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Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA - Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.

Not Rated.
Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPABelhaven Twisted Thistle IPA

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

653 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 653
Reviews: 397
rAvg: 3.69
pDev: 14.91%
Wants: 11
Gots: 26 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: ADR on 09-24-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 653 | Reviews: 397 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of oberon
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a rich deep golden with a nice creamy white two finger head that slowly settles leaving a sheet of lace behind.Aromas are English all the way herbal "green" a little minty over top of caramel malt seems to have a hard water elemant as well.Flavors are mild compared to the American more hop driven IPA's,herbal and a touch earthy with a big caramelly sweet malt base wich is just as big as the hop character.This is as balanced an IPA I have had not bad but I want more hops in my IPA I guess.

oberon, Mar 13, 2006
Photo of clvand0
3.33/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This one poured a light amber color with a small head that was gone quick and didn't leave any lacing on the glass. The aroma had some toasted malt and quite a bit of European hops. The flavor was much the same. Lots of Euro hop flavors along with a toasted malt character. Interesting. The body is medium and the drinkability is ok.

clvand0, Mar 10, 2006
Photo of Jdiddy
1.93/5  rDev -47.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

I went into this beer with high hopes and was quickly shot down upon first sip. While I am a big whisky fan as well as an IPA fan, the 2 simply do not mix. The peat was just overpowering and mixed with the hops, it just was plain awful in my book. This soon ended up down the drain. Managed about 2 sips and that was all. Color was nice with a great head but appearance is about all this beer has going for it.

Jdiddy, Mar 09, 2006
Photo of ybnorml
4.03/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A orange/amber beer with a slight haze. Has a big creamy off white head and plenty of good lace. The aroma starts as soon as you open the bottle and a distinct piney hop character jumps out. There is also a light orange citrus note along with a caramel malt in the background. OK this IS a Scottish version of an IPA. Because the first thing you get in the flavor is a strong peat smoke character. Then the english toffee flavors come in followed by a light dry piney hop finish.

ybnorml, Mar 07, 2006
Photo of BEERchitect
3.33/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Interesting and peculiar. Hopped to the extent that American IPAs would exhibit, but with the English variety. Moderately malty, caramelly, vanilla, and toffee. The hops impart a woodsy (oak), earthy, and a plastic character that's evident in the nose and flavor. Lightly fruity: from peaches and apricots to dates and nuts. Alcohols are light, lending a warm and drying nature to the body and finish. Good beer, just a little peculiar in the hop characteristics.

BEERchitect, Mar 05, 2006
Photo of SwillinBrew
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've had this on tap but i'm going to review the bottle because i like it a bit more.

A - poured a cloudy burnt orange color with a solid finger of ivory white lace. Good bubbles dancing up the glass.
S - like a damp meadow after a light rain with a very slight touch of of a rounded bitter citrus.
T - Mmmm, i like this. The taste of earthy leaves with a mild hop bitterness that blends into a peaty smokiness. Not overpowering but present, consistent and flavorful. Maybe it's smashed thistle? Dont know but it's good.
M&Dr - good medium body and solid carbonation. Slick on the tongue and leaves an all around good feel in the mouth. I really like this brew. I'm going to be keeping some in my cooler.

SwillinBrew, Mar 04, 2006
Photo of rhoadsrage
3.58/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a faintly hazy golden orange body with a thin white lacy head. There was very little carbonation but a few slow bubbles gliding to the surface.

S- The soft faint hops note has a citrus note but the citrus is more with the lightly toasted malt notes than with the hops.

T- The pale malt has a hint of dry crystal malt flavor that is a bit earthy. There is a slight soft band-aid taste that might be an off flavor or might be a smoky peat flavor. There is a nice hop bitterness in the finish.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a slight creamy texture.

