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Alba Scots Pine Ale - Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Alba Scots Pine AleAlba Scots Pine Ale

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

609 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 609
Reviews: 459
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 14.55%
Wants: 21
Gots: 14 | FT: 0
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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Ratings: 609 | Reviews: 459 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Fugazme


3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep amber color with a good head. Stuck to the glass nicely.

Smell is malty and sweet with some big figs and alcohol. Pine is evident, but not in the forefront. On a second whiff I smelled honey and almonds.

It has a decent mouthfeel, but was water when at about 50 degrees. The bottle says to serve at room temp. so I'm leaving it be for now.

Taste is malty and sweet. Not as fruity as I expected, but I did detect some apricot and fig. Not as watery as it "warms" up.

The later drinks were sweeter than the first.

Overall a nice beer. Not something to drink more than one of in a night, however.

Serving type: bottle

09-10-2005 03:19:12 | More by Fugazme
Photo of Frozensoul327


3.28/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A very different beer. Simply made with Malted Barley Bree, Scots Pine and Spruce Sprigs. There's a combination for you. Poured out to a Dark Amber color with Medium Carbonation and a nice head. Lace was noted around the glass. Odors of spruce were present, as was an alcohol scent which was slightly sweet. Taste was consistant with the odor, and I must admit I thought this brew would be hideous, yet, it wasn't. The odd indgredients yielded a rather decent brew, yet didn't knock my socks off. Finished slightly thick, like a Wee Heavy. A different beer. Worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2005 03:24:11 | More by Frozensoul327
Photo of DrJay


3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Coppery amber colour with a thin layer of off-white foam and a bit of haziness. Malty caramel and fruit in the nose, medicinal and piney aroma as well. Fruity and malty to start, followed by herbal and pine flavours. Finishes with spicy alcohol and a bit of warmth. Body feels a little bit heavy due to low carbonation, but it's quite smooth. Slight grainy dryness. Though the alcohol is present, it's not the main attraction. Distinctive, easy drinking, and quite tasty.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2005 00:43:56 | More by DrJay
Photo of slitherySOB

Ontario (Canada)

2.42/5  rDev -36%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I forgot I had this. Bought it before Christmas in a set. Found it in my beer supply, and thought, what the hell. Pours an orange hazey colour, with very little head. Their seems to be little chunks of ice floating around. Which I know is impossible. This was served warm. Smells like a pine air freshener with herbs and malt. THeir is a big pine taste, but yet it's somehow bland. I'm not sure, but their is a definite lacking in this beer. Mouthfeel is a bit soft and subdued. I guess it's drinkable. But, it's just not my style. Too piney. Reminds me of a car air freshener.

Serving type: bottle

07-07-2005 00:16:52 | More by slitherySOB
Photo of mntlover


3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a red with brown hints small tanish cap, falls to a ring of bubbles that does leave some lace.

Aroma is sweet fruity pear, mango rock candy with pine needle hints.

Taste is malt lightly sweet mixed with candy sugars and fruit, more like figs and plums in the flavor though. Finish is sprucy pine needles resiny like pine sap not as tart though. Nice dry finish.

Mouthfeel is medium good malty body with a dry pine finish.

Drinkability is different not something I would drink alot of, but then again wouldn't mind trying it again.

Serving type: bottle

06-22-2005 18:31:58 | More by mntlover
Photo of cypressbob

United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)

4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle

Pours with a deep coppery amber body, some shades of mahogany. Small but sturdy and well retained tan head, smooth and creamy

Smell, fresh, some hint the forest, pine needles. Malty, sweet and esters

Taste, warming malty alcohol, silky. Earthy bitterness, almost winey in some respects. Some hint of pine again

Whoa, a real treat. This is a fantastic little sipper

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2005 21:25:09 | More by cypressbob
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

3/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a cloudy dark amber color ale with a medium head with minimal retention. Aroma is different then what I’m used to with some sweet beery-like notes and some pines is definitely identifiable. Taste is sweeter then expected with some pine flavour in the back. Generally a bit lighter then expected but still enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

05-20-2005 14:56:37 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of Brian700


4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice work by the Vikings. This one pours a reddish brown color with a light white head. The label calls this a triple style ale using sprigs of spruce and pine collected in May 1998. The aroma is awesome. I could definately smell the piney aroma and it was excellent. The taste follows. It was malty with just enough of that piney flavor to give you a really interesting and fun beer. Good mouthfeel and perfect carbonation for this type of a brew. I highly recommend it and I can't wait to try it again.

