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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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 922 | Reviews: 677 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of maclean25

British Columbia (Canada)

3.95/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The first time I had this was during the summer. I remember finding it to be an average beer, nothing special. I won this bottle in a raffle. It has a best before date of May 2013.

It pours with very little head and I got no lacing.The body is clear (but looks thick) golden honey. It has the aroma of honey, oranges, and multi-grain bread. It has the taste of wild flowers and honey. Its flatness makes it seem like a tea of anonymous mixed herbs.There is no alcoholic taste. It ends dry with a flower-grass aftertaste. The most striking aspect of this beer is its balance; nothing overwhelming, combines to make a really good beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2013 02:26:24 | More by maclean25
Photo of MAbeerNE1


4.65/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at the Haven in Boston (Jamaica Plain) poured into a tulip. They are noting that this is the first time it has been on tap in the US. Judging by the reviews, that appears to be true. I was able to have one and half before the keg kicked (I drank the last half glass). Big thanks to my brother for taking me to The Haven to taste it.

Appearance: 1/2 to 3/4 inch bright white foaming head with decent retention. Color is an opaque yellow to light pale orange. Looks great.

Smell: Flower petals and a light citrus smell. Very subtle sourness.

Taste: Bright and sour tangerine/tangelo flavor and spiciness form the heather up front. Finish is bitter tangerine and pepper. Finishes bone dry and clean! Nothing is out of place here.

Mouthfeel: Remarkably soft; mild carbonation that gives a slight tingle on the tongue but overwhelmingly clean and crisp. Full and not the slightest bit watery.

Overall: Very glad to have had this on tap. I would go out of my way for this beer to have it again. A new favorite.

Serving type: on-tap

12-27-2012 20:44:38 | More by MAbeerNE1
Photo of BierStein711


4.6/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A whiskey lovers beer!

This is a throwback; more than a stone's throw. This is quite possibly a boulder's throw or a geode's throw. This is quite a beer.

The appearance of the beer is golden amber to burnt orange with moderate carbonation, and and a two finger head.

Moderate carbonation

The smell is of peaty malt, chewy malt from a scotch, and lastly a wee bit of floral hop.

The taste: piney, peaty malt, floral middle, and a light not so bitter finishing hop

Mouthfeel: oily, peaty, and smoky, this is very much like a whiskey.

Overall, I would have this fine brew again. Very brilliant!

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2012 05:18:11 | More by BierStein711
Photo of pkalix


4.33/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a golden orange with a thin film of head on top.
smells . . . . very, very interesting; cant quite place it... some kind of sweetness, though....
tastes . . . . very interesting, malt of some sort mixed with a bit of hop (as are all/most brews, but i just cant place it...._i guess i cant give it a fair review so far other than to say.... i like it, i think.
mouthfeel... is medium, nice and refreshing on the tongue.
overall, how do i put it? this stuff, while apparently seemingly a novelty, is quite flavorful and considered as a full fledged participant inthe world of beer- which is quite rare for the novelty category. it is a decent brew, and for whatever reason behind it's conception (as the review notes state), it's a very drinkable brew which would convince me of believing i am being healed of whatever ailment that is bothering me. of course, i prefer higher strength elixirs, but i can understand the primitive ways of mankind.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2012 05:01:44 | More by pkalix
Photo of andrenaline

Ontario (Canada)

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

The first of the 'Historic Ale from Scotland' pack recently procured from the local LCBO.

A - Pours a slightly hazy golden copper colour, finger of head which quickly dissipates and leaves little lacing.

S - Dominated by caramel malts, hints of peppery spice, earthy hop profile, with a bready and grassy finish.

T - The caramel malt notes continue to dominate, a mild earthy hop profile with a unique sour citrus finish and an odd unidentifiable flavour that lingers that, by default, I will attribute to the heather flower.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and surprisingly dry.

