Railbender Ale | Erie Brewing Co.

336 Reviews
Railbender AleRailbender Ale

Brewed by:
Erie Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States

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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 336 | Ratings: 788
Photo of kylehay2004
3.43/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: single finger head. Clear dirty golden. Lots of lace

S: musty and vinegar like hop aroma. grain and bread with caramel notes.

T: semi sweet caramel malt dominates. Crisp taste. Bread notes.

M: light body. Mild carbonation

Overall: The aroma for be was a little sour and vinegar like which I wasn't a fan of.

 314 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.87/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

i really like this one. a red ale (not sure why it says scottish?) but its a red through and through, all malty and sweet, but this one has a nice hop kick as well, and a really jivey carbonation which makes it really drinkable. medium body, medium abv, great palate. the nose and taste are both overloaded with amber malt and crisp american hops. i think it is erie's flagship beer. would like to see this one get a little broader distrobution. nice local product for northwestern pa, otherwise a beer wasteland

 512 characters

Photo of Knapp85
3.45/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Railbender pours out as a deep brown color with some red highlights. The smell of the beer gives off some earthy aromas along with some roasted sweet malts. The taste of the beer has some subtle dark fruit sweetness to it that's backed up but a dry toasty finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied. Overall it's not the best Scottish Ale out there but it might be worth trying.

 374 characters

Photo of metter98
3.6/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: The beer is hazy coppery orange in color and has a light amount of carbonation along with some fine particles visible floating in suspension. It poured with a thin beige head that died down, leaving some lacing on the surface and a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of caramel and butterscotch malts in the nose—these become stronger as the beer warms up.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and very malty but the caramel flavors are much more pronounced.
M: It feels medium-bodied and slightly sticky on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is a good representation of the style and isn’t that difficult to drink, especially since the alcohol is well hidden from the taste.

 755 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
3.2/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Railbender takes on a bright copper-amber color (a bit on the lighter side) with average head formation, retention, and no lacing (tough for Scottish Ales to do).

Aromas are very rich on the caramel malts. Sweet with toffee, syrups, caramel candies, and barley malt. A sweet bread, biscuity aroma also gives rise to the rich maltiness.

Flavors do much the same with the toffee and caramels leading the way. Sweet through and through with alcohol bitterness helping out in the reduced role of hops.

Malty and bready with sweetness heavy on the front end. Although the beer shows a froathy breadiness late, the sweetness eventually proves too much.

In the end, the beer is a nice but obscure ale that doesn't give as much earthiness, rich maltiness, or complex grains to compete with true Scottish varieties like Belhaven's Wee Heavy. Too much sweetness and not enough maltiness makes a big difference.

 904 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.35/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a fairly clear amber color with a very modest head that fades to a ringlet with only a few splashes of lace

Smell: Not sure I can put my finger on that aroma; there is some caramel and something herbaciously medicinal; also somewhat bready

Taste: Opens with a blast of caramel that builds and then flattens as some bitterness from the hops impacts it by mid-palate; after the swallow, the flavors surrender

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbination

Drinkability: Its just OK; easy to drink and easy to forget

 545 characters

Photo of zeff80
3.53/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a somewhat cloudy, burgundy color with a soapy, with big bubbles, tan, one-finger head. It left small traces of lace.

S - It smelled of sweet caramel malts with an earthy quality.

T - It tasted very sweet with a roasted malt taste. It had an interesting grassy/mossy flavor.

M - A soft, smooth and somewhat creamy ale. A medium-bodied brew.

D - This is a pretty good scottish ale, but not the best. It is very drinkable, but not the best representation of the style.

