Fraoch Heather Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

very good
720 Reviews
Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale

Brewed by:
Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by purplehops on 10-06-1998

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Reviews: 720 | Ratings: 1,145
Photo of souljorn
4.99/5  rDev +33.1%
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.

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Photo of MrStark
4.92/5  rDev +31.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 500 ml bottle into a nonic pint glass!

Appearance is of a hazy golden orange with a white, two finger foamy head that dissipated slowly after a few minutes! Small amounts of lacing.

Smell is wonderful! A nice sweet and floral aroma that is in the right amount. Not too strong.

Taste is Fantastic! The floral notes hit first followed by a flowery sweetness and a slightly spicy finish!

Motuhfeel is quite smooth with light carbonation!

Drinkablity is very good! A wonderful taste with a light abv makes this quite an enjoyable beer! I could certainly have a few of these at one time. It is one of my favorite brews!!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.85/5  rDev +29.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

"It looks pretty," said the young clerk, scanning my bottle, "is it good?" Good only begins to describe this beauty, and while the label is among the best designs in the world of beer, prettiness continues on every aspects of this classic ale.
Color is a rich orange, and the head is moderate, off-whitish. Aroma is refreshing and upliftingly lovely : honey, foremost, and flowers, roses, herbal, vegetal, fresh, and sweet. Light in body, but full in flavor, incomparably smooth in taste. Perfect balance. Solid malt, less hops, but the heather and honey flavor make up for lack of hoppiness, and make for a perfectly delightful beverage.
The taste is so light, sweet, and utterly ethereal, this belongs in a class of it's own. Lovely, full texture, honey, citrus shining through with every sip! Perfect with food, dessert, or when you deserve a reward for being an exceptional example of humankind.

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Photo of SetarconeX
4.74/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Well now, this IS a unique little brew, isn't it? I must confess, I was a little uncertain about this one. Heather's a plant usually confined to new age scented candles, isn't it? Thought it might be a bit girly.

Boy, was I ever wrong! It's got an odd taste to it, which I would call citrusy, but I expect it's more the heather. Not sure, really. Never bothered to eat any heather before. Smells wonderful though. Looks wonderful. Feels wonderful going down. Citrus isn't quite what it is though. More herbal. Like Chamomile.

Great brew. Highly recommended.

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Photo of geexploitation
4.74/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very clear, brilliant amber with golden highlights. Frothy, big-bubbled head with a collar that sticks. Aromas of honey suckle, heather flowers, sweet clover honey, and iced tea. Minimal malt aroma and zesty earthy/spicy bits. On the palate, a sharp floral character braces things up, followed by metallic carbonation and a sweet, tea-leaf mid-palate that finishes off half-sweet, half-dry, and unlike a conventional beer. No hop oilyness, instead just soft flower oils that have some sweet flavors but no oily heaviness. Surprisingly full-bodied and flavorful, and very unique. What a wonderful beer.

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Photo of Auraan
4.65/5  rDev +24%
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.

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Photo of the42ndtourist
4.64/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my kind of beer. Fraoch pours out a deep golden colour with very little head. The nose is pleasantly floral and herby. Taste is also herby. I admit to no knowledge of the flavour of heather, but the taste I got from this beer was similar to rosemary. The flavour wasn't too strong, but was well equipped for the strength of the beer's own flavour. Not too heavy a feel in the mouth and went down smoothly. Only loses marks tor the lack of head.

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Photo of Greenfloyd
4.63/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Heather ale. I once dated a girl named Heather. I'm glad to say this beer had a finish much better than that did...Apparently I love Gruit...Slainte

Poured into my large tulip glass with a rich, dark Scottish golden hue (yes, I did make up that color, thanks for wondering). An impressive creamy off-white head, rested on top like a beer induced cloud. A good swirl brings it right back to life midway. The nose was of sweet malt and cold biscuits, with traces of clover honey in the finish. This fantastic malty tasting beer had a very low hop presence, as it finished with a light, sweet, eucalyptus like cooling sensation, I'm guessing a product of the heather flower. Seeing as though I haven't exactly trampled through the highlands gnawing on fresh heather, I can't really be sure. It had a VERY smooth mouth feel, with a medium body that lent to easy drinking. This beer pairs very well with panko breaded pork cutlets, served with London chop sauce. A firm nutty cheese like Samsoe (a Danish cheddar), or the semi-firm Cheshire, with it’s buttery finish, would be great served as an appetizer……Enjoy

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Photo of goochpunch
4.61/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours out a hazy, rusty orange with a weak head. Smells lightly of bready, biscuity malts with a humongous perfumey heather aroma. Almost smells a bit minty and berry-like. Some yeast in the nose, as well. Flavor is big on the heather and berries with a light malt backbone. The malt really seems to take a back seat to the "flavoring," but that seems to work out just fine here. Flavors thin out a bit in the end. Mouthfeel is light and prickly with bubbles. This drinks way too fast.