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2005 05:50:12 | More by Brian700
Photo of MrSeth


3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a gold-brown color with red highlights and a small white head. There's an alcoholic fruity malt aroma.. fresh strawberry. Good carbonation and clean mouthfeel, doesn't linger much. The flavor is somehwere between sweet blackberry and very ripe rasberry. There's also earthy pine tones with a tartness right at the end.

Serving type: bottle

04-25-2005 03:06:20 | More by MrSeth
Photo of BeerFink


4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle claims the spruce and pine were collected in May 1998...

Pours a hazy reddish amber with a white head. Strong aroma of pine sap and sweet malt. Taste is maltier than I would have thought, but it has a really great herbal, earthy quality to it. There is also a sweet, honey-like flavor in there. Finish is sweet, smooth malt, balanced by the slightly sharp spruce and pine sprigs. Very interesting ancient style of beer, the pine adds a complexity without being overpowering.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2005 18:48:24 | More by BeerFink
Photo of foamer


3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Best before June 2006

Label explains that the beer was a style brought to northern Europe by the Vikings. Interesting.

Pours a reddish chestnut brown. Off white bubbly head diminishes rather quickly. Not too much lacing, but that is to be expected from the abv. Sweet malts and a sprucey/piney/evengreeny smell. Rather interesting. Some alcohol there too. Very interesting taste. Almost like a tripel but with piney overtones. Very subtle though. Not much bitterness due to the lack of hops. This is rather nice beer. I'm liking these 'historic ales'. Quite tasty. Nice mouthfeel too. Minimal carbonation and a nice medium to heavy mouthfeel. Not something you'd make a session out of but definitely worth the try. This is up there with Fraoch on cask as tied for my favourite of the Heather Ale line.

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2005 20:24:56 | More by foamer
Photo of kmpitz2


3.55/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I've had this before, but its been a long time. Good before 8/05. This one pours a murky, dirty opaque brown color with little more than a ring of foan around the top. The nose is slightly fruity and light molasses. Its mostly sweet, without much in the way of the pine. The flavor is interesting. I can definately pick the pine, but it is more woody than Christmas tree, fake pine as I had expected. The malts are very fruity, apple and apricot, almost candy-like. There is just a tinge of bitter upon swallowing the brew, but it really fades fast. The feel is moderate with a rather small carbonation. This is okay. I'm not really sure what it is supposed to be like, as this style is not one I encounter much. I don't think I will be getting it again, but it is definately interesting.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2005 23:22:23 | More by kmpitz2
Photo of orbitalr0x


3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I've been sitting on this one in the cellar for a bit..."brewed using sprigs of spruce and pine collected in May 1998." Pours from the slim 11.2oz bottle a light brownish, slighty red with tons of floaties in suspension. A small bubbly white head on top....looks like some swamp water in the glass. A very interesting array of vanilla, wood, dark fruits (plum, raisins), bubblegum, bready, earthy yeast and hints of pine sap. There's a bit of crystal sugar sweetness as well. Nice nose.

First sip comes upfront with a fruity, yeasty, bready malt...hints of bubblegum and sweet cotton candy. The light arid fruitiness mixes with the earthy yeast tones well. I get a hint of pine on the way down but it is much more subdued than I expected. An interesting grape kool-aid flavor is in the mix as well. Quite a tasty brew overall with a complex melding of flavors on the palate.

Mouthfeel has a nice medium body with an arid creaminess...soft carbonation goes down nicely. This is an interesting brew that I plan on enjoying again...however one bottle in a sitting is enough...it's a bit too overwhelming for more. I look forward to trying more from Heather Ale as I love the way that they keep these styles alive!!

