Fraoch Heather Ale
Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale
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Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale
Ranked #17
Ranked #28,798
3.77 | pDev: 13%
Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Scotland, United Kingdom
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: 726 | Ratings: 1,174 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by arkanu:
Photo of arkanu
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

More User Reviews:
Photo of BierReise
3.54/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Deep golden with low retention.Nice big floral/hop aroma.Babysbreath? Flavor is sweet and floral with good hops and sweet malts. A most interesting flavor. Earthy, woodsy and sweet. Body is a bit light but interesting blends make up for that shortcoming. Not one I'd drink often but I'd love to try it on draught.

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Photo of BlackAngus
4.17/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark golden color, bright white head the retains well.

S - Nice maltiness, floral notes, maybe a hint of honey.

T - Smokey, tart, I don't get the floral flavor that I got in the smell.

M - Astonishingly light-bodied, extremely clean.

D - Despite my trepidations, this is a very drinkable beer, and I'm glad I bought more than one.

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Photo of crossovert
3.3/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 4.5

Came in a sampler pack of Historic Scottish Ales. It is a little past it's due date.

Pours into my Duvel tulip glass with a white head that has tight white foam but doesn't reach the brim, even with a semi vigorous pour, and quickly recedes, leaving watery spotted lacing. The beer is a deep honey color.

The scent is slightly sour, floral, and malty. There is a hint of spices including black licorice.

THe taste is rather nondescript. It is light and unoffensive. It's missing the hops though. There are some spices and a malt backbone but not much. The mouthfeel is watery.

Overall this is a pedestrian ale I could see someone like Guiness producing. It has high drinkability for its medium alcohol content and mild flavor palate, but it is too expensive to be a light chugging beer.

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Photo of Dave1999
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The appearance is light amber almost transparent with a very small white head.

The smell is malty, hoppy and earthy.

The taste is sweet malty with a honey taste.

The mouthfeel medium bodied with very little carbonation.

Overall a very enjoyable beer not complex but good tasting.

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Photo of IgorBorisovich
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

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

This is a beer that I had been wanting to try for awhile. As a history teacher/buff, I was very interested in trying Fraoch, an ancient beer brewed in Scotland for a couple of thousand years. Alas, Fraoch is not sold in Texas but luckily, a fellow BA came to the rescue (thanks Loki!) and a trade later, I had two bottles of the stuff.

I must make one statement. I am easily swayed in my opinions by things that I find interesting. Beer is no exception. The concept of a historical recipe is fascinating to me. I'm not saying that I would give a bad beer a good rating simply because I think it's cool. What I am saying is that I take into account that historical artifacts (and this would be a "modern artifact") are what they are. If heather ale is not the best beer in the world, it doesn't lessen its significance. This beer (or something similar to it) was important to people living in Scotland thousands of years ago. To change the recipe for modern tastes would do a disservice to everyone involved.

Having said that, I have to say that I was surprised at how, well, beer-like Fraoch looks. I don't know what I was expecting but this beer looks like beer! Fraoch pours a clear gold, like bottled sunshine. I have read the reviews that say it's clody but I ddn't see it. maybe it was the hefe-weizen I had earlier in the night that "clouded" my judgement. (I can't resist a pun) The head is a slight off-white. Fraoch really does look nice.

The main problem with rating this beer is, what do I compare it to? What stadard do I use? I have never had a heather ale or historical recipe. This beer is unique to me.

The aroma is sour, with a very faint floral and hint of alcohol...very faint. I wish I could say it smelled like heather but I have to be honest...I don't know what heather smells like...this beer maybe?

Fraoch has a definite sweet flavor, with a very distant bitterness that flashes quickly and is gone. There is a very faint aftertaste that also lasts only a moment. This beer is very clean tasting, nicely carbonated and very spicy.

All-in-all, Fraoch is a good beer. I enjoyed this beer quite a lot, and it is quite interesting, but it's more interesting than it is tasty. This does not mean it's bad. It doesn't mean I will never want another. What it does mean to me is that this beer has an element that many others do not have, along with appearance, aroma, taste, etc. Fraoch has "history" and that gets high marks from me.

 2,469 characters

Photo of demcorhip
3.87/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy amber, with no head or lacings in this very mildly carbonated ale.

Smells better than it looks. Floral scents with hints of honey, green bitterness and ginger. Malts also evident, but are in the back seat with smells of bread crust and other toasty smells.

Light bready malts with hints of bread crust, caramel and toast. Some apple/pear fruitiness in the background, then the floral notes with a hint of honey and mild notes of ginger root, as well as a greenness with both some sweet and bitter character.

