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Iron Duke - Wellington County Brewery

Not Rated.
Iron DukeIron Duke

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

82 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 82
Reviews: 70
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 10.46%
Wants: 9
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:
Originally a seasonal brew, Iron Duke is Wellington’s winter warmer with the character of barley wine. An excellent dessert beer.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-25-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 82 | Reviews: 70 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by CRJMellor:
Photo of CRJMellor
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I found this beer about 2 years ago on a trip to Toronto and just getting around to writing the review.

Pours a dark reddish brown topped by very little head. Small amount of lace left on the side of the glass. Strong aroma dark fruit, prunes or figs and maybe a hint of chocolate.
Flavors of prunes, caramel with some high velocity sugar or molasses for some extra sweetness. Very little, in fact no bitterness. Finishes a little abruptly, expected a little more length with color and aroma. Mouthfeel starts sort of syrupy and then again finishes a little-bit watery but does not distract from overall drinkability that much.

CRJMellor, Jan 08, 2004
More User Reviews:
Photo of Popsinc
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep mohagany pour. Lively tan head. The nose is highlighted by sticky sweet molasses and toffee. Tastes starts off with some nice malt sweetness. Again, some molasses & black licorice and some hops come through mid sip. Dry-ish finish. Lingering malts and toffee. Some alcohol warmth. Fairly lively mouthfeel. Nice fuzziness to it. Decent drinkability but geared more for a sipping beer, or cool weather companion. Alot of great things about this beer but nothing that wowed me.

Popsinc, May 02, 2005
Photo of sponberg
4.45/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep garnet red with an offwhite head that thins out quickly, but is persistent - sounds like the hair atop my head, but I digress.A malty,malty nose - sweet, caramelly, prunelike.

FRUIT!! The Duke whaps you upside the head with a vast, fruity maltiness - prunes, fig, apple - tinged with a toffee-caramel sweetness that's extremely round, but not at all cloying. As the sip goes down it dries out a bit, bringing Belgian chocolate and earthy notes along with an apple-skin flavor way in the background. The underlying bitterness is just enough to tie this whole thing together. A chewy, but very slightly thin for the flavors involved, mouthfeel fits this beer well, and makes it very drinkable. Yet another dark strong ale that I could sit by the fire and sip all night long.

sponberg, Jul 13, 2003
Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
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!

JohnnyBarman, Dec 13, 2009
Photo of biboergosum
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

biboergosum, Jun 05, 2012
Photo of Sammy
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best from a good Ontario microbrewery. Not always available. Meats promise of nutty brown flavour. Liked it in place of a rum or scotch during the meal, though it was just OK to my friends. I would try it next time in place of a late afternoon cocktail to get the appetite going. Alcohol present but not overpowering.

Sammy, Dec 01, 2003
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the small Wellington County brewery in Guelph, Ontario come some of the most authentic North American brewed English-style ales, and their Iron Duke Strong Ale is no exception. It's a beer that's best enjoyed at cellar temperature to reveal its full character. It pours a clear brown body with a reddish cast. Its frothy light tan head holds well initially, leaving sheets of lace, but eventually drops to a thin creamy collar and reduces to just spotty lace. The aroma is not bold, but expresses a sweet bready maltiness that's gently fruity, toffee-ish, a touch nutty, and laced with alcohol. The body is medium with a soft and very fine carbonation that's lightly creamy and smooth. The flavor, not unlike the aroma, is not brazen but subtly complex. It's softly fruity, mildly chocolatey, toffee-ish, and nutty with a touch of alcohol that lingers into the dry finish along with a very slight roasty/burnt edge and a dull bitterness. Exceptionally well balanced! Really nicely done and highly enjoyable.

NeroFiddled, Jan 12, 2003
Photo of traumaqueen
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%

traumaqueen, Apr 03, 2012
Photo of BKotch
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%

On cask at Volo in Toronto, summer of 2009.

BKotch, Wednesday at 10:27 PM
Photo of ChrisCage
4.35/5  rDev +11%
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!

ChrisCage, Feb 26, 2010
Photo of Stocean1
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%
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.

Stocean1, Mar 10, 2012
Photo of Phyl21ca
2.98/5  rDev -24%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a clear dark brown color ale with a small off-white bubbly head with minimal retention. Aroma of light sweet roasted malt. Taste is also dominated by the light roasted malt with some sweetness. Carbonation is quite low and alcohol very subtle. Overall, this a good beer but nothing special that will make me seek this again.