 485 characters

Photo of superspak
3.88/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into snifter, no bottle dating. Pours lightly hazy/cloudy deep orange/copper color with a 1 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a good amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of raisin, plum, apple, caramel, toffee, toast, biscuit, brown sugar, nuttiness, light smoke, herbal, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Nice aromas with good complexity and solid balance of fruity/earthy yeast and dark/bready malt notes; with good strength. A bit too fruity in the nose. Taste of caramel, toffee, toast, biscuit, brown sugar, plum, apple, light nuttiness, light smoke, light herbal, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Minimal earthy herbal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toffee, toast, biscuit, brown sugar, plum, apple, light nuttiness/smoke, and yeast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt and light-moderate fruity/earthy yeast flavors; with zero cloying flavors present after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied; with a very smooth, moderately creamy, and lightly bready mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice Scottish ale style. All around good robustness, balance, and complexity of dark/bready malt and light-moderate fruity/earthy yeast flavors; and very smooth to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

 1,549 characters

Photo of nickfl
2.93/5  rDev -18.8%
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!?

 850 characters

Photo of oberon
3.8/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This was a big seller last night at the Pizza Plant quite popular with the patrons,poured a dull lighter amber with a thinner off white head.Fruity malt and brown sugar in the nose with some lighter sweet dough notes as well.Lightly sweet and somewhat fruity definently malt tilted,some brown sugar and cookie dough in the finish.Hmm not a bad ale quite good but seems its just misisng something to make it a real winner but still good as it is.

 445 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.82/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another one from a big trade with Noslenwerd.

A: Pours nice pillowy head of 1/2 a finger. It's a super clear amber tan color with slight reddish hue and tons of bubbles rising from the bottom of my SA pint glass just enough to hold a light head covering.

N: Lots of sweet malts fill out the nose. Some sweet sugar and molasses. Slight toasty malts. Quite a bit like a Scotch ale or barleywine.

T: Starts with more maltiness, but not as sweet as I thought it would be. Some crystal, toasty malts, and almost porter roast comes through. Almost a hint of smoke. Some sweet sugar and rich molasses, but not much sweetness.

M: Pretty thick, rich, and syrupy, good carbonation for the style (light).

F: Finishes still heavy and slightly sweet, thick and syrupy as it lines the mouth very slightly. Slight bitterness. A nice drink, but not a lot to it. Lighter than expected for the style, although it has a nice mouth feel. Should have had some more booze, a little more sweetness, more flavors overall I think.

 1,010 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.88/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A rough pour brings up a full, frothy ivory head over a clear, deep reddish-amber body. The head holds fairly well, then drops to a nice creamy collar, and leaves some nice lace throughout the glass. The aroma offers some nice soft fruit and gently spicy & floral hops above a mildly sweet malt. The body is medium with a very fine & moderate carbonation that leaves it creamy and smooth in the mouth. The flavor offers a softly sweet & gently caramel-tinged maltiness that's well-balanced by a thread of grassy hop flavor and a supportive bitterness. A touch of alcohol is sometimes noticeable but actually seems to add to the character of the beer rather than distracting from it. It finishes softly with a mild drying alcohol, a dull bitter note and a sticky maltiness. Nicely done, and actually quite unique. There's much more to this beer than the first impression gives. Worth trying.

 890 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.41/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

undated 12 oz bottle served in a Laughing Skull pint glass. Some sediment in the bottom of the bottle -- added mid-tasting.

Pours a deep amber with a moderate off-white head that has limited retention and only leaves a small ring of lacing on the glass.

The smell is malt, with hints of musty earth, floral soap, peat and a trace of smoke. The taste is better, with more toasted malt, no mustiness, and some caramel and nut flavors.

M: enough carbonation to impart some crispness; somewhat smooth; slight dryness in finish; body is too thin and watery for style.

O: a decent brew, despite the poor nose. Higher ABV evident in feel but not the flavor or aroma.

 666 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.83/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap 2/7/2011 at Track 84, in Warwick, RI, served in a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, vanilla, some fruit and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel, vanilla and a little bit of fruit. The malt character is hearty and the hops presence is mild but it creates a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, this is a decent beer worth drinking for a while.

 720 characters

Photo of Rifugium
3.2/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

First had: on tap at Casey's, Newtown Square, PA

Poured a hazy amber with a small, white head. Aroma of malts and a bit nutty; reminiscent of an amber ale. Taste was pretty plain; sweet malts and sorta bland nuttiness, with some caramel notes coming through. Not quite as sweet or tasty or alcoholic as other Scotch ales I've had. Medium body, and moderately drinkable, but a bit lacking in the flavor department.

