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Iron Thistle - Rahr & Sons Brewing Company

Iron ThistleIron Thistle

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

181 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 181
Reviews: 61
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 13.51%


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)
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Ratings: 181 | Reviews: 61 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of zdk9
zdk9

Texas

2.93/5  rDev -23.9%
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 roblowther
roblowther

Texas

3.93/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Fresh off winning the 15th Annual US Beer Tasting Championships National Grand Champion award, sampled at The Flying Saucer in FW from its victory lap brewing. It is very dark brown, with a thin white creamy head. The smell is coffee, caramel, and a hint of lemon. The taste is strong malt, slight roasted bitterness, lemons, carob, and a smoky finish. It is mellower than many scotch ales. The mouthfeel is silky, wth nice carbonation. Drinkability is good, but the finish is a bit too smoky to settle into an afternoon of them. All in all, one of the best scotch ales I've had, maybe the best.

Serving type: on-tap

05-30-2009 19:04:57 | More by roblowther
Photo of elniko
elniko

Texas

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.

Serving type: bottle

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

New York

4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got in a GREAT trade from JJFoodie

A- Almost Black! Nice Ruby hips when put up to the light. Big tan head that diappears rather quickly. Not much lacing...

S- Coffee!!! Tons of roasted coffee, toasty malt, brown sugar, dried fruit and more coffee!!! Just a whisper of alcohol.

T- Again... no surprise... Coffee!!! Lots of it! Sweet caramel malts, figs, cinnamon, clove and burnt wood. Just a touch of bitter hidden by the sweetness. This Wee goes down very nicely!

M- Syrupy, yet kinda thin... does that make any sence? Robust coffee, toffee, and sweetness roll over the tongue. Just a hint of bitter on the finish.

D- This is a delicious Wee Heavy! Full flavored, yet goes down really easy! It basically has one flavor... but it's one hell of a flavor!

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2011 05:15:37 | More by Thickfreakness
Photo of SuperSpy
SuperSpy

Georgia

3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
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 whoneeds8
whoneeds8

Texas

3.28/5  rDev -14.8%
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 DocJitsu
DocJitsu

California

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.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2013 02:07:56 | More by DocJitsu
Photo of Lawl3ss
Lawl3ss

Texas

3.35/5  rDev -13%
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.

Serving type: growler

02-12-2012 04:29:09 | More by Lawl3ss
Photo of natelocc787
natelocc787

California

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2010 05:44:04 | More by natelocc787
Photo of briman
briman

Texas

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.

Serving type: bottle

05-16-2010 03:04:11 | More by briman
Photo of a0lbudman
a0lbudman

Alabama

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

Serving type: on-tap

01-09-2014 00:23:01 | More by a0lbudman
Photo of northaustin
northaustin

Texas

4.43/5  rDev +15.1%
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 omnigrits
omnigrits

Texas

4.13/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Red's Porch.

A. It's always difficult pinning down the colour of a beer in a dark bar. This one came to the table looking dark brown, but holding it up to let some light pass through reveals a deep ruby red. The head is off-white and vanishes pretty quickly.

S. Almost non-existent. I often find this with bar-poured beers over beer from a bottle at home so I add a half point for it. What's there is simply sweet, nothing much else.

T. The taste has much more going on. Plenty of brown sugar flavours, a little toffee, rich malts, and some hops in the background. I'm tempted to say that the flavour is greater than the sum of its parts, which means, to me at least, a very well made and put-together beer. It's almost like an old fashioned cough drop of the sort you used to buy from a jar by the quarter pound from little corner shops in Lancashire.

M. Medium bodied and nicely under-carbonated.

O. As long as you're not adhering strictly to the style guidelines, this is a very drinkable beer. Some writers have put paid to the idea that Scottish beers are sweeter and less hopped than English beers, and this is one that helps to crush that myth. The sweetness is nicely held in check and there's a pleasant bitterness in the finish.

Serving type: on-tap

02-07-2012 00:50:59 | More by omnigrits
Photo of LeeryLeprechaun
LeeryLeprechaun

Colorado

3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2014 20:50:18 | More by LeeryLeprechaun
Photo of NewGeneric
NewGeneric

California

4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
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 kindestcut
kindestcut

North Carolina

3.85/5  rDev 0%
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 BeardedRiker
BeardedRiker

Texas

3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

You know, when I first started drinking Rahr beers, I wasn't too impressed, but over the last year or so I've come to appreciating much more. It probably started when I first tried their Winter Warmer. I thought it was delicious. Then I drank their BBWW and was extremely impressed. It's one of those beers you can't get enough of. Now I've had their Iron Thistle and I'm convinced any of their beers that use roasted and/or chocolate malts then I'll like the beer. The Iron Thistle is no exception. Also, I don't think I've had a Scotch Ale that I've disliked.