D- I’m not sure about this beer. I can't tell if there was supposed to be that unique band-aid flavor, which was not nearly as strong as some homebrews with infections, or if it was another flavor of malt that I wasn't expecting in an IPA.

rhoadsrage, Mar 02, 2006
Photo of RoyalT
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – The huge, stubborn, foamy head promised the traditional big yeast of the style. The body also was a deep, dark orange, alluding to the same commitment.

Smell – Ah, definitely an Englander. The hops are mild, the nuts pronounce, the yeast . . . uh . . . yeasty, and the malts light but very prominent.

Taste – Oh, man, this has a very strong smoky peat flavor that I missed at the nose. The spices are herblike and very big. The hops and malt from the nose are here but clearly overshadowed by the yeast and spicing.

Mouthfeel – This is actually a solid medium-bodied with some good carbonation (examples of the style imported here into the US are often cheap and fizzy like Alka-Seltzer). The bitterness is very easy on the tongue.

Drinkability – The herbal flavoring takes some getting used to and I didn’t see that big smoky character advertised anywhere on the bottle, but me likes it. Also, the label says that it has Cascade hops, but damned if I could find them. Why would you put Cascade hops in an English-style IPA anyway?

RoyalT, Mar 02, 2006
Photo of goochpunch
4.22/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out a light copper with a large, frothy, white head. Decent lacing throughout. A very hop-forwarded nose. Tons of cascade and challenger allow the malt to come through. This is one delicious beer. Lots of citrusy and resinous hops at first which lead into a peaty malt, followed by a pleasently lingering hop bitterness. I only wish that the malt would speak up a bit more, aside from the smokiness. The mouthfeel is full with a good amount of carbonation to liven up the palate. A truly unique IPA.

goochpunch, Feb 28, 2006
Photo of Fugazme
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Great looking beer on the pour. Light copper and slightly hazy. A decent sized head that went away but left a wonderful cap. Great lace. Some suspended floaties. I like it.

Aroma is very floral and grassy. A touch of citrus and a touch of chocolate. A bit of caramel and a lingering of pine.

A good mouthfeel. Creamy on the palate. Bubbly on the swallow which seem to wash the flavor away quickly. Some dryness.

Taste is hoppy, of course. Grassy. Pine. A tad harsh, but overall very good.

Fugazme, Feb 26, 2006
Photo of Dukeofearl
4.05/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle purchased at LaBodega in Riverside CA, Feb 2006, for $3.49. However, I also had a chance to try a small sample on tap at Hollingshead a week or so prior to this tasting. This review includes some of both, but focuses on the bottle.

Pours a medium orange-amber, slightly hazy, with a decent off-white head that quickly drops to a thin, but solid cover over the beer (Abbey Ales Imperial Pint Glass).

Aroma is flowers and bright semi-sweet citrus (tangerines).

Flavor is definite hops, grassy/weedy and slightly oily. Not nearly as strong hop profile as many US IPAs. This fits at the higher end of the hop spectrum for English IPAs. Citrus is there too, but more like limes or grapefruit than sweet citrus. Malts are roasty and slighty smoky. End is where the hops sharpness is most prominent.

Nice creamy mouthfeel- just the kind I like in a beer. Overall, a nice IPA on a Saturday afternoon.

Dukeofearl, Feb 26, 2006
Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass hazy golden amber with a very low off-white head which lasted to barely lace the glass.

The aroma was malty with a lighty floral and fruity character. There was a bit of hop presence but it was low, slightly resinous and grassy. As the beer warmed a bit of smoky character emerged.

The flavor was dry from the get go with a mineral flavor profile and light/very low citrus and grassy flavors. Their was a caramel malt presence, but it was more akin to a Bitter than to an ESB level or an IPA. The flavor also contained a low level of smoke, perhaps a yeast contribution.

The finish was dry with a lasting grassy bittering into the aftertaste, but not a bright bittering and hop flavor, more of a muted presence. The body was medium. The smoke was a bit out of character for any IPA and the beer just didn't work out for me. Not bad, but nothing to seek out IMO.

16.9 ounce bottle.

