Iron Thistle | Rahr & Sons Brewing Company

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87
very good
76 Reviews
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Iron ThistleIron Thistle
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
Texas, United States | website

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by roblowther on 05-30-2009

BEER STATS
Reviews:
76
Ratings:
287
Avg:
3.86
pDev:
24.61%
 
 
Wants:
18
Gots:
75
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 76 | Ratings: 287
Photo of SuperSpy
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
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 FJBrewster
4.6/5  rDev +19.2%
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

Photo of elniko
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

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Photo of briman
3.63/5  rDev -6%
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.

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Photo of HardTarget
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 12 oz. twisty, some marketing on the label, but not much info. Served in the branded thistle glass.

A) Deep ruby red/black body shows some clarity with strong backlight. Holds a preacher's collar of dirty tan but doesn't lace the glass.

S) Bready, slightly sweet grape malt with whiffs of alcohol.

T) Mild overall flavor. Malty grape soda base, no hop flavors noted, but no excessive sweetness in the malt either. Hides the alcohol expertly.

M) A bit fizzy, lively carbonation keeps it from being heavy, even a wee heavy. Light prickle after the swallow.

D) Dangerous, I'm taking large pulls and enjoying them. A gentle giant this one, easy laid back smooth talker. Solid work Rahr!

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle of this new <bottled> brew from Rahr and Sons. Pours a very dark brown color with only a few highlights showing around the edges. Foam is thick and creamy with decent retention and lacing.

Nose is malty and nutty with a touch of peat. A bit chocolaty and somewhat sweet smelling. Fruit is pretty low for the style and this might be passable as a foreign export stout.

Malty and smooth with a bit more roast than most scotch ales. More chocolate as well. Peat is on the low end and does not display a whole lot of smoky flavor. Hops and a touch of burnt toast contribute a much needed bitter kick on the finish. ABV seems nowhere near 8%, pretty damn drinkable. I must say, this might be my second favorite Rahr beer behind the winter warmer. Pretty tasty beverage here.

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Photo of zdk9
2.92/5  rDev -24.4%
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.

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Photo of emmasdad
3.13/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to a JJFoodie for this Texas extra. Pours dark brown, almost black, with a moderate caramel colored head. Aromas of chocolate, smoke and thick chewy malt. On the palate this one is a bit thinner than I anticipated, but still malty and chocolatey with a touch of spiciness and a slight bitter finish. This one is quite drinkable and fairly tasty.

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Photo of brentk56
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a cola brown color with rust highlights; the two finger cap sits atop the liquid and holds itself together while dripping shards of lace

Smell: Caramel dominates, along with hints of ginger snap

Taste: Caramel, up front, with a surprising herbal bitterness that arrives by mid-palate and merges with the sweetness in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Although the herbal bitterness was not expected given the style, it does add a nice element of distinction

Thanks, ericandersnavy, for the oppportunity

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this from a generous Texas BA as part of my SNF winnings.

A-Body is a translucent dark brown hue with mahogany edges when held up to the light. An aggressive pour yields a 1-2 finger head which fades quickly to a thick collar-the collar has great retention. Little lacing left behind in the glass.

S-Caramel malt, chocolate, and molasses come to the nose first. Smells deep at first but then there is a refreshing herbal twinge at the end of the first whiff.

T-Seems like there is not too much going on upfront. Mild presence of caramel and chocolate malts-but thats it. The flavor here is in the later half. It starts with a moderate cocoa presence and then bitter roasted malt and an herbal presence come through for the finish. Faint hints of the whole flavor profile linger briefly after swallowing.

M- Moderate carbonation and medium weight body. The mouthfeel is a lot more "porter" to me than the thick, smooth,syrupy, mouthfeel I have come to expect from Scottish beers.

D- All in all this is a pretty good brew. Its surprisingly drinkable for 8% with no hints of alcohol whatsoever. Definitely worth a try.

 1,124 characters

Photo of NewGeneric
4.23/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.43/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle obtained via Local BIF from kiltedtxn. Thanks for the opportunity. <Jeremy2002 = bad trader>

Poured into an imperial pint, formed a 1/4" beige head above the slightly cloudy brown brew. Head is quickly down to a small layer of bubbles, with average lacing. Aroma is sweet, but then a tinge of sour. Taste starts malty, a touch leathery in the middle, and closes with a slight tartness. Mouthfeel is smooth, and drinkability is pretty good. Not bad.

 467 characters

Photo of kindestcut
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.13/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Iron Thistle starts out with a deep brown-mohogany-ruby color and moderate haze. A sheet of foam settles onto the beer with much lacing- off white head.

Deep malt sweetness is met with a light smokey, earthy, woodsy, toasty tone. Complex malts give a smooth bready, toffee, nutty, flavor and aroma. Complimentary notes of malted milk, softer cocoa, and light roast only adds to the complexity.

Where the beer lets down a bit is in an astringent bite that happens just before mid-palate and nearly dominates the beer from there on. It certainly hurts the mouthfeel and drinkability with a sensation that could be interpreted as a harsh bitter, acidity, or bite. This could be a result of accessive age on the beer but without any indicaiton of dating, who's to know?

I would be interested in trying a known fresh version to compare. Thanks Natelocc787!

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Photo of Kromes
4.43/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a thick tan colored head. Nice lacing all down the thistle glass.

S: There is a sweet fruity spicy caramel aroma with some roasted malt. For a second it reminded me a little bit of southern comfort.

T: A very sweet caramel and roasted malt flavor. There is also a very slight grassy flavor as it passes over the tongue. The finish is sweet chocolatey-caramel.

M: Very very smooth and creamy. It has the perfect feel. Can't find anything wrong with the body and feel of this beer.

D: A great Scotch ale. The alcohol level is held in check and the flavors are really nice. A surprisingly great seasonal from Rahr.

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Photo of JAramini
4.01/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

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Photo of northaustin
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
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.

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Photo of fjordhook
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

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Photo of projectflam86
4.04/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of MrHungryMonkey
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
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!

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Photo of whoneeds8
3.26/5  rDev -15.5%
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.

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Photo of GregSVT
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
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.

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Photo of JosephLondon
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
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 natelocc787
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.87/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at the brewery during July 2009. Pours a darker brown with a creamy head. Smells of malt with a little smoke. Taste is sweet malt with some peat and smoke. This is not a very heavy beer and is very drinkable for a scotch ale. This is the only time I ever saw this beer, but I would drink it again if it became a seasonal or year-round offering.

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Iron Thistle from Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 76 ratings.
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