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 shadow1961
4.22/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Fraoch Heather Ale pours a stiff two fingers of foam over a cloudy amber brew.
(Firey orange held up to light). The nose is malty and flowery (like clover honey),
but also a bit resinous as well. The flavor is not as sweet as the nose might lead
you to think- dry malt and an odd spicyness- like some kind of combination of
cinnamon, wood, and earth. This ancient traditional beer is another of those brews
with a history - it's been brewed in Scotland for 4000 years. You won't think of beer
as just a common drink after exposing yourself to this. Well worth the experience,
it is as complex as any wine you might try. History in a glass.

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Photo of whynot44
3.99/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Slightly hazy light copper color with a modest white head that turns quickly to just a skin, but still manages to leave some decent lacing.

The aroma is light malt with an earthy floral/herbal scent and a hint of honey.

The taste is similar - a light bready malt up front, then a honey and herbal note kicks in. Lightly sweet at first with an herbal bite toward the finish and an odd earthy tone throughout.

Light bodied, smooth and very drinkable. An interesting brew, that according to the label, has been around since 2000 bc.

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

12oz bottle from Ron's in Farmington. Slightly hazy amber-red body with a thin film of off-white head. Floral and fruity in scent, somewhat reminiscent of banana, though not like a Hef. Tastes fruity, floral, and somewhat nutty. The nut and banana-like qualities dominate the flavor. though that's not quite accurate. Medium in body. Tasty and quite drinkable, as well as unique. Not similar to most beers I've ever had, but I could definitely see drinking this one again. Delicious.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.37/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle, says it has been brewed in Scotland since 2000 B.C.

A: Golden amber to red with a small white head, but the lacing feel is really nice.

S: Very nice, smooth, fragrant - I smell passion fruit, pineapple, and freshly cut flowers.

T: Much of the same as in the smell. It is subtle and smooth, but also very tasty, very different from hopped beer.

M: Smooth, sweet, and very floral. It's a tad thin, but it is a light-bodied beer so I'll give it that, I'll forgive it.

D: A good, easy-drinking beer. It's nice to see a brewery brewing these historical styles, to allow us, the consumer, to be able taste a beer that is similar to what our ancestors drank. Very interesting, could be sessionable, but the price is inconvenient.

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Photo of flowerysong
4.47/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours a clear, coppery gold with three fingers of white head that quickly subsides to a thin froth. Lots of carbonation evident.

Smell: Floral and sweet, with heather notes evident.

Taste: Sweet flavourful malt fading into an herbal heather middle, with honeyed citrus coming through in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, crisp taste with snappy carbonation.

Drinkability: Givvus another, willya? Extremely drinkable.

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

The half-inch head doesn't retain long, and shrinks to a thin skim across the top quickly. A few tiny floaters that look like pepper grains; ghostly lace; dark orange color.

Intensely herbal aroma, obviously the heather, but not being familiar with heather I'd liken it to sour pineapple meets bubblegum meets rose. Very unique, and not in an off-putting way. I kept smelling and smelling this, almost forgetting to taste.

Flavor reminds me most of obscure Belgian ale Gageleer (look it up), due to its obscure ingredients and intensely herbal flavor. But this doesn't drink as smoothly. A bitterness dominates the beginning, middle, and finish of the sip, with earthy perfume/flower riding through, and some citrus-like sweetness that continues to draw pineapple comparisons.

Mouthfeel feels very old-world (whatever that means)...just has this "ancient beer in a moldy firkin" feel...mild carbonation, a bit on the thin side, and an impolite pungency on the finish.

Most enjoyable if you dig unusual beer styles, especially ones with plenty of history, like this one. This is my first gruit, so I'm no expert, but it would seem to represent the style well. I'll buy more next time I see it, but I wouldn't want to have it every day.

