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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 Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Certainly worth trying. I could probably handle a pint of this with a meal. A bit of peat moss in there, bitter, long dry finish. Citrus, honey,some malts. Barley in there. Understated carbonation. I wonder how this would be three years aged. Orange colour.

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2005 02:27:32 | More by Sammy
Photo of UCLABrewN84


3.13/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a slightly hazy light orange with a 1 inch white head that fades to a thin film on the top of the beer. Random patterns of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is very subdued overall. There is a slight malt aroma but I am not getting much else from this one. Taste is of malt and some herbal flavors. I assume that is possibly from the heather used in the beer but it's really not a floral taste. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly flat and creamy mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty average beer. I have had some other beers of this style that are much better overall and with more of the traditional flavors I have read about.

Serving type: bottle

07-16-2011 02:38:52 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of BuckeyeNation


3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Lucent butterscotch that fades to amber as it nears the edges of the glass. There are quite a few flecks and flakes swimming about, although the larger ones have become resigned to their bottom of the glass fate. The compact head is the color of lemon yogurt, is uniform in appearance, and is depositing very little lace. A vigorous second pour results in a much more interesting looking cap.

I don't believe I've ever smelled heather (at least I can't call up the scent memory right now), but there's nothing in the nose that is out of the ordinary or makes me think it's the heather talking. Revisiting the aroma after I've downed more than half the bottle--and after that violent second pour--I can appreciate the 'otherness', that portion of the nose that is undoubtedly due to heather. I just wish it was stronger.

Although the beer is milder than expected, the interestingness that I've been clamoring for has finally arrived. The flavor profile features a wonderfully soft, herbal, floralness that just has to be heather. The malt backbone falls into the bantomweight category and contributes little in the way of flavor. Also, there doesn't appear to be much hoppiness present. Question: are hops optional in a gruit or are they verboten? Answer: I don't know, that's why I asked the question.

The heathery flavor is a fraction too subtle, although it does flower with warming. Remember, there's no such thing as too much of a good thing; especially where beer is concerned. The mouthfeel is light-medium, which reinforces the ethereal, delicate nature of the beer. Fraoch Heather Ale is the fairy-like yin to Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale's druid-like yang.

Heather Ale is a keeper. Having said that, the aroma could be more compelling and the flavor more... uh... flavorful. These guys brew some interesting concoctions and deserve praise for brewing outside the box. Occasionally waaay outside the box. The price sticker reads $4.79. While it isn't quite worth that, I'm not sorry that I had the good sense to try this offbeat gruit.

Serving type: bottle

07-26-2005 23:35:18 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy golden color with a nice head that displays decent retention and splotchy lacing

Smell: Bready, sprucy, herbal aroma

Taste: Biscuity opening with a sprucy herbacious character; herbal flavor builds into a bitter finish that is peppery and somewhat medicinal

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Interesting and worth a try for the historical context; you can surely see why hops are an improvement on heather as a bittering agent

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2007 03:03:01 | More by brentk56
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

3.23/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a hazy orange color beer with a small head and not much in terms of retention. Aroma is somewhat malty with some strange sweetness. Taste is also sweeteer then expected though it does not seem to come directly from added sugar but more derived from one of the other ingredient. Light spices also hit the palate at the end and again are hard to properly identified. Nice and enjoyable overall but would not necessarily seek this again.

Serving type: bottle

05-24-2005 15:06:44 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of BEERchitect


3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A pleasant break from hoppier and bigger bodied beers. Unusual in its content and complexities. Pours a slightly hazy orange-yellow color. Suprisingly good head retention from moderate co2. Very perfumy and floral to the nose. Slight malt sweetness, no hop detection. Flavors of mild sweetness, more like honey than malt. Heather tips make me feel like I'm chewing on rose pedals. Quite refreshing in its aromatics and honeysuckle flavor. Soft and delicate (almost powdery) to the palate. Finishes...er, fades into a thin sip. Very nice beers.

Serving type: bottle

09-02-2005 21:07:10 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of Thorpe429


3.75/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a golden peachy color with some nice white lacing.

S: Lots of floral and herb notes. Bits of honey and caramel.

T: Very much like the smell with some extra sweetness. Nothing bitter about this coming from the hops, only a slight floral character.

M: Pretty thin and quite smooth. A little bit dry without any alcohol presence.

D: Interesting and quite drinkable. Nothing too awing about the flavor, but it was a nice brew to try.

