Thunderhead IPA | Pyramid Breweries, Inc.

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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

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Reviews: 437 | Ratings: 683
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.83/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

would describe this one much more as an american pale ale rather than an ipa, but nonetheless, a great brew. pours a darker goldenrod color with a nice head. lace demarcating every sip. smells sweet and fruity, but hoppy too. taste of fresh honey, raw honey, and hops. fresh hops almost. shockingly bitter in the finish, a front of tongue thing, but still a lot of malt, almost on the amber end of it, sweeter. a really beautiful large body mouthfeel and a nice crisp hop finish. drying. an excellent beer, not quite an ipa, but sessionable as anything!

edit: better in the bottle, bitter as!

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.13/5  rDev -7.9%
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.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.33/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle. Probably one of the first stateside IPAs that I tried years ago during a trip there, not surprising, given its ubiquity in grocery stores. Bring on the 'hop heaping'.

This beer pours a slightly hazy, muddled golden amber hue, with two fingers of puffy, then tightly foamy, and then bubbly off-white head, which leaves a decent sagebrush profile of lace around the glass in its lazy-ass wake.

It smells of well-blended (i.e. indecipherable) citrusy, floral, and herbal hops, a metallic stoniness, a touch of soap suds, and a soft, musty, grainy, and bready malt. The taste is wet pine and herbal hops, bready caramel malt, dank florals, and an overripe, yet still zingy citrus essence.

The carbonation is moderate, just a wan frothiness, the body a steady medium weight, mostly smooth (those floral-heavy hops not into causing much of a fuss), and even a touch creamy. It finishes with a stilted flourish of herbal, piney, and perfumed hops, backed by a bland, nondescript grainy malt sweetness.

A so-so IPA, with just a bit more going on than the average underdeveloped bitter hops/caramel malt Mexican standoff. However, those additional elements kind of put me off a bit, particularly the herbal character. Just a little 'unclean' for my liking, and subsequently my endorsement. Not a heap overly worth jumping into.

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Photo of brentk56
3.08/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear light copper color with a foamy head that has great retention but realtively little lacing

Smell: Moderate piney vegetal aroma; smells a bit like dirty water

Taste: Starts with a bready flavor with grassy bitterness creeping in soon after the mouth swirl; after the swallow, an astringent bitterness arrives; some pithy hop flavors also appear but they are in the background and there's that dirty water flavor that mirrors the aroma

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation; astringent finish

Drinkability: Not terrible, but enough negatives to disappoint the veteran hophead

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Photo of kojevergas
3.15/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

33cl brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a generic hefeweissbier glass in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live.

A: Pours a five finger head of light cream, decent thickness, and good retention. Colour is a light yellow-copper.

Sm: Light pleasant floral hop notes, light restrained cream, and generic barley. Aroma is mild in strength.

T: Pleasantly floral hoppy body, with a clean barley foundation. There's nothing special going on here, so in that respect it's simple, but it does avoid the common IPA pitfall of overdone coarseness. It's also nicely balanced.

Mf: Smooth and wet, suiting the flavours of the body. Luckily, it's not too coarse like many IPAs.

Dr: A simple IPA that doesn't lose points, but fails to win many either. I enjoyed it for what it is as part of a sampler pack, but it's far from their best brew. Fans of the style should definitely check it out, but stout lovers like meself are best off leaving it on the shelf.

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Photo of zeff80
3.82/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - 12 oz bottle poured out a copper/red color with a small white head.

S - It smelled of fruits and herbs.

T - It was very hoppy. There was also a nice malt flavor and touches of caramel.

M - It had a fairly soft mouthfeel and was light bodied.

D - It is very drinkable. It really impressed me with the great hopped flavors!

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Photo of oberon
3.84/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wrong bottle on display,anyways poured a clear golden with a nice tight one finger white that settles slowly leaving a sheet of lace behind.Aromas are nicely balanced the big dose of hops is very prevelant really piney over top of toasted biscuity lightly sweet caramel malt.Like the flavors of this IPA nice big dose of piney,resiny hop with a hint of citrus over top of a big sweetish bready malt base.Why the low ratings on this beer nice hop profile and well balanced I really like this beer.

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Photo of jlindros
3.17/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Screw cap bah, pours a fluffy 1 finger head fades at med pace with light lacing, hazy dark reddish orange color lots of sediment.

Nose starts with malts, big malts with caramel, reddish sweet malts, candy, toffee, light earthy candy citrus light fruity hops.

Taste is sweet candy, toffee, caramel, light toasty reddish malt, light candied fruit hops, hint earthy and citrus bit barely. More like bitter red or amber ale not really ipa. Finish is fairly bitter, some spicy earthy hops, more candy toffee malts lingering.

Mouth is med bodied, decent carb.

