For the Fourth of July Weekend, I am going to be heading to Central Nebraska to spend time with my wife's family. What better time to profile one of Central Nebraska's best-known breweries, Thunderhead in Kearney?
As always, all previous pieces can be found here including Blue Blood Brewing, the brewery that my wife and I invested in last year.
Thunderhead was founded in 1999 by Trevor Schaben, his wife Jenny, and his parents Pam and Henry. The original brewing system was 30 gallons, or about one barrel. By comparison, their current brewing system is 30 barrels and located in Axtell, NE. The pub opened in 2000 in downtown Kearney.
The name is a reference to the thunderstorms that roll across the plains. Thunderheads roll in, storms are brewing, and the rain pours. The language is the same with beer!
Thunderhead started canning in 2006 with their Golden Frau. Since then, the brewery has added Cornstalker Dark Wheat, Cropduster IPA, Leatherhead Red, Schaben's Pilsner, and most recently Prairie Peach to their year-round line-up. There are plans to begin canning seasonal beers in the future.
Thunderhead's pub is located at 18 E. 21st St. in Kearney. The pub offers a food menu with appetizers, salads, and a selection of pizza and calzones. The pub is open 11:00 am - 1:00 am daily, with the kitchen closing at 10:00 pm Sunday - Wednesday, and 11:00 pm Thursday - Saturday.
The brewery is located in Axtell, about 10 miles south of the pub, and offers tours on Saturday between 2:00 and 5:00 pm.
Stop by their website for more in-depth descriptions of their beers.
- Prairie Peach Wheat - American wheat brewed with Oregon peaches
- Honey Hefe - German hefeweizen with honey
- Schaben's Pilsner - Traditional pilsner
- Apple Wheat - American wheat brewed with apples
- Jalapeno Ale - Ale with jalapenos
- Leatherhead Red Ale - English style red ale
- MacTawisch Scottish Ale - Scottish style ale
- Grail Ale Grand Crü - Golden wheat ale with hops, coriander, and orange peel
- Cropduster IPA - India pale ale
- Cornstalker Dark Wheat - Dark American wheat
- Golden Fraü Honey Wheat - Wheat ale with Sandhills honey
Thunderhead is available in bars and restaurants throughout Nebraska, also in Des Moines, parts of Kansas, and small parts of South Dakota. Cans are available any place you buy beer.
Wheat beers seem always pair well with fruit, and both the Prairie Peach and Apple Wheat compliment the yeasty wheat flavor with fruit nicely. Cornstalker Dark Wheat is similar to a Dunkelweizen, and is a somewhat uncommon style. The malty darkness tastes great with the wheat character. My favorite is the Golden Fraü Honey Wheat, the honey flavor is just right and gives a great, crisp finish.