O - A tasty brew, some unique flavours and easily drinkable. I'm glad I tried it, but it's not something I would go out of my way to get again.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2012 23:08:16 | More by andrenaline
Photo of thehyperduck

Ontario (Canada)

4.13/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330 mL bottle from the LCBO; best before February 2014. This is the fourth bottle to be reviewed in the 4-pack sampler I picked up last week, and if the other 3 bottles were any indication, I'm in for a treat (or at least, failing that, a decent glass).

Pours a foggy golden colour with a twinge of orange under the light, and topped with just over a finger of frothy, soapy white head. Retention is mediocre - it's mostly gone once a minute or two has passed, and only a thin film on the surface and narrow ring of foam around the edge remain. The aroma is herbal, zesty and flowery; the heather is the most dominant facet, with notes of pepper, pine needles and pale malt sweetness. The aroma has certainly done its job, because I'm feeling pretty enticed.

Elegant flavour; not one-dimensional, but pretty straightforward for a spiced brew. Lightly toasted, bready malts and honey lead into the herbal heather notes; quite floral, a little spicy, maybe even a little minty. The finish is herbal and grassy, with just the right amount of bitterness. Slightly heathery in the aftertaste, but it doesn't really linger long. On the light side of medium-bodied, with gentle carbonation - which works perfectly in this instance, allowing the mild spiciness and simple, tasty malt profile to remain prominent. Very quaffable, and unlike most spiced beers, not the sort of thing that I would necessarily tire of quickly.

Final Grade: 4.13, an A-. Fraoch Heather Ale might just be the first spiced beer I've ever had that I would consider truly sessionable. The unique flavour offers up enough spicy, herbal notes to keep things interesting, but never comes close to overwhelming or exhausting the palate, even (I suspect) after more than one bottle. Of the four ales in this brewery's sampler, this is easily the most drinkable, potentially the most well-integrated, and probably my favourite. Well worth a try, and I'd definitely recommend the sampler ("Historic Ales from Scotland") to any newbie who wishes to find out what this relatively obscure style is all about.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2012 01:41:04 | More by thehyperduck
Photo of warrenout330


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

Pours from a 12oz bottle into a chimay chalice

A- pours a dark golden color, hazy apperance, very vintage look for such a historical beer
Fluffy white head, quickly dissolves to a thin sheet over the liquid. No lacing at all

S- doughy bread malts, a very pronounced earthy floral smell... this must be the heather flower? Almost reminds of pumpkin flesh seriously

T- sharp flavor of heather? Very floral presence... sweet breaded malts ...

M- prickly carbonation... very champagne like... dry earthy finish... very reminiscent of a wine

O- very strange and interesting beer. Strange cuz I've never had heather before. But this in a good way... it took a little to grow on me but this a good session/ food pairing beer....

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2012 22:29:19 | More by warrenout330
Photo of Bouleboubier


3.55/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

bang it out!

yellow-gold, fairly hazy - i like the sort of unfiltered look, seems (historically) appropriate - slightly yellowish, off-white head, falls fairly fast into a shallow sudsy cap

sweetness, fruity esters - a strange scent, not the typical "floral", haven't any experience with the scent of heather, so I guess that's it - getting some light-honeyed malt and almost a buttery roll thing as well - no discernible hops

definitely the taste of non-hop plant material immediately, like a mildly earthy, leafy herb - not terribly strong, more of an "essence" - a leafy, floral flavor slowly emerges as it warms, and it lingers and is accompanied by a soft bitterness - apparently there's sweet gale in this too?

very drinakble - some over-carbonation perhaps lends to a phantom fullness in the mouth, i don't know, though the body is light-medium - soft, and airy-smooth with just a tiny carb tingle

i was left feeling a little underwhelmed by this. not having much, if any, experience with the flavors of heather and sweet gale makes this hard to judge, however, the bottle could have been old and this an ale much better consumed as fresh as possible. the herbal flavors were a little too subtle but, at the same time, you wouldn't want them to be over the top considering the alcohol level and seeming simplicity of the malt bill. I'll definitely give this another shot if I can get a younger bottle...

