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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

992 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 992
Reviews: 688
rAvg: 3.76
pDev: 13.03%
Wants: 45
Gots: 28 | 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: 992 | Reviews: 688 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of francisweizen


3.93/5  rDev +4.5%

16.9 oz bottle. A light golden colour with a small white head that dies quickly. Aromas are of sweet scottish malts and the floral beauty of heather. Taste is very light, flowery, and heather-like. The mouthfeel is a bit thin and watery for my liking, but the drinkability was very, very good.

02-27-2004 21:15:36 | More by francisweizen
Photo of JackTheRipper


2/5  rDev -46.8%

Appearance: Poured a dull reddish-amber color with zero head.

Smell: Faintly floral. Aromas are pretty hard to detect.

Taste: Malty sweetness up front with a bit of a heather taste to it.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is there, but in very low levels. Finish is clean.

Drinkability: I don't know if I got a bad bottle, the best before date is June 2005 so it seems like this beer should be pretty fresh. I'll review this beer again a few months from now, but as far as this particular bottle goes, I'm not impressed at all. If it weren't for this breweries Gooseberry and Wheat ale, I wouldn't even think about giving this beer a second chance. Not a good beer.

02-09-2004 01:25:55 | More by JackTheRipper
Photo of jahsausage

New Zealand (Aotearoa)

3.78/5  rDev +0.5%

Luckily the unique concept of this beer didn't lead to an overwhelming oddness ala many other fruit and spiced beers i've tried. This bottled version that I had was very flat in bubbles and head with a mid-amber hue.
It is very malty tasting, with a sort of smoked flavour, an initial "spark" of heather spritz on the tongue followed by a subdued malty finish. It must be admitted that this bottle cost more than some 6 packs but if I am ever looking to impress someone or just want to try some interesting again it would be well worth a shot.

01-28-2004 07:52:08 | More by jahsausage
Photo of Indybeer


4.1/5  rDev +9%

11.2 oz bottle. Poured a hazy copper colored, with a smallish head and some fine lacing. Awesome floral aroma meets the nose. Taste starts out with some malt sweetness, finishes with a floral spiciness from the heather! Mild carbonation. Definetly different. But a throughly enjoyable and drinkable beer. Will be picking up a few more of these soon.

01-03-2004 02:01:27 | More by Indybeer
Photo of DrunkMcDermott


3.2/5  rDev -14.9%

Bottle with "Best by 2/01" date notch. Ah, a traditional Scots drink for the only holiday in the US with a Scots aspect. And an interesting brew it is. Mossy odor when I crack the bottle. Pours a hazy brown, about pale ale color, with a thin head. Taste has some sweetness without being cloying. They don't mention if there are hops at all (don't they need some to be allowed to call it "beer," so sweetness seems balanced by heather, giving it grassy notes and the dry finish, as advertised, plus a very faint citrusy aspect. Well-made relic of those days of auld lang syne.

01-02-2004 17:20:36 | More by DrunkMcDermott
Photo of merlin48


3.6/5  rDev -4.3%

Pours an almost clear, orange amber color, with a short-lived white head that leaves a delicate ring of lacing. Nose has a floral bouquet with sweet malts in the background. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, crisp, and refreshing. Taste is, not surprisingly, unusual but quite pleasant. The heather bitters the toffee/caramel malt characters very well, resulting in a nicely balanced and very drinkable ale. If this is what the Scots drank 2,000 years ago, then they drank quite well.

01-01-2004 22:16:59 | More by merlin48
Photo of beernut7


3.93/5  rDev +4.5%

This is a really interesting concept for an ale which I clasped onto immediately. Pours a bubbly copper color with a very thin lace on the goblet. The malty aroma has tones of floral heather. The ale is very smooth and malty with a woven heather floral touch throughout. The body is refreshing with a moderate bitterness. Entirely well-balanced and easy on the senses.

01-01-2004 17:22:14 | More by beernut7
Photo of dmarch


2.78/5  rDev -26.1%

Pours with a hazy orange-amber color with minimal head, even after a vigorous pour. Aroma is the only thing this beer has going for it. A very floral aroma from the heather. This is brewed with heather in place of the hops. This really needs some bitterness though. I has sweetness and the tangy heather flavor, but in my opinion I really miss the hops.

11-29-2003 18:46:44 | More by dmarch
Photo of byrd


3.7/5  rDev -1.6%

Nice looking brew when poured. Decent frothy off-white head that reduces to a lace of tiny bubbles. Clear golden amber color. Floral aroma that is hoppy, but then again, not quite hoppy. Interesting use of something other then hops as a bittering agent. From what I’ve read elsewhere, there are no hops used in the brewing of this ale, just heather. Only a hint of malt in the aroma. Smooth brew with a medium mouthfeel and very light carbonation. Light bready malt notes with only a light sweetness. The finish has a mild bitterness that balances out the brew rather nicely. Due to the lack of hops, however, the bitterness is unique to this brew. The bottle says it has a dry winey finish. I didn’t observe this in the bottle I sampled. This was a good, drinkable brew, but did not stand out as much as I had hoped. Definitely worth a try though.

