Blessed Thistle - Cairngorm Brewery Company, The

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Blessed ThistleBlessed Thistle

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11 Reviews
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Reviews: 11
Hads: 15
Avg: 3.6
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 0
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Cairngorm Brewery Company, The visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale |  4.50% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Reidrover on 11-22-2006

Truly unique. A reddish brown ale that is primarily bittered with "Blessed Thistle". The late addition of Goldings hops and ginger add to the flavours of this most complex of beers.
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Reviews: 11 | Hads: 15
Photo of doktorhops
3.21/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wax my trousers it’s hot today! Damn Australian climate... anyway today’s bruview, apart from being #491 in beers I’ve reviewed, is indeed an intriguing proposition - a Scottish Brown Ale brewed with thistle (you know those annoying thorny weeds that grow noxiously and are the symbol of Scotland, because when you live in a country that reveres boiled sheep stomach packed with its own heart and lungs then a thistle isn’t such a bad thing now is it) which is, to me at least, an interesting plant to brew with (how do they handle the thorns? Is the head brewer covered in thistle scars? Just why Cairngorm?). Enough pointless banter me - your beer is getting warm [that’s how they drink it in Scotland me, yeah suck it!].

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Looks great. Presents a hazy red tinted caramel with a beige half centimetre creamy head, good head retention, bit of carbonation activity in the glass. 8/10.

S: Aroma is earthy with toffee notes and a hint of spicy ginger... arggh no - it has ginger added to it - every beer I’ve ever had with ginger has been rubbish! Ginger in beers is quite literally the bane of my beer-existence. Other than ginger there is a metallic note and a sort of black tea hint (must be the thistle). 6/10.

T: Thankfully the ginger in this brew is a non-event *sigh of relief* actually it’s not bad - starts out all earthy, following this is a distinct gunpower tea character (I’m certain this is the thistle), subdued caramel/toffee notes, and a musty/earthy more dry than bitter finish. If I had to level a complaint (and I do) it is that the flavour is far too muted. I do however like gunpowder tea (if you haven’t tried it yet get down to your nearest tea shop and get a small tin of the stuff - it is good shit yo). 6/10.

M: Mid to light, slightly watery bodied, with a flat British pub carbonation. Apart from the slight wateriness this is done to style. 7/10.

D: As a novelty I would rate this: Mildly loopy. As an Ale this definitely needs more flavour intensity (with less ginger though - I’ll never understand why ginger gets put in beers it is generally abysmal in drinks, cooking with ginger is fine though) to get into my fridge door. I will however rate this as the only beer I can ever say I’ve picked up a gunpowder tea flavour (i.e. a smoky green tea taste), so form that I would say try it once. 7/10.

Food match: I wouldn’t stew on what to eat with this, just casserole a decision [see what I did there - I tried to be clever with puns and failed miserably].

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Photo of BeerRefugee
3.42/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle. Pours a slightly hazy bright reddish-amber color. Good off-white head with good retention. Aroma is roast malt, caramel, and dried fruit. Flavor is sweet malt, butterscotch, raisin and grassy hops. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated. Smooth-drinking, but not something I would seek out on a regular basis.

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Photo of flyingpig
3.42/5  rDev -5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from Tesco (£1.70, 500ml):
Darkish brown with some red tinges and an off-white, bubbly head that fades to a patchy lacing after a couple of seconds.

Clean aroma with some malts to begin with, mainly sweet but with some roasted notes too and a nice fruity aroma to follow on from this. There is a definite herb presence and some floral notes too along with a touch of spice.

Sweet malts and a few herbs shinning through at the start but the main taste is definitely a mix of strong tropical fruits and spices with a solid herbal base. There is some caramel in there too and some berries around the middle as well.

Light medium with lively carbonation and a bitter, herbal middle. The finish is very dry and not one I found particularly refreshing.

Another beer that got better as it began to open up a little and is one that I quite enjoyed from that stage on. There was a nice mix of sweet malts and herbs that worked well together and overall there was a good balance with the beer. Probably not one to go back to all that often but a nice, enjoyable beer that I would have again if it was on offer.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
3/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500ml Brown bottle: best before 28 Nov 2012, poured into an Abbot Ale glass tankard on 31 July 2012.

Dark reddy/brown body with an off-white head of deep bubbles.

Malts in the nose; roasted and toasted, not a lot else my senses could detect.

The taste was also malty but with a bitterness never far away. Very dry aftertaste be it from the hops or the thistle content?

Nothing wrong with it, but it doesn't set my world alight and I'll not be seeking out another.

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Photo of charlatan
3.46/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark chestnut coloured beer with a moderate head which stays around for the long haul. Ginger is very prominent in the nose, combined with something herbal I can't put my finger on.