GCBrewingCo, Feb 13, 2006
Photo of kelticblood
3.6/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a clumpy white thick head. Alot of thick lacing surrounds the glass. A clear dark orange in color. A very strong finish. Has a creamy texture and is not watery. Has a very bitter taste but doesnt finish that bitter. Leaves a clean dry aftertaste. A medium bodied IPA that has a much different taste than the classic IPA. It's mouthfeel is much stronger than the actual 6.1 ABV. Its drinkable, but I couldnt see Myself drinking more than two. Hints of lemon and citrus are noted. A sweet malt and nicely carbonated.

kelticblood, Feb 12, 2006
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.13/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 500ml [16.9 fl.oz] sturdy brown glass bottle that has raised quadra-placed embossed lettering on the bottles shoulder “Belhaven Est. 1719”. Neck label is colored dark purple with a thin gold lined border, as indeed is the main label which proudly states that the beer is Imported from Scotland. Labeled as Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA. Reverse label has this listed at 6.1%.

Appearance: Humungous head, cream colored with beige tints. Rocky outcrops once the cap starts to fade and settle down. Lots of lacing and a lovely thick textured surface that is uneven. A gentle swirl reveals a fine carbonation. The soft orange copper body is slightly hazed and looks great underneath the light tanned head. Solid presentation!

Nose: Fresh pine oils leap out of the glass. Floral tones sit tightly amidst soft caramel malts and a fruit salad feel with some black pepper spices.

Taste: The oily hops are thick in the beginning with a toffee malt middle. The finish has a lovely peaty feel to it. Soft fruity flashes come and go including apricots and baked apples. Dry bitterness with some pine too. Wow, this is a real surprise, I expected less but I am impressed by the way the peaty malts blend with the American hops.

Mouthfeel: Talcum powder soft conditioning does no wrong. Medium feel but with a larger profile than its shadow casts. The piney hops no doubt assist the bold feel.

Drinkability: One of those brews that disappears in a few large mouthfuls and is followed by an unconvincing rattle and perplexing repeated pouring of the empty bottle over the nearly empty glass. Did it really go down that quickly!?! Guess so.

Overall: The Cascades and Challengers add a very definitive US feel to this IPA, yet the peaty malts are definitely Scottish, the blend of ingredients from either side of the Atlantic is very clever an make this an intriguing combination, but for me it works extremely well. This is a fine US-Scottish IPA. Quietly impressive!

TheLongBeachBum, Jan 31, 2006
Photo of cheers2beers
3.63/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Has the average appearance of an IPA,other than the noticed suspended yeast particles floating with my tall weizen glass.Color was deep topaz to light amber with two finger head that maintained a quarter inch head that stayed the remainder of the session.Minimal laceing.Minimal beading.

Smell: Hops definitely there but not too expressive as would of liked,oranges and piney notes,slight smoked malts can be detected.

Taste: Hops again still remain in the taste as expected,little pines in the flavor.Nothing like an American IPA but in a good way I enjoyed its offerings.Like the nose ever so slight smokiness and orange peel bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, light to medium consistancy.Carbination is medium at best,very pleasant.

Drinkability: Not bad for my first English IPA.Not a favorite of mine from Belhaven but I could drink this easily non the less.The subdued bitterness is interesting, give me another please!

Note: This review may be pending my next experience with an English IPA to compare.


cheers2beers, Jan 15, 2006
Photo of NJpadreFan
2.7/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Belhaven- Twisted Thistle IPA

Appearance- dark mahogany brown with a huge thick head. The head was like whipped cream.
Smell- smoky hops. B-B-Q sauce and molasses/ syrup.
Taste- heavy flavor of smoked hops with a touch of caramel/ molasses malt.
Mouthfeel- Liquid cigarette smoke.

Overall- what is with the Scots and their smoke flavored beers? I enjoyed all the other characteristics of the Ale except the smoked hops!

