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Fraoch Heather Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

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Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale
Very Good
1,156 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: 1,156 |  Reviews: 724
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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Photo of dbONE
4.28/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

500 ml bottle,pouted into a standard pint glass.
A nice golden color emerges with a slight yellow tint and a head that would make a porn star blush. Thick lacing and deep bubbles work there way down the glass in a slow rythmic motion.
Walking through a meadow is what this beers aroma comes off as grassy, herbaly and floral.
Mild flavors of herb and flowers are pleasant with the mild sweet malt kick that have you looking for more.
Mild carbonation has this one the the page as a session beer and could be a bit warming. Finishing slightly dry and sweet.
This is the first non-hop beer I have tried and I now have one in my fermenter.
Try it you might like it... to hell with hopheads!

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Photo of phantomwyse
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

As has been stated by a few other reviewers, because I haven't drank a lot of beers resembling this, it's hard to know exactly how well they represented the style, and whether to judge it by normal criterion. But...

A: Honey colored with just a trace of a head.

S: Again, honey like with malts and warm oats.

T: Tasting lots of honey in this. With tea some spicing.

M: Light to medium bodied and creamy.

D: I wouldn't drink these all night long, but it was nice tasting.

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Photo of DIM
3.57/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

a: This was a mostly clear golden peach color. A violent pour produced a short lived, soapy head.

s: This was unique and difficult to describre. I got vanilla peatiness and some spicy incense.

t: This had minmal maltiness, making this taste almost tea like. Flowery, dry, herbal spiciness dominates this one.

m: Here again I'm almost reminded of tea. The minmal malts makes this feel very thin. It was fairly still as well.

d: This was my first Gruit. I'm open to trying more, but I'm not willing to go to great lengths to get another one.

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Photo of aerozeppl
3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Golden color with almost no head.

S: Has a nice flowery nose on it. Has a weird malt smell that almost comes across as graham crackers.

T: A nice sweetness. Floral flavor. Really an unusual beer. Totally different than anything else I have had. Really hard to judge. Nice sweetness in the finish.

M:Nice body on this. Finishes a little dry.

D: Split a 12oz bottle. Nice beer. Would be good on a hot summer day. Glad someone is making this style still.

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Photo of Patrick999
3.34/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours pale orange, very little head.

S - Sweetly floral, I'm getting a kick out of the perfumey heather.

T - Hmmm. The heather does add some bitterness. It's floral....I wish there was a little more malt backing here. Kind of a "heather bomb," like drinking old-lady perfume diluted with water and ethanol. I enjoy the aroma more than the taste.

F - Oddly thin, watery. Decent carbonation....it's just missing something, I think.

D - An odd beer, one I'm glad I tried. I would drink again if only for the aromatics.

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Photo of BeerSox
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz botte into nonic.

Hazy orange-yellow hue with a thin white head that ends up as a thin rim along the glass.

Very light bready malt aromas with a touch of spice in the background. Mild flowery flavors are in there.

Crisp, lightly biscuity, malts with a little bit of light flowery an fruity flavors. Medium bodied with good carbonation, slightly on the high side.

Note:First attempt at the style. Not sure if a thin head is standard for the style. Rather enjoyable, and I guess sessionable. An interesting mix of beer and heather.

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Photo of wl0307
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

BB DEC 2009, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.

A: the clear amber body comes with dark orangey hues, light carbonation, and a thin, fluffy off-white head. Decent-looking for a filtered bottled beer.
S: a rather clean and focused flow of sour citrus fruits underpins the pronounced floral (heather!) and honeyish main theme, backed by a decent body of pale malts; the floral edge is quite sweet but not cloying, providing a very lively projection of what heather flower could do in a beer~~
T: a lightly effervescent foretaste of zesty citrus and unidentifiable floral flavour gets an implicit input of raw pumpkin seeds and anise seeds at the fringe; the brilliant pale-malt body goes strong, intertwined with a marvellous bitter aftertaste like root-herbs as well as hops, leaving a lasting floral aroma and a wee bit of spiciness in the very end.
M&D: light bodied and softly-carbonated, this delicious beer somehow tastes much better cool than chilled, as my cold-serving for the last bottle several months ago was nowhere as good as the glass tonight. Without the use of hops, the heather flower is never imposing on the palate, while the bitterness is still prevalent and mixed with unknown herbal edges and spices, making it a really quaffable ale~~

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Photo of notafood
3.71/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A--poured a foggy amber color in a pint glass with s smal amount of sediment floating around.

