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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

616 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 616
Reviews: 460
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 14.55%
Wants: 22
Gots: 16 | 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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 616 | Reviews: 460 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

swamiswamu, Jan 09, 2005
Photo of Imbiber
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!).

Imbiber, Jan 06, 2005
Photo of GCBrewingCo
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.

GCBrewingCo, Jan 05, 2005
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.

baiser, Jan 04, 2005
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.

GuinnessSmurf, Jan 02, 2005
Photo of BDTyre
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.)

BDTyre, Dec 22, 2004
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!

HappyHourHero, Dec 17, 2004
Photo of GClarkage
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12/15/04- Purchased at Belltramo's Wine and Spirits in Menlo Park, CA

Presentation- 11.2 oz bottle with a best before October 2004 date. (Whoops). Poured into my Englander pint glass.

Appearance- A darker amber pour with a nice head and adequate lacing.

Smell- Definite woody hopped smell. I guess that is the pine. Also a bit medicinal. Maybe that is a touch of alcohol coming through in the pour.

Taste- Very different beer. It took me a while to determine if I even liked it. I tasted like dark chocolate brownies to me. Yeah, it sounds wierd, but that's what it tasted like. So, there is some definite sweetness going on, but at the same time some dark roasted kind of taste.

Mouthfeel- Low carbonated beer with a bit of chewy thickness.

Drinkability- A very different beer that was an experience to have. I will probably try it again just to have the experience again.

GClarkage, Dec 16, 2004
Photo of ADR
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clearish bright amber appearance with a flat but decent head that floats under 1/4 of an inch for a few minutes. Lace is minimal, some small strings of a mostly vertical nature. Estery aroma, clove, some cough syrup, slightly musky. Mouthfeel is very smooth and light, but it seems thicker because of low carbonation, giving a creamy texture. Sweet flavors, slightly metallic and piney early, but quickly giving way to blueberries with a chocolate topping and a unique maltiness that lasts into the aftertaste. As usual, another interesting rendition of a malt beverage from the brewers at Heather.

ADR, Dec 06, 2004
Photo of Citadel82
2.63/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I like this the least of their products.

Poured a clear cooper with a minimal white head despite working at it. No lace to speak of.

Aroma was of spruce, malt and damp earth and little else

Taste was salty with hits of what must be spruce and saccharine sweet malt with a long bitter spruce finish.

Mouth feel was rather flat, little or no carbonation after the pour.

Drinkability was marginal, a change pace or taste, Tonight it is not hitting me very receptive.

Citadel82, Dec 03, 2004
Photo of SeanChouffe
3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Amber/orange color. I tried to roust the head, but to no avail. Super low retention and a slippery lace. Light carbonation. Aroma is of caramel, malt and sugar and earthy. Taste is quite unusual. I had expected something like Scotch ale, but is more complex. The pine flavors create the bitterness to balance the sweet, with a lingering bite. Mouthfeel is medium boded and watery. Interesting style.

SeanChouffe, Dec 02, 2004
Photo of ybnorml
3.78/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A clean orange/amber beer with a small light brown head. There is a light fruity sweetness mixed with the malt aroma. The malty taste has an almost chewy caramel aspect to it. There is just a slight hint of licorice at the end followed by a nice comforting warmth. Nothing like drinking pine sap, as I thought it might. Surprizingly enjoyable.

ybnorml, Nov 25, 2004
Photo of Gagnonsux
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Deep amber colored with a little orange color thrown in. Hazy. Head is large and creamy; and off-white in color.

Smell- Malty with an aroma that I believe are esters. No pine smell noted by me.

Taste- Sip starts with a bite that I believe is the pine. Fruity ester taste encompasses my palette towards the middle. Finely balanced. Finish has lingering malt flavors. 7.5% ABV is barely perceptible, I can see accidently getting drunk on this happening easily.

M.F./Drinkability- I like drinking this, its very good, too bad their Ebulum was such a hard act to follow. Ester tastes aren't my favorite anyway. Despite that, this has my full recommendation.

