Thunderhead Brewing Company

Thunderhead Brewing CompanyThunderhead Brewing Company
Thunderhead Brewing CompanyThunderhead Brewing Company
Brewery, Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

18 E 21st St
Kearney, Nebraska, 68847-5402
United States

(308) 237-1558 | map

Notes: 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.
View: Beers | Place Reviews
Reviews: 24 | Ratings: 36 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Beerandraiderfan:
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Beerandraiderfan from Nevada

3.15/5  rDev -18.6%
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.

Jul 03, 2010
More User Reviews:
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cbcrunch from Wyoming

3.93/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75

Sep 03, 2019
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puftdank from Illinois

4.04/5  rDev +4.4%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Aug 05, 2017
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leprechaunandfatman from Ohio

4.45/5  rDev +15%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

Oct 10, 2016
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a77cj7 from South Dakota

4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Feb 21, 2016
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Scott17Taylor from Iowa

3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.5

Sep 21, 2015
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Jager_Vaughn from Illinois

3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Jul 07, 2015
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SD-Alefan from South Dakota

3.93/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

Mar 31, 2015
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misternebbie from Pennsylvania

4.34/5  rDev +12.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

Feb 07, 2015
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Bosoxfan20 from Missouri

3.45/5  rDev -10.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Dec 23, 2014
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BeerTwigs from New York

3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

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.

Sep 25, 2014
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LXIXME from New Mexico

4.19/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Aug 13, 2014
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PapaGoose03 from Michigan

3.13/5  rDev -19.1%
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.

Jun 27, 2014
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kvnklingler from Ohio

3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Feb 10, 2014
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Gatch from Rhode Island

4.5/5  rDev +16.3%

Jan 25, 2014
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bulldogg915 from Wyoming

3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Nov 10, 2013
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MilwaukeeCrusher from Wisconsin

3.29/5  rDev -15%
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.

Mar 15, 2013
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

Jan 02, 2013
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Kittiwakedave from Kansas

3.55/5  rDev -8.3%
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.

Jul 25, 2012
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bigkingken from North Carolina

2.78/5  rDev -28.2%
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.

Apr 10, 2012
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JayS2629 from Alabama

4.94/5  rDev +27.6%
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.

Aug 13, 2011
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clancybs from Nebraska

4/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Dec 10, 2010
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RLaurel from California

4.53/5  rDev +17.1%
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.

Jun 24, 2010
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Yetiman420 from Ohio

4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

Apr 16, 2010
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Rayek from Colorado

3.18/5  rDev -17.8%
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.

Jul 15, 2009
Thunderhead Brewing Company in Kearney, NE
Brewery rating: 3.62 out of 5 with 495 ratings