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Fraoch Heather Ale - Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,070 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,070
Reviews: 711
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 13.07%
Wants: 49
Gots: 52 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,070 | Reviews: 711
Photo of dedrinker
3.35/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Slightly hazy deep golden yellow with a white head. Aromas of lychee fruit, chamomile and a slight hint of vomit (not joking). Flavors of light malt, mild flowery fruit, chamomile tea. This almost tastes like a Belgian blonde ale. Medium body with a light, herbal, bitter finish. This is not bad at all, if there are zero hops in this beer (haven't checked yet) then I am glad to know that I can survive in a beer world without them. But I would miss them.

Photo of SIRIUS2
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 11.2 oz. bottle into a chalice style glass.

A: Gold with an orange hue and a light haze. Head was thin and filmy with a nice ring of white. Little to no lacing.

S: Light herbal flower aroma as you might expect, but I also had hints of what smelled like honey, cinnamon and nutmeg.

T: An interesting array of herbs and spices in a mostly dry taste. Clearly some sort of light or pale malt with relatively low sweetness giving it an interesting though complex lightness. I thought I could taste the heather more than I could smell it, which isn't a bad thing, in fact makes it interesting to try to pick out the flavors. The whole thing sort of reminds me of a fermented herbal tea. Kinda cool.

M&D: The body & mouthfeel for this is rather light with a dry finish. The linger is nice with some herbal bittering. Carbonation is tricky too as it doesn't appear to be very carbonated but the abundance of small bubbles seems to work well with the dry finish, accentuating it. This is a very different sort of brew but I really think I like it and would definitely have it again.

Photo of shbobdb
4.2/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I purchased this beer expecting it to be a dystopic look into a future-past where the hop-shortaged forced brewers to return to gruits.

But I gotta say, if this is the vision of the future they are presenting I'm not too worried. It pours a great-looking burnt gold with a short-lived white head.

The smell is strange, yet familiar. There are plenty of British esters going on, and those are married to a wonderful herb-tea smell.

The taste has a nice solid malt-backbone and those nice esters make their presence felt, but the herbs are the real stars of the show. Notes of camphor, bitter rosemary, chamomile tea, and flowers. All with a nice, crisp dry finish.

The mouthfeel is on the thinner side, but not so much as to be a defect. It just doesn't try and steal the show.

Wow. I'm really surprised by this beer. I'm generally not a fan of "spiced" beers, or any beer where I can tell that spices have been added. But this beer works for me. I guess 4000 years of brewing lets you figure out a way to make it taste good. While I don't see this beer becoming a part of my regular rotation, I could see myself buying it again.

Photo of CanuckRover
3.87/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle, a pale gold. Lacings aren't remarkable, filmy head.

One of the most floral beers I've had. Really wonderful smell from the heather, bouquet is the right word.

Again, floral is the key descriptor. Heather works so well as a flavouring. Pale malt flavours offer up some sweetness, but the heather is the star of the show, easy to pick out and very satisfying. Taste stays with you for awhile.

A great, unique beer. A novelty, but also well crafted and I could easily drink it on a regular basis.

Photo of Graham5161986
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a hazy, orange with a 1 finger, creamy off white head that has good retention, eventually settling to a thin film, leaving a decent sticky lace.

S: buttery, honey sweetness with a touch of olive - very unique

T: Buttery and herbal throughout (I get Rosemary mostly) with subtle flavours of olive oil as well. Finishes with a honey sweetness that leaves a nice lingering aftertaste.

M: medium bodied and buttery, nice carbonation and a creamy, crisp, tingly finish.

D: This is a very good beer. The flavours are so unique and it provides for a very memorable taste experience. It's very easy to drink and is quite addictive. Now I want to try more Ancient Ales! If you come across this beer, buy it - you won't regret it.

Photo of botham
4.02/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic. pours a semi hazy apricot-orangish color with a half infger of loose white head that lasts a few seconds. dissolves into a soapy rim. no lacings.

aroma is earthy, with notes of olive oil and a touch of raspberry. reminiscent of an italian salad with raspberries. the aroma overall is lightly sweet, with a bready and grainy character that cuts through the olives and raspberries. faint rosemary comes through upon warming a bit.

taste is more of the same, only more subtle and refined. simply put; this brew is like a good piece of garlic bread without the garlic; olive oil, rosemary, and a light bread character.

mouthfeel is medium-bodied with a smooth and soft texture. finishes smooth on a crisp note with lingering grain and a light sweetness.

drinkability is pretty good. this is quite a unique brew, but the refined character works towards the strange mix of flavors present to provide a smooth and drinkable brew, provided the drinker does not take offense to the actual mix of flavors present. cheers!

Photo of Hoagie1973
2.71/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Wow, they are not kidding when they say "Heather" ale. Sweet floral bouquet and flavor are dominant!
I have a great respect for brewing history (and history in general), and I'm sure this beer is well crafted for the style. It certainly is interesting, but it's not my thing. Kind of like I just poured a pale ale into Grandma's potted plant and then took a giant snootfull.
If you're looking for something totally unique, give it a try. There's definitely nothing that I've tried that comes close. I'm happy for the experience, but I probably won't be returning to this one.

