Fraoch Heather Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

BA SCORE
85
very good
1,151 Ratings
Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Scotland, United Kingdom
williamsbrosbrew.com

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
1,151
Reviews:
722
Avg:
3.75
pDev:
13.07%
 
 
Wants:
74
Gots:
81
For Trade:
0
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,151 |  Reviews: 722
Photo of Seanibus
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A strange experience, like seeing a distant relative who looks like you - the same and yet different. This ale is so like hop-based ale, but it is just a little different.

Pours a nice bright amber with a lively swirl of carbonation and a small, quick collapsing head. The aroma is spicy and a bit sweet, with a clear dose of light scottish malts. It has the herby character of lavender and heather and pine. The flavor is herbaceous, like treading on a field in the fall. The malt is clear and crisp and the heather gives it a wonderful earthy character. The main difference comes on the back end, where there is an eerie absence of that familiar hop bite. The result is like the finish on a glass of strong white wine, like a Sancerre. It has that same grassy, grape character, with a bit of acid but clean and sharp on the tongue. The mouthfeel is thin and pleasant.

This is an interesting beer and would substitute wherever dry white wine would work. But I miss the hops.

 977 characters

Photo of neenerzig
4.35/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured out of a 16.9 oz bottle into my pint glass. This beer pours a somewhat hazy golden/amber color with a white head about 2/3 inch when poured. Settles quickly to a thin surface covering and a medium sized ring that lines the inside of the glass, only the ring is more like a "c" of crescent moon since it almost doesn't actually line the entire inside of the glass all the way around. Part of the ring is very thin. Weird, never seen that before. Decent lace. Earthy, floral aromas of honey and malt are present. Has a sweet malty flavor with a definite honey taste along with the flowery taste, which is something I have not had in a beer before. Interesting indeed. Also has a slight tart flavor. No hops here at all. Has a dry and sort of bitter finish. Has a crisp and smooth, medium bodied mouthfeel with light to moderate carbonation. Easy to drink. An interesting beer here indeed. I'd be curious to try other beers of this style, but I know they are quite few and far between. I enjoyed it here for sure, and it is something I would enjoy from time to time, but it is not something I'd go out of my way to drink on a regular basis.

Eric

 1,151 characters

Photo of Haybeerman
3.3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pour a slightly hazy orangey yellow. Thin off-white head that dissipated. Light lacing that fell.

S: The aroma was different but pleasant; Flowery, herbal, and earthy all at the same time.

T: flavor was like it smelled; interesting and complex. A a lightly vegetable taste in the middle lingers in lightly bitter finish.

M: Light body but well balanced with carbonation. Slightly oily coating feel.

D: Drinkable and interesting. Not something I would drink regularly and lot of, but would come back to it occasionally.

 526 characters

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

Appearance: It pours a hazy amber color. There is a bit of sediment swimming around, but not much. Head is a modest one finger deep and white in color. It receded quickly and left light lace clinging to the glass.

Smell: The nose is weak and barely above average. That being said, it is an interesting smelling beer and certainly has a very strong floral quality to it. It is malty smelling and a little sweet. Not picking up any hops or alcohol for that matter. Pretty straight forward and uncomplicated.

Taste: It's a little sweet up front. Decent malty backbone. The floral quality is again noted in flavor. My understanding is that Heather is some sort of European flower. So, that bit makes sense. It is an interesting flavor, but honestly it's a little bland. It's just not very endearing (to me). It is a little grainy. Neither Hops nor alcohol are noted.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's light bodied and has a nice, smooth feel. They did a pretty good job in this department. Carbonation is a little light, which helps smooth it out a bit. Drinkability is above average. It's not so good that it warrants further drinking, despite its sessionable abv.

This is an interesting beer, but I can't say that I'm a huge fan. It's certainly worth checking out given its unique flavor and left of center style. But, the nose and the flavor need to be a little more pronounced to elevate it to a good beer. Worth a try nonetheless.

