Fraoch Heather Ale - Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,084 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,084
Reviews: 715
rAvg: 3.74
pDev: 13.1%
Wants: 51
Gots: 56 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Williams Brothers Brewing Company visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: purplehops on 10-06-1998

Brewed in Scotland since 2000 B.C. heather ale is probably the oldest style of ale still produced in the world. From an ancient Gaelic recipe for "leann fraoich" (heather ale) it has been revived and reintroduced to the Scottish culture. Into the boiling bree of malted barley, sweet gale and flowering heather are added, then after cooling slightly the hot ale is poured into a vat of fresh heather flowers where it infuses for an hour before being fermented.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,084 | Reviews: 715
Reviews by doerickson:
Photo of doerickson
3.25/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Golden coloring with a thick white head. Medium carbonation. Has a fruity, and believe it or not, a kind of beef stew/bouillon aroma as well. Has a flower-petaly flavor; herbal and spicy also. Has a tendency to dry the mouth out. Not bad, unique in its way; tastes well made, and it's drinkable for what it is, but it's not something I'd go back to with any frequency. Nice to taste something so different, though.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.66/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had heard about this ale,and saw it at the local specialty store.Was pleasantly suprised didnt like the smell but had a nice fresh flavor,never had a beer with that kinda flowery-like taste,best way I could describe it.

Photo of kaimcm
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

bottle poured into an imperial pint glass. first heather ale ive had, no idea what to expect. also have no idea what heather tastes like.

A: hazy, murky, dull, and dark honey color. tons of floaties, very little head, minimal stick. kinda looks like a green or similar tea with honey.

S: Vinous aromas but slightly sour, pretty herbaceous.

T: Very reminiscent of green tea, though the finish isnt as tannic and dry. Smooth with virtually no bitterness to be found. a touch of honey and spice. coating malt body.

M: light but refreshing, nice carbonation level.

D: an interesting and welcome change. Would pair well with more herbaceous foods.

had with some stilton and salami. the cheese was to rich and overpowering but the salami added a much appreciated spice to the beer.

Photo of SIRIUS2
4.17/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 11.2 oz. bottle into a chalice style glass.

A: Gold with an orange hue and a light haze. Head was thin and filmy with a nice ring of white. Little to no lacing.

S: Light herbal flower aroma as you might expect, but I also had hints of what smelled like honey, cinnamon and nutmeg.

T: An interesting array of herbs and spices in a mostly dry taste. Clearly some sort of light or pale malt with relatively low sweetness giving it an interesting though complex lightness. I thought I could taste the heather more than I could smell it, which isn't a bad thing, in fact makes it interesting to try to pick out the flavors. The whole thing sort of reminds me of a fermented herbal tea. Kinda cool.

M&D: The body & mouthfeel for this is rather light with a dry finish. The linger is nice with some herbal bittering. Carbonation is tricky too as it doesn't appear to be very carbonated but the abundance of small bubbles seems to work well with the dry finish, accentuating it. This is a very different sort of brew but I really think I like it and would definitely have it again.

Photo of JasonA
3.21/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks again babe for another wonderful xmas present.

Pours golden dark almost transparent brew. Im seeing little carbonation, no head. Cant even rate lacing here.

Something amazing sweet, yet aromatic. Must be a spice, but I wouldnt know where to begin. Taste will give me more, but with the no carbonation and sweet smell it would make me think a fermentation and bottle condition gone bad. Ill tell you though, that spice smell is wonderful. Im also getting butterscotch, which I forget is which yeast by product.

Nothing like the smell. Some bitter, light hop character. Little piney citrus. Sweet is there, though lots of light malt.

The carb is there thankfully, though the body is extremely light. Little body, like a pilsner, almost straw-ish. Hope its not corn.

While I find the style interesting, the delivery of the beer can only be rated as average. The best part being the interesting spice smell.

Not sure I would go back to this. It does have scottish appeal, but Im sure there are better offerrings available.

Photo of warnerry
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Notes from 8/29/10; no freshness date

Pours golden brown with very little head. Initial pours yields a burst of carbonation on the sides of the glass.

