Railbender Ale | Erie Brewing Co.

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332 Reviews
Railbender AleRailbender Ale

Brewed by:
Erie Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States | website

Style: Scottish Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Erie Brewing Company flagship beer features a deep malt flavor, caramel sweetness lingering in a soft hop flavor. Dark Amber.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-17-2001

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Reviews: 332 | Ratings: 772
Photo of gfreed
2.01/5  rDev -44.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

As I've said elsewhere, the downside of the current beer explosion in America is the river of average or below-average beer crashing into stores everywhere. The trick is picking out the good beer from the cases of junk. I like a beer adventure as much as the next drinker, but I do get tired of dragging home one crappy beer after another. This brew plops neatly into the crap trap: beef-broth color and beef-broth taste from the beginning all the way to the tired, bitter end. And not good beef broth, either: it's the ick your grandmother used to make from 10-year-old bullion cubes that had been sitting in a glass jar with a red rooster on the label. Avoid. Or, if you must have beef broth, make it from cow bones.

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Photo of yesyouam
2.09/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Erie Railbender Ale is very clear and brown with a white head that quickly vanishes. It has an odd aroma, with notes of fusel, spoiled fruit, resin and cardboard. It's medium-full bodied and pretty smooth with a slightly ragged finish. It tastes better than it smells, but it's a very boozy flavor and fusel is present. There is a slight sweetness, like sorghum, with notes of wood resin and chocolate. There is an herbal bitterness at the finish. This stuff burns all the way down.

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Photo of eandolina
2.23/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

The appearance was good; color and clarity were fair. Head retention was okay as well; but it was all down hill from there.
There was little-to- no aroma; and flavor was very poor.
Unfortunately, I bought a whole case--took a while to get rid of it.
A very disappointing beer!
Pony up the extra dough and buy a good beer.

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Photo of ski271
2.23/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A good bit of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. A careful pour produces a mostly clear, medium amber beer with a tinge of red. Almost no head, just a small ring of slightly off-white bubbles. Smell is of mild citrus and grain. Nothing all that special. More of the same in the taste, along with some rather unpleasant yeast flavors. It has a medium-light body, dry texture and moderate carbonation. Overall, it wasn’t a very good beer experience. It’s not bad, but there’s nothing about this beer that would ever make me want to pay that much for another.

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Photo of dansm
2.31/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A-Pours a light to medium amber with a small off-white head.

S-Mostly grainy with a hint of alcohol. Not too aromatic.

T-The taste isn't bad, just not very memorable. A little grainy with some hints of citrus, and just a little bitter kick at the end.

M-medium bodied and dry, with a little carbonation. Again not bad.

D-This is a fairly drinkable beer.

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Photo of weeare138
2.41/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appears a transparent honey toned gold with a 2 finger fluffy white head that quickly fades out. Scattered lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is grainy, grassy, along with cake that's been drizzled with honey...interesting combination to say the least. I'm getting the feeling that this isn't the "Scottish Ale" (as BA claims...should be an English Ale as another reviewer posted) that I was getting into.
Taste is of bitter skunk weed with sugar and dishwashing soap. What the hell happened here?
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, very smooth, sweet up front before becoming bitter with a gritty, semi-dry finish.

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Photo of Turbansurfer
2.43/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I really saddens me to dump on the flagship beer of my hometown brewery; but alas it is not near one of my favorites.

A very strong ale.
Dark red to brown in color.
there is almost never a head on this brew- which is always disappointing.
The malts totally over power both the beginning and finish of this beer.
Historically batches have not been overly consistent - but there is evidence that that has improved over the past few years.
The taste is not complex- some bitters but overall is just kinda blaaaa
No evidence of hops in my estimation as the beer is soooo malty.

the positives are it is a nice color, it is not very expensive, and it will quickly do the trick if catching a buzz is your goal.

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Photo of yelterdow
2.43/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thanks to Breeze for hooking me up with a sixer of this one that's not distributed here in North Jersey. Served at just over fridge temperature in a pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a caramel reddish amber into the glass, where a full two finger head is slowly building. There are steady streams of many tiny bubbles rising, with moderate and sporadic lacing. It's definitely a solid looking beer.

