Thunderhead IPA | Pyramid Breweries, Inc.

683 Ratings
no score
Send samples
Thunderhead IPAThunderhead IPA

Brewed by:
Pyramid Breweries, Inc.
Washington, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.70%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
A golden nectar with a striking floral aroma, Thunderhead holds a harmonious balance between its bold hop bitterness and subtle malt background.

Added by Jason on 09-16-2001

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 437 | Ratings: 683
Photo of jtierney89
1.3/5  rDev -61.8%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a clear copper color with a sticky and fluffy white head. Floral and citric nose, nothing too overpowering.

Seems unbalanced, the malt kind of outweighs the hops a bit in my opinion with a lot of caramel coming through. Caramel throughout, floral and piney hops on the finish. Drying finish but with the caramel lingering. quick and concise but there's not much depth and a definite imbalance here. Slightly soapy finish. Not a drain pour but not having it again.

 470 characters

Photo of warmstorage
1.64/5  rDev -51.8%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

I don't normally bother reviewing beers that already have a lot of BA reviews. But this IPA is so peculiar, so fruit flavored, that I thought it worth it.

Poured from 12 ounce bottle (twist-off: argh, can't bottle hombrew into it) into clean pint glass. Bright orange color, very slight haze, with little head which is almost immediately gone. Noticeable carbonation bubble streams.

Aroma is, well, very little. I think I smell the (clean, dry) glass more than the beer. Slightly sweet/honey aroma, maybe? But I really only noticed that after tasting it.

Mouth is fairly full, carbonation high-ish, and slightly slick on the finish.

Taste... I'm left with the distinct impression of sweetness and apricots, and little else. In fact, I got it into my mouth, and immediately thought "Whoa! Magic Hat #9!" It's not nearly as fruity sweet as #9, but fruity sweet apricots (and maybe a little nectarine?) are really the only distinct flavors.

There is very little distinct hop presence; while hops are definitely there, it isn't the bold, pacific northwest type of hop profile one might expect from a beer from Seattle which boldly claims on the label to be "bursting with hops" in all capital letters. Bursting with hops, this beer is most certainly not. Nor does it have any meaningful malt backbone.

Finishes quickly, with little lingering aftertaste, gone almost as soon as I've swallowed. More physical/mouthfeel presence than taste lingers.

Overall: a surprisingly blah beer, and not at all consistent with the style. (And this isn't the American vs. British debate: this isn't an IPA in either sense.) I might think more highly of it as a bland APA, or even a regular bitter, possibly even a fruit/hybrid beer.

It's pretty consistent with the Pyramid IPA I've had at Pyramid brewhouses, in both Sacramento, Walnut Creek, and Berkeley, though in fairness, I think I've only ever had a full pint of it in Sacramento. I don't recall the weird fruitiness on tap, however.

I didn't hate this beer by any means: with an equally bland dinner, or slugging it down on a hot day, it could be fine. (Yes, even at 6.7%, it's so blah that I would consider this a lawnmower beer.) That said, I'll certainly never bother paying cash for it again: there are WAY better IPAs, and WAY better basic ales available to me, even in Utah. (There are several 4.0% ABV/3.2% ABW Utah tap beers I'd choose over this.)

 2,428 characters

Photo of Palesmith
1.66/5  rDev -51.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Very Dry and bitter with an acidic after taste. Dominant dry malty flavor. A little piney but not much hop flavor to it. This is just not what I'm looking for in an IPA. No citrus, no complexity, very one dimensional and flat. Not much to smell either, maybe even a little skunky (well within the freshness date, by the way). I did not enjoy this beer.

 352 characters

Photo of mxchap
1.79/5  rDev -47.4%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Let me start by saying that most beers I have had from Pyramid are at least passable.
This IPA, however, was terrible. Will be trying another soon (perhaps on tap to ensure freshness)
to make sure this one wasn't rotten.

Appearance: golden amber with a short, but dense head. Somewhat opaque.

Aroma: Carmel malt and earthy hops. Specialty grains definitely stick out.

Flavor: slightly sour, noticeable alcohol and metallic flavors. Off flavors mask the malt and hops substantially.