Photo of beerthulhu
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark orange with a thin off white head.

S: Caramel and a huge flowery aroma and some sugary sweetness on nose.

T: Soft carbonation. Big black licorice flavor with some hot liquor hints similar to sam buca. Warm licorice on the tongue, malt caramel. Very spicy, licorice flavor with a decent lingering aftertaste.

M: medium body, moderate carbonation, spicy and warm

D: good drinkability, unique flavor keeps things interesting thoughout the course of the drink. a definite recommend for something different.

Photo of nickfl
3.52/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - One finger of white foam on a clear, golden body. The head quickly settles to a thin film and leaves behind little lace.

S - Malty/ grainy aroma with notes of floral honey (heather, I guess) and herbal hops.

T - Grainy flavor with some floral notes and mild, herbal hops. Grainy, slightly watery finish with a lingering medicinal note.

M - Medium body, moderately high carbonation, and a fairly dry finish.

D - Reasonable drinkability, but hardly inspiring (especially at $5 for a 12oz bottle). Reminds me of an average quality German pilsner; herbal but not particularly crisp or refreshing.

Photo of windigo32
2.92/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: This poured a golden color that was a bit cloudy. There was slight carbonation rising up from the sides of the glass. There was little head formation and virtually no residual head after a few minutes.

S: This has a unique smell. There is a distinct smell of honey and flowers. If you are familiar with clover honey, it is kind of like that but a bit more herbal.

T: Taste was very similar to smell. You can pick out the honey and you can detect a definite flower taste. There is a slight hint of hops.

M: Mouthfeel was average. It had a bit more carbonation than I like which kind of gave it a bite.

D: I had one bottle of this and didn't want another one. It was on a list of Scottish beers at the bar and was the last one I needed to complete the set.

This was a unique beer, that I have heard has a taste very similar to what a mead would have been like: brewed with honey, flowers and herbs.

Photo of iceball585
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Golden pale yellow color, semi-cloudy, thin layer head that disolved to a thin cover, a few tiny bubbles rising

S- Honey, spices (cloves, cinnamon), flowery

T- Pale malts, sweet herbal spices, sugar, light hops, hint of fruityness

M- Light/medium body, medium carbonation, sweet, smooth, slight oily finish

D- Worth trying

This is a really interesting ale. It definatly has a strong presence of herbs and spices which combines to make an original flavor.

Photo of becktone
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Eye: Cloudy in appearance and tan in color. This brew also has some thick lacing as well as a pretty damn creamy head with great retention.

Nose: Extremely potent aroma. I get a strong aroma from this brew and my nose isn't even close to the glass. Lots of spice in this beer with a sweet malt backbone underneath. Not quite sure what spices I'm smelling(not all that great with spices)but still I'm getting a very earthy/mossy aroma, rosey, caramel, green, herbal and floral.

Tongue: Sweet malt flavors compliment the herbs and whatnot that are thrown into this brew. There is a very earthy/vegetal taste at the end of this brew, after it is swallowed, not in a bad vegetal though. As for the herbal part of the beer's profile, it is quite hard toe describe. Rose is the big word that comes to mind when trying to describe this brew. The same elements form the aroma are also present in the flavor of this beer.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability: Medium light in body with lower carbonation and a dry finish pretty much sums up the feel of this brew. As as to drinkabilty I personally find it hard to drink more than 1-2 of theses in one sitting. The extreme flavor and forwardness of the herbs just is too much for me...still this is a brew that I'll always be coming back to great taste to this one, really do like it, but it is something that is better when you don't drink it all the time.

Photo of Ig0r
3.26/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The pour didn't give much of a head, but what was there dissipated slowly leaving some lacing and clusters of large bubbles.

The color is a slightly cloudy light straw and there are a good number of carbonation bubbles clinging to the glass. The smell seems indistinct, with a bit of sweetness mixed with some floral smells.

The feel is quite light with a good amount of carbonation. The taste is a bit bready with a bitter finish; not much distinction here. The aftertaste is also indistinct but leaves a good film in the mouth.

There isn't any overall distinction that I can see for this beer, but I may have opened an older bottle. I don't know how long it may have been setting at the distributer, but the drink-by date is August 2008 so I feel safe in this review.

Photo of JamesS
4.39/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out nicely with a decent amount of head and a bit of lacing. Great scent, a very earthy and floral malt aroma. Excellent taste! Not only is it a great beer to try for uniqueness, but it's good on its own anyway. A very refreshing flavor, with a nice maltiness and a great floral/heather flavor. Goes down very easily. In fact I'm quite sad, since I'm nearly finished with the Scots Historic pack I have. Guess I'll have to get more.

Photo of dsa7783
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very interesting brew, and with its rich history, this was certainly worth a try... Paid almost $5 for a 500 ml bottle from Total Wine and More in West Orange... pours a slight-orange, apple-juice color with minimal head... aroma is similar to that of a floral bouqet... very light, mild, with some minimal citrus overtones... taste was very crisp and clear, with floral notes, no bitterness and an easy-going refreshing charachter... a very unique and light brew which goes down as easily as a bottle of water... excellent mouthfeel and superb drinkability lead to a satisfying and enjoyable brew that would be a pleasure to drink anytime... A must-try, and definitely recommended...

