Nightlife review: Thunderhead taught me how to love a good beer

By Ashley Strehle Hartman/World-Herald Correspondent
Published in the Omaha World-Herald, May 3, 2018

Thunderhead Brewing Taproom

Where: 13304 W. Center Road, No. 126

Hours: 3 to 10 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 3 to 11 p.m., Friday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday; 12 to 7 p.m., Sunday

Information: thunderheadbrewing.com/taproom-omaha

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Thunderhead Brewing Company will always have a special place in my heart, because theirs was the first craft beer I tried and loved.

I visited the original Thunderhead location in Kearney shortly after turning 21. This is where I had my first good beer — Thunderhead’s Golden Frau Honey Wheat.

The Golden Frau was different than the cheap, domestic fare I’d tried before. A pale wheat ale brewed with sweet Nebraska honey, the Golden Frau was a revelation. It taught me that beer didn’t just have to have alcohol in it, it could actually taste good, too. Who knew?

But Thunderhead’s excellence doesn’t stop with the Golden Frau. They have an entire roster of diverse, delicious beer, which they brought to their Omaha location in 2016. Their taproom on West Center Road serves up all the same beers as their original Kearney location.

You may want to try them all — I did. That’s why I went with a flight of beers during my recent taproom visit. My drinking buddy and I got a flight of four 5-ounce beers for $8, and we took selections from across the board.

We got the Prairie Peach Wheat, Chocolate Orange Porter, Calico Espresso Stout and Your Argument is Invalid Russian Imperial Stout.

The Prairie Peach Wheat is a perfect brew for the spring. It’s a lighter beer with 5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) and a refreshing, but not overwhelming, kick of peaches.

The Chocolate Orange Porter provides both chocolate and orange flavors in the right amounts. Likewise, the Calico Espresso Stout delivers on its advertised hints of roasted coffee and sweet malt. At 7.2 percent ABV, the stout is a slightly heartier beer than the porter, which is 6 percent ABV.

Thunderhead’s Your Argument is Invalid Russian Imperial Stout was the boldest brew of the bunch. At 11.5 percent ABV, this is a beer that is best savored. Aged for a year in whiskey barrels, this beer, predictably, has notes of whiskey, but it’s also surprisingly smooth.

All told, Thunderhead’s taproom has about two dozen year-round and seasonal beers on their menu, and you can’t go wrong with most of them. I’ve tried several of their year-round brews and never have been disappointed. Their Cornstalker Dark Wheat and Leatherhead Red Ale are particularly good.

The taproom space doesn’t disappoint, either. It’s a cool, casual place to work your way around the beer menu. It’s spacious and has all the usual industrial modern taproom décor. But it also has some more homey touches, like comfortable leather couches and a large selection of board and card games.

The taproom has a small selection of snacks: popcorn, beef sticks and assorted nuts, all for less than $3. But they also encourage patrons to bring their own food from nearby restaurants.

In addition to its ample seating indoors, the taproom also has outdoor space in a courtyard lit by string lights. It’s one reason I plan on visiting the taproom again soon.

Another reason, of course, is the Golden Frau.

I still love it.