Thunderhead IPA | Pyramid Breweries, Inc.

688 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 Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 688 |  Reviews: 437
Photo of Illinick
3.63/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Off golden in color with slight orange and amber hues. A medium sized white head that dissipates to a thin ring and layer and doesn't move for the duration of the drinking period. Above average lacing as well that is still clinging to the glass at last sip. A nice looking brew.
S: Floral and perfumey with grassy notes dominates the nose. Some tart fruit peel scents coming out, but the floral perfume smell dominates.
T: Grassy with pungent citrus fruit pulp flavors (especially grapefruit) and some other fruit flavors in there, namely lemon peel. A slight bit of caramel bread notes near the end, but it's not detectable on every sip. There's also a sort of warming sensation at the end of the sip. I'm not sure what this may be since the ABV is relatively low, but it's there.
MF: Medium and bitter.
Overall: A typical West Coast IPA that displays a good flavor profile but nothing special. A solid offering and worth a try if there are not better offerings near by.

 982 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a pale yellow clear body with lots of tiny bubbles and a thin ring of foam that hangs on the glass.

S- This beer has a faint pale malt note with a hint of very light green hops. The overall smell is very light.

T- The taste of bitter grapefruit with a tart hop flavor has a faint chalkiness and a bitterness that hangs on after the finish. There isn't much malt flavor but the hops have some depth to them.

M- This beer has a medium light mouthfeel with a slight chewy texture which was interesting and unexpected.

D- This beer has a nice hop punch but it really is one-dimensional in flavor. It would be nice to see some malt flavors and aromas to support the hops. It is not really interesting enough to have a second round.

 795 characters

Photo of sacfly
3.03/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz, looks like a date was stamped on the neck, but it is smudged and unreadable.
Pours a hazy yellow/orange color with a thin head of small white bubbles. Aroma is of tree bark, alcohol, and grapefruit. In that order. Taste follows the aroma. Astringent, with more grapefruit. Bitter grapefruit lingers into the aftertaste. I love IPAs and grapefruit, but this one was not for me. Just did not come together well.

 416 characters

Photo of zeff80
3.82/5  rDev +12%
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!

 329 characters

Photo of jdoncbus
3.73/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Saw the beer introduced at local grocery store with an outstanding domestic & foreign selection; picked up 6 x 12 oz (short) bottles. Poured beer into pint glass showcasing its amber/burnt orange color.

The brew had a distinct citrus/floral aroma and an extremely faint skunky smell which poured evenly with a modest head (22 month old son licked the outer glass, he must of liked the look and smell).

Taste had usual IPA bitterness and will be appreciated by any seasoned hophead. Thunderhead has a sturdy and citrusy flavor with an enjoyale kick to it that will go down smoothly and provide a nice warmth to the gulliver due to the 6.7% alcohol (as mentioned in a previous post).

I have been on a serious IPA kick for the past 8 months and really enjoyed this beer. I would have appreciated a tad more malt but regardless I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys some extra hops.

 892 characters

Photo of edbeered
4.11/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This pours a pale yellowish amber hue, with a small white head and decent lacing on the glass. The smell has only a whiff of hops. The taste has a mild citrussy hoppiness with a good malt backing. This is more mildly hoppy than most West Coast IPAs, but the flavor is still there. This is very smooth and drinkable. For those who aren't total hopheads, this is a nice beer.

 373 characters

Photo of macpapi
3.27/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pyramid I.P.A. pours a light brown to amber color with a decent sized white head. It is clear in the glass, with little bubble activity.

Smells of maltiness and hops with a pretty good citrus presence. A nice, typically I.P.A.-type aroma.

Taste is very hoppy--too much so. This beer is very unbalanced. It is like they were trying to pound hop bitterness over the heads of their imbibers, and thought of little else. There is very little presence of citrus or anything else in the flavor.

Mouthfeel is full and bitter--almost unpleasantly so.

Overall, I am a bit surprised by this beer. I'm a hophead, but am disappointed by the amount of emphasis they but into that facet of the beer, to the detriment of everything else. There is absolutely no complexity to this beer. It's good to get your hop fix. But after one or two, grows tiresome and boring.

