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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

1,059 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,059
Reviews: 707
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 13.07%
Wants: 51
Gots: 45 | 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: 1,059 | Reviews: 707 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cbl2
3.15/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Light golden brown with to no head.


floral aroma indicating the presence of hops.


Light malt characteristics up front followed by floral flavors & a mildly bitter finish. A decent beer, though nothing exceptional about it.

Photo of RocketWidget
3.39/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy gold color, with good white lacy head and good carbonation. Smell of herbs, a grassy smell, or possibly heather flowers. Taste is very...different, I still cant decide if I like it or not. No hops, instead a sweet and bitter herbal taste combines with the malt profile of this beer. Good mouthfeel and quite drinkable once you get over the weirdness of it. I would drink this if given to me, but I don't think I would ever buy it again (unless my girlfriend, who's name is Heather, asked me to get it for her...)

Photo of moulefrite
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Color here is a deep golden with a tinge of copper. A creamy, soft looking white cap just coats the top of the glass. The retention is good and sticky lace patterns appear with each taste. Aromas are floral and malty-sweet and somewhat fruity. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a dry, somewhat vinous feel. Flavors are soft, subtle and easy to enjoy. Interesting flavors include fresh flower (heather?) cocoa powder, dark chocolate, dish soap?!! (heather?) A sweet flowery/malty flavor with caramel traces finishes things up. A very different and interesting beverage to pass over the palate indeed.

Photo of putnam
4.57/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've heard this brewer made the observation that many Americans don't appreciate subtlety. Well this is the test.
Aromatically it is a judged, sober display of nutty malts, morel mushrooms and wild floral resins. Pretty and delicate with the promise of deep, nuanced forest and earth.
On the palate it begins immediately with chalky, bitter hop extracts which don't quite contain an abundance of preserved lemon, peach and buttered berry fruit. Medium-bodied and perfectly dry. Ideal with a barley soup containing chervil and lamb.
This is how a start-up beer should taste. Even better as it warms.

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

Poured a hazy yellow with a thin white head. Has an herby aroma . The taste I can most compare with a belgian strong pale ale or triple, although it is lighter and more herbal. This beer has a mildly fruity and alcoholy dry finish. This is a refreshing, interesting ale. Although, I was expecting something more unusual tasting with the lack of hops, but this is a nice beer worth trying.

Photo of Cwrw
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Historic beer. The website claims that this type of ale could possibly be amongst the oldest styles ever brewed, dating perhaps back literally thousands of years. The bottle information cites that the recipe for this beer is from the 1500s, so it certainly does have pedigree, at the very least 500 years old.

The appearance is surprisingly normal: I was expecting a dark, wine-like liquid with little or no head. However, this is one good looking beer: a thick viscous near-white head that leaves great lace, a light, hazy, medium-golden, light brown colour.
This has much more of a typical, but attractive, "beer" appearance than I was expecting.
The aroma is indeed very flowery; such as freshly plucked wild flowers or perfumed brush blossoms. I smell scents of peppermint, raspberries, strong but soft spices, and nice amber malt.
A very unique and flavourful taste. Soft floweriness on the front of the tongue, mild in the middle with more of the same, but with some slight sweetness of the malt, and a balanced bitterness on the finish, with a very, very fresh barley taste left lingering on the tongue, heightened by the highly fragrant heather presence. The finish is by far the best part of the taste. For those of you who have been to Scotland and smelt the wild heather, you will know that the brewers have conjured the aroma of heather quite well in this treasured time-honoured beer. The mouthfeel is not powerful or off-putting at all; in truth I was actually expecting an altogether bolder feel on the mouth, considering the ingredients of this ale. I believe it could use a little more body, perhaps a strengthening of the heather flavour. This factor, however, makes it a highly drinkable beer, whilst perhaps sacrificing some more potential taste. This is hard to review with "style" in mind, because it is the only heather ale I have ever tried. I thoroughly enjoyed this, however. All I can say is that a stronger heather flavour would satisfy me all the more so. I believe they could make this a truly exceptional and very exclusive beer for only a select few people with discerning palates. Very singular, very unique. You may enjoy this more if you have visited Scotland.

Photo of Hunter
3.99/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours slightly hazy golden color. Off-white head that pours thick and hangs out for a while. Carbonation sends thin threads of tiny bubbles off the sides of the glass.

The smell was intoxicating. Hints of flower, alcohol, and unidentified spice. No hops, but the other aromas compensate. I seem to have spent an equal amount of time with my nose in the glass as my mouth.

Taste is wine-like, dry and astringent. You can taste the alcohol but it's never overpowering or unpleasant. Mouthfeel is thin, with little aftertaste. Interplay of ingredients on the tongue assures you'll come back to this beer to figure tham all out. Works well as either a winter or summer brew.

Photo of Zorro
4.2/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a mildly hazy golden brew.

Smell is sweet malt and a musky flower scent and a touch of honey.

Taste is elusive, you think it is going to be sweet but it is not. Very mild malt flavor and the taste of the heather flowers. The sweetness and flavor are on the tongue for a moment and then disappears in to a mild bitterness. Astonishing dryness flavor, similar to a very dry mead.

Mouthfeel is Very light, but in this case it contributes to the dryness of the brew.

Very drinkable brew, a unique beer that everyone should try.

