Fraoch Heather Ale
Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale
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Style:
Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale
Ranked #20
ABV:
5%
Score:
85
Ranked #32,589
Avg:
3.77 | pDev: 13%
Reviews:
729
Ratings:
1,179
From:
Williams Brothers Brewing Company
 
Scotland, United Kingdom
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  84
Gots
  92
SCORE
85
Very Good
Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale
Notes: 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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Reviews: 729 | Ratings: 1,179 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of sorsh_a_ghlinne
sorsh_a_ghlinne from Scotland

4.89/5  rDev +29.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Brilliant sort of rich looking reddish gold colour to it. Smell is floral and slightly sour and milky, taste however is herby, honey-sweet, a bit smokey/peaty, has a hint of ginger early in the bottle from the bogmyrtle that lessens as it is drunk - but all these words are just me scrambling to explain a taste that is like nothing else. Only detracting factor is the feel is a bit heavy and lingers a little too long. But I can't complain really. Must also note that I've not had this on draught so it could be even better that way.

The real question, though: as a nation, why on earth did we ever stop drinking heather beer?

Dec 28, 2020
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JonnoWillsteed from England

3.4/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The lable has been 'Yoofed' now being a vivid purple-pink with the main 'Fraoch' in a white graffiti-like font.
L- Pours a vivid golden, clear, with a 2mm white cap. ps 15mins later, holding well.
S- Wow it's mild, nothing clearly distinguishable comes through to me, not even the basics like grains/malts and so on.
T- Quite bright intitially, then a bready middle, into a moderately dry finish with a touch of a dry woody note right at the very end. Was the latter the heather? No idea... ps. I've just noticed it's leaving a mild residual 'dry zing' on my palate, though am unclear of the specific cause.
F- 'Medium dry'? It has dry facets yet they've wrung enough mouthfeel out of it's modest 5%ABV to almost come back to a 'medium' centre-point. All in, it's pretty gutsy for it's 5%.
O- I might have some winter congestion but even then any specific heather notes seem subtle. So fear not those who have visions of being beaten about the palate with a moorland's worth of said bushes. The dry zing has by now evolved slightly from dryness into almost a mildly spicy brush on my palate, and most unusually, even my lips! Is this what the heather does!? It reminds me of the subtlety of the spicy zing you get from fine-ground white pepper.
Interesting one. Something a bit different, and mercifully it's subtle rather than a big/OTT slamming statement.
500ml bottle BB: 04/2022
Now reading the lable: A-ha! Ginger - that'll be the zing. Funny thing though, I got zero ginger taste, just it's zing.

Dec 19, 2020
Photo of CWINS65
CWINS65

4.16/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Very good ale, crispy with a dark golden color. Somewhat sweet without going over the top, I taste honey & tea like hints. Not readily available but worth seeking out. Excellent!

Feb 14, 2020
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octortus from Canada (ON)

3.64/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

330 mL Bottle. ABV 5%.
Appearance: Clear brownish gold, Above medium mesmerising carbonation, Terrific retention, Soapy lacing.
Aroma: Floral, Herbs, Spicy earthy yeast, Biscuit, Malt sweetness, Slight fruit, Very slight honey.
Mouthfeel: Medium body, dyry finish, Flat, Creamy, Slightly syrupy.
Flavour: Malt sweetness, Floral, Honey, Spicy yeast, Slightly herbal.
Overall: Quite interesting to try. I think it's a nicely crafted beer all things considered, but perhaps could be more balanced.

Review: 107

Jan 04, 2020
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Jtee from Canada (ON)

3.79/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

From a 330ml bottle served straight from the fridge at 8 degrees Celsius into a white wine glass. Best before date: 09/2018.

Look: The beer pours a brilliant gold with 1cm of bubbly, frothy, white head that dissipates into a partial film in less than a minute. Good lacing however the retention is just plain awful. Great colour and clarity with points deducted for the head.

Smell: Medium-light intensity and sweet. The aroma is very pretty (out of all things) and delicate. In a word, botanical. In more words, there's a pronounced floral character with a touch of spice and tea-like notes. The scent for me is slightly reminiscent of Dillon's rose gin (for the peeps who're familiar with this spirit).

Taste: Follows the aroma seamlessly with medium-light strength and sweet balance. The floral front transforms into a grainy-malty mid-palate, and a herbal finish which is quite faint, short, and balanced. I'm also getting tea-like notes somewhere in the middle of it all. Interesting.

Feel: Medium-light body with medium-low carbonation. Creamy, somewhat crisp, and definitely delicate with no alcohol warming or astringency to speak of.

Overall: Fraoch is a relatively simple and easy-drinking beer with some nice subtleties to it. Clean and nuanced however lacking some wow factor. It's worth a try if you have a chance but I wouldn't hunt for it. Having said that, I'm surprised how much I enjoyed it.

Nov 29, 2017
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MisterBanks6 from Scotland

4.45/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bronze but clear golden colour with fruity and spicy aromas. I found this also had a certain peatiness to it which left a lingering taste of mild whiskey. The spices are present yet not overpowering and citrus taste is more apparent. Nice floral and slight caramel notes add that sweetness which creates the perfect balance with its slight bitterness and spiced peppery notes. Also fantastic and unique style. Preferred the old green label to the latest purple one but does not take away any positiveness towards the beer.

