Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA | Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.

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Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPABelhaven Twisted Thistle IPA

Brewed by:
Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.10%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ADR on 09-24-2005

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Reviews: 426 | Ratings: 821
Photo of vikinggary28
3.81/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

My local grocery outlet keeps popping up with belhaven brew and I'm not gonna complain. So far i love this brewery. It pours a clear amber colour and white head that quickly dissipates. The bottle I poured it from (into glass of course) had a spider Web effect of bubbles inside that I don't see to often so I expected some lacing on the mug. Very hoppy aroma had me assuming that it would taste like a U.S. west coast IPA but I was surprised that the hoppiness didn't come across strong in the taste. Earthy, grassy, slighty citrus has me loving this beer. Goes down smooth, real nice.

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Photo of TheBrewo
3.55/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

This beer was served on tap at The Olde English Pub & Pantry in Albany, New York. It arrived in a generic, 22oz. dimpled mug, and showed a hazy dulled straw coloring. It held a brief half finger tall head of creamy, tight white foam, leaving dripping globs of lacing around the glass. Aside from that haze, no sediment was noted. Carbonation appeared to be light. Notes through the aroma included slimy hoppiness of citric, grassy, and dusted floral varietals, pale and sweaty caramel grain, multivitamin chalk, aloe, poppy seeds, toffee sugars, tannic breakfast tea, egg white, corny adjuncts, copper, plastic phenols, clover honey, and fusel booziness. The flavoring offered up that same, albeit more robust, mix of citric, grassy, and resinously piney hops, bubblegum esters, baked wheat breadiness, buttered biscuits, burnt pale and caramel malts, candy corn sugars, tomato vine, mineral water, sunscreen, sticky toffee, phenolic and Magic Marker plastics, and white pepper. Those piney hops burn more harshly, and more organically, through the airs of the aftertaste. The body was medium, and the carbonation was flat to light. Each sip gave nice enough slurp and smack, with milder cream and froth. The feel was, however, rather slick and oily, rolling over the tongue and mucosa, coating them as they passed. The abv was appropriate, and the beer sipped easily.

Overall, this was a nicely authentic English IPA. We haven’t had one in a while, but still felt it a little light in flavoring. It was hard to separate brewer’s intent and drive for authenticity from presentation at this particular establishment. We never found it to be skunky, per se, but it did have that dingy English pub vibe through and through. The hopping was there, and surprisingly piney, while the malts were washed and simplistic, but clean in their body. This was enjoyed in the company of new friends who we had been meeting here, and it served its purpose as a nicely sociable, approachable beverage, without becoming overwhelming time-consuming or attention-diverting.

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Photo of Beer-Revelry
3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

As an IPA this gets a zero because it does not smell, taste or drink like an IPA in the slightest. However, it drinks smells and tastes like one of the best scotch ales I've ever had. Delicious, but not what I expected.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.45/5  rDev -7.3%

Served from the tap in a shaker pint glass at Duke of Perth.

Bachelor Party-Palooza 2014 (Part 1) believes that when in a Scottish-style pub, do as the Scots do and drink up some Belhaven, namely the Twisted Thistle IPA. This stuff pours a clear brass-amber topped by a finger of dirty white foam. The nose comprises pine sap, grass, light flowers, caramel, toasted toffee, and mild biscuit. The taste brings in more of the same, the pine leaning toward a resinous needle character. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, a pretty nice IPA, though the resin is a touch much. Still, the rich malt backbone helps to balance this out a bit. This did work nicely with my chicken club, though...

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Photo of MarkoNm
3.54/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber color. It's topped with a small white head that immediately disappears until nothing is left.
The aroma is mild, just some pleasant citrusy hops can be picked up.
The taste is a complete opposite. Starts with a slight sweetness that immediately turns to a decent bitterness. Finish is even more bitter and slight spices can be also felt.
Aftertaste just lasts and lasts - bittery and spicy.
A very nice beer. Despite strong finish, still nicely enjoyable.

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Photo of mikeg67
3.48/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at St. Andrews in NYC. Pours amber with white head. nose is of stale malt and spoiled apple juice. Body is medium and crisp. Earthy hops, caramel and biscuit malt and ripe fruit combine on the palate. Finish is long, dry and earthy. Overall this is good brew that I would drink again.

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Photo of barczar
3.8/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Looks brown and cola-like in a porcelain mug.

Toasted malt, toffee, herbal and floral hops, thistle, and a touch of pine form the aroma.

