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Iron Thistle - Rahr & Sons Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Iron ThistleIron Thistle

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

70 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 70
Hads: 266
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 10.8%
Wants: 18
Gots: 56 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company visit their website
Texas, United States

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: roblowther on 05-30-2009

SCOTTISH STYLE ALE
Available : February Release
Break out the bagpipes with your lederhosen! We’re proud to present our Iron Thistle Scotch Ale – Rahr’s first National Grand Champion winner. This dark, Scottish ale has a bold taste dominated by a smooth, sweet maltiness balanced with a low, hoppy bitterness. So don your kilts and enjoy. Here’s to your health – Slàinte! Prosit!
ABV
8.5%

IBUS
35

COLOR/SRM
Dark Brown

HOP VARIETIES
Warrior

MALTS
2 Row, Vienna, Crystal, Chocolate, Carafa Special II
TASTING NOTES
Deeply Malty, Caramel, Light Hops
PREFERRED GLASS
Pint
PREFERRED SERVING TEMPERATURE
52°
CHEESE PAIRINGS
Brie, Aged Gouda
FOOD PAIRINGS
According to a well-respected expert, Iron Thistle pairs really well with grilled or steamed vegetables because “they won’t have to scream to be heard.” Since we find screaming vegetables unappetizing, we think this is a perfect pairing.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 70 | Hads: 266
Photo of Premo88
3.91/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle poured into small snifter
(Jan. 29, 2015 born-on date)

L: black with no light but dark brown with amber/dark orange highlights up to light; pushed up a small beige head of foam, not but 1/4- to 1/3-inch tall, not much to stick so no sticking; CLEAR ... as the glass empties, it's crystal clear ... very pretty dark-amber color, and an occasional bit of lacing

S: malt and more malt ... dark roasted barley, some coffee, some dark grapes/raisins ... very dense smell, like there's a chunk of malt in there ... sweet hints peek through ... now a bit of oak and maybe some vanilla -- there's a lot here, including now grain, sour grain ... and can caramel lack sugar? if so, there's an unsweetened caramel smell now

T: very wood/earthy-flavor to start, almost salty, then all that dark-roasted malt kicks in following the aroma notes ... coffee, unsweetened raisin bread (?) ... man, the understated sweetness is very unexpected but it's working -- the swallow starts off with a woody/salty taste then ever so slowly allows some sweetness to chime in as the aftertaste progresses. might be some peatiness ... wood-earth notes here are hard for me to describe, but the bottom line is the nose is sweeter than the taste; the wood is NOT burnt like in an American brown/porter/stout but literally just like wood smells

F: weighty, full but good carbonation to lighten it a little, and it isn't slick ...

O: dang good beer, at times feels like an American stout, but the wood notes and almost peat-like notes give it a Scotch-ale feel ... the aftertaste is as good as the taste; also feels a bit like a winter warmer, but that's not so bad -- it's keeping in the UK ale family, right? it's both sweet and noticeably not sweet at the same time ... interesting brew. (1,785 characters)

Photo of pnelting
3.91/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Dark almost black with tan/off white head.
S: Sweet malt and caramel.
T: Follows the nose. Sweet and smooth. Caramel notes, maybe some brown sugar or vanilla. Little bit of earthiness in the finish.
M: Full bodied and sticky.
O: Nice Scotch Ale, maybe a little on the sweet side but would have again for sure. (313 characters)

Photo of msromberg
4.14/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Diego's, Westlake. Very nice Scottish ale. I generally find Rahr products to have more bitter hop flavor than I like. The hops in this one are very nicely balanced by the heavy malt flavors. (203 characters)

Photo of Anaxagoris
4.21/5  rDev +8.2%

Awesome scotch ale. Pours a very deep amber with little to no head and very little lacing as you drink it. The aroma is that of sarsparilla or a root beer smell, followed by an definite caramel aroma and just a hint of vanilla. The taste is very similar to the aroma, it starts off like a childhood memory, a simple glass of root beer on a summer night. Then it quickly transitions into a caramel creaminess again with the hint of vanilla. The mouthfeel, although a seemingly medium bodied beer, is quite full. With the powerful bubbles lingering on the tongue for quite awhile. This is a great example of scotch ale. Many thanks to @kjkinsey (642 characters)

Photo of mattcrill
3.51/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Aroma: Moderate burnt candied sugar notes up front. Low fruity esters of plum and raisin persist. Esters become more prominent as the beer warms with dark cherry notes and fig. No hop aroma. Clean fermentation character.

