just enough to carry the hops. But if you like bitter hops its a decent IPA just don't expect any balance.

Mouthfeel is light side of medium mellow carbonation.

Drinkability is ok not the best IPA but its enjoyable enough if you like hops.

Photo of GreenWBush
2.35/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A new find at the local liquor stop, reasonably priced at about $7 a sixer.

Emerges from the bottle a prototypical IPA, just-past-macro gold. Smallish head, but impressive incremental lace rings.

Nose is zingy, fresh, appealing. Its easy to say 'grapefruit' with every single IPA but this is one of the first i've noticed that actually reminds me of paring a grapefruit. Fresh peeled orange.

But the flavor, my god the flavor - what an abomination. This is a beer that would make people who have never had IPA think that the style is poison. Pithy, astringent bitterness that bites at the tongue completely lacking any sweetness. Like putting your tongue on your car's battery. A few hints of a buttery malt character at room temperature.

Thin, thin, thin mouthfeel. Like chilled hop-tea.

Completely undrinkable.

Photo of pjwilson
3.99/5  rDev +18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First off, there is some real confusion here with the mulitple Pyramid listings. Bottling plants are in Berkeley and Seatle, with additional brewpubs in Walnut Creek and Sacto. I've seen it with the Thunderhead label and just plain IPA;it's the same beer. Anyways this is a good beer, on the milder side for IPA's. It's often on sale at the store making it a good fall back beer. Certainly a step above stuff like Redhook.
Appearance: bright orange color. Ok, the head fades pretty fast.
Smell: I really dig the smell on this one alot. It'a great smell. Malts overpower the hops only the slightly. The hops are all Tomahawk, which is the same as columbos. the beer is a good rep of that nice oily hop. It's spicy.
Taste: A knock below the smell. Here the bitterness disconnects with the flavor and sort of rides over it. That maltly taste from the smell is there, along with some spicy hops, and then followed by bitterness. This has a whole different thing going on from most IPAs. Pair this with some Indian or Thai food.
mouthfeel: full, followed by that bitter aftertaste
Drinkability: There are more drinkable beers than this, but this is a good drinker.
This is a solid beer and the best from Pyramid, perhaps their only great beer. BTW, this isn't any better on tap.

Thunderhead IPA from Pyramid Breweries, Inc.
77 out of 100 based on 649 ratings.