1. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $14.99 (US/print only). Offer ends April 30. Subscribe now! (Because great beer deserves great stories AND readers.)

Fraoch 20th Anniversary Ale - Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Fraoch 20th Anniversary AleFraoch 20th Anniversary Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

71 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 71
Reviews: 50
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 11.03%
Wants: 17
Gots: 9 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Williams Brothers Brewing Company visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: jgasparine on 10-28-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (40) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view more.
Ratings: 71 | Reviews: 50
Reviews by BeerFMAndy:
Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.39/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle split and poured into a Duvel tulip. 11% ABV. Bottle number 0951 of 7,500. No date.

Thanks to Johnmichaelsen for this trade from months ago!

A - Well, the settled sediment was roused by the plastic-corked beer (Really? Come on...) being a gusher. Surprisingly enough the dense cream head didn't last too long. Good coating of lace though. The beer is a sediment-filled, hazy golden yellow.

S - Strong aroma of white pepper and a myriad of spices. A light fruitiness compliments the brett-like while yeast aroma. The funk is totally welcome in this beer though as it adds very nicely to the mellow, smooth nose of whiskey.

T - Delicious spicy and herbal flavor. Mild wood compliments the wild yeast flavor and low hints of whiskey but none of the 11% pokes out at all. Fruity notes compliment the rest of the flavor well.

M - Medium-bodied for how much sediment is in it. Feels lighter than it really is with tons of carbonation and a lightly sour finish.

D - No trace of the 11% is just crazy. The flavors blend so well in this beer. A fantastic beer I wish I could have got more of since it's so limited. Easily drinkable to the point of being dangerous.

More User Reviews:
Photo of brownbeer
4.29/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The biggest turn-off about this beer is the fact that it comes in a nice champagne bottle but has a plastic twist-off cork. Where's the presentation?

Pours a filtered bronze color with a fluffy, white head.

Smells like you poured whiskey into apple cider until it opens up, then it gets pretty interesting. Unlike anything i've ever tasted or smelled. Vanilla, oxidized apple cider, caramel, pie crust, sherry. It's liqueur-like.

On the palate, again, apple juice, vanilla, flowers, caramel, a little more whiskey and sherry come out as it warms. Light bodied without being watery and the 11% is hidden extremely well.

This is a very colorful beer in character. I'm not crazy about it, but I can't deny its quality either. Worth a try.

Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jon's bottle, found at the border in Michigan at a little store. I like this brewery and the styles, and this is their barleywine. COmplex with whiskey, bitterness, floral and a sour finish. A sipper, with a tad above average mouthfeel and carbonation right there. Mediium orange colour with some lace. Sherry in the aroma, and distinct in the first few sips.

Photo of tempest
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Split this with a friend at Tap and Table in Emmaus. I was surprised to find something more along the lines of an American wild ale or gueuze. It was distinctly sour with clean lemon peel, yet nicely balanced by sweet bready malt. There's a light herbal spice, but this beer has a relatively mild character for the strength, reminding me of an undercarbonated (but tasty) white wine.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.35/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

750 mL bottle poured into a mini snifter. Plastic cork is strange.

Appearance - Deep orange with a fleeting white head. Nothing after a few moments.

Smell - Whoa, it's weird. Some acidity. Lactic. Malty and sweet. Whiskey. Oak. Crazy.

Taste - Again, it's all sorts of strange. Whiskey comes through. Still a bit of tang to it that I didn't expect. Oaky. Malty. Herbal. Very strange.

Mouthfeel - Sweet, low carbonation. Some tang, but not anything I'd call sour. Some booze.

Overall - Someone likened it to a whiskey sour. Probably an oversimplification, but an apt descriptor.

Photo of KYGunner
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The nose is a lot like a Barleywine with dark fruits and decadent chocolate malts, but there's a bit of earthy peat and perfume to set it apart.

This drinks like a port with alcohol laced prunes, dates and other dark fruits. This is a very smooth sipper.

Photo of emerge077
3.69/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Looks to be the 2009 vintage, marked down on a seasonal shelf in MN.
Carefully poured in a taster glass, it has some clarity but there are random floating chunks in suspension. Lasting ring of foam with arcs of lace in the glass. Maintains some froth during the whole glass.