Mouthfeel: alcohol very noticeable, carbonation okay.

Overall: Not very drinkable, and not per the style. First pour-out in a while.

Hoping the next one is better.

 651 characters

Photo of bum732
1.81/5  rDev -46.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

S: Slight fruity notes, orange, cracker malt notes, fairly malty.

L: Fairly clear golden yellow, off white head that dissipates quickly.

T: Malty sweet, caramel mostly with some residual hoppiness. Medium low bitterness. Herbal mostly. Finishes fairly sweet.

M: Medium bodied, medium carbonation.

Couldn't find a bottling date, but there was pretty much no hops in this beer. I guess i'll assume its old and maybe check back, but pretty piss poor.

 451 characters

Photo of DogFood11
1.98/5  rDev -41.8%
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.

 646 characters

Photo of Roadking1979
1.99/5  rDev -41.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.25

22 oz. bomber from Albertson's grocery close to Bremerton, Washington. perhaps this Indiana boy is spoiled by the easy availability of Alpha King and Two-Hearted, but my first foray into Pyramid beers was not memorable. Some floral hints and decent coloring, but otherwise non-descript and bland throughout. Would drink this over a Coors Light...on second thought, maybe not. Hope Pyramid has more to offer and will do more research before buying another.

 455 characters

Photo of maxpower
1.99/5  rDev -41.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Cloudy, hazy orange-copper color with a small off white head that doesn't last, no lacing either. Sweet piney-lysol, soapy aroma, over sweet malty flavor with some bitterness, way too sweet for me, taste like soap, medium yet syrupy mouthfeel, I don't like this one at all, I hope I got a bad bottle.

 300 characters

Photo of Smurf2055
2.02/5  rDev -40.6%
look: 1.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 1.75

Bland smell.
Murky and fizzy appearance (like a wheat beer).
Slightly bitter taste, not a lot of depth. Drinkable.

My craft beer friends all hate it, and my non-craft beer friends all hate it, not sure where the appeal is on this. Maybe for wannabe beer snobs?

 264 characters

Photo of muldersha
2.06/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 4 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Had a 22oz bomber purchased in Portland, OR

Pours a pretty deep amber hue with a solid chunky white head and decent retention and lacing.

Aromas are piney, but mostly steely. Smells of steel, pine , and more steel.

Malty and medium to medium full bodied on the palate. Finish is sweet and malty with a nice cut of bitter hops.

 331 characters

Photo of maximum12
2.1/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Picked up this 12 oz. bottle in a mixed sixer recently (OK, actually, my wife did, but she's not home, so she'll never know, right?). Cryptic 'Best By' date of 7/21/12, but not sure how far that is from the bottling date, but it should be good, right? AmIright?

The pour is on the lighter orange/yellow curve of the IPA spectrum with serious carbonation. Nose is faint, I have to suck hard to get much, mild floral hops, mixed in with a bit of citrus & sweet malts. I think I sprained my nasal cavity.

Thunderhead gave me several different faces in the few seconds after the first sip - lololowza. First impression is of sticking one's tongue into a potpourri bowl, huge lavender & floral notes line the palate. That's chased quickly by a dose of caramel that clashed with the field of flowers something serious. An unpleasant twinge of tartness, almost acidic, intrudes in the middle, just before the bittering hoppiness finally arrives...except it's more like ground-up children's aspirin than anything else. Give it another go, but, no. Realistically, a couple ounces of this was more than enough.

There's something off about this beer & I can't quite put my finger on it, but the whole experience is rather unpleasant. The beer gets worse as it warms. This is a fail as an IPA & as a beer. Drain pour bad.

 1,314 characters

Photo of Arbitrator
2.15/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

On-tap at Stanford's in Walnut Creek.

A: Pours a a clear amber with light bubbling up the glass. Has a slight head that recedes into a donut around the glass, with no lacing during the drink.

S: Smells like grass, light citrus hops, and -- of all things -- parmesan cheese.

T: Tastes like the nose, with a light grapefruit hop component, some mild caramel malt, and a mid-taste and finish that are dominated by parmesan cheese and grass. I let a couple of friends sample it, and they came up with the same taste. Weird!

