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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

1,063 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,063
Reviews: 709
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 13.07%
Wants: 50
Gots: 46 | 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: 1,063 | Reviews: 709 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of Beertracker
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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

Photo of BEERchitect
3.6/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.57/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

(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.

Photo of Wasatch
4.35/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of JohnnyDuvel
3.62/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.83/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Lucent butterscotch that fades to amber as it nears the edges of the glass. There are quite a few flecks and flakes swimming about, although the larger ones have become resigned to their bottom of the glass fate. The compact head is the color of lemon yogurt, is uniform in appearance, and is depositing very little lace. A vigorous second pour results in a much more interesting looking cap.

I don't believe I've ever smelled heather (at least I can't call up the scent memory right now), but there's nothing in the nose that is out of the ordinary or makes me think it's the heather talking. Revisiting the aroma after I've downed more than half the bottle--and after that violent second pour--I can appreciate the 'otherness', that portion of the nose that is undoubtedly due to heather. I just wish it was stronger.

Although the beer is milder than expected, the interestingness that I've been clamoring for has finally arrived. The flavor profile features a wonderfully soft, herbal, floralness that just has to be heather. The malt backbone falls into the bantomweight category and contributes little in the way of flavor. Also, there doesn't appear to be much hoppiness present. Question: are hops optional in a gruit or are they verboten? Answer: I don't know, that's why I asked the question.

The heathery flavor is a fraction too subtle, although it does flower with warming. Remember, there's no such thing as too much of a good thing; especially where beer is concerned. The mouthfeel is light-medium, which reinforces the ethereal, delicate nature of the beer. Fraoch Heather Ale is the fairy-like yin to Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale's druid-like yang.

Heather Ale is a keeper. Having said that, the aroma could be more compelling and the flavor more... uh... flavorful. These guys brew some interesting concoctions and deserve praise for brewing outside the box. Occasionally waaay outside the box. The price sticker reads $4.79. While it isn't quite worth that, I'm not sorry that I had the good sense to try this offbeat gruit.

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

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle.

Beer pours a cloudy, burnished brass color with very little head. What little there is disapears rapidly.

The smell was that of Scotch whiskey, with a faint smokiness accompanied by a hint of floral aromas. And by floral, I do mean flowers, not floral hops. If I weren't aware it was heather, though, I'd not have been able to identify it as such.

Taste is surprisingly well balanced. It's not sweet by any means, which is what I had expected, but it's not bitter either. The heather gives it a floral flavor, similar to the taste you get in your mouth when you sniff fresh cut flowers. It's difficult to accurately describe the flavor. It's different, yet quite good.

The mouthfeel is a thin side of medium. Not at all oily, and easy to drink.

This is a good brew. I may not go out of my way to find it again, but I'd certainly not turn one down were it offered to me.

Photo of KarlHungus
3.3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pond water green color, very mucky. There is no head to speak of. The aroma is floral and sweet. The taste is mildy sweet and watery. Not much is going on. Mouthfeel is medium-thin bodied and watery with low carbonation. Overall, this is a weird brew. Perhaps, I'm not enjoying it as much as I could be, but I miss the hops. Still, it is pretty refreshing and inoffensive.

Photo of fizzyfred
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light head with a golden color, no real lace on the glass. Very floral aroma and slight malt in the nose. The taste is malty with no real bitterness, but a strong floral aroma. Its almost like a bitter with no bittering hops, only finishing. The taste is smooth, but not terribly satisfying. Definitely drinkable. Its a nice pint for historical reasons.

Photo of ommegangpbr
4.07/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One of the more interesting brews I've come across in awhile. Certainly the first of the style I've encountered.
From what I could tell from the bottle, this was probably best by 2003...
I certainly could not tell.
Either way, there was a malty, citrus/lemon zest thing going on in the flavor. Gave a hazy looking pour and it seemed rather hop-less all around.
Smells kinda like lemonade to me.
I'd be interested in finding out what a fresh sample would entail. This bottle made enough of an impression for me to keep an eye out.

Photo of jamesclark
4.09/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It pours a muddy brown, with some sediment. The head is cream-colored, and reduces somewhat quickly to a very fine layer of bubbles.

The smell is floral and yeasty, with some citrus. An invigorating smell.

There is an excellent flower and honey flavor, with light carbonation and a light body. A bit of a citrus tang, and maybe nutmeg. Very little yeast flavor, it must be hiding in the heather. The finish is dry with a little sweetness and bitterness.

It is swallowed easily, and the light mouthfeel and good flavor makes for a refreshing drink. I think this is a very modern take on an ancient style - the heather, the citrus and honey elements, and the light carbonation with the yeasty smell, but this beer also seems clean and crisp, with no aged character.

Overall I would highly recommend this beer.

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

BBE aug 2006. Amberbronze beercolor, quiet hazy and good and lasting foamhead the leaves laces. Nose is very herby, sweet gale and heather flowers are used but giving a chily and bit "gagel"like but also flowery and bit malty. Taste is spicy too litle "Kloosterbrau melissengeist" like, litle sweetish but overal good taste with maltyness, litle caramellic and full. Aftertaste is quiet spicy again remembering litle of pepper. This all together with good carbonisation make mouthfeel ok. Drinkability is also not bad but litle to spice and sweet to me but that's personal; no bad brew at all.