Appearance: Deep brick red pour with a low off white head. Moderate head retention. Appears still in the glass.

Flavor: Dark bready malt character up front. Firm earthy bitterness provides the counterpoint. Low peppery alcohol fusels help add to the sensation of dryness. Balance is nearly even with the dark bread malts, peppery fusels, and earthy hop bitterness forming a well-knit profile. Finish is clean and dry. Aftertaste lingers faintly of the peppery fusels.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with high carbonation. No alcohol heat.

Overall impression: A sipping Scotch Ale that is firmly bitter. I was surprised at the bitterness due to prior reviews I read. Maybe I had a fresh sample. I would decrease the carbonation and decrease the fusels to allow the rich malt character to shine. Enjoyable but probably needs some age on it. (1,060 characters)

Photo of BroGL
4.75/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I am far from a connoisseur, but I have tried perhaps 3 dozen different craft beers. This one remains my favorite. It taste great, it looks great, it feels great, and it smells great. It has a kick, but the alcohol is nicely masked. It's dark, sweet, and smooth. I keep thinking I will find a beer I like better, but it eludes me. The only reason I am not giving it a perfect score is that I'm sure there is a better beer out there that is better suited to its style. When I find it, it will get the 5. Until then, this is my personal favorite. It may not be for everyone, but it hits me perfectly. (599 characters)

Photo of Atlas1
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I have this on tap right now in my kegerator. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it's exceeded expectation.

Pours a nice, very dark brown color with a full bodied head. Really nice lace. Lots of mahogany when held up to the light. A really pretty beer. The nose is strong and malty sweet. Lots of dark fruit, with some apple and pear as well. Herbal, but not overly so. The taste is also strong with malty sweetness. Heavy on the fruit and herb side. Not much hoppiness to speak of, which is fine, considering the style. Still, it's not as dense as I'd expected, but it is strong and sweet. It grows on you over time. Mouthfeel is firm.

In my humble opinion, this is not the best example of a Scottish style ale. That said, it's a fine beer. It really does grow on you over time. The sweetness of the beer, which seemed over-powering at first, begins to subside and mellow out after a few sips and/or pints. It's not for everyone, of course, but it's not a bad beer. If you want a better (albeit stronger) example of the style, try Old Chub. But if you want a nice, easy-sipping Scottish style beer and you don't mind some sweetness, give this a go. Cheers. (1,164 characters)

Photo of mjurney
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance:
Deep brown color with some ruby red highlight. I could see some bubble rising up from the side of the glass. Small spongy head.

Aroma:
Very rich, malty, deep caramel, roasted malts, brown sugar, dark fruit.

Taste/Finish/Body:
Rich and malty, brown sugar, deep caramel, roasted malts, dark chocolate. Mild hop bitterness towards the end, mainly earthy-leafy. Finish is dry, a little smoky. Body is full, smooth, dry, easy drinking.

Overall:
It's an excellent Scotch Ale. (484 characters)

Photo of facundoCNB
3.19/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A deep brownish red .. Looks black under low light. Finger of head which dissipated immediately. Smells of malt, copper/oxidation.. Slight toasted grains/chocolate notes.
The taste is much better.. Charred bitter flavor up front, heavy dark malts/roasted grains,
Medium in body, medium carbonation.
This beer's alright. It was a throw in, so I can't complain bit it doesn't make sense how this has a higher rating than banhof's Berliner weisse per say. I know it's different styles, but for a wee heavy this is pretty damn bland.. And that other beer is sour and salty as shit and has a lower rating.. Mind control.. Think of just this beer on its own. Still, a meh example on the style. (688 characters)

Photo of kennymule
3.48/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours as dark as night and the head quickly dissipates, however a gentle swirl of the glass brings the head back to life due to the abundant carbonation.

S: I pick up some licorice, raisin, caramel notes.

T: Nice burst of malt, matches the nose for sure, followed by good bit of hops and dry burnt cocoa finish.