M: Light-bodied, with medium carbonation. Seemed underwhelming for the style.

D: Given the funky cheese taste, I don't want to have this again. I've had much better IPAs.

 699 characters

Photo of RonfromJersey
2.16/5  rDev -36.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A very hazy light orange body, topped by two or three fingers of white fluff. Nice lacing.

Aroma is a faint whiff of pine and a whole lot of air.

A mildly sweet drizzle down the tongue. Very sloppy. Light fruit. Bitter bite. Needs more of all.

Sloppy mouthfeel sloshes about the mouth.

OK drinkability, way short of desire.

A rather disappointing lackluster ipa, plenty better out there.

 392 characters

Photo of vkv822
2.19/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12oz : tulip

Burnt-orange with a foamy off white head.

Mild fruity, floral hops, breaded malt backing.

More faint floral, lightly citric hops with a malty bread backbone.

Medium body, low-medium carbonation.

Not a bad beer, but really a bit bland, especially for the style. Could probably pass as an average American pale ale, but not IPA.

 344 characters

Photo of SaintPeter
2.23/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Golden copper color, foamy off-white head that dies quickly leaving a ring of lace on the glass. Minimum to no effervescence.

The aroma is of spicy hops, black pepper, soapy, honey and mead-type alcohol. Nothing fruity or floral as an IPA should be.

Starts with a spicy bold hop flavor with bit of a soapy flavor, morphing into a residual hop bitterness with pears and honey, staying late after swallowing. Lingers in the throat, the bitter finish does. Not nice!

Creamy mouthfeel, soft and lazy on the tongue. The best part of the beer.

Had an off smell and taste and an unpleasant hop bitterness. It may have been the type of hop used. Goes down easy, however, I would not drink another one....I could, but I don't want to.

Not what I expected. The hops smell and taste off or are just not the type that agrees with my palate. I typically prefer the hop bitterness in the finish, but this lingers and is quite an unpleasant bitterness which forces me make a "yuck face". Yeah, you know that face! A mediocre to bad beer. I would take homebrew before this. Hey, doesn't Magic Hat own them now!? That explains a lot!

 1,121 characters

Photo of cbutova
2.24/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Just noticed this one along with some other Pyramid brews. Easily worth a review at it's low price.

A- Poured into a pint glass with a slightly hazy, golden-light orange body. A big, bubbly white head forms to about three fingers and has decent retention. A frothy ring around the top of the beer leaves moderately thick lace patches.

S- Floral and herbal notes make up the hop bill. The rest of the beer is a base of apple, light caramel and bread. Really have to stress to pick up the aroma after just a few sips.

T- Mostly hoppy. Pine, floral, herbal, citrus and grassy hints make up a hop bill that doesn't really do much to satisfy with so many good IPAs out there. An apple/light fruit note seems to build with time taking away from the hops. Some caramel and slight buttery hints as well.

MF- SIlky lower end carbonation for the style with a creamy overall body. Bitterness isn't as clean as other IPAs, just feels a tad harsh for some reason.

Started out decent but it seemed like flavor score just kept going down. The flavors present just don't seem to meld all that well and drink as smoothly as most other IPAs on the market. Jumbled.

 1,151 characters

Photo of beerthulhu
2.26/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A: Translucent orange with a chalky white frothy head of one finger statue. Medium mid pace effervesce with a thin band of lace.

S: Fresh grass, oranges and ice berg lettuce. Very faint aroma wise. A solid example of a 2.0 unimpressed rating.

T: Some bitterness but harsh with sour dried lemon grind, pine and some sour orange peels occurring on the fade. Dry wheat, starchy flour hints.

M: doughy, medium based with a lazy carbonation lacking crispness and sharpeness.

O: Overall the nose is lackluster, the flavor is sour and off and not very tasty. Tastes like a macro hybrid of a wit /ipa. A perfectly good waste of bottle glass.

 641 characters

Photo of PDXHops
2.27/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bomber poured into a Duvel tulip. See thru light orange with a swirl of vigorous visual carbonation feeding the thick and fluffy cap of foam on top. Several rings of sticky lacing left in the top portion of the glass.

