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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 720 | Ratings: 1,145
Photo of harrymel
1.66/5  rDev -55.7%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Reviewed from notes on 9/27/10

A: Medium gold ale, touch cloudy. No head, no lacing.

S: Smells like grain, citrus, skunk. Not impressive at all.

T: Semi-sweet, hints of jasmine, muscat grapes.

M: Beer is light in body with low/faint carbonation. Poorly done.

D: This is a very poorly executed beer. Only saving grace is in the taste, but unfortunately all other aspects lack severely.

 390 characters

Photo of Urk1127
1.82/5  rDev -51.5%
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.

 456 characters

Photo of JackTheRipper
2/5  rDev -46.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance: Poured a dull reddish-amber color with zero head.

Smell: Faintly floral. Aromas are pretty hard to detect.

Taste: Malty sweetness up front with a bit of a heather taste to it.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is there, but in very low levels. Finish is clean.

Drinkability: I don't know if I got a bad bottle, the best before date is June 2005 so it seems like this beer should be pretty fresh. I'll review this beer again a few months from now, but as far as this particular bottle goes, I'm not impressed at all. If it weren't for this breweries Gooseberry and Wheat ale, I wouldn't even think about giving this beer a second chance. Not a good beer.

 667 characters

Photo of BeerBelcher
2/5  rDev -46.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I don't really know what heather tastes or smells like, so I wasn't sure what to expect from this beer. And it didn't really taste like anything was just kind of generic, not great, beer.

Appearance was rather pale, with just a touch of white head. Aroma was pretty minimal. Flavor was a bit cerealy, but also very subtle. Mouthfeel was a bit watery.

Far from the best beer I've had in recent memory.

 415 characters

Photo of alysmith4
2.06/5  rDev -45.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Tried this on-cask last night. Was sevearly lacking in flavor, color, and texture. Very flat (I'm sure the cask has something to do with that) and kind-of watery. Some floral notes came through as it warmed, but it was a very lackluster beer overall. Not one that I would recommend in the least.

 295 characters

Photo of ultralarry2006
2.06/5  rDev -45.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12 oz. botlle. Slight head quickly recedes to surface skim, no lacing. Body was a slightly hazy yellow orange amber.

Smell - biscuity, doughy malt. Some grassy, herbal, and floral ( but not floral as in hoppy) aromas.

Taste - not qiute like the smell. This ale tastes like a stale and weak gin and tonic, or like old stale, flat lemon/lime pop.

Mouthfeel - very thin and fluid with low carbonation.

Drinkability - goes down with some effort, was nice to try this ancient style, but that's it, don't want another one.

 542 characters

Photo of goldbot
2.1/5  rDev -44%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Reviewed on 6/16/2010. Bottle best by 10/2010.

Pours a hazy straw yellow with some small particles visible. Medium white head that dissipates very quickly with no lacing.

Bready malt aroma up front, turning to a sourish, very floral, herbal aroma from the heather. Pleasant for the most part.

More bready malt in the flavor. More floral heather but it is a bit more subdued. The aftertaste is all heather, but is very planty, almost sourish, and not very pleasant at all to me. Almost nauseating due to the earthy plantiness.

The body and mouthfeel mostly light. Low carbonation. Overall I just didn't find this beer enjoyable at all. It was interesting to try something like this, but the flavor of the heather just didn't sit well on my tongue or in my stomach.

 767 characters

Photo of sinstaineddemon
2.28/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A - a tinny light brownish gray ale, with a thin white head that laces quickly, there is tons of sediment suspended within the body, very scant carbonation meander betwixt the sediment

S - the bouquet is a amalgamation of floral, honey, grassy, and pesto sauce, no one in the room believes me until they smell it, then they agree

T - these aromas translate to the taste, pesto, basil, floral like clover, and honey. and again, no one believes me until they taste it

M&D - it is smooth going down, however the odd taste holds me back a bit, but not difficult to drink

a weird experience, but worth a try

 614 characters

Photo of mrasskicktastic
2.31/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Hazy light orange brown with a one finger head that dissipates quickly. Intense visible carbonation and no lacing. Not too impressive.

S - A potent sweet chemical aroma with a bit of light bodied malt underneath. The sweet odor is strange, it seems like something that smells like it would taste good, but then would kill you if you drank it. In line with how an upholstry glue, antifreeze or some kind of poison would smell like. I don't like the odor, in fact it quickly became a bit nauseating.

T - A light sweet malt flavor with a slight appearance of the same taste as the smells seems like it would taste like, but much, much milder. Since it is milder, it is not as sickening to taste as the corresponding smell is to smell. There is a dry grainy finish to the beer. Although out of the ordinary, I'd say the taste is a little below average.

M - Moderately smooth, carbonation is just a tad bit strong, a tad bit refreshing.

