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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

619 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 619
Reviews: 461
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: 619 | Reviews: 461 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

What this brew lacks in appearance it makes up for in aroma. The hazy iced tea look is poor with nary a head to be coaxed on a rough pour. No lace whatsoever. But what a great nose as the notes of alcohol, malts and pine scents fill the air.

The flavor is all about the herbal/piney scents mixed into the heavy malt base. Alcohol is also obvious and barely masked by the sweet-leaning malt core; this is one very heavy and full ale that is very unusual for the blend of tastes. Limited drinkability for obvious reasons.

AtLagerHeads, Nov 04, 2003
Photo of shippos
3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured with a hazy honey-orangy color and a skim of white head.
sweet malty aroma with a piney/resiny almost oily hint in the background. somewhat malty sweet body but not overly sweet, the pine and wood contribute nicely to balance off some of malt. kind of a syrupy mouthfeel with hints of a peppery alcohol and a slightly drying quality in the aftertaste. the 7.5% is very, very well hidden even in the aroma. I have to agree with another BA on the fact the wood/pine flavors do vary from bottle to bottle as I had this before and remember it having a more pronouned pine flavor. still one of my favoite beers though.

shippos, Oct 31, 2003
Photo of Naerhu
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No head on an clear amber body.

Soft pastry and medicine aroma.

Pine and pastry flavor. Hard to believe that this beer has over 5% alcohol. Pine is not over-powering, but pleasant and spicy. The after taste builds as you drink and is preventing this from getting a higher score on taste.

I expected this to be a novelty beer, but this a good beer. I would not mind having this on a regular basis.

Naerhu, Oct 28, 2003
Photo of putnam
4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Malt, malt, malt, malt, malt!
That's what it smells like. I get no "pine" on the nose at all. Where it does appear is on the palate, especially on the finish, where the tannic, bitter structural core unwinds briefly to reveal a bit of fresh and dried sticky sap.
Silky-textured, flavors of nuts, molasses and tea melt across the palate in time to allow a spicy, smoky bitterness to keep focus and clarity.
This is really brilliant beer. I'm not sure why I didn't start on these earlier. Fans of Ommegang, Aventinus, Moretti La Rosa, Traquair House, etc.: try this!

putnam, Oct 27, 2003
Photo of jdhilt
3.35/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with no head so no lace. A cloudy reddish brown color. Nose is malty and a hint of pine, I was expecting more. Starts smooth and slightly malty, finishes with malt and a slight alcohol overtone. Light carbonation. Light to medium bodied. $2.35 for 330ml.

jdhilt, Oct 24, 2003
Photo of Elemental
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good appearance that is dark and malty looking with very little head at all. Nice piny and sweet smell with hints of other armoas that I can't quite place. Good taste that is sweet and has lots of body. Kind of bitter with a hints of spruce. Very different yet not so different that it takes time to get used to. Pretty good and worth cheking out if you are looking for something different to try.

Elemental, Sep 30, 2003
Photo of oberon
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a medium amber with a light orange tinge with a light head that leaves a little lacing,aroma is on the sweeter side witha light vinager-like background.Taste is malty and of apple cider with some light biscuit flavors in the background.A nice somewhat complex beer something different to try,pretty good.

oberon, Sep 27, 2003
Photo of Garin
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured it, at room temperature, into a big wine goblet as instructed. It fizzed and bubbled like pop, and left zero head. The colour is deep brown with ruby highlights and tons of suspended sediment.

Sweet cherry, cola, raspberry jam, and hints of pine on the nose.

Rich malty taste, lots of fruity tartness and some pepper spiciness and an warm alcohol finish. The barest suggestion of pine is in there somewhere, possibly -only- by the power of suggestion. This is a really interesting beer, I like it a lot.

The mouthfeel is soft and rich, with a fizzy kick. This is one hell of a cool beer. Try it if you can find it.

Garin, Aug 30, 2003
Photo of clvand0
3.35/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This beer pours a redish/brown color with a moderate head that falls off quickly and leaves a tiny bit of lace on the glass. The aroma is a little peppery, but the spruce and pine smell is the most apparent thing. The flavor was much the same as the aroma. Very woody - spruce and pine with a little malt and pepper. Very complex brew here. Decently smooth taste and fairly enjoyable.

clvand0, Aug 26, 2003
Photo of nomad
3.4/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a deep reddish color, like a dark cedar. Pretty much it for appearance... Smelled malty sweet with real Scottish ale character. Surprisingly not woody, more almost medicinal. Taste was very peppery, not overbearingly sweet like the nose. Had an interesting fruit flavor, like an actual red apple, more tart than sweet. I could taste the pine oil in the finish. Beyond all that, my bottle was pretty disappointing besides the taste.

nomad, Aug 11, 2003
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 11.2 fluid ounce (330ml) brown glass bottle. A very Scottish looking label, a tartan oval comprised of a variety of green shades has the word ‘Alba’ written vertically. Alba is the old word for Scotland. Labeled as ‘Scots Pine Ale’ (Pinus Alba) & 7.5%ABV.

