Iron Thistle - Rahr & Sons Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Iron ThistleIron Thistle

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BA SCORE
87
very good

70 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 70
Hads: 264
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: 264
Photo of brentk56
3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
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 BEERchitect
3.13/5  rDev -19.5%
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 jlindros
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for this one.

Pours a fizzy 1.5 finger head that fades semi quickly over dark maroon almost purple dark brown color.

Nose brings plenty of dark malts, light creamy malts, caramel, brown sugar, some earthy malts and earthy herbal hops, light porter like roast.

Taste starts creamy and fairly rich, very porter like to start but not quite as dark and roasty, lots of malts, a bit caramel and brown sugar, creamy malts, touch of vanilla, some earthy and slight herbal hops, light bitterness and just a hint of minerality, hint of smoke, with a bit of sweetness and just the slightest hint of booze. As it finishes it dries quite a bit, but leaves a bit of sweet malt flavors, some herbal earthy hop flavors, and touch of minerality with hint a booze.

mouth is creamy and medium bodied with decent carbonation.

Drink is good, doesn't quite drink like 8% but has a touch of booze, creamy, a nice dry finish, smooth, and drinkable. (947 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 drabmuh
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
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 Mora2000
3.87/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at the brewery during July 2009. Pours a darker brown with a creamy head. Smells of malt with a little smoke. Taste is sweet malt with some peat and smoke. This is not a very heavy beer and is very drinkable for a scotch ale. This is the only time I ever saw this beer, but I would drink it again if it became a seasonal or year-round offering. (355 characters)

Photo of ppoitras
3.43/5  rDev -11.8%
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 twiggamortis420
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
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. (790 characters)

Photo of champ103
3.31/5  rDev -14.9%
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 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 gtermi
4.35/5  rDev +11.8%
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. (995 characters)

Photo of EgadBananas
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
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. (589 characters)

Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
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. (1,124 characters)

Photo of emmasdad
3.13/5  rDev -19.5%
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 jsanford
3.67/5  rDev -5.7%
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 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 HardTarget
3.97/5  rDev +2.1%
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! (695 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 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 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 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 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 Kromes
4.43/5  rDev +13.9%
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. (629 characters)

Photo of videofrog
3.38/5  rDev -13.1%
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 kkipple
3.89/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks go to Freeverse for hooking me up with a bevy of new Texas brews. The reviews continue!

12oz bottle (nice label, no freshness date) goes into my big Allagash tulip. Some would question the choice of an 8% scotch ale on a 95 degree Columbia afternoon, and I would be one of them... quick review because I have lots to do this Sunday:

A. Low / no head, simply a ring of bubbles around the edge of this very darkly colored brown brew. One of the darker Scotch Ales I've encountered. No lace, no bubbles. Looks thickish.

S. Comprehensive. Sweet, but restrained layers of malt, with cocoa, light coffee and some prune. Perhaps a minor buttery note, and some booze. It's good.

T. Really not bad; I was afraid this would go the sticky-sweet route but it works well. The malt-heavy thickness is sufficiently dried out to let the roast, cola and darker fruit shine through, with a difficult to place nut-like flavor lingering long into the finish.

M / D. Lower carbonation, medium body. 8% is well hidden. Drinks rather well actually, there is a mildly annoying sour red wine like note here but it is easily ignored if you keep drinking...

Iron Thistle is a lot better than I was expecting, and certainly worth a shot if you happen across it. Now, back to the house chores! (1,281 characters)

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