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Fraoch Heather Ale - Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale

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

922 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 922
Reviews: 677
rAvg: 3.76
pDev: 13.03%

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)
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Ratings: 922 | Reviews: 677 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of alysmith4

District of Columbia

2.05/5  rDev -45.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Tried this on-cask last night. Was sevearly lacking in flavor, color, and texture. Very flat (I'm sure the cask has something to do with that) and kind-of watery. Some floral notes came through as it warmed, but it was a very lackluster beer overall. Not one that I would recommend in the least.

Serving type: cask

12-15-2007 18:05:34 | More by alysmith4
Photo of cypressbob

United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)

3.78/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Cask cond. at the NI CAMRA fest

Pours with a cloudy lemon body, foamy head

Smell, woah...lots of flowers, heather, wild flowers again, elderflower, lavender, quite sweet, some hint of purple violets

Taste, dry and flowery, hints of gooseberry, strong heather, very floral

A very different beer experience, but this little ale was a really nice change, not something i can imagine drinkin all night but once and a while

Serving type: cask

11-20-2004 17:16:54 | More by cypressbob
Photo of ManekiNeko


3.93/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served at RFD in Washington DC. Poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Clear light amber with precious little carbonation and head. Just a small little halo of froth at the top. No retention at all.

Smell: Subtle aromas of flowers and grass. Just a hint of sweetness lingering in the background.

Taste: The taste of the heather (grassy and floral) is quite apparent. It's then followed by a good splash of light malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Nice and warming, very crisp and light.

Drinkability: This would make a great session beer on a hot day, provided you like the flavor of the beer.

Notes: I've also had this served from a bottle and just had to try it as a cask-conditioned ale. It has been awhile since I had the bottled version, but I recall the malt flavor being a bit more prominent. The aromas and flavors of the heather are a bit stronger in the cask-conditioned version. You could probably approximate the flavor by pouring the beer into a glass and leaving it in your fridge overnight.

Serving type: cask

08-30-2003 21:45:11 | More by ManekiNeko
Photo of Spesme

Ontario (Canada)

3.53/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

A - Pale straw colour with a very clear clarity. Head is a solid inch and a half. A very clean looking beer. Littl sign of carbonation.

S - Leafy and floral aroma.

T - Off the bat, it is very spicy and acidic. Floral notes with some herbs. Hard to pinpoint, but it has a very sharp taste. I really enjoy the herbal punch of the taste.

M - Smooth consistency with a delicate carbonation. Finishes dry and quick.

O - Much better than the Grozet IMO. Still lacking some oompf, but the sharp taste at the start really sells it for me. Would drink again.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2014 03:03:28 | More by Spesme
Photo of DenisKolkin

Ontario (Canada)

3.39/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Bottle number 2 from the Williams Pack. Served cool into an oversized wine glass.

Appearance - A bit strange, it has a nice rich golden color, but appears thin an light coming out of the bottle. Virtually no head, but some effervescent bubbles are present and there's a little bit of white wisps of leftover head lingering at the top of the glass.

Smell - Refined beer graininess as from the finest of Euro Pale Lagers, but with a floral attitude about it that elevates it into something pleasant.

Taste - Not a ton here, basically a floral lager with lighter and more delicate sensations. The herbs shine through on very end of the taste and as it warms.

Mouthfeel - Very soft and light on the palate, while it appears to be well carbonated it is actually low carbonation in the beer. Medium finish as well.

Overall - Definitely not a bad beer, but certainly one I wouldn't rush out to repurchase. Didn't enjoy this nearly as much as the elderberry one. Still nice use of herbs here, just wish it shone through more.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2013 04:40:33 | More by DenisKolkin
Photo of BeerDocT


3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance 4.0: Very unusual looking beer. Little to no head, but a nice swirling of fizz after the pour. Color is a light honey and is completely opaque and cloudy.

Smell 4.0: Very nice bouquet. I detect a big yet delicate floral note and an unexpectedly big presence of barley malt along with a subdued honey scent.