Smell- After sampling this beer five times previously, the first aromas I've been getting are caramel malts, but now I'm smelling just a wisp of smoky wood... and maybe something plummy. Not bad, I do get a sense of the alcohol in the nose though.

Taste- Here's the problem... the beer doesn't come together well, considering the potential complexity in the taste. While the initial malt character envelops the tongue, the alcohol heat and generally unpleasant hop bitterness is far too aggressive. It's heavy and hot thoughout the middle and the entire finish, which could be considered appropriate if this were an IPA.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Initially the texture is prickly and borderline overcarbonated... halfway through the tasting it mellows, but never becomes anything exciting. Since the taste and overall enjoyment of this beer defines the drinkability score, it doesn't fare well at all... I couldn't suggest this or promote it in any way.

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Photo of TheBeerMaster1
2.54/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I won't lie the label first hand annoyed me. Nothing about it tells you it's a Scottish, nor did it tell you a mini synopsis of what you were diving into, but I digress. The beer was just as boring as well. It reminded me of a very low end diet version of Bells Amber ale, with some nutty and malty undertones. Also had a sweetener like kick to it, with a lot of unimpressive flavors floating around. Just didn't do it for me.

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Photo of BuckeyeSlim
2.7/5  rDev -25%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a NB snifter.

A - Pours a light golden color into the glass. Almost no head of loose almost-white foam quickly disappeared into just a hint of lace on the surface. Beer is rather cloudy and a light apricot-orange when held to a full-spectrum light.

S - Freshly, lightly toasted malts. Caramel, with hints of butterscotch and lighter dried fruit, like apricots, and a touch of orange marmalade. Alcohol pushes its way into the nose. Overall, a soft nose.

T - Taste is rather muted. Light whole-grain bread and lightly toasted malts. Caramels appear as it warms in the glass. Touches of a tangerine/apricot Jolly Rancher. It seems to want to be a bigger beer, but the taste profile is really turned down and washed out.

M - Somewhat fizzy. Certainly more carbonation than the pour suggests. Rather crisp. Structure is on the lighter side and a bit thin. Almost no finish to speak of, but what's there is rather dry - it looks like most of the sugars went toward pushing the ABV up.

O - The flavor profile of this beer has promise, but everything about it is so muted and soft, except, perhaps the ABV, that it seems a shadow of what it could have been. It's inoffensive, and definitely not at all hoppy, so it might be an acceptable introduction for someone wanting to move up from BMC and see what the craft fuss is about, but a more experience pallate is likely to find it wanting. It's classified as a Scotch ale, but it strikes me as recipe that started out as a slightly flavored wheat beer, and when they went to brew they discovered they were out of wheat, so they used golden toasted malts instead. Once this six-pack is gone, I can't imagine buying this one again.

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Photo of UltraZelda64
2.7/5  rDev -25%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

From the company's website:
"Erie Brewing Company flagship beer features a deep malt flavor, caramel sweetness lingering in a soft hop flavor."

That pretty much nails this beer. On to my thoughts...

Appearance: First off, this beer's got some pretty cool artwork featuring an old train on the bottle (not to mention, the name is pretty cool...). A somewhat dark, murky, orange liquid poured into the glass. Has a beige-colored head that doesn't last too long. However, with the relatively high alcohol percentage, I can't really fault the beer too much for having a quickly decaying head. Carbonation seems weak; tiny bubbles, and very few of them at that; maybe more of it would have improved head retention a bit. This one just looked so... dead. Can't say I'm all that impressed so far.

Smell: Malty, biscuity sweetness. Maybe a little bit of caramel. Again, not all that impressive, but certainly not offensive.

Taste: The characteristics of the smell also appear in the taste, basically mirroring it. Very strong biscuit/malty flavor, a touch of caramel, light hops. Alcohol seems present, but just barely. It does leave an awkward aftertaste, or at least did; now, with only a small amount left in my glass, the aftertaste seems to have muted. Which is good, because I didn't really care for it.

