Alba Scots Pine Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Alba Scots Pine AleAlba Scots Pine Ale
Liked This Beer
3.78 w/ 690 ratings
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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Ratings: 690 |  Reviews: 475
Photo of Ego
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

freshness date set for 02.07

murky caramel with lots of junk floating around in it, light does pass through this toll on the way to my stomach, off white head quickly fades into an Oring, lacing is decent, the high alcohol leaves legs like wine... slightly better than average...

I was expecting hardcore pinecones or something, but it is more like a citrus bubble gum, you can sense the alcohol but it is not overpowering (like that fat dude on the plane who hasn't showered and is always sitting next to you, unless you get sat next to the screaming baby), the sweetness is really interesting, I'm not sure if I have ever smelled a beer like this, the pine is definitely in there but more like pine bedding (if you have ever done that while camping... maybe the best way to describe this is pine sap.

taste etc...
medium bodied with subtle carbonation, the flavor is very interesting, again, like the nose I am struggling for adjectives here, but it runs along the same lines as the nose to the t. The alcohol is barely perceptable. This is one balanced beer, maybe it runs a touch too sweet at times but the pine actually adds such an interesting aftertaste that it blocks this from being cloying... the pine is really there in the aftertaste but in a good subtle way like hops on a good IPA.

an everyday beer? probably not. But very interesting and worth a try.

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Photo of numenor1
4.42/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My first gruit.

Beautiful orange color with a very modest, quickly dissipating head, though it's holding a nice collar. Smell is candied banana and ice cream and spruce(which i can now identify due to the taste). Fascinating flavor. On the one hand there's the more or less tripel components of the beer, somewhat spicy, banana estery, nicely toasted malts. Then gradually emerging is this fascinating flavor at once recognizable as the pickled spruce/pine yet confused with an infinite variety of flavors. It's subtle and assertive at the same time and completely original. Ends on the slightest, faint acidic note. Absolutely gorgeous. Incredible balance. Mouthfeel is on the lighter side of medium with abundant, soft carbonation. It's not incredibly drinkable, but who cares?

The most ponderous beer i've had in a while. I think i love gruit.

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Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.18/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle

Pours a clear copper color with ruby highlights. Has a creamy white head that thins.Mild lacing on the glass.

Aroma is slightly sweet and fruity with a very piney smell.

Taste is lightly malty upfront with a slight spruciness. There is a slight cocoa taste miced with some herbal tones as it finishes slightly sweet.

Thin body, mild carbonation.

Good to try, but it just wasn't nearly as good as the other beers I've had from this brewery.

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Photo of haz77
3.77/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark amber with a half-inch of white head. This falls to a thin layer. Looks to have medium carbonation.

S - Pine, caramel, a little solvent, honey.

T - Sweet at first, with a bit of pine, before earth comes thorugh. Alcohol warmth appears with a short, medicinal finish.

M - Medium body and low carbonation.

D - Interesting beer, but one is plenty.

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Photo of Gumbafish
3.33/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a caramel brown color, with head that did not sustain too long. Malty tasting, and surprisingly not overwhelmingly pine tasting. It was worth a try but certainly is not something I could drink more then one of once every blue moon. Like I said worth a try because it is interesting, but not an every day beer.

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Photo of cbl2
3.15/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

$2.69 11.2 oz. 7.50% Best by 10/05 notched on the bottle.


Pours a murky brown with bits of orange topped by a thin white head.


A sweet malt explosion with some underlying hints of pine.


Oddly malty with a touch of peat and some muted pine needles in the background. Rather one sided and unimpressive.

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Photo of jwc215
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Part of a 4-pack of ancient Scottish ales, with a brief, interesting history included.
Best before end of February 2007.
Served only slightly chiled (near room-temperature).
Poured copper with a foamy, off-white head that was well-retained and left some rings of lacing.
The smell was of caramel malt and some floral aromas.
The taste was of mildly sweet caramel with just an underlying of pine. The alcohol was well-covered until the finishing aftertaste, which was mildly sweet.
It was smooth and medium-to full-bodied with a pleasant, lingering flavor.
I was expecting to be overwhelmed by pine, so was a bit hesitant. But, it's not overwhelming at all - just a mild, tasty hint was noticeable - just enough to give it a pleasant, unique character. I had it as a nightcap - a good "sipping" choice!

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Photo of afordney
3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a honey-amber color, head was off-white and tightly packed, very skinny, but thick.

Smells bubblegum sweet with hints of caramel

tastes just as sweet, caramel and malt

mouthfeel is a little bubbly, slight bitterness is covered up by the sweetness that almost puckers the mouth.

This beer is not at all what I was expecting, I thought some spruce and pine flavors would be present but this beer was suprising. A little too sweet for my liking but a tasty beer that I might try again.

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Photo of BigBry
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown 330ml bottle (as pictured), with BB date notched into back label.
Quite murky, dark orange/brown with lots of small floating particles. Cream colored head that started about an inch thick, then shrunk away, minimal lace. The aroma is fruity and sweet, not really any pine or spruce I was expecting. The flavor was hard to pin point. Kind of sweet, with a bit of piney resin type taste at the finish. The alcohol does come through, but not really strong or burning. As it warmed, it took on more of a wine-like flavor. Interesting and unusual, not sure where on the scale to put this one. Worth a try, but not an everyday beer.
I will have to re-visit this one, now that I know what to expect.