Taste 4.0: Very unusual. Front is where a pleasant and subdued floral taste comes through. Think of chamomile tea. Middle is dry and I taste a pleasant blending of floral and barley tastes here. Finish is where the barley malt comes in, but this is subdued as is the requisite barley sweetness. Finish is short and pleasing with a quick fade away into a semi-dry mouthfeel.

Mouthfeel 3.75: Very pleasant and balanced but I felt it needed a bit more bubbles.

Overall 4.0: I did not know what to expect buying a beer that claimed to be made of flowers, but this brew did not disappoint. Certainly not so different that your average lover of hops and barley would turn up his/her nose -nonetheless-- this beer is unusual. However, it retains enough elements present in "modern" beers to remain an almost seamless trip back in time to 2000 BCE. Recommended for the historical elements alone, but this beer certainly is worth trying just to drink a great beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2013 06:14:50 | More by BeerDocT
Photo of Maven


3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A- Cloudy reminiscent of cider with a light orange hue. Fine bubbles form at the peripheral pour with medium soapy bubbles remaining after dissipation.

S- Malty and floral. Smells more of crushed petals and stem than actual whole flower. Smells little like a lager, maybe the clean malt?

T- Again tastes lager-like, it could be how I perceive the sweet gale. Taste has a soft presence, fine balance of the malt, heather and sweet gale.

M- Carbonation is light to prevent prickly acidity from overtaking the heather.

Impressively balanced for such subdued herbal additions. A big departure from yeast, malt, or hop forward flavors. It is something that is quietly impressive for balance and uniqueness. I unfortunately probably judge too harshly because this isn't a style I drink often.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2013 04:10:46 | More by Maven
Photo of Infamous7100


3.58/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a pleasant golden, apple juice-like color. A thin white head develops but quickly dissolves leaving minimal lacing.
S: The aroma is not overpowering, in fact more muted than I expected. Notes of sweet malt are paired with herbal, earthy and flowery aromas.
T: From the start you pick up malty sweetness and tinges of honey. This gives way to a dry,herbal like flavor. Dare I say tea-like? Very well balanced.
M: Medium carbonation and very light. Finishes dry, but with a flavorful aftertaste.
O: This ale is highly drinkable and very unique. It's also quite cool to think that you are partaking in an ale that was first brewed in 2000BC. I particularly enjoyed the balance this beer provides and the honey, tea-like notes. The heather, while not prevalent, is noticeable and provides that little bit of something extra.

Serving type: bottle

09-28-2013 00:43:55 | More by Infamous7100
Photo of VanTyne


4.26/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I'll skip the details of the day's adventures. But, SW Harbor. Chilly, blustery, cloudy day. 3 hour sail on old wooden sloop, winds gusting over 20 knots.

So i am looking for warmth, something to get the chill out of the bones.

This beer did it. With a bowl of fish chowder and a meatloaf sandwich. Ok, a nice black scotch ale knocked the cold down and got the blood moving again to start. But this beer did the warming. Went very nicely with the chowder and sandwich.

The golden is golden, hinting towards darker.

There is an earthy, rather than hoppy smell. Subtle. Like early Autumn, which it was, rather than the dark wet smells of November.

Same with the taste. Lightly mysterious. Crispy finish.

I only wish i could have brought one or two home to drink by the stove. I usually like darker, maltier beers in this kind of weather. But this hit the spot nicely. A relaxing beer.

A very good beer.

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2013 19:34:51 | More by VanTyne
Photo of ThisWangsChung


3.24/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

11.2 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a golden color with numerous yeast floaties. The head is two fingers high, and barely off-white in shade. Settling down to one finger quickly, it leaves very sticky, thick patches of lacing on the glass.

S: I really pick on the herbal quality this brew was going for - definitely smells like heather. There's also an undercurrent of honey throughout. Little to no caramel in the malt profile, but there might be a touch of toffee also.

T: Heather hits the palate immediately. After that, notes of honey appear, both in the sweetish middle and dry finish. They did a good job of showcasing the herbal flavors, despite being simplistic to a fault.

