Lightning Brewery

Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Wheat Beer - Hefeweizen
Ranked #188
Ranked #33,477
3.76 | pDev: 11.7%
Lightning Brewery
California, United States
Very Good
Reviews: 23 | Ratings: 67 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of BowWowWowYippyYoIPA
BowWowWowYippyYoIPA from California

3.94/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aromas and flavors of dried pineapple, lemon, banana and cloves. Overall this is a good American hefeweizen, but a bit too much of a bitter hop finish.

Jul 08, 2015
Photo of brentk56
brentk56 from North Carolina

3.3/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Pours very, very cloudy with a rather modest head; good stickage and a decent amount of lace

Smell: Banana and bubblegum, with some wheat bread underneath

Taste: Wheat bread, up front, with some banana and bubblegum, in the middle; very phenolic, after the swallow, with a strong band-aid flavor and a slightly metallic finish; tartness in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; the mouthfeel is just all wrong for a hefe, which should be creamier and have more buoyant carbonation

Overall: It is a rare American craft brewery that can brew a great hefe; sadly, Lightning is not one of them

Jan 17, 2015
Photo of MadCat
MadCat from New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev -6.9%

Appearance: Hazy orangey yellow color, reminded me a bit of orange juice. Not much head

Smell: Citrusy, wheaty

Taste: Citrus up front, then wheat flavors, not much in the way of traditional hefeweizen yeast flavors

Mouthfeel: Light body, good carbonation

Overall: Somewhat disappointing. Not too much of a hefeweizen. Might be better classified as a different wheat style, though I still feel it is just an unusual wheat beer

Oct 16, 2014
Photo of jjh19
jjh19 from California

3.05/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Appearance: Golden orange with a decent head.

Smell: I got subtle citrus in the smell.

Taste: My first taste was quite sharp. I didn’t really get as much lemon or orange as I would have thought from the aroma.

Mouthfeel: Too much bite. A smoother hef where the flavors find balance is more to my liking. Perhaps not an ideal bottle of Thunderweizen?

Drinkability: Okay, I guess. Not a favorite.

Apr 07, 2014
Photo of SanDNigel
SanDNigel from California

3.77/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A- Hazy golden straw with bright white head
S- Deep sweet wheaty goodness with some banana-citrus. Smells like a good Hefe
T- It is sweet and bready, but the fruity still comes through. Not as clean as some of the traditional German Hefe's but still delicious. I have had this beer both from bottle and tap and cold/fresh from the keg has consistently been much better.
M- Crisp, with good sized bubbles that don't whisk away the flavor too fast
O- Its a good beer. With style in mind I think Lightning did a great job and I will definitely buy this beer again when the situation presents itself.

Sep 03, 2013
Photo of Smakawhat
Smakawhat from Maryland

4.26/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a wheat ale glass.

Really great appearance for a hefe. Cloudy and unfiltered, simple orange and light peach body color, solid, with some faint hues, some rising carbonation if you look carefully, but a real fantastic good white creamy head. Great retention and staying power.

Nose is interesitng. Lactic sourness and mild lemon, not much wheat chew dense malt though. It smells more like a Berliner Weisse hefe mix, but a faint hint of bubblegum like sense. Smells airy and subtle.

Wow what a great palate. Great balance of dense malt, and airy grain, but missing a bit of chew. Lemon dense finish, mixing with a Berliner like faint sour but so slight. Mild hop on the finish mixes with the lemon so perfectly, which I've never felt on a hefe before, mixing with a faint banana. A great mouthfeel with cream density.

Overall this is a real interesting take on a hefe, and it's really dam good and impressive. It's stupidly drinkable. A giant banana bomb, or classic hefe this is not, it's something truly unique I really dig it.

Aug 21, 2012
Photo of Halcyondays
Halcyondays from California

3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood I,

A: Pours a light burnt orange with a medium white head, which leaves excellent lace in the mid-day sunshine.

S: Banana and bubblegum esters, with some nice yeasty flair.

T: Heavy on the banana, but does have some clove and whole wheat bread to add to the overall flavour. Some mild lemon notes as well.

M: Creamy mouthfeel, light-bodied, not super crisp, but refreshing.

O: It's nice to see and American Hefe that's actually a hefe. Very much to style and very tasty. I've liked a lot the few hefes I've seen coming out of San Diego County; I think it's because in this style, freshness is extremely important. A beer like this is much fresher, especially on-tap, than what I can get from Germany.

Aug 12, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
UCLABrewN84 from California

3.45/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Haven Gastropub in Pasadena, CA.

Pours a murky light yellow with a foamy white head that settles to a thin cap on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of wheat, spice, yeast, and some slight banana aromas. Taste is much the same with a mild spice bitterness on the finish. This beer has a low level of carbonation with an almost flat mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but the mouthfeel is lacking in my opinion.

Jul 04, 2012
Photo of beer2day
beer2day from North Carolina

4.36/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light lemon gold color with just enough substance to alter light passing through the glass. Towering, pillowy 3 fingers of paper white head. The real kicker though was the incredibly active carbonation. Swirling torrents of bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass, almost in a helix. Excellent head retention and very nice lace.