S - A somewhat floral malt scent. Not very noticeable.

T - A bright and sorta earthy malt taste. Sweet and light with a subtle complexity that is not too busy Like springtime in a glass.

M - Very light and smooth, not too much/too little carbonation.

D - This seems like a very enjoyable beer for the backyard on a nice day. Definitely a great session beer.

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Photo of HardcoreKeith
2.8/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Flat, orange, no head.

Smells extremely sweet and boozy. I checked the label to find out it's actually only 5%.

On the taste, it's just all sweetness. Dry herbal aftertaste. The lack of hops makes it extremely unbalanced in my estimation.

Interesting to try but not something I can drink more than one of.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.74/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, bottle says best before April 2009. Served in a Sam Adams GL glass, the beer pours a hazy golden/orange color with about a half inch white head which goes away quickly. Not much lacing at all. The aroma is herbal, sweet and a bit honey-like. I assume that's from the heather in the beer. There's also sweet malt and peat noticable in the aroma. The taste is sweet, it tastes like honey, sweet malt, herbs and a bit of peat. Mouthfeel/body is light/medium, with good zippy carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's refreshing and easy to drink. I'm not sure if this is something I could drink all the time, but it's not a bad choice to have occasionally. I'd drink this again, it's definitely worth a try.

(Bottlecap says Williams Brothers Brewing Co. so that's why I'm posting this review under this listing for Fraoch Heather Ale instead of the other listing for the beer.)

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Photo of IBUnit63
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Natural apple cider color. No carbonation. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Zer-0! Zer-0! Zer-0! Looks deep and rustic but doesn't look like a stellar offering for first impressions.

Almost a slight funky scent with slightly herbal apples and a little hop grass, but that's very faint.

Ahhh...Bach! Now we have something. Heather abounds with mild hops that are almost soapy. Hop pine is also present. Mild, roasted Scottiish malt emerges with warmth with some well-balanced viscous alcohol - we end up with a nice malt backnone and a little oak. This is like drinking a pine tree but it's enjoyable and unique.

Mouthfeel is tight on the pine and heather but warms up to be quite open with a deep, woody finish. Nice!

This starts out slow but evolves into a very enjoyable offering. Would be a good nightcap for the first fireplace use of late fall/winter..

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Photo of 007
3.66/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

First tried this as part of a mix case several years ago and had been wanting more ever since. Found it by the case and eagerly bought it.

Appearance - pale to amber, slightly cloudy, weak head

Smell - faint floral or herbal notes

Taste - Again, floral and herbal notes, lacking the typical bitter hops finish

Mouthfeel - smooth, almost watery

Drinkability - I think this is a must-try beer, if only for it's unique ingredients and taste. I will enjoy drinking it while I have it, but wouldn't make it a staple.

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Photo of SFLpunk
3.79/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz brown bottle with freshness date notched on label (Aug 09).

Appearance: Clear, pale golden with hues leaning more amber. Slight carbonation, large bubbles, and almost no head. Just a slight white ring around the edge.

Nose: Sweet maltiness, orchids or some large wet flowers, clover honey, sweet rolls.

Palate: Very soft carbonation, and an initial tartness. Hot crossed buns come to mind, at a kitchen table set with a floral bouquet. I imagine this tastes like heather (never experienced heather on it's own), and I get that clover honey note again. There is an odd maltiness, odd only because there's not much heft to the body, but the malt shows through in a large flavor way.