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Photo of jettjon
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From a 330ml bottle clearly scored “best before end June 2008” into a cervoise. An attractive transparent brownish amber color with no apparent carbonation beneath one finger of off-white foam. Quick fade to good cap and ring with decent lacing clinging to the glassware. Nose evinces distinctive floral hops and faint malt along with a unique earthy, herbal scent (I suppose that must be the heather). Taste is similarly pleasantly different, dominated by a kind of crushed-weed-stem sweetness that’s hard to describe, along with faint powdery malt. Very earthy, like a big scoop of rich soil after a rain, complete with dying earthworms—but in a good way. Mouth feels a tad thin but there’s some pleasant mild carbonation keeping things interesting. Clean, dry finish with a touch of bitterness. Drinkability is pretty good; at 5% it’s sessionable and it’s definitely something “different” while remaining subtle enough to enjoy several.

Overall: A pleasant foray into the world of Scottish Gruits, probably my favorite within the style that I’ve tried. Worth a try, especially for something that’s “out there” without being stupidly over-the-top for the sake of being extreme.

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

Appearance: Orange and cloudy. Moderate head with a bit of lacing.
Smell: Dry malt, a bit of heather. Fairly odd smell.
Taste: Dry malt is farly strong, and intresting heather taste.
Mouthfeel: Alot of carbonation, medium body.
Overall: I really enjoyed this beer, very intresting and very good.

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

I’ll tell ya, thanks to BA for pushing me to explore new beer styles. Found this guy at Corral Liquors and decided to give it a shot. And lemme tell ya, pick one, or twos, up and give it a try. NICE !

Clear, slight haze amber copper brew, quick dying white head – since, to me, this is like a cherry cider beverage. Low carbed, with that neat cherry mash with a solid malt backbone. Fairly sweet brew, almost reminiscent of a cherry soda fountain drink. Each sniff was nice too, the cherry was just right with some caramel notes added to the fray.

The 500ml bottle was labeled best before 10/07 and a small ring of sediment on the bottle topped off a great new style of beer.

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Photo of Mickelswit
3.59/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

The smell of this one is very enticing and soft. Sweet malts and herbal, floral notes blend together so that no single element dominates. This smell is surprising, since the beer appears to be a run-of-the mill pale ale, with an orange hue and an average white head. I suppose what I'm smelling in place of hops is the heather, which is different but pleasant.

Taste tends toward the herbal notes, with an aftertaste reminiscent of the Hungarian liquer Unicum. Caramel and butter malt notes support the herbal flavors, keeping the brew from being unpleasant and medicinal. The body is medium to thin. Carbonation is prickly like a Hefeweizen. Herbal notes lead to an extremely crisp, dry finish.

This has been my first and only gruit. It is an intriguing flavor. Though I would glady have it again, the $3 price tag for 12 oz. is cost prohibitive.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
3.45/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I got this in a four-pack of historic Scottish beers, which was just too much for me to resist. Aroma is strong, malty, and very pleasant. It pours out an orange-amber, rather than yellowish or brownish, with a thick head. Taste is a tad thin, but pleasantly malty with a nice bitter kick. A refreshing and smooth ale - I can see, or rather taste, why it has lasted for four millennia.

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Photo of MTNboy
3.43/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I thoght this beer looked interesting. I loved the bottle. It has wonderful designs on it. It reminded me of a pale ale for those people that are kind of put off by the heather ale name.

Appearance- Light color. Poured from the bottle easy. I tried it in a pint class and there was just a little bit of head. As golden as the beer was I was suprised to see the slightly tan head.

Smell- Was very light. There was some fruity tones but nothing that was remarkable.

Taste- Slightly bitter sweet. Mildly fruity with some grassy flavor.

Mouthfeel- Thin with nothing lingering.

Drinkability- Easy

Fraoch is alright but it was a little pricey but it is worth a try.

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Photo of Mechphisto
2.92/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- Pours a bright, clear golden. Thin, white-tan head that disappears in seconds and leave virtually nothing behind.

S- Some musky fruit I can't place. Like, old old apple and, grasses I believe. Not terribly great. A little sour smelling. Not appealing at all, to be honest.

