Fraoch Heather Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

very good
1,151 Ratings
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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Ratings: 1,151 |  Reviews: 722
Photo of drizzam
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first foray into the world of Scottish Gruit...I've heard good things about this brew from a friend and I'm excited to get started.

Appearance- Poured into a pint glass, I immediately got a nice white one finger head that slowly dissipated leaving a little lacing, but not alot, down the inside of the glass. The brew itself was an orange/gold color with little carbonation. Freshness label that was easy to read on the back stating it is best consumed before April 2010.

Aroma- Not highly volatile...slightly floral and malty.

Taste & Mouthfeel - Smooth and creamy mouthfeel with light carbonation. Sweet malty flavors finish dry with a taste of green tea (from the heather I guess). Yummy!

Drinkability- This is a tasty little that I will recommend to my friends. If all Scottish Gruit is this good, I'm definitely a new fan of the style!

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Photo of SeanRedd
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another perfect session...just this one I don't inbibe in often. A thick, rocky head sits atop a young mead. I'm ecstatic about the spicy/sweet this Heather? I'm in heaven, my first time with her and she's smells better outta the bottle. A light body carries thick honey, a touch of caramel, a symphony of fragrant, flowers...not nescessarily of heather now, thinking Lillys and Honey Suckle. The Heather provides a dash of warming cinnamon and possibly nutmeg. Definitely Vanilla. Easy body, refreshing and crisp, held together aesthetically by light lacing. Superb.

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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 JRed
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Aroma from the bottle is strong and rich. Smells of heather flowers and grass notes. Cloudy golden in color with white bubbly head that dissipates quickly. Aroma from the glass is similar to the bottle but with some added honey and pepper notes. Wine-like taste with bubbly mouthfeel. Rich in honey, floral, lemon zest with some spice notes; mild malt leads to mild dry. Enjoyable and unique in flavor and personality. A great session beer for any season.

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Photo of Rayek
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep gold with a slight haze. Small off-white head has good retention and leaves spots of lace.

S: A little bit macro smelling, which scared me a bit. Hay like malt, plus a mild floral scent and that's it.

T: Saved by the taste. The macro smell of the nose didn't translate over to the flavor. Malt out front is very dry, raw and straw like. Bitterness is very mild. The herbal qualities come through with lavender and sage flavors. I've never had actual heather, so I don't know what exactly it should taste like, but those are the herbal notes than came to me.

M: Light body is a touch watery. Carbonation level feels about right.

D: Certainly a change of pace. A nice beer that I'm glad I finally tried.

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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 cvfish
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - poured a golden orange color that produced a minimal white foamy head that retained a little and left some lacing around the glass

S - smells very floral, some lemony hints

T - tasted like floral and citrus hints, not a strong taste, but an interesting one that is quite good

M - light bodied, light carbonation

D - a interesting beer, something that i would have again

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Photo of yossarian14
4.19/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very pale with a thin white head. Extrremely aromatic, floral and fresh herbs, smells like an earthy perfume. Taste is much of the same but subtler, very enjoyable and drinkable.
I would recommend this, not only for its uniquness but it is also truly refreshing and tasty.

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Photo of yesyouam
3.94/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fraoch is a light amber ale with a bubbly white head that mostly diminishes. It has a lot of aroma! It's medicinal and grassy and sweet like honey or candy. It is very smooth-- medium bodied with a mineral finish. The flavor is more of the same: herbal, grassy, candy. Very unique!
(rated Aug 1, 2007)

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Photo of AltBock
3.13/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Little 11.2 oz bottle with a cool glossy label of a whole bunch of Celtic designs. The main picture is that of a stone Celtic cross with a man on horse back blowing a horn into the air. The back side explains the artwork, the history of the style, and a clearly notched best before month and year.

I decided to pour this ancient Ale into my Unibroue tulip. This Scottish Gruit poured a clear and pale gold color. This gold was so pale that it was almost a light orange color. On top of this golden brew was a 3/4 of an inch pillowy head of pure white foam. It had great retention that left behind a skim of white film and a few small blots of white lace.