Gagnonsux, Nov 23, 2004
Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Im fascinated by unhopped beers, in fact this is the only one Ive tried, oh yeah this and Labatt Blue.

It pours a hazy gold color with a big billowy head with good staying power. Trails of moderate lacing are left behind. The aroma is of Pine and spruce sap , with some spicey notes. The taste is quit strong with pine flavors. Theres euculyptus, earthy, terpentine, and sap notes detectable. Malt flavors are evident and quite sweet. The alcohol is well concealed by the strong pine flavors. Theres a very herbaceous mouthfeel with plenty of carbonation. The finish has a distinct medicinal feel, somewhat challenging this beer's drinkbability.

Overall this is a very interesting ale to try, not only because of the lack of hops, but for the interesting flavors a tonne of pine and spruce sprigs impart. I recommend sampling this unique brew.

CAMRAhardliner, Nov 14, 2004
Photo of xgrigorix
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brown 33cl bottle. Best by date notched on label.

Glowing deep orange colour. Dense & tight off white head.

Refreshing oily pine / woody aromas.

Slick, hint of peppermint underlying. General fruitiness, with plenty of earthy flavour all around. Relaxed pine flavour. Medium bodied, moderate carbonation. Quite unique & refreshing.

xgrigorix, Nov 03, 2004
Photo of silenius
2.7/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Not much to say about this one. It pours a coppery color with a decent, but light head.

The smell is piney at first then takes on a kind of sweet oxidized caramel smell.

Taste is unbalanced. Sweet malt is not offset by anything at all, so the beer becomes kind of cloying after half a bottle.

The carbonation and mouthfeel were good, however.

This novelty is nice to try to experience, but I won't be buying any more.

silenius, Oct 21, 2004
Photo of diamonddave
2.75/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Picked this up just out of curiosity. Two bucks for one of those just-short-of-12 oz. bottles. Seems kinda weird- I mean, if you like the taste of pine needles couldn't you just chew on tree branches or something? But what the hell, I'll try it.

Smells heavily fruity and syrupy. I don't detect any pine in the nose.

Tastes like figs or something, with a bit of malt and a slight alcohol bite in the finish. Again, nothing that makes me feel like I'm traipsing through a Scottish forest. I've never actually tasted pine needles, though, so I guess I don't know how to identify the taste. Perhaps I should run out to the backyard and grab a handful for comparison... okay, maybe not. There's a little bit of strange bitter aftertaste, so maybe that's where the pine and spruce come in.

Well, my curiosity has been satisfied. This isn't bad or anything, but I wouldn't buy another one. However, if you've ever wondered what kind of beer you'd drink if you were an herbivorous rodent, you might wanna check this one out.

diamonddave, Sep 30, 2004
Photo of StuFox
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was definitely the first beer like this I've ever had. The smell stays true to it's name as pine needles come through clearly in the nose. The flavor is sweet, mostly forals, fruits, and some hops. But there is another strong flavor and smell with this beer, and that's acetone. As someone who works in a lab will agree, the smell of acetone is very distinct and easly recognizable. I'm not saying there's acetone in the beer, because I'm pretty sure lawyers would consider that poisoning people. All I'm saying is that is smells and tastes very similarly. This isn't bad, I like the beer and will certainly drink it again soon, it's just an odd footnote.

StuFox, Sep 30, 2004
Photo of mschofield
2.9/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a dark leathery brown, with just a thin light tan foam, no lacing.
Pine aroma, berries, jelly and cherry in the sweet aroma.
Pine and fruit juice taste, jelly, tea, berries.
Medium - full bodied, interesting but the sweetness gets cloying and tiring.

mschofield, Sep 20, 2004
Photo of rousee
4.33/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky dark tan cigar - like woody color. Forms 1 finger cap immediately and holds very well, at least for a minute or so. I had shaken the bottle beforehand as recommended by the guy in the store who said it would have the nutty taste I like. It fades to a slight whisp of foam within another minute or so. Decent lace for an ancient style brew.

Nose is incredible. Clean and woody,yeasty,nutty, and malty and pine too -just what I like. Slight salty neutral scent also.

