Fraoch Heather Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale
Very Good
1,162 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

Bros Score:
View: Beers
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,162 |  Reviews: 725
Photo of nickfl
3.52/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - One finger of white foam on a clear, golden body. The head quickly settles to a thin film and leaves behind little lace.

S - Malty/ grainy aroma with notes of floral honey (heather, I guess) and herbal hops.

T - Grainy flavor with some floral notes and mild, herbal hops. Grainy, slightly watery finish with a lingering medicinal note.

M - Medium body, moderately high carbonation, and a fairly dry finish.

D - Reasonable drinkability, but hardly inspiring (especially at $5 for a 12oz bottle). Reminds me of an average quality German pilsner; herbal but not particularly crisp or refreshing.

 600 characters

Photo of windigo32
2.92/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: This poured a golden color that was a bit cloudy. There was slight carbonation rising up from the sides of the glass. There was little head formation and virtually no residual head after a few minutes.

S: This has a unique smell. There is a distinct smell of honey and flowers. If you are familiar with clover honey, it is kind of like that but a bit more herbal.

T: Taste was very similar to smell. You can pick out the honey and you can detect a definite flower taste. There is a slight hint of hops.

M: Mouthfeel was average. It had a bit more carbonation than I like which kind of gave it a bite.

D: I had one bottle of this and didn't want another one. It was on a list of Scottish beers at the bar and was the last one I needed to complete the set.

This was a unique beer, that I have heard has a taste very similar to what a mead would have been like: brewed with honey, flowers and herbs.

 904 characters

Photo of iceball585
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Golden pale yellow color, semi-cloudy, thin layer head that disolved to a thin cover, a few tiny bubbles rising

S- Honey, spices (cloves, cinnamon), flowery

T- Pale malts, sweet herbal spices, sugar, light hops, hint of fruityness

M- Light/medium body, medium carbonation, sweet, smooth, slight oily finish

D- Worth trying

This is a really interesting ale. It definatly has a strong presence of herbs and spices which combines to make an original flavor.

 463 characters

Photo of becktone
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Eye: Cloudy in appearance and tan in color. This brew also has some thick lacing as well as a pretty damn creamy head with great retention.

Nose: Extremely potent aroma. I get a strong aroma from this brew and my nose isn't even close to the glass. Lots of spice in this beer with a sweet malt backbone underneath. Not quite sure what spices I'm smelling(not all that great with spices)but still I'm getting a very earthy/mossy aroma, rosey, caramel, green, herbal and floral.

Tongue: Sweet malt flavors compliment the herbs and whatnot that are thrown into this brew. There is a very earthy/vegetal taste at the end of this brew, after it is swallowed, not in a bad vegetal though. As for the herbal part of the beer's profile, it is quite hard toe describe. Rose is the big word that comes to mind when trying to describe this brew. The same elements form the aroma are also present in the flavor of this beer.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability: Medium light in body with lower carbonation and a dry finish pretty much sums up the feel of this brew. As as to drinkabilty I personally find it hard to drink more than 1-2 of theses in one sitting. The extreme flavor and forwardness of the herbs just is too much for me...still this is a brew that I'll always be coming back to great taste to this one, really do like it, but it is something that is better when you don't drink it all the time.

 1,391 characters

Photo of Ig0r
3.26/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The pour didn't give much of a head, but what was there dissipated slowly leaving some lacing and clusters of large bubbles.

The color is a slightly cloudy light straw and there are a good number of carbonation bubbles clinging to the glass. The smell seems indistinct, with a bit of sweetness mixed with some floral smells.

The feel is quite light with a good amount of carbonation. The taste is a bit bready with a bitter finish; not much distinction here. The aftertaste is also indistinct but leaves a good film in the mouth.

There isn't any overall distinction that I can see for this beer, but I may have opened an older bottle. I don't know how long it may have been setting at the distributer, but the drink-by date is August 2008 so I feel safe in this review.

 772 characters

Photo of JamesS
4.39/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out nicely with a decent amount of head and a bit of lacing. Great scent, a very earthy and floral malt aroma. Excellent taste! Not only is it a great beer to try for uniqueness, but it's good on its own anyway. A very refreshing flavor, with a nice maltiness and a great floral/heather flavor. Goes down very easily. In fact I'm quite sad, since I'm nearly finished with the Scots Historic pack I have. Guess I'll have to get more.

 438 characters

Photo of dsa7783
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very interesting brew, and with its rich history, this was certainly worth a try... Paid almost $5 for a 500 ml bottle from Total Wine and More in West Orange... pours a slight-orange, apple-juice color with minimal head... aroma is similar to that of a floral bouqet... very light, mild, with some minimal citrus overtones... taste was very crisp and clear, with floral notes, no bitterness and an easy-going refreshing charachter... a very unique and light brew which goes down as easily as a bottle of water... excellent mouthfeel and superb drinkability lead to a satisfying and enjoyable brew that would be a pleasure to drink anytime... A must-try, and definitely recommended...

