Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Thunderhead Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Thunderhead Brewing CompanyThunderhead Brewing Company
Based on:
19 Beers
371 Hads
Place Score: 87
Reviews: 24
Visits: 32
Avg: 3.79
pDev: n/a
Taps: 16
Bottles: --
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

18 E 21st St
Kearney, Nebraska, 68847-5402
United States
phone: (308) 237-1558

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Place added by: BeerAdvocate

Pub is open 11:00 am to 1:00 am seven days per week.
Kitchen is open 11:00am to 10:00 pm Sunday thru Wednesday, but open 11:00 am to 11:00 pm Thursday thru Saturday.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 24 | Visits: 32
Reviews by bigkingken:
Photo of bigkingken
2.78/5  rDev -26.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2 | food: 2.5

I got to this place a little late in the evening so it was pretty dead, but that meant the service was decent. The restaurant itself is nothing spectacular, but they do well with what they have to work with. Banners of their four beers hang above a service window. There are lots of local decorations, and a staircase, which I’m now wondering whether or not it leads to more of a bar atmosphere with games, darts, and a real bar.

Their house special calzone was different but excellent. It featured a white sauce with ham I believe. However, the menu is quite limited, but I would definitely drop by here if driving across I-80.

There were only four house beers, and they weren't anything special. The best two were the honey wheat and a smoked amber, which was a bit overdone. And keep in mind that I hate honey wheats, which isn't a compliment for this particular one, more like a WTF to the rest of the beers here.

 921 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of Scott17taylor
3.98/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.5

Photo of Jager_Vaughn
3.98/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Photo of SD-Alefan
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

The Thunderhead brewpub is fairly typical -- lots of wood with plenty of beer memorabilia around. Booths are started to look a bit dated.
Nice selection of their beers on tap, about a dozen of them. over a couple of days, I tried about 8 of them and the quality was mixed. From weird to so-so to very good.
The service was excellent on the 1st visit when we sat in a booth during a busy time. Waiter was friendly and did a great job. Service was good on the 2nd visit when we bellied up to the bar.
The food was very good. Nice appetizer and really tasty pizza. About the only option for fresh craft beer in Kearney and worth the visit.

 636 characters

Photo of misternebbie
4.34/5  rDev +14.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.45/5  rDev -9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Photo of BeerTwigs
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Stopped in for lunch and a few beers while in town for business and I was happy to find a brewery in the small town of Kearney. A nice town but when you are in middle America the breweries are far a few between.

A decent place which I would describe as comfortable. A few tables, some bench seating and about 8-10 bar stools. The place was fairly clean and appeared to fit in with the surrounding area. There were 10-12 beers on tap, I believe about 6-7 were their own. Nice staff and friendly local customers makes for a good atmosphere.

The pizza was ok and the food seemed pretty standard for a small brewery and was reasonably priced. I had their IPA, Pale Ale and Dark Wheat. The Pale Ale and Dark Wheat were the better ones out of the bunch. Overall their beers are ok and will little competition in the area its easy to see why they keep the status quo.

I would definitely recommend stopping in and checking the place out when in town but I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to go here or find their beer.

 1,021 characters

Photo of LXIXME
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of Mothergoose03
3.13/5  rDev -17.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

This was stop #3 for my wife and I on a 21-day pub-crawl from Michigan to N. CA and OR. This brewery visit was to have dinner and to try their beers. The place is located in the downtown area in a storefront setting. The interior was typical of many brewpubs.

We ordered a pizza and a sampler flight of 5 of the 10 beers that were available. (We typically don’t like the styles that were the other 5 beers, i.e. fruit beers and light-flavored ales, so we didn’t order them.) There were also 6 guest beers on tap, and we ordered a pint of one of them that we were curious about. (I wish we hadn’t.)

The 5 beers from this brewery were all brewed to style, but there was nothing exceptional about them. The pizza that we ordered was also good, but just a typical pizza.

Although the place was okay, we know there are many brewpubs out there that offer a much better experience, but when you’re in the middle of Nebraska and looking to have a craft beer, this place is okay.