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2012 23:57:37 | More by Bouleboubier
Photo of mick303

Ontario (Canada)

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

On tap at the New Course Clubhouse, St. Andrews. Has a compact white head, lacing is alright but could be better, limited carbonation, colour is a medium straw gold. Smell is quite pleasant, balanced maltiness with a nice heather earthiness, but not remarkable. Taste has a nice malt aspect, heather and herbal character is prominant but tempered nicely. A elegant mint character, finish is smooth, lightly bitter. Makes for a very pleasant, sessionable ale. Mouthfeel is medium with a good creaminess, carbonation is mild. I'd recommend this, an interesting take, and very well done, drinks well, interesting and balanced.

Serving type: on-tap

10-10-2012 17:36:27 | More by mick303
Photo of atr2605

New York

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

A-pours a clear golden color with a foamy white head with good retention
S-floral, spicy
T-floral flavor mixes with the malt sweetness, followed a hint of spice, leaving more of the floral flavor in the finish. Really interesting balance
M-light-medium bodied
O-Great beer. I had never heard of the style and just picked it up. Glad I did, looking forward to finding more beers in the style

Serving type: bottle

10-04-2012 02:24:37 | More by atr2605
Photo of smalenberg


3.73/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Smell - I've had other beers with lavender added, possibly with extract instead of flowers and they smelled more like a ladies hand lotion (too overpowering). The floral character in this is a just a hint of what is to come, not a sledgehammer.

The most surprising part of this beer is how well heather works as a bittering agent. The taste is reminiscent of a Belgian Trippel, with a similar level of carbonation and slightly spicy mouthfeel, but it ends with a surprising tartness - more akin to a saison. I made the mistake of letting it chill for too long, but once it warmed some, it was quite good. And well worth the wait for the warming. A very pleasant change from traditional hops-based beers.

Serving type: bottle

09-16-2012 01:33:59 | More by smalenberg
Photo of Brubaker


4.23/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- golden in color, small lingering head

S- Lightly floral and earthy.

T- an earthy and floral taste that blends well. It has a clean finish.

M- light on the palate bubbly.

O- I really enjoyed this beer. The absence of a heavy hops was a plus for me as I prefer malty beers. As far as an Ale goes this one is pleasant and had a good clean finish.

Would Drink
Would Buy
Would Make

Serving type: bottle

08-11-2012 02:25:05 | More by Brubaker
Photo of Arno

4.61/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

appearance: Pale yellow with small white head.

smell: Hard to put my finger on it. It's a kind of herbal, medicinal, nectar, flower and tea like smell.

taste: Herbal tea and light floral malt taste. I get a touch of lavender and a bit of nectar/honey sweetness. It's hard to pin-point what's exactly going on. It just works and is lovely balanced.

mouthfeel: It's like satin. Very smooth. Medium carbonation. Has a dry finish and leaves a lovely after-taste, wanting more.

overall: I'm quite surprised by this beer. It's not your regular ale and definitely has a unique flavor combo going on. I love the creamy like round feeling of the taste and mouthfeel. It's very fluid and refreshing, yet with a dry finish and leaves you with a after-taste that wants more. What more could you ask for? I just love it.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2012 23:04:22 | More by Arno
Photo of LiquidAmber


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

Review from 10/2010 notes. Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a light orange amber with a slight head and a hint of lacing. Aroma of wheat with a slight adjunct component. Flavor is light wheat with some floral elements, light citrus and light malt. The heather element redeems this ale, which otherwise would be pretty uninspiring. It would be nice to try a more intense attempt at this style. Glad to have tried it, but would not revisit in this form.

Serving type: bottle

07-15-2012 03:06:29 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of EmperorBevis

United Kingdom (England)

4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Golden bodied with good lasting thick white head.

A very aromatic beer, candied peel, vanilla and a whiff of lavender.
Lightly herbed taste, with malts and hints of blueberries and ginger notes with a slight peppery finish.

