Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Iron Thistle - Rahr & Sons Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Iron ThistleIron Thistle

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

70 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 70
Hads: 268
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 24.94%
Wants: 18
Gots: 59 | 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

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!


Dark Brown


2 Row, Vienna, Crystal, Chocolate, Carafa Special II
Deeply Malty, Caramel, Light Hops
Brie, Aged Gouda
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next → last
Reviews: 70 | Hads: 268
Photo of elniko
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into pint glass.

A: Rich caramel coloring with nice size head and lacing. Nice looking brew.

S: Rich malty tones with some chocolate notes as well.

T & M: Creamy mouthfeel, tones from the nose come through in the taste. No smoky notes as I would suspect from Scotch ale, I get more chocolate.

D: Quite drinkable despite high ABV. Solid effort by Rahr.

 375 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a cola brown color with rust highlights; the two finger cap sits atop the liquid and holds itself together while dripping shards of lace

Smell: Caramel dominates, along with hints of ginger snap

Taste: Caramel, up front, with a surprising herbal bitterness that arrives by mid-palate and merges with the sweetness in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Although the herbal bitterness was not expected given the style, it does add a nice element of distinction

Thanks, ericandersnavy, for the oppportunity

 573 characters

Photo of jsanford
3.67/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Pint Glass.

A - Pours a very dark (almost black) brown with slight reddish highlights and a 1-inch khaki-colored head that dissipates quickly, leaving just the slightest of ring and haze.
S - Dark caramel-y malt, fig preserves, chocolate, and roasted nuts, with a bit of baked cookie. Reminds me of a Fig Newton. Very unique smell, I like it.
T - Nice and malty, with more figs, raisins, chocolate, and baked goods. Slight hint of booze towards the finish. Almost Brandy-like.
M - Medium, slightly creamy body with "prickly" carbonation.
D - Pretty drinkable, not really noticing the ABV. This was a nice surprise, I had no idea what to expect from this brewery.

 677 characters

Photo of briman
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown and clear, with a nice 1 inch cream colored head that retains well but leaves not a trace of lace along the edges of the glass. Not surprising for an ale of this style.

Strong malt aroma, slightly sweet, and displaying a distinct caramel character.

Flavor is malt dominant, with elements of caramel and maybe a touch of roast. I don't get any real smoky element, or noticeable fruit component. Finish has a mild bitterness that seems more characteristic of roasted barley than hops.

Medium to medium-full body, with moderate carbonation. Only slightly thick, with a touch of a chewy element. Little bit of warming comes through, but overall the alcohol is hidden quite well. No doubt that contributes to ease at which this one goes down.

Overall a good beer, would like a little more of a smoky character, but certainly would have this again.

 863 characters

Photo of sweemzander
3.62/5  rDev -6%
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 Atlas1
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
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 drabmuh
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a snifter. Beer is amber / orange with a little haze and a big head, lots of lacing, moderate to high carbonation.

Aroma is sweet with a mild smoke.

Beer is medium to light in body, smokier than I expected, strong throughout, a decent finish, a little malty, strong but probably not a repeat with me.

 312 characters

Photo of mattcrill
3.51/5  rDev -8.8%
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 kennymule
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
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 Can_has_beer
3.46/5  rDev -10.1%
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 ppoitras
3.43/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle obtained via Local BIF from kiltedtxn. Thanks for the opportunity. <Jeremy2002 = bad trader>

Poured into an imperial pint, formed a 1/4" beige head above the slightly cloudy brown brew. Head is quickly down to a small layer of bubbles, with average lacing. Aroma is sweet, but then a tinge of sour. Taste starts malty, a touch leathery in the middle, and closes with a slight tartness. Mouthfeel is smooth, and drinkability is pretty good. Not bad.

 467 characters

Photo of videofrog
3.38/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a thistle glass.

A: Dark reddish brown with red highlights around the edge. Towering light beige head that settles into a disc that stays around for a while. Sporadic lacing down the glass.

S: A bit muted. Sweet malts with a slight roastiness. A bit of breadiness with some hops way in the background.

T: Dark chocolate, bitter roast, sweet caramel toffee flavor. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

M: Carbonation is normal for style; mouthfeel slightly thin for the style.

O: As a lover of the Wee Heavy/"Scotch" Ale style, I was missing the peat smokiness and hint of scotch I'm used to. If not for those expectations, I would've enjoyed this more. Above average and worth a try.

 713 characters

Photo of Lawl3ss
3.37/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Chilled four hour old growler (and they tapped a new keg to fill it) into a 12 oz. stemless tulip.