 981 characters

Photo of kvnklingler
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of Gatch
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of bulldogg915
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of MilwaukeeCrusher
3.29/5  rDev -13.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3

A shining beacon of light in the middle of nowhere? Maybe, but to those in western and central Nebraska this is craft beer. I think the Cornstalker Dark Wheat is very good, as well as the Tiny Tim which I had a chance to try. The rest of their line up is a little above average, as it would seem the palates of beer drinkers here might not be ready for a challenge of a variant of a DIPA or whatever. This is because the atmosphere there is good but not great which also to be said about the selection. With some little opportunities in the area this is a worthwhile stop, but not worth driving extra hours to visit. On a side note, I was told at another business in town their pizza is very good, although I haven't tried it.

 726 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

literally the only show from lincoln to denver as far as brewing goes along the i80 corridor. neat little pizza place in the small downtown area. pool hall upstairs, small bar downstairs with bench tables, relaxed, tons of taps. there were some ten beers from thunderhead on, as well as local and even foreign drafts, and a menu with mostly pizza. the beers were unique for nebraska, some good, some not so good. loved the leatherhead red, the jalapeno ale, and the smoked porter. the honey wheat in cans is also excellent. has a cheese bread, tasted good, average maybe a little better. felt bad, only one guy working the place and it was packed. i swear he was bartending, waiting, bussing, cooking, cleaning, it was a nightmare for him. nis name was shane and he was a great guy, who took the time to talk to me about the nebraska brewing scene, his beer interests, and advised us well about the town. i cant say anough about the guy, who was working so damn hard and was obviously stressed, but still recognized that we were beer people and took the time. great great man. overall a place i will surely stop in again just because of its location in the heart of the state in relative isolation, but it was a great stop. quality beers in what i had previously considered to be a beer wasteland.

 1,297 characters

Photo of Kittiwakedave
3.55/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Stopped there on the way home from Omaha. Not a fancy place at all, but comfortable. Although the menu is fairly limited the food was good - really enjoyed the thin crust pizza.They had several of their beers on tap as well as a few guest taps. The wheat beers - Golden Frau and Cornstalker Dark were much better than I anticipated as I'm not a wheat beer fan. We picked up a six pack of each to take home. I especially liked the Cornstalker Dark Wheat beer. It reminded me of a Brown with a nice dry finish. I would have liked to try a couple more of their beers but still had a few more hours of driving left to do. The staff was very friendly and helpful. We would definitively stop there again.

 698 characters

Photo of JayS2629
4.94/5  rDev +30.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Unfortunately I went here after eating and was unable to enjoy the full array of their two flites, but the service was friendly and eager to share passionately about the beer. The quality was top notch and fresh tasting. The selection was two flights of 20 beers so who can complain? The value was very reasonable and the beers were absolutely delicious. Everything I asked about was answered with full details promptly and passionately. Awesome artwork and the atmosphere was so comfortable and relaxed. Awesome place and I almost wish I lived nearby.

 552 characters

Photo of clancybs
4/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4

This is consistently a great place to go.

Outside, Thunderhead's location screams "welcoming, small town brewpub" surrounded by old brick buildings with old brick roads. The evening this review is being written about (Friday night) parking was sparse, but was still less than two blocks away.

Inside, the atmosphere was warm, medium-loud, and laid back. There a some booths and the bar with very cool original art work for the in-house brews. All the beers available were listed on a chalk board and broken up into Thunderhead brews and guest brews. Overall, the beer selection was fantastic with the home brews having plenty of variety and the guest brews seeming to follow a seasonal theme. Also, there is an upstairs section with a couple pool tables, seating

The beer was fantastic. Starting with a Honey Wheat, moving to a Dark Wheat and finishing with a seasonal "Tiny Tim" not a single sip let me down.

The service wasn't terrible. Sometimes I had to flag down a waitress, but it was busy and once she had my order, service was prompt.

The food, like the beer, was great. Its all cooked in an open fire, stone oven and seems to be made fresh in-house.

Over all, Thunderhead provides a great experience. The prices do seem a little high at first, but for the quality they are very reasonable.

 1,306 characters

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.15/5  rDev -16.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2.5 | food: 4

Hit this place up on part of our DLD trip. Brick exterior, two levels. Didn't go upstairs. Place was full of normal, non beer geek people (nice). Mostly there for dinner it seemed. Noticed they had their wheat beer I believe in cans. Brick and wood describes 90% of the exterior and interior.

Beer selection was sub par. The standard choices, nothing too adventurous. The ipa was good. Really liked their calzone, that was the best thing. Friendly staff, people, the place was Nebraska through and through. Polite, but unadventurous, tame, and all the beers seemed monolithic for the most part.

