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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

1,070 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,070
Reviews: 711
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 13.07%
Wants: 50
Gots: 51 | 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: 1,070 | Reviews: 711
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.

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.

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Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 1,070 ratings.