Iron Duke - Wellington County Brewery

Not Rated.
Iron DukeIron Duke

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BA SCORE
87
very good

82 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 82
Reviews: 70
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 10.49%
Wants: 10
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Wellington County Brewery visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-25-2002

Originally a seasonal brew, Iron Duke is Wellington’s winter warmer with the character of barley wine. An excellent dessert beer.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 82 | Reviews: 70
Photo of BKotch
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

On cask at Volo in Toronto, summer of 2009.

Photo of biegaman
3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Iron Duke has a colour something like a bosc pear that's been heavily bruised; it is a murky, deep brown and, needless to say, not all that attractive. It's gloomy tone obscures virtually all highlights and clarity, imparting a dreadfully dreary complexion. Its head is sturdy but incomplete.

The aroma leaves a resounding sweetness in the nostrils - turbinado sugar and a fruitiness that resembles some kind of raisin/prune hybrid. There is a superficial semblance to port attributed not only to the fortified-wine notes but also a musty woodiness. Though more vivid on the palate, the beer's spiced Christmas cake-like persona is introduced via smell.

Iron Duke has the flavour (and nearly the texture) of a chunky oatmeal-walnut-raisin cookie. There are also notes of dried cranberry and plum pudding. Maybe some cocoa. The mouthfeel is thick and calls extra malt reinforcements to duty in the finish; each sip is like a beer bear-hug.

Though no alcohol is present, the beer can taste stronger than it actually is (6.5%). It has the requisite levels of richness and warmth to qualify as a 'winter warmer' (which the brewery claims it to be), though it borrows heavily the roasty and nutty characteristics of brown ales as well as the fortified fruitiness of a barley wine. It doesn't fit neatly into any one category.

Iron Duke's long tenure in the Ontario marketplace speaks to its quality and distinctiveness as well as its ability to engage new craft beer drinkers without losing the interest of deeply-ingrained ones. This is a great recipe that the brewery is rightly proud to now offer year-round.

Photo of jrenihan
3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On cask at Volo.

The room is rather dark, but the beer appears to be amber in colour. A typical cask-like bubbly head on top.

Nose contains toffee, and a bit of smoke. A bit faint, but pleasant enough.

Taste contains caramel, toffee, some smoke and a bit of a burnt flavour. A bit reminiscent of whisky, actually (only sightly). A bit on the bitter side. with some earthy and grassy hops present.

Medium bodied, low natural carbonation. Nice cask feel.

Overall, pretty good. A pleasant beer, nothing to search out. Haven't had this in a bottle for a long time, so I can't say whether it is better in cask or not, but it seemed like the cask treatment worked well.

Photo of Antikythera
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into glass.

a: I thought this would be like a stout, but it's not that dark at all. It's the colour of strong brewed tea, and a bit cloudy. Foamy head settles down but sticks to the glass in layers. I can see how much I drank in each mouthful by the high water lines on the glass.

s: nothing special. A bit of that odd proteiny smell that I don't like, but there's not enough of that to be disagreeable.

t: pretty mellow for such a dark beer. A little nutty and a little sweet.

m: a bit overcarbonated, but that goes away and leaves a pleasantly slippery feeling.

o: good stuff. If I want something dark this is one of my favourite local options, especially for the price point.

Photo of thehyperduck
3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

341 mL bottle from a six-pack. I got this mostly because it was on sale, which I noticed in a moment of serendipity because the logo happened to be pretty close to eye level on that 'wall of brands' at the Beer Store.

Pours a lovely deep-hued brownish-bronze colour, topped with two fingers of light-beige head, smooth and dense. Decent retention; it recedes over the next few minutes, leaving behind a thin, creamy cap and lots of lacing. Very malty aroma, with lots of toffee and biscuity malts, and hints of vanilla and dates. A little too saccharine for my tastes, but still generally pleasant.

Straightforward flavour with restrained intensity; pretty much what I expect from most English-style ales. There is a backbone of brown sugar, toffee and toasted biscuit malts, with a slightly nutty feel to them, and a few hints of dark fruit as well. I can't complain about this being too sweet, because it does actually have a nice, slightly roasty finish that provides some crucial dryness to balance it out. Pleasant bittersweet aftertaste that encourages further sipping. Medium-bodied, and quite smooth with its mild carbonation. Quite drinkable for the ABV.