T- A slightly sour taste. About as light as it looks. Not heavy, and not as interesting as the aroma (which is fine by me since the aroma is a slightly turned sour.) Simple.

M- Carbonated, but not too bad. Clings slightly to the mouth, and then goes away without an oily or sour back-of-the-mouth feeling. Pleasant. Doesn't overstay its welcome.

D- I'd willingly drink it if offered. I would avoid smelling it over-much and not chew it any, and it's not bad.

Oh yeah, at $3.50 for 11.2 oz., not too impressed on value for the penny at all.

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

Poured from brown bottle into 12oz glass tumbler

A: Red-brown color with thin head that leaves a little lacing. The label is a very cool looking forged Scottish cross motif.

S: Grassy and earthy with floral esters and a tinge of spice.

T: Light on the palate and mostly malty -- I was expecting more vapory esters after the smell. A bit of floral fruitness and a little ginger. A pleasant airy bitterness from the heather in the finish.

M: Light with plenty of carbonation and very smooth with a warm, earthy aftertaste.

D: Honey smooth without being too floral or sweet. It lightness and uniqueness give this beer extra points here -- I have not tasted a beer quite like it.

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Photo of demcorhip
3.87/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy amber, with no head or lacings in this very mildly carbonated ale.

Smells better than it looks. Floral scents with hints of honey, green bitterness and ginger. Malts also evident, but are in the back seat with smells of bread crust and other toasty smells.

Light bready malts with hints of bread crust, caramel and toast. Some apple/pear fruitiness in the background, then the floral notes with a hint of honey and mild notes of ginger root, as well as a greenness with both some sweet and bitter character.

A bright and refreshing drink, a touch more carbonation could liven this up a bit, even though it likely doesnt befit the style. Nicely balanced, the slight malt sweetness and the floral sweetness was offset nicely by the somewhat dry and toasted malt character as well as the hint of ginger as well as green bitterness.

A very drinkable and refreshing ale that is going down great on this hot May evening. Quite approachable and interesting. I dont remember the hint of ginger when i had this one a year or two ago, but it or a very similar taste is present, and fits nicely within this ale. Well worth trying, its nice to water my scottish roots with more than just wee heavies from time to time.

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Photo of jbsteiny
3.67/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Slightly red-orange, a bit hazy, thin head. Smelled like flowery honey, almost like a weak mead. I must say, 'twas delicious. Again, honey, flowers, a bit of an herbal bitterness that I think could have been more pronounced to give some bite against the almost-cloying honey flavors. I'd try it again, and I'd recommend it to those who like it sweet, but I've had much better Gruits (oh, when will Tom Baker begin brewing them again?).

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

330ml bottle, best before dec 2007

pours slightly hazy light orange colour with just a wisp of white head.

aroma is nice. honey and caramel. piney. bit of citrus. very light, tough to really identify, but nice.

taste is nice too. very light. bit of honey. very little sweetness. just a hint of dms. light bready malt. grain husks. light bitterness. slightly medicinal herbal character.

mouthfeel is nice. very light bodied and a good dry finish. almost no carbonation.

drinkability is good. it's a fairly plain and simple beer, but nice and quite drinkable.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
3.56/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a big frothy head with a brown to tan color, but it has no lacing. Smell is floral, a new smell for me for sure. The taste is like flowers with some earthy tones. Reminds me a little bit of when I was a kid and ate flowers only not so bitter. It's sweet, but not very sweet and the aftertaste is a small little bit of plant-like bitterness. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, very nice. Overall I would definetly try this again, it's very intriguing.

