Alba Scots Pine Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

very good
474 Reviews
Alba Scots Pine AleAlba Scots Pine Ale

Brewed by:
Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Introduced by the Vikings, spruce and pine ales were very popular in the Scottish Highlands until the end of the 19th century. Many early explorers, including Captain Cook, used spruce ale during long sea voyages since it prevented scurvy and ill health. Shetland spruce ale was said to "stimulate animal instincts" and give you twins. Alba is a triple style ale brewed to a traditional Highland recipe from Scots pine and spruce shoots pickled during early spring. Pure malted barley, is boiled with the young sprigs of pine for several hours then the fresh shoots of the spruce are added for a short infusion before fermentation.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-18-2001

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Reviews: 474 | Ratings: 688
Photo of mclem06
4.82/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Out of the beers that are not extremely hard to find, this is what normally starts my night off at the local establishment. Specialty beers are normally not my cup of tea but this one is a must try if you haven't already. Instead of hops the Scottish brewed beer back in the day with Spruce and Pine so it is very different than a hop brew. The flavors come together for a heavier sweeter malt with a light fruit finish leaving a wonderful aroma and taste on the palet. It's a perfect start to the night, goes down extremely smooth and is delicious. My mouth is watering for one right now!! I only gave it a 4.5 on drinkability, mouthfeel and appearance and not 5's because modestly i have not had a beer that I would give all 5's to. The fact that this beer has 2 of the 5 ratings at 5 sets a high standard for others to live by for me.

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Photo of corpseshredder
4.79/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Delicious. Robust with a sweet start and an equally sweet finish. Relatively powerful though far from overkill. Definitely not something the average consumer would enjoy, but for an evolved palate this beer is an absolute treat. Very good with meals, and even better after.

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Photo of obywan59
4.79/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle

Mine pours a crystal clear amber with a 2 finger tannish head that left moderate lacing. Quite lovely.

One of the best smelling beers ever!!! Reminded me of sweet-tart hard cherry candy.

Again, hard cherry candy, just not as sweet. Very refresthing. The most fruity beer I've ever tasted.

Moderate mouthfeel. Just sticky enough to bolster the hard candy theme, but not overly so.
Very drying, especially early on. Almost astringent to the point that it nearly mimics the bitterness of hops.

No problems downing this beer. I could've handled a couple more.

By far, the best of this style I've tasted.

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Photo of IronMickey
4.74/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My girlfriend got me this as part of a "Scottish beer" pack. Had low expectations-- I've had it for months without giving it a second thought. Stuck it in the fridge this evening and picked this one at random from the 4.

A: colored like an IPA: murky, fizzy, caramel hue

S: some citrus fruit, but lots and lots of real pine-- not hoppy, actual pine. has some hints of spruce and needles

T: red Twizzlers was my first reaction, real pine, some citrus fruit. Incredibly delicate, tasty, PINE. this isn't hoppy pine or piney hop, it's pine. I've never had anything like it.

M: thick, creamy, syrupy, but pleasant. some sweetness.

D: very drinkable! I had low expectations but this is just terrific

Overall: great! would love to have more

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Photo of bluHatter
4.72/5  rDev +25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle Best Before MAR. 2012

Poured first into a beer glass, and then transferred to a wide wine goblet as suggested on the bottle.

A: Poured thick, but just a little bit of misty head. Thick deep red. Not translucent at all.

S: Of the woods, for sure. I do smell thick pine, sweet - there's something hard to place but exceedingly pleasant ... it smells thick, old, nostalgic ... like a great old Scottish movie put in a glass.

T: Sugar cube, malt, massive amounts of maple syrup... wow this is good. No wonder this was once a popular style. Tasting it makes me feel more in tune with nature. It's phenomenal.

M: The sweetness encroaches on my tongue, but it is thick enough to adequately work against that effect. Not much carbonation.

O: I am very impressed by this ale. I wish I had purchased a full 6 pack so I could investigate it further... it seems to grow and change with every sip I take. I didn't expect much and I got blown away... well done.

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Photo of BenJames1984
4.72/5  rDev +25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into my Centennial IPA pint glass.