Final Grade: 3.83, a B+. I have met the Iron Duke, and it was an unexpectedly satisfying experience. This is a highly quaffable strong ale that I would happily recommend to others. Sort of reminds me of Innis and Gunn-style scotch ales, without the woodiness - probably more appropriate for autumn or winter than this time of year, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

[Updated June 19 2014]

Another six-pack picked up at the local TBS. A little out of season, but this is still a solid English-style strong ale that is sure to pique the interest of palates that prefer the malty side of things. I wish they'd start putting this in tallboy cans, because as much as I enjoy this beer I'd like to have the option of grabbing a can or two rather than an entire sixer. Give this one a shot, as it's easily one of the best brews in the Wellington portfolio.

Photo of biboergosum
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

341ml bottle.

This beer pours a clear, dark ruby amber hue, with one stocky finger of thin, tightly foamy tan head, which leaves a low ebbing tide of lace around the glass as it gently subsides.

It smells of booze-soaked raisins, musty caramel/toffee malt, molasses, a slight treacle note, and earthy, leafy hops. The taste is bready, of the Christmas-time, indulgent variety, with the caramel, toffee, dark fruit, and slight alcohol warming all included. Outside of that, we get a bit of a redux of the leafy, earthy hop notes from the nose.

The bubbles are present, and well behaved, the body a well structured medium weight, and agreeably smooth. It finishes sweet and caramelized, the offset of booze, hop, and fruit simulacrum doing their job in a seemingly black box, collective manner.

A pretty impressive strong ale, definitely, as advertised, leaning to the English or Scottish way of things. Full, and dense, and strangely drinkable - credit the British-influenced Canadian know-how and restraint. One hell of a tasty, and story-generating sixpack party favour, I would imagine.

Photo of Stocean1
3.67/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a half finger poorly retained head leaving almost no collar, minimal patchy lacing, dark brown in color with ruby highlights

Scent is caramel toffee, dark fruit, sweet dark bread

Taste follows the nose with a faint dark chocolate note and some earthy hops

Very smooth and refreshing for the style, there is little carbonation with a light medium body, mild bitterness in the finish. Has a watery quality to it when swirled in the glass which does not generate any suds whatsoever. Almost seems like a session brew

A decent brew that with a more experienced palate is not as big as I remember it but still holds up well.

Photo of spinrsx
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Cask

Appearance - The beer pours a clear dark brown colour with a small frothy beige head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing due to the darkness and there is some pretty nice lacing. The head lasted for 3 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, dark fruits, caramel/toffee

Taste & Mouth - There is a low level of carbonation and I can taste lots of malts, chocolate, and some dark fruits. There is also a but of a nuttiness to it. It ends with a sweet malty aftertaste.

Drink - Was happy to get a chance to try this from a fresh cask. It's definitely one of Wellingtons better offerings and I'd have it again.

Photo of wordemupg
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

341ml bottle poured into tulip 30/6/11

A very clear ruby red nearly purple when held to the light, fast raising bubbles support a slow falling tan head that leaves just a few specks of lace

S spicy plum with some dark toffee and some darker bread

T not far from the smell with a little nutty aspect and some faint booze, nothing overpowers and everything mingles well, pretty tasty stuff not my favorite style but they did a great job at it

M medium bodied creamed up a bit from the bubbles and a nice nutty aftertaste

O nice English Strong Ale for sure, I'm surprised I never tried it before being around Alberta for some time now, well rounded not really lacking in any area

I may be drinking this again but I may wait for colder weather

Photo of ritzkiss
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from a sixer purchased at the Beer Store. Pours a dark brown with glowing ruby glinting throughout. Finger of khaki cream head which has good retention, still has a creamy topping like icing on a cake. Pretty.

Nose has an earthy roast, toffee, dark fruits, rye bread, caramel. Flavor is smooth and relaxed, unfortunately not aided by a slightly thin body. Dark fruits, roast, earth, a slight mineral note, fruit bread, some sweetness in the body and a dry finish, brown sugar, creamy mouthfeel though a little thin, not a hint of any ABV. Perhaps not the most sexy beer but (aside from how it looks) but it's well made and a good example of the Englsh style it represents.

Photo of bryehn
3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nut brown-ruby colour with a frothy tan head that didn't last long or lace, but did get retained as a collar.

The aroma of Iron Duke (there's a poop joke in there I'm sure) is one that I find rich and complex. Its nutty, sweet and malty, with strong dark fruit tones and a hint of spice.

The taste is very similar, it's got a sweet and nutty flavour and the dark fruit aroma characterizes itself as cherry to me. I get a roasted chocolate or coffee-like bitterness that balances things out on the back end.

