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Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA - Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.

Not Rated.
Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPABelhaven Twisted Thistle IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.

411 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 411
Hads: 764
Avg: 3.72
pDev: 19.89%
Wants: 21
Gots: 81 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd. visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
English India Pale Ale (IPA) |  6.10% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ADR on 09-24-2005

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (27) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 411 | Hads: 764
Photo of cfalls
3.59/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

L - copper, no haze, off-white head fades to a thin layer

S - malt, floral honey, anticipation of bitterness without much citrus/tropical/pine

T - strong English malt, some sweetness, clover, not very bitter, not much citrus/tropical/pine, hint of new-car-smell

F - nice feel with medium-high carbonation, even if a little thin

O - This is not an IPA. It tastes just like typical London pub ales, which isn't necessarily bad, but do not grab this if you're an American looking for what you think of as an IPA.

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Photo of doktorhops
3.72/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Next on the chopping block is this brew from East Lothian, Scotland (hey I’ve been there!) this possibly-aptly-named-but-I-wont-know-until-I’ve-tried-it Twisted Thistle IPA. True story: You can brew a beer with thistles. Sadly this isn’t a thistle brewed beer, but there you go - we both learnt something today, thanks Wikipedia! Less-than-true story: I invented a waffle-iron with a built in alarm clock so that you can have fresh cooked waffles in the morning when you wake up... actually that sounds pretty cool, PATENT PENDING!

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Clear golden amber body with a massive 1 inch bone coloured head that soon drops back to a more drinkable 1 cm, mixing my metric and imperial measurements again - suck it US readers! Err, anyway, looks OK, nothing to write home about - just an average, non-bottle conditioned Ale right here. 6/10.

S: Sort of floral and herbal on the nose, not getting any of the grapefruit the bottle purports, hints within of a caramel and toffee malt base. Not bad Belhaven, haven’t had a decent floral beer in a while [*ahem* Brakspear Oxford Gold, 5 reviews ago]. So far it’s more an APA than an IPA but we’ll see when we taste... or taste when we taste even. 7/10.

T: Hmmm, indeed, still more APA, but yes it does strike you when the flavour hits with a sugary caramel snap then whips across to a herbal/floral bitter note in the finish. The flavour is remarkably polar opposites meet - actually they don’t even meet - they more give each other a cold hard stare from across a large auditorium like the US and Russian diplomats at the UN General Assembly. Honey makes an appearance as well - tipping it’s hat to the drinker. One gets a sense of a Scottish take on an APA here. Finish is slightly bitter and manageable. 8/10.

M: Almost medium, tinge of syrupiness with a light UK pub carbonation. 8/10.

D: This was a pleasant surprise, like that time I found a crisp $50 note lying on top of refuse in a trash can, not that I’m saying I was expecting this beer to be garbage but I wasn’t realistically expecting greatness either - but there you go, I could have another couple of these - they fit a flavour niche in my fridge door with that weird floral/herbal/honey you don’t find often in beers. This turned out more like some Scottish liqueur than a beer and I like that about it. 7/10.

Food match: Something sheep related, mutton stew, with a side of mash, some mint jelly as well... now we’re on to something...

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Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

330 ml bottle into pint glass, bottled on 9/10/2014. Pours crystal clear golden orange color with a 2 finger fairly dense and fluffy off white head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice dense soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of lemon zest, orange peel, pear, apple, pepper, pine, honey, light caramel, toasted bread, herbal, and floral/grassy earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of citrus/earthy hops, moderate bready malt, and restrained fruity yeast notes; with good strength. Taste of lemon zest, orange peel, pear, apple, pepper, pine, honey, light caramel, toasted bread, herbal, and floral/grassy earthiness. Moderate amount of herbal/piney/spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of lemon/orange peel, pear, apple, pepper, pine, honey, toasted bread, and herbal/grassy earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice complexity, robustness, and balance of citrus/earthy hops, moderate bready malt, and restrained fruity yeast flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-moderate dryness from bitterness after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, moderately sticky, and lightly creamy/bready mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with zero warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice English IPA style. All around good complexity, robustness, and balance of citrus/earthy hops, moderate bready malt, and restrained fruity yeast flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of L0ne
3.54/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

From backlog. 12oz bottle, January 2015.