M: Great mouth feel, not heavy at all. Nice carbonation to balance the sweetness and accentuate the hops.

O: A really nice beer and at 8.5% abv it's easy to drink, so be warned, this is not a session beer. Good job guys, even if you are from Dallas. Go Rockets.
Serving type: bottle (601 characters)

Photo of decoy727272
4.99/5  rDev +28.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours with a very dark brown color, almost black. It has a little clarity, but hardly noticeable unless you hold it up to a light. It smells malty and chocolatey, but is light to the nose. I enjoyed the lightness to this beer. It has aromas of a stout, but is a smooth more drinkable beer. I enjoyed this beer a lot, I can't wait for their next seasonal. (354 characters)

Photo of LeeryLeprechaun
3.71/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Rahr Iron Thistle

Pours dark brown with a slight off white head. Head quickly comes back to life with a gentle swirl of the beer. The beer is dark and mystic, deep in color.

Aroma is sweet and malty, a lot of caramel in the aroma.Some molasses like aromas.

Very sweet and rich, almost but not quite cloying. Burnt toast at the finish.

Mouthfeel is rich and full.

Really enjoyable beer, I like how smooth and rich it is. A great representation of the style in my opinion. (475 characters)

Photo of Can_has_beer
3.46/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours very dark brown, almost black with an off-white head

S- The smell was very unique, peaty & earthy but not in a pleasant way. I was almost wondering if the bar did not clean the lines recently, but of course I have no way of knowing.

T- Tasted like a cross between a wee heavy and porter. It was decent, but nothing memorable

M- The mouthfeel was very true to style, being sticky and medium-bodied.

O- Decent. I need to try this again, except not on tap. I'm thinking it may be better from a bottle. (511 characters)

Photo of MattSweatshirt
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Down the middle pour brings a light tanned head and a dark body with plenty of ruby coming forth when held up to the light.

Big malty nose of sweet chocolate, light smoke, roast, and cherry.

Plenty of carbonation on this for the first few minutes. Roast and chocolate lead with underlying smoke.

Really enjoy the chocolate malt going on. Great Scotch Ale. (359 characters)

Photo of Pegasus
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Massive, dense tan head with excellent persistence crowns a nearly opaque amber body.An abundance of Belgian-like lacing adorns the glass wall.

Aroma: Dark, mildly peaty and smoky malt notes utterly dominate the aroma, although there is an abundance of caramel as well.

Taste: Opens with a wave of dark caramel, and and earthy peat flavor. As the taste progresses, wood and smoke flavors appear. Late in the taste, there is bitter cocoa as well, and a bit of coffee. Finishes with moderate, lingering burnt caramel, and peaty earthiness.

Mouth feel: Smooth, rich, very full and pleasant, with just a hint of carbonation.

Drinkability/notes: Seems a bit off-style, the grains seem over-toasted.

Presentation: Packaged in a standard twelve-ounce brown glass long neck bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice. (852 characters)

Photo of a0lbudman
4.24/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-Dark color with a reddish tint with a tan head that fade fast
S-Roast Aurora and a sweet malt smell and SME hops present
T- malt sweetness with a hop bitterness in the aftertaste that is supported by a good roastes malt flavor
M- medium body with medium carbonation
O-Great beer I see why it won a medal at the GABF (317 characters)

Photo of pasdachuri
3.02/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this on-tap during a June 15, 2013 brewery tour.

Pours a darker brown with a thick creamy head.

Smells malty with a slight smokey undertone.

Taste follows the nose with sweet malt, slight bitterness and a smokey after taste.

This was not as heavy as I expected given its appearance and style.

Overall a decent brew but not my favorite selection from Rahr. (365 characters)

Photo of mactrail
3.74/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Very dark brown in the Duvel tulip, with a modest head. Decently spritzy on the tongue. Substantial mouthfeel. Sweet beginning and a long, moderately bitter aftertaste.

Malty and fairly rich. Just a touch of smokiness and a little butterscotch. On the dry side, almost like a Belgian beer, after the malty start. Dark roasted malt with some charred grain and burnt sugar. Slightly woody with a hint of grape leaf tannins. Quite tasty overall. I like the restrained sweetness. From the 12 oz bottle purchased at Texas Wine in Fredericksburg. (542 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
3.62/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

My third beer in the local flight at the Common Table, TX. Reviewed from notes via tap pour.