Photo of scooter231
3.99/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

December 2003 is marked on the bottle, but I'm not sure if that's when it was packaged, or if it's the drink by date. Judging by the lack of bubbles and head, it's most likely not the freshest sample. Still, nothing smells skunked or old here. Just a little flat.

Pours a golden slightly amber color. Again, very little white head. Smells very citrusy and fruity, quite floral as well. The scent is bursting with juicyness. Taste is lemony, citrusy. The heather really comes through- very floral. Malty. Has a slightly dry finish.

Feels...a little thick. Kind of oily, or slick- but not in a bad way. I'd say this is pretty drinkable- it's different, unique. The floral quality is really nice- a bit too sweet after a few I'm sure, but quite nice.

Photo of kbub6f
3.55/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A short, dense, bubbly, pale, cream-colored head leaves spotty lacing. An opaque, pale, brownish, caramel beer. The smell is sweet with tangy caramel and overripe fruit. A toffee, sweet, floral front; a light, sourish, caramel-malt middle: a little thin, a little oily. Sour toffee finish shows alcohol and tangy, sour fruit juice. Interesting: tangy, fruity, malty, caramel middle with a sour, bitter, finish. It's very "old" tasting (not stale, but like an "old-style" beer... if that makes any sense). Good.

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

Slightly hazy pale amber colour. Short stand of white head that rapidly thins to a smattering of lace. Smells of sweet maltiness, a bit bready, very floral, with a little honey and herbal character. Heather flavour is quite strong, but still backed up by malt sweetness. Floral and herbal towards the end, which finishes on the caramel sweet side, but still with a bit of dryness. The body is on the light side with moderate carbonation. Interesting beer and definitely worth a try.

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.2/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a hazy orange color beer with a small head and not much in terms of retention. Aroma is somewhat malty with some strange sweetness. Taste is also sweeteer then expected though it does not seem to come directly from added sugar but more derived from one of the other ingredient. Light spices also hit the palate at the end and again are hard to properly identified. Nice and enjoyable overall but would not necessarily seek this again.

Photo of pentathlete
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy orange with a small white quickly dissipating head. Smell is tart floral and grassy with a smattering of spice. The taste, after trying Heavyweight's version, is much more balanced and subdued than I expected. Refreshingly crisp, malty, and "flowery," like chewing on a dandelion stem with a beer chase. Mouthfeel was medium, pleasantly so. This was a fine brew that is easy to drink. The recommendation of having this with a salad or mixed greens seems right on the money. Highly recommended if you are new to this style.

Photo of dauss
3.89/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Skinny 330ml bottle. Freshness notches on the bottle. Best before February 2006.

Appearance: Slightly hazy golden orange. Small white head but dissapates very quickly.

Smell: Sweet malt smell. Notes of honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I've never had heather before, but it has this light flowery aroma. Very pleasant.

Taste: Thick sweet malt with honey and a floral and peculiar taste. It must be the heather. Its finishes dry with more heather, and a very light hop bitterness.

Notes: First heather beer. Very interesting taste that the heather imparts, almost like a hop taste and aroma, but different. This beer is a little too sweet for my taste though.

Photo of SupaCelt
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This poured out an orange looking colour. A tiny white head came up with just a ring left to remember it by. Not very much carbonation here.

The smell was like a bizarre flowery scent. I guess that would be fair heather I smell there. I detect a little cloven influence here as well. Smell's like a bouqet of some flowers I guess. Where's my leotard?

The taste is just a bit too earthen for me. You have this flowery flavor mixed in with a honey wine mead character, and it just ends up being a bit queer. Sure, the bottle looks good, but this stuff is close to drinking Febreeze or sumfin. I'll take hops over heather anyday. This was like flowerpot runoff. I guess the taste is a bit unfamiliar and strange. Overall, one could drink this stuff. I probably will not buy this again, but it was unique for sure. Feels like what you would drink if you were ruffing it using stream water and fresh picked flowers and the like. Interesting.

Photo of TinusTime
3.67/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an orange amber with very little head or visible carbonation. The aroma is a touch sweet with a little flowery medicinal scent. Taste is smooth, nice maltiness with a touch of honey in the finish. Finishes a little sweet, but the herbal nature of the beer makes this fairly nice. Very interesting beer. Was not sure what to think of it at first, but it grew on me and I would buy this again if in the mood.

Photo of GClarkage
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

03/23/05- Purchased at a wine store in Sonoma, CA

Presentation- 16.9oz bottle with a best by date of October 2005. Poured into my Duvel glass.

Appearance- Amber-orange colored with a very creamy small head with evaporates over time to leave just over a light white ring around the top. Lacing is less than average.

Smell- Mildly fruity with what I guess is a heather scent according to many other BA reviews. It's a nice scent any way you look at it.

Taste- A nice light sweetness, with what seems to be honey and tea herb like tastes. Maybe a peachlike taste in the mix, but honey and herbs are the main ones I sense,

Mouthfeel- Super smooth and low carbonation. This one seems as if it's almost on cask. Very creamy and velvety. Nice!

Drinkability- Not your everyday beer. I can definitely see the hobbits drinking this out of their lead chalices. This completes my Brewery Craigmill experience as I have had the Alba Scotts Pine Ale, the Seaweed Ale, the Gooseberry and the Ebulum Ale and now this. All of them an experience, some of them very good and one of them that was great.

Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 1,063 ratings.