Mouthfeel: I would say it feels medium bodied. Certainly thicker than water. Not too bad.

Drinkability: This stuff is not exactly one of the greatest beers I've tried, but at the same time it's quite easy to drink. It has a moderately high ABV, 6.8%, yet it hides it quite well. I can imagine drinking *too* much of this stuff for this reason. I'm not sure I'll actively seek this stuff out, though. While this is not a bad beer, I've just had far too many that, in my opinion, surpass this one.

Meanwhile... if you want a decent beer with a good kick to it, definitely give this one a try. Honestly, this beer's greatest strength seems to be its well-hidden alcohol strength.

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Photo of woodske1
2.71/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

What a surprise, an average beer from Erie Brewing. Again, there is no risktaking with this ale but it does take a risk with the high ABV of nearly 7%.

This one you see alot locally maybe because it has a cool name...try one to make sure its not for you but I am not impressed by the lack of risktaking.

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Photo of chickenflea
2.73/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured an almost clear ice tea color with a small fizzy off-white head. Fruity malt aroma with a touch apple vinegar and spice. Not at all what I expected from a Scottish ale. The taste is equally conflicted. Big sour front end moderating into a malty midlife and finishing off fruity sour apple peel bitterness. Light-medium body with a lively mouthfeel. Tangy. I liked it, but it was unusual and not at all what I expected for a Scottish ale. I downgraded it for missing the mark for its style. I upgraded the overall score because I liked the beer even though it tasted more like a bier de mars or a farmhouse.

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Photo of cswhitehorse
2.73/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The Railbender poured a reddish brown color with a 1-2 finger foam head and some sea foam lacing.

The smell was comprised of biscuity malt and possibly some chocolate malt. The taste was real chocolately and didn't have much of a hop profile. It was pretty thin in the mouth and left a real odd after taste that I couldn't get over. All and all I won't buy this one again.

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Photo of SilentSabre
2.75/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pretty average looking Scottish Ale, chestnut brownish orange coloured body and little head which faded into almost literally no head. Smell is very faint, but what *is* there is sweet malts and a little bit of fruit deep down. Taste is pretty uneventful save for the usual sweet-ish malts you'd expect to see in this style. Finishes up with a pleasant bitterness; not too overdone with the hops. Mouthfeel doesn't exactly fit the style and at only 6,8%, there's more detectable booze than there should be. Not a terrible beer, but I don't think this is for me.

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Photo of jhollick
2.76/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured with a minimal head, but had impressive lacing throughout the beer. The smell is not strong, mostly of malt and farmhouse type smells. The taste is biscuity and doughy with a dry aftertaste. Some raisin and plum flavors come through as well. The alcohol is well hidden, most likely leading to the dryness, as there is little to no hop presence in this beer. I am not a fan of the aftertaste at all; it actually overshadows the taste of the beer for me. I had this a couple months ago on tap and didn't care much for it, but I thought I'd give it another try. My mind hasn't really changed.

Overall, I can't call this drinkable because it isn't very well-balanced, its somewhat high in alcohol, and the sticky and dry aftertaste really stays with you. I won't be reaching for this again.

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Photo of Seanibus
2.76/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Meh. I keep hearing great things about this brewery, but I am so far underwhelmed.

Pours red with slight head. No matter how hard I sniffed, I could pick up no aroma. The taste is slightly roasty and bready with a little floral hop character with a sneaky bitterness. The mouthfeel is runny and a little clingy.

Merely ok

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
2.77/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A - Very hazy, copper brew with a moderate head and no lacing.

S - Potent concord grapes are accompanied by fainter malt and hay.

T - Slight honey sweetness, a bit of red grape skins and malt. Aftertaste is a malty bitterness bordering on medicinal.

M - Thin, smooth, a little refreshing.

D - Meh. Nowhere is it great - or even very good. It doesn't seem overly scottish to me either. I don't think I'll buy this six pack again.