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2005 04:20:39 | More by orbitalr0x
Photo of blitheringidiot


3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

All hail the label and obey! “A cons. De pref avant fin:- 2005.” Well, a-hem…far be it from me to shake the tree… hear ye hear ya lads and lassies…

Murky amber orange whole hearted pour with gusto leading towards with some visible suspended particles flowing freely in the glass topped off with a thin smattering of beige head cap leaving some spotty lace.

Peculiar scents that require certain rumination. Vanilla and rummy scents. Also, yellow cake aroma pervades the nose. Reminiscent of oak barrel aged beers of late.

First swigs: Almond and cream. Deep melted vanilla ice cream soup. Butterscotch flavors, but distinctly not of the diacetyl type. Short clean aftertaste with patches of lingering mineral hints. Intriguing herbal flavors. Pecan nutty presence.

Thin to medium body with a slightly gullet warming thinning 7.5% ABV feel. Beware as this is a tongue coater, indeed! Delicate almost non-existing carbonation that lends to flat feel. Future curiosity may lead me to this again.

Last swigs: Oak and almonds. Exacting the label instructions, to drink at room temp in a wine goblet, this nothing short of trickery by the sip. This floats to and fro’ from an all wheat like brew to the pine brew that it is. Beguiling 7.5 % ABV (we goat a pipe-ah don…repeat…) that otherwise had me hoodwinked yet inspired to jump off of a tall ship to rape and pillage with a Hagar the Horrible costume in no time. Thanks to Orbitalr0x for the trade. To paraphrase the illimitable Clara Peller, “Whe-e-e-e-re’s the Pine?” Tasty!

Beer is good. Happy...uhhh...wood derived beering.

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2005 14:29:28 | More by blitheringidiot
Photo of Goldorak

Quebec (Canada)

3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Fouth and last of a gift-pack series of "historic ales from Scotland". This one was my favorite.

Appearance: Pale red and opaque, with only slightly more froathy lace than the other 3 I sampled (Froach, Grozet and Ebulum).

Smell: Smelled raspberry sweet, I didn't smell much pine at first, but it slowly crept up in the nose towards the end. Fresh, but not pine-sol, chemical fresh.

Taste: Really piney, with a little malty and berry sweetness, aftertaste was like homemade spruce beer but with a decent alcohol finish.

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2005 22:47:45 | More by Goldorak
Photo of RedBaron


2.3/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

The first words out of my mouth, and they were a knee-jerk reaction, were "Holy F$ck". Um, there isn't a rating system for 'way out there' but there should be for this beer.

Appearance: Dark orange. Nice, off-white head.
Smell: rustic, dusty, pine-y.
Taste: Nearly in-describable. Taste like the moors and the heath invaded this bottle.
Mouthfeel: Coagulated Viking blood.
Drinkability: What? I understand the bottle is trying to tell us that, at one time, the Scots flavored their beers with all sorts of objects (ships' masts, dead English soldiers, Mary Queen of Scots undergarments, etc.), but I'm REALLY struggling to get this one down. I normally looove Scottish beers, but I'm utterly befuddled by this one. Being of Scottish blood, I'm going to finish this f$cker, 'cause I paid for it, but I'll be damned if I ever drink it again. Could I have gotten a bad sample? I suppose, but the freshness date says good by April, 2006. Save the pine forests for your scenery guys, not your beer!

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2005 03:58:53 | More by RedBaron
Photo of deejaydan


3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A very, very interesting beer. Had it at Big T's in Lawton. Pours a deep red color. Smells slightly of pine. Taste is actually malt accentuated, then the pine hits you. I could tell after I, well, burped.. burping up pine isn't, well, fun. Mouthfeel is slightly thick on this one as well. An darned interesting beer, not my favorite, but well pulled off for a pine beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2005 22:23:00 | More by deejaydan
Photo of aquatonex

New York

3.38/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark reddish brown with minimal head and a little bit of lacing. Smells of malts, fruits, and some pine scent. Taste is heavy on the malts with fruity and pine notes, it reminds me of wintertime. There is hints of alcohol which I'd rather not have, but it was a unique blend of flavors nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2005 01:18:46 | More by aquatonex
Photo of swamiswamu


3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Orangish hue. Some head and some lacing
Smell- caramel malts, hints of pumpkin and basil?
Taste- Zero hops, this one is all malt. The rustic taste is dominated by malt with a herbal finish. All in all fairly pleasant.
Mouthfeel- This is great. Very cohesive round feel. Very much whole
Drinkability- easy drinking and smooth.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2005 00:24:27 | More by swamiswamu
Photo of Imbiber

New York

4.35/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle marked best before April 2005, obtained from Bierkraft, Brooklyn.