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Photo of Blaise
4.61/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is by far one of my favorite beers. The nose is full of flowers and light springtime tones. Not your usual hoppy beer aromas. The taste follows right along with the initial impression from the smell. Lots of honey and sweetness. Once again no hop taste. The sweetness and easy drinkability can almost cause you to drink it too fast and not sit back and enjoy it. Highly recommend this beer for those who are not big on hops or bitterness.

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Photo of MAbeerNE1
4.6/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at the Haven in Boston (Jamaica Plain) poured into a tulip. They are noting that this is the first time it has been on tap in the US. Judging by the reviews, that appears to be true. I was able to have one and half before the keg kicked (I drank the last half glass). Big thanks to my brother for taking me to The Haven to taste it.

Appearance: 1/2 to 3/4 inch bright white foaming head with decent retention. Color is an opaque yellow to light pale orange. Looks great.

Smell: Flower petals and a light citrus smell. Very subtle sourness.

Taste: Bright and sour tangerine/tangelo flavor and spiciness form the heather up front. Finish is bitter tangerine and pepper. Finishes bone dry and clean! Nothing is out of place here.

Mouthfeel: Remarkably soft; mild carbonation that gives a slight tingle on the tongue but overwhelmingly clean and crisp. Full and not the slightest bit watery.

Overall: Very glad to have had this on tap. I would go out of my way for this beer to have it again. A new favorite.

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Photo of CBFanWish
4.6/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sweet, heather, grassy, smokey. Just a few words to describe this fantastic brew. I wish more breweries would use heather in place of hops more often. This is on of the best beers I have ever had. I guess you could say that I'm speechless. I love everything about it. The superbly balanced taste. Sweet and dry at the same time. The orange colour with a perfect two finger head. The smooth feel going down. I could drink this all day.

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Photo of BierStein711
4.6/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A whiskey lovers beer!

This is a throwback; more than a stone's throw. This is quite possibly a boulder's throw or a geode's throw. This is quite a beer.

The appearance of the beer is golden amber to burnt orange with moderate carbonation, and and a two finger head.

Moderate carbonation

The smell is of peaty malt, chewy malt from a scotch, and lastly a wee bit of floral hop.

The taste: piney, peaty malt, floral middle, and a light not so bitter finishing hop

Mouthfeel: oily, peaty, and smoky, this is very much like a whiskey.

Overall, I would have this fine brew again. Very brilliant!

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Photo of Hunterbrewhaha
4.6/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a good example of a beer style out of my comfort zone that I didn't have to review with an open mind. If I wasn't so fixed on darker beers I would be all over this.

A- Beautiful amber honey color, slight reddish hinge.

S- Very floral, smells like heather (in line with name)

T- Floral, mellow, inviting, would go good with food

M- Okay, didn't knock my socks off but it went down and settled like a lager or pale ale

O- A good beer to try if you want something different, an excellent beer if you're transitioning from wine. I will try and pair it with cheese and bread next time.

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Photo of baos
4.59/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm Irish and I would have to say this is why the Romans named the place: Land of the Irish!

500 ml into Falstaff goblet.

A: A nice hazy blonde with a one finger head that dissipates down to a nice film. Some nice lacing on tip.

S: Here"s where we get good a very nice floral nose heather heather heather. its really spicy and nice.

T: A musky deep in the floral field flavor. We are talking bee's legs and a nice grassy bitterness. I'd been wanting to try this one since I'd read about it some months ago. I am very impressed and satisfied and the beer's history does lend to it's flavor, my mind and body are one mo-focker. Ends with an ultra bitter grassy bite. very nice almost green tea ending.

M: Nice medium feel.

D: Very good and very dry I could go all night over cards if you wish, but bring plenty of cash, bloke.

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Photo of Arno
4.58/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

appearance: Pale yellow with small white head.

smell: Hard to put my finger on it. It's a kind of herbal, medicinal, nectar, flower and tea like smell.

taste: Herbal tea and light floral malt taste. I get a touch of lavender and a bit of nectar/honey sweetness. It's hard to pin-point what's exactly going on. It just works and is lovely balanced.

mouthfeel: It's like satin. Very smooth. Medium carbonation. Has a dry finish and leaves a lovely after-taste, wanting more.

overall: I'm quite surprised by this beer. It's not your regular ale and definitely has a unique flavor combo going on. I love the creamy like round feeling of the taste and mouthfeel. It's very fluid and refreshing, yet with a dry finish and leaves you with a after-taste that wants more. What more could you ask for? I just love it.