Photo of CBFanWish
4.6/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sweet, heather, grassy, smokey. Just a few words to describe this fantastic brew. I wish more breweries would use heather in place of hops more often. This is on of the best beers I have ever had. I guess you could say that I'm speechless. I love everything about it. The superbly balanced taste. Sweet and dry at the same time. The orange colour with a perfect two finger head. The smooth feel going down. I could drink this all day.

Photo of Crotor
4.46/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Dear God this stuff is heavenly.

Clear, light amber in color with a low, brit-style head, Fraoch Heather Ale presents little in the way of apprearance. However, the subtle but substantial floral bouquet brought about by the use of heather flowers is to die for. Light in body and alcohol, highly drinkable, pleasantly floral - this is an ideal beer for summer consumption. Without hop bitterness to mask the malt, the subtleties of pale malts has never been more pronounced. The yeast character is similar to that of Belgian brews, slight esters complementing the heather aroma.

Photo of tjd25
3.45/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark orange color. The head disappeared very quickly. Aromas of spices and dry grass (I guess that's heather). Malts in the smell too.

Very low carbonation (maybe an old bottle). Aromas of dark malts, with the same spiced grass aspect as in the smell. A bit winy too. The body was very thin, too thin in my opinion. Not much complexity in this beer. The beer leaves a long lasting chewy mouthfeel that was not really enjoyable.

The fact that the label announces that it is still illegal to use heather to brew beer in England, but that they still do it (they are big rebels) isn't sufficient to get me excited about this beer.

Photo of bighops
3.69/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this beer along side a couple Sam Adams so it was an interesting contrast. My first impression was the bottle. Very cool logo and artwork - it made me expect something celtic in nature. Poured up a dark golden, almost orange or maybe red but had very little head. What head it did have was lost quickly. The color still looked nice in the glass however. The aroma was easily classified as floral, sweet with a hint of malty... something. A bit fruity maybe. The taste was sweeter than I expected. With the strong floral scent, I often expect a balance of bitter hops, but this one wasn't that bitter. It felt not flat in my mouth, but the carbination was pretty weak - it somehow fit with the light body though. I enjoyed the taste, but not enough to drink a lot of it. I could see this being something of a desert beer. And I bet it would be good with a sharp cheese.

Photo of mschofield
4.32/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy, orange-amber with a two finger white head, left webs of lacing behind.
Very floral aroma, malty and sweet, note of pine trees.
Sweet and floral taste, lightly toasted malt, a little fruity.
Dry and full bodied, an odd biting flavor note, the bitterness is mild.
This was one of the most floral accented beers I've had, it's rather unique.

Photo of inebrius
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I like my flowers without sugar.

I dig the whole history thing going on here, yet I pity those poor old bastards that only had the choice of swilling this saccharine goo. Nose of jam slathered buttermilk biscuits laid out among orchids and pecan turtles with a few star anise thrown about Martha style. Honey nutty chewy like those squirrel candies you could never get the friggin' wrapper off and then you finally did and your buddy started messin' with you and you both tussled on the summer clover and dry earth and in headlock slobbered your squirrel candy on the turf until you got in a good rib shot then tossed the soil sodden candy back into your mouth and maybe that tastes like Fraoch.

I like it. I probably won't ever drink it again.

Photo of donnebaby
4.2/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This is a splendid brew. It pours a cloudy bronze, like thick honey. The head seems to naturally bubble off the body. The nose is sweet, flower-scented malts, unique. The taste was light and rich, with distinct flowers and blueberries. Light hops round it out.

Mouthfeel was lacking for me, pretty dead--but I've come to expect that from the Scottish beers I've had.

My overall impression of this beer was the taste of eating a fresh blueberry with it's skin peeled off, if you know that taste.

Photo of jlervine
4.05/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a lightly hazy yellow orange with a nice white head. The smell is incredibly malty and has a lovely sweet floral aroma. the taste is very nice - the malts remind me of a typical English style pale ale or bitter, and the heather seems to augment it quite well. This is a bit of herbalness in the finish that reminds you that this is not a typical English style pale ale or bitter, but the malt structure is quite solid with caramelized and pale malt flavors being predominant. Very smooth and drinkable, fantastic session beer.

Photo of woemad
3.3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle purchased at Huckleberry's in Spokane.

Poured a cloudy orange-gold color. Head was white and disappeared quickly.

Smell was faint and consisted of floral and slightly piney notes. I haven't the faintest idea what heather is supposed to smell like, so I am unable to ascertain whether or not the smell is authentic.

The taste of this beer could best be described as easygoing. It is very softly floral tasting, like a pale ale with most of its hoppiness siphoned off somewhere. A sweet malt aspect lingers in the distant background. The finish is very dry.

This has an oily mouthfeel, but not much else. A bit thin for my tastes.

This is modestly drinkable, as there is nothing about it that is bad. Nevertheless, there is nothing particularly memorable about it either. I won't go out of my way to have this again.

Photo of francisweizen
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of JackTheRipper
2/5  rDev -46.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

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.

Photo of jahsausage
3.76/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

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.

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

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.

Photo of DrunkMcDermott
3.2/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of merlin48
3.6/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of beernut7
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of dmarch
2.84/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

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.

Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 1,059 ratings.