Appearance: Brown with reddish tinges. Slightly turbid, or “murky” as the Scots may say. The head is off-white in color and soon breaks down to a thin broken covering but it laces well.

Nose: Hospital corridors laced with disinfectants, some sweet malts, caramel, strong spruce trees, coniferous forests, pine oils and black pepper. Hmmm, why does the odor remind me of the Monty Python Lumberjack sketch?

Taste: Awesome, beautifully crafted and well put together. This has an almost perfume feel at times that is balanced by a caramel sweetness, malts, black-pepper, thick pine oils & coniferous sprigs that all congeal together to create something rather special and pretty well-balanced considering its diverse complexities.

Mouthfeel: Above average. It hides its 7.5% ABV extremely well.

Drinkability: I sipped and slowly savored this marvelous Ale, yet it still disappeared in record time. A specialist beer, rather unique, yet it drinks extremely well.

Overall: Fantastic when drunk chilled, even better when sampled at room temperature, when the flavors and pine-oils really get chance to develop and reveal all of their facets. One of the better beers from Heather Ales that I have tried to date. Absolutely Superb & Highly Recommended.

TheLongBeachBum, Jul 10, 2003
Photo of MJR
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark reddish amber with decent clarity. A foamy, tan head starts out well, then shrinks to a few lonely islands scattered across the top of the fluid.

Smell: The aroma is unique, with a bit of piney and medicinal notes balanced by a fruity and estery, toffee-like sweetness.

Taste: The flavor is quite rich, with a good dose of caramelized malt sitting atop spruce and piney, earthy flavors. I taste a bit of a medinical phenolic flavor, along with a bit of alcohol on the tail end. Finishes sweet and bready, but far from cloying.

Mouthfeel: The low level of carbonation helps to highlight it's full body and mouthfeel. Nice clean and dry finish.

Drinkability: Pretty good. While it has a bit of a gimmicky idea behind it, this is a solid brew. It's not overly complex, but quite simple in character, which makes it an easily quaffable beer.

MJR, Jul 05, 2003
Photo of beerguy101
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Medium reddish color, small head. Aroma is piney. Malty with near earthy undertones, piney resins, fruity (raspberry and blackberry?). Very complex flavors. Interesting flavors, somewhat wine like taste. Mouthfeel is full. Finish is smooth. Finish is slightly bitter. Interesting beer, definitely worth trying.

beerguy101, Jun 12, 2003
Photo of IronDjinn
3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Came in a brown 330ml bottle with the freshness date marked on the back. Pours out a murky reddish brown with a nice off-white head which soon just rings the glass. Small traces of lace. Nose is of an intense woodsy and earthy character, the spruce immediately calls one's attention. Flavour is mildly malty, very pine-ish, faint herbal hops, with a somewhat boozy mouthfeel and aftertaste. An interesting strong ale that I've always enjoyed sampling now and again, it definitely has character.

IronDjinn, Jun 05, 2003
Photo of purplehops
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Alba pours a hazy copper brown with an off-white head that left a small amount of lace on the glass. The aroma was a combination of medicinal herbs, alcohol, pine and cedar, and some fruit and juniper notes. Taste starts with a very earthy flavor that quickly incorporates flavors of caramel malt, alcohol, and evergreen flavors. The finish is a bit on the bitter side and dry with medicinal flavors blended with pine resin flavors competing with the sweet malt and alcohol flavors. The aftertaste is a lingering sweet pine flavored malt with some mild alcohol notes. Mouthfeel has a weak carbonation to it and a medium body.
Overall a very interesting beer. If I had read the above review I would say that this sounds like a horrible beer. It isn't! The more I sipped this beer the more it grew on me. Having more didn't change the above flavor and aroma profiles but it did change them from strange and off to intriguing and unusual. I look at the beer as another history beer in that it is a look at what beers were like before hops became the main bittering agent. Anyone who cares about the history and evolution of beer should sample this product. Drink at room temp!

purplehops, Jun 01, 2003
Photo of Brent
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After reading the bottle blurb about the beer being brewed with pine and spruce twigs, I was expecting the "chew on a pine tree" character like Anchor Our Special Ale (or at least that is what I love about it). I was surprised, and I guess a little disappointed, when the spruce made very little impression on me in this brew. If you blindfolded me and gave this to me as Belgian ale, I'd have started off on a better foot. But, once I got over not being felled by a pine tree, I did like this beer quite a bit. Quite malty with pleasant yeasty esters. Some herbal/woody flavors (not pine, however) rounded the beer out.