A- Copper, with a tinge of haze. Head was light and thin, with minimal lacing.

S- Within the first wave of aromas, I definitely picked up on the scent of blueberries, and maybe raspberries.

T- The taste held much more surprises in store than what the smell set me up for. In addition to the sweet, tart splash of raspberries, there is a backing of "earthly" tastes that hit the palette. I can't quite describe them myself, but it's damn good.

M- Very unique balance to this beer, even though it retains a light body.

D- This beer is almost rejuvenating for me. It's very crisp, and possesses a refreshing flavor. A great session beer.

Note: For some reason, I only find this in single bottles. Do you guys happen to know if their even packaged in four- or six-packs? Or are they just packaged to be sold individually?

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Photo of ipogios
4.7/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried this beer thnx to MJR. This beer is one of the best i ever had (so far). Pours a pale yellow colour topped by a nice white head. The aroma is malty and fruity. The flavour is sweet, fruity and malty. Creamy mouthfeel. What is actually surprising is the fact that this beer goes down like water (even though the ABV is at 7.5%). In overall this beer has an excellent appearance, excellent aroma and taste, creamy mouthfeel and goes down easily.

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Photo of iceball585
4.64/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Brownish copper color, semi-cloudy, very thin white lacy cover that lasted well

S- Caramel malts, spices, fairly sweet smell

T- Fruity (mostly berries), caramel malts, earthy, chewy, spices, sugar, hint of pine, slight bite of alcohol

M- Medium body, low/medium carbonation, smooth, fairly dry chewy finish

D- Very good, definatly worth trying

This beer has a very interesting taste. All the flavors seem to brend together really well making it hard to describe what you're tasting. Over all I think this is very good.

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Photo of flowerysong
4.62/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear reddish amber with two fingers of off-white head that quickly dissipates.

Smell: Spicy malt with a hint of pine and a lot of fruit notes.

Taste: Sweet and fruity up front, leading into a wonderful mix of malt, apples, caramel, and pine on an earthy background. Long soft finish.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and full with light carbonation.

Drinkability: An excellent strong ale with lots of depth.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.55/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Excellent. A ruby red liquid with a small off-white head of foam. Aromas are extremely fruity and sweet and reminiscent of a belgian triple with fruit added. The taste is fruity and sweet up front, chewy and piney in the middle and fruity on the end with a noteable emergence of raspberry flavors in the after-taste. The mouthfeel is a bit watery, but that only lends to this brews extremely good drinkability. give it a try!

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Photo of lou50rp
4.52/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

It has a definite amber color with a slight head and little lacing. Its smell is sweet with a definite spruce smell.
Its taste is unique. A mixture of sweet with a spruce taste. A fresh taste, pleasing to the taste buds.
Mouth feel is medium-not watery, and not syrup. Goes well with the taste.
It is an exceptional drink.
While not a session drink, a bottle or two at time is great. Worth the price and effort to find it.

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Photo of JISurfer
4.52/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very nice Pine Ale. The best I've ever had. It's a nice pale yellow color w/ a white head. The head started out nice, but disappated quickly. Tastes like a pine nut, mixed with malt. Very light aftertaste, but still had left over tastes of pine. Finished lightly and went down smooth. All in all, a very good brew.

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Photo of CaptJackHarkness
4.51/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance is a cloudy brownish liquid with no visible carbonation nor head. Aroma is sweet herbs, chamomile like. Taste is unexpectedly mild, not the bitter bite I would imagine a brew made with evergreen needles to have! Actually delicious. Mild warming mouthfeel. Drunk as suggested at room temperature from a goblet.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: It pours brilliant amber under a 2” off-white foam collar. S: This is smoky and piney on the nose T: The palate is an interesting blend of pine and caramel and a hint of horehound. The smoke on the palate is very light. F: Medium body and carbonation. O: A beer for people who want to try something without hops. This is very well done.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.5/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the cask into a tumbler at Pizza Paradiso.

Gives a gorgeous amber body with gold hues on the edges. Has a tendency to get into red hues as well very nice! Tight creamy light off white head but dissipates a good clip.