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2009 11:27:23 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of metter98

New York

3.83/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is hazy golden yellow in color. It poured with a thin white head that quickly faded away into lacy patterns of bubbles. A light amount of carbonation is visible.
S: Floral aromas stand out in the smell; heather and rosemary stand out in particular and there are also some notes of sweetness.
T: Like the smell, the taste mainly consists of floral and herbal flavors and has a mild amount of sweetness.
M: It feels light-bodied and relatively smooth on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation.
D: The beer is very easy to drink because the floral tastes are not very overpowering. I'm not sure if I could have more than one of these in a single sitting because of its mild amount of sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

09-05-2010 23:46:41 | More by metter98
Photo of ChainGangGuy


3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle - $2.49 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia. Both "Feb" and 2010 are notched on the label.

Appearance: Pours a lightly hazy, dark copper body with a smallish, frothy, white head.

Smell: Earthy, vaguely bready pale malt nose with herbal, floral, zesty heather and sweet gale scents.

Taste: Pale malts with a touch of toffee sweetness. Very slight bready quality. Taste of honeysuckle. Sans hops, so we find a spicy, floral, herbaceous quality midway to balance things out. You want to know something? Fairly modest, understated heather taste. Truth be told, this one really reminds me slightly of a pumpkin ale. Meager pinch of dried lemon peel. Also a small dash of white pepper and lingering taste of honey on the semi-dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium-low carbonation.

Drinkability: If you're up for a little more honesty, then here it is: I've always generally avoided this one. But, I find it surprisingly refreshing and very easily drinkable. Maybe I'll give that Alba a try one of these days.

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2009 01:18:55 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

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.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2002 09:00:29 | More by oberon
Photo of TMoney2591


3.4/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Surly shaker pint glass.

The fifth entry in SwillFest 2011. It pours a clear light russet-amber topped by a half-finger of dirty white foam. The nose comprises toffee, dark greens, light cocoa, brown sugar, and plenty of wet grass. The herbal-ness is strong. The taste brings in more of the same, though the chlorophyll content is significantly diminished (thankfully). The body is a rather light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a kinda creamy feel. Overall, not that bad, really. I remember having this years ago and nearly retching with every sip, but such a reaction was nowhere to be found here. Makes me wonder what it's doing here as part of SwillFest...

Serving type: bottle

07-03-2011 19:16:58 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of feloniousmonk


4.88/5  rDev +29.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

"It looks pretty," said the young clerk, scanning my bottle, "is it good?" Good only begins to describe this beauty, and while the label is among the best designs in the world of beer, prettiness continues on every aspects of this classic ale.
Color is a rich orange, and the head is moderate, off-whitish. Aroma is refreshing and upliftingly lovely : honey, foremost, and flowers, roses, herbal, vegetal, fresh, and sweet. Light in body, but full in flavor, incomparably smooth in taste. Perfect balance. Solid malt, less hops, but the heather and honey flavor make up for lack of hoppiness, and make for a perfectly delightful beverage.
The taste is so light, sweet, and utterly ethereal, this belongs in a class of it's own. Lovely, full texture, honey, citrus shining through with every sip! Perfect with food, dessert, or when you deserve a reward for being an exceptional example of humankind.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2003 15:30:30 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

3.18/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a bright amber color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is very spicy with some hops, fruit and light malts.

T: The taste is dominated by a floral & minty spiciness from the heather element and has some light flavors of fruit and hops in the background. The malt character is on the thin side but provides some substance. The after-taste is spicy and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, clean finish.

D: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, mild kick, it's a decent beer but for me the flavor just prevents me from wanting to drink it again.

Serving type: bottle

05-14-2008 02:55:56 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of russpowell


4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled in an Orval Glass

Pours a hazy bronze with a very thin but filmy head. Head retentention and no lacing what so ever. Bubbles rise to the top of the glass through out the tasting

Smell: Sweetness and berry like fruitness up front. Hints of grassiness and pepper notes

Taste: Crisp and tart with a slight toasted malt taste. Honey, grassiness, and floral tastesthat must come the heather, slight bitterness on the finish

MF: Syruppy and slightly under carbonated

Interesting change of pace that refreshes and is pretty darn drinkable. Wonder if this what William Wallace was chugging back in the day??

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2005 03:41:58 | More by russpowell
Photo of WesWes

New York

3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a dark gold color with 1/2" white head that fades to spotty lacing. There are plenty of floaties present. The aroma is good. It has a mild pale malt scent along with floral hints and fruitiness. It 's herbal smelling with a tart edge. The taste is decent. It has an earthy flavor that boasts of herbs and floral hints. Pale malts act as the base, but the herbs offer most of the flavor. It seems a bit watery. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a low bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a decent gruit, but I've had better. It has a nice aroma.

Serving type: bottle

09-17-2005 20:32:07 | More by WesWes
Photo of drabmuh


3.5/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter glass. Low carbonation, no head, clear, pale yellow. Not impressed yet.