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Photo of Greenfloyd
4.63/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Heather ale. I once dated a girl named Heather. I'm glad to say this beer had a finish much better than that did...Apparently I love Gruit...Slainte

Poured into my large tulip glass with a rich, dark Scottish golden hue (yes, I did make up that color, thanks for wondering). An impressive creamy off-white head, rested on top like a beer induced cloud. A good swirl brings it right back to life midway. The nose was of sweet malt and cold biscuits, with traces of clover honey in the finish. This fantastic malty tasting beer had a very low hop presence, as it finished with a light, sweet, eucalyptus like cooling sensation, I'm guessing a product of the heather flower. Seeing as though I haven't exactly trampled through the highlands gnawing on fresh heather, I can't really be sure. It had a VERY smooth mouth feel, with a medium body that lent to easy drinking. This beer pairs very well with panko breaded pork cutlets, served with London chop sauce. A firm nutty cheese like Samsoe (a Danish cheddar), or the semi-firm Cheshire, with it’s buttery finish, would be great served as an appetizer……Enjoy

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Photo of kelticblood
3.72/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Non-existent head but did yield some moderate lacing. Even with a violent pour I couldnt stir much of a head up. It does have an appealing color that looks like a hazy apple cider. The aroma has a very earthy smell along with sweet floral notes and raisins. The mouthfeel is nicely carbonated, but is a touch watery. Light to Medium Bodied. It is very drinkable, but not enough to become a session beer. The heather offers a different taste as to what Hops delivers. It still has a touch of bitterness though. I prefer the taste of Hops to Heather. Not a complex brew, but it is unique and tasty. Overall Just about an all 4 good rating.

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Photo of geexploitation
4.74/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very clear, brilliant amber with golden highlights. Frothy, big-bubbled head with a collar that sticks. Aromas of honey suckle, heather flowers, sweet clover honey, and iced tea. Minimal malt aroma and zesty earthy/spicy bits. On the palate, a sharp floral character braces things up, followed by metallic carbonation and a sweet, tea-leaf mid-palate that finishes off half-sweet, half-dry, and unlike a conventional beer. No hop oilyness, instead just soft flower oils that have some sweet flavors but no oily heaviness. Surprisingly full-bodied and flavorful, and very unique. What a wonderful beer.

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

Seems like a taste of the ancient rustic world
Nothing too exotic
A solid tart-malt ale with
mild grass and unique floral aromas
in a moderate complexity

a cloudy orange-brown appearance
with virtually no head

a strange tart
grassy malt smell
decidedly "earthy"

The taste:
wild tart
subtle flower
the sharp malt dominates
with the heather and myrtle elements
leading the floral and grassy undertones
into a dry
(as they say on the bottle - wine like finish)

Mouthfeel is good
carbonation is mild
and there is a slight hybrid
wine-ale feel

surpisingly easy
I brought a 4 pack and the
mild ABV helps this
ale turn into an easy session brew
you can swig and savor!

Definitely unique stuff.

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Photo of jnelson54
3.84/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From the bottle a clear yellow orange with a thick frothy white head

Smell- Malts with notes of honey and heather. lite and aromatic like fresh flowers
Taste- malt and honey with an ephermeral Heather finish. I have never been but it draws up images of a foggy scotish morining
Mouthfeel- earthy creamy rich
drinkability- a hearty brew but not too heavy with a clean lingering finish of heather. Nicely done

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Photo of Braudog
4.06/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured from the 11.2oz bottle with a pleasant warm orange color and a well-former white topping of white bubbles. There’s a nice little flowery aroma that you’d expect from a beer made with heather. The flavors are bolder and brighter than I might expect ... very much flowery, almost mulchy! Herbal and green, I feel like yelling some William Wallace quote. Beauty. (#2687, 2/6/2007)

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Photo of Phatz
4.55/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a real treat. I had no idea what to expect from this Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale. It is sweet and floral and flavored like a flavor in some candies. It has a flower like bitter balance but so gently it stays sweet with fresh honey like attribute, until the aftertaste which is shot but again loaded with unique candy like flavors I can't quite describe other than floral and buttery soft. Some of the most tasty burps I have ever encountered as well.
Mouthfeel: The texture is absolute silk. It is so soft and slick, wow.
Drinkability: This beer disappeared so fast I could hardly write the review. It is tasty and easy. It is a bit sweet to session but drinks like a champ.

Hope this is helpful.

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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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