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Fraoch Heather Ale - Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,004 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,004
Reviews: 692
rAvg: 3.76
pDev: 13.03%
Wants: 44
Gots: 29 | 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:
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,004 | Reviews: 692 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mmmbeer
4.28/5  rDev +13.8%

I've been wanting to try this for awhile, but waited until I could find a place where I could mix it into a six pack. 330 mL bottle with best by April '06 notched on the back. Pours a bright and radiant, unfiltered orange/gold with one finger of white head that leaves some wisps of lace. Smells flowery (roses?, probably heather), with a light honey aroma, sweet malts, and spices (ginger?, orange?, tea?, mint?). It has a fairly strong aroma and a medium to full body that is smooth, yet tingly and evenly coats the palate. It tastes malty with the same flower/spice profile, a low bitterness, and maybe some nuttiness. Has a fairly high drinkability as I went through the bottle fairly quickly and wished I had another. Both a very nice beer and a unique one that makes for a good change of pace - will buy this one again.

mmmbeer, Dec 13, 2005
Photo of mitchfor3
4.1/5  rDev +9%

Now THIS is a unique brew.

Pours a hazy gold with a thin white lace for head. Smell immediately jumps out of the glass - smells of strong herbs and sweetness.

One of the most distinctive tasting beers I've ever sampled - the heather really stands out and really shines in the aftertaste.

I'm going to have to try this beer again to decide how much I like it, but after one tasting I can say that I really appreciate its distinctiveness and there's no doubt that it has a lot of desirable qualities.

mitchfor3, Dec 13, 2005
Photo of rebel1771
4.22/5  rDev +12.2%

Pours a hazey dark copper color with little head. Smell is very slight with hints of honey and flowers. The flavor starts out with bready maltness and fades to a kind of floral, honey flavor. When I first saw this brew I thought it was a gimmick, I was very wrong. This is a very good ale, much better than I thought it would be, will be picking this one up again.

rebel1771, Dec 12, 2005
Photo of BamaScholar
3.8/5  rDev +1.1%

I was very pleased having tried this on a bit of a whim. Another find at Frugal MacDougal's.

Picked up the nicely designed bottle and poured a (much lighter than expected) hazy goldenrod.

Smell is like the Highlands...floral, crisp, herbal. Some sweetness, very pungent.

Taste is good, though the heather didn't flex its muscles quite as I expected.

Strongest aspect is the mouthfeel/finish, IMO which acts like a white wine, floral and crisp, dry dry dry to the end.

Not really sure what to give on drinkability. I'd have another, but after that the uniqueness suggests trying something else. Maybe the Kelpie offering by the same label? Intriguing...

BamaScholar, Dec 02, 2005
Photo of sevineyes
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%

Poured from a brown bottle.

A: Hazy apricot color. Poured with a small head and little lacing.

S: Floral sweetness with a spicy backing. Alcohol-soaked fruit. Bready, toasty.

T: Green melon sweetness, also somewhat like chamomile. Perhaps this is the heater. Malty, but dry finishing.

M: Carbonation. Coats the tongue, but not the mouth. Rather watery.

D: Decently drinkable.

Overall: I was more impressed with the nose than the taste, but it's still a good beer. Have access to four packs of Fraoch or a mixed four pack with other Heather Ale beers and although this is my least favorite I certainly don't object to it and would gladly drink it again.

sevineyes, Dec 02, 2005
Photo of tgbljb
3.93/5  rDev +4.5%

pourde a slightly hazy deep peach color with off-white head. Smnell is earthy, dark fruity, sweetish, toasty and very enjoyable. Taste can only be described as very herbal. Seems to have characteristcis of herbal teas I've had in the past. Alsp seems to taste of flowers (in a pleasant way) . Finishes with a slight dryness and more flowery notes. A very different beer than any I've had before. Very pleasant.

tgbljb, Nov 25, 2005
Photo of jayc333
4.03/5  rDev +7.2%

Pours a very light orange with a one finger white head. A few tiny bubbles raise to the top.

Very floral aroma, almost as if it is a "voiceless invite".

Herbal and floral presences in the taste, and ends with a very dry finish.

Goes down perfectly, no problems whatsoever.

I am going to have to say that this is tied as my favourite beer of its style, light, but keeps its malt roots. Highly recommended.

jayc333, Nov 20, 2005
Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.18/5  rDev +11.2%

Heather has the best labels, very good looking.

The Fraoch (cool word) pours a lightly bronzed blond color with copious amounts of tiny carbonation bubbles. A creamy modest head leaves thick trails and rings of lace behind. The aroma is very malty with an aromatic fresh barley character. Theres also spices evident in the nose. The taste is chewy with malt and accented by a very aromatic spice, sort of ginger like. I suppose this is the heather or sweet gale in it. Hops are subdued and hide behind the spices - or mingle flawlessly with them. The mouthfeel is thick and full with light carbonation but a lot of girth. The finish is long and spicey with a little bit of hops.

Another great ale by Heather. What an interesting brewery. This one is the perfect session ale.