Phyl21ca, Apr 10, 2006
Photo of tatterdash
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It's a "One ale, one lager" night at my house and I have resolved to review more beers on here, so here it goes:

Pours a clear, dark copper brown into my dipple mug. The head is off white and quite tightly packed for a bottled beer, and it has quite good retention and lacing. Smell was very bold and strong in malty fruit esters, with a hint of burnt toast and smoke. Taste is equally bold and full, with a great roasted body of malt and toasty bitterness in the middle that lasts well into the finish. The mouthfeel was creamy and smooth, and the high ABV was very well hidden, just a subtle warming late in finish. This is great beer, one of Wellington's best and great value.

tatterdash, Jan 04, 2006
Photo of IronDjinn
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Many thanks to northyorksammy for getting a bottle of this into my grubby little paws. Poured from a brown 750 ml capped bottle, best before date marked on the back label (making this one a month before it's over the hill).

A thin fizzle of off-white head on the pour that disappears just as quickly. Aside from that it is a very appealing dark woody brown, but becomes a stunning cherry oak hue when held up to direct light. I could gaze upon that for a very long time... Uh, where was I?

The aroma possesses a faint sweet butter-rum character, as well as date/prune/raisin notes.

The flavour starts out quite mellow at first, light diactyl that gets stronger the longer it is held in the mouth, getting sweeter to almost a preserved current and cherry flavour on the finish, and then more diacytl on the aftertaste, like a full circle. Much milder than I had been expecting from this strong ale.

Mouthfeel is light but not swilly, very smooth over the palate and down the throat. Quite an easy drinker for the style, would do well as an after-dinner drink, especially after grilled meat, or even pasta.

My first sample of a Wellington beer and I am impressed, they will do right with this as their flagship beer.

IronDjinn, Apr 04, 2004
Photo of Gusler
4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Last Sample (11-12-2003) - 4.05
Well this is the last of the “The Old Iron Duke" I received some 2 years and 9 months ago, so lets see how its fared over the last 2-3/4 years.
As it sets in the glass a deep and nebulous burnished copper with the head is unassuming in size, frothy in texture and the color a light tan, as it vanishes as fast as a blink of the eye, the lace a fine curtain of tan to conceal the glass. Sweet malt aroma dominates the nose, I liken it to cotton candy, strawberries also comes to mind also a hint of brandy, quite pleasant actually, start is sweet and rich in malt, top is middling to full in its feel to the palate. Finish is tolerant in its acidity, the hops humble in their spiciness, and sweetness from the front carries all the way to the aftertaste which is also dry and long lasting. Hell it’s still got a bit of alcohol kick, and still a decent tasting brew, well so long old friend.

Last Sampled (11-02-2002) 4.00
The pour murky deep amber to copper color, the head is middling in size, the lace glutinous sheets, and both light tan in color. Nose is malt, caramel, plummish as in over ripe fruit. Front is malt and quite sweet, the top is skinny, finish is potently acidic, pertinently hopped, aftertaste is dry and long lasting. I have "Cellared" this beer for pert near two years, and I do think it has mellowed, could not find out if it is or isn't a "Bottle Conditioned Beer", so if anyone know for sure, drop me a line.

Gusler, Nov 13, 2003
Photo of dipso123
2/5  rDev -49%

dipso123, Mar 28, 2012
Photo of the42ndtourist
4.8/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On the label, Wellington calls this their flagship beer, and in a world where the vast majority of beer that is drunk is bland and uninteresting, their ability to stand up and call a beer like this their flagship instead of their more "regular" brews is admirable. That said (in a very long run-on sentence), this is truly a great beer, and I wish it was one that they distributed in cask format.

650mL Bomber. Pours out deep, deep brown, near black. A nice looking head to start, but it fades to near nothing. Flavours and aromas: nice dark fruits - raisins, plums - good helping of darker malts, long lingering finish of warming alcohol and more malts. Hops are firmly in the backseat, where they belong. Drinkable? Dear god, yes!! Iron Duke practically dives down my throat. An excellent beer, for those days when it's just not quite cold enough to justify an imperial stout (Wellington's, of course!).

the42ndtourist, Feb 07, 2003
Photo of mrnobody
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
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).

mrnobody, Jan 21, 2011
Photo of Antilochus
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 341mL bottle (in a six pack) purchased at a Kingston, Ontario Beer Store. Appearance is reddish brown opaque, descending along the glass to translucent reddish brown. The head is tan, slowly dissipating to a thin cream with lace. Aromas are roasted malts & sweetish dark fruits, with slight burnt sugar. As it warmed alcohol became noticeable, but not overly so.