Aug 15, 2017
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VoxRationis from New York

4.01/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Decanted from an 11.2 oz (330 ml) bottle into a Weissbier glass.
A: Pours a dark golden to light amber color with half inch with minimal retention but modest lacing. Yeast remnants evident.
S: Aromas of peach and grapes, with spicy, peppery, and maybe dill bouquet.
T: Toasty flavor, with weak caramel, pepper, star anise, and cinnamon notes. Pleasantly sweet aftertaste.
M: Light bodied with light effervescence.
O: Different by design and very enjoyable. Much, much lighter bitterness than hopped beers. Would definitely try again.

Aug 10, 2017
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KrisPaulk77 from Mississippi

3.49/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Picked up in Aberdeen.
Pours a bright gold-hued amber color with a tight white cap of foam. The head stuck around for a bit and a decent amount of lace edged the glass as I drank.
Nose is hugely floral and sweet candy, bright and fresh with a touch of herbal notes.
Flavor is crisp and floral, a touch sweet on the back end. Crisp and lively carbonation.
Decent beer overall.

May 06, 2017
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The_Kriek_Freak from Pennsylvania

4.12/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours amber with a pillow-like head of great retention and lacing. Aroma is citrusy and floral. Taste is astringent, floral, and with hints of chamomile and ginger. Very carbonated on the tongue. Very refreshing!

Apr 03, 2017
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Chickenhawk9932 from Pennsylvania

3.92/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a golden amber with a cream colored tall head, good retention.

Small is spice, Sweet malt, tea, and bitter herb.

Taste is a crisp clean malty ale with a dry herb hop finish. A nice scotch ale.

Oct 09, 2016
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Roguer from Connecticut

3.8/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Fairly clear amber ale, thin with a light head.

Aroma is sweet, slightly tangy, and herbal.

Flavor follows: it's sweet and herbal, reminiscent of Sahti. Gruit is a strange kind of brew, and enjoyable in small quantities.

Jul 27, 2016
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Urk1127 from New Jersey

1.82/5  rDev -51.7%
look: 1 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.25

Cloudy pale yellow
Grape juice, smells like wort
Intensely herbal, berries, cilantro type herbs, mint? Dandelions.
Dryish, little to no. carbonation

Im sorry and i don't want to shit on an ancient recipe, but i am not a fan of the minty, herbal flowery taste. This is not for me. If you enjoy things like herbal tea. And i mean INTENSELY HERBAL like you physically took a bite out of a flower in the woods, youd enjoy this. I can not get into it myself.

Apr 16, 2016
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captaincoffee from Virginia

3.96/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours golden with a medium head, large bubbles, just a touch of lacing. Nose is floral, obviously, but a surprisingly nice floral, more like very floral hops than just heather. Taste is like a solid traditional bitter with light fruit and floral undertones. Mouthfeel is medium-light, crisp.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought this would be lousy, but I quite liked it.

Mar 22, 2016
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Auraan from Arizona

4.65/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured a cloudy golden body with no head to see. Overall impression of appearance is of an nice light ale. Scents of heather flowers and general floral aromas, light sweet malt and honey aromas and a backing of peat moss, a touch of grainy malt and a faint hint of mineral water. Overall impression of aroma is of a nice floral beer with a more pronounced malty aroma than modern style ales due to use of flowers instead of hops. A nice gruit, true to ancient Gaelic origins. Flavor begins floral, with flavors of heather mingling with lightly sweet malt and honey flavors and a grainy malt at moderate levels. Middle adds a further level of grainy malt and light honey sweetness mingling with floral flavors that provide bittering to balance the malt character. Finish is dry with floral heather flavors and grainy malt backed by very light honey and sweet malt to provide balance. Aftertaste is dry, grainy malt and floral heather. Overall impression of flavor is of a very nice, flavorful beer. It is full and malty but balanced with a pleasant floral character and dryness that make it quite pleasing. The use of flowers over hops makes the flavor unique, though to compare it to a modern style it would be most similar to the clean, bright, malty and floral character of a German Pilsner, despite being an ale. Mouthfeel is medium-light bodied and smooth, with a creamy character at the finish and medium-high carbonation. Overall impression of mouthfeel is of a nicely light, refreshing beer, something many of these ancient styles have in common. Overall this is an excellent take on the ancient gruit. A lovely aroma gives way to an excellent clean flavor and a refreshing mouthfeel, the sort of beer to drink when clean water wasn't available and flavor was desired.

Mar 20, 2016
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Beginner2 from Illinois

4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

So, this is what my father's ancient ancestors drank !
The Williams Brothers should be commended for keeping alive this style and others lost to history.
Not being a fan of lots of hops, keep trying those different spices !

I note when a beer is listed in one of three books comprising my classical beer education.
Reviewed in Roger Protz' "300 Beers To Try Before You Die!"
"1001 Beers To Taste Before You Die", page 882. The reviewer claims it goes with rich and spicy food. I think I will test this.