Pours yellow/amber with an unremarkable white head. Light hoppiness, mostly herbal and maybe some citrus. Very smooth and easy to drink, just not a lot there.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
3.04/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Pours a golden body with good thick foamy white head that stays
Floral nose some heather and a whiff of lavender
Heather honey is what I get with the flavour & not much bitterness
feels thin
not great when a 5.6% 'IPA' is more like a shandy

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Photo of funkydrumma
3.87/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Very interesting twist with this one. The peat adds a faint smokiness on top of a touch of hopiness for some zing in what is otherwise a very thin feeling, clean beer.

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Photo of endovelico
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Smooth, full bodied with unusually subdued bitterness where it concerns IPAs. There's a nice caramel, mango and minty balance on the nose and mouth but not many other redeeming factors.

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Photo of BoljaBoy52
2.59/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

It's just not good. Not sure why it's rated so high. It's skunky, light tainted due to a clear bottle, old tasting, off balance and tastes like a steel reserve

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Photo of smcolw
3.69/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Small head which leaves a couples of streaks for lace. Golden amber color. Clear.

Clean, well-balanced British styled IPA smell. Some light toast, biscuit and floral hop nose.

The flavor extenuates caramel malt base. There's a touch medicinal band-aide which distracts from the overall taste. The bitterness isn't very strong in the swallow. The aftertaste leans bitter but has some caramel sneak in. Full bodied.

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Photo of laticiasbear
3.93/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Great looking beer, smells nice but tastes a bit too sweet and slightly syrupy. Very easy to drink as far as IPAs go, but it's lacking that hoppy taste that I want in an IPA.

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Photo of Forsman
3.29/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Hoppy smell out of the bottle. Pours clear golden and with quite little foam. Taste fresh but the hopflavours are surprisingly absent. Reasonable bitterness in the aftertaste. Decent enough but certainly not my favourite IPA.

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Photo of vikinggary28
3.81/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

My local grocery outlet keeps popping up with belhaven brew and I'm not gonna complain. So far i love this brewery. It pours a clear amber colour and white head that quickly dissipates. The bottle I poured it from (into glass of course) had a spider Web effect of bubbles inside that I don't see to often so I expected some lacing on the mug. Very hoppy aroma had me assuming that it would taste like a U.S. west coast IPA but I was surprised that the hoppiness didn't come across strong in the taste. Earthy, grassy, slighty citrus has me loving this beer. Goes down smooth, real nice.

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Photo of TheBrewo
3.55/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

This beer was served on tap at The Olde English Pub & Pantry in Albany, New York. It arrived in a generic, 22oz. dimpled mug, and showed a hazy dulled straw coloring. It held a brief half finger tall head of creamy, tight white foam, leaving dripping globs of lacing around the glass. Aside from that haze, no sediment was noted. Carbonation appeared to be light. Notes through the aroma included slimy hoppiness of citric, grassy, and dusted floral varietals, pale and sweaty caramel grain, multivitamin chalk, aloe, poppy seeds, toffee sugars, tannic breakfast tea, egg white, corny adjuncts, copper, plastic phenols, clover honey, and fusel booziness. The flavoring offered up that same, albeit more robust, mix of citric, grassy, and resinously piney hops, bubblegum esters, baked wheat breadiness, buttered biscuits, burnt pale and caramel malts, candy corn sugars, tomato vine, mineral water, sunscreen, sticky toffee, phenolic and Magic Marker plastics, and white pepper. Those piney hops burn more harshly, and more organically, through the airs of the aftertaste. The body was medium, and the carbonation was flat to light. Each sip gave nice enough slurp and smack, with milder cream and froth. The feel was, however, rather slick and oily, rolling over the tongue and mucosa, coating them as they passed. The abv was appropriate, and the beer sipped easily.