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Photo of shapudding
2.85/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Very cloudy and unclear amber, looks like home brewed iced-tea. Good amount of milkshakey almond froth went away disappointingly quick, with no retention. -Left as quickly as it had piled up and left only a very thin dusting in a minute or two. Warm scents, just a bit of alcohol floating up from it, I kind of think I am imagining the slight aroma of scotch in the background... then mostly oranges. Nice citrus flavors, but not too intense. Kind of like having one of those odd fruit cups where you get the grapefruit, pineapple, and oranges... but they have been soaking together too long to be able to taste which is which with your eyes closed...? They all taste good, but the same. Just a bit of peppery grapefruit rind countered with a bit of honey sweetness at the end. The carbination is noticable, it foams up over your tongue and creates a bit more of a medium body. Decent flavor, bit sweet in the lingering flavors... left with a candi-sugar...maybe even artificial sweetner flavor?... on the tongue. Bit of darkened toast... There is just alot of flavor left sitting around in the mouth. This is not one I would really go back for again, but I do think it is more of a summer drinker than one to have had when it was 18 freakin' degrees out.... I will have to come back to the Erie's again.
I did grab this case of mixed for my Dad, since this was his birthplace and made a fun gift for a split with him, in his venture into following me into the world of craftbrew.

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Photo of RDAdams
2.85/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very clear, amber, a decent off-white head with moderate head retention..

Nothing to write home about. Low malt aroma with a hint of alcohol.

Again not much except an unbalanced combination of mils malt and alcohol

Surprisingly good body with a moderate carbonation and the clean, crisp, finish of a lager.

This is a very good session beer, But the alcohol will snwak up on you.

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Photo of AnPiobaire
2.88/5  rDev -20%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I poured the Railbender Ale from a 12 oz bottle at about 46 degrees. It poured a murky amber with a off white head.

The nose for this was very mild with some fruity malt notes but very very subtle.

The taste was very subdued and had some mild maltiness followed by a bitter finish.

The mouthfeel is crisp and thin but well carbonated.

Overall this is a somewhat bland brew that certainly was drinkable but not too memorable. However, beer is beer and that's good. Enjoy!!!

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Photo of JDV
2.88/5  rDev -20%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours copper and clear. Smell is malty and toasty with light grassy balancing hops and a dash of sour milk, somehow... Taste is mildly malty and dryish toasty tartness. Fairly hopped for bitterness without much hop flavor, though. Medium to light bodied with a high amount of carbonation. Crisp. Average.

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Photo of InandOutBeerGuys
2.91/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Honestly, not overly impressed here. Kinda seemed thin all around for a "BIG" altbier. Not nearly as malty as the appearance suggests & where the hops go? Was worth a try..had in a variety pack with the even more average Mad Anthonys Pale Ale, (what is it 31 or 51 IBU's?) and their pretty decent Presque Isle Pils, again not very floral or spicy but this is about Railbender...overall its just an average amber ale that I probably wont bother with again, and if someone from Erie reads this- you're on to some thing here just add some hops please.

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Photo of Minkybut
2.93/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 45 degrees. This was a hard beer to rate. I had one the night before and rated it YUK. I had two more to drink and liked them, so I guess I got a bad one and for that reason had to do a split decision here. The beer looked like gas, poured a weak head that was tan. The beer smelled sour the first one and tasted sour. Next two next night did not. I uess I would try it again.

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Photo of nickfl
2.93/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - One finger of off-white head on a hazy, copper colored body. The foam settles quickly and leaves nice lace.

S - Light malt sweetness and some caramel. A hint of british hops and a big dose of butter.

T - Slightly sweet, heavily toasted malt up front with musty hops. Some sour grainy flavor and a lot of diacetyl. Lingering english hop flavor in the finish.

M - Medium-thick body, moderately low carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - Not good. This is kind of a strange scottish ale. It lacks in malt richness, just a one dimensional toasted quality. There is more hop character than one would expect for the style and the excessive buttery notes do not in any way redeem it. This might come across better if it was presented as a bitter or mild, but even then its not very good.

Update: This POS just won a GABF gold medal!?!? WTF!?

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Railbender Ale from Erie Brewing Co.
3.6 out of 5 based on 772 ratings.
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