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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

1,005 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,005
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: 1,005 | Reviews: 692 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of slitherySOB
3.73/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Despite the appearance, it's a damn good ale! Pours a hazy, cloudy orange colour. Pleasing to look at. But almost no head whatsoever, and lacing is sparse. Fortunately, it improves greatly afterwards. Dry malts, some herbal and bittering hops, floral scent, and heather. Taste is even better. The heather and floral taste evens out the sweet and dry hops. Aftertaste is a quick whoosh of bitterness that quickly fades. Slick and thin mouthfeel. Highly drinkable as a session ale and as a nursing drink.

slitherySOB, Dec 13, 2004
Photo of Hhawk06
3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I've read about this beer for years so I was very excited to finally give it a try. It poured with an attractive light caramel body and a floral malt nose. The head was gorgeous, very finely beaded with a creamy look to it - great stuff. The mouthfeel was more robust than I anticipated given the other peripherals. It gives off a very dry, feathery malt taste that, at times, hints at brandy. The finish is more vinous, dry and pale I say. Overall, this a very easy-to-drink yet different beer. It's definitely worth giving a shot.

Hhawk06, Dec 09, 2004
Photo of RBorsato
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy murky gold with lots of suspended sediment, a low large bubbled off-white head, and low carbonation. Flowery heather aroma. Spicy malt flavors; fairly robust malt profile. Medium bodied.

Interesting to try from a stylistic/historical perspective but that's about it...

Label states: "Brewed in Scotland since 2000 BC" & "Heather Flowers and Scottish Malt"

Per H.A. website: 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.

Per M.J. - U.B. book: 5% ABV. Froach = Heather (Gaelic)

Best Before End: Oct '05
Tasted: 12/06/04

RBorsato, Dec 07, 2004
Photo of Gagnonsux
3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Hazy, dark golden color. Nice sized head, pretty creamy.

Smell- Sweet aroma, floral and fruity. I'm guessing the majority smell here is the heather.

Taste- Initially sweet with a mildly tart finish. Similiar in taste to their Grozet Gooseberry. I definently notice an herbal taste underneath the sweetness.

M.F./Drinkability- Smooth feeling on my tongue. Not quite as high on my drinkability scale as Heather Ale Ltd's other products. I could see this getting a little boring after a few bottles.

Gagnonsux, Dec 01, 2004
Photo of baiser
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wasn't really sure to expect. Certainly don't come across many beers of this style. But this was a solid beer. A cloudy orange appearance, soapy head, average lacing.

Aroma was tea-like, herbal, floral and malty.

Taste was tangy, herbal, a tea-like dryness, and some alcohol at the back. After taste was grainy. Light, refreshing, thirst quenching. Very unique.

baiser, Dec 01, 2004
Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy orange with very little head, some lacing. Smells fruity, citrusy and floral.

Taste is light malt and crisp. A bit spicy but not alot going on until the finsih which is dominated by what I would presume to be the heather flavors. Really nice flavors in the finish. A bit thin though and not alot going on except for that finish and the accompanying aftertaste. Decent. I like that flavor but expected it to be stronger in the beer. i'll have to try again, maybe it's just too new to me.

ViveLaChouffe, Nov 28, 2004
Photo of felipesegundo
3.48/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had this beer as first for the evening. It poured nicely but had quite a heady aroma with large bubbles. Very floral smell with a bitter first taste, but mellowed toward the end. Unique beer, but don't believe I could go on a bender with it. All in all, enjoyable, but not one I would attempt to stco regularly in fridge.

felipesegundo, Nov 26, 2004
Photo of cypressbob
3.78/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Cask cond. at the NI CAMRA fest

Pours with a cloudy lemon body, foamy head

Smell, woah...lots of flowers, heather, wild flowers again, elderflower, lavender, quite sweet, some hint of purple violets

Taste, dry and flowery, hints of gooseberry, strong heather, very floral

A very different beer experience, but this little ale was a really nice change, not something i can imagine drinkin all night but once and a while

cypressbob, Nov 20, 2004
Photo of karengarys
2.58/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Maybe I shouldn't review this for I am not familiar with the style.

It pours with minimal fizz, and appears flat. It is hazy dark amber. No foam. No lacing. Not even a ring.

Smells like cheap soap, dirt, and some hop.

Tastes almost like beer, bitter, some pine I guess.

Mouthfeel is flat.

Finish is watery.

I don't want another.

karengarys, Nov 18, 2004
Photo of Gaisgeil
4.05/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This brew pours out a medium-amber and a bit cloudy, though that dissipates as the brew settles in the glass. The smell is fruity and rich. Very different from most brews, the lack of hops is very apparent here. Upon first sip the herbal qualities are what stand out the most, undoubtedly. There is a strong malt flavor though that dissipates as fast as it presented itself. The finish is fairly dry, with a tea-like aftertaste, I'm guessing that's the heather shining through. Very interesting brew.

A very enjoyable brew, very refreshing and interesting. The history behind this type of ale is also interesting and long, for those curious enough to delve into the academics of it all.


