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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.
BA SCORE
85
very good

615 Ratings
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 615
Reviews: 460
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 14.55%
Wants: 22
Gots: 15 | 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: 615 | Reviews: 460 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jdhilt
jdhilt

New Hampshire

3.35/5  rDev -11.4%

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.

10-24-2003 22:20:56 | More by jdhilt
Photo of Elemental
Elemental

Oregon

3.88/5  rDev +2.6%

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.

09-30-2003 02:26:43 | More by Elemental
Photo of oberon
oberon

North Carolina

3.58/5  rDev -5.3%

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.

09-27-2003 22:40:07 | More by oberon
Photo of Garin
Garin

Alberta (Canada)

4.05/5  rDev +7.1%

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.

08-30-2003 04:32:25 | More by Garin
Photo of clvand0
clvand0

Kentucky

3.35/5  rDev -11.4%

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.

08-26-2003 12:39:44 | More by clvand0
Photo of nomad
nomad

Kansas

3.4/5  rDev -10.1%

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.

08-11-2003 21:36:53 | More by nomad
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
TheLongBeachBum

California

4.2/5  rDev +11.1%

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.

07-09-2003 23:05:17 | More by TheLongBeachBum
Photo of MJR
MJR

Missouri

3.98/5  rDev +5.3%

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.

07-05-2003 20:46:19 | More by MJR
Photo of beerguy101
beerguy101

California

4/5  rDev +5.8%

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.

06-12-2003 19:07:14 | More by beerguy101
Photo of IronDjinn
IronDjinn

Alberta (Canada)

3.93/5  rDev +4%

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.

06-05-2003 20:25:58 | More by IronDjinn
Photo of purplehops
purplehops

Maine

3.53/5  rDev -6.6%

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!

06-01-2003 19:23:26 | More by purplehops
Photo of Brent
Brent

Kentucky

4/5  rDev +5.8%

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.

05-22-2003 19:22:39 | More by Brent
Photo of Bierman9
Bierman9

New Hampshire

3.98/5  rDev +5.3%

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

545

05-15-2003 13:48:53 | More by Bierman9
Photo of UncleJimbo
UncleJimbo

Massachusetts

4.03/5  rDev +6.6%

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.

05-04-2003 11:07:30 | More by UncleJimbo
Photo of GreenCard
GreenCard

Oregon

3.95/5  rDev +4.5%

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.

04-16-2003 11:06:29 | More by GreenCard
Photo of Reidrover
Reidrover

Oregon

4.2/5  rDev +11.1%

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.

04-04-2003 22:49:17 | More by Reidrover
Photo of goz
goz

Massachusetts

3.9/5  rDev +3.2%

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.

03-23-2003 15:38:02 | More by goz
Photo of BeerBuilder
BeerBuilder

Minnesota

4.38/5  rDev +15.9%

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.

03-19-2003 05:31:44 | More by BeerBuilder
Photo of ipogios
ipogios

Cyprus

4.72/5  rDev +24.9%

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.

03-13-2003 12:19:55 | More by ipogios
Photo of AudioGilz
AudioGilz

Pennsylvania

3.7/5  rDev -2.1%

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.

01-18-2003 22:45:44 | More by AudioGilz
Photo of JISurfer
JISurfer

South Carolina

4.58/5  rDev +21.2%

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.

01-18-2003 22:00:26 | More by JISurfer
Photo of bog
bog

New York

4.2/5  rDev +11.1%

This ale poured very nicely into a wine goblet with a fair amount of head, but the head does not last. The smell is sweet entwined with alcohol and pine tar, though I may be imagining the pine tar. It tastes mainly of malts with an oaky flavor. It finishes with a spicy/herbal pine-like taste which lasts a bit longer than most. The alcohol is hidden very well. While not usually as important to me, the mouthfeel is unlike any other beer I have had. It is extraordinarily smooth and pleasant. I'd definitely recommend this beer for those who are looking for something a little different.

01-18-2003 17:16:04 | More by bog
Photo of hyuga
hyuga

North Carolina

4.2/5  rDev +11.1%

A clouded orange-amber brew with a dense off-white head, quite beautiful, but unfortunately it settles quickly. Very interesting aroma, sweet and sour. Less pine than I expected, but still very tree-like. A bit of caramel sweetness in the malt department. Quite nice. On the palate, we have another interesting array of characteristics. Pine is more noticeable, spruce is also easy to pinpoint. Slight bitterness from the pine. These take over moreso than in the nose, but the malt character is still big. Sweetness throughout and a bit of graininess. Wood character is big as well. Also a bit nutty. Alcohol is noticeable. The mouthfeel could be better if the head had stayed, but it's still nice. A great, unique ale! It's nice to be able to try something historic like this. I wonder if it's truly similar the ales of the past? If so, the old Scots must have been happy!

01-14-2003 18:20:30 | More by hyuga
Photo of DerKaiser
DerKaiser

California

3.83/5  rDev +1.3%

This is my first of the Heather Ales, and it's really quite an enjoyable beer. It's sort of a tawny, translucent amber with thin yet creamy head. The smell is really inviting: sugary, maple, and toffeeish.

The lable notes that this ale was brewed with sprigs of spruce and pine collected in 1998 (interesting). But the flavor isn't as arboreal is that seems to imply. There are certainly hints of piney spice, but these are well balance by a nice malty presence and fruity esters. The alcohol stays well hidden until the beer warms up. The finish trails off significantly with this one, leaving me wanting somewhat. But it's still a unique and well crafted beer that's worth a try.

01-13-2003 18:46:55 | More by DerKaiser
Photo of StevieW
StevieW

Florida

3.3/5  rDev -12.7%

11.2 oz bottle. Light green and yellow label. "ALBA" can't be missed down the center.
Cloudy dull copper color. Faint white head. No lacing to note. Smell was an odd combination pugent, strong, roasted rye bread smell. Some hot pine sol whiffs as well.
Taste was much the same. I'm not sure what a pine sprig tastes like, but there was definitly something out of the ordinary here. Kinda smells like iced tea with lemon. Very strong pugent, spicy hot taste. Almost like burnt rye toast. There is considerable malt presence to smooth things over. Aftertaste is oddly bitter, and lingers. This is surprising, due to the lack of hops. It's got to be the pine sprigs.
A interesting, odd beer, worth a try.

01-12-2003 17:49:34 | More by StevieW
Alba Scots Pine Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 615 ratings.