Bartender seemed out of the loop though, was talking just general brew culture, DLD, 3F, and some of our other favorite Midwest breweries, and the dude didn't know what we were talking about. But he was nice.

So it's nothing to go out of your way for, but if the time is right, its all about location, and this place is right off I-80, so if you need a bite to eat, might as well enjoy a beer or two as well.

 1,008 characters

Photo of RLaurel
4.53/5  rDev +19.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This is the best kept secret in Kearney!

Brian helped me out making some stellar choices in beer while navigating around the sold out offerings. Nothing new to me & to be expected at craft breweries.

The only down side of the bar top is there is a video game machine mounted to the bar top in the extreme right patron space. It is a problem if you order lunch with a crowded bar. It is very imposing, yet I expect a money maker for the management at certain times of the week.

The pizza I ordered was cooked as I specified. A thin cracker crust, well done with a savory, spicy tomato sauce. A very tasty meal with a good stout to wash it down with satisfied my hunger and thirst.

It is in a historic building with rough brick street in front. But it is well worth the stop.

I like their logo & motto very much! It has nothing to do with the taste of the beer, but it is extremely clever!

Be aware, they will only fill or refill growlers with their own labeling. The will not refill a generic growler. If you are traveling, you may run out of space to haul all that glassware. I wish they would change this. I don't know if this is by company policy or state regulation.

 1,175 characters

Photo of Yetiman420
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.5

Stopped in for a dinner on a Tuesday night while in nearby Grand Island. It's strange that a small, remote town like Kearny has two brewpubs although Platte has suspended the sale of their beer because of legal reasons.

Thunderhead is located in a historic building in a/the historic part of town. I sat at the bar and the main room is not all that big. There was an upstairs with a game room where quite a few younger, college-age kids were coming down to get the $1.50 special "rum punch" drink they had on tap.

I got the sampler and made the mistake of not keeping beer notes. They had coors lite and leinenkugels sunset wheat on draft and their house apricot or peach wheat could do much better if they "forced" people to that.

The bar tended warmed up to me and we talked beer and brewing. He poured me a couple of other samples on the house including a seasonal holiday mead that was on draft.

The fermenting tanks are pretty much in the bar area just around the corner.

I got the grilled wings which were underdone and not very spicy.

Overall a very nice stop if you happen to be in this part of the country.

 1,127 characters

Photo of Rayek
3.18/5  rDev -16.1%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 2.5

I visited here on my way through NE to IL. It was 3:00 on Tuesday, so not much was happening. I was one of perhaps 10 patrons. Aside from myself, everyone there seemed to be regulars. The bartender was certainly nice enough, but I definitely got an odd outsider vibe. Perhaps if I had been there when things were busy, my feelings would have been different.

Thunderhead is in an old store front in Kearney. The space is small and features the exposed brickwork seen in many brewpubs. There are perhaps a half dozen seats at the bar. The rest of the seating is made up of padded booths. Upstairs there are pool tables, but I didn't go check them out. The brewing equipment is in a room right behind the bar.

When I was there, four Thunderhead beers were on-tap. The remaining 10 or so taps were made up of guest beers. The Mild I had was pretty good.

Food is mostly pizza and calzones, plus some sandwiches. I had the Thunder Spud baked potato. It was a potato coated in cheese, chicken and bacon. The bacon was super salty and the chicken dry. If I return here, it definitely won't be for the food.

I'm now looking at my scores and realize that the final grade won't be that good. Thunderhead does seem to make good beer, but everything else is lacking. It is; however, one of the few craft beer bastions along I-80. That in and of itself should count for something.

 1,370 characters

Photo of Ragingbull
3.13/5  rDev -17.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3

After reading some of the other reviews on Beer advocate before our trip to Nebraska for the Sandhill Crane migration we were excited that there were brewpubs, but pensive because not all of the reviews for the two brewpubs in Kearney were flattering. I have to say we were pleasantly surprised. We stopped in to Thunderhead for lunch one day and had a couple of beer samplers and some lunch. The prices on the food were inexpensive as the base price for cheese pizza was around $5.76 plus more for toppings. We ordered a pizza and a sandwich that we shared with our kids. The pizza was good and the sandwich was satisfactory. The beers were good and we especially liked the dry irish stout and the irish red. They had a beer called brevity that was part hefeweizen and part pilsner that was pretty tasty even though I usually don't find myself making note of lighter beers. The place itself would be unremarkable in a large city next to the likes of Empyrean or Upstream, but for Kearney it was great. We tried to go to Platte River Brewery for dinner one night, but it was smoky and we had our children with us so we didn't try it. Its only a block away from Thunderhead though, so you could "pub crawl" and hit both. If you like beer and you are in Kearney then I would recommend Thunderhead for sure. I think that while my score will show "average," given the other options in the area this is definitely the place to go.

