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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 JohnnyHopps


4.05/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter, the bottle was shared to gain varying options. The color was a measured pale golden color with a modest level of carbonation to bubble. A strong honey aroma attracts attention of the senses, noting a sense of sweetness. Upon the initial taste, a sweet and smooth taste was noted. With a honey taste and aroma present, it brought to mind a honey mead. The backbone of the beer was the flowery heather notes with a slight wheat sweetness. In truth, there were few characteristics of beer present. On the other hand, I enjoyed the texture and was surprised by the taste. I am not certain it would be something I would drink in the future. It is still recorded as a positive experience.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2012 21:47:13 | More by JohnnyHopps
Photo of Sharkophile

New York

3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a pint glass, appears a clear golden color with some orange hues with a decent sized white head. Not much retention or lacing.

S: This is where things get interesting, with clean malt, honey and a lovely grassy, floral aroma from the herbs.

T: Clean, buiscuty toasted malt with a hint of caramel, followed by the same lovely grassy and floral flavor which ends in a long, dry finish with hints of toasted grain and herbs.

M: Light to medium body with a lively carbonation. Perhaps a bit finer carbonation would be a step up.

O: Very interesting beer, very happy I got to try this unique and ancient style. Hopefully more to come.

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2012 06:44:39 | More by Sharkophile
Photo of slyke


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

Fraoch Heather Ale pours an orange-gold color with a pillowy white head that settles to a nice full cap. Lots of carbonation bubbles stick to the side of the glass - some lacing as well.

The aroma is floral and sweet like caramel.

The taste begins with a strong note of the floral and caramel flavors that fade as the beer warms sitting on the tongue.

Light to medium bodied mouthfeel that slightly coats and lingers at the finish.

Overall this is a nice beer that is different from what you'd expect by the presence of the heather. Worth finding and trying.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2012 20:56:26 | More by slyke


4.18/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. Kwak Yard glass. Enjoyed on may´11. Bright light copper in color. Chill haze. Off-white dense froth, brief crown. Intense floral fragancy & malty aroma. Crisp & spicy flavor , subtle fresh mint hues. Earthy & sweet palate. Medium/light body. Tea-like finish. Apple notes on the aftertaste. Refreshing, flavorful. Very easy drinkability. Balanced smooth flavors & aromas. Comment. A mandatory ,almost representing a single Style in itself, beer

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2012 17:38:30 | More by GONZALOYANNA
Photo of superspak


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

500 ml bottle into pint glass, best by Aug 2012. Pours a hazy golden orange color with a 1-2 finger dense white head with good retention that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Some spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas of honey, biscuit, pepper, herbs, light fruit, flower petals, earth, and yeasty spiciness. Some pretty nice and well balanced aromas with good strength. Taste of biscuit, honey, caramel, toffee, citrus, floral, clove, herbs, grass, and yeast spiciness. Lingering notes of honey, caramel, toffee, biscuit, and herbal spices on the finish for a bit. Great balance of malt and spiciness; with a nice and robust malt backbone for a 5% beer. Medium carbonation and body; with a nice and creamy mouthfeel. Alcohol is very well hidden with barely any warming noticed after the finish. Very smooth and easy to drink. Overall this is an excellent herbal ale. Great flavor balance and highly enjoyable to drink.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2012 03:09:57 | More by superspak
Photo of themind

New Jersey

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

Received this beer as a gift. Wow! the drinkability of this beer is way up there with the best. The mouthfeel is smooth and refreshing.

The taste is good but could be more pronounced. The hops are slight and the carbonation is very light.

This is the first time I have had this beer, it was a treat and I would buy it if I saw it on a shelf.

Bottom Line: try it! it's worth a look.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2012 16:11:18 | More by themind
Photo of RTEdmunds

New Hampshire

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

A murky golden color, with a bubbly white head that dissipates after a few moments.

A bouquet of floral and herbal notes, with some underlying citrus fruit. Smells yeasty and sweet.