 686 characters

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

500ml bottle poured into a pint glass.

A = Nice deep yellow color, small white head, but the large carbonation bubbles look a lot like a macro lager, not bad but enough to bring this score back down to average.

S = Has a pleasant floral, herbaceous scent, smells reminiscent of sage and heather. Very fresh nose.

T = Fresh flavors hit the tongue as soon as you take a drink, there is no holding back, but the initial floral, hoppy taste is quickly replaced by a much fuller malt and almost smokey herbal flavors that then slowly change to sweet light fruits at mid-palate. Long bittersweet finish that is tempered with some lasting cloying sweetness on tongue.

M = Light-medium bodied, carbonation feel is a little too harsh, mouth coating is very good.

D = All in all I'd say this is pretty drinkable. Interesting enough to have as a stand alone and low enough in ABV to drink more than 1 if you want.

 907 characters

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

Received this in the Ales of Scotland gift pack, this poured a bright yellow, with little head and no lacing. Smell was sweet, flowery and a bit malty. Flavor was quite malty, with flowers in the aftertaste, pleasant actually. There's a mild astringency in the finish but overall goes down quite nicely.

A decent brew, certainly worth a try.

 343 characters

Photo of enfield249
3.33/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Slightly cloudy light amber color. No head, but a small ring of foam.

S - Not getting a lot. What I am getting reminds me of flowers and sweetness.

T - Sweet is the first thing I get, but not candy like. After that there is some really neat herbal flavors, but not like Jagermeister.

M - Kinda on the thin side. Decent amount of carbonation.

D - This is the second gruit that I have tried, and I like the style, but not better then I like about 10 other styles. Overall I say buy it if you have the chance, it's an interesting beer.

 540 characters

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

Mild, but has a slight edge on the tongue. It is brewed using heather flowers and scottish malt, so you get a light petal texture/flavor across the palate. This is another connoisseurs beer, best enjoyed by someone who can appreciate it's complexities. Also bestenjoyed when fresh.

 281 characters

Photo of biggmike
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy dark golden color with a thin white head that didn't last very long. Aroma is very sweet and floral, and it smells of nectar. Taste is sweet also, but is balanced by the malt. This beer is incredibly smooth and easy drinking. Not much lacing on the glass. Not necessarily something I would seek out, but I would not turn down another either.

 357 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 squidtrick
3.07/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance - cloudy orange color, white head

Smell - strong floral, spicy smell

Taste - An almost sweet taste, very herbal, at the front. It reminds me a bit of a Belgian ale, but lacks complexity and depth of taste.

Mouthfeel - light bodied, low carbonation. Watery texture.

Drinkability - very drinkable, but not memorable.

 329 characters

Photo of irishkyle21
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazed golden amber color. Very little lacing or retention but I have become used to this by now. Every beer I have had from Heather seems to be lacking in the looks department but they usually make up for it (IMO).

Smells earthy, flowery, malty and herbs. The nose is faint at first but really opens up once it warms and a few swirls of the glass don't hurt neither.

Tastes flowery, earthy, herbal, pale malt and some spices. It took a few sips for me to start to develop a taste for this brew.

 504 characters

Photo of Jmamay22
3.54/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My first Heather Ale! I'm excited and intrigued.

This Heather Ale pours a murky orange, not unlike an orange rust. No head or any signs of carbonation. Lifeless really.

This smells quite complex. There's a strong flavor of mixed berries, heather, and spring herbs. Lurking in the background is the sweet scent of honey. Nice herbal spiciness and everything comes together well.

First taste led me to think of a Belgian Ale that had lost it's yeast and carbonation. Tastes sweet and smooth. The berries don't make their strong appearance as in the nose, but this brew is noticeably sweet. Herbal spiciness is at the forefront with what must be heather and rosemary. No discernible finish as this brew just seems to drift away and comes up a bit short in my opinion.

Mouthfeel is thin and lacking due to the dearth of carbonation. Drinkability is hurt due to the sweetness and lack of balance. I braised some lamb in the same beer while reviewing this. The lamb came out wonderful, but when paired with the meal it came up short and had difficulty holding up.

An interesting beer that despite the lower score I recommend trying for historical curiosity. I'm wonder how similar this is to what was brewed a few thousand years ago.

