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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
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Reviews: 70 | Hads: 268
Photo of natelocc787
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark for a Wee heavy, great appearance. Don't pour this with a vicious head it will detract from the feel. Alcohol is there but well hidden, black, brown and crimson squibble to determine the color of the body and the nose is made of sweet plum, peach caramel and toasted malt. Very sweet caramel and butterscotch in the taste along with sweet, dark malt and caramelized brown sugar. I enjoyed it.

Had this again a month later, enjoyed it very much, not the most complex example but great mouthfeel, extremely tasty and really Rahrs best offering so far. Very worthy.

Had it again 1 week later, surprisingly more of a coffee stout flavor. I continue to be surprised by this beer. Smell category bumped a score higher.

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Photo of JMad
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured a 12 oz bottle into my pint glass...

The beer was an oily, dark brown, there was a very thin off white head.

It smells of dark fruit, fig, and toasted caramel malt.

I could taste raisins with a slight herbal hop bitterness, a bit of alcohol and a buttered toast aftertaste.

This one has a thick full body, it warms you up and has low carbonation.

I thought this was an excellent winter beer, don't think I could drink very many though.

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Photo of msromberg
4.14/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

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Photo of fjordhook
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of mjurney
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

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

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

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.

It's an excellent Scotch Ale.

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Photo of DocJitsu
4.19/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

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Photo of Anaxagoris
4.21/5  rDev +9.4%

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

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Photo of NewGeneric
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Exiled for the great brews.
Poured into a pint glass.

A: Pours a deep, murky reddish-brown with tan head that fades quickly leaving bits of sticky lacing on the sides. A nice, thin layer of foam resides on top.

S: Smells of coffee, roasted barley, hints of dark chocolate.

T: Beautfiul medley of roasted barley, coffee, chocolate, dark fruits. A tad sweet, but otherwise, outstanding.

M: Wonderful. Smooth through and through. Just about perfect.

D: Not usually a fan of the style, but if this was available here, I'd get more of it.

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Photo of a0lbudman
4.24/5  rDev +10.1%
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

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Photo of gtermi
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: I poured this out of a 12 oz bottle into my Rahr glass I got from the tour. It pours a very nice dark brown with a red tint. The beer had a very nice white thin head that quickly fade. Just a great looking beer.

S: The smell is very nice too. I am getting a nice amount of roasted malt, a lot of chocolate malt and it also has a little amout of smoke.

T: This is a delicious beer! I have never had this before and it just blows me away. I am getting a lot of chocolate notes and also some roasted malt. I love the malty taste that lingers on the tongue.

M: The beer is very smooth and it just goes down like water. There is a little tingle on the tip of the tongue, but other than that there is no crispness at all. Just an all around amazing mouthfeel.

O: I cant believe the ratings arent higher on this beer. It is very easy to drink, tastes great, looks and smells great. I think this is one of the best beers Rahr has ever put on the market and I am glad that I can find it anywhere.

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Photo of GregSVT
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle in a Rahr pint glass

A: Pours a deep dark brown almost black with a small off-white head that fades to a small layer and leaves some lacing on the glass. I initially gave this a 3.5 due to bad head and retention but the 2011 version is much better.

S: The nose is all malty sweetness with maybe a touch of smokiness. Pretty one dimensional but it works.

T: The taste is huge with caramel, toffee, and slight chocolate flavors. No real hop flavors but I don't really expect that from a Scottish Ale.

M: Mouthfeel is nice for the style. Viscous and oily with a decent creaminess. Very nice and what a lot of wee heavy style beers lack.

D: Great beer for fans of malty beers but I have a feeling drinking too many of these will get you drunk fast at 8%. Still I look forward to having more of these in the future.

Rahr is starting to make some really nice beers and this is no exception. Glad to see they will be releasing this as a seasonal from January through February every year. I had this on cask at the Plano Gingerman and it was good but from the bottle is much better. Cask beers seem to just taste creamy and not allow you to experience all the other flavors of the beer. Definitely recommended.

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Photo of MurphyMacManus
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. brown bottle into snifter.

A: Brown with an off-white head that fades to a thin layer of lace. Seems minimally carbonated.

S: Caramel, toasted brown bread, and just a bit of alcohol.

T/M: Thick, chewy mouthfeel with minimal carbonation. Very mild roasted/smoky malt character. Flavor profile is mostly caramel and toasted brown bread. A bit sweet, but not cloying. Slight bitterness in the finish.

Overall: Tasty and not overdone. Some brewers dial up the "smoky" flavor in their scotch ales, and the result is a beer that tastes like caramel-coated bacon. Iron Thistle is not one of those beers.

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Photo of northaustin
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a dark but thin brown with two fingers of even off white head. long retention, no lacing.

smell: powerful scotch malts with a twist. a sort of dryness and herbal note most likely due to the thistle.

taste: classic wee heavy roasted scotch malts. no oversweetness as is my problem with other scotch ales and wee heavys.

mouthfeel: very carbony at first but soon goes into syrup mode and slides down the throat with no oilyness or dryness left behind.

drinkability: without a doubt the best six pack offering from rahr in my opinion. well masked high session abv and an awesome unique flavor. i will most definately be picking this one up again.

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Photo of Kromes
4.43/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a thick tan colored head. Nice lacing all down the thistle glass.

S: There is a sweet fruity spicy caramel aroma with some roasted malt. For a second it reminded me a little bit of southern comfort.

T: A very sweet caramel and roasted malt flavor. There is also a very slight grassy flavor as it passes over the tongue. The finish is sweet chocolatey-caramel.

M: Very very smooth and creamy. It has the perfect feel. Can't find anything wrong with the body and feel of this beer.

D: A great Scotch ale. The alcohol level is held in check and the flavors are really nice. A surprisingly great seasonal from Rahr.

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Photo of genitempo
4.44/5  rDev +15.3%
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.

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Photo of Ford
4.48/5  rDev +16.4%
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!

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Photo of FJBrewster
4.6/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a Shiner on-tap and the bartender asked if I'd ever tried Rahr. I said no and he let me sample several. My favorite was Iron Thistle. Went to the brewery in Fort Worth yesterday for their Saturday tasting and confirmed that it's my favorite. In act, they didn't put it out until 30 minutes before closing because that's what everyone wants and they run out.

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Photo of BroGL
4.75/5  rDev +23.4%
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.

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Photo of army01
4.88/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A review of the 2010 offering, opened in January of 2011.

A: Deep brown in color with trace red highlights. A small, light tan/off white head that is quickly reduced to light lacing.

S: Sweet malty smell with hints of chocolate

T: Sweet....Malts. Malts. Chocolate. Malts. No bitterness whatsoever.

M: A sweet flavor, that I believe grows sweeter with time.

O: I love this beer. The "Wee Heavy" is a favorite style of mine, and Rahr's Iron Thistle might be my favorite offering of all, that I think has grown better with age.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of decoy727272
4.99/5  rDev +29.6%
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.

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