Tart with a musty cellar funk to it. Apple notes remind me of sherry, could be from the cask.

Tart with a middling sherry sweetness, almost tangy. Fuller feel, savory with a pervasive tangy fruit taste. Lower carbonation. Unusual, not sure if its worth the price tag at this point. If you love sherry and tart old ale, this might be up your alley.

Photo of FreshHawk
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Tawny, whisky colored with an average sized, foamy, bubbly, white head. Average retention with a thin layer of bubbly lace.

S - Good amount of oaky and vanilla aroma with a decent herbal/spice aroma with heather being strong. Sweet citrus and some other fruitiness.

T - Strong herbal and woody tones in the taste. These were almost too strong for me, but they had enough balance not to be off-putting. Floral aspects were also fairly present with some citrus undertones. The whisky aspects tied in with the herbal and woody taste with some peat and vanilla coming out. Fairly well spiced along with the heather taste.

M - Medium body with a lot of carbonation. Very dry with a lot of bubbly carbonation as well with a definite drying finish.

D - A little heavy on the spice, herbal/heather taste for me to want to keep drinking it, but it makes a decent sipper to finish off a night. Not one I'd want to drink a lot of, but a nice beer to try and sip for a night.

Notes: Bottle 1635, bottled July 2009, Best Before 2019. Not entirely sure how I feel about this one. It was interesting and a nice one to sip, but the herbal, spice, and woody flavors were a little much. Worth a try if you can find it, but I don't know if I would want to get it again.

Photo of Chinookie
3.94/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Had been saving this one in the cellar since 2009. Bottle #0997 of 7500.

Foamed up a bit upon opening but fortunately had a glass handy to avoid wastage. Immediate aroma of floral and crisp apple cider.

Poured into snifters; beautiful dark gold with a loose foamy white head. Aroma gave away the sour notes in the taste, but also smacked of wood and funk.

Bracing sour upon tasting, but progressed along with wood and sour mash notes.

An excellent beer to pull from your cellar in the summer. Refreshing and worth the wait. After five years, the funk and sour keep up. Nice all around.

Photo of david18
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought this out of curiosity. It was on sale at the Pioneer Grocery Store and thought I'd try it. When I saw that it was an ancient herb ale I thought it would be even less like beer than it is. It was actually quite enjoyable.

Light pale color, a slightly fizzier carbonation (more like champagne), interesting herbal aroma and the flavor is like a typical spiced beer without a lot of the malt.

Photo of Arenbeer
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml, bottle number 2132 Bottled in 2009 Has a plastic cork??? First time I've seen this. Actually worried because i can smell the beer through the cork???

Thanks to finewinemike for sending me this

Fridge Temp into a Tulip Glass

A- Fake cork let out a huge hiss but no smoke. Pours a nice murky orange brown with a thin 1 finger white head with bigger bubbles like soap. Dissipates quickly leaving big bubbles around the edge of the glass and some spotty lacing. Also leaves some impressive legs on the side of the glass from the alcohol.

S- Strong whiskey aroma up front with some nice caramel malts blended in there. Definitely getting some oak and wood notes as well, maybe some vanilla. Has a slight spicey not to it, probably from the heather. Alcohol is definitely present in this one, almost tickles the nose as you whiff it.

T- Nice sweet lighter caramel malts up front that fade into a nice complex whiskey profile that blends really well with the beer. Definitely some spice in there from the heather but gets lost after it goes down and the wood flavors come out and the smooth alcohol take over. Has this crazy sweetness to it that I can't put my finger on. It's almost like bubbly champagne yeast or brett. Could just be the whiskey

M- Much lighter then expected and has a very bubbly mouth feel from the good amount of carbonation. Nice wet finish with a slight tingly feeling on the tongue like a sour ale.

Overall this is a very interesting and very well made beer that is definitely worth the money and a try.

SkÅL!

M-

Photo of Thorpe429
3.77/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

That's right. #1 Gruit coming at me. Picked this up somewhere in NJ. No idea which store it was. Served in a Captain Lawrence tulip.

Pours a goldish-amber color. It's relatively clear and without much murkiness. Head is small and off-white and leaves behind some sparse and spotty lacing. The nose carries quite a bit of bread dough along with some earth and whiskey-soaked wood. Also quite a bit of tea, lemon, and heather as it warms up. The flavor really bits up the tea components and blends them fairly-nicely with the wood and whiskey, though not as well as the nose. Medium body with average carbonation and a smooth finish. Well done.