Gaisgeil, Nov 06, 2004
Photo of Skidz
4.08/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a pale orange and sits hazy orange-amber in the glass with a small white head that fades fast to the sides.

Aroma is nice and spicy with a nie malty mixture of apples and an meandering floral aroma overhead. Nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Very attractive. At this moment I recall a glass of mulled Quelque Chose of similar qualities.

Taste is malty with sweet fruity esters: apples, currants. Boasts a floral background of tulips and lillies. Bitterness begins in the middle and smooths out into the finish. Mild and spicy. A nice compliment to the nose of the this nice brew.

Very creamy and refreshing. Medium body with light and pleasant carbonation.

Refreshing and perfect for a spring afternoon outside amongst the blooming flowers.

Skidz, Oct 21, 2004
Photo of dgallina
3.95/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

In the bottle, with a best-before date of August 2005.

Slightly cloudy golden yellow and orange color. Persistent carbonation. Medium white head that dissipates quickly to a thin white layer. Light lacing.

Fruity and flowery aromas. Smooth and light mouth-feel. Perhaps a bit too light for a 5% ABV ale in my opinion. Some warming in the stomach.

Very sweet, with flowery, fruity, and malty flavors. An unexpectedly nice dry finish and after-taste. The after-taste plays an unusually strong role in this ale.

Refreshing, a good change-of-pace, and very drinkable.

dgallina, Oct 12, 2004
Photo of longarm
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'm not sure what to look-for in a Heather Ale. This brew has a cloudy yellow-orange tinge to it and the head has large bubbles, but it lingers around for the entire drink too. Nothing more or less than average in appearance.

Aroma is amazing on this beer and unlike anything I've ever smelled in a beer. I don't know what Heather smells like, but I imgaine
that it's like this. It's somewhat flowery, but there's a little hop in there too, but not much. Like a good scotch Ale, it has a nice malty presence. Aroma and flavor both seem to build as the beer sits-out and slightly warms, so I recommend letting it breathe for about 15 minutes before drinking.

Flavor is a little-on the sweet-side, but it has the same unknown characteristics as the smell, probably again from the heather. There's very little bitterness in this beer. Maltiness is a little light for a Scottish, but perhaps that's necessary given the lightness of the heather.

Overall this is very drinkable and probably nice to have around to surprise guests or for a change yourself.

longarm, Oct 04, 2004
Photo of soper2000
4.2/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've finally found a bottle of this after a couple months of looking. I first sampled this at a BA gathering thanks to qarre. I'm glad that I finally get a chance to properly review it however. It pours a nice orange color with a slight tinged white head. Aroma is intensely floral. Some sweet notes also mix in. Taste is very similiar to the aroma (as one would expect). Starts off very flowery but finishes with nice bread like malts. Very well balanced and very drinkable. An excellent brew in my book. Only if it were easier to find around here.

soper2000, Sep 18, 2004
Photo of Shaw
4.47/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fraoch is a pale gold in color with a small head that quickly becomes just wisps of foam on the surface of the ale. It has an herbal, spicy smell that is quite tea-like. I will take a big risk and say the herbal aroma is from the heather in this beer, ho ho. It smells similar to Rogue's Test Batch No. 1, Chamomile Ale.

The taste is special. Maybe I'm just a fan of tea-like beers, but I like this beer's taste a lot. The immediate sweet flavors are quickly pushed aside by the spicy notes from the heather. The herbal flavors linger well into the aftertaste.

After reading the brewery's notes on this beer, I see that there aren't any hops in it. As a certified hophead, this could be a problem, but I think the heather brings a whole different type of bitterness to the ale. The spice counters the sweetness of the malt in a very interesting way. It's quite different from hop bitterness.

You should make an effort to try this ale.

Shaw, Sep 08, 2004
Photo of SheepNutz
3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a medium gold color with one finger of head. Not too much lacing. The smell has a lot of malt and honey sweetness. It's a bit spicy too. The taste is grassy and malty, with peppery spices. A bit of honey in there as well. Very unique. The mouthfeel is pretty thick and smooth. The drinkability is good as well. Not too bad for not having hops!

SheepNutz, Aug 14, 2004
Photo of blitheringidiot
4.18/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Label Lore: Tall 500 mL (16.9 fl. Oz.) browner declaring no ABV, but a “Best by Oct. 2005” notch. Brewed with Heather flowers and Scottish malts.

Poured into me Flying Fish tulip with a slightly misty hazy yet light revealing golden honey hue. A quickly dissipated egg shell white tiny bubble head that stays wafer thin
over five or six microscopic bubbles that rise up. Second pour contained a few tiny pin point sized splinters that escaped the grasp of the filter. No lace left, but a foamy 1/8” ring that lasted.

Light Earthy Juniper & mixed berry & red apple aromas while fridge cold. When warmed up a smidge, leafy lemony characteristics were pronounced.

First swigs: Gracefully spiced peach and dry powdery malts. A bit of wild yeast strains are somewhat palatable. A hint of dandelion flavors are imaginable (which is the word I will use since I have never eaten a dandelion, but if you could, this would be a nod towards that.) Aftertaste is white grape and dry ginger ale. Mild spices that point toward sugar cane and lemon extract oil.

