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: 689
Photo of RodneyFarva
3.77/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle poured into a chalice

a: pours a hazy pale orange with a half finger of white head that stays. good lacing.

s: spruce and pine, brown sugar, spices, citrus. very interesting.

t: pine, spruce bitterness, citrus (orange mostly, some lemon), sweetness, alcohol heat. carbonation fairly low. mouthfeel rich.

o: really interesting. perhaps got a bit cloying with the sweetness and spruce at the end, but a very interesting combination of flavors.

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Photo of wvsabbath
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Golden tan, brown, 1 inch creamy head and some lacing.

Smell - Lemon, pine, spices, Some floral/grassy hops. Added sugars, berries and a little caramel.

Taste - Huge mix of fruits and berries at first sip. Cherries, berries, floral hops, pine and caramel comes out. Sweet and smooth with added spices and sugars balance this beer out. Has a green tea like feel to it. Alcohol is masked well but you do get a little warmth near the finish.

Mouthfeel - PRetty tasty and smooth, tounge gets all the fruit and berries, with spices and sugars. Palette gets remaining fruits, berries and spices, with some alcohol at the end. Aftertaste is dry and sweet.

Overall - Pretty good, nice fruit and berry profile, and not over the top with added spices. Very floral and earthy hop profile, balanced well with some added sugars. Worth a drink for sure.

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Photo of gfreed
1.76/5  rDev -53.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

Aside from the bright copper color, decent fluffy head and fruity aroma, this beer is frighteningly terrible. Rare is the day that I'll dump a beer down the drain after only two sips, but this was one of those days. If you've ever eaten an old cantaloupe you'll know how this beer tastes and feels: rotten and slippery. I literally gagged. No wonder the Vikings vanished.

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Photo of horshack7
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A fairly bright and clear copper with one finger worth of head.

Aroma: Orange cream, sweet fruits a wisp of mint. Mostly floral hops, mild licorice notes and some strawberries.

Taste: Relitivly smooth mouthfeel with a light bite. Spice, floral hop, licorice, tropical fruit bubble gum. Malts are sweet much like strawberries that have sugar sprinkled on them.

Notes: Well this is interesting the sweetness is a little complex but it still remains balanced. Overall a rather tasty beer. Cheers.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.4/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. This one pours a muddy rusty brown color with a thick beige head.

Lots of cloves and spices in the aroma with lingering berry notes rounding it out. The flavor mirrors the aroma a lot. Cloves and other spices; chai tea comes to mind with fresh berries.

Medium bodied with soft carbonation.

Certainly a unique style. My first of the kind (that I'm actually paying attention to). Not bad but I feel like there's something I'd always choose over it. I'm sure it fits someone's niche and is a nice one to try.

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Photo of yuenglings
4.32/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another beer from beer of the month
Nice hazey copper color thin head with good laceing. I like the strong sweet malty fruit with some pine at the end smell taste is the same as the smell exatly the same and i like it.
This is a smooth beer that i would buy agian and could see me drinking sitting inside relaxin buy the fire (If i had a fire place)

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Photo of liamt07
3.59/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Williams Brothers Gruit giftpack, last of the bunch. Best before December 2012.

Poured a peachy red, with only a thin layer of head even with a substantially aggressive pour. Some sparse bubbles, kinda resembles a cask pour. Nose isn't distinctly pine, some fruity notes and sweet caramel and maybe something herbal in there, but not distinctly so. Taste has more caramel, berries and herbal qualities. Can't say the spruce or pine sticks out again, but there are herbal leanings here again. Bready and a bit of alcohol in the finish. Carbonation is medium, and the alcohol stings a bit as it goes down. Above average, but would've liked to have had the advertised 'focus' of this beer to be more prominent.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.38/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It's pretty funny that I've had all of the historic ales but have never reviewed any except the Kelpie Seaweed ale. This came as one of four in the gift pack for 9.99 not a bad deal. Totally different beers than your mainstream offerings. Appears a pale ruby copper hue with a bright off white head maybe a light khaki tone, fine sparse lacing scattered on the sides of my chalice. Surprisingly a malt heavy nose with little to no pine aromatics, very fruity bright cherry ripened with some earthiness and a bit of noticeable alcohol. As it warms it begins to unleash more of the pine character in the nose. Flavor wise it starts out super fruity with hints of cherry coated in sugar in a reduction, and finishes bitter with pine/herbal/mint notes. Really balanced compared to most spruce tip/pine beers I've tasted, finishes with a moderate dryness. Little heat from the alcohol but the flavor is there in an almost medicinal nature with the fruity cherry notes. Carbonation is assertive but not overdone and body is definitely medium with a light reduced sugar near syrup texture. Overall a solid beer that I could offer up to somebody new to the beer scene and it would come off both new and interesting for me, this is more or less a mass produced version of something Yard's brewing as made exteme and craft.

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Photo of Kartoffeln
4.12/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear, bright, coppery amber with a modest head of dense off-white foam. It dissipates in short order to a fine, sudsy cap and leaves spotty lacing.

