Fraoch Heather Ale - Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale

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very good

1,041 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,041
Reviews: 700
rAvg: 3.76
pDev: 13.03%
Wants: 49
Gots: 36 | 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: 1,041 | Reviews: 700 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of VoodooBrew
3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Brewed in Scotland since 2000 B.C." says the label. I must be drinking beer from the oldest brewery in the world!

The first thing you notice about this beer is its intense spicy aroma. In fact it reminds me of some hot pepper beers I've had. But here's where the similarities end.

The flavor is immediately fruity, floral, and chased by light herbal spice. In fact the initial sweetness fades rather quickly and gracefullly, leaving behind a faint sweetness in the aftertaste. On the whole the finish is drier than you might initially expect. The flavors are surprisingly delicate, especially given what one might anticipate from this ancient, rustic style. A slight bitterness begins to perk up mid-palate after several sips, but this again gives way to the soft finish.

I really have no frame of reference, stylistically speaking, for this beer. I guess I expected more of a rough-edged, primitive type brew, but the actual flavors are surprisingly and pleasantly delicate. I'm sure, therefore, that this is a fine example of the style.

But man I do still love hops in my beer...

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

Best before Feb 2007 (Surprising shelf life!).

A: Gold/yellow-brown with a little chill haze. Pours with a little white head and although there's no retention, it does despirately try to cling to the glass.

S: Bready malt, with a earthy, straw-like odour. Not nearly as floral as an actual heather plant (I happen to have a bouqet left-over from a Robbie Burns celebration).

T: Bready malt that, surprisingly, isn't too sweet. It's pleasantly balanced with a slightly spicy & earthy herbal flavour.

M: Light to moderate body and carbonation.

D: Easily approachable, but it doesn't really bring me back for more.

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

poured a cloudy amber color with a medium size white that left some lacing.aroma is yeasty,sweet and hints of honey. flavor fruity spices with a taste of honey.this a differant beer at 1st I didn’t care for it warmed up I started to get in to it.

Photo of Enola
3.38/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer has a ton of floaters. The color is a cloudy light orange. The smell is sweet. Reminds me of honeysuckle. The taste is somewhat citrus like. The mouthfeel is pretty smooth. No bite or negative aftertaste. The drinkability is fairly good. I like this much better than the first time I tried it. I could drink it again sometime.

Photo of sitbooboosit
3.8/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy light orange copper colour with very little head that disappears fairly quickly. Beer is only lightly carbonated and hazy.
Smells sweetly malty with a nice yeast aroma and something uniquely floral and plant like that i assume is heather! also a mild flora honey aroma. overall though very mellow.
Taste is mellow and and dominated by base malt. Begins sweetly and finishs with the distinct bitterness of heather. has a lingering aftertaste.
All in all a good beer, easy to drink and something unique. would be good as a session brew.

Photo of Citadel82
4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer smells and tastes of apples. It is a refreshing and quenching beer with a green apple nose, start and finish. I like it alot and should keep some around for the times when I am in the mood for something fruity. There is some bread and cinnamon in the nose as well as the taste. The spiciness is like a chilled slightly spiced/mulled cider. Not overpowering just pleasantly there in the back.

Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.15/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a hazy rust orange color with little head. Not much carbonation to speak of at all.

Smell is interesting. Different. Citrus and a floral aroma I assume is the heather. Smells a bit like lilac.

Taste is fairly simple. Lilac and lawn mulch.

Very light bodied and quite drinkable once you get past the interesting and different taste.

Photo of allergictomacros
3.08/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Appearance: Hazy orange without much head.

Smell: A bit of a yeasty smell with some toastiness and fruitiness. Notes of honey as well.

Taste: A bit of tartness and yeast. Some fruit (apricots?). Some hops in the finish but not much. A little on the bland side.

Mouthfeel: Very light. Even a bit watery

Drinkability: Goes down easy.

Photo of kaimcm
3.73/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

bottle poured into an imperial pint glass. first heather ale ive had, no idea what to expect. also have no idea what heather tastes like.

A: hazy, murky, dull, and dark honey color. tons of floaties, very little head, minimal stick. kinda looks like a green or similar tea with honey.

S: Vinous aromas but slightly sour, pretty herbaceous.

T: Very reminiscent of green tea, though the finish isnt as tannic and dry. Smooth with virtually no bitterness to be found. a touch of honey and spice. coating malt body.

M: light but refreshing, nice carbonation level.

D: an interesting and welcome change. Would pair well with more herbaceous foods.

had with some stilton and salami. the cheese was to rich and overpowering but the salami added a much appreciated spice to the beer.

Photo of russpowell
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled in an Orval Glass

Pours a hazy bronze with a very thin but filmy head. Head retentention and no lacing what so ever. Bubbles rise to the top of the glass through out the tasting

Smell: Sweetness and berry like fruitness up front. Hints of grassiness and pepper notes

Taste: Crisp and tart with a slight toasted malt taste. Honey, grassiness, and floral tastesthat must come the heather, slight bitterness on the finish

MF: Syruppy and slightly under carbonated

Interesting change of pace that refreshes and is pretty darn drinkable. Wonder if this what William Wallace was chugging back in the day??

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

500ml Bottle bought from The Vineyard, Belfast...

Poured a golden amber colour... Big, slightly off white, head faded to thin layer round the edge....

Aroma - Quite sweet, floral, grassy, some lemon notes, peppery, woody, whiskey notes ?

Taste – Nice sweetness, malty, nutty, earthy, some spiciness, definite floral notes...

Feel - Quite sharp - med carbonation.. medium to full body....

Overall - An excellent beer.... recommended...

Photo of WMBierguy
4.25/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had never before tried a heather ale, and I did not know what to expect from this beer. The beer has a pale brown-gold color. Did not have much of a head. It has a unique, mellow flavor, something that can obviously be attributed to the use of heather flowers. Though an ale, the familiar ale bitterness is very muted. This is a very drinkable and enjoyable beer, and is recommended for anyone who wants to try a new style of ale.

Photo of mmmbeer
4.28/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of mitchfor3
4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of rebel1771
4.22/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of BamaScholar
3.8/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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...

Photo of sevineyes
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of tgbljb
3.93/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of jayc333
4.03/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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

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.

Photo of tboom29
3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Silenus
3.9/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of joedon
3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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.

Photo of Backer2004
3.95/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of antzman
3.78/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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

Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 1,041 ratings.