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: 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 northaustin
4.42/5  rDev +13.6%
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. (653 characters)

Photo of omnigrits
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
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. (1,253 characters)

Photo of kindestcut
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
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. (504 characters)

Photo of NewGeneric
4.23/5  rDev +8.7%
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. (548 characters)

Photo of BeardedRiker
3.97/5  rDev +2.1%
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. (1,805 characters)

Photo of beesy
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
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. (715 characters)

Photo of imasloth
3.85/5  rDev -1%
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. (562 characters)

Photo of MurphyMacManus
4.38/5  rDev +12.6%
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. (607 characters)

Photo of gnemesis
4/5  rDev +2.8%
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. (642 characters)

Photo of pasdachuri
3.02/5  rDev -22.4%
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. (365 characters)

Photo of beerborn
3.72/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a dark red into the glass. Formed a nice head on top that quickly dissipated into the glass leaving nice lacing notes along the sides.

S: Honestly not sure where to place the smell at. Some nice gentle hop notes at the front, followed by what seems to be a dark fruity smell to me.

T: Impressive I think. I get large caramel notes the whole way through, wasn't quite expecting that after reading the bottle description.

M: The beer is smooth and well carbonated. Sits nicely on the tongue and flows around without any bitterness to it.

O: I believe this is truly one of, if not my first, beer in the Scottish-Style Ale category. Wish I had some background to compare it against. However that being said this is a good beer, I could see it be a steady go to for a little while during the late winter/early spring. (825 characters)

Photo of genitempo
4.44/5  rDev +14.1%
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. (1,164 characters)

Photo of msromberg
4.14/5  rDev +6.4%
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. (203 characters)

Photo of kennymule
3.48/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours as dark as night and the head quickly dissipates, however a gentle swirl of the glass brings the head back to life due to the abundant carbonation.

S: I pick up some licorice, raisin, caramel notes.

T: Nice burst of malt, matches the nose for sure, followed by good bit of hops and dry burnt cocoa finish.

M: Great mouth feel, not heavy at all. Nice carbonation to balance the sweetness and accentuate the hops.

O: A really nice beer and at 8.5% abv it's easy to drink, so be warned, this is not a session beer. Good job guys, even if you are from Dallas. Go Rockets.
Serving type: bottle (601 characters)

Photo of fjordhook
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
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. (354 characters)

Photo of JAramini
4.01/5  rDev +3.1%
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. (676 characters)

Photo of JosephLondon
3.85/5  rDev -1%
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. (391 characters)

Photo of BroGL
4.75/5  rDev +22.1%
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. (599 characters)

Photo of decoy727272
4.99/5  rDev +28.3%
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. (354 characters)

Photo of FJBrewster
4.6/5  rDev +18.3%
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. (389 characters)

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