(A)- Pours a darker burnt sienna color. Some tan froth formed. Minimal lacing.

(S)- A deep toasted caramel and raisin aroma. Kind of dry, but sweet at the same time.

(T)- I like the light roasted/toasted aspect of this with a classic raisin and underlying caramel malt sweetness. Ever so sherry-like on the finish as hints of red to dark fruits start to show up as it warms.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance to it. Fairly sweet throughout with good complexities. Very minimal bitterness.

(O)- A solid scotch ale for sure without being too overly sweet or cloying. (670 characters)

Photo of DocJitsu
4.19/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear dark amber color with a 1/2 inch taupe colored head. Nice aroma of milk chocolate liqueur. The moutfheel is not adequate for the style. Not watery, but not all the way creamy either. The flavors are nice. A lot of chocolate and some Christmas pull candy. I really enjoy this beer. Not true to style, but good nonetheless. (335 characters)

Photo of Ford
4.48/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I haven't been the biggest fan of this brewery, so I wasn't expecting much when I asked for a taste of this at the Houston Flying Saucer.... one taste and I asked for a full pint.

Wow.. really great beer.

Being on cask, it was really smooth, so I'm not sure how much different it would be out of the bottle.

I'll be searching this beer out again. This and the BB Winter Warmer are making me more of a Rahr fan.

I have now had the regular beer from a bottle and it stands tall with the cask version. A very, very good beer! (527 characters)

Photo of ranger7
3.96/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L: Dark red. Nice carbonation, great lacing.
S: Malt, nuts.
T: Mostly malt. Some nuttiness. A bit of a bite in the end.
F: Fairly smooth, some carbonation.
O: Definitely good. It's interesting to taste this side by side with an Old Chub. This one is more nutty and has the bite in the finish. (292 characters)

Photo of beerborn
3.72/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a dark red into the glass. Formed a nice head on top that quickly dissipated into the glass leaving nice lacing notes along the sides.

S: Honestly not sure where to place the smell at. Some nice gentle hop notes at the front, followed by what seems to be a dark fruity smell to me.

T: Impressive I think. I get large caramel notes the whole way through, wasn't quite expecting that after reading the bottle description.

M: The beer is smooth and well carbonated. Sits nicely on the tongue and flows around without any bitterness to it.

O: I believe this is truly one of, if not my first, beer in the Scottish-Style Ale category. Wish I had some background to compare it against. However that being said this is a good beer, I could see it be a steady go to for a little while during the late winter/early spring. (825 characters)

Photo of Labeorphile
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Nice dark color with small streams of bubbles. Minimal head, even with a strong pour, that quickly disappears.

Wonderful nose with strong malts, and punches of caramel with noble hops in the background. Improves as it warms.

Flavor matches the nose. Malty front fades to caramel on the back with a good transition. Flavor quickly disappears from the palate, but good while it lasts.

Mouth feel is low carbonation, which is consistent with style.

Overall, an award winning beer from Rahr. (531 characters)

Photo of genitempo
4.44/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark, dark amber pour into a pint glass, leaving little head with minimal lace. Sits nicely in it's glass, with no carbonation irritating the beverage.

S - The nose is perfected. Scents of a rich caramel and Scotch, almost as if it was wrapped up and packaged into the shape of hard candy. Incessantly inviting, never overbearing.

T - This Wee Heavy has some back end strength, but not domineering. The diacetyl does a great job of enveloping the high ABV. The caramel makes it's presence in the third quarter and slowly melds into the fourth. Impressive.

MF - One would suppose a thicker sense of touch with such Wee Heavy, but it was impressively steady, with negligible carbonation.

O - When someone told me that R&S won the GABF for this Scotch Ale, I wasn't surprised. After first trying this beer, months ago, I touted that it was one of the best Wee Heavy's the state of Texas has to offer (Don't worry Real Ale, you're way up there too). This beer will likely be peddled as R&S "showy" beer, but don't let that stop you from trying their other staples. R&S has exciting stuff to offer, making a great name for Forth Worth in the craft beer world. (1,164 characters)

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Iron Thistle from Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 70 ratings.