Smell is slightly sweet malts with some floral aromas.

Again, mostly biscuity malt up front, but some nice slightly bitter notes on the finish. Pretty dry on the finish.

Bright and light mouthfeel, great for a hot summer night. Carbonation level is light to moderate and feels just right.

Very easily drinkable; the floral notes are not strong enough to reduce drinkability. Wouldn't want to have this every day, but a nice ale with an interesting story behind it.

Photo of Todd
3.97/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 330ml brown bottle with a very Celtic style label. "Brewed in Scotland Since 2000" is stated several times on the front and back. Best before Feb 2001 is clearly marked.

Appearance: Rich golden in colour with a thin white froth for a lace.

Smell: Floral, herbal, sweet and nectar-like.

Taste: A flash of thin, sweet pale malts up-front that quickly dries with a herbal (tea-like) flavour from the heather. Leaves a wonderful after-taste. This ale also warms in the belly, slightly.

Notes: For its uniqueness, we highly recommend this ale. As a beer, it is remarkable, extremely drinkable and refreshing. "Fraoch" is Gaelic for Heather. This is one of the oldest ale styles brewed in history (from heather flowers and Scottish malt).

Photo of shapudding
2.68/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Light and clear golden with a small amount of creamy white bubbly head that reduced down quickly to the sit in the edges only. Scents of apple cider, clean and fresh, white grapes, maltines...

Surprising taste, you expect sweetness after the scent, but there is none. Maltiness, very dry on your tongue -but it leaves your mouth wet...

Im not overwhelmed by this one. There is just something in the flavor that I just can't place that turns me off. Maybe it is the heather flowers, don't know.

Photo of generallee
4.06/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 11.2oz or 330ml bottle into a pint glass. The back label has a very clear best before date (month and year) notched out. The date notched was Feb. 2010 and it was sampled on 6-10-09.

Appearance: It has a golden honey colored body with a lightly hazy appearance. There is not much of head, just a small light foamy covering that fades out to nothing quickly. There is no lacing to mention at all.

Smell: The aroma has an interesting full floral bouquet with some honey like sweetness, some light grain notes and fresh salty sea air.

Taste/Mouth: There is an odd dry grain with a hint of mineral flavor like sea air and a solid floral character throughout. Underneath there are some sweeter malt, honey and buttery notes that mix with the floral heather notes. The floral notes build up to the finish and add a pleasant bitterness and dryness to it. The palate is slick and smooth with light carbonation and a light to medium body.

Notes: This is a very interesting flavored beer with a very interesting history to the style of the beer.

Photo of Jason
4.12/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Slightly hazed with a thin white lace. Nice use of the heather, perhaps a bit over carbonated for my liking. The sweet heather flavour plays well of the dry malt character.

Photo of merlin48
3.6/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an almost clear, orange amber color, with a short-lived white head that leaves a delicate ring of lacing. Nose has a floral bouquet with sweet malts in the background. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, crisp, and refreshing. Taste is, not surprisingly, unusual but quite pleasant. The heather bitters the toffee/caramel malt characters very well, resulting in a nicely balanced and very drinkable ale. If this is what the Scots drank 2,000 years ago, then they drank quite well.

Photo of tigg924
4.24/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: murky orange yellow low carbonation and no head

Smell: sour fruit, earth, pepper, and lavender notes

Taste: pepper, lavender, and some wood in the finish

Mouthfeel: crisp and dry with a small sweet spot

Drinkability: I could have a six but this is an aquired taste. This is my favorite in the Scottish ales pack I have. This does have pronounced lavender notes as well as some other florals--and I like lavender so it is a plus.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tall lager glass. Looks like honey - golden yellow and slightly opaque. A thin white head survives throughout - excellent retention.

Nose is floral and sweet, very pleasant. Notes of heather, berry and honey.

Initially sweet with notes of heather and honey, but finishes with a malty, peaty bite. Very satisfying. A touch of grassiness and apple to the finish as well. Interesting to taste a brew without any hop character...

Medium body, lower carbonation. Similar mouthfeel to a barleywine.