Bouquet is a spicy sweetness. Big hints of typical sweet brown spices, mostly nutmeg, perhaps a hint of clove. More interesting is a big candied cherry sense and berry flavor. Lots of fun to be had here.

Taste fits the buttery cask fashion. Buttered cherries first, with a dense body. Soupy jammy/berry feel getting into maraschino cordial feeling. This is truly like eating a bowl of cherries right here. As the beer finishes and gets even more room temperature a hint of tasty smoked meat comes out, almost like a rauchbier. Woah where did that come from?

Wow overall I could just pound this back all night from the cask. Never had anything like this before, this was a great experience. Good start for me for this style.

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Photo of seedyone
4.5/5  rDev +19.4%

07/17/13 From bottle at Rattle n Hum, NYC. This is one of the most unique tastes I've had in along time. Don't be afraid of the pine in the description, it's is as well managed as a white tiger in Vegas (without the mangling stuff.)

The balances here are beyond admirable, they are astounding. There are no tricks or gimmicks here. It's a very honest brew. No pretense, despite the off beat approach. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I could drink this every day...and gladly.

A real refreshing change.

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Photo of Reneejane
4.48/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Wow this is a great beer. Color is a hazy amber, no head, that's my one complaint though no head. The aroma includes some ester characters perhaps from the yeast, a subtle spicy frutiness, and the barest suggestion of pine, as well as a detectable aroma of alcohol. The taste is at first sweet and then you detect a spiciness and just the subtlest hint of pine. I'll admit I was a little scared of this beer, but it isn't so scary just sweet and clean and tasty. The taste also includes detectable malt. Finishes with a taste of greenery, more of an earthy finish. The mouthfeel is good it is well carbonated and perhaps just a bit sticky. Phenomenal beer, I could drink more of these, sadly I bought only one in a sample pack!

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Photo of pezoids
4.48/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I’ve been waiting to try this beer with a good amount of anticipation. Seems like a classic of the beer world. After the pour and first sip, I realized that I wasn’t going to be disappointed. It poured beautifully bright and was an orangey-amber color. A thin and filmy head topped the beer off and left an attractive lace on the glass. There was small bits of pine sprigs floating around the beer. The body was lucid and glowing.

The aroma is sweet, malty and piney with hints of orange rind. There’s touches of cough syrup stickiness and bubblegum.

The taste is resinous with piney sweet malts and an earthy bitterness. The flavors seem to be balanced to perfection. Surprisingly, the piney character is not overwhelming, but rather felicitous in this beer. A resinous and gritty tang is left on the tongue as the rest of the beer sticks to your sides. This is like a medium malted Scotch Ale that has been infused with fresh pine needles. Overall, beautifully done and a unique beer of high quality.

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Photo of pmcadamis
4.47/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Turbid two-tone orange-crimson... like a tequila sunrise... with a one finger orange-tinted white head. Lots of spotty wet lace is left on the glass, and head retention is pretty dang good for a 7.5% ABV beer.

S - Deep caramelized sugar and toffee notes. Chewy caramel candies... the little square kind that you melt to make caramel apples in the fall. Fresh mint ad green tea. This has a very "green" and fresh note that assume can be attributed to the spruce. There are also a good deal of hops in the nose, which I don't think is historically accurate but who cares? This smells GOOD!

T - Caramel and toffee with honey, whole milk, and almonds. After the initial sweetness, there is an insanely fresh minty note that I assume is the spruce flavor coming out. This is insanely complex with twiggy green forest notes and fresh chewy caramel. Nice!

M - Approaching full bodied, this never gets cloying or heavy (despite the obviously high sugar and alcohol content), due to the fresh and lively spruce notes. Finishes light, airy, and clean with an almost undetectable menthol-mint note in the finish. I feel like the air I'm breathing has been cooled by this beer.

D - Outstanding! I though this would be some pine-sol chemically christmas tree bullshit, but it's not like that at all! This tastes like a big honey-laden tripel with a gentle hint of fresh green mint. The sweetness could get a little bit cloying, but the refreshing spruce and gentle floral hops really keep this refreshing and lighter feeling than it actually is. Damn good stuff!