Flavor reveals deep toffee malt base, toasted and slightly burnt breadcrust, becoming a touch bitter and herbal at the finish. Floral and muted citrus hops adds complexity, but herbs and toffee dominate.

Body is moderate, with carbonation slightly low, and a touch of alcohol warmth.

Great malt character, interesting hop character.

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Photo of steveh
3.71/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

In honor of reading the new Ian Rankin, John Rebus book I thought I'd pick up a Scottish take on IPA: Rebus' preferred when not supping a malt.

The bottle pictured in the BA profile is a bit dated, Belhaven is using clear glass for this label now. There's a small instruction to "keep the bottle out of direct sunlight" on the label, but what stocker is actually reading that?

A -- Clear, deep gold with a creamy head that settles slow, leaving a film-like wake of lace.

S -- Sweet biscuit malts and a light smokiness in a very mellow overall aroma.

T -- The biscuit malt hits the palate first, followed by spicy-bitter hops with a touch of citrus, ending with a definite smokiness that's mellow and not harsh or astringent. Sweet malts linger in the finish with spicy bitterness in the aftertaste.

M -- Mouthfeel is soft and smooth with a medium to near-robust body.

O -- This is a very nice change-of-pace from the hop-bomb IPAs and the somewhat staid English IPAs. Making its own statement with its local take on a style.

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Photo of tillmac62
4.33/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Clear amber pour with just a hint of red and a thick head with an excellent lasting lacing. Nice nose of light pine hops, mostly spruce but also a floral note, over a slightly sweet malt background. The body is on the high end of medium with just the right level of carbonation. Mouthfeel is smooth and just shy of slick. The flavor profile is quite nice and complex. It begins with caramel sweetness over a light spruce hop flavor, effervesces into a light bitterness with floral notes and finishes a bit tart. The finish itself is a blend of caramel sweetness and hop earthiness that lingers against a light bitterness over a background tartness. An outstanding "twist" on an IPA.

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Photo of biegaman
4.03/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Imagine the idyllic country pub: a slow fire simmers over a couple of big logs; high stools on tartan carpeting pull up to a long wooden bar above which glassware hangs like icicles. This is the ambiance in which Twisted Thistle belongs. Its golden-copper shimmer and sticky, glue-like foam give it the look of a classic, consummate English pint.

Belhaven makes prototypical English ales, and while this recipe uses a hop variety (Cascade) most associated with American brewers, the bouquet is nowhere aggressive enough to be mistaken for a New World IPA; it is perfumed with soft citrus notes, chamomile, and flower petals. It might lull you to sleep or unclog your sinuses, but not knock you on your ass.

The flavour has an unmistakable likeness to steamed collard greens - it is distinctly leafy, vegetal, and earthy - but never turns bitter in thanks to a sweet maltiness that leaves an aftertaste of toffee and honeycomb biscuits. The palate is also steeped in soothing rose-like florals.

Notes of grass clippings and chamomile tea notwithstanding, this IPA actually has the creaminess of a stout (none of the roast obviously). The contents of this bottle drinks as though they were poured from draught (a nitro-tap maybe even). The mouthfeel is full enough to be almost buttery but still highlights sweet, candied citrus notes.

If you ask me, Twisted Thistle may be one of the most underrated IPAs out there (and this coming from someone who has a thing for cutting up diluted English exports). It may not have gum-branding acidity or palate-encrusting resins, but its soft florals and leafy green qualities are every bit as impressionable (and arguably a lot more agreeable too). Recommended.

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Photo of Jetulio
4.04/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

355 ml bottle poured into a Pint glass
Appearance... yellow/honey colour beer with head white of 1,5 fingers not lasting too much
Aroma... grass, pale malt, hops and a touch of esters. Hops predominance in a flavored beer
Taste... malty at the start, then bitterness appears soon lasting all the time, dry fnish
Mouthfeel... medium body and medium/soft carbonation
Overall... a very nice ale, bitterness is present in balance with malty notes. Good and long aftertaste that makes a very pleasant ale

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Photo of sommersb
3.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 09-18-2013
Freshness: Not indicated
Packaging: 500ml clear bottle, pry cap
Glassware: Thistle glass
Purchased: Single from Pour Vous, Hendersonville, TN

A: Clear and honey-colored beer, it has a big cream-colored head with excellent lace and very good retention.

S: Aromas are pleasing, of pale malts, grassy hops and a light fruit/vegetable note.