Photo of Jw347
4.42/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a light amber. Lovely strawberry aroma followed with that delicious whiskey aroma. Some woody notes with a bit of spice. Loaded with tons of caramel, strawberries, whiskey, and barrel for sure. I only wish they would make this a regular release.

Photo of sweemzander
3.71/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL plastic cork and caged bottle poured into a stemmed glass. Bottle #2326 our of 7500. July 2009 bottled date. States: Best before 2019.

(A)- Pours a clear pale blush red color with brown mahogany highlights. Produced a great pure white effervescent head with good retention behind it.

(S)- All over the place. A light tannic whiskey-like peat with hints of over-ripe fruits like white grape, raisins, and fig. Has a light lactic note at the end. Finishes with an apple-cider-like spritz.

(T)- Just like the smell in every way. A crispness to it too from the carbonation.

(M)- A spritzer-like carbonation level very similar to champaign. Has a bite to it in a crisp yet musty component. Smooth as can be with a slight boozy warmth at the end.

(D)- A good beer, but strange and confusing to me. Definitely an interesting alternative to the champagne lover.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.6/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Founders shaker pint glass.

Bottle #2471/7500. Apparently this one saw a second wave of distribution...? Regardless, it pours a clear sunset orange topped by a finger of tan foam. The nose comprises ripe citrus fruits (so intermingled that it's impossible for me to pick the mass apart into its constituents), toffee, and a melange of vaguely herbal spices/spicy herbs (likely some combination of flowers, herbs, spices, and assorted plants and whatnot). A mild twinge of whiskey pierces in there at times, but never does it hang around very long. The taste brings in more of the same, painting one strange panorama of flavors ranging from tangy fruits, spices, mild whiskey, and earthy flowers, though not in that order (in fact, order be damned!). It's not bad, but it's a bit much at times, to the degree that I have been forced to call this flavoring "confusing" for lack of a better term. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slick feel. Overall, an interesting beer, one that shines more brightly than its naked counterpart and is generally tasty and deserves a high rank in its style, but one that comes across as too confusing (there's that damn word again...) for me to wanna return for future drinking.

Photo of womencantsail
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for sharing this one, Richard.

Pours a clear golden color with a white head. Smells interesting. I get some peat and scotch characteristics from it and an almost funky mustiness that is reminiscent of a sour/wild beer. Maybe some grass and floral notes. The floral and grass qualities are strong, as is the same sort of funkiness that was present on the nose. Not much whiskey/scotch flavor, but maybe a little bit of peat. Medium body with medium carbonation.

Photo of John_M
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I guess this beer is semi scarce, but there's no problem finding it around these parts. Picked up a bottle at Max's today. The bartender and I both agreed that an order of spicey wings with extra blue cheese was the perfect accompaniment for this beer.

Surprsingly to my mind, the champagne bottle of this beer is capped with a cheap, andre "champagne" plastic cap. In any event, the beer pours an amber orange color with pretty good head retention and lacing. The nose is hard to describe, but I guess I get light citrus, a hint of brown sugar, light lemon and honey. So far this beer looks to be pretty good, but is nothing special.... until I took my first sip. This beer is very complex, and the flavor profile presents some things I'm not sure I've seen before. I get some butter, butterscotch, creamy marshmellow, a hint of chocolate, light cherry, and just a touch of bitterness. This beer has some flavor components that reminds me somewhat of a well aged rhone blend (gigondas or chateau-neuf-du-pape). Very intriguing. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, with the 11% abv. incredibly well disguised. The beer is moderately sweet at most, but is not the least bit tirng or heavy on the palate. Still, you can tell the alcohol is up there in this excellent beer, even if it doesn't whomp you over the head with it.

This beer is a treat, and while expensive, it's the sort of thing I wouldn't mind trying every now and again. Impressive.

Photo of jgasparine
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Poured from the bottle with a 1/4" cream-colored foamy head, which slowly dissipated, giving way to some nice edge lacing. The body was a hazy honey color, with abundant carbonation observed from the sides of the glass. Little chunks of sediment were also observed riding the bubble trains.