11-25-2003 15:56:59 | More by byrd
Photo of PhantomVodoo


3.6/5  rDev -4.3%

Off-white head sits atop a light caramel colored brew.
Aroma is very floral; rosewater comes to mind. Spice, fruit, toffee malt and an earthiness are also there.

Taste shows a toasty toffee malt backbone with some spice thrown in. The big player here is the floral character that makes this beer unique and interesting, but quickly became cloying to me. Again, rosewater comes to mind. Finishes fairly crisp and clean.

Mouthfeel a tad thin.
Drinkability: 1 of these is enough for me. The huge floral character began to turn me off as I neared the end of the glass.

Overall, this beer is unique and interesting. Definitely something you should give a try, but not one I'll be looking for again anytime soon.

11-25-2003 04:42:19 | More by PhantomVodoo
Photo of Shiloh

Ontario (Canada)

3.45/5  rDev -8.2%

This brew is a lot hoppier than I anticipated. Yet, the malty sweetness is prevelent at the end by a slight margin.
Full bodied with limited head, very tiny island lace and light carbonation. Deep golden hue and murky.
Aroma is lightly floral.
Minor syrupy finish...too bad!
Not a session brew...but acceptable.

11-06-2003 02:08:07 | More by Shiloh
Photo of canadianbarman

Alberta (Canada)

4/5  rDev +6.4%

--long neck, 330 ml brown bottle, freshness date on back and cool looking Celtic label.
--Poured a cloudy, dark golden color. Had a good head that thinned to small, not much for lacing.
--had a sweet, floral aroma to it.
--taste was a sweet, almost spicy taste with a full malt body.
This was a very cool beer that I bought for a few reasons. I had tried one when I was in Scotland and wanted to try it again, and it was also an interesting beer to drink. I actually enjoyed this beer and would recommend you give it a try.

11-05-2003 17:19:23 | More by canadianbarman
Photo of SetarconeX


4.72/5  rDev +25.5%

Well now, this IS a unique little brew, isn't it? I must confess, I was a little uncertain about this one. Heather's a plant usually confined to new age scented candles, isn't it? Thought it might be a bit girly.

Boy, was I ever wrong! It's got an odd taste to it, which I would call citrusy, but I expect it's more the heather. Not sure, really. Never bothered to eat any heather before. Smells wonderful though. Looks wonderful. Feels wonderful going down. Citrus isn't quite what it is though. More herbal. Like Chamomile.

Great brew. Highly recommended.

10-28-2003 06:36:27 | More by SetarconeX
Photo of ElGuapo

New Jersey

3.63/5  rDev -3.5%

A murky light copper colored brew topped in a mid-sized layer of off white foam that retains itself quite well. There are some big chunks in the bottom of the bottle. I may be chewing through them soon. The nose is filled with citrus aroma as well as a nice bouquet of spices. Definitely has the aroma of a meal. Reminded me slightly of Two Druids in the nose.

Medium body, crisp and a bit tingly on the tongue. Nice spices dominate. It is floral and a bit earthy. It is not as intensly flavored as some other herb/spiced beers, but it is definitely not lacking flavor. Some citrus notes here and there and just a bit of sweetness round it out. It is very drinkable, and even though it is dry, you could sit down with more than one. My mouth is sucked free of fluid at the end of a sip, and a nice smoky flavor lingers.

10-24-2003 04:30:41 | More by ElGuapo
Photo of Ave


3.33/5  rDev -11.4%

Pouring the color of old orange peels, that sort of burnished light ocher, this beer gives off a very pronounced floral & herb kind of yeasty aroma as a meagerly thin white head forms but then disappointingly dissipates. Lightly sweet & bitter upfront, moves to the floral malt end. Sweet dry finish, nothing remarkable or offensive left behind. Smells good, tastes ok, makes me want an Oberon. Would pair well with a dark greens salad with a big ol’ slice of camembert.


10-23-2003 13:18:41 | More by Ave
Photo of xgrigorix


3.7/5  rDev -1.6%

Half liter brown bottle, freshness date notched on back label.

Pours a glowing medium gold colour. A thin white head pops up, and quickly recedes into the depths of this chill hazed amber liquid.

Sweet fruity aroma, that says "take a sip."

A bit sweet up front, with some bready flavours. It then goes very dry, and transitions into apples & herbs. Quite unique. Medium bodied in the mount, but somehow stays heavy on the tongue after swallowing.

09-19-2003 17:15:31 | More by xgrigorix
Photo of Kwak

New Jersey

4.58/5  rDev +21.8%

This beer has a nice amber color not the purple heather they say but a nice showing.
A mild noise is following a strong head that lingers to almost stick to the side of the glass. A slightly heavy body is followed by a spicy fruity taste with a whiny finish and faint aftertaste that that just melts away.