T: Features a moderate amount of bitterness, tame by American IPA standards but fitting for a British variety. The hops have a woody taste, which combine with the malt backbone for a wonderfully balanced brew.

M: Full bodied, with a medium level of carbing, the finish is clean and moderately bitter.

O: I didn't know what to expect from a Scottish IPA but really enjoyed this sample and would seek it out again.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.61/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep good with dense micro bubbles formed on top. Nice was retention and lots of lacing. Nose is non descript with mild notes of bready grain, light earthy hops, some caramel. Taste is smooth and light in the flavor department. Light hop bitterness paired with mild caramel. Mouthfeel is the only place this beer excels, very smooth and somewhat creamy. Overall, an easy drinker for sure but relatively absent of flavor for an IPA.

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Photo of Beerstorian
2.62/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.25

Came from a clear bottle. Smelled skunky, tasted bad. I'd usually review a beer more thoroughly, but there's not really much else to say here. The clear bottle lets in light, and even the fluorescents in the market kill the beer.

It poured well, and looked fine--no problems there. And I fell bad for dunning the brewery, but if they're going to package in clear glass, they have to be prepared for what that does to their product. I'd try it on cask at some point to see the difference, but the bottled version ought to be avoided.

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Photo of hoppytaps
2.15/5  rDev -42.2%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

LOOK - gold colored beer, sparkling, clean-filtered

SMELL - malty toasted with some fruit

TASTE - wet cardboardy possible oxidation?, not as much hop flavor as I was suspecting and bitterness.

FEEL - smooth and a bit foamy, light-medium bodied

OVERVIEW - I didn't care for it. It was just okay. Also in a clear bottle? I found it boring. I was expecting something more exciting!! like Lakefront IPA or Singlecut IPA

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Photo of pkalix
4.55/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured from a clear bottle(?) and smells skunky. pours a super light amber, nice color, minimal head but consistent lacing.
smells is skunky from afar and does not smell like the typical IPA. in fact, i think there MUST be some confusion. my bottle looks NOTHING like the bottle up top, nor is it THAT dark. it's not dark at all. and the label states abv is 6.1% has no one else caught these dissimilarities?
taste starts caramel-y and malty and sweet but finishes with the hop bitter and dry. "a bitter dry taste explosion", says the bottle. and it delivers. i like these Belhaven brews. the Wee Heavy is one of my all time favorites.
this isnt the typical IPA, but it is good. not that i like the IPA style. as i drink more i am more aware of the bitterness and it is more prevalent in my mind and mouth than the sweet maltiness i tasted on my first sip. while not my favorite style, i fully respect what they have done with this. 'mouthfeel' wasnt special for me, it seemed kind of 'regular' but the color is beautiful, smell was provocative and different than i was expecting and so was the taste. for me, my ratings are accurate of how i feel about this one....

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Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 16.9oz clear (UGH!) pop top with cool label and nice info about the beer. No best by date, though there's a sort of date code. Apparently, this beer has a life-span of 18 months, however, and the date MIGHT be January 2012, so this would be ok. Poured into my Black SHeep half-pint chalice in small pours. At least I saw this one come out of the box and onto the shelf today, so it hasn't been sitting in the light long! 6.1% abv.

Appearance: Dark golden brew, with lots of tiny sediment in suspension. A nice creamy ivory cap with nice stick and some lace. Lasting tiny carbonation. Attractive looking beer!

Smell: Toasty and earthy pale and caramel malts, with lightly fruity hops (Challenger and Cascade blend really well, actually). I'd like a bit more in terms of hops in the aroma department, but as this probably isn't super fresh and it's an English-style IPA, it's sufficient.

Taste: Dry toasty malt, fruity alcohol, fruity and lightly earthy hops (fairly light in intensity) and a nice firm, clean bitterness on the finish. This ends dry, with an ever-so-slightly (tea-like) astringency. Very English, and pretty tasty.

Mouthfeel: Lighter than 6%...this feels fairly well-attenuated. Goes nicely with the rest of the beer.

Overall: For $3.99 a pint, this is a tasty English-style IPA that I would probably purchase a bit more often if it wasn't in clear-glass bottles. Nice, fruity, malty, subtly-hoppy, and bitter. Would really like to try it fresh as well! For the price (and before it gets old, light-struck, and with TONS of chunky floaty sediment) this is definitely a 'pick it up now and again' brew for when you're in the mood for an English IPA.