A great brew; unique and enjoyable. I can certainly detect a uniquely Scottish character to Fraoch. Although it will likely be a while, I'm looking forward to having it again. A must try!

Photo of Swedes21
3.15/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

341 ml served in a chilled glass

Appearance - beer pours a cloudy amber colour with about one finger of head. The head is a nice fluffy white in appearance with several air pockets. Appears to be some decent lacing. The carbonation levels are hard to tell, but you can find small streams.

Smell - I found the smell to be very clean and direct. There are earthy tones that dominate this smell as well a slight hop base. You can pick up sweet hints, not 100% sure where they are generated from.

Taste - Like the smell, very clean and crisp taste to the beer. There earthy tones are picked up right away. There is not much aftertaste either, overall clean.

Mouthfeel - decent carbonation levels add to the grass/earthy tones. Not much different than the taste, just clean and straight forward.

Drinkability - Clean tasting crisp beer. There is not anything more to it so no point in going looking for it. Enjoyed it, good way to end my night.

Photo of RTEdmunds
3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A murky golden color, with a bubbly white head that dissipates after a few moments.

A bouquet of floral and herbal notes, with some underlying citrus fruit. Smells yeasty and sweet.

Initially tastes a bit like tea, followed by some rosemary sweetness. The herb/spice profile is by no means overpowering; it's present but doesn't kick you in the face.

Well carbonated, and has a pleasant dry finish. Clean and refreshing, little aftertaste.

This was my first encounter with this style. Very intriguing if you're in the mood.

Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 500ml bottle with a BB of Feb 2011, so it's a few weeks out of date. I bought this on a visit to Edinburgh way back in September 2009 - I've been cellaring it among my stash ever since. Thought it was about time to sample the goods. The concept of recreating a 'historic' beer is an interesting one, and I enjoy trying brews that contain unusual ingredients.

Poured into a Stella chalice. A hazy golden colour with fine carbonation. Looks like it contains live yeast, although the label doesn't mention this. Produces a small head of white foam that lasts for several minutes before collapsing to a thin surface layer. Aroma of light grainy malt with sweet floral notes and hints of honey and herbs. Subtle, and different from your usual ale.

A flavour of light malt underpinned by a floral sweetness. Mild herbal and spicy notes. No bitterness, but quite a dry finish. Mouthfeel is smooth with mild tingling from the CO2. Leaves the palate slightly dry, accompanied by a faint herbal aftertaste.

A good ale with some interesting flavours. It's surprisingly muted - anyone expecting an in your face experience will be disappointed. A worthy resurrection of an ancient style, and well worth sampling if you come across it.

Photo of chickenm
3.62/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a copper orange color with a white head that doesn't last long. Sweet flowery aroma with spices. Fruity, herbal flavor, gets better as it warms up. Medium-light body, with a lingering sweet finish. I can only drink so much of this but it's a very interesting and different beer.

Photo of niknar
4.09/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a light golden color with some copper accents. A small to moderate head developed, then quickly dissipated to a foamy collar. Smell is quite unique. It smells spiced and floral with some faintly nutty characteristics... quite intriguing. Taste is certainly above average. Very complex flavors of herbs, spices, and malt. Finishes somewhat dry, though not as dry as wine (as the bottle compares itself to). Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with fairly low carbonation. I think this is a highly drinkable beer, but probably not for a macro-drinker's first experience into "good" beer. This one is a little more complex and reserved in my opinion.

Photo of skineg
3.2/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Misty Amber color with a few bits of wheat floating around. Small head that disappears fast.

Smell: One word: flowery.

Taste: Surprisingly weak. I was expecting a little more boldness from a Heather Ale. Smooth and well rounded with only a hint of floral. Once your hit with the floral flavor, it fades away quickly and leaves little to no aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, lite and flat.

Drinkability: Very drinkable, easy on the palate and not filling.

Comment: I have to hand it to the marketing department of Heather Ale Ltd because they make one hell of a package. It made me buy a four pack of their product. Not a bad beer, just nothing too special.