The aroma was on the flowery side of things. It didn't smell like a floral shop, but it did have plenty of flowers in it. Following the scent of flowers was a hint of toasted malts, a pinch of sweet yeast, and a small touch of juicy fruits. Not too bad. It could have used less flowers and more of something else.

The taste wasn't like sinking your teeth into a flower, but it sure was flowery. Hiding behind all the flowers was speck of toasted malts, a hint of sweet juicy fruits, a pinch of dried yeast, and then this flower Ale finished up with a touch of dry crispy floral hops. I thought there were going to be too much of a flower taste to it, but the toasted malts didn't let that happen.

This was a very light beer. Not light in calories, but light in flavor and body. This light beer contained a faint aftertaste of dried flowers, dried yeast, and a subtle pinch of toasted malts. This aftertaste lasts for about half a second and then it's gone forever.

It was a unique beer. I'll give them that one. Was it good? Not bad, but if you like the taste of flowers, then this is the perfect beer for you. Would I drink it again? I fully doubt it. It was too light and too flowery. Out of the 4 Gruits I've had from them, this is the one I cared least for. Flower Power!

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Photo of fullsweep
3.49/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a 350 mL bottle poured into a glass. Beautiful amberish-orange color that I've not seen much. Smell is actually quite mild. Picked up some sweetness from sniffing the bottle before pouring, but not much aroma at all after pouring. The taste is quite mild with an interesting sweetness, and almost no bitter whatsoever. Perhaps this is from the heather/gale substitution for hops? The mouthfeel is VERY nice. It has a sort of stickiness (read someone else mentioning that as well), and the light carbonation gives it a nice bite. I would definitely drink this again. At the same time, I found myself not liking it near as much as I hoped I would.

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Photo of paco1029384756
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a golden orange color with minimal head and decent lacing.

Scent of malts, and that's pretty much it. Not complex or deep, but not bad.

Taste is malty with hints of honey, sugar and spices. Again, it isn't necessarily strong or complex, but it is pretty good.

Mouthfeel is light and crisp.

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Photo of midnite2sixman
4.05/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This one pours a light, semi-hazy apricot color with little to no head at all. It smells like heather (whatever that is) and honey. Tastes very light and floral with some herbal notes. The reason I rate this one high is due to the fact that this is a recipe from 2000bc. Not many people in their life get to try something that has been around over a hundred years let alone 4,000. Definitely worth it for your beer/history geek.

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Photo of avalon07
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a pale orangish-yellow color and a cloudy consistency. Some sediment. There was a good quarter inch of long-lasting, foamy head and some solid lacing.

S: One the odder smells for any beer. A very sweet, floral quality, mingling with the malt.

T: Had a malty flavor, slong with the sweet heather and some other spices. Tasty, but in an odd way.

M: A high level of carbonation and a dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: This is one of those oddly endearing beers. I'd never had this style before (that I remember), but I'm going to try to find others.

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Photo of EatsTacos
3.35/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I got this in a variety pack and wasn't too sure what to expect. The beer poured a pretty slightly hazy yellow with a rolling head. Not much lacing. Aroma was very floral and malty.
The taste is nothing too crazy and is very malty without much balance. This beer is not made with hops, so its not very bitter. That being said its not sweet either. Very earthy, floral taste. Worth checking out but its not as good (complex) as some other scottish gruits. A little 1 dimensional.

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Photo of brdc
3.15/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Medium sized capped bottle, poured into a pint glass.

Light golden, slightly hazy, off-white fluffy but small head, average retention.
Subtle aroma of flowers, but it might be just wishful thinking. Some light malty sweetness, not a lot else.
Light bodied, it quickly becomes too much, cloying even despite just some slight honey sweetness.
Quite limited, not complex at all, and not very flavorful. Glad to have tried this "different" beer, but not coming back.

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Photo of Kingdom4aPint
3.69/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Standard pint glass applied...

Pours a cloudy, goldy-orange with minimal head. Minimal lacing as well. Floral aroma with honey mixed in. Honey appears to provide the primary is very interesting and different from anything I've had so far. Quite good in its uniqueness. Mouthfeel is solid, balanced, medium light with a touch of sticky sweetness. One is very drinkable, however I don't see going beyond a couple as while it is unique it doesn't fit my personal preference for beer. I do recommend trying it since it is a supposedly ancient type of beer and therefore worth experiencing.