Considering its rich characteristics and ABV, I find this beer goes down easily. I do think its a bit thin, but it does have a weighty creaminess and medium carbonation.

I've tried five beers from Wellington and this is without a doubt my favourite. Almost perfect as a Winter beer, but drinkable enough that I'd try it in the warmer months too.

Photo of mrnobody
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

341 ml bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pours a dark amber with 2 fingers of beige head which recedes to a ring leaving some lacing.

S: Smells malty, fruity, spicy and slightly metallic.

T: The flavour is rich and malty but also fruity and with a nice hoppy finish.

M: Medium body with a creamy mouthfeel but not heavy. The carbonation is spot on.

D: The drinkability is very high. I'd say this is a very tasty traditional winter warmer (unspiced).

Photo of tbeckett
3.44/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Ruby in colour. Head died really fast after pouring. Minor carbonation.

S - I get alot of fruitcake and dates.

T - Fruits are much more present in the taste. The dates and sort of nuttiness come out nicely.

M - Small amount of carbonation, light to medium body.

D - Good stuff but not by any means a great beer. I could have a few but I would by no means seek this out.

Photo of papat444
3.36/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to grub for this one. Had it with my supper, meatballs & salad.

Poured from a 341ml. bottle.

Appearance: Dark brown body with cherry wood reflections near the bottom and a beige 3 finger head.

Smell: Nuts and caramel with a touch of sweetness. Aroma very muted and opens a little as it warms.

Taste: Leathery on the sides with a pervasive malt presence and maybe a hint of liquor. Some brown sugar also. Not very complex though not bad either.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation a little higher than i would have liked and certainly felt watery a little. The body is smooth though doesn't really leave a lasting impression.

Drinkability: Just ok i guess. I don't see myself going for this often.

Overall: Alright though it had potential to be better IMO.

Photo of korguy123
3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz screw off bottle. No BB date into snifter.
Was purchased as part of the Fall OCB 6er.

A- Opaque rich chocolate/burgandy pour. Two finger off white head. Ruby red when held to the light. Almost like a dark merlot. Faint carbonation bubbles scurrying up sides of glass.

S- Strawberries, cherries, milk chocolate, bitter hop presence. Chewy caramel, nice biscuity malts, faint coffee.

T- Slight metallic taste, figs and raisins, faint brown sugar. Fresh bitter hops are a nice kick in the teeth. Tart taste that I can't quite put my fingers on.

M- Drying bitter finish, the carbonation overshadows the tastes a bit too much.

Well worth trying once. The metallic taste became a bit off putting by the end of the glass.

Photo of kwjd
3.77/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased a 6 pack of this yesterday at the brewery store. Pours a dark amber-brown colour with thin off-white head and with traces of lacing. Smells of boozy raisin and cherry. Taste has mild bitterness, with sweet booziness as well. Even though the head isn't very big, this is well carbonated. Quite a nice English style ale.

Photo of cratez
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

341ml bottle from a 6 pack purchased at The Beer Store.

A: dark ruby brown with one finger of frothy, cream coloured head. Gobs of lacing decorate the pint glass.
S: light nuttiness, raisins, sherry, a bit floral, some metal, brown sugar, and vinous, port like aromas.
T: dried fruits, toffee, roasted and chocolate malts, red grapes, caramel bitterness, parched cocoa finish with a warming, alcoholic edge.
M: silky, fullish medium, high carbonation for the style, lasting bittersweet dryness.
D: a dangerously quaffable, malt-forward English strong ale. Marvelous.

Photo of sholland119
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to grub for the opportunity to try this one.

A-Pours a muddy off brown with a thin white head and no lacing.

S-Candy sugar, brown sugar and sweet malt, chocolate syrup and chocolate covered cherries.

T-Sweet dried fruit, milk chocolate and rum soaked raisins.

M-Light bodied and a bit light on the carbonation.

D-A pleasant easy drinker.

HV

Photo of Shadman
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark walnut/mahogany with a nice off white head and good gobs o' lacing.

Lot's of boozy dried fruit , hint of molasses toffee and just a hint of woodsmoke.

Smooth, albeit bland start, most of the flavours don't arrive until @ least 3 steamboats after taking a swig. Rum raisin to start, followed by slight nutty dark toffee. Finish is slightly oaky and dry.

Touch watery @ first, but a lower carbonation works as the body is still medium to slightly full.

A very drinkable ESA.

Photo of ChrisCage
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- I gave this a moderately hard pour into my glass. The color is walnut and is slightly hazy when held to the light. It didn't have a real thick head but it was frothy and settles into a ring around the glass. There is some fine sticky lacing that clings to my glass and the carbonation looks to be of fine bubbles.