The epitome, I guess of easy drinking. bright and
breezy expertly blended to get away with the spritely carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2012 19:06:04 | More by EmperorBevis
Photo of engisch

New Jersey

3.7/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy orange / straw color with thin white head.

Smell is earthy with a graininess and a slight sweetness.

Taste is earthy and sweet. It has an interesting bitterness that is light and pleasant.

Mouthfeel is light to medium body.

And interesting brew. I can imagine ancient Scots downing a lot of these. Tasty, but not overpowering.

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2012 03:16:49 | More by engisch
Photo of FosterJM


3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1372nd Review on BA
Bottle to Pint

Best by June 2013
Purchased from Total Wine Brea. ($3.99 IIRC)

App- In the glass had a pretty hazy looking orange with a bit of yellow. A light orb looking color with some floating bubbles and a small 1 finger head with some bubbles around edges vs. lace cling. AAL meets IPA coloring and app.

Smell- Light, Really no other way to put it. Its not offensive, its not overly aromatic. Has a simple bit of malts and earthy quality. Just kinda there.

Taste- Really light but tasty. A little bit of an herbal flavor with some what I would say hibiscus as never had a heather or something like this. A bit of earth rounds out the flavors and its like a mix of a anise/pepper/lager/malt flavor. Unique layered and tasty.

Mouth- A lighter bodied beer with a medium carbonation but the delicateness of the body makes it very good. Has what I cant put my finger on with a feathery flutter or a softness behind it.

Drink- Its a nice beer. Very new, very unique but something people should try. I would like to drink again. Sits well on a hot day.

Serving type: bottle

07-01-2012 22:20:54 | More by FosterJM
Photo of OtherShoe2


3.73/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours medium orange with a foamy white head. No lace.

Nice sweet resinous aroma. You get the heather here, even some floral notes.

Lean toasted malt, some herbal bitterness, a little piney note, some light but watery sweetness, light bitterness and malt in the finish. I like the character, but not the strength of this.

A little watery, but the body still works.

Overall, nice brew, but there is something missing. Depth? Strength? Easy to drink, and I really like the heather element. Good brew, but not great brew.

Serving type: bottle

06-23-2012 00:17:20 | More by OtherShoe2
Photo of DrDemento456


4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - As confirmed by others it's a fairly clear orange yellow with a 1/4 inch of head that fizzes out rather quickly.

S - Smells of Scottish malts and sweet honey like notes. Some hops as well.

T - This beer impressed me greatly. At first when it was cold I got some grain and Scottish malt that reminded me of a malty pale ale. But when it warmed it got an almost cherry cordial/wine like finish that had me puzzled. Was it from the heathers, Scottish malts or a combination of both? Weird yet enjoyable.

M - Medium bodied and full of flavor.

Overall quite an odd brew which is expected from the same guys that bring you "Kelpie (seaweed beer)" Worth a try to have more Scottish beers under your belt.

Serving type: bottle

06-13-2012 03:36:22 | More by DrDemento456
Photo of ONUMello


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

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Pours a light orange-ish yellow with a short head that disappears in a flash
S: Honey, orange and fruit esters. Very sweet smell.
T: Honey, orange flower, light malt and something pleasant I can't place- probably the heather.
M: Medium-bodied and very enjoyable carbonation. Definitely the best part of the beer.
O: Tasty, enjoyable to sit and sip.

Serving type: bottle

06-12-2012 22:51:17 | More by ONUMello
Photo of Dave1999

North Carolina

4.15/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The appearance is light amber almost transparent with a very small white head.

The smell is malty, hoppy and earthy.

The taste is sweet malty with a honey taste.

The mouthfeel medium bodied with very little carbonation.

Overall a very enjoyable beer not complex but good tasting.

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2012 01:52:52 | More by Dave1999
Photo of TheSevenDuffs

Ontario (Canada)

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

Bottle to Founders tulip. B/B JUL 2013

A - Light brown with plenty of golden/yellow glow throughout. Half a finger of light bully off-white head formed and receded to a thin layer.

