Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99! (Limited time offer, US delivery only)

Fraoch Heather Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale
Very Good
1,159 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 | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,159 |  Reviews: 725
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.

 453 characters

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

 1,111 characters

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.

 637 characters

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.

 609 characters

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.

 774 characters

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

 414 characters

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)

 391 characters

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.

 726 characters

Photo of veech
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was an unusual and tasty beer that I found to be different in a very good way.
A: Deep golden color with reddish copper highlights
S: Not unlike a florist's shop. Very fragrant with sweet blossomy grasslike scents and not much else.
T: A smooth, mild, medium bodied beer with strong floral accents. Hard to pin down exactly what the taste is comprised of, but very herbal.
M: Almost a little bit of a gritlike feel that is not unwelcome.
D: Not something that I would repeat, but I definitely enjoyed this style that is new to me. I recommend trying this if available.

 578 characters

Photo of sinstaineddemon
2.28/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A - a tinny light brownish gray ale, with a thin white head that laces quickly, there is tons of sediment suspended within the body, very scant carbonation meander betwixt the sediment

S - the bouquet is a amalgamation of floral, honey, grassy, and pesto sauce, no one in the room believes me until they smell it, then they agree

T - these aromas translate to the taste, pesto, basil, floral like clover, and honey. and again, no one believes me until they taste it

M&D - it is smooth going down, however the odd taste holds me back a bit, but not difficult to drink

a weird experience, but worth a try

 614 characters

Photo of techdiver
3.4/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a hazy golden brown with a decent head that dissipates slowly.

Interesting nose; like I just mowed my lawn in spring. But this is winter. Anyway, a grassy, clover scent.

Taste is complex in it's description is difficult. A bit flowery with little hops influence.

Relatively light and easy to swallow.

In this case, I'm glad to have had this as a sample. Could have more if that's all there was. But following the 2 Belgians I just had, I'm spoiled.

 467 characters

Photo of tatterdash
3.55/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly hazy golden with bubbly white head. Aroma of honey, lots of grassy grains. Taste was honey again, with malty raisins and bit of hops in the finish. Mouthfeel was definitely a creamy smooth plus. This is not bad at all, and the history of this brew is certainly interesting.

 290 characters

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

Froach Heather Ale
Poured from 11.2 oz bottle into Caracole tulip

A - Beer pours a slightly cloudy light orange with a minimal (1/4 inch at best) head that doesn't last long. Lacing is minimal.

S - Sweet floral scent that is accompanied by a breaded sweetness from the malt character. Obviously the floral scent is different from the usual hop floral essence, with this being fuller and less fruity perhaps.

T - Smooth, sweet and slightly chewy malt with a flowery and dry finish. Very little fruit flavor, but a slight eartiness is present.

M - Full with a good blend between smooth and mild carbonation. Finish is drying, and as the bottle hints, in a "wine-like" fashion.

D - Although bottle says best by Feb. 2007, I think this beer is slightly past its prime. I remember its scent being intoxicatingly amazing, and this bottle is so-so. Try it once, especially if it seems fresh (i.e. best by date is several months in future).

 950 characters

Photo of msubulldog25
3.62/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 33cl bottle (notched, best before end: JUN 2007). Paired with a savory roasted chicken dish and shared with my wonderful chef/wife.

A: Golden honey-colored pour, virtually still with a faint haze. No carbonation and just a few traces of white head and some random bits of lace.

S: Malty, but more distinctly smells of clover, flowers and honey. It really is like a meadow in a bottle, a little sweet, a little earthy, even a sour citrus smell. Has a faint grape-like vinous quality, like a dry white wine. Quite interesting...

T: Flavors are herbal and mildly spicy. Fresh cut grass, hay, earth, bread crust - all very malty and a touch sweet - combine in this ale. Finishes dry and with a faint bready/crackery flavor with a spritz of lemon.

M: Without carbonation, this beer comes of as velvety smooth but rather flat - though to the style. It's a simple, light mouthfeel, with only a lightly spiced herbal finish lingering a few seconds then fading.

D: One that every beer drinker must try at least once. The label claims a heritage for this style dating to "Scotland since 2000 b.c." That's a remarkably historic style, that's about as different as a beer can get. It's one I'm glad to have tried for the novelty, with flavors good enough to have again.

 1,279 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.68/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy golden color with a nice head that displays decent retention and splotchy lacing

Smell: Bready, sprucy, herbal aroma

Taste: Biscuity opening with a sprucy herbacious character; herbal flavor builds into a bitter finish that is peppery and somewhat medicinal

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Interesting and worth a try for the historical context; you can surely see why hops are an improvement on heather as a bittering agent

 492 characters

Photo of wagenvolks
3.84/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is golden orange with a minimal amount of light cream head that is well retained but otherwise unremarkable. The aroma is intoxicating...i just walked into a fucking flower shop! On a serious note, I smell vanilla sugar wafers, lilac, and a hint of hops. Very sweet aroma, but not overpowering.