Photo of ADR
3.92/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Best before date of Dec. 2001. Real interesting old recipe -- heather flowers replace (or supplement) the hops. Hazy brown with darker than usual sediment. Small head that stays around for a minute. Musty, winey aroma, a little clove maybe. Impressive mouthfeel, a little spiced banana and apple-like flavor. Interesting flavor with residual yeasty/fruity/flowery impression. The smell works well with the taste on a deep drink. Beer is a little on the sticky side, though. Are heather flowers related to hops?

Photo of WVbeergeek
2.9/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appears a pale copper hue with a bright white head forming thick, fine speckled lacing left behind on the sides of my chalice. Aroma spicy herbal, floral notes upfront with the heather additions, sweet caramel malt base with minimal to no hops. I'm pretty sure most of their brews are ancient gruit ales. Also in the nose is a strong honey like note from the malt profile, I know there's no actual honey but I'm getting a light generic fruitiness with a strong presence of rich honey. Flavor is spicy with a long dry finish, upfront light fruit a touch of honey and caramel malts dance around with floral/spicy heather and floral additions. Mouthfeel is lighter bodied with a mellow carbonation level, actually is pretty unremarkable. Overall a beer that just doesn't excite definitely not worth it for a ten dollar four pack thus far.

Photo of chinchill
3.77/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle dated “best before” April 2012. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a dark golden-yellow with a smallish off-white head. Head dies back to a ring and partial coat within a few minutes but leaves some lacing. There’s a small amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottle; I added this mid-taste, producing a slight amplification of the fine flavor.

For once, the description on the label of this beer’s sensory properties seem on target. It "has a distinctive floral aroma” and a “dry wine-like finish”. Malt is clearly evident in both aroma and taste, but not quite as rich or pronounced as the “full malt character” on the label might lead one to expect. Floral throughout, including the aftertaste, this beer leans towards sweet, which seems in keeping with the floral flavor profile. Still, it smells sweeter than it tastes. The rather light and dry mouthfeel also work integrate nicely to produce a very refined and distinctive sensory experience from an ancient ale.

Photo of OStrungT
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a pale, clear yellow color, with a thin, white head. The head fades slowly, leaving many laces.

This beer has a spicy aroma. It has a slight floral aroma to it. Some biscuit notes are present also. It is slightly grassy.

This beer tastes exactly like it smells. Spicy upfront, with some grassy and floral hop flavors. It has a slight biscuity malt flavor. I have never had any heather, but I can assume that this beer has a slight heather flavor also. It is rather sweet.

This beer goes down smooth, leaving a floral aftertaste. It is less carbonated than I expected.

This beer would probably make a good session beer. It dosent taste bad, or overbearing, and it is not high in alcohol.

Overall: I thought this beer was decent, but nothing I am interested in buying again.

Photo of Shovelbum
3.82/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a thin white head over a translucent copper body. Aroma of light caramel malt. The caramel malt comprises a good portion of the flavor as well, and contributes a nice sweetness. It is joined by notes of earth and floral herbs that I can only guess is the heather having never tasted or smelled heather before. It quite pleasant and not over the top. There is a mild balancing bitterness that must also be the result of the heather, since I don’t believe there were any hops used in this ancient ale. Medium bodied, low carbonation. Initially quite crisp in the mouth, becomes smooth and finished slightly dry.

This ale is not just of interest to antiquarians, as it can hold its own as a tasty brew whatever millennium it is. Well-balanced despite its lack of hops and a nice change of pace. The Pictish label art kicks arse too!

Photo of Kingdom4aPint
3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Standard pint glass applied...

Pours a cloudy, goldy-orange with minimal head. Minimal lacing as well. Floral aroma with honey mixed in. Honey appears to provide the primary is very interesting and different from anything I've had so far. Quite good in its uniqueness. Mouthfeel is solid, balanced, medium light with a touch of sticky sweetness. One is very drinkable, however I don't see going beyond a couple as while it is unique it doesn't fit my personal preference for beer. I do recommend trying it since it is a supposedly ancient type of beer and therefore worth experiencing.

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Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 1,084 ratings.