Fraoch Heather Ale - Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

711 Reviews
THE BROS
90
outstanding

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Reviews: 711
Hads: 1,093
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 12.27%
Wants: 53
Gots: 58 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 711 | Hads: 1,093
Photo of BEERMILER12
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%

A: Pours a golden color with almost no head

S: Malty, floral, and grainy. Zero hop presence, but the heather makes up for that

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with the malts and graininess and then the heather and some fruitiness come through, making that the ultimate taste in the finish

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

O: A nice easy drinker that has an underlying heather nose and flavor. Again, no real hop presence anywhere so it's a little different in that regard. Recommended for a nice change of pace (524 characters)

Photo of SamKetchum
4.42/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

The history behind this ale is fascinating. The bottle tells the story of the oldest Scottish Ale, dating back to 2000 b.c. At the initial sip it is sweet with distinct floral overtones. A slight twist of hops then appears, followed by light earthy malts- giving the beer its character. The aftertaste is slightly nutty and is strangely chalk like. Very good overall, a testament to the 4000 years its been brewed. I'd definitely go another. (441 characters)

Photo of Ozzylizard
3.61/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

$ 2.79/11.2 oz (330 mL) bottle at Vintage Estates in Boardman, OH
Bottle best by Aug 2015 at 45 degrees into imperial pint
Aroma somewhat woody and herby
Head average (4.5 cm), white, frothy, slowly diminishing to 3 mm layer
Lacing good – broken rings and stalactites of small bubbles
Body light yellow, clear
Flavor light, slightly sweet, somewhat herby; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate medium, watery, soft carbonation

I don’t know what heather smells or tastes like, not having been in Scotland in at least a decade, so I don’t know whether the herbiness is the typical heather aroma/flavor or not. I do know that this is an interesting if somewhat innocuous beer. I would like to find this on tap sometime. (725 characters)

Photo of wimteiss
4.27/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A really really great Viking Style Pale. The Williams Bros are known for their super light mouthfeel and herbal flavors. Out of the whole lineup, the Fraoch Heather is my favorite. The pour is a clear amber, but the lack of head or lacing was originally concerning. Smells of sweet grasses and light florals. The taste... is.. spot on. Crisp and clean, Heather comes in for a quick kiss of herbs, sweet malt, and an earthy essence. She finishes quickly and leaves you refreshed, but wanting more. Thirst quenching, tasty, easy to drink. Definitely will drink again. (565 characters)

Photo of doktorhops
4.37/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Well, well: Fraoch Heather Ale, at last we meet - I have been wanting to sample this brew ever since I started reviewing beers and heard of the Scottish Gruit style. As I have always had a fascination with ancient history the idea of trying one of their original beers (Fraoch has been brewed for over 4,000 years) has managed to burrow its way into my soft grey matter like those brain worms from The Wrath of Khan. Now it's finally time to feed my brain worm.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a St Feuillien chalice.

A: Presents with a hazy light Tangelo body and white soap bubble lacing that dissolves into a ring around the glass.

S: Flowery and fruity with a honeyed malt base. The flower notes are camomile and honeysuckle. The fruit notes are overripe pear and nectarine. A very pleasing aroma, quite sweet but nonetheless enjoyable.

T: Hmmm, it's different, in a great way - flavour is honey dominant without being overly sweet - if you wanted to taste a beer with the essence of honey this nails it. Those overripe pears and the flowery heather also round out the palate. The finish is a light medicinal herb bitterness with a dry vinous touch.

M: Mid to light bodied with a light carbonation.

D: The more this brew warmed up (I had it in the freezer - it was ice cold) the more spice flavours came out, such as mulled wine spices. Also the after taste was nothing like any other brew I've tried - a bit of herbal funk. This was a unique experience, however if I have better access to this beer it would easily find a place amongst the regulars - an excellent drop, air do shlàinte!

Food match: Roasted pig on a spit with a honey-glaze, roast carrots, potatoes and fennel - your typical medieval fare for an ancient ale. (1,737 characters)

Photo of puboflyons
3.76/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle stamped Jan 2015. Sampled on June 27, 2014.

The pour is a cloudy looking pale yellow with a modest white head that fades.

The aroma is full of herbal notes and flowers. Perfumed up with a malt mixture hanging out in the background.

The body is light to medium.