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Photo of Sachsenfreude
4.57/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

appearance; Amber-yellow and slightly cloudy, like a light rustic honey. Nice white head with fair lacing as it dissipates. A creamy collar and frosted film remain throughout the drink.

smell; very floral, with pollen and clover honey notes. Like a cool spring morning in the heathlands, rustic, yet gentle. Some light floury malts just add a touch of bread with raw walnuts.

taste; very well balanced, no one flavor overpowers the other. Very herbal flavors, mostly of dry sage and some diluted lemon juice. Wild and earthy in the aftertaste. Some mellow sourness and spice lingers, even some very mild toffee flavors in there.

mouthfeel; creamy with a light carbonation fizz. Medium bodied, with a smooth finish and a light feel in the stomach. Leaves a nourishing, warmth in the mouth, as if on has just eaten some white bread.

drinkability; the alcohol is well hidden and this beer is smooth, just makes one feel good and be happy, a perfect session beer.

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Photo of putnam
4.57/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've heard this brewer made the observation that many Americans don't appreciate subtlety. Well this is the test.
Aromatically it is a judged, sober display of nutty malts, morel mushrooms and wild floral resins. Pretty and delicate with the promise of deep, nuanced forest and earth.
On the palate it begins immediately with chalky, bitter hop extracts which don't quite contain an abundance of preserved lemon, peach and buttered berry fruit. Medium-bodied and perfectly dry. Ideal with a barley soup containing chervil and lamb.
This is how a start-up beer should taste. Even better as it warms.

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Photo of Phatz
4.55/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a real treat. I had no idea what to expect from this Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale. It is sweet and floral and flavored like a flavor in some candies. It has a flower like bitter balance but so gently it stays sweet with fresh honey like attribute, until the aftertaste which is shot but again loaded with unique candy like flavors I can't quite describe other than floral and buttery soft. Some of the most tasty burps I have ever encountered as well.
Mouthfeel: The texture is absolute silk. It is so soft and slick, wow.
Drinkability: This beer disappeared so fast I could hardly write the review. It is tasty and easy. It is a bit sweet to session but drinks like a champ.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of SurlyDuff
4.55/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Orangy amber with some tough sticky head. There are some particulates floating about, kinda neat. Carbonation is a bit heavier than I expected. This one apeears bottle conditioned due to the sediment.

A really mild aroma. Slightly hoppy and floral and herby.

Very good balance of hops-to-malt. A full mouthfeel, not at all watery/aqueous, despite it's paleness. Honey and sure enough, heather flowers. Also tasted some lavander and other floral notes. A really enjoyable beer!

I hate reading peoples reviews that say "its too malty" or "its too plain". The style really needs to be taken into account when reviewed, not just how it pairs up against an IIPA or IStout. This is a really good beer, and unique. I'm glad that beers like this are still being made!

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Photo of Kwak
4.55/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer has a nice amber color not the purple heather they say but a nice showing.
A mild noise is following a strong head that lingers to almost stick to the side of the glass. A slightly heavy body is followed by a spicy fruity taste with a whiny finish and faint aftertaste that that just melts away.

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Photo of meday
4.53/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle to my new Ommegang Chalice

Gentle off-white head over golden amber body. Nice lace.

Quiet, spring blossoms and honey.

Gently sweet and somewhat floral flavor, with a slight sour balance. A great bouquet of flavor.

Somewhat watery and thin mouthfeel.

Very drinkable and gentle.

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Photo of snilsen13
4.53/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Great smelling and easy drinking.

The beer pours golden and cloudy like a wheat-beer with a brighter yellow. The head is thin, virtually no head. The look is interesting, reminiscent of a bottle conditioned beer. Smells of flowers, with a deep roasted honey beneath. Very easy drinking, like a lightly sweetened water with a slight tartness and a firm tart aftertaste that lingers gently. Feels like an instant lemonade, slight oiliness gives away the alcohol and particulates. Very drinkable, if cost were not an isuue it would be an easy choice for an all day drinking beer.

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Photo of Reverand
4.5/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Truely a unique brew. Fraoch pours into a golden color with a nice white head. The herbs and spices flow up to the nose as if to invite you to drink this incredible brew. One taste of this and you are hooked.

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Photo of mac56
4.5/5  rDev +20%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My sister brought me four 500 ml bottles from Scotland. Amazingly good, and unlike anything I've ever had before. I can''t even follow the usual format breakdown.

I really think I could drink a lot of this. If you get a chance to try this: run, don't walk. Phone the neighbors, wake the kids, break open the piggy bank if you have to.

Add on edit: Another reviewer said it was like "chewing on rose petals". That hits it right on the head,

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Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
3.75 out of 5 based on 1,145 ratings.
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