CAMRAhardliner, Nov 19, 2005
Photo of tboom29
3.88/5  rDev +3.2%

Color was dark gold/light amber. The nose of flowery carmel hints, very malty. The taste begins w/an all around carmel malty flavor. Very big bodied. Hints of banana & clove hit the tip of the tounge when first sipped, then again @ back of the mouth.
Slight roasted malt flavor, definetely not overwhelming though. Silky, full mouthfeel, you can tell the alchohol is there, but it is not overpowering. Pretty easy to drink due to this.
I have no idea what the abv is, but I could feel it when finished. Don't know much about Heather ales, but I have to believe this is one of the best. You should try this beer.

tboom29, Nov 15, 2005
Photo of Silenus
3.9/5  rDev +3.7%

Malty aroma rises from freshly opened bottle. Pours a deep orange with very little head. What head there is has soapy look. The aroma has slight floral tones with hints of heather (no suprise since fraoch is Gaelic for heather and this ale is made using traditional techniques and flavored with the flower of the heather plant). The flavor is very malty with no strong bitterness at the front but it does coat the tongue with a slight bitterness on the finish. The malty sweetness stays on the palate long after finishing the drink. Definitely worth a try for anyone who enjoys malty beers.

Silenus, Oct 20, 2005
Photo of joedon
3.6/5  rDev -4.3%

I've been reading up on Scottish brewing history so I was eager to try this brew. The label claims it is the oldest style of European beer, dating back to 2000BC. IMHO there have been many improvements in the brewing science since heather ale.

Pours out with a thin white head, fairly large bubbles. Hazy, murky gold color. The aroma is very nice with notes of hay, bread, yeast and malt.

Taste started out spicy with a large amount of malt and ginger spice. A bit of residual sweetness as well. Flavor doesn't develop much after the first sip. Sort of a stale citrusy-woodsy aftertaste- maybe that's the heather?

Not particularly drinkable; I guess this just isn't my style. When it comes to Scottish ales, I'll stick to the wee heavy.

joedon, Oct 10, 2005
Photo of Backer2004
3.95/5  rDev +5.1%

This one was the most popular brew served at the World Beer Festival speaking engagement featuring British Ales. By the end of the session, all of the labels had been ripped off and tucked away in drinkers pockets to bring home. I've never seen something so popular. Great new style which I would love to get to know more about (howeevr, the prospects aren't so good). Pete Brown from All About Beer magazine explained to us the history here and would really be interested in trying out more ancient ales.

Backer2004, Oct 10, 2005
Photo of antzman
3.78/5  rDev +0.5%

Pours a golden amber with very little head. Earthy aroma with a little citrus. A very smooth taste with just a little bitterness in the aftertaste, but does not linger too long on the palate. As it warmed up to near room temperature, the taste improved dramatically

antzman, Oct 05, 2005
Photo of wcudwight
4.2/5  rDev +11.7%

Cloudy amber, orange color. Looks like apple cider. Good finger head that last a couple of minutes and receeds to a 1/4 inch ring around the glass.
Pleasent flowery aroma.
Nice sweet, floral taste. Very dry fininsh.
Crisp, clean and dry mouthfeel. A little thin.
I thouroughly like this beer and could drink a few. However I don't think this is for everybody, due to it's uniqueness.
I consider this a must try due to it's history and uniqueness. After that you can deicide for yourself if you'd drink again. I will.

wcudwight, Oct 03, 2005
Photo of jamesdergen
3.45/5  rDev -8.2%

Appearance: Pours a cloudy orange-amber with a small, fizzy head.

Smell: Not very strong, but I can pick up some hints of honey, flowers and herbs.

Taste: This is one of the most unique-tasting beers I have ever sampled. Very flowery and some hints of rosemary. Some honey sweetness up front and a relatively clean finish.

Mouthfeel: More carbonated than I thought it would be, but otherwise rather thin. It leaves some dryness, but not much of an aftertaste.

Drinkability: It's not very heavy, but the taste of the beer is different enough that I probably wouldn't have more than one.

If this beer is available in your area, it is definitely worth trying. The taste wont change your life, but it's different enough to make it worth a trip to the store.

jamesdergen, Oct 01, 2005
Photo of mac56
4.55/5  rDev +21%

My sister brought me four 500 ml bottles from Scotland. Amazingly good, and unlike anything I've ever had before. I can''t even follow the usual format breakdown.

I really think I could drink a lot of this. If you get a chance to try this: run, don't walk. Phone the neighbors, wake the kids, break open the piggy bank if you have to.

Add on edit: Another reviewer said it was like "chewing on rose petals". That hits it right on the head,

mac56, Sep 30, 2005
Photo of SilentSabre
4/5  rDev +6.4%

Let me begin by saying this is absolutely unlike anything I have ever tried before. I poured a pale bronze - orange colour with ZERO head. Only a negligible amount of thin lace ring. The smell reminds me of hops and oatmeal. Dry oatmeal. A good bit of malt, as well as a faintly noticeable grassy herb undertone toward the finish. Strange. Pleasant, but strange. The taste is fantastic. Great malty taste will herbs present there, too. I hate to be so vague, but this is really unusual stuff and I don't know how to describe it. The mouth feel is a bit thin, but I believe if it were heavier, it would be offensive. Overall, very unusual, but very pleasant brew. Glad I gave it a go.

