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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 SetarconeX
4.72/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 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.

SetarconeX, Oct 28, 2003
Photo of ElGuapo
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

ElGuapo, Oct 24, 2003
Photo of Ave
3.33/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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.


Ave, Oct 23, 2003
Photo of xgrigorix
3.7/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

xgrigorix, Sep 19, 2003
Photo of Kwak
4.58/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Kwak, Sep 18, 2003
Photo of clvand0
2.88/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

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

clvand0, Sep 12, 2003
Photo of Suds
3.7/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Suds, Aug 31, 2003
Photo of ManekiNeko
3.93/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

ManekiNeko, Aug 30, 2003
Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.95/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

AtLagerHeads, Jul 19, 2003
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.33/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

TheLongBeachBum, Jul 17, 2003
Photo of BierReise
3.53/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

BierReise, Jul 16, 2003
Photo of TheDM
3.58/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

TheDM, Jul 15, 2003
Photo of mickeymac
4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

mickeymac, Jul 08, 2003
Photo of jreitman
3/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Very aromatic beer with a lot of spice in the nose and a hint of smoke. Spcies come through in the mouth and leave a biting finish. A mint-like flavor was perceived in the flavor after a while. Found this one to be a bit astringent and couldn't get past it. Aftertaste was not so pleasant. Hops were not present at all.

jreitman, Jul 05, 2003
Photo of Brent
2.68/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

After having been impressed with the two other beers I've sampled from this brewery, the Fraoch was a letdown. For a beer that touts itself as being brewed with heather, I really expected quite a bit of floral notes in the aroma and flavor. The heather seemed to lend more of a stodgy herbal flavor. Quite typical of Scottish ale in the malt, which was substantial but overall bland. The heather never did anything to liven the beer, and my overall impression was "blah." Not bad, just boring.

Brent, Jun 13, 2003
Photo of Morris729
4.22/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a golden light amber color with some black pieces of sediment that sink to the bottom of the glass. Nose is sweet nectar, honey, and flowers with a touch of smoky peat. The taste is complex being full in flavor and yet also delicate at the same time with notes of spicy herbs, honey, fruit, dry malts, and dry white wine. A grand brew and one of the most unique beers I have sampled. A must-try for anyone. Thanks to Loki for the sample!

Morris729, Jun 06, 2003
Photo of IronDjinn
4.2/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Came in a 500ml brown bottle with freshness date on the back. Great label. Hazy golden straw colour, nice big foamy white head, good lacing. The smell is fantastic, berries, flowers, a little bit of grass, very sweet. Flavour is sweet and flowery, some hay, a crisp aftertaste but not too dry. Something you could sip on all day, especially in the great outdoors in the sun.

IronDjinn, Jun 01, 2003
Photo of BeerBuilder
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy, orangish-yellow color with a thick, creamy head. The malty, fruity, and floral. It also has an interesting aroma, I am sure which is the heather. I have never smelt heather before, let alone in a beer, but I found this to be a very fragrant beer. The flavor is malty, floral and grassy. It is a very smooth, easy drinking, light-medium bodied beer. An interesting beer, with a unique flavor and aroma.

BeerBuilder, May 29, 2003
Photo of bditty187
4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hazy, honey-bronze, ½ inch of bubbly white head, quick to collapse, soapy… some specks of lace. The nose was very light, kind of floral with kisses of caramel and wood. Now this is a unique palate, sweet but not cloying, floral, soft marshmallows, wood, light & dry bread notes. Surprisingly complex considering how mellow and soft the flavor are. Lovely aftertaste… soft floral & marshmallows. Medium-light body, minimal carbonation, this is a smooth quaff. The only drawback is the tackiness on your tongue. Overall this is an excellent beer! Recommended!

Freshness Date: Dec. 2004

Thanks Loki for my first Heather Ale, I loved it.

bditty187, May 21, 2003
Photo of ZAP
4.22/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first Heather Ale...great floral nose as you'd expect...very unique...also some sweet maltiness on the nose....pours an orange tinted gold....cloudy....no head...or lace as you drink....body is medium...firm enough....big floral flavor combines with a zesty spiciness..the sweet malt is there as well and adds a nice dimension....a real interesting beer to taste...Not one I'd be able to drink a lot of but a nice change of pace....I love unique beers and to me this is pretty unique...

ZAP, May 19, 2003
Photo of Loki
4.03/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled in an 11.5 oz bottle with a best before date on the back and a story about the recipe and the history of this brew. Comes in a 4-pack with very nice packaging.

Before I begin this review I have to completely agree with kindestcut in that I have no idea what to compare it to, so I am rating it on personal tastes alone. I see that there are other Heather Ales out there and Heather Ales Ltd. makes other brews so I shall have to try them and revisit this ale, but onto the review.