 1,430 characters

Photo of chinabeergeek
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"best by" labeling of aug 2008. poured into shaped pint glass.

hazy, dull iced tea color. some head, gradually fades to wispy layer and ring. some lace here and there.

aroma of clover honey and flowers. fresh pear juice.

similar flavors of honey, with hint of green tea. very faintly tangy with bitter notes in the finish.

not too thin, decently smooth and moderate carbonation.

not as weird as i anticipated. interesting. worth a try.

 440 characters

Photo of morimech
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy golden color with one inch of white head that quickly settled to a ring. Very little lacing is left on the glass.

The aroma is floral, earthy, and it also has a faint spice note.

Talk about a delicate flavor. I picture a flowering meadow while I was drinking this ale. Earthy and floral make up the dominate flavors. It has a slight vinous quality and finishes quit dry.

The body is light with just enough carbonation to keep things lively.

A very interesting brew. A lighter ale and a nice alternative if one is tired of hop heavy beers.

 565 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 BretSikkink
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy yellow-gold color, a little purple-pinkish tinge in the darker center area of the brew. Lacing is insubstantial, but the thin cap impressively refuses to subside.

Very floral aroma, sweet and earthy. A little more power and we would be talking the big time.

Lots of grainy, sweet malt up front, like a smooth light lager, but with an adorable herbal flowering tea flavor smack in the middle. Just a brush of alcohol to say hello, mostly just a sweet, very pleasant flavor.

Mild and pleasant, mouthfeel is appropriately insubstantial. The whole thing gives a delicate sort of mien that I find pleasing and appealing, even if it's nothing like I would normally drink.

As far as comparisons to other beers, the thing this most reminds me of is the Ginger Honey ale available in Sam Adams Brewer Patriot collection. I loved that beer for its different-ness, it's pleasantly carbonated and nectar-like flavor. Is the Fraoch worth four and a half bucks? Maybe not. But it's probably worth it once, and 12 dollars for the Historic Beers of Scotland pack is definitely so (pretty much one beer for free).

 1,109 characters

Photo of tiger88
3.13/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a cloudy hay/straw color with a decent forming white head that slowly dissipated. The smell was very subtle but earthy for lac of a better word. First sip and I said Gingerbread, definitely gingerbread. That's al I could think about whil I was drinking it. AS I continued to sip, the earthiness came forward as I was trying to dissect the tatses. Light mouthfeel and fairly easy to drink.

 394 characters

Photo of LunaChick
4.2/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

heh heh--its my name so of course I should like this brew. I really like it.

those who like dry white wine will most likely enjoy this. Floral nose, sweet start, dry finish. Refreshing. Pairs well with salmon or a salad with warm bacon dressing. Highly drinkable very smooth in the mouth.

 290 characters

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.

 443 characters

Photo of BigBry
3.59/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Large brown bottle (label as above), with best before date on side label.
Poured a clear orangish color, with a bit of white bubbly head that didn't last more than a minute. Lots of particles left at the bottom of the bottle, tried to keep that out of my glass.
Flowery smells, not a typical 'beer' aroma; earthy, flowery, fruity. Taste is good, Slightly sweet, very flowery and earthy.
Lots of carbonation, very bubbly, gave it an interesting mouthfeel. OK drinkability, a unique style, actually I was pretty impressed.

 520 characters

Photo of zeff80
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a light orange color with a small, bubbly, cream colored head. No lacing.

S - It smelled of grains and very floral. Also, notes of pine and citrus.

T - It tasted of pine and grasses. It had a spice flavor reminiscent of nutmeg.

M - It was crisp and smooth. A light to medium-bodied beer.

D - This was pretty good. Only the second beer of this style that I've had, but I enjoyed it.

 400 characters

Photo of LumpyGuitar
4.09/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had a bit of this from zdester.

Poured a clean, clear orange into a tall hefe glass. A little bit of white bubbly head that didn't last more than a minute.