The taste has a thin grainy character but the herbal spices really define this beer. I will have to assume that the unusual flowery flavor comes from the heather flower, which I am not entirely familiar with. This most definitely has a unique quality to it. (549 characters)

Photo of patre_tim
3.83/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Light filtered copper, highly carbonated, a two finger off white head. Foamy lacing, leaves the glass lookin like the icing on a gingerbread house.

S: Caramel sweet flowery smell, light and fragrant, perhaps some honey, and malt, some vanilla.

T: Light, herbed and malty. Getting lots of green herbs, as well as a flowery taste which I suppose to be heather. Smooth, crisp, finishes with a little bitter aftertaste from herbs but minimal and faint.

M: Light, foamy but moderate to high carbonation.

O: Similar to the Gooseberry wheat ale by the same company, in texture and somewhat in flavour, but more gentle and relaxed, not as intense. Would go well with haggis I reckon. Love the history, good flavour, but not really grabbing me, unless I can find out more about this unique brew. (793 characters)

Photo of chaskins11
4.29/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Had this after a weekend camping trip to the Isle of Eigg in Mallaig. Really cool label and a style of Scottish beer that has been around for thousands of years. Great beer with floral notes, earthy feel on the palate. Surprisingly smooth with a good finish. Hoping I can find this when I return to the U.S. (307 characters)

Photo of admiral
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A light, easy drinking summer type ale. Different mouthfeel to a hop infused beer - lighter and less bitterness.

Taste: light honey, herbs, spice, light citrus and flora with grass.

Similar appearance, aroma and taste to a well crafted lager. Well balanced and subtle. (270 characters)

Photo of eduardolinhalis
3.84/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

330ml served in a English pint glass.

A: Pours a clear yellow color forming a small, bubbled and white head. Low retention and only thin spotty lacings left in the glass

S: Sweet. Strong notes of herbs, blooms and honey. Deliciously spicy with a strong barley backbone. Notes of oranges and orange zest. Flowers... Some light notes of hops can be also felt in the end

T: Slightly sweet, as expected. Again, strong notes of honey and herbs. A bit fruity too, with notes of oranges, mainly. Very light hops bitterness, a very old ale, for sure. The barley backbone is a must. Delicious...

M: Light and a bit molasses body. Low carbonation. Sweet malts in the aftertaste

O: Good drinkability. A bit too sweet but, a classic old ale. My first Gruit Ale... Really recommended (775 characters)

Photo of barczar
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a slightly hazy deep golden with minimal ivory head that dissipates to a slim ring of foam

Heather is evident at the forefront of the aroma, hearkening memories of herbal tea. Bready malt and a slightly sweet, almost donut character emerge.

Flavor reveals soft underpinnings of lemon, which contrast the herbal, floral heather character nicely. Doughy malt surfaces in the finish, slightly bready, to cleanse the palate.

Body is moderate to light, with carbonation a touch on the low side.

Haven't had much heather in my culinary ventures, so it's new ground for me. Very drinkable summer brew. I'm not a huge lemon fan, but it plays well here. (655 characters)

Photo of Spesme
3.42/5  rDev -8.8%
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. (554 characters)

Photo of DenisKolkin
3.4/5  rDev -9.3%
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. (1,022 characters)

Photo of BeerDocT
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
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 it would lead 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 stand as a beer that is supposedly similar to what the Scots drank in 2000 BCE, but is still readily accessible to modern beer drinkers. Recommended for the historical elements alone, but this beer certainly is worth trying just to drink a great beer. (1,371 characters)

Photo of Maven
3.64/5  rDev -2.9%
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. (790 characters)

Photo of Infamous7100
3.56/5  rDev -5.1%
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. (829 characters)

Photo of VanTyne
4.26/5  rDev +13.6%
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. (912 characters)

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.24/5  rDev -13.6%
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. (1,046 characters)

Photo of Act25
3.9/5  rDev +4%
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. (868 characters)

Photo of schoolboy
4/5  rDev +6.7%
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. (418 characters)

Photo of silverking
3.35/5  rDev -10.7%
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. (379 characters)

Photo of IchLiebeBier
3.25/5  rDev -13.3%
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 (485 characters)

Photo of BWED
3.64/5  rDev -2.9%
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. (730 characters)

Photo of PumaSaysRawrr
3.14/5  rDev -16.3%
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! (1,013 characters)

Photo of BeerRefugee
3.41/5  rDev -9.1%
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. (365 characters)

Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 711 ratings.