 1,233 characters

Photo of Stoneman78
3.52/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass
A- Cloudy, dark orange/honey hue, head is small, off-white, and bubbly that is mostly sustained, very thin lacing
S- Nose is dominated by floral tones (including heather of course), sweet spicecake, herbs, subtle malts, other slight fruits/berries, hints of peppermint/candy cane
T- Initial taste is sweet herbs and flowers along with wheat and grain, opens up to allspice, earthy tones, and tea leaves, finishes sweet and dry
M- Light/medium bodied, watery texture, tickly carbonation
D- This is definitely a unique beer, I have never have a 'Scottish Gruit' before (even though I was born in Scotland), it is almost like a cross between wheat wine/winter warmer/fruit beer, but the floral spices are overly potpourri-ish which is tough to handle in large amounts (one bottle was enough for me), very original and quite balanced, the taste is a little too out there for a repeat performance
Buy again? Maybe if I were in Scotland
Overall score- 71/100

 984 characters

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

A: Hazy, translucent orange sunburst color that was topped by a white head of just over a finger. Small bubbles clung to the inside of the glass below the surface, while above, a bit of lacing stuck as well.

S: Rather mild bouquet, with a subtle malt aroma and an herbal and floral scent that accompanied it. Heather is noticeable, but not all that powerful, and not expected to be. Has light notes of grain.

T: Malt presence is felt right away, and carries the other flavors to the finish as a base. Herbal spice is noticed toward the front of the palate, almost a piney flavor, but is followed by the grainy malt aspect taking it away. There is also a sharper sweetness that rears its head.

M: Low level of carbonation, but this seems fitting for the style, and not an aberration or defect. Very slight feel of viscosity, but does not really coat the palate at all.

D: Fraoch is drinkable in the sense that it is rather mild, but has enough interesting flavor to keep the tongue intrigued. Abv isn't very high, and the mild heather and herbal notes are satisfying over top of the regular malt profile.

 1,107 characters

Photo of bboven
2.82/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Clear medium gold body with no head retention or lacing.

Smells a lot like Anchor's small beer, very light malt a little of what I would peg as lilac if I didn't know any better.

Taste Is very flowery, tastes like lots or coriander, mostly. It definitely overpowers the malt.

Very thin body, too thin really, but the carbonation is very nice and subtle, which I liked.

The spicing and expensive four-packs are a bit much for me, but I'm glad I tried it as I have a friend who is allergic to hops. I'd recommend a BA try it at least.

 536 characters

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

While I'm not sure what heather is, I did enjoy this beer. It poured a hazy blonde into the glass, with a thin white head atop it. Aroma was musty, earthy, and herbal. But there was also a noticeable malt characteristic.

The taste is indicative of the smell; musty, earthy, and herbal tea-like. I'm assuming it's the heather. There is also a husky malt flavor, bread-like almost, to balance out the beer. It ranks high on my originality scale, but in terms of overall flavor, it's slightly above-average.

Mouthfeel is medium and carbonated. This is a nice beer and a welcome change of pace. If you can find the Scottish four-pack of these gruit ales, then I would certainly recommend trying em if you're feeling adventurous.

 728 characters

Photo of thierrynantes
3.32/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Beer bottle (33cl), tasted in 2000.

Appearance: amber color, with white foam head
Smell: woody nose, a floral bouquet
Taste and mouthfell : a taste of hazelnuts, and spicy finish
Drinkability: heather (fraoch in Irish) is used instead of hops, to amoratiser this genuine beer

 276 characters

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

1 pint 0.9oz. April 2008

Poured into SA glass.

A: orange/copper and hazy. light carbonation with minimal head- leaving just a ring

S: sweet, floral, malty and berries

T: sweet with a lurking bitterness, malt and again, berries

M: light, not much carbonation but something tickles the tongue.. dry finish

D: Interesting and yes, it's quite drinkable.

 355 characters

Photo of enki
4.32/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Slight reddish tinge to an amber color, a little cloudy. Surprisingly drinkable for an unusual craft ale. The flavor of heather is hard to describe; much less harsh than hops, halfway between floral and herbal?

Anyhow, the flavor is complex but fairly subtle. Not my absolute favourite, but I went out and bought it again immediately after buying the first batch.

 365 characters

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.43/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This brew has a big and quick carbonation that creates only a thin, bubbly, scattered all-white head over a frosted honey colored body and leaving a fine-white circle of froth around the edge.
Sweet heather honey on the nose with lavender, herbs, molases soaked wheat, sour hops and yeast, corriander, cinnemon, and spices much like a pumpkin ale. all very detectable and in good balance.
hits the palate tart with a wheatie citric lemmon malt balanced with sweet honey but very herbal and even zesty at times with a mint-green veggie garden hop finish.
Light bodied feel, crisp but with a bit of graininess and a dry fin.
Overall, very unique with some interesting complexities that work together well. Being a product of Scotland, share one with that special someone while watching the original Wicker Man and it'll be a great evening.

 842 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

Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.75 out of 5 with 1,162 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded 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.
  • Our Events

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

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