Smell here is hands down the best I've ever smelled in a beer. Earthy, sweet, flowery, fruity, very intriguing, makes me want to drink it.

Taste is good, although not as awesome as the scent would lead you to believe. A bit sweet, very flowery and earthy, very natural feel.

Mouthfeel is very bubbly, too carbonated to go with the rest of this beer. If it had been a bit less carbonated, I would have liked this alot more, as it would have been very reminscent of a sweet stout.

Drinkability here is good, but its not something I'm going to drink everyday. If your a fan of this style as I am, this is definately one of the best.

 790 characters

Photo of hwwty4
2.8/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Wow, this is my first experience with a gruit. Poured a 12oz bottle into a New Belgium tulip. The aroma is earthy and floral. Its honestly kind of off putting. The taste reminds me off smelling flowers in my folks garden. You get a hefty amount of flowers but you still get that earth worm manure mixtures also. The mouthfeel is thin with just a bit of carbonation. I can honestly say I probably wont drink this beer again.

 423 characters

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

Poured into a weizen glass.

A - Yellowish orange colored brew with a thin bubbly head of froth. Retention was nice and it left some spotted lacing behind.

S - Nice boquet of floral notes with a spicy backing.

T - Crisp, spicy pale malt body with a huge flowery backing, the heather takes a dominant seat here, much like the hops in an IPA.

M - Light bodied, medium carbonation level, nice dry finish.

D - Very interesting brew, one I'd enjoy again without hesitation. If you haven't tried a heather ale yet, this is a very tasty one to start with.

 552 characters

Photo of Pauly2X
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Two finger head clear greenish yellow.

S- Not much here, quite earthy.

T- A pleasing bitterness throughout, hints of sweet and smokey malts pop up as well.

M- Light but not watery, good carbonation.

D- I will be picking this up again.

A very different beer, and it is a must try for any beer geek.

 305 characters

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

Got this in a "Hisoric Ales of Scotland" mix pack at Ward's Market in Gainesville. Had it chilled in a cool free Sam Adams glass. Poured a light reddish gold color similar to a well aged scotch with lots a tiny bubbles rising up. There was a small white head that dissapated quickly. The smell was almost non existant until the beer actually warmed up then the heather blossom, honey, and malt notes came out. The taste was really sweet like honeydew melon but there was a flower petal like finish that dried on the way down. All around a good after dinner beer.

 562 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.2/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a bright amber color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is very spicy with some hops, fruit and light malts.

T: The taste is dominated by a floral & minty spiciness from the heather element and has some light flavors of fruit and hops in the background. The malt character is on the thin side but provides some substance. The after-taste is spicy and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, clean finish.

D: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, mild kick, it's a decent beer but for me the flavor just prevents me from wanting to drink it again.

 743 characters

Photo of USCTrojanBrian
2.88/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

11.2 oz/330 ml bottle at Victoria Gastro Pub (Md.)

A - Classic amber color, light, slightly murky, no head.

S - Mild mild mild funk at first. Later some herby stuff, perhaps that was the heather. Not much aroma on initial hit, but as I tasted it a sort of very mild, sweet flowery aroma identified itself if ever so slightly.

T - Unusual, I'm assuming the dominant flavor is the heather. It took some straining but I began to find some honey, melon, peach and white grape flavors.

M/D - Fairly smooth liquid, I wouldn't call it watery, but it wasn't thick or creamy either. I had to smack it around my mouth a bit to summon some of the flavors. Only a slight bitterness, but overall slightly more unpleasant than pleasant drinking experience.

With a few more tastings I could probably grasp the style a little better, and I think this beer has potential if you understand what the purpose of the Ancient Ale style is and what to take from it. I'm not there yet, though.

 974 characters

Photo of stumac
3.86/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a brilliant golden color. pretty tiny head though. not much lacing. the main scent must be the heather. i've never had the pleasure of meeting this heather but it has to be her scent. taste is the heather (i guess), very floral, roses, no real hop character, nice subtle sweet malt flavor. pretty full bodied, medium carbo, dry finish. very interesting recipe!

