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Fraoch Heather Ale - Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

1,005 Ratings
THE BROS
91
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,005
Reviews: 692
rAvg: 3.76
pDev: 13.03%
Wants: 44
Gots: 29 | 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:
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.

(Beer added by: purplehops on 10-06-1998)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,005 | Reviews: 692 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by salvo:
Photo of salvo
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pale yellow golden beer: it doesn't exactly look special.
S: Floral aroma and no hops: the smell differentiates the brew from others.
T: Smooth and not too sweet, the taste is complex with herbal and floral notes from the heather and biscuity earthy scottish malt filling the background.
M: A little thin, this is a light bodied ale.
D: Highly drinkable.

Perhaps I romanticize the historical/archeological aspects of the beer a bit, but I love the idea of resurrecting old & lost recipes. I drank this in Inverness and Edinburgh and Dundee, and was really thrilled to find it on the shelf locally. I was expecting gimmickry but this is a solid, drinkable summer ale. As much as I understand the meaty chewiness of Scotch Ale to make it through a long North Atlantic winter, Fraoch is a perfect beer to compliment a warm highland evening, or to imagine a highland evening on your porch.

salvo, Jun 16, 2010
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.7/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

oberon, Mar 01, 2002
Photo of beerhunter13
3/5  rDev -20.2%

beerhunter13, Jan 14, 2012
Photo of Zakk
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%

Zakk, Jun 13, 2012
Photo of kaimcm
3.73/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

kaimcm, Jan 10, 2006
Photo of SIRIUS2
4.2/5  rDev +11.7%
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.

SIRIUS2, Mar 06, 2008
Photo of JasonA
3.18/5  rDev -15.4%
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.

JasonA, Jan 24, 2010
Photo of warnerry
3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

warnerry, Feb 18, 2011
Photo of Todd
3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
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).

Todd, Oct 06, 1998
Photo of shapudding
2.68/5  rDev -28.7%
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.

shapudding, Jul 30, 2004
Photo of generallee
4.05/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

generallee, Aug 14, 2009
Photo of Jason
4.15/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

Jason, Apr 15, 2002
Photo of merlin48
3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

merlin48, Jan 01, 2004
Photo of tigg924
4.28/5  rDev +13.8%
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.

tigg924, Jan 17, 2009
Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
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!

JohnnyBarman, Apr 23, 2010
Photo of andrewdanks
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%

andrewdanks, Jul 15, 2014
Photo of Marius
3.25/5  rDev -13.6%

Marius, Jul 02, 2013
Photo of Hugh37
2.75/5  rDev -26.9%

Hugh37, Aug 15, 2013
Photo of Swedes21
3.13/5  rDev -16.8%
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.

Swedes21, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of RTEdmunds
3.9/5  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.

RTEdmunds, Mar 28, 2012
Photo of fionn13
2/5  rDev -46.8%

fionn13, Jun 26, 2013
Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

jazzyjeff13, Mar 13, 2011
Photo of chickenm
3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

chickenm, Apr 06, 2011
Photo of niknar
4.08/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

niknar, Jun 26, 2004
Photo of wehttam
3.75/5  rDev -0.3%

wehttam, Mar 13, 2014
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Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 1,005 ratings.