Nose is banana, strawberry, cherry, and light clove spice. Soild.

Lots of sour on the tongue. Lots. More lemon than banana. Touch of apricot. Very dry, tart, acidic finish. Not cloying, though, as some wheats can be.

Feel is about right for the style, maybe a tad on the thick and heavy side.

Overall a solid example of the style and well worth checking out.

May 31, 2012
Photo of avalon07
avalon07 from South Carolina

3.8/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a weizen glass. Had a yellow-brown color and a cloudy consistency. Light sediment. There was a large, creamy, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A very wheaty smell, with some light fruit in it as well.

T: Tasted of wheat, a little malt, lemon, the typical hefeweizen bubblegum flavor, and even a hint of yeast. A decent flavor, if a little unfocused at times.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a smooth finish. Light-bodied.

O: Not the perfect hefeweizen, but certainly likeable enough.

Feb 27, 2012
Photo of beerwithoutpants
beerwithoutpants from California

3.41/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - I think this a strong point for this one. Beautiful golden orange color that gets thick and dense towards the center. Thin but sticky lacing.

Smell - Definitely quite a lot of banana, alcohol and some malty character too but fairly minimal.

Taste - Banana, malts and alcohol would describe it pretty well. This isn't a very complex hefeweizen to me, although it's enjoyable. The sweet banana is prominent.

Mouthfeel - Medium to light mouthfeel. Nothing to complain about. Goes down smooth with a lingering taste of sweet fruit. Carbonation is balanced.

Overall - I enjoyed it. Appearance is a strong point, fairly average for the style. A little sweet for me, but I would get this again.


Feb 19, 2012
Photo of Sammy
Sammy from Canada (ON)

3.17/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

On tap at Churchill's Pub. Cloudy yellow body. Big banana aroma.
Middling mouthfeel. Some creaminess, fizzy carbonation, lactic acid , a tad vinegar. Marginal for the style. Passable with few good characteristics. Sweet more than anything. Not so drinkable.

Jan 23, 2012
Photo of mactrail
mactrail from Washington

3.78/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Flavorful wheat beer with a bitter twang.

Nice cloudy amber beer in the pint glass at La Jolla Brewhouse. Carbonation gives a sprightly sparkle in the mouth. Thirst quenching, mellow, and mild. Lots of malt and plenty of fruity, estery flavors. Spicy and plenty of hops for the style. Bitter aftertaste, more than typical. Not sweet.

This may not be a classic of the type but I thoroughly enjoyed it after being in the ocean.

May 17, 2011
Photo of beagle75
beagle75 from Iowa

3.95/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft service into a tall goblet at Stone Bistro.

A: Opaque golden orange with less than one finger of diminishing white foam head. Light lacing remains on the glass.

S: Intensely in the weisse beer spirit, with pronounced banana and clove very much on point. Bready wheat and yeast are also present, but more restrained, helping to round out the smell that even sports an occasional whiff of lemon citrus.

T: Begins off-dry, with thin wheat and some clove phenolics fitted in around the edges of bright but appropriate acidity. The middle sees a lessening of the early acidity and weak banana that cannot match the intensity of the smell. The finish is also mild, with authentic yeast and drying bitterness.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, smooth on the palate not overly acidic, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: This San Diego-brewed hefeweizen is the answer to all too many half-hearted attempts that end up entirely too limp and apologetic. At first sight this beer is breath-taking to see, thick and iridescent--unique. It smells as good as it looks, unquestionably a flag-bearer of the style. It loses some muscle in the flavor, enjoyable but lacking the wow-factor it had at arm's reach. Thunderweizen is a fun take on the style, more pleasurable than most American-brewed examples.

May 08, 2011
Photo of Dijeriduster
Dijeriduster from California

3.01/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On tap at Small Bar SD for their Lightning Showcase

Note: I've seen this around town and always wondered what the heck people were doing putting Sunny Delight in a beer...

A - Florescent orange colour, very hazy and opaque. Cream coloured head hangs around for a min or two.

S - Not as bready or wheaty as most hefes, this smells more yeasty.

T - Not a bad hefe, lots of wheaty flavour comes thru the yeast, though there is so much in here it affects the mouthfeel.

M - With the amount of yeast in the glass its no wonder that the mouthfeel suffers. Unlike most hefes - which are great on a hot day - this feels like it would be too thick and hearty for such an application.

O - A very unique take on the style, I would drink it again. Need to try it in the bottle to compare but feel like this should be crisper to really satisfy.

Apr 07, 2011
Photo of DeanMoriarty
DeanMoriarty from California

3.92/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a 22oz bomber from Olive Tree Market here in OB for $6.49 and poured it into a Mountain Ave Weiss glass.

A: Pours a hazy golden/straw-like hue with a massive fluffy white head that slowly dissipates after a few sips leaving a moderate amount of lacing.

S: Sweet banana bread, spices, grain and a distinctive european malt aroma.

T: On point with the nose but with a strong citrus bight, the yeast is very prominent in the flavor with a good dose of wheat from start to finish.