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Photo of jasonjlewis
4.47/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a decent head with good retention. I poured in a green glasss and can't get the color exactly, but I like this beer and must review it.
Seems to be orange in color.

Grapefruity on the nose with some toffee and chocolate as well. The combination is nicely balanced and fairly strong as to draw one in nicely.

Nice grapefruit flavor with some toffee and
A little bit of toffee and I think i sense a tiny bit of chocolate and licorice as well. Nicely balanced and delicious.

Light and crisp and refreshing mouthfeel.

Such nice balance in this beer makes it very drinkable. I could drink it all night.

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Photo of yossarian14
4.47/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hazy red/amber color with a nice white cap. Smells earthy, piney and of medicinal alcohols, especially as it warms. Tastes sticky-sweet with spruce and pine coming through strong. Feels very smooth and inviting on the tongue and I actually found it difficult to wait very long between sips. I really enjoyed this, and the others in the Ancient Scottish Ales 4-pack. Worth trying at least once...with some old school food..I roasted a duck for this one.
But I saved the Alba for after dinner by the fire

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Photo of putnam
4.47/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Malt, malt, malt, malt, malt!
That's what it smells like. I get no "pine" on the nose at all. Where it does appear is on the palate, especially on the finish, where the tannic, bitter structural core unwinds briefly to reveal a bit of fresh and dried sticky sap.
Silky-textured, flavors of nuts, molasses and tea melt across the palate in time to allow a spicy, smoky bitterness to keep focus and clarity.
This is really brilliant beer. I'm not sure why I didn't start on these earlier. Fans of Ommegang, Aventinus, Moretti La Rosa, Traquair House, etc.: try this!

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Photo of Phocion
4.47/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle poured into a goblet as the label recommends. "Best before" June 2008. I have no idea on the style characteristics to keep in mind, nor what to expect, but here it goes.

Dark cloudy reddish-copper with a solid finger of frothy white head. You can actually hear the bubbles for a good minute after the pour. Head dissolves to leave moderate lacing around the glass.

Nose is very sweet. I'm actually smelling more spruce than pine. Very, very fruity. Actually sort of reminds me of the fruit snacks I loved as a kid. Smells like a large assortment of berries I can't totally pick out. Nice caramel maltiness in the background providing a solid base. Incredible aroma.

First sip and I have definitely found the pine now, despite its hiding in the aroma. Caramel/earthy malts and a very strong alcohol flavor for the ABV. Thankfully the fruitiness is subdued a bit, mostly apples and berries in the background.

Thick and moderately-carbonated mouthfeel and dangerously easy to drink for 7.5% ABV. I wasn't really sure what to expect out of this and to be honest I only picked it up for the novelty factor. Very, very impressed, and I am definitely anxious to try more experiments from Heather Ale.

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Photo of BDTyre
4.47/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pous a nice copper colour with a creamy white head that slowly dissipates to hug the sides of the glass. Smell is malt, traces of pine and chocolate brownies.

The taste is, surprisingly, as GClarkage says, chocolate brownies. Traces of pine, sort of like a pine tea, but the predominant taste (and aftertaste) is of fresh baked chocolate brownies.

Not too carbonated at all; sweet and chocolate, but not overpowering. Hints of evergreen. Overall, an incredibly satisfying beer.

(Note: drunk at room temperature. I tend to be not very fond of "warm" beer, but I heeded the recommendations of others and tried this at room temp and was very pleased.)

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Photo of allergictomacros
4.47/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Clear ruby read with a respectable, fizzing head. Smells roasty with a very fruity perfume. Hints of molasses. Interesting cooling sensation - almost minty maybe (the pine?). Lots of body with a thick, red-wine like flavour. Buttery, caramelly, and mild bitterness in the back. Alcohol isn't too noticeable even at 7.5 percent. A few sips in, the head is gone, mouthfeel is drying, with some spiciness. A bit of a tannic feel as well. Interesting to say the least... not a beery beer. Something out of the ordinary I'd try again.

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Alba Scots Pine Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
3.77 out of 5 based on 688 ratings.
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