NJpadreFan, Jan 02, 2006
Photo of dauss
3.88/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 16.9 Fl.Oz. non-twist off bottle. No freshness marking of any sort. The label reads "A refreshing example of an India Pale Ale from the master brewers at Belhaven. The blend of Cascade and Challenger hops combine to produce an abundance of fresh hop aroma that preludes a bitter-dry taste explosion...."

Appearance: Cloudy dull amber color. A small white head forms with decent retention and low lacing.

Aroma: Wow....amazing....very floral, citrusy, big thick sweet malt aroma, and a touch of diacetyl. A faint indication of the alcohol that lurks within. 6.1% ABV.

Taste: A almost smokey malt body. After a few more sips, I am getting the impression that they had used peated malt. Though it is very present, not quite as subtle as I would like. The fruity esters of the English yeast are really present in this. The body is only medium, but the mouthfeel is full and drying. The hop flavor and bitterness are quite low.

Notes: Not quite as carbonated as it looked in the glass. The smokey taste wasn't preceived at all in the aroma. Not quite as hoppy as I like an English IPA. Interesting blend of the American and British Hops. Aroma blew me away. Sadly, the rest of the beer wasn't as impressive. Good nontheless.

dauss, Dec 21, 2005
Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.7/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy burnt orange color with a quarter inch head at first pour. The head sticks around for more than a minute maintained by quite a few bubbles rising. There is quite a bit of lacing left on the glass after drinking.

Aroma: A really herbal aroma is the first thing I notice. There is quite a bit of caramel aromas here also.

Taste: The flavor is really peaty, and it tastes like a smoked beer. This smoky presence is the dominant force in this beer. I get some darker caramel malts in the profile, but everything is just supporting this smoke flavor. As you get about half way through the beer, the smoked peat flavor is less noticeable, and you can notice some of the buttery malts and what I believe are some floral British style hops like EKG. You can also pick out some other floral thing going on that I would guess was Lavender.

Opinion: Well, to be honest, if I were to have tried this beer as a one ounce sample from the "Beer of the Month" for my brew club...I probably wouldn't have tried it again. The first sip is pretty harsh, but after a couple sips...you get accustomed to the background flavor. It's not so objectionable now. I would probably have another one, but this is not my favorite beer.

SkeeterHawk, Dec 05, 2005
Photo of lackenhauser
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice pale amber color with a great big fluffy white head on top. Great columns of rising bubbles. Very nice aroma-somewhat grassy and "catty" to use a Britsh term. Faint grapefruit aroma. Good malty flavor with a mellow hop bitterness to it. Theres a somewhat plastic flavor in there that knocks it down a peg. Good body. A very enjoyable beer-one of the better English IPAs I have had. I know they're not like US versions but some are quite limp all the way around. This one stands up well and is damn good.

lackenhauser, Nov 20, 2005
Photo of Gagnonsux
3.43/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The color is a hazy copper with a high level of carbonation. The off-white head is large and thick. The retention and lacings are excellent. The aroma has a perfumey, lightly citric hop smell with an underlying sweetness. Enjoyably subtle. A sip starts with a the perfumey/citrus hops. The flavor is somewhat milder than expected. Towards the middle of a sip the flavor is lacking, then a strong bitterness takes over. A dry hop flavor comes in at the finish. I'm wondering if I got a bad bottle or something, the rest of Twisted Thistle's reviews are glowing, but I found it bland and lacking malt balance. Plus the hop flavors didn't wow me either. This is definently something I'll try again down the road just to see if I was missing something great.

Gagnonsux, Nov 15, 2005
Photo of HardTarget
4.5/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle Inspection: Uniquely shaped thin necked brown 1 pt 9 fl oz bottle, mentions Cascade and Challenger hops (mmm...) 6.1% abv., imported by Belukus marketing in Bryan, Tx.

Aroma: Pine needle perfume backed by a gentle sugary malt base. Pine? I thought the “C” hops were citric! Interesting. There is almost a spice note; I can’t catch what it is (the wife calls ‘Apple butter’), and hints of alcohol.