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Photo of Blakaeris
3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours murky caramel, with virtually no head. Just a soapy ring.

Smell is very meadlike. Honey and fermented apple cider. Very sweet with mild malt characteristics.

Taste is dominated by caramel malt. buttery and smooth. There is also a sweet hop-like piney finish. Quite unusual and complex.

Mouthfeel is medum bodied and very smooth.

What a find. Flavors are balanced and unusual. A winner.

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Photo of bashiba
4.04/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a hazy honey brownish color with little to no head to speak of.

Smell was sweet and malty with hints of toffee, honey, and apricot.

Taste was quite different from the smell, very unique. Light malts with a bit of honey, finishes with a dry piney, slightly bitter herbal flavor. Overall very herbal and balanced.

Mouthfeel was medium thick with a slight coating and a dry finish.

Tasty and different, very enjoyable and goes down easy, alcohol is very well hidden, I will look forward to drinking this one again.

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Photo of SilentSabre
3.76/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was nothing like the offensive pine sap I thought it would be. In fact, I thought this was absolutley delicious. It poured a hazy orange bronze colour with a khaki coloured foamy head that lasted for about 40 seconds or so. It left wonderful looking lacing after the head subsided. The smell was very sweet. Much sweeter than I was anticipating. The pine smell was extremely muted. In fact, I really had to look for it. The taste was almost that of a slightly sweet IPA. It wasn't offensive at all. One can definitley taste the barley and I suppose the spruce sprigs are what lends the bitterness too this brew. This also leaves a dry "earthy" taste in one's mouth on the finish. The mouthfeel is quite smooth with very little carbonation. I also felt that drinkability was certainly a 4.0. I feel I could drink quite a few of these in a sitting; nothing at all like I thought it was going to be!!

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Photo of kimcgolf
1.42/5  rDev -62.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

About the only thing good about this beer was it’s appearance, and the fact that I only had to choke down a 12 oz. bottle. Michael Jackson describes it as "oily, peppery and medicinal". That says it all. Overwhelming aroma, taste and finish of pine. Leave that for air fresheners. I’m sorry to say that in 35 years of beer drinking, this is probably one of the 5 worst I’ve ever had.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best by Oct 06

A - Pours a semi-clear dark amber color, nice carbonation, basically no head, some lacing around the edges.

S - Scents of sweet malts, slight caramel, slight spices.

T - The taste is sweet and finishes dry. Maybe a slight bubblegum flavor or something there. Does remind me of a barleywine in a way.

M - Medium body, slightly carbonated.

D - Very drinkable. This is a very tasty brew, I like it alot. Not much of a pine flavor, but very tasty indeed.

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Photo of chunkylover53
4.3/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this in the Historic Ales of Scotland gift set. They're all pretty good, but this is my favourite of the bunch.

Pours a deep orange. Small head, fades fast but never quite goes away. Head leaves "whooshy" (for lack of a better word) cloud-like patterns.

Smells malty, sweet.

This is a really smooth triple, but with pine instead of hops. A delicious, candy-like aftertaste lingers a long time. Like pink candyfloss, but not sickeningly so.

If I could get a gift pack with just this in it, I'd buy a bunch of them.

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Photo of IrishRedRock
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Amber colored body; interesting aroma of candy-sweet yeast, banana and a hint of pinecones. Flavor follows suit, but is quite unique as the pine lingers in the finish. Not so much an over-the-top double IPA pine flavor, but a bit more subtle, sticky and pine sappy rather than pine needles. That really doesn't make sense when I read it, but I know what I mean. Ha! Bubblegum sweetness lingers on the palate long after the pine sap is gone. Malts are bready and toasted; carbonation bites the tongue, but is not too overpowering. Certainly an interesting beer - something like a brown ale crossed with a Belgian Tripel and a bunch of pinecones. I like it.

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Photo of warriorsoul
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brought back from Scotland by a friend...
Semi-cloudy, worn copper color with a full finger and a half of solid, eggshell colored head...leaves thick lacing that eventually fades back into the brew.
Very pleasant in the nose...a hefty dose of sweet malt and spice due to the pine.
Taste is very pleasant...not overly sweet as expected from the smell with a nice pine/spruce flavor. A touch of floral hops to dry up the finish...thick mouthfeel with no lingering flavors.
I'd really dig this style more come the colder months...nonetheless, surprisingly good and worth a try if you can handle a different type of brew.

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Photo of spruce488
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(First review I've done)

From a 12 oz. bottle.

Nice clear red color.
Somewhat unimpressive head. (only dissapointing feature)
Smells of berries, didnt pick up on much pine.
Mild taste at first, slightly medicinal (not too bad though) followed by a hint of pine or spruce with some berry flavor. Very Tasty.
Smooth and light in the mouth. Feels very bubbly.
Great drinkability, I highly recommend this beer.