M: The finish has a good crisp dryness to it, with only a slight linger of sweetness to help balance it out. Maybe it's a bit under-carbonated - watery even - but it's still very easy to drink.

O: A fine quaff with no wow factor. I could easily drink this again, if not very often. Good to break up the monotony of mediocre brown ales and IPAs, though.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2013 19:24:42 | More by ThisWangsChung
Photo of Act25

New Jersey

3.9/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

11.2 oz brown bottle with a Celtic label. "Brewed in Scotland Since 2000". Best b4 Aug 2013.

I was expecting a wee heavy scotish ale, but this heather ale could be a summer ale. Fresh, spicy, refreshing, not sweet.

Appearance: Golden ale color, lots of floaty bits (Yeast, heather?) Only with a thin white head, but moderate lace.

Smell: Original. Subtle. Floral, herbal, nectar-like, a bit of crackery malt. Nice to to sniff.

Taste: Starts with light, pale malt that transforms to a herbal, grassy, tea-like, flavor (from the heather?). Nice after taste. Refreshing. Summery. Heather fields. Heather and grass.

Feel: medium to light, refreshing, fine carbonation.

Overall: If you drink beer, you gotta try this because it's one of the oldest styles in history.
It's like a summer ale, sessionable, drinkable and refreshing. "Fraoch" is Gaelic for Heather.

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2013 23:58:50 | More by Act25
Photo of schoolboy


4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm not sure if I've had an ale with Heather nor had a heather ale. So I don't know what it is supposed to be.

It opens to a lighter than expected color and a nice thin head. The color is a dark yellow and almost transparent.

It tastes like a watered down English ale - less dark and nasty. And it has a fruit spice sweetness. The aftertaste is a mile ale bite.

This ale doesn't seem that ancient - very civilized.

Serving type: bottle

07-11-2013 20:34:04 | More by schoolboy
Photo of silverking


3.31/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

A- Hazy gold with a small white head that fades fast, no distinct lacing.

S- Floral, malt, Honey. Delicate, It smells like a field of flowers.

T- Light and grassy with notes of honey. The finish is dry and shows some malt. It is a little watery.

M- light bodied, light carbonation. Refreshing.

O- Interesting, strange, floral. I'm not quite sold on it, but I'm glad I had it.

Serving type: bottle

06-22-2013 23:24:54 | More by silverking
Photo of IchLiebeBier


3.25/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: orangish gold; slightly cloudy; small head, dissipates quickly

Aroma: delicate fruit and flower with something different (I assume heather)

Taste: Juicy malt with an interesting flavor; low (or no) hops and flowery notes

Remarks: I can't place the flavor, but it reminds me of one of the spices in spaghetti sauce, I think; this makes it less desirable as a beer; otherwise, it would be tasty

I didn't score A, S, T, M at that time, so please disregard those scores

Serving type: bottle

06-15-2013 13:18:59 | More by IchLiebeBier
Photo of BWED


3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a tumbler from a 330 ml bottle

A- Golden in color with a light, just off white head. Thin but producing a minute amount of lacing.

S- Earthy and floral notes arise, sitting on a light malt backbone.

T- Very light malt flavor, with a little herbal/grassy balance. Very mild and light.

M- Very light body, and pretty light carbonation. The finish is smooth, with an earthy sweetness.

O- This is the first gruit I have had, and the first unhopped beer I have had, as far as I know. It is a pleasant experience to taste something like this, in regard to the location and time period these kinds of beer were made, but on the other hand, it's rather plain, and couldn't find myself drinking many of these in a sitting.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2013 14:55:59 | More by BWED
Photo of PumaSaysRawrr


3.19/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I received this bottle of 'Maple Syrup" from a good non beer drinking friend in the UK for Christmas. I sort of got sick of shoving it around every morning in my search for the Shiriachi so I decided to drink it. I poured about 6 oz in to a Sam Smith pint glass to start. Beautiful pale amber with a nice white head. I was a little surprised to see how hazy it was to the point I just assumed my glass was dirty. So after finishing the first bit I gave the glass a proper scrubbing and to my surprise it was the beer that was hazy. If you give it a good squint there are little bits of sea monkey bobbing around. Not full on kingdom sea monkeys more like sea monkeys that had a wood chipper accident.
Very mild flavor a perfect drinking and matching socks all day kind of beer. Lightly carbonated which is good cause I don't know how well those sea monkeys will burp up! No smell at all which also makes it good for drinking and matching socks all day cause nothing is worse than socks that smell like spilt beer!