At first the rather acrid flavour reminds me of heather beer but as this herbal flavour wanes, a subtle, sweet, strangely pleasant element holds sway for a while. That while ensures this is very a much sipper.

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Photo of smcolw
3.97/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby amber color that seems to be very clear. Good starting head, but it settles to a single layer of bubbles which leave some streaky lace. 

Sweet crystal malt smell without any of the toastiness I would normally expect. No hop, instead there is a candy presence of malt milk balls. 

Rich caramel malt that leans to the sweeter side. The hop is here in the taste but only as a peppery spice.  Great balance to lamb I'm having. Rich body with a decent amount of carbonation.  Malted milk ball aftertaste (with white pepper from the hop). 

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Photo of nickfl
3.58/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours with a small, off white head of foam on top of a clear, copper brown body. The head settles quickly and leaves decent lace.

S - Some earthy, herbal notes of ginger and black pepper. Some toasted malt and a hint of caramel.

T - Dry, toasted malt up front with dark herbal notes that are reminiscent of rye bread. More ginger in the middle with a caraway note and some molasses. Finishes with dark bread and mild herbal astringency as well as light bitterness.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly dry finish.

D - Pretty standard for a gruit. Not bad for what it is, but the strange herbal flavors and muddy malt character keep it from being anything more than a novelty. In many ways, this is more like a soup than a beer, probably not something that I would drink again.

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Photo of BDTyre
3.8/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another fine beer from Cairngorm. Darker brown to light ruby in colour with a slightly off-white head.

Chocolatey, sweet and slightly floral smell. This could be from the thistle or the hops or a combination of both. A bit more sour floral taste, but still retaining some of the chocolate taste. Actually a bit on the hoppy side, a bit more than I'd think suitable. Still enjoyable.

Nice on the tongue, and easy to drink despite the somewhat bitter flavour.

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Photo of wl0307
3.36/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Coming in a 500ml brown bottle, filtered; BB 28/08/09, served cool in Hapkin's tulip-shaped bowl sniffer. The ingredients include, of course, Thistles that are boiled in the wort for bitterness, on top of three kinds of malts - pale, crystal and chocolate, Golding hops and a touch of ginger added in the end of brewing.

A: pours a very dark ruby colour with semi-lively fizziness, topped with an inch-thick, creamy dark beige froth that lasts pretty well.
S: the smell reminds me of Ginger-flavoured brown sugar plus sweet Chinese red date soup, with plentiful, if not overly, notes of melted caramel and flowery-honey too boot... The sweet and gingery side of the aroma is overpowering, hence an overall unbalance.
T: slightly like the famous Fraoch ale with a unique floral/fruity sour tinge, but soon the deeper malty flavour develops but treading light, laced with caramely aroma and a refreshingly light and dry, burned malty taste; the very mixed aftertaste turns light-bodied but increasingly bitter, showing almost earthy notes of Fuggles, aromatic undertones of dried red dates, a rather chewy palate of rough bitterness (like bitter tea-leaves) from either hops or thistles(?). As ginger is used, of course it doesn't fall on "deaf taste-buds" but only gives a very mild spicy tinge overall.
M&D: the texture is slightly tainted by the sharply fizzy swallow and loosely-composed carbonation in its aftermath, hence slightly watery/thin and unsuitable for the overall decent, moderate flavour. That said, a pretty interesting mixture is arrived at on the palate - much more likeable than the cloying aroma - showing a clear structure from light malts leading to deepening bitterness with the unusual ingredients chiming in harmoniously, as neither ginger nor thistles comes too much overall. Interesting.

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Photo of kmacphail
3.99/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a ruby-brown colour with an initially thick off white head that settled to a 3mm film with decent retention throughout the pint.

This beer is bursting with aromas. The burnt caramels and malts are a nice sweet scent but bitterness is added by hints of fruit, mainly blackberries. However these do not all follow through to the taste. An intial bitter taste of hops is replaced by a sweet taste of roasted malts, a nice balance that is followed up with an aftertaste of ginger. This is pleasant, but not what I expected after the delightful aromas.

The mouthfeel is fine, pretty standard for a Scotch ale, medium bodied but a lot more refreshing than a lot of beers of this style.

I would certainly drink it again, but I can't help feel this could have been great. Instead it is a nice beer, I would drink it again, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get it.

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Photo of Reidrover
3.5/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle. According to the label ,bittered by the addition of thistle. Nice looking bronze/reddish amber beer with a thick creamy light tan head. Lightly floral aromas but mostly malty. Very malty flavour but somehow it comes across my palate as creamy . toffeeish hints. Pretty heavy floral ( thistle) aspects,semi-dry with some fruitiness also. Good mouthfeel , pretty smooth and tasty. I liked this, it is indeed an unusual ale, i would certainlly have it again.

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Blessed Thistle from Cairngorm Brewery Company, The
83 out of 100 based on 11 ratings.