Look- Clear deep brown with orange-gold highlights. Two fingers of loose beige head that fell pretty quickly leaving decent rings of lace. I like to swirl bigger beers and look for some "stick" as it falls down the glass- this one doesn't at all, in fact it looks pretty watery.

Smell- Sweet, dark malt with backing of earthy vegetation. Maybe a touch of chocolate. Not really getting a whole lot, but it's not unpleasant. Not sensing the alcohol 8% would usually indicate.

Taste- Well done but standard toasty-roasty flavors span the biscuit to black spectrum, followed up with a lingering baked graham cracker/herbal mix. Once again, it's done a good job disguising the alcohol, but it's not as bold as I'd like a wee heavy to be. It's all well put together, but nothing stands out other than the slightly wonky finish.

Mouthfeel- Like I was expecting, it's fairly light for the style. It's smooth, creamy even, and the moderate amount of carbonation is soft-edged. Mildly astringent at the start and finish, with an appropriate amount of dryness. Some Scotch ales are pretty gnarly, but this one goes down extremely easily. You wouldn't know it was 8%, it drinks like an 80/- or full porter.

Overall- I hate to do it, but I've got to dock this one points for style, even if the style originated as general indicator of alcohol content. It's "Scottish" seeming, for sure, and packs an alcohol punch that you don't feel coming, but it falls a bit short in the complex malty flavor department. Still pretty darn good, and one of the most drinkable specimens of the further-yet-North Atlantic style I've had. Despite this, I probably wouldn't seek it out unless I wanted a buzz or was trying to introduce someone to the style.

 1,829 characters

Photo of champ103
3.31/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark brown with some ruby highlights around the edges. A two finger beige head forms with good retention at first. Though the foam fades to a small ring with light lace.
S: Initially I liked this. Lots of toasted malt, light smoke, and wood. Though an over barring diacetyl aroma that really detracts for me as this warms up.
T: Toasted malt, bread, chocolate and a substantial metallic flavor. That diacetyl is present, but not as over barring as the nose.
M/D: A medium body but thin and watery. A gritty and kind of dirty feel. Easy enough to to drink. A nice sipper.

For the most part this is enjoyable. A little disappointed, this being my favorite style. To much buttery diacetyl and a metallic flavor is the down fall. Though worth a try.

 757 characters

Photo of whoneeds8
3.26/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass black with what seemed to be very little carbonation, creating nearly no head what so ever. I've poured three of these with the same results. The scent is rather strong for a Rahr, which is strong of sweet malts. The flavor is much the same, a sweet front that mellows out to a bitter hop taste. The aftertaste isn't bad, but it isn't good either. The mouthfeel is rather thin, which is par for Rahr. Overall, this is a very good beer for Rahr, but that doesn't make it a very good beer.

 512 characters

Photo of facundoCNB
3.19/5  rDev -17.1%
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 BEERchitect
3.13/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Iron Thistle starts out with a deep brown-mohogany-ruby color and moderate haze. A sheet of foam settles onto the beer with much lacing- off white head.

Deep malt sweetness is met with a light smokey, earthy, woodsy, toasty tone. Complex malts give a smooth bready, toffee, nutty, flavor and aroma. Complimentary notes of malted milk, softer cocoa, and light roast only adds to the complexity.

Where the beer lets down a bit is in an astringent bite that happens just before mid-palate and nearly dominates the beer from there on. It certainly hurts the mouthfeel and drinkability with a sensation that could be interpreted as a harsh bitter, acidity, or bite. This could be a result of accessive age on the beer but without any indicaiton of dating, who's to know?

I would be interested in trying a known fresh version to compare. Thanks Natelocc787!

 854 characters

Photo of emmasdad
3.13/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to a JJFoodie for this Texas extra. Pours dark brown, almost black, with a moderate caramel colored head. Aromas of chocolate, smoke and thick chewy malt. On the palate this one is a bit thinner than I anticipated, but still malty and chocolatey with a touch of spiciness and a slight bitter finish. This one is quite drinkable and fairly tasty.

 352 characters

Photo of pasdachuri
3.02/5  rDev -21.6%
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 zdk9
2.92/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Pours dark brown, not a lot of head.

S- Musty, sweet corn kind of like masa or a tamale instead of the way corn flavors normally are found in a beer. Bits of wood smoke.

T- Roasted husk, slightly burnt- impacted by the smokiness.

M- Some hotness and lots of sweet syrup.

D- Eh, not my favorite Rahr beer.

 311 characters

firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next → last
Iron Thistle from Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 70 ratings.