Iron Duke - Wellington County Brewery

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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: 3.92
pDev: 10.46%
Wants: 8
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)
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Ratings: 82 | Reviews: 70 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bigox420
5/5  rDev +27.6%

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!).

Photo of ZachT
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%

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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo of crwills
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another nice surprise! I'm beginning to really like Wellington Brewery.

This beer was poured (too cold, cause I'm lazy) into a standard pint glass. Pours a moderate Pepsi-brown with very little head (but that's cause it was too cold!).

Smell is malty and sweet, with hints of sugarcane and coffee -- gets stronger as it warms.

I took my time drinking this, but even cold the taste was pleasantly surprising for the style. Bitter cocoa, lots of coffee flavours (bitter), earth, salt. Some upfront alcohol, and a sharply bitter aftertaste that contrasts nicely with the initial flavour.

Very, very drinkable beer -- I'll be stocking up!

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!

Photo of TheHammer
4.35/5  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.

Photo of vitesse
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

served in 12 oz. brown bottle.
found this at "the beer store" in mississauga, ON.

what a nice ESB!!!
pours a beautiful brown color with a bit of clarity. no cloudiness. nice, fine carbonation is very much along the lines of english-style strong ales and ESBs.
smells of noble hops and wonderful biscuity maltiness. some fruitness is definitely in there. very complex flavors...chocolate, port wine, fresh biscuits and tea leaves.
slightly slick mouthfeel, but still very drinkable. alcohol is well hidden. a great ale.
pick this up!

also, don't forget that it comes in completely sealed 6-pack boxes...so no lightstruck hops! go canada!

Photo of EatsTacos
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark brown into a tall pilsner glass. Creamy mocha head with not a lot of retention and a small amount of lacing.

Aroma is roasted malty, chestnuts, toasted bread, biscuits.

The taste begins with a sweet caramel malt that fades into a bready, roasted grain. Chocolate and expresso, roasted coffee beans. The hops are herbal and bitter. Very smooth and drinkable. The end is bitter and nutty. Delicious.

Medium to heavy body with a low crisp carbonation. Very smooth beer.

I've never had a beer I didn't enjoy from this brewery, and I'd love to try this one on tap or cask..

Photo of Cwrw
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From Ontario and only available to me here through the CANBIF method, courtesy of the42ndtourist. First: the labelling. I love the antique appearance of the label, showing Wellington, the "Iron Duke" in his military outfit. The cap, too, shows a black and white picture of the mighty Duke. Attractive bottle. I have wanted to try this beer for a while now. The fluffy light brown head formed slowly and creamily as I poured to the glass. The beer is mollasses brown and very thick looking. The colouration changes with the light and at times I could see hints of ruby, light purple, hickory, and rosewood. The mocha-brown head went down quickly to a thin covering, but I blame that on my glass being a little wet from rinsing it(I was too thirsty to wait for it to air-dry.) The sheets of lacing moved quickly, and the head was darker around the edges. A very attractive strong ale to be sure. The aroma will delight Imperial Stout lovers: the black licorice notes are enormous, with dusty black currant, mollasses, horehound, dark chocolate with raisins, and milky malts. The aroma is spicy from above the glass, and in close the sweet richness of the malts adds an almost red-grape nuance. The malts are very roasty in character, adding a salinity akin to smoked meats. The hops lurk in the back, and this is all unctuous maltiness. Fantastic smelling beer. Rich and meaty. At first I sense quite a bit of salt in the taste, more in the middle, adding to the roasty malts and making me want to take another sip. Definite black licorice in the taste too, with thick caramel and dark chocolate. The malts are very smooth, almost as though this was brewed with some oatmeal. A little burst of phenols in the middle, nothing very powerful. The taste is dusty, with a lot of raisins and spicy leathery notes. The malts leave a sweetened biscuit, cake-like flavour; very fresh and appetising. If there is any coffee taste, it is more like French Vanilla coffee, because the sweetness of the beer, at least in the middle, belies any coffee comparison. The finish is very dry, the hops definitely making their presence known, but the bitterness also comes from the roasted malts. I am left with a dry, malty, nutty feeling in the mouth. A complex flavour wheel. The beer is full-bodied, low in carbonation, and quite drinkable, though a little sweet at times. A phenomenal beer from Wellington, and I feel privileged to have had it. I would love to try this on-tap, and I will be buying some if ever I return to Ontario. Thanks Duncan!

Photo of trevorwideman
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at the Woolwich Arms and Arrow in Guelph...

Poured into a pint glass. Lovely dark colour, not quite opaque, shades of purple and ruby, slightly cola like. Not much of a head results, but a ring persists with a bit of lacing to the bottom of the glass. Smell is hearty with a generous roasted malt character. Toffee and caramel notes, some coffee and an underpinning of hops. Not too sweet, which is something I tend to worry about.

Taste packs a real punch. Nutty malts give way to a not overbearing caramel sweetness, great espresso type roasted character. Light hoppiness is definitely overshadowed by the intense and punchy malt characteristics of this brew. Nonetheless adds a refreshing character to something I'd normally consider an Autumn/Winter brew. Hearty body and soft mouthfeel make this brew slide down very easily and due to its exceptional flavour would make a great session brew. I'm proud to have been born in Wellington County if this is the kind of brew coming from my old stomping grounds. Cheers!

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.

Photo of BKotch
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%

On cask at Volo in Toronto, summer of 2009.

Photo of funkengruven
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This poured a dark brown with a thin head, leaving some lacing behind

Smells pretty nice, a bit like dried fruit and prunes.

Taste is exactly what an English Ale should taste like. Malty with a slightly bitter finish.

Smooth as silk, This is one beer you can't go wrong with. But you have to be careful, you could pound a bucket of these back and not even realize it.

Great stuff.

Photo of Viggo
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a clear dark brown/black, big off white head forms that sticks around, plus plenty of lace. Smell is dark fruits, cherries, chocolate, alcohol, slight coffee roast. Taste is fruity up front, with a dark chocolate middle and a sweet fruit and chocolate finish. Smooth mouthfeel, perfect carbonation, definately a quality beer.

Photo of DrJay
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This has a rich, dark amber, coppery colour. The light brown head had a very nice colour, but unfortunately didn't last long, and not much lace developed on the sides of the glass. Fruitiness and roasted malts make up the aroma, with a hint of nuttiness. The flavour is full of dried fruits like prunes and possibly figs, with a smooth malty sweetness. Very little hop bitterness is evident, but provides balance early on and supplies a mild bitterness that produces a clean finish. Full-bodied and velvety, this is a satisfying beer without being overly heavy, and one that is very easy to drink.

Photo of vikingmike
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked this up completely randomly at an Ontario Beer Store.

Appearance: Hazy caramel. It looks like a proper English ale.

Smell: Fragrant candied fruit and marzipan (almonds and sugar).

Taste: Excellent. Entirely different from the smell. More of a burnt toffee taste with a solid alcohol backbone.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth

Drinkability: This is an outstanding beer that I'm slightly upset I discovered so late. I could easily session a few of these.

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.

Photo of wordemupg
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
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 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.

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.

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!

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