D - The smell really gets to me. If it wasn't so potent I think that I would like this more. I can't take another sip without holding my nose. The insert said that it goes with "rich and spicy foods" so I tried it with some pepperjack cheese which overpowered it's taste completely. Went very well with a slice of Manchego though. If one could get past the smell then it wouldn't be so bad.

 1,339 characters

Photo of Noxious26
2.42/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

500ml bottle poured in a pint glass.

Clear, golden colour. White head is 1/8 inch on the pour, but quickly recedes to a thin ring.

Aroma has a definite sweetness to it with underlying floral and herbal tones.

Definitely has a unique taste to it, though I can't say it's to my liking. Malty at the start with a strange undertone that I can only assume is the heather. A little too sweet for me at the start. Tastes kind of like herbal tea with a touch of malt at the finish. Aftertaste is herbal/floral.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Has a bit of an oily feel to it.

Too sweet and I'm not big on the background flavour that I'm assuming is heather. This might actually be a good example of the style, but it sure doesn't do anything for me. I can't even choke back the entire bottle.

 808 characters

Photo of meatmallet
2.5/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a golden orange color with a tiny white head that quickly disappears.

Smell: Earthy and floral with hints of hay and grass and some sweetness coming from honey and malt.

Taste: Much sweeter than the smell but nothing great. Honey and grain with a bit of a floral taste in there as well.

Mouthfeel/drinkability: Low carbonation and a light body. This beer was nothing special and kind of felt flat.

 419 characters

Photo of cgraham5
2.53/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a cloudy tan-orange color. Very little head, which dissipates quickly.

S - Light floral and berry smell. The smell isn't overwhelmingly strong.

T - Crisp brew with almost a hint of lavender and once again berries on the palette. The aftertaste is how I would imagine a flower petal tastes.

M - For only being 5%ABV the beer is quite thick and almost syrupy. Carbonation is perfect though.

D - Not a beer that I would recommend throwing back quickly. The thickness of the beer makes you relax and enjoy the floral nature. Overall it is a tasty beverage.

 566 characters

Photo of karengarys
2.53/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Maybe I shouldn't review this for I am not familiar with the style.

It pours with minimal fizz, and appears flat. It is hazy dark amber. No foam. No lacing. Not even a ring.

Smells like cheap soap, dirt, and some hop.

Tastes almost like beer, bitter, some pine I guess.

Mouthfeel is flat.

Finish is watery.

I don't want another.

 346 characters

Photo of ADZA
2.56/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This beer pours a pale cloudy straw colour that has average carbonation that leaves a one finger head and a ring of lacing around the top it almost looks identical to a organic pilsner,it has a real floral,minty herbal smell about it,the mouthfeel is quite thin even thinner than most pilsners and it has a real floral minty taste about it and to be honest i definately prefer a hop taste than this taste so for me drinkability isnt high as it tastes kinda bland but i spose i love my hops so u might call me biased.

 516 characters

Photo of beckje01
2.61/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured from 500ml bottle into a Pint glass.

Appearance - Cloudy low to no carbonation, little head. Reminds me alot like the look of local grown honey (I used to work in foodservice).

Smell - Rich flower like.

Taste - Tastes very herbal, starts light and refreshing finishing with the herbal tones yet still refreshing.

Mouthfeel - Tingles a bit but feels smooth, and very light.

Drinkability - Its very refreshing and different but the appeal is something that wears out quickly. I would suggest only a half pint at most after which the novelty wears off. I would have another if it was a hot day and came in half pint or less. Reminds me alot of cold herbal tea.

 679 characters

Photo of twosheds
2.64/5  rDev -29.6%
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.

 574 characters

Photo of shapudding
2.68/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Light and clear golden with a small amount of creamy white bubbly head that reduced down quickly to the sit in the edges only. Scents of apple cider, clean and fresh, white grapes, maltines...

Surprising taste, you expect sweetness after the scent, but there is none. Maltiness, very dry on your tongue -but it leaves your mouth wet...

Im not overwhelmed by this one. There is just something in the flavor that I just can't place that turns me off. Maybe it is the heather flowers, don't know.

 499 characters

Photo of pmcadamis
2.68/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

A - I'm pretty excited about trying this unique brew, and I love the ancient celtic bottle! This looks pretty dull once poured. It's kind of a muddy river water brown with a flimsy soapy dishwater head. The head has no real retention, and a collar of big soapy bubbles is all that is on top of the brew. It's opaque and cloudy, and shows some gold when held to the light. Not really a looker, but then again some awesome Quads have the same muddy water color...but much nicer heads. This does, strangely, have some really nice lacing despite the lack of respectable head.

