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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 UncleJimbo
4.47/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

16.9 oz (0.5 L) brown glass bottle, capped.
"Heather ale has been brewed in Scotland since 2000 B.C."
Best By Dec 2002 notched on label.

This ale poured a hazy, golden-orangish color with creamy white foam. The smell was very nice: sweet, malty, flowery, with yeast and citrus aromas, too. The taste was slightly sweet (honey-like), lightly flowery, with some citrus, and a slight bitterness (hops?) in the finish. The mouthfeel was very smooth and creamy, with medium body and low carbonation. This ale was extremely drinkable! I was very impressed and suprised. I had seen this in the store many times, but for some reason was turned off by the thought of "heather" in a beer, but wow, was I sorely mistaken. This is one fine ale!

UncleJimbo, Mar 22, 2003
Photo of zacharius
3.95/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer came in a non standard size bottle but it had a very cool label with celtic designs. Fraoch pours a pale ale with a thin white head that dissapates quickly. The taste is mostly of herbal tea (the heather I suppose) but there is also some beer under there. The malt that comes through tastes like your average low end pale ale so it's a good thing that only a little comes through. The herbal tones of this ale is what makes it good. Complex earthy and almost honeylike flavors nip at your tounge. Like hops, heather has a mild sedative effect so it is a good herb for beer. This is definatly an ale I will be drinking more of.

zacharius, Mar 22, 2003
Photo of PatandDavid
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oh my, I gave this straight fours...

Pours a deep orange color, into my British pint glass, about 1/4 of head. The head does dissipate after a while, and it's not leaving any lace on my glass.

Nice full mouthfeel, bit of sweet malty flavor that is thankfully understated.

The beer before me is very enjoyable, perhaps a bit thick for a session beer. It's even better on cask.

It's a nice change from most beers, and one I would recommend for every once in a while drinking.


PatandDavid, Mar 13, 2003
Photo of cncbofh
4.35/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A "rose" of a beer. Light caramel color with a nearly undetectable head. Smell of flowers and pine needles. It smelled and tasted just like the label looked... like a forest.
The taste was remarkably good and it went down smooth, leaving little on the palette after the fact. I highly appreciate this one and look forward to having it again.

cncbofh, Feb 25, 2003
Photo of Reidrover
3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this in a 11.2 oz slim brown bottle with an ancient Pictish style label had a freshness date of Dec 2004.
The appearance is good a darkish honey brown but nothing too special small head that leaves a tiny halo of lace round the edge.
Smell is surprisinglly malty with a backing of a fresh rain scent.
Thetase is deceptivlly sweet..thats what you taste first then you get a real strong "scotch whisky"/ aftertaste peaty a wee bit even..very nice
Feels good in the mouth not too much carbonation...and is very drinkable in my opinion

Reidrover, Feb 22, 2003
Photo of Realale
4.15/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle with a best before date of December, 2003.

Clear gold, with just a blush of red. A vigorous pour produced a nice one inch finely beaded head that settled very quickly to thin but complete cap.

Nose is crisp, crackery malt. Slight sulphur smell, and a nice floral/citrus note - like lavender with a bit of orange peel.

Nice and round in the mouth. The initial impact is the floral/citrus thing, which is soon overtaken by a full maltiness in the mid-palate.

The finish is not long, and a bit sharp, which keeps the malt from being overwhelming. Its not an overly-complex brew, but it is well-balanced and very quaffable. A very good session beer.

Realale, Feb 06, 2003
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.88/5  rDev +29.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

"It looks pretty," said the young clerk, scanning my bottle, "is it good?" Good only begins to describe this beauty, and while the label is among the best designs in the world of beer, prettiness continues on every aspects of this classic ale.
Color is a rich orange, and the head is moderate, off-whitish. Aroma is refreshing and upliftingly lovely : honey, foremost, and flowers, roses, herbal, vegetal, fresh, and sweet. Light in body, but full in flavor, incomparably smooth in taste. Perfect balance. Solid malt, less hops, but the heather and honey flavor make up for lack of hoppiness, and make for a perfectly delightful beverage.
The taste is so light, sweet, and utterly ethereal, this belongs in a class of it's own. Lovely, full texture, honey, citrus shining through with every sip! Perfect with food, dessert, or when you deserve a reward for being an exceptional example of humankind.

feloniousmonk, Feb 06, 2003
Photo of AudioGilz
4.43/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a cloudy light iced tea color, with not much of a head.
Smell: a very enticing spicy nature and floral notes.
Taste: Very smooth, cinnamon and nutmeg was noticeable at first, and then an apple ciderish dry finish. The aftertaste resembled some herbal teas. It was very easy to drink.
Mouthfeel: Medium to fairly light mouthfeel with a dry finish.