SilentSabre, Sep 18, 2005
Photo of WesWes
3.6/5  rDev -4.3%

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.

WesWes, Sep 17, 2005
Photo of GnomeKing
4.13/5  rDev +9.8%

Forget the numbers, this is a must-try for any Beer Advocate. Why? Because it's extremely uncommon, appropriating an old Scottish style that uses heather. For that innovation and rarity alone this is worth having.

Drinking this beer is more than an excercise in curiousity though--it's damn good. There are distinct and (for me) new floral smells and tastes. They are instantly appealing, taking no time to acquire the taste. The pale malts are slightly sweet and citrus-y. There is one taste, perhaps of raisins, that I can't quite place, but it comes through strongest in the aftertaste.

So, your curiosity and your tongue and your nose will be pleased. What more could you ask for?

GnomeKing, Sep 16, 2005
Photo of mortarit
3.43/5  rDev -8.8%

This category recognizes the ancient ales. Beers of yore, the way beers were probably brewed throughout the Middle Ages in Continental Europe. Gruit is mainly a concoction of : sweet gale (Myrica gale), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and wild rosemary (Ledum palustre). Other herbs, spices, and berries might be used to create interesting and pleasant aroma and flavor of green- and herbal-tea. These ancient ales may be highly intoxicating and aphrodisiacal when consumed in significant quantity. Historically, it has been said to stimulate the mind, create euphoria, and enhance sexual drive.

Other ancient style ales include those made with such ingredients like: heather, seaweed, pine, spruce, etc.

Those interested in learning more should read "Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers" by Stephen Harrod Buhner.

This one looked intresting and I really need to do some research on the back ground of this beer. Heather I assume is a herb.
Well, didn't find to much on that one maybe later and I'll come back here and revise it.
I have had similar tasting beers like this one but can't put a finger on one.
Drank it from the bottle so color isn't known right now but I have more. My glassware are in the dishwasher for cleaning. Yes, I have been doing alot of tasting lately.
I would get this one again but really didn't grab me.

I like some other mention that this one really is better when sat out for awhile so that the smell and taste can be more subsetiable. But coming from Scotland I would of thought that it be a bit stronger than what it was here.

mortarit, Sep 12, 2005
Photo of Beertracker
3.78/5  rDev +0.5%

Fraoch should be served slightly chilled (55-60F) from a traditional ceramic goblet or fluted glass. I prefer to let mine stand almost to room temperature as to enjoy all of the wonderful aromatics before imbimbing. Heather Ale pours up soft with moderate carbonation. The perfume accented bouquet is very floral & fruity with some earthen notes. The ale is rich orangish-amber in color and is topped off nicely by a low whitish head. The flavor starts off slightly grainy (malty) with an herbal spiciness then finishes slightly bitter and dry; almost winelike. The body is medium ("firm"), but slightly oily. Enjoy Fraoch with rich traditional dishes such as Arbroath Smokie (wood-smoked haddock), Colcannon (cabbage, carrots, potatoes and turnips) and/or Black Bun (fruit cake). Here's to Scottish Tradition!

SLAINTE! Beertracker

Beertracker, Sep 05, 2005
Photo of BEERchitect
3.6/5  rDev -4.3%

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.

BEERchitect, Sep 02, 2005
Photo of rhoadsrage
3.55/5  rDev -5.6%

(Served in an imperial pint glass)

A-This beer has a soft hazy orange body with a strong carbonation and a soapy off-white head that fades quickly.

S- The aroma of sweet malt and a faint flower perfume is very smooth in the smell.

T- This beer has a soft sweet wort taste with malts that are slightly toasted and a bit of caramel. The finish is a slight floral not that is a very faint spice but not a hop spice.

M-This beer has medium-full mouthfeel but no alcohol warmth or astringency.

D-Very interesting beer. It is very subtle in flavors but does have a nice complexity. It would really benefit from more carbonation but the malts work well with the heather.

rhoadsrage, Aug 28, 2005
Photo of Wasatch
4.38/5  rDev +16.5%

Dated best before Apr 06. Pours a cloudy dark yellow, nice carbonation with a small head, not much lacing afterwards. Hoppy, floral scents kinda sweet, very unique in scent and taste, I guess it's the heather. Sweet taste with a little bite at the end. Light body. This would make a great session brew because of the alcohol content and drinkability of the brew itself. I highly recommend it at least once in your lifetime.

Wasatch, Aug 19, 2005
Photo of JohnnyDuvel
3.65/5  rDev -2.9%

I really didn't know what this was when I bought it, and I wouldn't have imagined a Scottish beer to be this light and subtle. Pours a light golden hue, smells and tastes flowery and light. A nice little bite and aftertaste is there, and there isn't anything bad about this beer. These days, I'm really not into light and delicate brews. For those who are, this is a nice one. Unique.

JohnnyDuvel, Aug 13, 2005
Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 1,004 ratings.