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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

1,059 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,059
Reviews: 707
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 13.07%
Wants: 51
Gots: 45 | 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: 1,059 | Reviews: 707 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of allergictomacros
3.14/5  rDev -16.3%
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 -0.5%
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
4.01/5  rDev +6.9%
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 +5.3%
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
4.2/5  rDev +12%
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
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
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
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
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
4.18/5  rDev +11.5%
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
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
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
3.64/5  rDev -2.9%
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
3.92/5  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
4.01/5  rDev +6.9%
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 +11.5%
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
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
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
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
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
3.64/5  rDev -2.9%
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 +5.3%
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
3.75/5  rDev 0%
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

Photo of wcudwight
4.18/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of jamesdergen
3.47/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of mac56
4.5/5  rDev +20%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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,

Photo of SilentSabre
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of WesWes
3.62/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of GnomeKing
4.14/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

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?

Photo of mortarit
3.44/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 1,059 ratings.