Iron Thistle - Rahr & Sons Brewing Company

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Iron ThistleIron Thistle

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BA SCORE
87
very good

70 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 70
Hads: 265
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: 265
Photo of MrHungryMonkey
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
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! (548 characters)

Photo of projectflam86
4.04/5  rDev +3.9%
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. (589 characters)

Photo of GregSVT
4.35/5  rDev +11.8%
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. (1,221 characters)

Photo of mjurney
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

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

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

Taste/Finish/Body:
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.

Overall:
It's an excellent Scotch Ale. (484 characters)

Photo of JMad
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
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. (449 characters)

Photo of Lawl3ss
3.37/5  rDev -13.4%
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 a0lbudman
4.24/5  rDev +9%
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 (317 characters)

Photo of Atlas1
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
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 Thickfreakness
4.04/5  rDev +3.9%
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! (761 characters)

Photo of zdk9
2.92/5  rDev -24.9%
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. (311 characters)

Photo of roblowther
3.89/5  rDev 0%
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. (595 characters)

Photo of Kornoms
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a very dark, opaque brown with only a small head. Has a floral, pine smell, not too faint, but not strong. There is a nice toasted malt and caramelized flavor with a pleasant mouthfeel. We haven't had many Scottish Ales, but we really enjoyed this one and would definitely try others. (291 characters)

Photo of Ford
4.48/5  rDev +15.2%
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! (527 characters)

Photo of LeeryLeprechaun
3.71/5  rDev -4.6%
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. (475 characters)

Photo of elniko
3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
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 Premo88
3.91/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle poured into small snifter
(Jan. 29, 2015 born-on date)

L: black with no light but dark brown with amber/dark orange highlights up to light; pushed up a small beige head of foam, not but 1/4- to 1/3-inch tall, not much to stick so no sticking; CLEAR ... as the glass empties, it's crystal clear ... very pretty dark-amber color, and an occasional bit of lacing

S: malt and more malt ... dark roasted barley, some coffee, some dark grapes/raisins ... very dense smell, like there's a chunk of malt in there ... sweet hints peek through ... now a bit of oak and maybe some vanilla -- there's a lot here, including now grain, sour grain ... and can caramel lack sugar? if so, there's an unsweetened caramel smell now

T: very wood/earthy-flavor to start, almost salty, then all that dark-roasted malt kicks in following the aroma notes ... coffee, unsweetened raisin bread (?) ... man, the understated sweetness is very unexpected but it's working -- the swallow starts off with a woody/salty taste then ever so slowly allows some sweetness to chime in as the aftertaste progresses. might be some peatiness ... wood-earth notes here are hard for me to describe, but the bottom line is the nose is sweeter than the taste; the wood is NOT burnt like in an American brown/porter/stout but literally just like wood smells

F: weighty, full but good carbonation to lighten it a little, and it isn't slick ...

O: dang good beer, at times feels like an American stout, but the wood notes and almost peat-like notes give it a Scotch-ale feel ... the aftertaste is as good as the taste; also feels a bit like a winter warmer, but that's not so bad -- it's keeping in the UK ale family, right? it's both sweet and noticeably not sweet at the same time ... interesting brew. (1,785 characters)

Photo of ranger7
3.96/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L: Dark red. Nice carbonation, great lacing.
S: Malt, nuts.
T: Mostly malt. Some nuttiness. A bit of a bite in the end.
F: Fairly smooth, some carbonation.
O: Definitely good. It's interesting to taste this side by side with an Old Chub. This one is more nutty and has the bite in the finish. (292 characters)

Photo of pnelting
3.91/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Dark almost black with tan/off white head.
S: Sweet malt and caramel.
T: Follows the nose. Sweet and smooth. Caramel notes, maybe some brown sugar or vanilla. Little bit of earthiness in the finish.
M: Full bodied and sticky.
O: Nice Scotch Ale, maybe a little on the sweet side but would have again for sure. (313 characters)

Photo of DocJitsu
4.19/5  rDev +7.7%
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. (335 characters)

Photo of whoneeds8
3.26/5  rDev -16.2%
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 army01
4.88/5  rDev +25.4%
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 (551 characters)

Photo of SuperSpy
3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
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. (961 characters)

Photo of natelocc787
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
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. (719 characters)

Photo of briman
3.63/5  rDev -6.7%
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 Labeorphile
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
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. (531 characters)

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