09-18-2003 05:40:16 | More by Kwak
Photo of clvand0


2.88/5  rDev -23.4%

Interesting beer. Pours a light amber color and has very little head or carbonation. The aroma is grassy and maybe a little floral. Tastes like weeds (heather). Not too great of a taste. Interesting, yes, but not very good. The drinkability was not-so-good and the mouth feel was about average

09-12-2003 19:11:52 | More by clvand0
Photo of Suds


3.7/5  rDev -1.6%

Pours a dull, cloudy, reddish-earth color. Nice thick head that falls a little too quickly. The aroma is a mix of flowery-sweetness and fleeting hops. The taste is really remarkable. Its a mix of fruity sweetness and maltiness as well as a dry, tangy flavor. The finish is often marked with a powdery, astringent sensation. Surprisingly drinkable and very interesting.

08-31-2003 15:10:35 | More by Suds
Photo of ManekiNeko


3.93/5  rDev +4.5%

Served at RFD in Washington DC. Poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Clear light amber with precious little carbonation and head. Just a small little halo of froth at the top. No retention at all.

Smell: Subtle aromas of flowers and grass. Just a hint of sweetness lingering in the background.

Taste: The taste of the heather (grassy and floral) is quite apparent. It's then followed by a good splash of light malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Nice and warming, very crisp and light.

Drinkability: This would make a great session beer on a hot day, provided you like the flavor of the beer.

Notes: I've also had this served from a bottle and just had to try it as a cask-conditioned ale. It has been awhile since I had the bottled version, but I recall the malt flavor being a bit more prominent. The aromas and flavors of the heather are a bit stronger in the cask-conditioned version. You could probably approximate the flavor by pouring the beer into a glass and leaving it in your fridge overnight.

08-30-2003 21:45:11 | More by ManekiNeko
Photo of AtLagerHeads


3.95/5  rDev +5.1%

A very nice looking brew that is a clear deep amber with heavy hues of orange. The head is slightly off white and fairly minimal, but it does manage to leave a continual lace from the residual. This is clearly a very complex ale that provides many different sensory opportunities ranging from its earthy sense to the elegant spice notes and onward to the very malty and caramel dominance. The flavor is quite sweet with the underlying hops doing little to disturb the malty sweetness. Very smooth feel with little bite or crispness to the finish. Faint hints of the heather drift through the brew which begins to weaken on feel as the brew warms toward room temps. This is very enjoyable beer to be savored singularly on an ocassional basis.

07-19-2003 01:06:53 | More by AtLagerHeads
Photo of TheLongBeachBum


4.33/5  rDev +15.2%

Presentation: 16.9 fluid ounce (500ml) brown glass bottle. A very distinct looking label with heavy Scotia influences, including the familiar Celtic Cross which forms the basis of the labels design. Best Before April, 2005.

Appearance: Light amber with a slight golden-orange hue when backlit. Smooth looking white head stays the distance. Minimal lacing.

Nose: Wow, the fresh flowering heather that is used shines through this beer. In addition, malts, spruce trees and light coniferous forests mixed with other floral aspects contribute to the overall nose.

Taste: Flowery floral heather perfumed with light spices and mixed in with herbal twists that are all intermingled in a definitive strong amber malt base. Lively carbonation. The finish has a very dry sharp Ginger taste in the ending. Absolutely superb.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and snappy. Smooth floral flavors and a lively carbonation give a very silky feel, and solid mouthfeel to this beer.

Drinkability: For a beer with such a unique flavor, it is highly drinkable. A rather specialist beer, different and unique for sure, but it does drink exceptionally well.

Overall: Along with the Scots Alba Pine, this is one of my favorite beers from Heather Ales. It’s even better on Cask. At $3.99 for a Half-Litre in the bottle, it is rather expensive, but well worth treating yourself to one if you have yet to try it.

07-17-2003 06:19:27 | More by TheLongBeachBum
Photo of BierReise


3.53/5  rDev -6.1%

Deep golden with low retention.Nice big floral/hop aroma.Babysbreath? Flavor is sweet and floral with good hops and sweet malts. A most interesting flavor. Earthy, woodsy and sweet. Body is a bit light but interesting blends make up for that shortcoming. Not one I'd drink often but I'd love to try it on draught.

07-16-2003 00:52:07 | More by BierReise
Photo of TheDM


3.58/5  rDev -4.8%

This brew poured a small sized head of fine to medium sized off white bubbles. It has a cloudy amber brown body with some carbonation clinging to the side of the glass. It had a smooth malty initial taste with some, but not much tang to the finish. It was very smooth with a good full bodied flavor.

07-15-2003 16:15:21 | More by TheDM
Photo of mickeymac


4.1/5  rDev +9%

Poured from a 500 ml bottle with the Pagan label, it pours a very nice looking gold that's just a bit hazy. The white head is initially thin and then disappears almost immediately. The smell is a very pleasant flower/herb, with a hint of medicine and a nice malt backbone. The taste is most noticeably herbal. It has a dry finish and is really very smooth. It certainly is a nice change from hops, but not an everyday beer.

07-08-2003 20:13:35 | More by mickeymac
Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 992 ratings.