 414 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.23/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours out a slightly hazed, darkened amber-hued body with a wispy, white head.

Smell: Fairy malt-forward aroma, smelling of notes of toasted bread and sweet toffee. Notes of properly ripened fruit. A couple minutes of warming begins to impart some nutty accents.

Taste: Sweetish malty opening representing the toast and toffee found in the nose. Then, a bit of nutty peanut brittle slips in. Little crackle of fruitiness. Wee touch of hops. Some drying alcohol on precludes the modestly malty finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium-plus carbonation.

Drinkability: A beer where, if it weren't for these notes, I would have forgotten about it entirely. It's acceptable, I suppose, but a bit of a disappointment, considering this is Erie's flagship beer. Ah well.

 779 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.11/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Finely flecked kumquat with multiple streams of tiny bubbles leading up to a richly creamy cap that is somewhere between ivory and palest ecru in color. I'm not sure the beer looks all that Scottish, but then I'm not sure that Scottish ales have a typical look. Thin, sudsy sheets of lace are beginning to appear on the glass. I hope it tastes as good as it looks.

I pick up just a hint of earthy maltiness in the nose... and very little else. Again, there's nothing here that is especially Scottish. Actually, the brewery calls this an English old ale. Since that isn't a style recognized here, I'd say it fits English strong ale better than anything else. Maybe I'll change my mind once I actually taste it.

Now I'm not sure what the hell to call it since there's almost nothing of interest on the taste buds. Give me more to go on Erie. Railbender is caramel malt-dominant with a touch of earthy, probably English, hoppiness. It's sort of bock-like, but I'll still have to go with English strong ale for $100 Alex. A noticeable alcohol presence is further confirmation of that style choice.

Nothing really stands out within the flavor profile. There's more flavor than aroma, but the beer spins its wheels on the palate and can't seem to get any traction. It seems that an overhaul is in order. I'd keep the name and the cool looking train engine on the label though.

The mouthfeel impresses more than everything except the appearance. While it could stand to be a little more chewy (especially for the style that I've now bestowed upon it), it's smooth enough and supple enough to get me through the rest of the bottle with ease. The quiet carbonation is loud enough.

I can now say with finality that Erie Brewing Company beer is not to my liking. I bought three bottles during my last trip home to Ohio. After being disappointed by the first two, I placed what little hope I had left in Railbender. Unfortunately, it failed to meet me halfway. Not recommended.

 1,981 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.97/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good start to the head, but settles to rim-based bubbles. Leaves no permanent lace. The color is a beautiful copper-amber and is crystal clear.

Light caramel sugar from what I believe to be lightly toasted crystal malt. Mild alcohol nose. Some molasses; no hop smell.

True to form, this has a malted sweetness that is warm to the swallow without an extreme alcohol bite. There is a faint hop pepper in the swallow. The aftertaste is short but creamy. Rich bodied as expected. Overall, this is an example of the style and very easy to drink.

 542 characters

Photo of mdfb79
3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From 12/18/11 notes. Shared by nmann08; thanks Nate. 12 oz. bottle into my Bell's tulip.

a - Pours a transparent dark amber color with one inch of white head and moderate carbonation evident. Some spotty lacing left on the glass.

s - Smells of nuts, caramel malts, fruity malts, and light spice.

t - Tastes of nuts, caramel malts, toasted malts, light cinnamon and spice, light fruit, and roasted malts.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

o - Overall a pretty nice beer. Lots of nuts and caramel malts and pretty easy to drink. Would have again.

 557 characters

Photo of woodychandler
3.51/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Today is the eve of All Hallow's Evening, aka Hallowe'en, and my treats for the remainder of the day will consist of beers from (e)Erie Brewing Company in (e)Erie, PA. No tricks, hopefully just treats and plenty of eerie goings-on as I work on the systematic eradication of my bottle backlog.

From the bottle: "enjoy erie brews".

