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Alba Scots Pine Ale - Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Alba Scots Pine AleAlba Scots Pine Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

586 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 586
Reviews: 456
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 14.59%

Brewed by:
Williams Brothers Brewing Company visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Introduced by the Vikings, spruce and pine ales were very popular in the Scottish Highlands until the end of the 19th century. Many early explorers, including Captain Cook, used spruce ale during long sea voyages since it prevented scurvy and ill health. Shetland spruce ale was said to "stimulate animal instincts" and give you twins. Alba is a triple style ale brewed to a traditional Highland recipe from Scots pine and spruce shoots pickled during early spring. Pure malted barley, is boiled with the young sprigs of pine for several hours then the fresh shoots of the spruce are added for a short infusion before fermentation.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-18-2001)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 586 | Reviews: 456 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by Rezzin:
Photo of Rezzin


3.05/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a deep reddish copper color that is quite clear. 1" off white head disappears really fast. I went to go check the bottle and when I came back - it was gone! No visible bubbles inside the glass.

S - The aroma is sweet with a licorice type aroma. A little piny and with a herbal aroma that I can't really describe. Sort of smells like a hopless barleywine.

T - First impression was candles. Ever been to a candle store? The taste is the aroma of a candle store if that makes sense. Definitely somewhat of a piny twang to it but surprisingly much less sweet that the aroma. There is just enough bitterness present to round things out but the flavor is just bizarre. Has somwhat of a herbal aftertaste.

M - Very smooth going in with a bitterness in the back. Leaves a dry feeling in my mouth.... but it's not too bad.

D - If you can get over the bizarre quality of this beer it's not half bad.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2006 23:56:08 | More by Rezzin
More User Reviews:
Photo of KrisDLSmith

Ontario (Canada)

3.5/5  rDev -7.2%

04-19-2014 17:28:22 | More by KrisDLSmith
Photo of DaveMiller


3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

04-13-2014 18:03:55 | More by DaveMiller
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3/5  rDev -20.4%

03-16-2014 15:15:13 | More by Fettpopps
Photo of scotorum


3.28/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bought an odd bottle of this in New Hampshire recently at a store which specializes in British import beers, among other things.

Poured from the 11.2 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams nonick.

a: Nearly clear dark gold with a finger thick head which dissipated to thin surface foam and patchy lacing.

s: Malt and alcohol.

t: Cough syrup-like medicinal with heavy alcohol presence. Mellowed out a bit but remained a bit grating, with no hint of pine or spruce flavor.

m: Medium, good body.

o: I'm going to assume I got a bad bottle, because mine was nothing like the last few reviews I have read here. I let three other people sample this as well, one said it tasted like rubbing alcohol, and I agreed. Another said it tasted like medicine, agree again. Very disappointing since I am half Scottish and really wanted this to be great. I realize it is an old timey recipe and that taste wasn't much of an issue in Viking days, but nowadays, it is, and this didn't have much to recommend it. Still, as is, I could imagine rough-hewn Vikings and Picts around a roaring bonfire on the north coast of Scotland in the ninth century, passing around a measure of this and having a high old time. But I'll try to find another bottle to revisit this.

Serving type: bottle

03-09-2014 04:39:53 | More by scotorum
Photo of JIMTRK16


4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

02-26-2014 23:35:56 | More by JIMTRK16
Photo of Emnmarko


3.96/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A- A rich copper/amber color and clear. One finger off with head fades quickly to a light halo with little to no lacing.

S- I'm getting a sweet plum smell. I would guess this to be a lager by nose alone.

T- A mild malty flavor comes through at first. Very interesting. Fruity and sweet. A little musty. The more I drink the better I like it. (may have started too cold, and gained flavor with temperature).

M- Smooth and clean. Light for 7.5% abv. Crisp. This beers best attribute.