S - Fairly big sweetness up front with plenty of caramel and bready aromas. Some herbal aromas and a slight bitterness are present in the background.

T - Sweetness up front with bready/cereal flavours and some caramel. Some floral and herbal notes are present along with a slight hop bitterness.

M - Light to medium body with moderate carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2012 00:01:48 | More by TheSevenDuffs
Photo of DavoleBomb


3.95/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter.

4.0 A: Lightly hazed dark orange color. Two and a half fingers of frothy off-white head. Retention is good and a good amount of lacing is left.

4.0 S: This heather ale does not disappoint on the heather. Herbal and flowery in the most genuine way possible. Sweet, somewhat biscuity malts underneath. Not overly complex, but powerful and wonderful.

4.0 T: Big hit of heather in the taste as well. The base beer comes out a lot stronger and that is mighty tasty as well. Grainy with a a solid toastiness. Lightly biscuity with a mild and well fitted sweetness.

3.5 M: Lighter medium body. Maybe a tad too much carbonation, but it's fine. Fluffy on the tongue with a crisp finish.

4.0 D: Good beer that works the heather in seemlessly. Solid all around.

Serving type: bottle

05-31-2012 02:03:20 | More by DavoleBomb
Photo of Zachtheporter


4.2/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Date on the bottle says that this is best before september 2012.

Poured from a 500Ml bottle into a Blatz Glass.

A- A slightly copper like orange in color it has a thin bubbly head that dissipates somewhat quickly after being poured. The head leaves a thin lacing dancing upon the top of the beer and a rich looking white ring around the edges of the glass. Large amount of visible bubbles from carbonation. The form allows a generous amount of light penetration.

S- The smell is sweet and floral with a hint of fruitiness and spices from what I'm assuming is the barley. The smell of heather is definitely present along with some notes of lighter fruits(aka berries and apples). There is also a distinguished malt presence that gives it its spicier aroma while at the same time adding to the sweetness.

T- The taste is very interesting, while malty it has a very unique floral flavor to it imparted from the heather. While there is a slight malt forward breadiness upon first taking a sip, you are quickly diverted over to the taste of spicy flowers that imparts a bit of a sweetness of its own. The finish is somewhat mild with a slight floral bitterness.

M- Most definitely a medium to full body on this one with mild to low carbonation. Slightly chewy.

O- A very interesting style and much different from what I was expecting. Both the taste and the mouthfeel of this beer really surprised me. I was not expecting it to be as thick and full bodied as it was and I was expecting a much more intense earthiness from the heather. I would actually buy this again not necessarily to drink for myself but definitely to bring to a tasting or as a gift. I could see this beer being a big hit at weddings or spring themed parties. Very unique and worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

05-26-2012 22:10:09 | More by Zachtheporter
Photo of Groulxsome

Ontario (Canada)

4.48/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A bottle (best before June 2013) poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Fairly mundane. It's a slightly copper-orange color with very little head that just lingers around the side of the glass.

Smell: Amazing! I get something almost like dried peaches, some really funky, almost black tea like smells, some amazing floral. I also get the root-beer/cola funky kind of smell I've gotten from other Gruit beers. It's a smell that I just love.

Taste: A bit of malt, lots of floral and fruit aromas. The smell had a hint of dried peach, this has a last more like peach blossoms. It's also got that murky, almost musky, bog taste. It finishes with a rewarding bitter. The only way to make this better in my opinion is to make that heather taste even stronger, like I was really hoping for.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, but a really creamy mouthfeel with some nice foam-y action. Very dry finish.

Overall: I'm a sucker for the taste of Gruit, so this review is biased pretty heavily. I'd drink this instead of an American Pale Ale any day. It's light and refreshing. It's got that wonderful Gruit taste and great welcoming bitter. Why don't more people make this style of beer?

Serving type: bottle

05-17-2012 01:24:57 | More by Groulxsome
Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 922 ratings.