Overall meh, again more like heavy hopped red ale than ipa, way too much malt, hops are more bittering than flavor, and not the best profile.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.03/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Although it's not particularly hoppy in the nose, Pyramid has crafted a remarkably drinkable IPA that perfectly melds resinous hops and lightly caramelish malt into one! It's resinous, mildly piney, and softly sweetish/citrusy (with notes of lemon and grapefruit) just as the lightly sweet, caramelish, and somewhat biscuity malt rises towards the arc of flavor (the exact middle of the tasting) where the two become one - a nice place to be! There's a very solid bitterness underneath, but it's not bold or raspy, and the doughy malt can hold its own. It's almost like a baker took some lightly oiled dough, rolled it out, drizzled it with caramel, added a finger-tip smear of butter, a handful of whole leaf hops, and then re-kneaded it and baked it. I found it very interesting and unique, and even compeling in that regard! Except for the strength, which IS there, but never really noticed in the taste, I'd imagine one could put away mass quantities of this stuff during a night out with the lads. And, as an added precautionary note, even having a few of these on hand while cooking up dinner for the missus might lead you into to trouble... regardless, the temptation will still be there!

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.88/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired via trade from KenGage, so a big "Thank You" goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep amber color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, grassy hops and some citrus.

T: The taste starts with sweet flavors of citrus and caramel. Then a good burst of hops bitterness quickly follows. The malt character is hearty but not too heavy. The after-taste is slightly sweet and slightly hoppy.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, while there may be better ones out there, this is still a nice IPA that is worth drink for a long time.

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Photo of mactrail
3.46/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Orangey amber brew with plenty of foam in the Einbecker Pils glass. Modest resiny aroma. Pleasant sudsy mouthfeel with a bitter tang.

Flavor of orange with some peel. Woody, even a hint of cardboard. Dank and herbal hops. Big bitter aftertaste. Tasty malt with a hint of sweetness. Some fruity baked pear flavors.

This is a big-flavored brew with a different flavor than the typical current West Coast IPAs. From the 22 oz bottle bought at The Market in Anacortes.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.64/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a brilliantly clear orange-gold body with a bubbly white head.

Smell: The aroma of fresh-cut flowers and light, sweetish citrus fruits is tainted by a wet dog smell.

Boy, if I wasn't such a positive-minded person and so against any kind of negative thought or expression during a national holiday, I could sure do a number on ol' Thunderhead's aroma.

Taste: Alright, let us just forget the smell. After all, is there anything more valuable in these difficult times than being nice? C'mon! Let's all be nice.

Phew! Well, thankfully, the taste far exceeds the aroma, though it is still a fairly understated flavor. Sweet fruitiness akin to a stick of JuicyFruit™ gum mingles with a toasted, grainy flavor. An herbal bitterness is present, but not overly prevalent. The finish is surprising quick and clean - what's the rush, Thunderhead IPA?

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Lightly carbonated.

Drinkability: Drink it, don't smell, and you should be fine with this one!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.31/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

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Photo of russpowell
3.97/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bubbly white head rops off quickly to about 1/4" & retains head lace all the way down, Nice amoer hue with good clarity in the body.

Smell: Tons of hops aroma grapefruit and pineyness up front and a bit of malt aroma sneaks in.

Taste: Citrusy and resiny flavors dominate, some pepper-like spciyness and a little bit of malt shows up too little, too late.

Mouthfeel: Despite the ABV of 6.7% , this is out of ballance anf feels thin.

Drinkability: A little too hopped up to drink all night, but this will fire some taste buds up.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.63/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A – Poured a very nice amber color with a nice cloudy and hazy look to it. A good three finger plus high head of white foamy lace formed on the top and gradually nestled down into a layer of lace across the top that was about an inch of so high. Some carbonation could be seen streaming up towards the top replenishing the foam and adding to the nice rings of side glass lace.

S – The aroma was somewhat light, but defiantly very hoppy. A light crisp whiff of orange and grapefruit was the first thing you noticed upon pouring it, with a delicate touch of sweetness in the back trying to mellow it all out.

T – The flavor was pretty decent, but again it did suffer a tad due to the lightness of it. The flavor really could have used a little more of a pop to it, it just seemed to leave itself a tad bit flat. What was there was a nice blend of citrus floral hops that were over laced with a bit of sweetness and a nice touch of some light fruity yeast on top of that. A decent blend overall and a very nice light profile, it just needed a little bit more of a punch.

M – Very nice light body and ample carbonation led to a nice smooth and yet crisp and quick feel. The finish was not as drawn out as I normally would have liked, however it was still very decent and had a good overall effect.

D – Very nice session ale I would have to say. It had a very nice light body and with ample carbonation it could easily be called a pale ale as opposed to an IPA. To me it was just lacking in the big hop bite that you would like to see in a west coast IPA, but this can only had to the overall drinkability.

Overall not a bad brew by any means, however it was just a tad light for me to be honest. It just did not come through with that huge bite that I like to see in a west coast IPA, but as a pale ale this would do just fine. Would like to see what this is like on tap as it may bring out more of the subtle flavors and give it an extra little kick. But still a good call.

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Photo of smcolw
3.64/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Moderate head with excellent staying power. Lots of fine bubbles on the glass and a bit of ring lace. Golden color with a bit of cloudiness.