S- This has a rich, nutty aroma that is somewhat roasted. There is a detectable wood aged smell that is a milder version of a dark rum or whisky...somewhat toffee like, somewhat woodsy. There is some noticeable dark fruit in the aroma, like dates or plums. Mild hops are on the the finish as well.

T- Again, the flavor is very nice and rich. There is sweet roasted malts on the palate right up front and a very detectable oaked wood character right throughout the middle. The higher alcohol, while hidden quite well in the full flavor, does provide just a hint of a zip that makes this taste like a wood aged rum, with the toffee richness included.

M- This beer has a nice medium full body and is buttery smooth, as the carbonation is not really heavy and is fine on the palate. Very well rounded feel and I really have a sense of enjoying a real authentic warm, relaxing smooth drinking beer!

D- While I wouldn't normally want to have several of this style of beer, simply due to the richness of it, I'd have no problem throwing back a few of these....this beer really is a true joy! It's balanced, flavorful, and has the right amount of warmth. I will definitely be purchasing this brew again in the future!

Photo of bigjeffro44
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

appearance,
dark amber in colour. with a creamy off white head. about half inch thick. lacing was slight.

Smell,
toasted malt, caramel and fruit and spice notes.

taste,
lots of toasted malt/nutty flavors, with hints of fruit.

mouthfeel
very pleasant, nice carbonation slight bitterness.

drinkabillity
very smooth, yet bold. highly recommended.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stopped by the brewery today for some holiday gift getting - snapped up a six pack of the Duke, probably my favorite from Welly!

Pours a nice dark brown, a bit of amber when held to the light. A half inch of head, thick ring around the glass. Looks good.

The smell is terrific, very complex and inviting. Roasted malts, grapes, coffee, Black Forest cake.

The taste is also very enjoyable: the usual brown ale suspects, with a strong bitterness to the finish.

A highly drinkable ale, perfect for the winter weather. One of the better dark ales in this part of the province!

Photo of cfrancis
3.79/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark ruby cola colour with a thin head. Aroma is gorgeous, it's almost like sticking your nose into a good whisky or bourbon bottle. Oak, spice malt in the aroma. Taste is great, with a great spicy aftertaste. Full flavour and mouthfeel with a little bitterness. Great beer, glad I bought a 6'er.

Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 341ml bottle into my shaker glass. The ale appears a hazed chestnut color with about a finger of light ecru foam. Nose and flavors are of caramel, candy, toasted bread, toffee, chocolate and cherries. Decently carbonated with a nearly full body for its style. Worth trying if you come across a bottle or two.

Photo of TheHammer
4.34/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Came in a bottle with a picture of the Iron Duke, Arthur Wellesley, the first duke of Wellington on it. Ahh the wonders of wikipedia, I suppose a fitting tribute given the brewery name. Not much head on this one, about a finger's worth but what I did get seemed to both sustain and lace decently. The beer itself is a nice dark brown color with red highlights with clear signs of carbonation and quite clear despite how dark it is.

Smell - Definite roasted chestnut and almond smell with undertones of biscuit, sweet malts and light chocolate and a hint of cherries and plums. Very complex and nice, my only qualm is that it could be a little bit stronger.

Taste - Very nice and complex, starts with nice caramel taste with a little bit of a fruity sensation. It then transitions seamlessly to roasted malts with a touch of chocolate bitterness and then ends with a nice touch of bitter but sweet herbal hops where the chestnuts make an appearance. Very nice, although I feel that the bitterness could be reigned in slightly.

Mouthfeel - The aftertaste of this beer is quite pleasant, as the sweetness does a lot for it however it does linger a bit too long. However this stuff is a smooth as silk going down, despite having a slight dry taste at the end. The beer itself is a bit light on the carbonation and the lack of head also penalizes it somewhat.

Drinkability - If this stuff is 6.5% it's certainly hard to tell. This stuff is dangerous man, as the alcohol isn't noticeable. It is exceptionally light on the gut, goes down smoothly. If it wasn't slightly dry at the end and a bit more refreshing, it would be perfect.

Final Thoughts - This beer is exceptionally good, and even more so given it's price (at about $12 for a six). If you live in Ontario, you owe it to yourself to try this beer. I was very impressed by this beer, and I think after I polish off the remaining four I have, I will partake of this brewery again. Definitely worth picking up a six or even a twelve pack.

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Iron Duke from Wellington County Brewery
87 out of 100 based on 82 ratings.