Initially tastes a bit like tea, followed by some rosemary sweetness. The herb/spice profile is by no means overpowering; it's present but doesn't kick you in the face.

Well carbonated, and has a pleasant dry finish. Clean and refreshing, little aftertaste.

This was my first encounter with this style. Very intriguing if you're in the mood.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2012 03:39:23 | More by RTEdmunds
Photo of WoodBrew


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

Fraoch Heather Ale pours a light sherry-colored brown with a one-fingered head that lingers like an unwanted guest. The smell is malty and relatively straight forward -- I get little else, maybe just a hint of very faint herbs. Fraoch tastes dry, herby and wine-like, and I get grapes and floral notes on the finish. I'm no expert on this style, but Fraoch is very subtle, not in your face at all. It's clearly different, decently drinkable, and a change up from your every day beer.

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2012 21:07:45 | More by WoodBrew
Photo of ryantho00


2.83/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I will warn you, I purchased this beer in march 2012, and its best buy date was September 2011, so a few months have passed...didn't realize it until I got home.

Im not sure if this brew had gone a little sour or sour, but this was not a nice experience for me. Nothing that was undrinkable but pretty close.

The best way I can describe this is carbonated mead. It was too overpowering with the fruity, honey, weird yeastiness nose and taste that put me off. To its credit, there was absolutely no bad aftertaste.

Like I said, could have been just going bad, these probably wont age well at all (style of beer, and low abv), but if I had a fresher bottle, id try it again. Too sweet for my liking though I can definatly taste honey and yeasty fruit throughout. Not many hops or malts (light toasted breadiness as far as it goes for the malts) in the taste.


Serving type: bottle

03-20-2012 01:37:30 | More by ryantho00
Photo of wvsabbath

West Virginia

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

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Light golden yellow/ white 1/2 creamy head , not much lacing.

Smell - Herbal fruits, malts, some sugars, a saision/yeast aroma. Grassy, earthly, light and fresh aroma.

Taste - much like the smell, light spices, herbal/tea like flavor. Malts are very light and just add slight boldness. Has a saision feel to it, and with all the spices. Added sugars and a little floralness round it out.

Mouthfeel - Light, smooth and very refreshing. Tounge and palette both get spices, herbs, light hops and sugars. Aftertaste is sweet, fruity and a bit light.

Overall - This is really good. Very mild and refreshing. Has a tea like flavor and feel thats really nice. It Really reminds me of a mead and a saision, with a little green tea spice note. This was tasty, and man what a great light, easy to drink summer beer. Give this a try for sure.

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2012 00:04:53 | More by wvsabbath
Photo of Hoplomachus


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

This beer surprised me. I usually prefer a hoppier/more bitter brew, but the Fraoch Heather Ale was so good I was inspired to write my first BA review.

Poured half of a 16.9 bottle into a glass expecting a light yellow color but was surprised to see a rich yellowish-orange hue. Not much of a head and carbonation was mild.

The taste was somewhat sweet and complex, almost a honey-like finish with no unpleasant after-taste.

Not too strong, but you still know you're drinking beer.

I would not rate this higher than one of my favorite IPAs, but it is definitely worth drinking again.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2012 01:32:51 | More by Hoplomachus
Photo of dorianmarley


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

Appearance is opaque yellow-brown; like an iced tea. Head is light and white, but never completely fades. Lacing is there, but doesn't stick too much.

Nose is floral hops and light, caramel malt. There is also orange blossom and biscuit, with some mealiness.

Taste is complex and similar to a Belgian Dubbel or Dark Strong without the bite. Light biscuit and caramel are up first, fading into floral tea, white pepper and honey.

Mouthfeel is smooth and refreshing with medium carbonation.

Overall, this is unique, complex, and still goes down easy.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2012 02:25:28 | More by dorianmarley
Photo of aranheaney

New York

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

Thanks to Mikey Peppers (and his hop allergy) for sharing this at HLMC Poker Night on 2-18-12 rumor had it that his lovely wife gave it to him for a Valentines Gift...