Smells a lot like a wheat beer, ether, fruity, sweet. The smell does not match the flavor unfortunately, there is almost none. I cannot taste any heather. The beer is fortunately super smooth and easy to drink, just not a very interesting flavor. The flavors build as I drink more. I don't think I would get this again unfortunately.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2009 05:48:07 | More by drabmuh
Photo of zeff80


3.83/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a light orange color with a small, bubbly, cream colored head. No lacing.

S - It smelled of grains and very floral. Also, notes of pine and citrus.

T - It tasted of pine and grasses. It had a spice flavor reminiscent of nutmeg.

M - It was crisp and smooth. A light to medium-bodied beer.

D - This was pretty good. Only the second beer of this style that I've had, but I enjoyed it.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2008 19:16:37 | More by zeff80
Photo of Knapp85


3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Heather ale is very interesting. It's light in color pouring a golden yellow color with a soapy white head. The beer is very smooth on mouthfeel and light. The flavors are herbal and very floral. The heather gives the beer a bit of a spice thats pretty interesting a different from most ales out there. I love the historical quality of this beer. Very cool stuff.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2011 01:02:35 | More by Knapp85
Photo of jwc215


3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

best before end of Feb. 2007 (drank well in advance)

Pours amber with little head. A white ring along the edges leaves minimal lacing down the sides of the glass.

The smell is floral and herbal. A hint of caramel is also present.

The taste is flowery and herbal. There is a honeyish/caramelish sweetness in it, presumably from the malt. There is absolutely nothing hoppy about it, as it lacks hops, which are replaced by heather. The heather gives a dry, winey floral character to it. There is a slight tea-like medicinal touch to it. Some oily resin is present.

There is a buttery smoothness to it, along with a more noticeable wine-like dryness. It is light side of medium-bodied.

It's an interesting brew. Not really my thing, but a good brew for what it is. Might add it to my "in the mood for something different" list.

Serving type: bottle

10-12-2006 20:21:58 | More by jwc215
Photo of BlackHaddock

United Kingdom (England)

4.03/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown 500ml bottle with a fancy label. I love trying different styles and drinking around the world while sat at home. This was the second beer on one such evening, a Bulgarian (crap) lager was first, I'm in Belgium next.

Froach is gaelic for heather. Heather Ales have been brewed in Scotland for four thousand years and claim to be the oldest style of beer still made today. This one had a life that was due to end before July 2009, I drank it in April 2008.

Poured into one of my Gordons thistle shaped glasses it was a really light amber colour with a small white head that left the scene almost immediatley. I like my beers with a head, it's just me, but that's what I want to see.

The beer may have been a bit to cold as no aroma was present at first, but as it warmed a slight peaty, flowery smell arrived to add an extra dimention to the beer.

At first it tasted like a fizzy ginger beer too me. There was loads of cabonisation, but it wasn't ginger I was getting, there was none of the hotness ginger gives. The flavour was strangely different, but pleasant, not even beery in some aspects. No hops are used in the brewing process and the heather flowers along with some other weird ingrediants gell to make a very interesting beer indeed.

I difficult one to nail down, a bit gassy, but otherwise a very different beer.

I really liked it, couldn't drink it all night, but well worth finding. I will buy it again.

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2008 08:15:15 | More by BlackHaddock
Photo of RblWthACoz


3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mild, but has a slight edge on the tongue. It is brewed using heather flowers and scottish malt, so you get a light petal texture/flavor across the palate. This is another connoisseurs beer, best enjoyed by someone who can appreciate it's complexities. Also bestenjoyed when fresh.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2007 02:53:58 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of WVbeergeek


2.9/5  rDev -22.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2011 18:49:46 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of Halcyondays


4.38/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle, says it has been brewed in Scotland since 2000 B.C.

A: Golden amber to red with a small white head, but the lacing feel is really nice.

S: Very nice, smooth, fragrant - I smell passion fruit, pineapple, and freshly cut flowers.

T: Much of the same as in the smell. It is subtle and smooth, but also very tasty, very different from hopped beer.

M: Smooth, sweet, and very floral. It's a tad thin, but it is a light-bodied beer so I'll give it that, I'll forgive it.

D: A good, easy-drinking beer. It's nice to see a brewery brewing these historical styles, to allow us, the consumer, to be able taste a beer that is similar to what our ancestors drank. Very interesting, could be sessionable, but the price is inconvenient.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2007 08:02:20 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of tempest


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

There was a whiff of cardboard as the bottle was first poured, but that quickly dissipated and the beer didn't seem to exhibit any flaws. What I when got was an interesting mix of woody and cocoa flavors and aroma that matches with a mellow caramel malt backbone, made for a tasty beer.

The flavors here are a bit mild, so I'd recommend pairing this with something lighter, like a salad or mild cheese. Still, I found this to be a very tasty deviation for my typical beer drinking. I haven't had much like it and recommend this to anyone interested in trying the style.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2008 17:03:21 | More by tempest
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
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Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 922 ratings.