M/D: Medium bodied, somewhat chewy, smooth and creamy with a mild carbonation that lends to the style nicely. Easy drinker for the style. I'm not a big Hefe fan, but I could drink a few of these in a single sitting no problem.

Apr 06, 2011
Photo of BeerBodisafa
BeerBodisafa from California

3.56/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: When I poured this one, I was spiltting it with a friend in two glasses. The head was huge and fluffy, long time to dissapate, lots of lacing.

S: Strong banana when I poured it, sweet smell also.

T: Banana seemed to over power everything else, faint clove taste. Bottle reads that it was brewed to the Reinheitsgebot purity law and was naturally soured. It does taste fairly close to a German hef, but I did not notice the sourness.

M: Had a little more body than I expected, but still very easy to drink.

O: A good beer, but A good German hef is still better, and cheaper. I would drink it again, but probably will not buy another one.

Mar 24, 2011
Photo of armock
armock from New York

3.5/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured a hazy orange color with a white head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of wheat banana and clove

T - Follows the nose starts off with the wheat and banana and finishes with the clove spice

M - This beer has a medium body with higher carbonation to it

D - Overall this is a pretty decent hefe tastes good and is easy to drink I could drink a few of these in a sitting worth trying sometime

Oct 20, 2010
Photo of brokensail
brokensail from California

2.78/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

On-tap at Stone

A: The pour is a very hazy golden orange color with a mild white head.

S: The nose is quite spicy with plenty of clove. There's a slight citrus aroma along with some sweet wheat.

T: The flavors mimic the nose for the most part, with perhaps an even more intense spice character. The cloves are domineering and there isn't much else to balance it out (other than a heavy sweetness). Minimal banana esters but not enough to save the beer.

M: The body is medium with a moderate carbonation.

D: This beer was overly sweet and just not all that good overall. I was not impressed and don't plan on having this again.

Mar 29, 2010
Photo of csmiley
csmiley from Ohio

3.41/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a bright gold color that borders on yellow in the right light. Huge amount of have in this beer. The white head is minimal and only sticks around for a minute of two before slinking away to a thin white cap. Lacing looks to be respectable.

S - Strong banana aromas really dominate this brew. On the back end there is a touch of lemon and yeast. Alcohol is barely noticeable in the smell. The banana really needs something else in there to balance it out.

T- Taste follows smell for the most part. Banana explodes on to the palate. Not really a good banana flavor either. It comes across as very sweet and candy-like. Slight dose of lemon comes in about midway. Some pale malt and wheat finish it out. Alcohol is absent in the flavor.

M - Medium bodied with an average carbonation level that could be construed as being on the low side of things. Finish is sweet and fruity. Doesn't linger too long which is a good thing.

D - Drinkability is about average. The banana flavor is just too strong in this beer. If there was something else to counter the banana this one could really shine. Still, the brew is somewhat refreshing and could really work on a hot day at quenching some thirst. As is, glad I got to try it but probably would not seek it out again.

May 15, 2009
Photo of HalfFull
HalfFull from California

3.13/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served up in a chilled pint glass, this brew pours a hazy lemon orange in color with a good bit of haze. Not as truly cloudy as many Hefe's and with a less robust head. Retention is also limited and the color and look are more typical of an unfiltered American Pale Wheat.

Offers a light and sweet banana liqueur scent, slightly unnatural, and some muted clove buried in the mix. This taste follows with the funny banana flavor and sweetness with some citrus on the finish. Light in body as the pour suggests giving the beer a thin feel for a Hefe. Rather refreshing nonetheless and with a decent drinkability. Banana flavors, while a bit off at times, never were really a detraction, yet I wasn't seeking another.

Feb 27, 2009
Photo of radshoesbro
radshoesbro from California

3.66/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

i went up to the lightning brewery the other day, and i've got to say that jim is one of the most down to earth brewers i've ever met. the guy really enjoys what he's doing and the fact that he's trying to do something slightly different from most american brewers deserves a huge kudos!

that being said, this beer smells weird and i don't know why. it just doesn't smell like a hefe at all. tastes solid, but the smell is just odd! nice head with good retention and lace. tastes pretty typical of the style, but it actually gets better the more you drink it. not quite as light as i remember it being.

Dec 28, 2008
Photo of d0ggnate
d0ggnate from California

3.32/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I find this beer to be very mellow and extremely overdrinkable. A nice flavor and quite crisp.

A: light golden to yellow with a tight laced head that disappears almost as quickly as the beer in my glass.
S: strong banana, noticable citrus and overall sweet nose.
T: sweet wheat! very smooth banana and lemon flavors. a slight bitterness at the finish.
M: a bitter aftertaste is around just enough for my battered palate to notice. leaves my mouth salavating for more... beer that is.
D: i could put these away all night. it isn't my favorite beer, but the drinkability I describe is based on how easily this beer is to finish.

i could imaging myself enjoying a few thunderweizens on a smokin hot day or possible even night. a decent offering, but very smooth and true to the style it is offered in.

Mar 11, 2008
Thunderweizen from Lightning Brewery
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 67 ratings