Hazy chestnut-hued, minimal head, lightly carbonated. Aroma is unusual and very pleasant: something akin to meadowland following a spring shower blended with a peatiness and cooked vine fruits. Smooth on the palate, lack of fizz makes for good drinkability; taste is malty and piney with some warming alcohol notes in evidence. Smooth, slightly chewy finish comparable to sampling certain doppelbocks.

Interesting and enjoyable with excellent drinkability potential (dangerously so!).

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2005 20:29:30 | More by Imbiber
Photo of GCBrewingCo

North Carolina

3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured hazy and chunky pale amber golden with a barely off white head that stood tall and fell extremely slowly to lace the glass.

The aroma was huge in diacetyl, anybody got some popcorn? After the head fell and the diacetyl was pushed out of the way a slight pine aroma emerged with a gentle maltiness and caramel.

The flavor was malty with a sweet caramel impression and a light pine flavor. The pine flavor and the sweetness also came with a berry flavor, sort of a raspberry.

The finish was just dry with lasting raspberry pine flavor. The body was medium and nicely appropriate.

11.2 ounce bottle. Best before Oct 2005. I have no idea why the pine flavor mixed with malt and fruitiness came across as raspberry, but it does. I liked this beer the first time I had it about 4 years ago and it still does not dissapoint. Not the highest scoring beer ever, but a nice change of pace.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2005 00:36:04 | More by GCBrewingCo
Photo of baiser


4.18/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber colour, slightly hazy, smallish cream coloured head, no retention or lacing. Aroma of caramel, pine needles, grass, medicine, sweet fruit. I really enjoyed the taste of this beer. Apples, diacetyl, an herbal taste. Earthy, and balanced by a nice bitterness and dryness. Mouthfeel is semi-thick and smooth. Extremely easy drinking. The best beer out of their sampler.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2005 00:58:20 | More by baiser
Photo of GuinnessSmurf


3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Festive orange/brown color with a rich, velvety head.

The nose is rather dull - I wasn't able to pick up any of the Pine or Spruce aromas as promised by the bottle description.

Taste is a complicated sweet that i couldn't quite place - mixed in are some nice roasted flavors, woody notes, orange peels and some burnt caramels. A really great flavored beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2005 17:14:38 | More by GuinnessSmurf
Photo of BDTyre

British Columbia (Canada)

4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pous a nice copper colour with a creamy white head that slowly dissipates to hug the sides of the glass. Smell is malt, traces of pine and chocolate brownies.

The taste is, surprisingly, as GClarkage says, chocolate brownies. Traces of pine, sort of like a pine tea, but the predominant taste (and aftertaste) is of fresh baked chocolate brownies.

Not too carbonated at all; sweet and chocolate, but not overpowering. Hints of evergreen. Overall, an incredibly satisfying beer.

(Note: drunk at room temperature. I tend to be not very fond of "warm" beer, but I heeded the recommendations of others and tried this at room temp and was very pleased.)

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2004 07:15:01 | More by BDTyre
Photo of HappyHourHero


4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Red licorice and yeast in the aroma along with a fairly strong metallic towards the end. Decent cream colored head is almost creamy, but is short on staying power fading quickly to an island of film. Hazy apple cider colored beer with a caramel hue. It's got that yeasty alcohol taste of a tripel, but there's a lot more going on. There's also a bit of the licorice, some pine that doesn't seem hoppy. Body is solid yet the beer is easy to drink. There's some carbonation in there that keeps the mouthfeel interesting. This is a weird beer, there's bunch of interesting stuff going on, and I like it!

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2004 02:57:04 | More by HappyHourHero
Alba Scots Pine Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 609 ratings.