S- The nose was vinous, fruity and very oaky. Notes of apples, golden raisins, grapes and pears were noted, but no hops nor the anticipated aromas of whiskey. HOWEVER, after the beer has an opportunity to warm-up, some subtle caramel and whiskey notes emerged.

T- A near perfect replicate of the nose. The apple fruitiness is bigger than expected along with the anticipated oakiness. The whiskey character was masked until the beer warmed. Finish was reminiscent of tart green apple.

M- Medium body; slightly oily with a fair amount of coarse carbonation... the carbonation was almost distracting.

D- Very drinkable despite the ABV. Very complex and quite tasty. So good, that I tried samples from other bottles as well (see note below)

Note: Three glasses from three different bottles revealed 3 distinctly different beers. The first beer sampled was the one reviewed. The second featured some lactic sourness and a touch of horseblanket (brett). The third revealed some bigger whiskey flavors and some oxidation. I presume that each bottle was taken from a different barrel and not re-blended before bottling.

Photo of bort11
3.92/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I got this at the KC Flying Saucer at a friend's Saucer unveiling. At $25 it was a tad steep, but I thought something special was appropriate.

750 ml corked green bottle, very much looking like a bottle of Campaign. #1984 of 7500. Poured into a tulip, white head with good retention. Color was a clear coppery orange.

Smell is tart with just a hint of Scotch. There are also mild blends of vanilla and heather. Complex, but mild aroma. Taste has more of a sherry tartness, with still just a hint of Scotch. The floral aspects of the heather is a counter balance to the tartness.

Mouthfeel was foamy, like a meringue. Light, but expandes with a sip. Pretty filling, I was very generous in sharing samples. There was no way I could finish a bottle on my own.

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle 0315 of 7500

Don't know how this was stored prior to it being in the fridge at work for 6+ months...

A lot of big flakes of sediment in the bottle - none of which was poured out. Poured it into several 6oz stemmed glasses and ample, spritzy carbonation. A little bit of lacing and a tiny swirl/collar of suds stayed the whole time. The color is a brilliant gold, hazy, with a touch of coppery hue.

Moderately vibrant floral (heather) scent with a touch of perfumy alcohol and a subdued undercurrent of old, musty fabric (cotton, burlap, etc).

The taste had some fascinating complexity - about 3-4 stages of dramatic flavor development. Floral esters are detected immediately and shine briefly, quickly followed by a mildly tart and sour, lightly metallic flare, trailed by a marginally longer stand of a sort of tenuous apricot-pineapple-mango (take your pick) fruity quality backed by a feather-weight, honeyish malt and, lasting long into the finish, it all drops off to reveal a surprisingly-bold, oxidized, just about cardboard /dry sherry flavor. Rises up like it's gonna explode, but falls short of the need to spit it out. And, you might not realize this comes in a 11%...

Through several sips, the palate adjusts to what's going on and the brew ends up coming across like a heavily-oxidized champagne. Not incredibly fruity, but enough. Pretty darn dry as well. Quite an intriguing drink. Wish their standard Froach had nearly the same complexity. I wouldn't guarantee every bottle to taste like this one.

Photo of DefenCorps
3.97/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at Max's. I've enjoyed this beer out of the bottle, and was looking forward to trying it on cask.

Clear amber with a thin ring for a head, this isn't the prettiest gruit out there. The nose is great. Heather, honey,whiskey complex malt character - very nice! Palate opens with a nice blend of heather, juniper and honey with a sweet and whisky note. Honey, brown sugar, caramel are present. Very complex. Boozy heat is present on the finish. Medium full in body and flat, this could possibly use bubbles. Nice and slick, though a touch of herbal astringency on the finish, there's a little herbal character too. Solid stuff, thought I think the bottled version was better.

Photo of scottfrie
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interestingly corked 750ml bottle poured into 25oz snifter. Thanks to jbck109 for trading me this one. First of the style for me. Bottled July 2009.