 862 characters

Photo of hanco005
4/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A—pours clear amber orange with a 1 inch tan fluffy cloud like head, seems to “beat” like a heart as it fades down to a wispy sheet, lacing resembles doilies

S—citrus and grapefruit are strong, floral hops burst through, mildly sweet and very inviting

T—bold and bitter, more floral than anything, mild sweet candy comes through in the middle and sets up for a bit of a dry finish.

M—sharp and tangy on the tongue, medium/light bodied, moderate carbonation

D—a good IPA that I would have again and again.

 565 characters

Photo of bigman147
3.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Beer pours orangish copper color with a good amount of head. Very little retention and minimal lacing on the glass

Aroma: Citrus and hops are the only perceived aromas. Citrus is mostly of grapefruit and some sour orange. Very aromatic

Taste: More controlled yet not very well balanced. Beer tastes primarily of hops with little base malt to balance. A sharp bitterness from the hops that is not lingering. Slight sour finish which I didn't expect.

Mouthfeel: Very good carbonation and body.

Drinkability: Very drinkable when you want hops. Not the best IPA and wouldn't make me want to rush out to pick some up. I wouldn't turn it down and it definitely would be nice on occasion.

 705 characters

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.68/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours with an almost brilliantly clear, full copper color. It is topped by a frothy, initially three-finger thick, pale tan colored head the leaves a bit of lacing on the side of the glass. The aroma is a mix of sweet caramel notes, hints of raw herbal hops, grapefruit and sweet orange peel, and sharp herbal hop notes. There is a toasted note here that makes me thing of brown-sugar coated bread that is fresh from the oven. Something seems a bit off in the aroma though, it is almost like a cheesy hop note. The aroma is still good, but it could both use a bit more hops, and definitely without the cheesy note.

Initially soft and smooth, but quickly pick up some sharp biting notes that are mostly hop derived, but also contributed by the carbonation. The hops certainly dominate in this beer, but there is a toasted, grainy, sweet caramelized malt character here as well. The hops have a bit of raw, herbal hoppiness to it, but only a bit. A solid bitterness runs throughout this beer, though it is not as aggressive as many IPAs, yet still provides a counter point for the ample malt notes that are also found in this beer. In the end this beer is very drinkable, I would perhaps like to see a bit more balance towards the hops, but I do like the ample malt character found in this beer.

 1,296 characters

Photo of budgood1
4.2/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours out of the 12 oz. stubby bottle a hazy dark amber/dark copper colour with a modest off white head. some lace is present as well as i sip this one. aroma of caramel malts with the intense hoppiness leaning towards the piney side, with lots of citric touches as well. i like the smell a lot. the taste sure screams IPA; lots of hop bitterness present...most of the hop flavour again leans toward the pine and spuce variety. what makes this standout is there is enough sweet caramel roll and dough maltiness to stand up to the hops and provide a welcome and appreciated balance. after a few more sips, i think that this a very well balanced IPA. not a hop bomb, but damn tasty all around. there is a hint of spicy alcohol intertwined in all the hoppy goodness, also. the body of this one is full, and the mouthfeel is well rounded, if not a wee bit sweet and syrupy. i really like this IPA and therefore rate the drinkability high. lots of lingering maltiness and hoppiness in the aftertaste, with a nice warming alcohol feel in the belly.

i like this one. recommended.

 1,076 characters

Photo of luvND
3.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Not a lot of head and what was there wasn' t long lasting. Nice orange color. Nose is not up to par with the better IPAs. A little thin and not enough malt to stand up to the hops. I think I taste and smell corn? Aftertaste isn' t too bad, bitter. Actually quite drinkable for the alcohol content (6.7). Overall, not a bad beer, but there are a lot better IPAs out there.

 371 characters

Photo of dfried
4.1/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is mainly a cloudy golden in color, with a slight head, not much lacing. The smell is pretty good, quite hoppy, all range of hop scents but mainly citrus. The taste is quite balanced with hops and pale malt, as with the smell there is an array of hop flavors. I wouldn't quite put this in the 'hop bomb' category, close though. Very solid IPA, I am sure I will try it again, but it doesn't wow you.

 408 characters

Photo of PuckLSHS
2.97/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This was the first beer of the night for me. I was interested to try it because of my days living near Pyramid in Berkeley. I just overshot this one during my "I am not a huge fan of the hops" days in college.