The taste throws another interesting factor into the mix. It is sweet, but not too sweet, and definately organic. Clovers, honey, and light malts are very gentle on the tongue. Amazingly smooth mouthfeel with a perfect amount of carbonation. I could drink this all night, but it's a little too one-sided to keep my interest...

 636 characters

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

12 oz. bottle- color of golden orange, with thin white quickly departing head - nose of malts , cobwebs , hopps , floral , and hay – taste of oak barrels , spices , earthy , mild hopps and malts - body thin , and crisp – aftertaste of hopps and short

 252 characters

Photo of soulgrowl
3.26/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Big bubbles rise through a brandy-amber body to form a head so weak and fizzy, I didn't even have time to notice its color before it disappeared. But I think it was off-white.

Smell: Heather dominates, spicy, herbal, floral, and intriguing. Reminiscent of cinnamon, marjoram, allspice, juniper, and fresh cherries. Nutty malts with a light toffee sweetness lend the impression of cinnamon raisin toast.

Taste: Light and mild; fruity and floral; nutty and bready. Lightly vinous with a dry, toasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and clean, light bodied with big, tonic watery carbonation. Parching finish.

Drinkability: Good and interesting but not something I want to drink every night.

 704 characters

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

This beer pours a pale, clear yellow color, with a thin, white head. The head fades slowly, leaving many laces.

This beer has a spicy aroma. It has a slight floral aroma to it. Some biscuit notes are present also. It is slightly grassy.

This beer tastes exactly like it smells. Spicy upfront, with some grassy and floral hop flavors. It has a slight biscuity malt flavor. I have never had any heather, but I can assume that this beer has a slight heather flavor also. It is rather sweet.

This beer goes down smooth, leaving a floral aftertaste. It is less carbonated than I expected.

This beer would probably make a good session beer. It dosent taste bad, or overbearing, and it is not high in alcohol.

Overall: I thought this beer was decent, but nothing I am interested in buying again.

 803 characters

Photo of kernalklink
4.27/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was't sure what to expect from this brew, but it reminded me of a light sahti, less sweet than I had expected. It poured a clean golden color with good lacing and a bubbly white head. Some nice floral notes and some spice in the aroma; good herbal flavors with a hint of sourness on the backend. Aggressive carbonation was my only complaint, but very refreshing and tasty.

 374 characters

Photo of zuggy9
3.12/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This pours a dark amber with little head retention that thins to some lacing. The aroma was a bit strong with a herbal like malt quality. The heather can be tastes as well. The taste somewhat earthy and herby, with a light quality. Not bad but not that drinkable for my tastes.

 277 characters

Photo of Mebuzzard
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The head foams up like thick soap bubbles, then calms down to a small lacing. Deep amber/rust body.
Smells of malt and biscuit, some sticky sweetness and touch of herbs.
Taste seemed light at first. Malt and glazed donut. Then a creamy sensation. Floral and herbal tones dominate the middle. Some fruit (cherry?).
Finished fairly light and clean, with the aftertaste lingering just a bit.
A different brew for me. Tastes like a "light" fruit beer.

 467 characters

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

Presentation: 33cL bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: A nice pale, slightly hazy gold with a thin foam that reduced to a ring of lace.

Aroma: Very interesting and pleasant. Light maltiness paired with the herbal, grassy and floral aromas.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Somewhat light with a refreshing carbonation. Pale malt sweetness comes up front, but is followed by the very tasty, tea-like blend of herbal and earthy flavors. Sweetness is nicely balanced. The finish leaves me with a pleasant, herbal flavor.

Notes: This was quite a surprise. I tried this on a whim one day and it has become a regular for my wife and I. The herbal and floral aroma and flavor is so nice and this beer is so drinkable. Give this one a try if you haven't.

 755 characters

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

Clear amber/gold, thin white head forms, settles to a thin film, some lacing. Smell is nice, really grainy, sweet, herbs, chocolate. Taste is sweet up front, very nice graininess, bready, medicinal herbal quality, very malty, very drinkable. Mouthfeel is light bodied with low carbonation, very smooth. Has the nice earthy characteristics of a good scottish ale, like Caledonian 80-.

 383 characters

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


Brilliant amber ale with a rocky-sticky 3 finger cap that laces the supreme hell out of the glass sides! Looks great...Lottsa malt!

Siganture aromas for this brewer: floral wild botanicals with a musty-woody herbaceous decernment, some clover honey-like sweetness.

Rigid primal malt spine, medium body, floral-herbal-grainy character

Up front a rush a solid coarse ground bready malts just as they begin to sweeten, a flood of herbal-botanical flavors rush in to keep them from cloying...nice herbal-musk mellon tastes devlop...finish is mellow, soft and accentuated with a nice herbacious heather-like taste that lingers as lightly bittering aftertaste with the hopping.

I’m really impressed with the ales from this brewer....consistantly malt-herbal tasting and infinitely mellow with a soft mineral mouth.

 832 characters

Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.75 out of 5 with 1,159 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.
  • 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.