This scottish ale was a pleasure to drink. It's very refreshing and I will definitely be a repeat buyer of it.

AudioGilz, Jan 26, 2003
Photo of JISurfer
3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I really liked this huge beer. I say huge, cause I got it in a bottle that was like a 22oz or bigger. I saw on their website the history of the beer and what it was all about, so that turned me on too. I liked the smooth fruity taste that it embowed, plus the almost pine-like taste too. The finish was good and easy to swallow, so it wasn't harsh on the buds.

JISurfer, Jan 02, 2003
Photo of Gusler
3.33/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The pour is a pellucid deep orange or amber, if you so desire with a creamy beige head that is average in size, the lace is decent and clinging. Nose is earthy, heather; peat or smoke tones also present. Front somewhat sweet, the top skimpy, finish is sparingly carbonated, dry somewhat bitter aftertaste. A different taste, not unpleasant, but I miss the hops, and the bite, but still for something different, give it a try.

Gusler, Nov 28, 2002
Photo of doerickson
3.23/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Golden coloring with a thick white head. Medium carbonation. Has a fruity, and believe it or not, a kind of beef stew/bouillon aroma as well. Has a flower-petaly flavor; herbal and spicy also. Has a tendency to dry the mouth out. Not bad, unique in its way; tastes well made, and it's drinkable for what it is, but it's not something I'd go back to with any frequency. Nice to taste something so different, though.

doerickson, Nov 16, 2002
Photo of johnrobe
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

According to the Q3 2001 issue of Malt Advocate, Mel Gibson flew in several cases of this brew for the Braveheart Oscar party as an alternative to the usual champagne. Way to go Mel !!

A hazy light amber in the glass with a two finger white head (aggressively poured). The smell is slight with some floral and fruity notes. This brew reminds me of a cross between a Belgian Tripel, Mead, and a dry cider...although lighter bodied. Honeysuckle and fruity esters (apple) dominate and there is a healthy dose of brown spice in the crisp finish.
Kudos to Heather Ale Ltd. for reviving an ancient style!

johnrobe, Oct 29, 2002
Photo of the42ndtourist
4.68/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my kind of beer. Fraoch pours out a deep golden colour with very little head. The nose is pleasantly floral and herby. Taste is also herby. I admit to no knowledge of the flavour of heather, but the taste I got from this beer was similar to rosemary. The flavour wasn't too strong, but was well equipped for the strength of the beer's own flavour. Not too heavy a feel in the mouth and went down smoothly. Only loses marks tor the lack of head.

the42ndtourist, Oct 21, 2002
Photo of cokes
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazed solid golden. Murkier with the slight yeast pour (duh).
Aromatics of pale or pils malts and some subtle floral tones. Not as different as I expected.
Taste starts off on the pale malt end. Some of honey and, fainter, carmel. Begins to get floral halfway through. Not hoppy (obviously), though not unlike them. Juicy floral blossoms, mixed with leaves and stems.
Medium bodied, stays crisp through the carbonation.
Pleasant all around, but not hugely memorable... if they were drinking this good 4000 yrs ago....wow.

cokes, Oct 10, 2002
Photo of zerk
3.95/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

What an interesting beer... hazy golden copper, with thin lace which has large bubbles resting on it. Aroma of sweet malt and spice. Flavor begins with some grainy flavor, with a spicy / herbal tea-like finish. Just a hint of bitterness in the finish, with an alcoholic warming effect. Medium body with some prickly carbonation. The history of this beer alone makes it worth a try... a very good change of pace.

zerk, Oct 07, 2002
Photo of Jordan
4.28/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Fraoch, what an interesting brew. Brewed at the beginning of written history, four thousand years ago. Who knows how long before that it had been made. It's hard not to imagine what those times must have been like, and the great appreciation one must of had for the ale.