The beer poured an odd copper hazy color. Not a normal pour for an IPA, but an interesting new look. I got an overwhelming head on the pour which I was expecting after seeing the amount of carbonation in the beer.

The smell was citrus hop and it lasted for quite a while. The beer was rather strong on the nose.

Taste was a bit much with the citrus. What kind of citrus was hard to tell, but I am guessing grapefruit. There was a spice to the finish, but I would guess that to be from the hop characteristics.

Mouthfeel was fine. Normal amount of carbonation for a pyramid beer.

This beer was drinkable, but not my favorite, by far. I would pick a Sierra over this beer any day and twice on Sunday, but it worked for the tasting on this Memorial weekend.

 979 characters

Photo of shererjt
3.7/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a slightly hazy, pale copper with light-to-moderate carbonation and a very pale tan head. Nose was overwhelmingly citrusy hops and that's about it. If you don't like grapefruit, stay away! Some earthiness was there too. Body was medium. Had lots of hop flavor, a fair amount of bitterness, and enough malt to hold it all together. Mouthfeel was lively, and the drinkability was also above average.

I am not a hophead and tend to prefer balanced beers. This, however, is a darn tasty American IPA. Pick some up if it's hops you're after.

 544 characters

Photo of KFaulkner
3.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

After trying Pyramid's signature Apricot Weizen, I thought I'd give their IPA a try, since I'm a fan of the style.

The beer pours cloudier than most IPA's, with a light color and little head retention. It's smell is not particularly overbearing, but fruity with a noticeable hoppiness.

The taste is slightly sweet and very hoppy. It feel nice and tastes good, but the aftertaste is a little bitter for my liking. The bottle says "Way back when, IPAs were loaded with hops to stand up to oceans, elephants, finicky Colonists, and spicy curries." That's clever; and the beer speaks volumes as far as a statement in hoppiness goes.

 634 characters

Photo of leedorham
3.13/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I was about to buy a sixer of Deschutes Obsidian Stout and bought this since it was on a good sale. I am not prone to buy IPA's in the first place but being in the state of Washington I feel obligated to try them all.

Pours a honey amber with strong head and lacing.

Lots of hop smell with deceptive sweetness in the background.

Maybe it's what I've been eating but this is super bitter for me. I almost get the impression of lime peel bitters in the taste. I can't really appreciate much else in the flavor because of the bitterness. Still, it feels good going down after the initial taste and I appreciated it more at about 2/3 full.

 645 characters

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

Draught: This one pours a hazy orangish color. There is a decent sized off-white head with a bit of lacing. The nose is predominantly grapefruit and orange hop aromas. The body is a medium malt possibly leaning a hair to the lighter side. The taste of the hops (grapefruit, orange and a hint of pine) are fairly prevalent. Decent enough IPA, but not great.

 356 characters

Photo of kosmoraios
2.95/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Although this is a good ale, I'm attempting to be objective to rate it in the context of the style, rather than as a stand-alone rating.

Pours a foggy orange-copper color, with a minimal head that leaves small bits of lacing. The aroma is rather bland for an IPA, but there are the characteristic floral hops and a tinge of red grapefruit. The taste is also somewhat bland for an IPA that claims to be "bursting with hops". There's just no burst here. It's almost like a slightly watered-down IPA. I detect a hint of sour green apple among the floral hoppiness, and the hop taste is not "fresh". It's like they used hops that they had left over from last year. I don't know what the IBU on this IPA is, but it's not what it should be in my opinion.

The mouthfeel is ... please forgive the overuse of this adjective ... bland. Not acidic enough. Not carbonated enough. Maybe I got a bad bottle, but it just didn't "do it for me" as far as an IPA is concerned. Give me Dogfish Head's 90-minute or Breckenridge 471 any day over this.

Drinkability is not too bad, since you can drink these like water if you want to pound some beers .. but I can think of better (and cheaper) session ales.

All in all, not a *bad* beer. It's actually quite good. But for an IPA - just doesn't meet the standards of the style.