S - Smells much better than it looks....actually if it smelled like it looks it would probably be reminiscent of diarrhea. This however, smells like a great oktoberfest with loads of caramel malt and carrot cake notes. I actually have no idea what heather smells like, but if it smells like this beer I plan on planting some in my new yard! I detect a Riiicolaaa! herbal aroma that is pretty that the heather coming through? Also, I smell some lightly toasted bread with butter notes. This smells awesome!

T - Ok, not quite as good as the glorious scent, but it's really unique. I'm reminded of sasafrass and Ricola herbal lozenges. This also tastes very much like the rootbeer brew from the Sam Adams Brewer Patriot Collection 4-pack. Very old school...tastes like chewing on roots. I actually don't really like the flavors that are going on here, but I respect this beer for it's individuality and complexity so I won't slam it.

M - Restrained carbonation and a light body make this a slightly watered down brew. It's pretty thirst quenching, but the finish is vegetal and off dry. Really feels like Ricola lozenges.

D - Blah. This stuff is an oddball brew that is worth trying for it's unique flavors, but I probably will never drink it again. There are no real beer flavors. It smells lovely, but so does potpourri and you don't want to put that stuff in your mouth either.

Note: The fact that this tastes like beer did 4,000 years ago is pretty cool since it probably fueled the druids hoisting the monoliths of Stonehenge, but while that makes it interesting it doesn't make it good. I'm pretty sure the food they ate back then was pretty rot-gut too.

 2,247 characters

Photo of ShrLSU
2.68/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - Pale gold with a slight cloudiness. Thin white head, no lacing.

Smell - I smell nothing.

Taste & Mouthfeel - Very light and spiced. Really tastes just like a spiced iced tea.

Drinkability - Nothing really jumps out at me to make this very special. It's just got nothing but a little spice. it diesn't hold up well. i could probably finish this in about 5 seconds if i wanted to. This ones just not worth it.

 423 characters

Photo of Giggy
2.68/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Expected more from this beer.

Appearance: Dark yellow or a pale gold. Slightly cloudy with a little head.

Smell: Earthy/herbal

Taste/Mouthfeel: Dry/Malty/Smooth & Light. I wasn't impressed at first. It developed more flavor the longer I let it set. Definately more flavor at a warmer temperature.

Drinkability: Glad to have tried it. I would drink it again if someone else was buying.

 388 characters

Photo of Brent
2.7/5  rDev -28%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

After having been impressed with the two other beers I've sampled from this brewery, the Fraoch was a letdown. For a beer that touts itself as being brewed with heather, I really expected quite a bit of floral notes in the aroma and flavor. The heather seemed to lend more of a stodgy herbal flavor. Quite typical of Scottish ale in the malt, which was substantial but overall bland. The heather never did anything to liven the beer, and my overall impression was "blah." Not bad, just boring.

 493 characters

Photo of Hoagie1973
2.71/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Wow, they are not kidding when they say "Heather" ale. Sweet floral bouquet and flavor are dominant!
I have a great respect for brewing history (and history in general), and I'm sure this beer is well crafted for the style. It certainly is interesting, but it's not my thing. Kind of like I just poured a pale ale into Grandma's potted plant and then took a giant snootfull.
If you're looking for something totally unique, give it a try. There's definitely nothing that I've tried that comes close. I'm happy for the experience, but I probably won't be returning to this one.

 575 characters

Photo of BabaJohn
2.73/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This beer looked delicious and smelled very interesting. Beautiful light brown in appearance with some orange and gold hues. Murky with visable sediment. Only a bit of head formed at all. The smell was amazingly complex. Here's the list that hit me (in order): flowers, vinegar, apple pastry, honey, cider, and cinnamon / spices. Unfortunately, that proved to be my favorite part. The taste itself did not suit me and I found it to be a bit lacking in overall flavor. It was somewhat tart and sour, and a bit watery. Herbal tastes, almost medicinal. An interesting beer to try, but I didn't finish the bottle.

 609 characters

Photo of pinotboy007
2.75/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Purchased as a single 500ml at Whole Foods grocer, Chantilly, VA. Had never seen it before. "Ale brewed with natural flavors."

A - Slightly cloudy golden color; modest head and no lacing.

S - Clover honey, malt, and some perfumed scent as it warms.

T/M - Nice but a bit too soft for my taste. I'm having trouble picking up anything but a bit of malt and a wee touch of peat (say with Scottish accent).

This would probably be good while tending sheep in crappy weather. :)

 476 characters

Photo of Cramshawbar
2.75/5  rDev -26.7%

How do you rank water? I never thought of it before.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Fraoch Heather Ale but then there is really very little taste to describe here. Even the burp tastes of nothing.
This is a very refreshing summer beverage, just don't try to pretend that it's beer. It tastes nothing of the sort.
Reading some reviews, I am confused as to what they have tried. They talk of things that are simply not here. Could mine be an old beer? says that it is good until January, 2015.
Very puzzled indeed.

 533 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
3.75 out of 5 based on 1,145 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.