A bright and refreshing drink, a touch more carbonation could liven this up a bit, even though it likely doesnt befit the style. Nicely balanced, the slight malt sweetness and the floral sweetness was offset nicely by the somewhat dry and toasted malt character as well as the hint of ginger as well as green bitterness.

A very drinkable and refreshing ale that is going down great on this hot May evening. Quite approachable and interesting. I dont remember the hint of ginger when i had this one a year or two ago, but it or a very similar taste is present, and fits nicely within this ale. Well worth trying, its nice to water my scottish roots with more than just wee heavies from time to time.

 1,282 characters

Photo of scott451
3.92/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a slightly hazy apricot with a one finger bubbly head. The head soon diminished to a thin layer that sticks around. Some fine bubbly lacing

A very floral malt smell. A complex herbal taste. A lemony tart finish.

A moderate mouthfeel. Light carbonation. Mild but complex. All in all a unique but very pleasant drink. Much better when fresh.

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Photo of schopenhauerale
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of CJR032280
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of rebel1771
4.18/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazey dark copper color with little head. Smell is very slight with hints of honey and flowers. The flavor starts out with bready maltness and fades to a kind of floral, honey flavor. When I first saw this brew I thought it was a gimmick, I was very wrong. This is a very good ale, much better than I thought it would be, will be picking this one up again.

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Photo of stephendr
3.52/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle- color of golden orange, with thin white quickly departing head - nose of malts , cobwebs , hopps , floral , and hay – taste of oak barrels , spices , earthy , mild hopps and malts - body thin , and crisp – aftertaste of hopps and short

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

This is a style I have never had before, thats the main reason why I picked this one up.

A- Perfectly clear, pale yellow with a bleach white head. Very good retention and lacing.

S- Sweet, clover honey, flowers, herbs and tea.

T- Much like the nose, but very grassy. Lots of grass, flowers, clovers, honey, white tea. Not much in the way of hops or bitterness.

M- Light, clean, dry and refreshing.

D- Pretty easy to drink. Its very refreshing. I dont think Ill have this again but it was well worth the try.

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Photo of ThinkAgain
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of admh1972
5/5  rDev +32.6%

Photo of Indybeer
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle. Poured a hazy copper colored, with a smallish head and some fine lacing. Awesome floral aroma meets the nose. Taste starts out with some malt sweetness, finishes with a floral spiciness from the heather! Mild carbonation. Definetly different. But a throughly enjoyable and drinkable beer. Will be picking up a few more of these soon.

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Photo of nebula1999
3.73/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of woosterbill
4.05/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip. Thanks to my friend Jim for sending this my way.

A: Clear amber-gold body under a finger of fine tan foam. Good retention and lacing. Nice.

S: Weirdly sweet and herbal, with definite hints of anise. I suppose it's heather that dominates, but I wouldn't know. Quite pleasant in its strangeness, but sweeter than I was expecting.

T: Follows the nose: sweet malt, vanilla, herbal spice. Dr. Pepper, licorice, ginger. Fun stuff, albeit more like a soft drink than a traditional beer.

M: Soft, smooth, lively - lovely.

O: Surprisingly approachable and pleasant, but perhaps a bit overly sweet and simplistic - if I want to drink Dr. Pepper, I'll just drink Dr. Pepper. That said, this beer really does a good job of delivering smooth, flavorful sweetness without being sticky or cloying. As tasty as it was, God invented hops for a reason.


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Photo of rmargeson
4/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of The_Kriek_Freak
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!

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Photo of Ave
3.38/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pouring the color of old orange peels, that sort of burnished light ocher, this beer gives off a very pronounced floral & herb kind of yeasty aroma as a meagerly thin white head forms but then disappointingly dissipates. Lightly sweet & bitter upfront, moves to the floral malt end. Sweet dry finish, nothing remarkable or offensive left behind. Smells good, tastes ok, makes me want an Oberon. Would pair well with a dark greens salad with a big ol’ slice of camembert.


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Photo of skineg
3.2/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Misty Amber color with a few bits of wheat floating around. Small head that disappears fast.

Smell: One word: flowery.

Taste: Surprisingly weak. I was expecting a little more boldness from a Heather Ale. Smooth and well rounded with only a hint of floral. Once your hit with the floral flavor, it fades away quickly and leaves little to no aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, lite and flat.

Drinkability: Very drinkable, easy on the palate and not filling.

Comment: I have to hand it to the marketing department of Heather Ale Ltd because they make one hell of a package. It made me buy a four pack of their product. Not a bad beer, just nothing too special.

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Photo of mdillon86
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of VaterRoss
4/5  rDev +6.1%

Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 1174 ratings