O- As a hop head in search of the ultimate hop bomb with ibu's through the roof I found this brew from across the pond brewed without hops at all. Spruce and pine provide the bitterness to balance out the malt backbone. Very interesting and different. Check this out some thought went into it.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2014 01:52:28 | More by Emnmarko
Photo of JG_McNaulty

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev +6.1%

02-10-2014 00:28:26 | More by JG_McNaulty
Photo of benloho


4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

02-08-2014 14:41:36 | More by benloho
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Russian Federation

4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

02-07-2014 16:11:22 | More by Chemister
Photo of lesdemonsamaporte


3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

02-03-2014 17:47:22 | More by lesdemonsamaporte
Photo of RevCraig

Ontario (Canada)

3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

01-25-2014 20:46:05 | More by RevCraig
Photo of cambabeer


3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A reddish brown body with light carbonation and a thin white head. Nice Lace. Very sweet smell, earthy and fruity. Smells like pine needles and apples with alcohol and malt characteristics underneath. Very crisp burnt smell, caramelized. Says on the bottle to enjoy at room temperature so that's what I'm doing, bringing out some very deep flavors. The malt bitterness at the end balances out the fruity and sweet apple like beginning, with warming alcohol in the middle. Very bready. Medium bodied, fairly drinkable. a warming treat. Good for a winter afternoon.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2014 20:11:44 | More by cambabeer
Photo of schoolboy


3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

It seems that I had this once before, or else some other "ancient" Scottish herbed ale. That said, I don't know what this is supposed to look like. The best before date said Oct 2013, so I am a little disappointed that Saveon sold it to me, but I'm not sure that it has any issues - it may be that it is supposed to be like this.

I opened with an odd boozy smell, and poured badly, with a ton of sediment coming near the end (so I stopped and will have a small sediment glass later). The color and foam are OK. The aroma is sweet and grassy (herbed) with a little booziness thrown in.

The taste is slightly like a ginger beer - sweet and herbed. Unique and interesting. The finish keeps going with that and is VERY pleasant.

So I may have bought an old bottle, but I think it was pretty good.

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2014 17:17:28 | More by schoolboy
Photo of gwiedman1

New York

3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

01-05-2014 21:07:50 | More by gwiedman1
Photo of DenisKolkin

Ontario (Canada)

3.71/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle 3 of 4 from the Williams Brothers Multi-Pack. Served cold into a pint glass.

Appearance - Bright orange color, minimal head poured but some frothy leftover head lingers for a bit. A few bubbles float to the top in the beer.

Smell - Rather fruity with some caramel notes. The fruit smell is rather sweet like overripe berries.

Taste - Again a lot of sweet fruit, a blend of low hanging fruit and some hints of sweet tropical flavors as well. Slight bitter presence on the back end of the beer.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, very soft in the mouth, low carbonation. despite giving off a soft feel, the body is full.

Overall - Enjoyable beer, not something I would purchase regularly, but worth giving a try to. Not quite as good as the elderberry beer, but better than the heather beer in my mind.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2013 19:14:23 | More by DenisKolkin
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4/5  rDev +6.1%

12-15-2013 21:50:35 | More by Pog-Mo-Thoin
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North Carolina

3.5/5  rDev -7.2%

12-10-2013 17:19:53 | More by AngusOg
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2.75/5  rDev -27.1%

12-09-2013 17:49:22 | More by ygtbsm94
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3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

12-07-2013 21:38:59 | More by BillRoth
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Ontario (Canada)

4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

12-04-2013 12:18:30 | More by nullbort
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5/5  rDev +32.6%

12-03-2013 00:26:45 | More by NatsnSkinsDC
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3.5/5  rDev -7.2%

12-02-2013 18:49:54 | More by Travcofarms
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Russian Federation

3.5/5  rDev -7.2%

11-24-2013 18:04:26 | More by Vsarmatov
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United Kingdom (England)

3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

11-23-2013 12:15:29 | More by mizx
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Alba Scots Pine Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 586 ratings.