Overall, this was a nicely authentic English IPA. We haven’t had one in a while, but still felt it a little light in flavoring. It was hard to separate brewer’s intent and drive for authenticity from presentation at this particular establishment. We never found it to be skunky, per se, but it did have that dingy English pub vibe through and through. The hopping was there, and surprisingly piney, while the malts were washed and simplistic, but clean in their body. This was enjoyed in the company of new friends who we had been meeting here, and it served its purpose as a nicely sociable, approachable beverage, without becoming overwhelming time-consuming or attention-diverting.

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Photo of Beer-Revelry
3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

As an IPA this gets a zero because it does not smell, taste or drink like an IPA in the slightest. However, it drinks smells and tastes like one of the best scotch ales I've ever had. Delicious, but not what I expected.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.45/5  rDev -7.3%

Served from the tap in a shaker pint glass at Duke of Perth.

Bachelor Party-Palooza 2014 (Part 1) believes that when in a Scottish-style pub, do as the Scots do and drink up some Belhaven, namely the Twisted Thistle IPA. This stuff pours a clear brass-amber topped by a finger of dirty white foam. The nose comprises pine sap, grass, light flowers, caramel, toasted toffee, and mild biscuit. The taste brings in more of the same, the pine leaning toward a resinous needle character. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, a pretty nice IPA, though the resin is a touch much. Still, the rich malt backbone helps to balance this out a bit. This did work nicely with my chicken club, though...

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Photo of MarkoNm
3.54/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber color. It's topped with a small white head that immediately disappears until nothing is left.
The aroma is mild, just some pleasant citrusy hops can be picked up.
The taste is a complete opposite. Starts with a slight sweetness that immediately turns to a decent bitterness. Finish is even more bitter and slight spices can be also felt.
Aftertaste just lasts and lasts - bittery and spicy.
A very nice beer. Despite strong finish, still nicely enjoyable.

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Photo of mikeg67
3.48/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at St. Andrews in NYC. Pours amber with white head. nose is of stale malt and spoiled apple juice. Body is medium and crisp. Earthy hops, caramel and biscuit malt and ripe fruit combine on the palate. Finish is long, dry and earthy. Overall this is good brew that I would drink again.

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Photo of barczar
3.8/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Looks brown and cola-like in a porcelain mug.

Toasted malt, toffee, herbal and floral hops, thistle, and a touch of pine form the aroma.

Flavor reveals deep toffee malt base, toasted and slightly burnt breadcrust, becoming a touch bitter and herbal at the finish. Floral and muted citrus hops adds complexity, but herbs and toffee dominate.

Body is moderate, with carbonation slightly low, and a touch of alcohol warmth.

Great malt character, interesting hop character.

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Photo of steveh
3.71/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

In honor of reading the new Ian Rankin, John Rebus book I thought I'd pick up a Scottish take on IPA: Rebus' preferred when not supping a malt.

The bottle pictured in the BA profile is a bit dated, Belhaven is using clear glass for this label now. There's a small instruction to "keep the bottle out of direct sunlight" on the label, but what stocker is actually reading that?

A -- Clear, deep gold with a creamy head that settles slow, leaving a film-like wake of lace.

S -- Sweet biscuit malts and a light smokiness in a very mellow overall aroma.

T -- The biscuit malt hits the palate first, followed by spicy-bitter hops with a touch of citrus, ending with a definite smokiness that's mellow and not harsh or astringent. Sweet malts linger in the finish with spicy bitterness in the aftertaste.

M -- Mouthfeel is soft and smooth with a medium to near-robust body.

O -- This is a very nice change-of-pace from the hop-bomb IPAs and the somewhat staid English IPAs. Making its own statement with its local take on a style.

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Photo of tillmac62
4.33/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Clear amber pour with just a hint of red and a thick head with an excellent lasting lacing. Nice nose of light pine hops, mostly spruce but also a floral note, over a slightly sweet malt background. The body is on the high end of medium with just the right level of carbonation. Mouthfeel is smooth and just shy of slick. The flavor profile is quite nice and complex. It begins with caramel sweetness over a light spruce hop flavor, effervesces into a light bitterness with floral notes and finishes a bit tart. The finish itself is a blend of caramel sweetness and hop earthiness that lingers against a light bitterness over a background tartness. An outstanding "twist" on an IPA.