It is times like this when I regret having to give a beer a score. Every beer has a time and place. Though the flavors may be alien, we really need to consider giving it a grade appropriate for the style and resist the temptations to contrast it with other styles!

Jordan, Sep 14, 2002
Photo of stcules
3.83/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The smell is floreal and herbaceous. The taste is different than the smell let's think. It's sweet, but not sickly. It has a very equlibrated taste, with honey in the smell. I noted the absence of hop, and it's strange than without it, this beer appear very equilibrated.

stcules, Sep 03, 2002
Photo of marc77
3.73/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Slightly hazy orange / amber in hue, topped by a thin, but tight layer that leaves loose lace. Pungently floral and spicy aroma from a combination of Kent Goldings hops and Heather accompanied by lightly tart esters, dry bready malt and light caramel sweetness. A combination of mild hop and dried heather petal bitterness is perceptible at first, but dry biscuit and bread notes quickly assert themselves and diminish both light caramel and residual sweetness. Hop flavor is meager and masked by the spicy Heather flavor. The light body and mild overall malt profile allows the flavors of heather and biscuit to dominate in a pleasant manner that helps with the drinkability. Finishes very dry w/ lingering toasty malt notes. Fraoch is an unusual brew-- the heather petals added both a bitterness and flavor that provided uniqueness to this otherwise unremarkable beer. I could see this beer becoming cloying after more than two, however.

marc77, Aug 14, 2002
Photo of Reverand
4.5/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Truely a unique brew. Fraoch pours into a golden color with a nice white head. The herbs and spices flow up to the nose as if to invite you to drink this incredible brew. One taste of this and you are hooked.

Reverand, Jul 09, 2002
Photo of Wildman
3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the easiest of the Heather Ales to get in my area. It pours out a nice golden color with a nice light tan head. A nice hops aroma to it and other aromas that might be the heather. Intesting body to it, slightly fizzy due to the clearly evident higher level of carbination. Seems a bit cloudy, but it may be due to that.

Wildman, Jun 09, 2002
Photo of sprinkle
4.43/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Slight golden in color.Nice floral nose,and a little malty.Decent head.The taste of this is like no other that I have ever had,very drinkable if it wasn't about 4 bucks a bottle.I wish other people would try this style.

sprinkle, Jun 03, 2002
Photo of aracauna
3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was a very interesting beer. Very malty. The heather flowers apparently aren't very bitter, but they do lend a very subtle floral quality to the taste. I'd be willing to drink this again I think. Very interesting beer. It was a surprising find. I just happened upon it at a liquor store I frenquent and there was one bottle sitting there. I had never seen it before.

aracauna, May 16, 2002
Photo of Jason
4.15/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Slightly hazed with a thin white lace. Nice use of the heather, perhaps a bit over carbonated for my liking. The sweet heather flavour plays well of the dry malt character.

Jason, Apr 15, 2002
Photo of ADR
3.93/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Best before date of Dec. 2001. Real interesting old recipe -- heather flowers replace (or supplement) the hops. Hazy brown with darker than usual sediment. Small head that stays around for a minute. Musty, winey aroma, a little clove maybe. Impressive mouthfeel, a little spiced banana and apple-like flavor. Interesting flavor with residual yeasty/fruity/flowery impression. The smell works well with the taste on a deep drink. Beer is a little on the sticky side, though. Are heather flowers related to hops?

ADR, Apr 15, 2002
Photo of Viking
3.8/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a very interesting beer. I enjoyed it, but it's not something I want to have when I kick back a put down a few pints. It's got a nice cloudy amber-colored body, with a thick head that quickly fades. The aroma is a bit thin, but spicy - a bit like the scent of a forest. The taste is what truly sets this beer apart. The herbal taste dominates (sage comes to mind) and has a very dry finish.

Viking, Apr 07, 2002
Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 1,005 ratings.