1. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Iron Thistle - Rahr & Sons Brewing Company

Iron ThistleIron Thistle

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

178 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 178
Reviews: 60
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 13.47%


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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: roblowther on 05-30-2009)
View: Beers (31) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
Ratings: 178 | Reviews: 60 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of jsanford
jsanford

Georgia

3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2011 03:27:36 | More by jsanford
Photo of EgadBananas
EgadBananas

Louisiana

3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Very, very dark red/brown, almost black (as the bottle hinted at). Very like tan head of a solid finger adorns and leaves minimal lacing. Lots of bubbles streaming up the glass.

Aroma is malty sweet, very roasted, slightly charred and smoky, nutty, and very bready/doughy/yeasty sweet.

Malty sweet, roasted, hints of booze, some chocolate and caramel notes. Finish is bittersweet.

The feel is maybe medium, more crisp than smooth. Carbonation spikes just a hair. Finishes clean, but feel is overall on the lighter side.

Drink ability is good. Feel aside, it's a right tasty Wee Heavy.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2011 23:50:24 | More by EgadBananas
Photo of JMad
JMad

Texas

4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2011 20:20:31 | More by JMad
Photo of SuperSpy
SuperSpy

Georgia

3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle poured into an Iron Thistle glass (the glass commemorating the 2009 National Grand Champion winner, awarded at the 2009 U.S. Beer Tasting Championships). I have to thank my dad for the glass.

A - A very dark brown with a small tan head. The head doesn't stick around for long but that's ok for the style. Also, it appears to be bottle conditioned which makes it a bit cloudy.

S - Very malty, with a bit of caramel, roasted malt, and earthy tones underneath. Smells like it's going to be full-bodied and chewy. I'll have to knock off points if it fails to deliver...

S/M - Medium-Full bodied, a bit chewy, and quite smooth. The flavor is malty, but not overly sweet. No real smokiness, but definitely some roasted malt. I pick up some prunes. No hop flavor. The high ABV is not noticeable at all.

D - A very easy beer to drink. Dangerously so considering the ABV. There is some room for improvement but Rahr has produced a very good beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2011 22:47:14 | More by SuperSpy
Photo of elniko
elniko

Texas

3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2011 01:50:50 | More by elniko
Photo of briman
briman

Texas

3.63/5  rDev -6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-16-2010 03:04:11 | More by briman
Photo of HardTarget
HardTarget

Texas

3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 12 oz. twisty, some marketing on the label, but not much info. Served in the branded thistle glass.

A) Deep ruby red/black body shows some clarity with strong backlight. Holds a preacher's collar of dirty tan but doesn't lace the glass.

S) Bready, slightly sweet grape malt with whiffs of alcohol.

T) Mild overall flavor. Malty grape soda base, no hop flavors noted, but no excessive sweetness in the malt either. Hides the alcohol expertly.

M) A bit fizzy, lively carbonation keeps it from being heavy, even a wee heavy. Light prickle after the swallow.

D) Dangerous, I'm taking large pulls and enjoying them. A gentle giant this one, easy laid back smooth talker. Solid work Rahr!

Serving type: bottle

04-27-2010 00:34:14 | More by HardTarget
Photo of twiggamortis420
twiggamortis420

Texas

3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle of this new <bottled> brew from Rahr and Sons. Pours a very dark brown color with only a few highlights showing around the edges. Foam is thick and creamy with decent retention and lacing.

Nose is malty and nutty with a touch of peat. A bit chocolaty and somewhat sweet smelling. Fruit is pretty low for the style and this might be passable as a foreign export stout.

Malty and smooth with a bit more roast than most scotch ales. More chocolate as well. Peat is on the low end and does not display a whole lot of smoky flavor. Hops and a touch of burnt toast contribute a much needed bitter kick on the finish. ABV seems nowhere near 8%, pretty damn drinkable. I must say, this might be my second favorite Rahr beer behind the winter warmer. Pretty tasty beverage here.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2010 00:26:50 | More by twiggamortis420
Photo of zdk9
zdk9

Texas

2.93/5  rDev -24.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2010 04:42:55 | More by zdk9
Photo of emmasdad
emmasdad

Colorado

3.13/5  rDev -18.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2010 03:48:55 | More by emmasdad
Photo of brentk56
brentk56

North Carolina

3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
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

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2010 20:49:55 | More by brentk56
Photo of PittBeerGirl
PittBeerGirl

Pennsylvania

3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this from a generous Texas BA as part of my SNF winnings.

A-Body is a translucent dark brown hue with mahogany edges when held up to the light. An aggressive pour yields a 1-2 finger head which fades quickly to a thick collar-the collar has great retention. Little lacing left behind in the glass.