Brent, May 22, 2003
Photo of Bierman9
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Alba has a best-by date of Oct 03. Poured a clear, medium color (until the sediment in the bottle was swirled in at the finish), yet the head was practically nonexistent; just a fine, white ring of bubbles around the rim. No lacing, either. Nose was semi-sweet and malty, with the sprucy/piney notes expected. The body was in the medium range, and the small amount of carbonation made for a clean, smooth feel on the tongue. The flavor had a bit of caramel, along with malty sweetness. A floral, slightly hop-like finish must be attributed to the pine/spruce used in brewing. I'm assuming here, since this is my first bier consumed brewed in this manner. The 7.5% abv is well hidden, also. Skol!!

overall: 3.9
appearance: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4


Bierman9, May 15, 2003
Photo of UncleJimbo
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cask conditioned. 6.0% abv.

This ale poured from the cask a clear, coppery color with no foam to speak of. The smell was malty with a hint of fruitiness and a trace of hops and perhaps a faint trace of pine. The taste was well balanced between malt and hops. The pine was barely noticeable in the background, but there was an earthy, herbal note to the taste. The mouthfeel was very smooth and clean. The body was medium with very low carbonation. There was a very pleasant malty aftertaste (with perhaps a hint of hops and pine). The drinkability was good. This would be a good session beer.

UncleJimbo, May 04, 2003
Photo of GreenCard
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: light brown to copper in color, off-white thin layer of head, reasonable clarity

Aroma: some diacetyl, dark and luscious caramel sweetness, slight woodiness, some fruity esters, a bit of pine-sap

Flavor: initial richly dark caramelly malt sweetness gives way to a seemingly hoppy bitterness, not much pine in the fore-flavor or mid-range (plays out more like traditional hop flavor/bitterness despite the fact that there are no hops added), slight smokiness, a very complex and balanced flavor progression which finishes on the sweet side

Mouthfeel: medium-full body, chewy, some astringency, low carbonation, slight alcohol warmth in the swallow

Drank this beer at about 50 deg F. The bottle states that it is best served at room temperature. I will certainly give that a try and will re-visit this evaluation at that point. But, all in all, this is an extremely pleasing and well-crafted beer. Also try their Fraoch Heather Ale.

GreenCard, Apr 16, 2003
Photo of Reidrover
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought in the slimline 11.2 oz brown bottle with the rather ugly, I am afraid, label :-). Says on the back this is a "triple style ale" intresting.
The beer certainlly looks very nice pours a small frothy off white head that goes fast but leaves reasonable lacing..the beer itself is a lovelly golden amber colour and is attractivlly hazy.
The aroma is very complex a mix of strong sweet malts..some pineyness and floral hops..
The taste is good also very smooth thers sweet malts to start then a pine bite followed by slight hops and ends up with a nice slightly warming alcohol flavour.
very smooth in the mouth..easy on the palate for this much alcohol.
A very drinkable ale..will try again..i have tried spruce flavoured beeer before this is slightly better.

Reidrover, Apr 04, 2003
Photo of goz
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours medium amber, with a big off-white head, minimal lacing. Lot's of tiny bubbled carbonation raced to the top. Aroma is of pine and spruce, very forest-like. Flavor is sweetly malty, then the pine and spruce come into play. Somehow I got some hints of chocolate and maybe banana, too. Medium body, lingering flavors.

goz, Mar 23, 2003
Photo of BeerBuilder
4.38/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Copper color with a tan head that disappears immediately. The aroma is spicy, peppery, woody, herbal and alcoholic. The flavors are of malt, herbs, and pine flavors. It is light-bodied, but strong with a resiny , and oily texture. This is definitely a complex brew. I was really surprised on this one, I will undoubtedly drink this one again.

BeerBuilder, Mar 19, 2003
Photo of ipogios
4.72/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried this beer thnx to MJR. This beer is one of the best i ever had (so far). Pours a pale yellow colour topped by a nice white head. The aroma is malty and fruity. The flavour is sweet, fruity and malty. Creamy mouthfeel. What is actually surprising is the fact that this beer goes down like water (even though the ABV is at 7.5%). In overall this beer has an excellent appearance, excellent aroma and taste, creamy mouthfeel and goes down easily.

ipogios, Mar 13, 2003
Photo of AudioGilz
3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I found the initial smell and taste to be rather enjoyably sweet. The alcohol warth is nice as well. Overall, I really enjoyed this beer. I randomly bought it off the shelf just off a wim and ended up very satisfied. I love when that happens. It's like putting one round into a joker poker slot machine and at least getting 4 of a kind. Of course most of the time, all u lose is money and a little urine. But sometimes u find nice beers like this one. I highly recommend it, and the first beer I ever drank warm. I really enjoy it warm, never thought that possible.

AudioGilz, Jan 18, 2003
Photo of JISurfer
4.58/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very nice Pine Ale. The best I've ever had. It's a nice pale yellow color w/ a white head. The head started out nice, but disappated quickly. Tastes like a pine nut, mixed with malt. Very light aftertaste, but still had left over tastes of pine. Finished lightly and went down smooth. All in all, a very good brew.

JISurfer, Jan 18, 2003
Alba Scots Pine Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 619 ratings.