 366 characters

Photo of BlackHaddock
3.96/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown 500ml bottle with a fancy label. I love trying different styles and drinking around the world while sat at home. This was the second beer on one such evening, a Bulgarian (crap) lager was first, I'm in Belgium next.

Froach is gaelic for heather. Heather Ales have been brewed in Scotland for four thousand years and claim to be the oldest style of beer still made today. This one had a life that was due to end before July 2009, I drank it in April 2008.

Poured into one of my Gordons thistle shaped glasses it was a really light amber colour with a small white head that left the scene almost immediatley. I like my beers with a head, it's just me, but that's what I want to see.

The beer may have been a bit to cold as no aroma was present at first, but as it warmed a slight peaty, flowery smell arrived to add an extra dimention to the beer.

At first it tasted like a fizzy ginger beer too me. There was loads of cabonisation, but it wasn't ginger I was getting, there was none of the hotness ginger gives. The flavour was strangely different, but pleasant, not even beery in some aspects. No hops are used in the brewing process and the heather flowers along with some other weird ingrediants gell to make a very interesting beer indeed.

I difficult one to nail down, a bit gassy, but otherwise a very different beer.

I really liked it, couldn't drink it all night, but well worth finding. I will buy it again.

 1,440 characters

Photo of wheelinshirt
3.28/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased this one from the Blue Dog in Lansdale for $4 a bottle (a bit steep and probably won't be worth it, but it is always cool to try a new style). Poured into a pint glass.

Looks like a dirty copper color, lots of sediment flecks floating around, a little visible carbonation and a small white head that has no intention of sticking around or leaving any lace.

Smell and taste are both unusual, a bit hard to describe. Herbal notes are definately the highlight, but there is a malty taste to it. It is pleasant, but pretty delicate.

Mouthfeel is pretty thin, a bit watery really. It seems like this would be a hard thing to work out, since a larger malt presence would be hard to balance out since there isn't any hop bitterness to balance it out (at least I don't think any hops are used). Maybe if it was really dry and even a bit funky--that would certainly be interesting.

Overall, an okay beer and certainly an interesting thing to try, but I don't think I will try this one ever again, but I might make a heather beer sometime on my own.

 1,054 characters

Photo of Strix
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I didn't really know what to expect from this, cool-looking label.

Pours a pale orange with a short-lived head.

Smell is quite mild, but hints of flowers and herbs on top of a malt background.

Taste is interesting. Not strong, but pleasant. Lots of herbal notes, yet a solid malt base. Some citrus in the finish as well. Different, but enjoyable for me.

Mouthfeel seems a bit weak.

This was enjoyable. Something different, but light and drinkable. Flavors blend together well.

 482 characters

Photo of tapman
3.34/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Golden orange body with white, 1 finger foamy head. Looks like a pilsner, perhaps a little lighter on the yellow side. I'm not sure about rating this one for the style since I've never had a scottish heather ale before, but it doesn't look too interesting.

Smell is sweet and fruity. Fruit is a cross between banana and apple. Malts are light and pale. Heather smells like a good substitute for hops. A different bitter quality is present than when hops are involved. The bitterness is similar, though invitingly sour.

Definetly pale malts, I'm thinking U.K. pale. Heather is subtle and sweet. This beer is interesting as it tastes like a regular recipe brew though is a bit...not off, but tweaked slightly in a different direction. Heather is sour and sweet and floral, a nice combination. Still pretty light, though.

Mouthfeel is thin and a bit cloying. Fine for a hot summer afternoon, but blah for the rest of the time.

Interesting, though too similar to a golden euro lager, even though its an ale. Not my favorite style, but it's new and I can certainly appreciate something outside of the ordinary.

 1,109 characters

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

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

    Learn More