I Pop!ped the cap and since nothing suggested otherwise, I went with a fairly heavy-handed pour, producing a quick finger of fizzy, foamy, tawny head with modest retention. Color was Deep Amber/Light Copper to Copper (SRM = > 13, < 17) with NE-quality clarity. Nose was very sweet with loads of caramel. Hmm. Well, tomorrow is the day for sweets, so I will press on. This is apparently a part of the style, but not my cuppa tea. Mouthfeel was medium. The taste was unquestionably caramel, but (thankfully) not as sweet as the nose had led me to expect. The Beer Styles section mentions "smoky characters", but I was reminded of not being especially careful in HomeEc when making caramel and nearly allowing it to scorch. It was less smoky than towards burnt, but that would not be a fair characterization, either. The sweetness was held in check by a flavor that I could not put my finger on, but I would be very hesitant to assign it to the hops. Interesting. The finish was in that nether-realm straddling semi-sweet & semi-dry. It was not a malt bomb, which is also allowable, but nor was it as smoky as I might have liked. It was kind of a one-and-done for me.

 1,497 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.48/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was pleased to see this one flowing on draft tonight at Lancelot's in Wintersville, OH...appears a copper amber tone with an off white cream head leaves nice lacing around my glass even with each sip. Aromatics mild caramel and warming nutty edge very light herbal hops rather clean with a slight mineral character as well. Flavor is clean with a good mix of hops and malts nutty caramel tone with a clean mild herbal hop finish. Mouthfeel is in the light to medium body range with moderate carbonation very nice stuff. Drinkability is really good stuff not the most complex brew but quaffable beer from up in Erie...one of my first bottle reviews I take it back not bad at all.

 680 characters

Photo of WoodBrew
3.94/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Trying the Eric Railbender, which was brought back from PA by my boss over the Xmas holiday. The beer poured a clear amber with virtually no head and obviously no lace. The smell includes sweet malt and a waff of alcohol. The taste was a decent amber ale with nice sweet malt and just a touch of hop for a clean finish. Mouthfeel is medium body with ok carbonation. Overall it is a good beer which could be sessioned.

 417 characters

Photo of tdm168
4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light orangish amber with a thin layer of loose, soft, off white head that lingers. The nose has notes of caramel and butterscotch as well as some faint fruity aromas. The flavor is heavy caramel with some faint butterscotch notes and a mild bitterness in the finish. It has a medium body and is very smooth though a little heavily carbonated.

This is a very refreshing beer. It's easy to drink and offers a very smooth, balanced flavor. It's a little more carbonated than I would like, but nonetheless, enjoyable.

 523 characters

Photo of Billolick
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle, w/o freshness/bottling date indication. Pours clear, dull coppery amber. The head is slight, light khaki and quickly goes bye bye. Leaves just the faintest of tiny bubble films and minor bits of lace. The nose is equally non impressive, with just a moderate wiff of malt picked up. Malty brew, smooth and easy enough to knock back. A bit of smoke, a bit of earthyness and a respectable, maple tinged malt carraige. Easy drinking malty ale. NOthing earthshattering going on here, but decent enough. Would work as a stronger sessioner. Good to keep some of this type of sweater brew around for the base of a meaty marinade

 637 characters

Photo of jwc215
3/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours hazed amber/bronze with a thin head that immediately becomes a thin, floating patch.

The smell is of caramel with earthy, slightly nutty, tones. Mild.

The taste is caramelish and biscuity. It has an earthy/slightly nutty background with a vague citric fruitiness and peppery spiciness. It is a bit boozy in the dry finish and slightly astringent with some carmelized maltiness rebounding in the aftertaste.

The body is a bit odd - some watery thinness but with a boozy kick and it almost reaches for medium at times.

I don't know how well this fits in with a Scottish Ale - In fact, I am very dubbious about this style. Seems like a strong...well...trying to be strong...old ale? I don't know. More English-type than Scottish-type. Who knows. Whatever. Regardless of style, this is mediocre anyway. It has a little bit of several things, but it doesn't all come together and there's not quite enough of anything (except maybe alcohol). Not "good" not "bad"...just there.

 980 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Railbender Ale from Erie Brewing Co.
3.61 out of 5 based on 788 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.