More malty than hoppy. Strong caramel aroma with little sweetness. Based on the smell, I wouldn't guess this to be an IPA at all--nearly no hop at all.

The taste is a reverse of the smell. Lots of bitterness up front. It intensifies in the swallow and leaves a strong, lasting aftertaste. The malt is quite subdued, although the body is reasonably full. The carbonation is elevated.

If you can get beyond the upside down smell, this is a decent IPA.

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Photo of Gagnonsux
3.68/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The color is copper with an average-sized head. The starts with a burst of hops which combine with an nice underlying malt body. The hop smell doesn't seem to be quite as strong as it could be, while the same thing can be said for the hops in the taste too. Bitterness is amble, but hop flavor is somewhat low for the style. Still is is very tasty, with a stronger malt body and more balance than the usual IPA. I want more hops, but the lack might have just increased the drinkability. This would be a good choice to convert a new BA to the hoppier side of beer.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.77/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appears a copper orange tone with a beautiful mountainous cream hued head and even lacing to boot. I can honestly say after only trying the hefeweizen and apricot ale, I didn't have much faith in this brew. Aroma contains a barrage of lucious hopping that includes the pine cone, citrus, and earth toned varieties, and a decent malt backbone to add some sweet caramel tones to the mix. Flavor consists of an array of bittering hops only to be balanced by caramel malt but still enough hops to get my fix, and a bit more alcohol detected in the taste as it warms. This one could be more balanced but I was just greatful to be tasting some hops in this pretty boring beer climate I am living in. Mouthfeel has a good consistency medium body, I must admit I am impressed by this offering not bad. Drinkability I would like to run into this one on tap somewhere solid offering of hops if that's what you want give it a whirl, looking for more balance may want to try another IPA.

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Photo of jwc215
3.43/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours slightly hazed orange with a thick head that immediately settles to a slowly vanishing patch.

Were aroma hops used in the brewing? Vaguely. Some hints of citrus and pine. But, you have to really take a hard smell. Okay - but, weak.

The taste is of citrus/grapefruit, some pine. But, it almost gets lost in the sweet grainy malt background. It has a pleasant taste, but borders APA, rather than solid IPA. Not the hop bomb that it claims to be on the label. Alcohol well-hidden.

Medium-bodied and smooth, it has some lingering spiciness.

I expected more from this. As it is it does not have a bad taste, it's just wimpy regarding the hop profile. Decent for a mild IPA (though I don't think that that is what they were going for according to the description on the label.)

Thanks to jcwattsrugger for bringing this back from his trip to the Pacific NW for me.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.08/5  rDev -9.4%
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!

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Photo of Tone
3.88/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, golden / copper color. 1/3 inch head of a white color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of hops, citrus, pine, and slight sweet malt. Fits the style of an American IPA. Mouth feel is smooth and slightly thick with a low carbonation level. The hops lend to a quite sharp bite to this beer. Tastes of sweet malt, hops, slight citrus, and pine. Overall, a well blended beer with little complexity.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.32/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

5/21/05- Purchased at Safeway in San Mateo, CA

Presentation- 12oz bottle with no dating. Poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance- Almost watery golden looking pour with a large bubbled head and light if any lacing.

Smell- I hate to go in with pre-concieved thoughts, but as I expected, this Pyramid brew had that weird skunky kinda wheat scent that all of their brews have (except Snow Cap). Not real bad, but enough to stop smelling.

Taste- Fortunately the skunk wasn't much in the taste like it usually is. Tastes like a perfectly average IPA. Good malt and hop mix. Much more mellow sweet fruit in the hops than pine. Not really any woody flavor at all.

Mouthfeel- Moderate carboation. A bit cloying from the sweeter hops.

Drinkability- I'll pass on this one again. Not because it was that bad, just because I can have better IPA's any time I want. If you like Pyramid brews though, you should give it a try.

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Photo of stevoj
3.17/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Nice aroma, but taste is a little flat. Normal hop sharpness, appearance is great with high fluffy head. Finish is short, with mild lingering bitterness. Good, but not great.

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Photo of Gavage
3.68/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: clear orange in color with a 1" head that breaks apart slowly.

Smell: caramel and a soft bitter aroma rises from the glass.

Taste: caramel, light grapefruits, lemon zest, red apples, and a decent biting bitterness. Overall the flavors are a bit toned back but balanced.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp from start to finish. Slight dryness at the end too. Short citrus and bitter aftertaste. Medium bodied.

Drinkability: decent IPA that is easy to drink. Worth giving this one a try.

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Photo of Wasatch
4/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice deep golden/copper color, nice carbonation, nice little head which dissapates quickly. There's nice lacing throughout the drink. Scents of sweet hops. This IPA is pretty good, but I've had way better. There is a nice little bite at the end witha medium body. This is a very drinkable IPA for sure, would recommend.

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Thunderhead IPA from Pyramid Breweries, Inc.
3.4 out of 5 based on 683 ratings.
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