Iron Thistle pours out clear and the darkest of brown, but a brown-ruby color when held up to the light. The head is light brown while being about a finger and a half high. It fizzes itself out fairly quickly. No lacing. With the name Iron Thistle, it's not a tantalizing name as far as the beer goes, but this does look good.

Mmm...I like the smell. As expected, it's malty as hell. Dark roasted malts bring out nuttiniess, coffee, and a brown sugar sweetness. Chocolate malt is present too. There's a bit of anise or liquorice. I do get some hops that warm the nose with spice.

The taste is where this beer shines. Coffee and chocolate malts are strong with a brown sugar sweetness that's underneath. It has a nice nuttiness throughout, as well as a slight hint of booze. This sort of reminds me of the BBWW but the flavors are not as strong. You know, at the end I get a sort of tobacco-ish essence with it. I've decided while I'm a hop head, I also love beers that use the roasted, dark malts.

This has a medium-low carbonation that makes it very smooth with its medium body. Iron Thistle is oh so drinkable.

Another Rahr beer that's damn good and another Scotch Ale that I really like. Rahr is now one of my favorite Texas breweries.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2012 04:56:30 | More by BeardedRiker
Photo of MurphyMacManus
MurphyMacManus

Pennsylvania

4.4/5  rDev +14.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-28-2012 06:19:55 | More by MurphyMacManus
Photo of imasloth
imasloth

Texas

3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Dark red, almost purple with a creamy off-white head that starts big and sticks around.

S- Sweet black malty scent, with a hint of anise (a substance that I'm not very keen on, thus the score).

T- Light bitterness upfront, followed by rich malt. Very straight forward but also very delicious.

M- Medium-bodied, but very smooth for such a high alcohol content. No bitter feeling in mouth, but a light coating of sweet malt.

O- It's good, not great- like a lot of Rahr beers. I'd certainly drink it again and even buy a six pack, but it won't overwhelm you.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2012 00:20:05 | More by imasloth
Photo of gnemesis
gnemesis

Michigan

4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this 12oz bottle from JJfoodie as another amazing extra. I poured it into a snifter on 2/21/2011.
This beer pours dark brown, almost black, and has a small amount of tan colored head perched above. This scotch ale is all malt in a wonderful way. My nose picks up gobs of caramel, a bit of sweet chocolate, a dab of vanilla, nice sweet maltiness here. The taste follows through and adds a touch of roasted malt and a quick waft of smoke. The body is medium and is laced with a medium amount of carbonation. I was happy with this interpretation. Smooth, mellow, malty but not overly sweet. I would have another were it available to me.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2011 06:56:32 | More by gnemesis
Photo of beesy
beesy

Ohio

3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Thank Tommyhock!

A - pours a fairly clear medium brown, slightly mahagony, color with a medium brown one finger head that dissipates quickly.

S - Nothing sexy going on here. Maybe some brown malt and some yeast profiles.

T - Lots of chocolate as it warms. Very malty. Some caramel present and with a toasty/biscuity maly detected. Not much in the way of hops detected, but not expected.

M - A somewhat slick, full bodied beer.

D - Somewhat low as it's fairly viscious although it drinks more like a 5 or 6% abv beer instead of an 8%.

Overall a pretty enjoyable beer in a style I usually don't gravitate to. Lots of flavor and drinks easier than expected.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2012 02:51:03 | More by beesy
Photo of pasdachuri
pasdachuri

Illinois

3.01/5  rDev -21.8%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

06-16-2013 20:58:22 | More by pasdachuri
Photo of Ford
Ford

Texas

4.51/5  rDev +17.1%
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!

Serving type: cask

02-25-2013 01:18:32 | More by Ford
Photo of Labeorphile
Labeorphile

Texas

4.04/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2013 22:36:35 | More by Labeorphile
Photo of videofrog
videofrog

Texas

3.4/5  rDev -11.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2012 00:58:52 | More by videofrog
Iron Thistle from Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 181 ratings.