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Photo of Fatduck
4.45/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is my first gruit ale, bog myrtle and heather in this beer. Im drinking this out of my wooden mug from the Renaissance festival, it seemed appropriate. I can only comment on the color as I poured and the head, which is white and frothy and drops to a thin layer with a good amount of lacing. It smells a bit like a saison, sour and spicy, but it tastes a lot like a english tea, which i think is good. Regardless its a light, fresh and damn tasty beer. I can see why its been brewed for over 4000 years.

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Photo of champ103
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear golden color. A small white head forms and leaves a bit of patchy lace behind.
S: Biscuit malt with some funky and musky aromas. A bit spicy.
T: Pale biscuit, dough malt. Flowery , honey, and spicy, from the heather I guess? Not very complex, but interesting.
M/D: A light to medium body. A good crisp and clean finish. Maybe just a bit too carbonated for my tastes. Easy and smooth to drink. Not sure if this would be a good session beer, but not hard to drink at all.

This is my first Gruit, and it is very interesting. I am not familiar with the style at all, but it reminds me of a Saison. Recommended.

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Photo of aubuc1
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz botle poured in to a 20 oz tulip.

pours a clear golden with a one finger off white clingy

smell is mainly heather. christmas treeish sweetness and a lightly malt base.

taste is similar to the smell. simple and clean taste, but the heather lingers.

very good full mouthfeel.

very drinkable beer that is obviously different than anything else.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.47/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a one finger white head that fades quickly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Hazy amber color. Mellow sweet nose. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Flavor is sweet, doughy and mellow. Better flavor as it warms. $4.10 for a 500ml bottle from Tully's Beer & Wine Wells, Me.

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Photo of KeefD
4.08/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pilsner glass (I know it's not the proper glassware, per BA, but wanted it all in one glass). Hazy orange with yellow highlights. Aroma of crisp grainy malt, honey, slightly floral, slightly sweet. Nice flavor of pale malts, somewhat sweet, hints of lemon and grass, interestingly floral. Not sure what the flowers (heather) are supposed to taste like, but there's something different there that I haven't tasted before. Must be the heather, right? Creamy on the tongue, good carbonation, slightly warming, which is strange considering the low ABV. A very interesting and different beer. It's kinda strange not having any hop aroma or flavor, but it's a nice change and a nice treat. Everyone should try this interesting style at least once.

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Photo of illidurit
3.47/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 mL bottle poured into a mug. Slightly hazed goldenrod color with a very weak off-white head. Even with vigor this beer produces hardly any foam, and what little is there collapses within a minute.

Aroma strikes of rosemary and doughy malt. Reminds me precisely of rosemary sourdough bread dipped in olive oil.

Lightly malty with a honey sweetness and a dose of semi-bitter rosemary. Well-balanced.

Carbonation is moderate, body is medium-thin, finish is bone dry and short.

Quite drinkable but lacks complexity and doesn't keep my interest very long.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle
Best Before Oct 2009

A- Pours an orange/amber color with a nice off-white head.

S- The floral aroma is very pleasant with a good amount of toasted grain and hints of honey, heather and spices.

T- The taste like the aroma is different, but a nice change. The taste features some malt, honey and spices.

M- The mouthfeel is light bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

D- Fraoch Heather Ale is a very drinkable beer. I could see myself drinking a few bottles in a sitting without getting bored or too intoxicated. Good beer, will have to purchase again. Recommended!

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Photo of Gmann
3.45/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy toasted grain color with a small but dense off-white head that dissipated into a sparse cap. The aroma is of toasted malt with some mild fruit & herbal scents. The taste has a malty sweetness, honey, lemon, with a flowery herbal presence. Nothing distinct but well balanced. The feel is moderate, with active carbonation, finishes dry. An average brew at best. Combines a pale ale with some flowery herbal notes but nothing that is outstanding.

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Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
3.75 out of 5 based on 1,151 ratings.
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