Taste is nutty,yeasty and fresh --it really has the evergreen characteristics of spruce and pine. Slightly spicy and finishes with a very pleasant sticky sappy feel. Nice effect on the lips which makes the mouthfeel exceptional. I am liking this one more and more as I taste it. There are some fruit essences there but I can't quite place them because the pine is pretty strong. I still love it though. The pine is not overpowering.

It does affect the drinkability a little --1 of these is enough.

rousee, Sep 04, 2004
Photo of malthead
4.45/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I served this one slightly chilled in a Duvel tulip. Deep amber/brown color, with a nice off-white head, big at first but at least some of it lasted throughout. Has a spruce aroma, yes, but I'd say earthy, woody (malty) smells were more prominant - very nicely balanced, with other notes of almost a raspberry and milk chocolate nature, and maybe some toffee... Taste is correspondingly interesting, there's a rich oaky character, caramel and maybe some pine smoke? wood make sense, if you'll forgive the pun... really quite nice, with some good bitterness, a sweet caramel backbone, and an elderberry? aftertaste. I love the mouthfeel, low but acceptable carbonation and a nice, coating feeling without being too thick. Great drinkability, yes it's meant to be sipped slowly, but I had to force myself to prolong the tasting, I could go through quite a few of these. While certainly not overpowering in any way, the pine notes are more mellowed than most hops and provide more interesting flavors - I'm a huge fan.

malthead, Aug 29, 2004
Photo of pezoids
4.5/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I’ve been waiting to try this beer with a good amount of anticipation. Seems like a classic of the beer world. After the pour and first sip, I realized that I wasn’t going to be disappointed. It poured beautifully bright and was an orangey-amber color. A thin and filmy head topped the beer off and left an attractive lace on the glass. There was small bits of pine sprigs floating around the beer. The body was lucid and glowing.

The aroma is sweet, malty and piney with hints of orange rind. There’s touches of cough syrup stickiness and bubblegum.

The taste is resinous with piney sweet malts and an earthy bitterness. The flavors seem to be balanced to perfection. Surprisingly, the piney character is not overwhelming, but rather felicitous in this beer. A resinous and gritty tang is left on the tongue as the rest of the beer sticks to your sides. This is like a medium malted Scotch Ale that has been infused with fresh pine needles. Overall, beautifully done and a unique beer of high quality.

pezoids, Aug 23, 2004
Photo of inebrius
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Man, I'd love to write a bunch of sentimental hooey about boyhood hikes through the evergreen forests of Northern Michigan and the like but damn this beer just screams vanilla cupcakes. Not the convenience store packaged junk that has an expiration date past your life expectancy, but those really good ones loaded with fat white towers of buttercream frosting and chunks of candied fruit. My god this is sweet stuff, it curls your tongue with heavy syrup left over from a tin of fruit cocktail. Don't get me wrong, eh. The spruce buds are in there, no doubt, but don't expect them to come jumping on your face, no, you'll have to find them as the beer warms and the volatiles build up in the glass. Just like the Fraoch, I like it but will probably never drink it again.

inebrius, Aug 15, 2004
Photo of SheepNutz
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a medium brown color with half a finger of head. There is minimal lacing. The smell is malty and sweet, with some spices and pine needles. The taste is sweet at first, with honey and toffee. Then the pine really really comes through. It's almost overpowering. The body is fairly heavy and strong. The drinkability lacks a little. A weird beer indeed!

SheepNutz, Aug 14, 2004
Photo of yeagerbm
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance isa reddish hue with a light brown frothy head.
Smell is complex with a piney herbal aroma and sweet malt in the nose.
Taste is complex with a rich malty, fruity sweetness balanced by and obvious evergreen flavors. Very earthy tasting and very aromatic. This one may appeal to the hop head for its aromatic qualities or the fan of triples or other malty ales for its rich flavor.
I found this beer to be very drinkable for something so unusual. I would definately recommend trying this one out for a good switch from other familiar styles.

yeagerbm, Aug 05, 2004
Alba Scots Pine Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 616 ratings.