Feb 19, 2016
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HattedClassic from Virginia

3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The beer doesn't pour a lot of head and seems to be very lightly carbonated but what head does form is very white and creamy. The beer itself is a cloudy pale gold that is actually nice to look at. At the very least, it definitely looks like an ale.

The smell is very nice and subdued. It doesn't have the super bitterness of an ale but it's spices and ingredients make for a very alluring smell. The heather is definitely front and forward while surrounded by a very nice sweet malt note. There is a definite overall floral note to this beer.

The taste has the same floral note created by the heather and malt note. There is also a slight bitterness to it as well that isn't found in the smell.

The feel is very good and very drinkable. It's a light bodied beer but on the heavier side. The beer seems to go down with a nice creamy texture. The carbonation is very light and almost non-existent but is enough to add a little texture to it.

Overall, a good beer and one definitely one to have at least once. It's definitely a unique style that isn't very common but still makes for a good drinking experience. Get it and enjoy it.

Feb 01, 2016
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vinicole from England

3.63/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pale yellow colour. Tight, frothy head.
Floral aroma with a hint of malt and honey.
Spicy malt taste.
Quite light and easy to drink if a bit unusual.

Jan 25, 2016
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pat61 from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: this pours brilliant gold under a 1” white foam cap. S: This does smell herbal, I can get some pine but I do not remember what heather smells like. T: It has a spicy palate suggesting a spiced cola. F: Medium body and carbonation. O: An interesting, spicy beer.

Aug 18, 2015
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Andrewharemza from Australia

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

Hazy golden colour with small off-white head that last a couple of seconds with a thin lacing. Aroma is floral and malty, hints of spicy. Taste is also floral and a bit hoppy and sweet, hints of burned sugar. Low carbonation and medium body with a sweet finish.

Jul 20, 2015
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stortore from Illinois

3.27/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

500 ml bottle into a tulip.

Pours a very clear golden yellow, with a small head and some lacing. Smell seems to be primarily the malted barley (?), earthy. Also grass, floral aromas. More floral as it warms. Taste is less earthy, the barley is more malty and a little sweet. Overall floral taste, some bitterness starting midway. Fairly smooth, does not leave a great aftertaste.

My first of the style and I'll try others, but this was not to my tastes. Must be a good example of the style, it seems well liked.

Jul 20, 2015
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Gajo74 from New York

4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a pear colored light and slightly cloudy color with a minimal head that U icily disapates into a thin frothy lace.
At first, the nose is grassy. Then it becomes sweet with a unique fruity aroma kind of like wild berries. the aroma is also earthy; herbal and floral.
Mostly sweet taste; some fruit, malt forward. However, the finish is more herbal and tea like. It leaves a nice lingering slightly bitter and dry aftertaste. It helps to balance out the beer. Nice light mouthfeel and easily drinkable. I drank it quite fast!
This is my first sampling of this style. I think it is a very interesting and unique style and one that I want to get to know more of.

Jul 19, 2015
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souljorn from Florida

4.99/5  rDev +32.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is by far my favorite beer of all time. It's made from a recipe from thousands of years ago. It's what a good beer would have been like around 500A.D. And it still stands true till today.

Jul 18, 2015
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psm90 from England

4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Light straw golden, like a hazy lager. Lots of carbonation.

S: Straw, sweet malts, grassy, slight spice.

T: So unusual. Sweet, honey malts with grass and herbs. I can taste a lot of rosemary, pine and some black pepper. It's got an odd spicy quality which cuts through the herby profile very well. There's some ginger in there, which adds to the spice a lot. As I drink more, this spiciness becomes more pronounced and nuanced. There's a taste (and a smell) which I can't describe; I assume that must be the heather. It finishes dry with a hoppy profile and more spice.

M: Medium to thin body with a good amount of carbonation and a dry finish.

O: A very interesting and very tasty beer. I'd like to try more beers with this profile. I could drink a lot of this.

Jul 12, 2015
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twosheds from Massachusetts

2.64/5  rDev -30%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Kind of a peach color with a thin white head. Not a very appealing color for a beer, but I'm keeping an open mind on this one.

Smells kind of like dried fruit and some malty sweetness. It smells a bit sour

The taste is very light and hard to nail down. Kind of fruity and kind of sour. I kind of get the floral profile, but it's not what I expected.

I wanted to give this beer a chance since it's a unique style, but I was not a big fan of it. This is the only fraoch I've had, so I can't really say that it's bad for the style, but in general doesn't appeal to my taste.

Apr 05, 2015
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ZorPrime from Canada (QC)

3.67/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer is golden in color maybe light copper. Yeah, more light copper color. The head is white and frivolous. It disappear quickly. On the smell, its fruity, some sugar and a little sour. Nice smell. The intensity of the smell is medium.

In the mouth, its somewhat sour but the taste is quite light. Almost watery. Not much taste here. Its very timid on the taste side.

Effervescent. Light body in the mouth.

Overall, a good beer.

Apr 04, 2015
Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 1179 ratings