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2013 03:53:35 | More by PumaSaysRawrr
Photo of BeerRefugee


3.43/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3.25

Bottle. Pours a dark yellow-gold color. Thin off-white head that dissipates quickly but leaves some residual lacing. Aroma is floral, grassy with hints of grain. Flavor is a mix of floral with sweet malt and clover honey. Light bodied and very dry finish that borders on astringent. Light, easy-drinking and sessionable, but not something I would probably seek out.

Serving type: bottle

05-17-2013 20:01:51 | More by BeerRefugee
Photo of JayReq

North Carolina

4.38/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured this into a small tasting glass.

Appearance: Deep golden hue, a little clouded. Pours a flimsy white head that settles down very quickly. Little to no lacing on the glass. Very plain.

Nose: A very fruity/floral head, with notes of honey and pine, and a tiny bit of syrup. Honestly, one of the best beers I have ever smelt. The scent matches the taste, and with a taste so appetizing, it is hard to rate this one as anything less than great.

Taste: Matches the nose in almost every way. A very delicate honey over fruit, a slight tinge of pine. Very, very drinkable.

Mouthfeel: Smooth over the tongue, it has a really bubbly finish that reminds me this is definitely an ale. A bit of a herbal explosion right before the swallow. Again, very, very easy to drink.

Excellent Scottish Gruit. Pick this one up if you can get your hands on it.

Serving type: bottle

05-07-2013 19:27:52 | More by JayReq
Photo of bmwats


3.93/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 33 cl bottle into a footed tulip.

A: Deep golden hue. Pours about a quarter finger, foamy, white head. Quickly dissipates. Very distinct and persistent beer ring lacing.

S: A little freshly cut grass, and a slight pine hop. Strong scent of fructose, and sweetened indistinct fruity syrup.

T: Papery malt tone. Very slight bitterness. And a very light carbonated fruit soda thing. None of the components overpowering, well-balanced.

M: Light, but kind of a syrupy texture. Slightly dry finish.

D: Not much resistance. Very good drinking brew.

Atmosphere is really solid. Nice hue, not much of head, but light but distinct lacing. Nose consists of many subtle notes of grass, hop, fruit, and corn syrup. Flavor is a very light malt tone, accentuated with a little soda and fruit, and finished with a slight bitterness. Overall, this is a really good quaff.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2013 03:05:34 | More by bmwats
Photo of secondtooth


3.7/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clean amber, with a solid head of off-white suds. Little residual lace.

Nose is floral and honey-like, with some unusual herbal tones. Not bad.

Taste is more of the herbal, with a touch of fruit in the mix somehow. Definitely a malt-based ale, this one brings a floral finish. Enjoyable and different from the usual craft ales.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2013 12:46:09 | More by secondtooth
Photo of kojevergas


3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Full disclosure: I don't have any idea what "heather" is or what it might taste like. 1 pint .9 fl oz brown glass bottle with branded silver pressure cap acquired at Whole Foods and served into a flared stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average. Product of Scotland. 5% ABV confirmed. Best before: November 2013. Imported by St. Killian.

Served straight from the fridge and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger biege colour head of fair cream, decent thickness, and above average (~4 minute) retention. Body colour is a translucent semitransparent pale copper. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Light even lacing sticks to the sides of the glass as the head recedes. It's generally appealing. There are no overt flaws, but there's nothing unique or special.

Sm: Quite pleasant, actually. Pale malts, a bit of crystal malt, lovely floral hops, pale grains, sweetness, nectar, flowers, mint, and herbs. I'm rubbish at plucking out specific herbs, but I do know there're herbs here. Sorry to state the obvious. Love the rich flowery notes. A bit milky. A mild strength aroma.