Rock solid tight sizzle carbonation all the way through, medium bodied. Exceptional drinker. The blend of complex, yet not overbearing flavors builds a delicious beer.

Last swigs: Citrous notes and garden vegetable blends with dusty malts and quaffable. Paid $4.10+tax at Circle Liquors in Ewing NJ. One of Michael Jackson’s Best Beers in the World from 1999. 5% is perfect for this drinker. Swirl in the bottle before pouring for a uniform brew. Otherwise there is a top pour and a bottom pour herein contained. Upgraded my previous review from 3.25 at a tasting.

From the site: 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. A light amber ale with floral peaty aroma, full malt charachter, a spicy herbal flavour and dry wine like finish. Recommended with : Rich and Spicy foods
Drink slightly chilled from a fluted glass. 5% abv

Beer is good. Happy beering.

blitheringidiot, Aug 09, 2004
Photo of shapudding
2.68/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Light and clear golden with a small amount of creamy white bubbly head that reduced down quickly to the sit in the edges only. Scents of apple cider, clean and fresh, white grapes, maltines...

Surprising taste, you expect sweetness after the scent, but there is none. Maltiness, very dry on your tongue -but it leaves your mouth wet...

Im not overwhelmed by this one. There is just something in the flavor that I just can't place that turns me off. Maybe it is the heather flowers, don't know.

shapudding, Jul 30, 2004
Photo of Bighuge
4.3/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dirty looking pale copper tone. Carbonation looks low upon viewing. Thin head but big bubbly collar of dirt brown tone. Nice aroma. Leather, floral hops, vinegar, lemon juice and sweet malt. Interesting, but good. This beer's got a little "snap" to the taste. Spicing is evident, but held in check. This heather flower really adds a nice sweet rose-like accent. The malts are sweet and unassuming. The aftertaste is dry and inviting. Interesting beer. Good beer.

Bighuge, Jul 21, 2004
Photo of connecticutpoet
4.43/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This ale was a deep yellow, almost amber, brew that had an average-sized head. It dissipated over a few minutes to a ring of lace around the glass.

The aroma was of slightly sweet malt, with some floral notes that belie the interesting taste experience that is to come...

The taste was of rich malt, some sweetness, some floral tastes, and a hint of cinnamon thrown in for good measure. A rather complex blend and carried out well.

This is one I have gone back to several times for a change of pace. The best one I have had from this company, without a doubt.

connecticutpoet, Jul 07, 2004
Photo of niknar
4.08/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a light golden color with some copper accents. A small to moderate head developed, then quickly dissipated to a foamy collar. Smell is quite unique. It smells spiced and floral with some faintly nutty characteristics... quite intriguing. Taste is certainly above average. Very complex flavors of herbs, spices, and malt. Finishes somewhat dry, though not as dry as wine (as the bottle compares itself to). Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with fairly low carbonation. I think this is a highly drinkable beer, but probably not for a macro-drinker's first experience into "good" beer. This one is a little more complex and reserved in my opinion.

niknar, Jun 25, 2004
Photo of cbl2
3.15/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Light golden brown with to no head.


floral aroma indicating the presence of hops.


Light malt characteristics up front followed by floral flavors & a mildly bitter finish. A decent beer, though nothing exceptional about it.

cbl2, Jun 24, 2004
Photo of RocketWidget
3.43/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy gold color, with good white lacy head and good carbonation. Smell of herbs, a grassy smell, or possibly heather flowers. Taste is very...different, I still cant decide if I like it or not. No hops, instead a sweet and bitter herbal taste combines with the malt profile of this beer. Good mouthfeel and quite drinkable once you get over the weirdness of it. I would drink this if given to me, but I don't think I would ever buy it again (unless my girlfriend, who's name is Heather, asked me to get it for her...)

RocketWidget, Jun 18, 2004
Photo of moulefrite
3.9/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Color here is a deep golden with a tinge of copper. A creamy, soft looking white cap just coats the top of the glass. The retention is good and sticky lace patterns appear with each taste. Aromas are floral and malty-sweet and somewhat fruity. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a dry, somewhat vinous feel. Flavors are soft, subtle and easy to enjoy. Interesting flavors include fresh flower (heather?) cocoa powder, dark chocolate, dish soap?!! (heather?) A sweet flowery/malty flavor with caramel traces finishes things up. A very different and interesting beverage to pass over the palate indeed.

moulefrite, Jun 04, 2004
Photo of putnam
4.58/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've heard this brewer made the observation that many Americans don't appreciate subtlety. Well this is the test.
Aromatically it is a judged, sober display of nutty malts, morel mushrooms and wild floral resins. Pretty and delicate with the promise of deep, nuanced forest and earth.
On the palate it begins immediately with chalky, bitter hop extracts which don't quite contain an abundance of preserved lemon, peach and buttered berry fruit. Medium-bodied and perfectly dry. Ideal with a barley soup containing chervil and lamb.
This is how a start-up beer should taste. Even better as it warms.

putnam, Jun 02, 2004
Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 1,005 ratings.