Mouthfeel is immediately medium viscosity, with low carbonation. Taste was sweet and roasted/burnt overall, with smalt, cherry, prune, and a bit of spice. Alcohol not as noticeable as I expected, very enjoyable. Decent drinkability, but at 6.50% abv probably not sessionable.

Antilochus, Nov 19, 2007
Photo of bigjeffro44
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
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.

bigjeffro44, Jan 12, 2010
Photo of ritzkiss
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

ritzkiss, Jun 23, 2011
Photo of papat444
3.38/5  rDev -13.8%
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.

papat444, Oct 21, 2010
Photo of baiser
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a 22 oz bomber. Poured a rich mahogany brown with red highlights, a large creamy tan head. A nice think layer of foam sat atop for the entire time.

Aroma of sweet sweet candy, some nuttiness in the nose. A little floral too.

Taste was delicious. Roasty, some floral hops, bitter hops up front. Some plum, molasses and a sweet alcohol warmth at the end of each sip. From time to time, you get some brandy flavour. Mouthfeel is smooth and bodied. A bit oily. This is one balanced beer.

IMO the second best Wellington has to offer (behind the imperial stout). It's a great beer from my favourite Ontario microbrewery.

baiser, Sep 25, 2004
Photo of headlessparrot
4.43/5  rDev +13%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In the last few months of my journey of beer discovery, I have been quite impressed by Guelph's Wellington Brewery. From their discount lagers (respectable, for a great price) to their wonderful Russian Imperial Stout (in spite of it not being available at the Beer Store), to their excellent prices (without a doubt the most inexpensive of Ontario's great craft brewers), they've really won me over. So I decided to take a shot at their other Iron Duke, their Strong Ale. And this is a good one.

Pours from an industry standard bottle (freshness dating on a sticker applied to the exterior of the six-pack) into a pint glass a tad weakly, much like the Welly Imperial Stout, actually. Colour is a dark-cola, with hues of ruby and some brown. Very little head - I'd be exagerating if I said one finger - off-white (a faint brown) that quickly dissapates to a ring. Leaves little lacing until it warms, then develops quite a bit more. Perhaps nothing special, but there's a certain allure to any dark ale that one can't deny.

Smell is fantastic. Dominated by roasted malts, presenting bitter (and to a lesser extent, milk) chocolate, with coffee notes, molasses, cappucino, espresso, caramel and toffee, brown sugar. Actually somewhat similar to the Russian Imperial Stout, I believe. Hazelnut notes, a faint woodiness, with just a subtle hint of floral hop character. This is mouthwatering, and becomes even more so as it warms.

Taste lives up to the smell, without a doubt. Full-bodied, with dominant roasted malts. Quite sweet initially, as the flavours apparant in the smell dance over the tongue: again, bitter and milk chocolate, espresso, coffee, hazelnut, and brown sugar. A light, floral hoppiness throughout, but the flavours presented by the roasted malts clearly dominate - and they are fantastic. Faintly bitter and fairly dry on the finish, but exceptionally refreshing. A faint alcohol taste towards the end warms slightly (perhaps not the best summer brew, but I can't help myself). This is great.

Mouthfeel is great, much like the other Wellington entries I've sampled. Body is substantial - slick, not watery - and carbonation levels are almost perfect. This brew is silky smooth - my nearest comparison (as I'm largely unfamiliar with the style) is that of an oatmeal stout. I love it. Drinkability, then, it goes without saying, is great - I purchased a six-pack this afternoon and immediately sampled one. I followed that with another immediately, and then waited only a few hours before diving right into a third as my sample entry. Needless to say, I could drink this stuff all day and night (though the relatively high ABV might be slightly prohibitive in this respect).

Wellington's Iron Duke Strong Ale may be the crown brew of the Wellington Brewery - this is a keeper, perhaps only in competition with their somewhat similar Russian Imperial Stout. And at their prices (a respectable $10.85 for a six-pack is at least a couple dollars better than most competing Ontario craft brews and even better than Sleeman's pricing), it's well worth a try. This is, to state it again, an exceptional ale.

headlessparrot, Jun 04, 2006
Photo of spinrsx
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
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.

spinrsx, Nov 01, 2011
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Iron Duke from Wellington County Brewery
88 out of 100 based on 82 ratings.