T: Hm. Tasty stuff. Quite floral (in terms of both hops and herbs). Some minty grassy notes in there too. Honey. Pale malts form the body. It's grainy and grassy throughout, yet surprisingly drinkable. I guess I expected some kind of weirdly herbal spicy undrinkable stuff, but I'm pleasantly surprised with it. A touch of lactose. Milky. Reminds me of a weird saison in a way. Balanced and flavorful. I quite like it. There isn't a whole lot of complexity here, but it's pleasant and enjoyable.

Mf: Smooth, smacky, and wet. Good thickness for the flavour profile. Good carbonation.

Dr: A very drinkable little beer for nights when you want something a little different. I'd get it again in the right mood and at a good price. Sessionable. It's a nice change of pace and I can see why it's potentially the most known example of the style.


Serving type: bottle

03-31-2013 01:33:43 | More by kojevergas
Photo of FLima


3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Amber orange color, a bit hazy. It made hardly one finger of head, left laces though.
Floral aroma, very easy to identify its heather herbs, I found it similar to juniper berries.
Taste is also very herbal and refreshing. Sweet malt with a clear hint of heather and gale herbs, giving a mild spicing sensation. Dry finish though not really bitter.
Light body with medium carbonation.
Interesting to have an idea, through this example, on how beer tasted a long time ago before the use of hops. Also the fact that it tastes a bit similar to juniper beers, it may indicate that this was the standard of how beers should taste like back then.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2013 20:14:10 | More by FLima
Photo of jtierney89

New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Semi hazed golden color with a bright white head which dies quickly. Very tea like and herbal on the nose. Tastes almost Belgian like. Sweet rose water notes upfront with faint bubble gum and banana . Medium body with light effervescence. Herbal and tea like on the back end. Dismissed finish with bright flavors lingering. Pretty nice and easy drinking.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2013 23:35:22 | More by jtierney89
Photo of RonaldTheriot


4.49/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fraoch Heather Ale has a medium, soapy, off-white head, a hazy, yellow-golden appearance, with streaming bubbles, floating, light-brown chunks, and lots of lacing left behind. The aroma is of sweet bread, spices (grains of paradise?), bread crust, and malt. Taste is of various, mixed spices, sugar, bread, malt, and there is no bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium and slick, and Fraoch Heather Ale finishes mostly dry, easy drinking, and spicy. Overall, this is excellent, and I would recommend checking it out.


Serving type: bottle

02-26-2013 15:43:23 | More by RonaldTheriot
Photo of BeerFMAndy


4.45/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottle poured into a Nonic.
5% ABV, Best Before end OCT 2013 stamped on back label.

A - Fraoch Heather Ale pours faintly hazed by small floating particles, though not unattractive in nature. The golden beer is topped by a full off-white head that lingers momentarily before reducing to a ring of foam and skim but not without leaving frothy, wispy lace which clutches the whole pint down to the last sip!

S - Wonderful wildflower floral and herbal fragrance encases the pale malt base of this beer with an exceptional earthiness while traces of lemongrass citrus slowly waft out. Dry malt and lingering sweetness encourages perception of the beer's age (ancestry) and ancient brewing techniques.

T - Unique from the start, Scottish malt brings with it some sweetness; notes of honey dribble over the delicate but unmistakeable additions of heather flowers. A gently kiss of light citrus seductively lingers on the finish of this ancient ale.

M - Fraoch Heather Ale has a smooth body, though not without carbonation, and a dry, distinct herbal finish that does wonders to balance the light sweetness along the finish. Quite drinkable indeed.

O - Explosive craft beer growth can make it hard to find something new and really unique but take one look at this fantastic label; within is an ancient beer brewed long before "craft beer" and in a sea of crazy options, Fraoch Heather Ale is still unique and outstanding. This earthy, floral and herbal beer has layers of complexity and ancestry ingrained in it for an outstanding, one-of-a-kind experience.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2013 01:37:11 | More by BeerFMAndy
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Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 922 ratings.