S: Bready, grainy caramel malts mingle with spicy, slightly vinous fruitiness, mild spruce, pine, and yeast undertones, and a clover honey character throughout.

T: Bready and grainy caramel malts are subdued by rich fruitiness and spiciness, notes of plums, raisins, cloves, cooked peach, and cinnamon that transitions into slightly bitter, resiny conifer notes with neither the spruce nor pine dominating. There's a bit of boozy warmth in the swallow, but the ABV is otherwise masked.

M: Medium-to-full bodied with mild, smooth carbonation and a bit of a resiny feel. Immaculate balance between the rich flavour profile and lasting, bittersweet finish.

D: Probably the most complex gruit I've had, but also probably the most accessible in that it's rather like a spiced strong ale. Definitely worth seeking out.

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Photo of peensteen
3.08/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Slightly hazy copper colour, one finger of white head, light lacing. Smell is pretty malty and cereal like, earthy with a very faint pine smell, light alcohol as well. Taste is biscuity malt upfront, mildly bitter, forest berries, forest like notes but not necessarily pine, more berry and forest flavours in the finish. Medium carbonation, medium body pretty decent feel. This was OK at best, would have liked more pine flavours and scents in this, fairly boring stuff.

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Photo of bryehn
4.09/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Following the brewery guidelines included in the gift pack I'm trying this near room temperature in a wine glass.

Pours a nice copper-amber colour with a relatively small, but frothy white head that sticks around as a collar and leaves a minimal amount of lace behind.

Very nice aroma. Grains, berries, pine and flowers all come through along with a honey-like sweetness. One of the nicest-smelling beers I've tried.

Very smooth taste, similar to the aroma. Fresh grains, ripe berries, wild flowers and a touch of pine needle create a unique and surprisingly refreshing blend with a slight sweetness in the finish.

Full-bodied with a mild, but noticeable carbonation. Yeasty and slightly oily on the tongue. Pine taste and bitterness really comes through in the aftertaste.

This is one of the best herbed/floral beers I've had the pleasure of trying. It's very drinkable and has almost no trace of it's ABV. I could see myself buying a lot of it were it available outside of the Historic Ales of Scotland gift pack in which I found it.

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Photo of Stocean1
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this in a holiday pack from the lcbo. Somewhat reticent with the style but what the hell.
Poured a half finger off white head upon a nice amber red body. Soon a thin collar remained with some fine patchy lacing.

The smell is light pine, malt, and light fruit.

Taste follows the nose and is herbal. The fruit reminds me of a belgian pale ale and is very well balanced. Some spice in the finish.

This is a medium bodied brew with little carbonation. Dry and not overly sweet, it is very smooth and the abv is well masked. It has a nice light bitter and tart finish.
A really enjoyable brew which was a pleasant surprise. The pine is not over done and adds to the complexity. Definitely worth having again.

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Photo of KDawg
3.95/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

this was poured from cask into a pint glass. Poured a nice dark amber color with a small 1 inch head

Very malty aromas with herbal spices, caramel, malts and some fruitcake aromas too. Very complex and aromatic

medium/full bodied but lacking somewhat on the feel. Very good flavors with lots of herbal spices, fruitcake, malts and even some dark red cherries

this was a real quality beer. Very good aromas and really well balanced

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Photo of SebD
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: It has a nice cloudy golden/orange/copper colour to it. It has a nice white head that dies down moderately and has minimal lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitly give out hints of caramel, some spices, pine, roasty/bready malts with some fruity notes.

Taste: This beer is all sweetness. Sweet caramely malts with piney and floral notes, fruitiness, bubble gum, light spices and a slight bitterness as it warms up. Quite enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice and sweet balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with great flavors and aromas. Complexity took me by surprise, not what I expected from this beer.

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Photo of rsdaugherty
4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle into pint glass
A – Dense 2+ finger dusty colored head on beautiful brown red amber with golden edges, settled with lacing to a still tight thin layer 4.5
S –Caramel & toasted malts, clove & other spices, pine is there but much milder than expected 4
T – Malts lead while pine & spices round it out, a pretty big herbal character I missed on the nose, lots going on and it does all work well together 4
M – A very rounded beer with no harsh edges, moderate to full body but surprisingly good drinkability, mild moderate carbonation on this smooth rich brew 4
O – I like and would recommend you pick this up as well. A full flavored quite easy drinking pine ale that I enjoyed, can envision my Scottish and Swedish ancestors kicking back and enjoying this style 4

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Photo of aletale
4.02/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

330 mL bottle purchased as part of the Historic Ales of Scotland 4-pack. Poured into a Duvel tulip glass.

The beer pours a delicious looking deep amber colour, with one finger of a nice looking white head with decent retention. Carbonation appears to be very minimal.

Given that there are no hops used in the brewing process, there are no hoppy traits picked up in the nose, although there is a fruity, almost mango or pear scent picked up in the nose. The sweet maltiness is certainly not something I was expecting from a beer with pine needles used in the brewing process. Very delicious smelling, none the less.