Poured from a Pint Bottle (best by January 2012) into an (all-together now RED SOLO CUP)...

A-Golden semitransparent nectar

S-Definitely the heather is present, reminds me a bit of Drambuie

T-very nice, crisp with a great deal of complexity

M-decent, nice amount of carbonation

O-very interesting, not something that I would seek out, but a different experience, thanks for sharing Mikey, sorry about the hops issue...

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2012 22:44:43 | More by aranheaney
Photo of horshack7


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

Appearance: Clear brassy and copperish the head is maybe an inch tall which thins out quick.

Aroma: Cinnamon, allspice, bits of clove, nutmeg and floral hops with a dryness in the nose.

Taste: Lots of cinnamon, cloves, some allspice as well as nutmeg. The mouthfeel is crisp that has a malty bite.

Notes: It's tasty and very drinkable. Cheers.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2012 00:51:03 | More by horshack7
Photo of MoreThanWine


3.28/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 1.5" off-white head. The body is a clear straw yellow and it exhausts all the effervescence into that small head. I'd expect some sort of heather smell but really I'm getting very little smell off it, just a faintest herbal essence. The taste is also very mild, both a little sweet and a little sour, faintly herbal, maybe even a little cynar. The body is light. Sweetness persists in the finish. I expected more heather in the heather ale.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2012 03:31:15 | More by MoreThanWine
Photo of Cozzatoad


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

500ml bottle, sampled yesterday and labeled best before nov 2011. Smell and flavours were still fresh with no major issues detectable, but take this review with a pinch of salt

A- Dark golden/light orange, sligthly hazy and bright at the same time. Nice amount of head that quickly reduces to about 1/2 finger, though it then shows good retention. Nice lacing on the glass

S- Very sweet caramel and honey malts with a touch of spiciness (esters?). Quite strong herbal and flowery (can't define them better) feel from the herbs. Overall the sweet part is still dominant

T- Malts are again strongly sweet with grainy and honey notes. Grassy and herbal (heather i guess) notes are easily detectable and have a bit of tea-like quality. Some light citric notes may be detected on the tongue. Overall, the herbs bring very little bitterness (just enough to avoid cloying sweetness); the beer is overall very sweet. Maybe the slightest hint of spiciness. A slightly vinous aftertaste reminds of white grapes

M- Light bodied with medium carbonation. Overall a smooth, juicy/syrupy mouthfeel, expecially on the tongue. Somehow manages to end quite dry bringing a refreshing touch

O- I expected a peculiar/unique beer but i actually found a nice, simple, very refreshing pale ale, that was just a bit more on the herbal side than usual. Overall a pleasant beer

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2012 14:03:52 | More by Cozzatoad
Photo of TTAmod


3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

33 cL bottle poured into pint glass.

A: Pours a hazy orange with a small white head. Retention is good for the head it has, though.

S: Smells of heavy fruit (grape?), grass, herbs, grains, and flowers.

T: Taste is pleasant. Very light fruit taste at the beginning, reminiscent of white grape. Light oak and herbs come after that. Finally, there is a really pleasant flowery aftertaste that leaves a bit of a plant-like bitter taste and a kiss of alcohol.

M: Pretty light and bubbly. It's not quite like a geueze or anything like that, but gives off a similar vibe. Perhaps a bit thicker than that.

O: Drinkibility is really, really good with this one. The taste is pretty much awesome. Pretty much right as I'd expect with the style. The flowers and fruit sweetness are pretty well balanced and the oak and herbs add depth. Complex, yet easy to drink.

Good stuff.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2012 04:20:16 | More by TTAmod
Photo of papat444

Quebec (Canada)

3.35/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 330ml. bottle, best before Aug. 2012.

Appearance: A cloudy banana-orange body with a healthy head but does go to a thin ring rather fast.

Smell: Sea salt, herbs, flower petals and some honey.

Taste: Herb leaves, mild mint, plant roots and some citrus fruit.