Notes: All in all, a very interesting and enjoyable beer. A warm Spring day in the sun having an outdoor lunch would be the ideal setting for this beer. In a dark dreary pub in the dead of winter, this beer would be out of place. A food beer, maybe with camembert or better yet, Shy Brothers Farm Hannahbells...!

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Photo of darklordlager
3.96/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance- Golden amber with a frothy head after a vigorous pour...Head dissipates within a few minutes. Some lacing.

Smell- Herbal, with a hint of honey in the background.

Taste- Light, with some pale malt up front and finishes with an herbal taste from the heather.

Mouthfeel- Rather light.

Drinkability- Easy to drink, but the herbal taste might get irritating after a few...

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Photo of Brad007
3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a golden-amber color with a one-finger head that fades and leaves no lacing.

Aroma is sweet and fragrant with a bit of flowery essence. Somewhat bready as well.

Taste is sweet and flowery upfront with a hint of breadiness in the middle. A hint of spice as well. Smooth.

Mouthfeel is a little sweet, dry and flowery. Not much different from the taste.

An interesting and drinkable style here. Nothing totally fancy. It's a change from other styles. Not something that I'd drink more than once though.

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Photo of mullenite
3.44/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured a hazy amber with 1 finger head that left just as fast as it formed and left very little lacing.

Smelled of flowers and grass, which given the brewing style is a good thing. Very pleasant to the nose.

The taste was flowery, a hint of the peat showed through but the heather was the star of the show. Very little hop flavor that I recall (which makes sense) but there was something to balance the sweetness for sure..

Carbonation was light and made for an easy to drink beer, but the flavor is too strong and more than one or two would probably be too much.

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Photo of gonzo46and2
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a light amber with a tiny head that fully diminishes.

Smell is very flowery,sweet, fresh, with a bit of sour vinegar.

Taste is sweet and clean with bits of vinegar.

Mouthfeel is light and clean finishing .

Drinkability is very high unless you account for the high price tag. Sell me this for 8$ a six pack and you have my standby beer.

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Photo of spointon
3.89/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured this one from a 330ml brown bottle into a pint glass.

A= This ale was a very cloudy golden color with lots of particulate matter in suspension. Almost no head whatsoever, minimal lacing down the glass.

S= This ale had strong herbal and honey notes playing against sweet malts.

T= I got a lot of malt sweetness up front and a subtle herbal and floral finish.

MF= Very low carbonation, thin, light bodied.

D= As an ancient style, this ale should be given a shot by all serious beer geeks. Not my favorite but damn drinkable and I can certainly appreciate it.

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Photo of brewmudgeon
4.05/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

a hazy, golden. good lace although small head. one of the coolest labels ever. this bottle says best before june 09 (that's almost a year away!?).
s tropical fruits, honey, cherries
t delicate, very little bitterness. ripe papaya/guava/maybe some other melons too. an island paradise in a bottle for those times you're in the mood for such a thing.
m barely enough carbonation. fairly light body well matched to the flavor.
d got to be one of the easiest drinking brews i've ever had. wonderful for giving to someone who "hates beer." the only thing i would change: up the crispness.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Golden blonde with a nice and foamy cloud of head. Some meager stickiness gives it something, at least.

S: Soft pale malts and a pleasant floral aroma. A touch of sweetness - honey isn't the right aroma, but similar, if that makes sense.

T + M: Mild - a pleasant marriage between sweet and herbal spiciness. Flowery flavours settle in more on the finish. Not really any bitterness at all, but that is not to say it's a maltbomb, by any means. Delicate, subtle, and tasty. The carbonation is a tad lively - this could be something I'd find nice in a cask, as its style would have been, once upon a time.

D: Very easy going - tasty and refreshing. Very natural flavours and a very modest ABV make this a great session candidate - the floral flavours and touch of crisp feel present a brew that would be fantastic on the nicer days of Spring.

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Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.75 out of 5 with 1,156 ratings
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