S-Caramel malt, chocolate, and molasses come to the nose first. Smells deep at first but then there is a refreshing herbal twinge at the end of the first whiff.

T-Seems like there is not too much going on upfront. Mild presence of caramel and chocolate malts-but thats it. The flavor here is in the later half. It starts with a moderate cocoa presence and then bitter roasted malt and an herbal presence come through for the finish. Faint hints of the whole flavor profile linger briefly after swallowing.

M- Moderate carbonation and medium weight body. The mouthfeel is a lot more "porter" to me than the thick, smooth,syrupy, mouthfeel I have come to expect from Scottish beers.

D- All in all this is a pretty good brew. Its surprisingly drinkable for 8% with no hints of alcohol whatsoever. Definitely worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2010 04:24:39 | More by PittBeerGirl
Photo of NewGeneric
NewGeneric

California

4.28/5  rDev +10.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-11-2010 05:38:47 | More by NewGeneric
Photo of ppoitras
ppoitras

Massachusetts

3.45/5  rDev -10.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-09-2010 21:54:33 | More by ppoitras
Photo of kindestcut
kindestcut

North Carolina

3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Rahr Iron Thistle pours a mysteriously dark amber/brown, much darker than other Scottish Ales I've had. The tan head is minimal but vibrant.

The beer smells sweet with hints of malt and spice. The sweetness certainly translates to the flavor. There is a definite caramel flavor, sweet as candy. The sweetness is checked by a faint bitterness.

I would say that this beer is almost creamy and not as full bodied as I would like. While it isn't watery, it is slightly thin. The alcohol is well hidden.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2010 04:49:16 | More by kindestcut
Photo of BEERchitect
BEERchitect

Kentucky

3.1/5  rDev -19.7%
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!

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2010 03:03:49 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of Kromes
Kromes

Georgia

4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2010 00:57:56 | More by Kromes
Photo of JAramini
JAramini

New York

4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer needs time to warm. Cold it seems all wrong.

The beer seemed a bit too dark for a scotch ale. Very dark brown, in a thicker glass it would have been opaque. Only when held to the light can you see through it.

When cold it almost tastes like a porter. As it warms the caramel notes begin to come out in he nose and taste. The smell grows into a roasted butterscotch. It smells a bit more inviting than it tastes by a small margin.

The taste is not particularly complex, but it ends up being primarily smooth caramel.

The beer seems a little thin to be a wee heavy, but it's a pleasant, drinkable beer. Not the best scotch ale I've had, but an accessible example.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2010 02:06:00 | More by JAramini
Photo of northaustin
northaustin

Texas

4.43/5  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.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2010 06:12:48 | More by northaustin
Photo of fjordhook
fjordhook

Texas

4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2010 22:25:44 | More by fjordhook
Photo of projectflam86
projectflam86

Ohio

4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got the chance to try this thanks to natelocc787. Thanks for the awesome extra!

A- Pours a deep cola brown color with a thin off-white head that leaves a bit of lace.

S- Sweet roasted caramel and smoke with dark candied fruit. Quite an interesting nose but I really like it!

T- Full toasted malt with waves of toffee and butterscotch. Flavors of plum, raisin, caramel, smoke, and a low earthy bitterness all shine through in the finish.

M- Medium bodied with relatively low carbonation. A touch thinner than I would have expected.

D- Overall a very solid beer. Certainly worth trying.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2010 04:56:34 | More by projectflam86
Photo of MrHungryMonkey
MrHungryMonkey

Texas

3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nose is ripe with coffee, dark fruit, and chocolaty malt. Smells pretty good.

Pours clear very dark brown with mild head. Looks good.

Flavor follows with additional coffee depth, and a nice sweetness and creaminess, as well as a good bit of fruit (notably grape), and a root-beer-ish spice (wintergreen?). Expectedly dark and malty with minimal hop impact. Thick body full of rich malt. Finishes fairly clean, slightly nutty. Tastes good. Feels good. Pretty good drinkability.

Tasty beer, to say the least. Always glad to support the local boys!

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2010 01:31:24 | More by MrHungryMonkey
Photo of whoneeds8
whoneeds8

Texas

3.28/5  rDev -15%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2010 23:04:07 | More by whoneeds8
Photo of GregSVT
GregSVT

Texas

4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2010 06:54:01 | More by GregSVT
Photo of JosephLondon
JosephLondon

Texas

3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not a lot of head to this one, but great cascading effect as the glass tilts. Deep ruby brown color with a beige head. There is a sour malt smell. Tastes like a caramel plum tea with a squeeze of lemon. The mouthfeel is well-balanced and rounded between carbonation, thickness and smoothness. I don't like drinking this beer too much, but i could drink a few of these in a night if I wanted.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2010 05:13:02 | More by JosephLondon
Iron Thistle from Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 178 ratings.