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Photo of biegaman
4.03/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Imagine the idyllic country pub: a slow fire simmers over a couple of big logs; high stools on tartan carpeting pull up to a long wooden bar above which glassware hangs like icicles. This is the ambiance in which Twisted Thistle belongs. Its golden-copper shimmer and sticky, glue-like foam give it the look of a classic, consummate English pint.

Belhaven makes prototypical English ales, and while this recipe uses a hop variety (Cascade) most associated with American brewers, the bouquet is nowhere aggressive enough to be mistaken for a New World IPA; it is perfumed with soft citrus notes, chamomile, and flower petals. It might lull you to sleep or unclog your sinuses, but not knock you on your ass.

The flavour has an unmistakable likeness to steamed collard greens - it is distinctly leafy, vegetal, and earthy - but never turns bitter in thanks to a sweet maltiness that leaves an aftertaste of toffee and honeycomb biscuits. The palate is also steeped in soothing rose-like florals.

Notes of grass clippings and chamomile tea notwithstanding, this IPA actually has the creaminess of a stout (none of the roast obviously). The contents of this bottle drinks as though they were poured from draught (a nitro-tap maybe even). The mouthfeel is full enough to be almost buttery but still highlights sweet, candied citrus notes.

If you ask me, Twisted Thistle may be one of the most underrated IPAs out there (and this coming from someone who has a thing for cutting up diluted English exports). It may not have gum-branding acidity or palate-encrusting resins, but its soft florals and leafy green qualities are every bit as impressionable (and arguably a lot more agreeable too). Recommended.

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Photo of Jetulio
4.04/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

355 ml bottle poured into a Pint glass
Appearance... yellow/honey colour beer with head white of 1,5 fingers not lasting too much
Aroma... grass, pale malt, hops and a touch of esters. Hops predominance in a flavored beer
Taste... malty at the start, then bitterness appears soon lasting all the time, dry fnish
Mouthfeel... medium body and medium/soft carbonation
Overall... a very nice ale, bitterness is present in balance with malty notes. Good and long aftertaste that makes a very pleasant ale

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Photo of sommersb
3.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 09-18-2013
Freshness: Not indicated
Packaging: 500ml clear bottle, pry cap
Glassware: Thistle glass
Purchased: Single from Pour Vous, Hendersonville, TN

A: Clear and honey-colored beer, it has a big cream-colored head with excellent lace and very good retention.

S: Aromas are pleasing, of pale malts, grassy hops and a light fruit/vegetable note.

T: Features a moderate amount of bitterness, tame by American IPA standards but fitting for a British variety. The hops have a woody taste, which combine with the malt backbone for a wonderfully balanced brew.

M: Full bodied, with a medium level of carbing, the finish is clean and moderately bitter.

O: I didn't know what to expect from a Scottish IPA but really enjoyed this sample and would seek it out again.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.61/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep good with dense micro bubbles formed on top. Nice was retention and lots of lacing. Nose is non descript with mild notes of bready grain, light earthy hops, some caramel. Taste is smooth and light in the flavor department. Light hop bitterness paired with mild caramel. Mouthfeel is the only place this beer excels, very smooth and somewhat creamy. Overall, an easy drinker for sure but relatively absent of flavor for an IPA.

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Photo of Beerstorian
2.62/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.25

Came from a clear bottle. Smelled skunky, tasted bad. I'd usually review a beer more thoroughly, but there's not really much else to say here. The clear bottle lets in light, and even the fluorescents in the market kill the beer.

It poured well, and looked fine--no problems there. And I fell bad for dunning the brewery, but if they're going to package in clear glass, they have to be prepared for what that does to their product. I'd try it on cask at some point to see the difference, but the bottled version ought to be avoided.

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Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA from Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.
84 out of 100 based on 411 ratings.