Photo of Traquairlover
3.69/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into a pint glass.

A = Nice deep yellow color, small white head, but the large carbonation bubbles look a lot like a macro lager, not bad but enough to bring this score back down to average.

S = Has a pleasant floral, herbaceous scent, smells reminiscent of sage and heather. Very fresh nose.

T = Fresh flavors hit the tongue as soon as you take a drink, there is no holding back, but the initial floral, hoppy taste is quickly replaced by a much fuller malt and almost smokey herbal flavors that then slowly change to sweet light fruits at mid-palate. Long bittersweet finish that is tempered with some lasting cloying sweetness on tongue.

M = Light-medium bodied, carbonation feel is a little too harsh, mouth coating is very good.

D = All in all I'd say this is pretty drinkable. Interesting enough to have as a stand alone and low enough in ABV to drink more than 1 if you want.

Photo of funkengruven
3.94/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this in the Ales of Scotland gift pack, this poured a bright yellow, with little head and no lacing. Smell was sweet, flowery and a bit malty. Flavor was quite malty, with flowers in the aftertaste, pleasant actually. There's a mild astringency in the finish but overall goes down quite nicely.

A decent brew, certainly worth a try.

Photo of enfield249
3.33/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Slightly cloudy light amber color. No head, but a small ring of foam.

S - Not getting a lot. What I am getting reminds me of flowers and sweetness.

T - Sweet is the first thing I get, but not candy like. After that there is some really neat herbal flavors, but not like Jagermeister.

M - Kinda on the thin side. Decent amount of carbonation.

D - This is the second gruit that I have tried, and I like the style, but not better then I like about 10 other styles. Overall I say buy it if you have the chance, it's an interesting beer.

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

Photo of biggmike
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy dark golden color with a thin white head that didn't last very long. Aroma is very sweet and floral, and it smells of nectar. Taste is sweet also, but is balanced by the malt. This beer is incredibly smooth and easy drinking. Not much lacing on the glass. Not necessarily something I would seek out, but I would not turn down another either.

Photo of alysmith4
2.06/5  rDev -45.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

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

Photo of squidtrick
3.07/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance - cloudy orange color, white head

Smell - strong floral, spicy smell

Taste - An almost sweet taste, very herbal, at the front. It reminds me a bit of a Belgian ale, but lacks complexity and depth of taste.

Mouthfeel - light bodied, low carbonation. Watery texture.

Drinkability - very drinkable, but not memorable.

Photo of irishkyle21
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazed golden amber color. Very little lacing or retention but I have become used to this by now. Every beer I have had from Heather seems to be lacking in the looks department but they usually make up for it (IMO).

Smells earthy, flowery, malty and herbs. The nose is faint at first but really opens up once it warms and a few swirls of the glass don't hurt neither.

Tastes flowery, earthy, herbal, pale malt and some spices. It took a few sips for me to start to develop a taste for this brew.

Photo of Jmamay22
3.54/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My first Heather Ale! I'm excited and intrigued.

This Heather Ale pours a murky orange, not unlike an orange rust. No head or any signs of carbonation. Lifeless really.

This smells quite complex. There's a strong flavor of mixed berries, heather, and spring herbs. Lurking in the background is the sweet scent of honey. Nice herbal spiciness and everything comes together well.

First taste led me to think of a Belgian Ale that had lost it's yeast and carbonation. Tastes sweet and smooth. The berries don't make their strong appearance as in the nose, but this brew is noticeably sweet. Herbal spiciness is at the forefront with what must be heather and rosemary. No discernible finish as this brew just seems to drift away and comes up a bit short in my opinion.

Mouthfeel is thin and lacking due to the dearth of carbonation. Drinkability is hurt due to the sweetness and lack of balance. I braised some lamb in the same beer while reviewing this. The lamb came out wonderful, but when paired with the meal it came up short and had difficulty holding up.

An interesting beer that despite the lower score I recommend trying for historical curiosity. I'm wonder how similar this is to what was brewed a few thousand years ago.

Photo of Stoneman78
3.52/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass
A- Cloudy, dark orange/honey hue, head is small, off-white, and bubbly that is mostly sustained, very thin lacing
S- Nose is dominated by floral tones (including heather of course), sweet spicecake, herbs, subtle malts, other slight fruits/berries, hints of peppermint/candy cane
T- Initial taste is sweet herbs and flowers along with wheat and grain, opens up to allspice, earthy tones, and tea leaves, finishes sweet and dry
M- Light/medium bodied, watery texture, tickly carbonation
D- This is definitely a unique beer, I have never have a 'Scottish Gruit' before (even though I was born in Scotland), it is almost like a cross between wheat wine/winter warmer/fruit beer, but the floral spices are overly potpourri-ish which is tough to handle in large amounts (one bottle was enough for me), very original and quite balanced, the taste is a little too out there for a repeat performance
Buy again? Maybe if I were in Scotland
Overall score- 71/100

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Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 1,070 ratings.