Mouthfeel: Refreshing, airy and light but i found it lacking after the initial gulp.

Overall: An interesting beer but not enough to sustain my interest.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2012 03:26:17 | More by papat444
Photo of chinchill

South Carolina

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

330ml bottle dated “best before” April 2012. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a dark golden-yellow with a smallish off-white head. Head dies back to a ring and partial coat within a few minutes but leaves some lacing. There’s a small amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottle; I added this mid-taste, producing a slight amplification of the fine flavor.

For once, the description on the label of this beer’s sensory properties seem on target. It "has a distinctive floral aroma” and a “dry wine-like finish”. Malt is clearly evident in both aroma and taste, but not quite as rich or pronounced as the “full malt character” on the label might lead one to expect. Floral throughout, including the aftertaste, this beer leans towards sweet, which seems in keeping with the floral flavor profile. Still, it smells sweeter than it tastes. The rather light and dry mouthfeel also work integrate nicely to produce a very refined and distinctive sensory experience from an ancient ale.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2012 01:29:38 | More by chinchill
Photo of notchucknorris


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

A: Hazy light golden color with a 1/2 finger bone white head.

S: Big herbal smell with some oak, honey and a touch of caramel. Something about the smell reminds me of hiking in the hills around LA. Something very desert shrub-like about it. I've never smelled heather before, but I'm guessing that's what it is.

T: Slightly oaky flavor with some pale malt and a nice herbal sweetness. I didn't think I was going to like this beer very much but it was actually pretty tasty. Light with some good flavor.

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2012 19:35:26 | More by notchucknorris
Photo of BeerResearcher


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

Brown bottle. Best before date is an optimistic March 2013
Served in a nonic tumbler
Pours a amber honey color with a fast-fading white head.
Catch the aroma fast because the pleasant whiff of flowers rises and disappears in a hurry. A lingering dry grassy malty smell melds with a faint woody nose.
The malty flavor is clean and honey sweet. A taste of the flowers blend with a bit of a tart fruit and mild lime taste. A dose of herbs can be detected with a little effort.
The finish is clean and dry. Just a whiff of alcohol is noticed.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2011 22:53:21 | More by BeerResearcher
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 liamt07

Ontario (Canada)

3.75/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the LCBO giftpack, 330ml into a tulip. Best before November 2012.

Pours a hazy burnt orange, fairly aggressive pour yielded not much head, but some white bubbles and a thin film to support it. Nose has some caramelly notes, berries, a bit of toasty malts and a touch of an herbal/floral note. A touch of a grain. Taste has more of the berry and sweet bready notes, dry toasty malts, honey and again a hint of something herbal. Mouthfeel is medium to medium-light, but there's some decent texture. Carbonation is quite low. Quite nice, simple and relatively flavourful if tame. My first experience with heather, and I think I have a sense of what it contributed to this, but it's certainly something I'd be open to in beers in the future.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2011 02:10:30 | More by liamt07
Photo of negroobserver

New York

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

Color... Amber brown, crystal clear. Looks very appealing. Pours with about a half inch of cream colored head, which reduces to less than a quarter inch and lingers.

Smells... Malty. Light floral aroma and mild hoppy notes.

Taste... Mostly unremarkable. Light hoppy bitterness at the end. I couldn't tell the difference between this and many other pale ales on the market.

Mouthfeel... Good carbonation. Smooth texture and depth. Well balanced in this respect.

Overall, it's a decent beer, but nothing that I found remarkable. The characteristics aren't pronounced enough to distinguish it from various other amber ales on the market. It's worth trying, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2011 18:19:57 | More by negroobserver
Photo of hdofu


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

I can't comment on the appearance as I drank it right from the bottle. It had an interesting scent reminding me of spices and flowers.... The taste was malty with flavors such as honey and spices showing up... It had a crisp mouthfeel. I can say it was very easy to drink and one I'd like to have some other time.

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2011 00:38:43 | More by hdofu
Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 922 ratings.