Smells grassy and grainy, with some softer sweet floral notes. Hint of cloves? It certainly doesn't smell bad, just not really what you'd expect from an IPA.

Tastes plenty grassy and grainy as well, with some weak citrus joining in. Malts are bready and very lightly sweet. The mysterious clovelike quality shows up again; it seems to evolve through the swallow into a slightly unpleasant medicinal flavor. Unfortunately, this is the flavor that lingers at the otherwise crisp finish.

Overall impression: Can't recommend this one. Something just doesn't seem right here. The appearance rating is keeping it from the D territory it probably belongs in.

 872 characters

Photo of rye726
2.28/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This orangish-brown brew has a nice light beige head. The nose has some bitter hops, but they are quite for an American IPA. The taste has some odd grainy malts and the bittering hops. Not very well balanced and does not go down well. The body was a bit fizzy.

 260 characters

Photo of NWer
2.3/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I haven't had this beer in a long time and gave it a go because it was deeply discounted at the local Fred Meyer's.
For a flagship IPA from one of the premiere Seattle brewers, this is a disappointment.
I know they do better. Their Alehouse Exclusives are pretty good.
So what's with propagating an IPA that may have been above average years ago but is past its prime?
The industry has evolved. This beer is a relic of the past and should be retired.
By todays standard, it is boring and doesn't measure up to current West Coast standards.
I tried to give this another go since I have this sixer that will be finished - eventually - when I'm not in the mood to drink something really good - think eating the grapefruit rind instead of the fruit.
That's Thunderhead.
Pretty pathetic.

 790 characters

Photo of drpimento
2.3/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Man, I gotta wonder what happened here. Who's telling these guys that this is good beer??? Cause it really just isn't. I't bitter but without the good parts. Seems like a lesson on how to wreck a beer. Why? Mechanically, it seems pretty good with a decent head and lace. Nice color. Bitter aftertaste. Initial and middle too. Will avoid in the future. Could cook with though

 374 characters

Photo of mrasskicktastic
2.31/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

A - Crystal clear copper brew. Huge two finger head with impressive retention. A single thin ring of lacing forms.

S - Pine meshed with grapefruit pith. A bit of caramel malt backing.

T - A bit of mild pine and a lot of peppery alcohol in the foretaste. A potent pine bitter aftertaste with a lot of peppery alcohol. I wouldn't

M - Harsh from carbonation and the hops. Thin and rather drying.

D - Not too good, I got tired of it quickly. It just tastes like peppery alcohol. Not something I will bother with in the future.

 534 characters

Photo of RoyalT
2.33/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance – This one was light orangish-brown and looked a little thin in the body, but the head was terrific. It came up nicely but not explosively and showed good retention and lacing.

Smell – The hops here are kind of light, but I can pick up some citrus and maybe a touch of pine. There’s a grainy bite here too that kind of creeps me out.

Taste – Well, the light hopping seems to have made its way to the taste all right, but that grain came over something awful. I swear after well over a thousand reviews on the site I have never tasted anything like this. It’s almost like medicine, like some pill that you’re supposed to swallow whole but you accidentally bite.

Mouthfeel – This is in between light and medium-bodied with some modest carbonation and a filmy, unpleasant feel on the teeth.

Sinkability – I’m going to go throw up just to freshen my mouth.

 884 characters

Photo of xymyl
2.33/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Deep gold color with a small ring of whitish head.

Aroma light sweetness and a spicey sulfer smell.

Taste starts out soft and lightly sweet then clamps down a bit with harsh acidic citric notes and ugly malt tannins (somewhat unpleasant) finish is bad and tastes toxic. This is the single worst Pyramid beer I've ever had.

Bad enough that I may never try another Pyramid beer again just because they let this stinker through. I couldn't finish it. If this was shampoo there would be a lot more blind bunnys in this world.

 530 characters

Photo of GreenWBush
2.35/5  rDev -30.9%
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.

 828 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Thunderhead IPA from Pyramid Breweries, Inc.
3.4 out of 5 based on 683 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.