A: After killing my hand trying to get the unique caged plastic cork out of the bottle, this beer poured a clear dark honey color with a thin off-white head that quickly sank into a fuzzy collar and film leaving a few soft streaks and spots of lacing down the glass. Great film retention.
S: Huge notes of warm alcohol. To be more specific, I can easily smell the sherry, whisky and oak imparted from the casks this beer was aged in. It’s also very herbal smelling, and it’s vinous in a white wine sort of way. I get just a hint of toffee or butterscotch as well.
T: Very very unique tasting, but I guess that’s the style. I get herbal, leafy and spicy notes, as well as sherry, vanilla, woody tannins, white grapes, honey, and I suppose, heather (although I’m not familiar with it). Someone else mentioned tea, and I could see that. Green tea perhaps, or else watered down black iced-tea. The finish contains flavors of sherry and whiskey, and the aftertaste has notes of raisins, earthy woody and honey.
M: Tingly carbonation made up of a million tiny bubbles. The body is quit viscous and thick, and the mouthfeel is heavy and almost syrupy. There are just a bit of gritty tannins that coat my mouth after each swallow.
O: I quite enjoyed this actually. At first I was a bit put off by the smell, but as it warmed I could really tell how complex the flavors were in this beer. No two sips were alike. Thanks again for sending me this Jay, I highly recommend trying it for yourself.

Photo of gueuzegeek
4.92/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First of all, I thought about giving this straight 5s, but then that leaves no room for me to think something else is better, although at the time I drank this beer, I pretty much was thinking, this is the best year I have had all year, and it was the 31st of December too!! Now for the review notes I wrote as I was drinking it at the Pour House in Westmont, NJ:

This was bottle 526. The bottle itself gave quite a show as it was opened. The beautiful gold label complete with champagne foil and a plastic stopper started the show; so I had high expectations. The bottle described the story of the beer's creation and aging in sherry casks then used for a Speyside single malt whisky.

When opened, it popped with a nice soft champagne sigh complete with a bit of rising life. The color was a beautiful not-quite-clear light coppery orange. Not much head, but I did NOT care.

The vanilla aroma from the oak comes through in a nice smooth way, not at all like a fresh oak or bourbon oak aroma - the Sherry and Speyside scotch saw to that. There was a tad of sherry aroma still to be found and the heather and myrtle were a bit muted.

The taste was REALLY an amazing surprise - rather like champagne that was aged in this barrel rather than beer.

I cannot taste the 11%, and I am usually VERY keen to the higher ABV; but heck, I do love champagne as well.

As it sat, some more of the "Fraoch" taste did make an appearance. In the taste, everything I mentioned about the aroma was came through. It had a nice brut-like dry finish as well with a tad or tart finish also like some champagnes (not at all sour though).

If you see this beer, and you like champagne or even a nice dry tart (not sour) gueuze, this would most definitely be worth the purchase!

Photo of beerwolf77
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks to BeerFMAndy for sharing this bottle. The first in our night of epic beers.

Upon opening the bottle a volcano of beer erupted onto my kitchen counter then the stove then the floor then another counter and finally Andy made it to the sink. While I mopped up the spillage the beer continued to foam for at least another sixty seconds. We finally managed to pour some into our glasses. The beer poured a sediment laced golden orange. Three to four fingers of off white head burst to the top of my glass (duh). Tiny flecks of lace are left behind after settling.

The aroma is slightly funky with hints of whiskey and citrus fruit. A very nice floral boquet of sweet and tart shines along with a musty hint of barnyard.

The flavor is rather sweet and dry. Lots of citrus fruits along with sweet sugars and herbal spices. The whiskey is there but by no means in your face. The high ABV cannot be detected at all. This would be dangerous in large amounts. Super smooth.

The body is medium to light with plenty of carbonation. Dry finish.

Overall this is my first gruit and I will be looking for more. A super drinkable beer that I would have had no problem finishing by myself.

Photo of bminor7
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 from Hoosick in Troy. Went for roughly $1.25 per anniversary there. actually saw a kid from RPI come in and buy 2 or 3.

A - cloudy light brown. little lacing. tough plastic cork!

S - tart fruit, very sweet. haven't had heather honey so didn't know what to expect.

T - tart, light maltiness in the back. no hops, mainly fruit and honey. very unique. also a bit of green apple.

M - silky, deceiving for an 11% ABV beer.

D - despite the tartness, not bad. too expensive to really throw a few back, but since the ABV is so well integrated into the flavor profile, you could do so if money and liver function permit.

to view more.
Fraoch 20th Anniversary Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 71 ratings.