B 85-86

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.62/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly hazy honey orange with a foamy bone colored head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, slight citrus, and some earthy and herbal hop aromas. Taste is much the same with a slightly smoky flavor on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but I think it smells better than it tastes.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.91/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

LOOK - very compact, creamy white head, decent retention, some lace - gold colored beer, sparkling, clean-filtered

SMELL - extremely(?) mellow aromas of a fruit-topped pancake, bit of soft hops (EKG?), typical British pale ale aroma (toasted malt, fruity esters)

TASTE - pale-ale / estery base beer - mild and unmistakably FLORAL HOP flavor, faint residual, lingering hop flavor and bitterness - quite mellow, vaguely spicy, a little dry - nice overall balance

FEEL - smooth and a bit foamy, light-medium bodied (any fullness by way of carbonation?), spicy-bitter zip in the finish (tongue feels a bit tingly)...but still easy drinking

OVERVIEW - pretty decent, interesting IPA - and it IS an IPA...

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA has a thin-to-medium, off-white head and a mostly clear, bubbly, orange appearance, with lots of light gray sediment floating about. Some splotchy lacing is left on the glass. There was an initial skunk smell upon pouring the beer, but this almost immediately dissipated. The aroma is of mild fruitiness, malt, and just the slightest hop sting. Taste is of strongly-roasted malt, with even some charcoal, sweet, brown bread, fruitiness, pine resin, and back-end hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium and soft, and Belhaven Twisted Thistle finishes dry, refreshing, and easily drinkable. Overall, this is a very good and interesting beer.


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Photo of cfalovo97
4.17/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another one of my favorites (which sucks since it is hard to find in my area)

Well balanced and tasty. Very herbal and a little sour with a gentle finish
thick creamy mouthfeel with a smooth finish. tasty twist on the style. I was not expecting to like this beer when i first looked at the bottle, and was very surprised. Always keeping my eye out in the off chance i have the ability to try it again

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.5/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not sure when it changed but my bottle says it's not 6.1% ABV.

A - Well it's easy to spot that it's a clear amber brown since it's in a clear bottle now. Head is minimal with only a finger that reduces to a thick lace ring.

S - Smell is mild but it does have the sweet english malt thing going on. Not very bitter at all maybe some citrus hops?

T - Timid but balanced the hops do provide some bittering in the finish. English malts to balance with some cracker like sweetness. Not bad.

M - Light to medium, easy to drink.

Overall I don't think I will seek it out again. Seems to take like most IPA's that are around 1 or 2 bucks a bottle (yet this one was 4 bucks) Still worth a try since it was on my tick list. Heck even shipped from Scotland it had less sediment than most American offerings (fresher bottle)...

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
3.73/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the glass into a snifter, the beer was almost mauve in color. Incidently, I bet there are not many reviews with the color description of "mauve" on BA. There was a high level of sediment in the bottom of the glass. The thistle, which my assumption of the contents of the sediment, looked like yardwaste. Despite these oddities, the beer gets better. A heavy floral aroma leaps from the glass. The thistle is apparent. The initial taste is malty and mildly hops. The hops do not overwhelm, making this seem as though it is not a real IPA. The floral effects from the thistle stand out, giving the beer a tea-like quality. A note of lemon reinforces the tea hints, giving the impression of Lipton Tea with lemon. The flowery citrus hints continue in the aftertaste with the tartness of tea lingering. I am not sure I would need to drink this again, but it is a unique experience.

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Photo of tdm168
3.46/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - transparent, light goledn copper wiht a huge, dense, foamy, off white head that has great retention

S - musty, caramel, faint earthy hop aromas

T - caramel, faint bread, piney, bitter, a bit, earthy

M - medium bodied, well carbonated

The bitterness overpowers the malt character her. The malt comes across as one-dimensional: it's sweet caramel. the hops are bitter, piney, and even a bit resinous. Some balance I think would helo here. Nonetheless, it's drinkable, and smooth. It's a classic so it's worth a try.

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Photo of nrbw23
2.01/5  rDev -46%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

A- Pours a darker golden amber with the slightest bit of haze to it. A fairly small biege head and no lacing left behind.

S- A huge amount of herbal hops to it that dominanted the entire brew. An almost marijauna smell to it. I could pick up nothing else.

T- A very strong aspirin taste. Very herbal and grassy. Nothing else came through on this one.

M- Medium in body and carbonation.

O- Dominanted by the herbs. A struggle to drink.

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Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA from Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.
3.72 out of 5 based on 821 ratings.
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