Fraoch Heather Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

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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

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Ratings: 1,162 |  Reviews: 725
Photo of BurnsTau
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours amber, decent white head. Smells very sweet maltiness. Taste is slightly sweet, malty with a nice medium body and light carbonation. Some strange aftertaste, I guess it's the heather. Overall pretty enjoyable and unique, worth trying for sure.

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Photo of Beerbuddha
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Poured a nice hazy orange color with a 2 inch off white head which disappears quickly

Smell - very strong floral, spicey smell to it. Has a hint of malts as well.

Taste - Nice flavor to it. Very interesting. I can taste the heather in it. It comes across spicy.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with low carbonation.

Drinkability - Not bad. I actually like it.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had a bottle of this at CK Diggs in Rochester MI. I'd never had the style, and didn't know what to expect, so my rating needs a grain of salt.

The appearance was clear golden colored, thin white head (read "looked like a standard pilsner"). The aroma was pretty funky, probably from the heather the wort is soaked in. I've had a few other beers with this smell/flavor, Rogue Festive Ale comes to mind. The flavors are all floral and a little spicy (not hot spicy), kind of good and probably authentic for the style. Not my favorite flavor combination though, so my drinkability score is lower.

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Photo of pmcadamis
2.68/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

A - I'm pretty excited about trying this unique brew, and I love the ancient celtic bottle! This looks pretty dull once poured. It's kind of a muddy river water brown with a flimsy soapy dishwater head. The head has no real retention, and a collar of big soapy bubbles is all that is on top of the brew. It's opaque and cloudy, and shows some gold when held to the light. Not really a looker, but then again some awesome Quads have the same muddy water color...but much nicer heads. This does, strangely, have some really nice lacing despite the lack of respectable head.

S - Smells much better than it looks....actually if it smelled like it looks it would probably be reminiscent of diarrhea. This however, smells like a great oktoberfest with loads of caramel malt and carrot cake notes. I actually have no idea what heather smells like, but if it smells like this beer I plan on planting some in my new yard! I detect a Riiicolaaa! herbal aroma that is pretty that the heather coming through? Also, I smell some lightly toasted bread with butter notes. This smells awesome!

T - Ok, not quite as good as the glorious scent, but it's really unique. I'm reminded of sasafrass and Ricola herbal lozenges. This also tastes very much like the rootbeer brew from the Sam Adams Brewer Patriot Collection 4-pack. Very old school...tastes like chewing on roots. I actually don't really like the flavors that are going on here, but I respect this beer for it's individuality and complexity so I won't slam it.

M - Restrained carbonation and a light body make this a slightly watered down brew. It's pretty thirst quenching, but the finish is vegetal and off dry. Really feels like Ricola lozenges.

D - Blah. This stuff is an oddball brew that is worth trying for it's unique flavors, but I probably will never drink it again. There are no real beer flavors. It smells lovely, but so does potpourri and you don't want to put that stuff in your mouth either.

Note: The fact that this tastes like beer did 4,000 years ago is pretty cool since it probably fueled the druids hoisting the monoliths of Stonehenge, but while that makes it interesting it doesn't make it good. I'm pretty sure the food they ate back then was pretty rot-gut too.

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Photo of brendan13
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle with awesome looking artwork. History of the style on the back of the label.

A - Slightly hazy orange colour with a inch or so of off white head that quickly falls away to a thin whisp.
S - They got the herbal part right...floral & quite a strong spice note - cardamon I think. Some biscuity malt buried in there.
T - Taste is along the same lines as the smell. I've never tasted or smelt heather, bog myrtle or meadowsweet by themselves but they make a pretty good combination.
M - Medium bodied with low carbonation. Dry finish.
D - Not a beer for everyday drinking but a good, intresting beer for every now and then.

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Photo of Thanby
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My first of this kind of ale. I'm a little excited after reading about the history behind it.

A: A slightly amber honey color, very cloudy, 1.5 finger head with lots of large soapy bubbles that is gone very quickly. Lacing sticks like glue.

S: Sweet malt, honey, caramel, hops are present but there's something different about it, possibly a kind I'm not used to. Some spices like clove and others I can't quite make out.

T: Hops come right up front at the bottom of the initial taste, smothered over by honey and wheat. The cloves and other spices are right at the top to balance things out. Fades very quickly leaving a crisp and clean finish with just a hint of lingering hops and cloves.

D: Just about perfect carbonation. As is warms in the mouth, a whole palate of flavors begin to surface. The spices come out and take over, warming up the tongue with a very unique combination that I can't completely describe. The spices are definitely my favorite part. Fairly light body but with enough flavor to make you want to keep drinking. Overall a very refreshing experience.

I have to say that I'm surprised. This is an unexpectedly delicious ale that can easily be enjoyed by itself or with a lightly spiced white meat.

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

My first Gruit. Purchased at Eagle Provisions.

A-Slightly hazy honey colour with a soapy 1.5 head that dissipates fairly quickly to a slick of a head. Heavy sheets of lace cling to the glass though.

S-there is a spice I can't determine, slightly flowery hop character. Smells pleasant enough.

T-Very bread like malt that is dry yet sweet at the same time. There is a certain mustiness here as well as that same vague spice in the smell. The sweetness is honey like and the aftertaste comes through with a bit of flowery lavender like herb taste which I am guessing is the heather. There is a lot going on here. I am digging this.

M-Slightly thick, fair ammount of carbonation. Nice

D-This is a unique and tasty treat. There is a slight contrast here between the dry malt character and what I believe to be honey. The aftertaste is very nice here as no particular spice overwhelms. There is just a vague spice character and residual sweetness that makes this a great after dinner treat.

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Photo of rafjr00
3.29/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass from a bottle.
Poured with a good bit of carbonation with a thumb of head that fades fast to a thin film then to just a ring that clings to the glass. Burnt orange / honey color.
Smell is floral with citrus and honey.
Taste is flowers, slight citrus / bitterness and tupelo honey.
Mouth feel was a little on the watery side with only a slight carbonation on the tongue.
Not a bad beer and one I would have again, but one to drink when you don't want to think about the beer just enjoy it.

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Photo of ralree
4.09/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This is an extremely drinkable ale. It has a crisp herbal aroma emanating from its generous head. When drinking, there is a bittersweet taste that is unlike any other ale I have tried. I was surprised that it does not have more of a hoppy flavor. It leaves a sweet aftertaste in the mouth, but I find it amazing that there is no alcoholic aftertaste that I can detect. At 5%, this is definitely a plus. I could see myself getting very intoxicated while drinking this beverage since it goes down smoother than most anything else I have tried. If you're looking for something light and a little bit different, give this a try.

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Photo of skineg
3.2/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Misty Amber color with a few bits of wheat floating around. Small head that disappears fast.

Smell: One word: flowery.

Taste: Surprisingly weak. I was expecting a little more boldness from a Heather Ale. Smooth and well rounded with only a hint of floral. Once your hit with the floral flavor, it fades away quickly and leaves little to no aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, lite and flat.

Drinkability: Very drinkable, easy on the palate and not filling.

Comment: I have to hand it to the marketing department of Heather Ale Ltd because they make one hell of a package. It made me buy a four pack of their product. Not a bad beer, just nothing too special.

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

a: golden/copper color with decent head and very good lacing and carbonation
s: light sweet fruits - nectarine, floral aromas and some spices
t: same combination as aromas -- light nectarine, floral & spices. hops seem ready to pop out during and after taste, but never quite materialize -- interesting
m: a smooth, refreshing ale -- light body, very crisp without any hoppy bitterness
d: very different brew. refreshing, light, crisp finish. worth a try.

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