Appearance: Pours a clear perfect amber glass with a solid finger of frothy multi-sized bubbled head that looks like it might outlive me. It stubbornly holds long into the beer leaving 3 dimensional tide marks.

Flavor: Smoke?! Definitely a peat smoke flavor going on. The malt is full and rich, actually hiding most of the hop flavors. Guess that puts this into the English IPA slot. The smoke is the first taste, it flashes to slightly sweet malt, the fades out balanced with a gentle smoke whisper. Little to no hops in the profile. Wow, twisted.

Mouthfeel: Spot on medium body, lively but firm carbonation, lingering finish with a touch of oil, but not much.

Overall Impression: Wow, this one is different. Not “over the top -look at me-look at me-” different, just a lot of subtle notes that weren’t expected. They all fit together very nicely and have me thinking about trying to brew a Smoked IPA. Have to give this one a strong recommendation, good taste, different direction. Bravo!

HardTarget, Nov 08, 2005
Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.38/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I ventured to Carytown Wine and Beer recently, just to see what they had...and saw this "New Arrival". I'm always up for a new IPA, so the $3.49 was plunked down without thought.

Color is a clear copper, with an infusion of honey...maybe a dash of auburn for good measure. Tight, tiny-bubbled off-white head is about 1/2 finger thick. Micro-thin bubbles offer up some thin rings of lace.

This is brewed with Challenger and Cascade hops. Fresh and hoppy nose. Notes of citrus, freshly-cut grass, and peppery spice.

Flavor offers up a sharp twang of bitterness on the taste buds, followed by a rising sweetness that is quickly subdued again by a bitter and somewhat smoky finish. Quite a long aftertaste.

A strange mouthfeel sensation with this one...a very "powdery" character. It's hard to explain, but caught me off guard. Don't get me wrong...it's not bad in any way. It's different. Nice level of body and the carbonation is right. Relatively low ABV. Very flavorful and one I'll purchase in the near future (if only to send to AKSmokedPorter, as I know he wants to try this one). I drool at the thought of trying this on cask.

OldFrothingSlosh, Oct 30, 2005
Photo of marcobrau
3.93/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lo, and behold, a Scottish IPA and a fairly well-done one at that! Citrusy hops fill my nostrils as I quaff this golden ale. The flavor of hops is present, too, mixing well with an almost sticky sweet maltiness, accented by a wisp of smoke. The finish is more spicy then bitter and the lack of an assertive bitter finish is a bit disappointing. Overall, this is a very drinkable IPA and I applaud the Scots for experimenting with American hops.

marcobrau, Oct 29, 2005
Photo of assurbanipaul
4.33/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a medium amber with a solid, frothy head. Aroma is caramel, soft and nicely hopped.

Taste is a good blend of malt and hops, leaning more toward the malt. Bready and semi-sweet, nice roasty character while maintaining a gently hoppy presence. Flavor almost moves from citrus into the berry with the blend of hops used (Cascade and Challenger, according to the label). Finish is sweet and clean.

Mouthfeel is soft, smooth and medium. A very drinkable, sessionable English-style IPA. I tried this earlier on-tap and found it rather plain but the bottled version is far better, much cleaner and vibrant. I could easily session this, but only from the bottle.

assurbanipaul, Oct 28, 2005
Photo of TastyTaste
4.6/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark copperish color, fairly standard, nice fluffy white head, a little visible carbonation.

Smell: Nice floral/citrus hop aroma, sweet carmel and biscuit malt.

Taste. Tart and bitter, bready malts, fruity, and creamy. Definitely one of the higher powered and interesting british IPAs I have had. The higher levels of hops and the citrus flavor really set it apart.

Mouthfeel: Can't complain, carbonated well for the style.

Drinkability: Probably my favorite british IPA to date (besides the 1800 that was brewed in Minneapolis). Very good, try it, you american hophead.

TastyTaste, Oct 21, 2005
Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA from Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.
83 out of 100 based on 653 ratings.