It’s snowing in Texas! On this snowy day I am nice and cozy inside, watching a marathon of the original series Star Trek and I think to myself, “What better way to stay warm than with a smooth, warming scotch ale?”
Scotch Ales are also commonly known as Wee Heavys, and are Strong Pale Ales created based on the profile of ales from Scotland in the 18th century. The style as it is known today has deviated from it’s original roots and become a style all it’s own. Scotch Ales today usually have an ABV of around 7% or higher, while the original (now known as Scottish Ales) have an ABV of between 5.5 – 6.5%. These ales are very malty with a large element of peat moss. They should be served in a thistle style glass, and I have just the one for this beer.
Rahr & Sons Iron Thistle
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company is near and dear to my heart; partly because they are based right out of Fort Worth, TX. They opened in 2004 in a former Coca-cola packaging plant on the south side of downtown. After slow beginnings with equally slow growth, they suffered a major setback in February of last year when an enormous snow storm blanketed the area and caused the roof of the brewery to collapse. Thankfully most of the equipment and beer were undamaged but the brewery was unable to create or package beer for about 7 months. In September 2010 they finally reopened their doors and the beer was flowing again! It’s only fitting that I review a Rahr beer today then isn’t it?
This beer pours a dark ruby color with touches of maroon and brown highlights. It carries a thick beige head with decent head retention. After awhile the head finally goes down to leave residue on the edges of the glass.
The beer has a large aroma of caramel malts, smoked peat and roasted grain. Part of the process of creating a Scotch Ale is to caramelize a small portion of the malts to give it that sugary sweet flavor and aroma. That certainly carries through here as well. Fairly pleasant aroma.
The flavor is upfront caramel sweetness with a big portion of roasted bitterness. The mossy characteristics come through towards the end and touch the finish with a linger of the original caramel essence. At 8.5% ABV this beer warms the throat and should be savored slowly.
I highly recommend the Iron Thistle out of the Rahr & Sons line-up. While I do have a bit of a bias towards the home-team, this beer really can hold it’s own as it won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2009 for it’s style. I will be sure to try every beer Rahr has to offer through the course of this blog.