 1,425 characters

Photo of benito
2.93/5  rDev -22.7%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 1.5 | selection: 4 | food: 1.5

Kearney is home to the first (two) brewpub(s) along the long I-76/80 beer desert that begins east of Denver, so it's a welcome oasis for a needy (read, thirsty) beer traveler.

Thunderhead Brewing will draw folks in simply by being there, for better or for worse. With a spare dining room on the first floor and a pool hall upstairs, there's something a little unsettling in the air of the pub; it feels like a dive pool joint (lots of black, virtually no decoration, vaulting spaces without much there). Admittedly, I visited on a late Sunday afternoon, and the place did start to fill as dinner time rolled around, but my sense of being creeped out never quite left.

Fortunately, the beer is very good. They had nine house brews on tap, plus several guest handles, and two Continental-style offerings from Modern Monks--a "commercial" homebrew co-op that brews on the Thunderhead licencse in Grand Island. I sampled four of the house brews, and the espresso stout, honey wheat, and krystalweizen (nice style choice!) were all very good. Only the amber left something to be desired. Additional taps included a pilsner, porter, Irish stout, Scottish ale, and blonde.

In fact, the beer is strong enough for me almost to give this place a definitive thumbs up. Almost. The service and food were as lackluster as the decor, though not as sketchy. My server couldn't identify all of the taps (she thought the Spilker Ales Hopluia tap was Coors Light), the pizza was pricey and bland, and the bartender at one point left her post to run up the stairs and shout a derogatory slur at her friend who was playing pool.

Maybe stop for a growler or a quick pint, but the drawbacks outweigh the positives at this stop. I suggest putting pedal to the metal and hauling it to Nebraska Brewing or Upstream in Omaha.

 1,806 characters

Photo of Reneejane
3.63/5  rDev -4.2%
vibe: 1 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

we stopped in here when we were on a road trip a few days ago. We just got 2 beers and 2 pretzels. I put a 1 for atmosphere because the place stunk of Pine-sol when we came in. There was no place to sit that was free of the stench. I couldn't stand it especially because we couldn't smell our beers. I had the IPA, so that's really saying something. I hope they perhaps read my review, and decide to either improve ventilation in the bathrooms or find a different cleaning product. As a woman, though, I have an extra sensitive nose and so out of place smells tend to really bother me... That's my caveat for those who complain about my review.

Overall the bartender was helpful, nice, and prompt. The IPA tasted great and my husband ordered the brown which was an interesting brown in that it was hoppy and malty for a brown. The pretzels were a great deal at .99 each because they were big and yummy.

The beer prices weren't obvious enough though, I was surprised that the IPA costed more than the brown ale. I guess I'm just used to similar pricing for most of the beers. The IPA was $6.00 and the brown was $3.75 so that's a noticeable difference. Perhaps I didn't read the menu well enough. They do price on the ingredients though, and there were plenty of hops in the IPA. But I didn't know hops were so expensive, but I read in the Dec '07 BA mag that hops pricing is escalating.

So, overall, not bad, but I probably won't stop back here (because of the pine solvent smell).

 1,484 characters

Photo of BadRockBeer
3.18/5  rDev -16.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 3

Selection: The day I visited they were offering about ten house brews. Honey Wheat, Amber Ale, Irish Red Ale, Oatmeal Stout, Dry Irish Stout, Imperial Porter, IPA, Belgian Double, Scottish Ale, and an Espresso Stout. They also offered about 5 guest taps.

Quality: The only beer I sampled was the Espresso Stout. All I have to say is Wow! This was a great desert beer, tons of flavors, very complex. Great quality!

Staff Knowledge and Service: The bartender wasn’t very friendly, I asked some questions about the brews and he would answer me with yes or no answers. Very lame! I was pretty bummed about that so I only stuck around for one brew but I would have like to have had more.

Ambiance: The place was filled with a hand full of locals. The establishment was pretty neat and tidy. I don’t think they allow smoking inside the building either. I will probably return to this place again.

 901 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Thunderhead Brewing Company in Kearney, NE
87 out of 100 based on 24 ratings.