Upon first sip, this beer strikes me as very complex. The pine-y flavours are certainly very notable in the finish, so the hops are not missed. The fruity, sweet malt flavours are picked up right away. After a few sips, there's a certain astringency that sticks with you, leaving a nice aftertaste, probably due to the high alcohol content. Mouthfeel is certainly significant, and stronger than I was expecting.

As it warms, the pine-y bitterness seems to be brought to the foreront over the sweet maltiness. I prefer this ale right out of the fridge, despite what the label might say.

Reccomended to fans of full-flavoured, rich beer. Alba Scots Pine Ale is about as unique and taste-filled as they come.

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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 zoso1967
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thank you BuckyFresh for buying me this beer to try on my birthday!

Alba Scots Pine Ale pours a fairly cloudy orange amber color with a parchment cap of foam. The head fades fairly quickly, but leaves some nice frothy bubbles floating on top of the liquid and has decent lacing qualities, especially given the fact that this is a hopless beer.

The aroma is very sweet and malty with notes of peaches, apple, caramel and a bit of earthy spice. The pine is way in the back and blends in well with the other aromas.

The flavor is not quite as enjoyable as the aroma. It is quite a bit drier than I had imagined from the smell. It has a nice earthy character, as well as some not too in your face pine notes. There is an apple and peach like fruity quality that is fairly nice, but the flavor overall does not excite me that much.

The mouthfeel is medium with a finish that is not too sticky or dry. The finish is a mix of pine and fruity, malty sweetness.

Overall I found this to be a decent brew, and much more beer like than a lot of other gruits that I have had in the past. Nothing I would seek out all the time, but an enjoyable change of pace.

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Photo of Derranged
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle poured into a Samuel Smith's pint glass.

A- Cloudy amber in color with a very thick white head.

S- Strong tart, piney with some green apples, sour candy and floral hops.

T- Malty, sweet, tart, green apples and similar to a sweet white wine.

M- Very thin, low carbonation and incredibly smooth.

O- This is a good beer that is a bit too easy to drink I'd have again.

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Photo of StaveHooks
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Pours a clear copper with a touch of haze. Off-white soft creamy head creates a dense collar.

S - Ripe cantaloupe, honey dew, sweet wood, floral alcohol, tart currents.

T - Complex fruity yeast, sweet malt with some alcohol twang. The spruce is soft and not overpowering. Orange blossom honey and vanilla. Strawberries come out at the end

M - Medium creamy body,

Very fruity not what I expected. Everything worked together and the complexity assures you'll taste new things everytime you drink this.

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Photo of nitro0292
3.97/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz brown bottle with a plaid label. Label states that this beer is best enjoyed at room temperature out of a wine snifter. I poured straight out of the fridge into a tulip. Hazy amber with an adequate but quickly dissipating head. Good lacing.

Smell is pine and fruit esters, I get some bubblegum. No hop smell and considering that this is Scottish and that the label does not list hops as an ingredient I'm not surprised. Sweet smell is not coming from malts, so it is a different kind of sweetness and quite pleasant.

Taste is malts with a finish that tastes like the smell. Quite unique and enjoyable. Not a typical beer flavor.

Mouthfeel is medium with light carbonation.

Overall this is a unique brew and a nice option when looking for something different. Not a "beery" beer, and it presents a different kind of pine than hops. I think the spruce adds a nice twist. I think this would make for a good holiday brew with some more spices and darker malts.

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Photo of spitInTheOcean
4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

copper color. very soft haze, but fairly clear. creamy off-white head. no lacing.

smells slightly sweet. mild pine aroma, could confused with hops. very low malt aroma.

tastes sweet. taste floral initially, then the finish is a pleasant balance of malt flavors and pine, but distinctly pine, not hops. alcohol flavor comes through mildly. finishes sweet.

medium light body. soft slightly sweet finish.

this is a pleasant, approachable pine ale. nothing very intimidating or overwhelming here. i am surprised a how drinkable this is though considering he abv.

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Photo of notchucknorris
3/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Hazy amber color with a 1/2 finger cream colored head.

S: Sweet and malty with a strange scent of wet pine that's been sitting around in water for a while. A touch of licorice and maple as well.

T: Caramel and malt upfront with a very strange flavor or must and wet dog chew toy mixed with oak. Really strange flavor. I was not exactly a fan of this one.

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Photo of JayS2629
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a brilliant honey color, great clarity and a creamy thin head that fades slowly and leaves ok lace.

The aroma is of honey and pine sap, some floral notes and hints of apple and caramel.

The taste follows with honey, caramel, fresh apples, floral notes and evergreen hints. Balanced very well.

Medium bodied, nicely balanced and suprisingly tasty.

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Photo of rarbring
3.11/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A clear orange amber brew, a small off-white head, little lacing but good curtains.

Smelling of honey, nectar, very floral and fruity, somewhere a nuance like old fermented strawberries.

Starts sweet and fruity, apples, mango, very little slightly sour bitterness. Reminds of a fruit soup from my childhood.

Little carbonation, soft and sticky texture, a good body, a slight sour dryness.

A bit too sweet and "cidry" to hit it off with me.

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Alba Scots Pine Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
3.77 out of 5 based on 689 ratings.
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