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Photo of VoodooBrew
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Imported by Texashammer.

There's good clarity to the deep amber body of this brew. The nose, I swear, is dominated by the aroma of red Twizzlers. Later, a spicy evergreen element creeps in. The taste is immediately sweet, piney, with candy fruit, then bitterness and sweet malt mid-palate. The aftertaste is piney like a christmas tree, and a little floral. While this drinks mostly unobtrusively, it's really more of a curiosity than anything you'd want to drink repeatedly. Better than bad but not great.

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Photo of IntriqKen
2.44/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Unusual to say the least.
Golden amber color with a small head that melts to a nice thin lacing.
Aroma is slightly piney, resiny, a little medicinal (Lysol?) and alcohol.
Slight malt sweetness initially then the piney, resiny, slightly medicinal taste followed by alcohol flavoring.
Mouthfeel is very full, carmelly throat coating with an alcohol burn following.
Aftertaste becomes even more prominately piney and alcohol.
This will not become a regular drinker....really unusual and probably an acquired taste. Interesting to try once in a while. I do notice some of the attributes of Alaskan WinterAle in this beer...probably because they are both flavored with Spruce Tips...however, I LOVE Alaskan WinterAle. This one I am not so sure about.

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Photo of dauss
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 330ml thick glass non-twist off bottle. Freshness notch best before February 2006.

Presentation: Extremely cloudy murky brown color. Head almost non-existent, no lacing.

Smell: Sweet toffee caramel malt aroma with a touch of pine. Smells quite pleasant.

Taste: Sweet, but not cloying. Very complex malt with more caramel, toffee, with a toasty biscuity finish. A very light pine flavor is there, and doesn't remind me at all of pine-sol.

Notes: This beer is actually quite tasty. The carbonation was very low, a little too sweet for my tastes, but the malt was really good, the pine was well balanced, and the 7.5% alcohol really can't be tasted.

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Photo of treehugger02010
3.31/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Over all I liked the beer. I, however, attribute this to its novelty. I've never had a beer like this before, but then again, I am just getting into the whole drink to drink thing, instead of the drink to get drunk thing. Any feedback on how to get to know beer better, let me know. Peace.

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Photo of Rezzin
3.05/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a deep reddish copper color that is quite clear. 1" off white head disappears really fast. I went to go check the bottle and when I came back - it was gone! No visible bubbles inside the glass.

S - The aroma is sweet with a licorice type aroma. A little piny and with a herbal aroma that I can't really describe. Sort of smells like a hopless barleywine.

T - First impression was candles. Ever been to a candle store? The taste is the aroma of a candle store if that makes sense. Definitely somewhat of a piny twang to it but surprisingly much less sweet that the aroma. There is just enough bitterness present to round things out but the flavor is just bizarre. Has somwhat of a herbal aftertaste.

M - Very smooth going in with a bitterness in the back. Leaves a dry feeling in my mouth.... but it's not too bad.

D - If you can get over the bizarre quality of this beer it's not half bad.

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Photo of Naes
2.17/5  rDev -42.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This ale pours a dark amber color with a tall light tan head.
The aroma is very sweet. It is like a candy coated pine tree, if there was such a thing. It is also a bit fruity with the faintest amount of hops hidden in there.
The flavor is just as it smells. Candied pine with a bit of hops hidden near the finish. This is definitely too sweet for me, but a unique beer nonetheless.
The mouth feel is a bit syrupy and moderately carbonated.

This is a unique beer, but over the top sweet for my likings.

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Photo of crwills
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I got a gift pack of these Scottish brews for Christmas, which included beers of various traditional recipes (Scots Pine, Heather Ale, Elderberry, etc.). The only one I didn't get was the Kelpie. Anyway, I expected them to all be kind of weird, gimmicky, semi-gross beers -- but I've had three of the four, and I've like them all! Especially the Elderberry one, but this one was surprisingly good too. Different enough to be interesting, but pleasant enough to be drinkable -- although not THAT drinkable. It is, after all, a hopless beer.

Poured a dark, mildly cloudy reddish brown into a red wine glass. Looks syrupy, which makes sense, as we'll see. Nice big fluffy beige head to start off with, but it fades fast and doesn't leave much lacing. Odd looking though -- very milkshakey.

Smell is interesting and complex, although a little heavy on the sweetness. Again, syrupy, like tree sap or maple syrup. A bit cloying. Some elements of wildflowers or very ripe, almost rotten wild berries. Could smell it as soon as the bottle opened, and it's quite pleasant actually, at least for a while.

Taste is very sweet, again almost cloying, but pleasant at least for one glass. Some piney notes, but almost no bitter elements at all. Bit of medicinal flavour in the back, as well as some mild roasty or burnt nots and mild caramel. Almost no carbonation, smooth mouthfeel, and citrusy aftertaste.

Not bad -- I might not buy a six pack of this, but I'd probably grab a couple of singles and keep them on hand when I was in the mood for something different.

Oh... and this is my 100th review on BA. Yay me! #101 is coming up shortly.

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Alba Scots Pine Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 61.9% out of 100 with 690 ratings
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