 1,317 characters

Photo of BDTyre
3.56/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hmmm...looks good, feels good and easy to drink. Amber orange with a good head. But the is very faint. Mostly hops. Very little malt. Taste is a bit better: a very powerful Pacific Northwest IPA akin to Phillips, but more one dimensional. Mostly hops with almost no malt to balance it out. This is better, but not unenjoyable. However, the mass amount of hops ends up giving this a bitter, metallic finish that causes this to lose a few points in flavour.

Acceptable, but not the best. I know there are better PNW IPAs out there...I'll track them down on my upcoming trip to Seattle.

 597 characters

Photo of RJLarse
2.98/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I picked up a six-pack of Thunderhead IPA to taste review and enjoy. I poured this beer in to a pint tumbler.

Pours a nice clear gold color, with many bubbles streaming through the beer. It appears to have more than average carbonation. A rich, two finger, white head composed of large bubbles forms and quite resilient. The foam laces the glass nicely, and there is a skiff of foam on the very last swallow.

The smell is very floral with fruity esters. The nose detects the hops right away, along with citrus notes. The smell of malt is not there.

The taste is predictably all about hops. There is a strong grapefruit flavor. The taste of malt is not present. There is a delayed bitter aftertaste that is moderately unpleasant. The aftertaste materializes with air in the mouth, a couple of breaths after the swallow. It can be killed with another swig of the beer, and maybe that is the point, but the aftertaste is still a bit of a problem.

Mouth feel is light and crisp and the beer has a real zing to it.

This is a drinkable beer. It may not be a great IPA but it is certainly an average one. The aftertaste is a bit of a drawback, the beer might do well with a fruit garnish like lemon, maybe even salt to kill the bitterness, or it could be paired and served with food like salted crackers and tasty cheese.

NOTE: I really like the label on the current bottle (not the one shown on the BA website/. The multiple shades of green and yellow pyramids, clouds and the bright white lightning bolts are very appealing.

 1,542 characters

Photo of goochpunch
2.44/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours a light orangey amber with a tiny thin ring of "head." Pretty pitiful. Smell is of hops and not much of a malt backbone. Hops smell grassy mostly. The flavors are of weak malt and weak hop flavor. There is a decent amount of hops in this, but it's just the bitterness I get and none of the other character. Mouthfeel is moderate, leaning towards a fullness, and the carbonation is subdued. I really have a hard time with this as the hops are just there to show their bitter muscle and none of their flavor.

 512 characters

Photo of karst
3.74/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a amber with 1 finger head on a rough pour. Quick fall to brief cap and stays naked for the duration. Best by 04-14-06 dot matrix on neck ring a little blurry. Aroma is the most outstanding part of Thunder head. Strong citrus (cascade hops and perhaps some amarillo) hopping with some appricot aroma backing up a dry hop - cascade aroma. The malt base fails the taste test in this IPA. I find the Body light and the mouthfeel almost watery. Carbonation a little on low side for the style. Although drinkable, I would not go out of my way to seek it out.

 559 characters

Photo of akorsak
2.84/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I am drinking a 12 oz bottle poured into a Hennepin goblet. The ale is chilled.

Appearance: The ale is an orange color with some hazy sediment in the glass. There is a little bit of lace around the mouth of the glass.

Smell: What smell? I don't find anything here that would suggest an American IPA. I pick up a bit of a malt aroma, something like a English pale ale.

Taste: This cames across more like an Amber than an AIPA. There is no discernible hop bite or kick, nothing that would suggest the 'Bursting with Hops' claim on the label. The ale is smooth, and what little hops are there do not taste bad, they just are not forceful enough.

Mouthfeel: The ale is very pleasant in the mouth. As it resembles an amber or plain pale ale, the low-level hops are good.

Drinkability: The ale is surprisingly drinkable. Consider it a pale ale only and you'll be fine.

Overall, Pyramid disappoints again, taking a great concept and dumbing it down a bit.

 966 characters

Photo of tgbljb
3.73/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured a deep, slightly hazy, amber color with modest white puufy head. Sparse lacing on the side of the glass. Taste is hoppy, with some fresh some fruit also found. Slight strange metallic taste also present. Taste is strong on hops with a slight background maltiness. Finish is a pleasnt bitterness that beckons for another taste. Nice drinking beer.

 353 characters

Thunderhead IPA from Pyramid Breweries, Inc.
3.41 out of 5 based on 688 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

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