This ale pours a clear golden apricot in color with almost no head. There was a miniscule head for a split second then it was gone. This beer leaves little to no lacing. I deducted points for this, but is this the style? If it is then it nailed it, if it?s suppose to have a head and lacing, well then I probably should have deducted more.

The aromas of this unique ale are quite floral, very clean, and have hints of citrus. The dominating smell was very familiar, but I couldn?t place it. That is until my fiancée (it?s proven that women have better olfactory senses) smelled my beer. She almost immediately associated the smell with ginger and more specifically with the ginger dressing you would get at a Japanese steak house. Once she said that I identified it right away and it became even more prominent. I would like to say again that the aromas are very, very clean.

The taste is very dry and clean with a beginning malty sweetness that fades into a slight hoppy bitterness. The taste of ginger dressing dominates this ale with hints of citrus and a very slight honey sweetness. I would have to imagine that heather smells much like ginger or that the heather combined with malt or honey gives it this flavor. A very enjoyable and very unique ale. It would be interesting to pair this with a night at your Japanese steak house.

The mouth feel is very crisp and clean and goes down very easily. This is a very drinkable brew and would make for interesting food parings. I think I?ll have another.

Loki, May 15, 2003
Photo of kindestcut
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a beer that I had been wanting to try for awhile. As a history teacher/buff, I was very interested in trying Fraoch, an ancient beer brewed in Scotland for a couple of thousand years. Alas, Fraoch is not sold in Texas but luckily, a fellow BA came to the rescue (thanks Loki!) and a trade later, I had two bottles of the stuff.

I must make one statement. I am easily swayed in my opinions by things that I find interesting. Beer is no exception. The concept of a historical recipe is fascinating to me. I'm not saying that I would give a bad beer a good rating simply because I think it's cool. What I am saying is that I take into account that historical artifacts (and this would be a "modern artifact") are what they are. If heather ale is not the best beer in the world, it doesn't lessen its significance. This beer (or something similar to it) was important to people living in Scotland thousands of years ago. To change the recipe for modern tastes would do a disservice to everyone involved.

Having said that, I have to say that I was surprised at how, well, beer-like Fraoch looks. I don't know what I was expecting but this beer looks like beer! Fraoch pours a clear gold, like bottled sunshine. I have read the reviews that say it's clody but I ddn't see it. maybe it was the hefe-weizen I had earlier in the night that "clouded" my judgement. (I can't resist a pun) The head is a slight off-white. Fraoch really does look nice.

The main problem with rating this beer is, what do I compare it to? What stadard do I use? I have never had a heather ale or historical recipe. This beer is unique to me.

The aroma is sour, with a very faint floral and hint of alcohol...very faint. I wish I could say it smelled like heather but I have to be honest...I don't know what heather smells like...this beer maybe?

Fraoch has a definite sweet flavor, with a very distant bitterness that flashes quickly and is gone. There is a very faint aftertaste that also lasts only a moment. This beer is very clean tasting, nicely carbonated and very spicy.

All-in-all, Fraoch is a good beer. I enjoyed this beer quite a lot, and it is quite interesting, but it's more interesting than it is tasty. This does not mean it's bad. It doesn't mean I will never want another. What it does mean to me is that this beer has an element that many others do not have, along with appearance, aroma, taste, etc. Fraoch has "history" and that gets high marks from me.

kindestcut, May 14, 2003
Photo of hotstuff
3.28/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I was not totally impressed by this particular brew. It poured a medium head and it did leave a good lacing on the sides of my mug. To me it had a fruity, citrusy aroma to it. In my opinion it had a bitter taste to it and I noticed it had an aftertaste. It also had a cloudy appearance.

hotstuff, May 04, 2003
Photo of Garin
3.48/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours cloudy, and is a peachy golden yellow colour. The head is quite thin, and disappears almost immediately. The aroma is slight but sharp, with flowery, herbal scents dominating some hop and yeast aromas underneath.

The flavour is mild, sweet, and herbal at the start, with slightly medicinal hoppy tones. Bitter and earthy tones develop further along. The finish is clean, with almost no aftertaste. As I get through this pint, malty flavours develop and linger.

In the mouth, this beer feels soft and full.

Overall, I find this beer to be quite decent. The herbal flavours are interesting, and it's easy drinking.

Garin, Apr 10, 2003
Photo of goz
3.53/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours clear medium golden, with a thick white head, slowly dimishes to a good lacing. Aroma is sweet, flowery, grassy, like a spring day. Flavor is clean, spicy, sweet, flowery. Hints of rosemary in both the aroma and flavor started to come through about midway. Body is medium, ends dry, lingering flavor.

goz, Mar 23, 2003
Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 1,005 ratings.