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 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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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

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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...

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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-.

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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.

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

pours a bright copper with a thin white head, that quickly drops into a very thin haze.
the aroma is is malty and has a good honey aroma.
the flavor is malty, soft honey flavor, there is an herbal flavor, and an unidentified sweet spice flavor, maybe that is the gale.
this beer suprised me as to how good it is, a must try.

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

Drink before Aug 2007

Smooth pour. Surprisingly caught a quick nice buzz.
Deep gold color and a very delicate taste. I didn't spend to much time smelling it because I couldn't stop myself from drinking it. I agree with most reviews that it
has a white wine dryness to it.

I can drink a ton of this. Delicious and Zesty!

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

Pours to a very dull amber color with a small white head that beaks down quickly and just leaves a slight film on top. The aroma is floral but not in a hops way, slightly sweet and also reminds me of a homebrew smell. The taste has an earth herb taste that is very different from what I have experienced in the past. Some sweet characteristics as well, mostly caramel like flavors. It has a very dry feel in the mouth. This is an interesting brew but is not one that I would say I truly care for. Nice to try something new, but at this point in time not one I would actively look for in the future.

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Photo of jwc215
3.87/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

best before end of Feb. 2007 (drank well in advance)

Pours amber with little head. A white ring along the edges leaves minimal lacing down the sides of the glass.

The smell is floral and herbal. A hint of caramel is also present.

The taste is flowery and herbal. There is a honeyish/caramelish sweetness in it, presumably from the malt. There is absolutely nothing hoppy about it, as it lacks hops, which are replaced by heather. The heather gives a dry, winey floral character to it. There is a slight tea-like medicinal touch to it. Some oily resin is present.

There is a buttery smoothness to it, along with a more noticeable wine-like dryness. It is light side of medium-bodied.

It's an interesting brew. Not really my thing, but a good brew for what it is. Might add it to my "in the mood for something different" list.

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Photo of seanyfo
3.2/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Served with a 300ml fraoch glass in local bierhalle.

A - Light amber in colour, even with a rather aggressive pour, not much head, 1 finger that reduces to a faint whisper with little lacing

S - Sweet perfume aroma, sweet malts, no real hop notes distinguished.

T - Fainter sweet flavour from the heather, malts, once again not much hops, quite sugary feel.

M - a bit syrupy and sticky for me, little carbonation

D - Not a great fan of this one, it was probably served a bit too cold, perhaps should have spent more time letting it warm. Will rereview later, but on this offering, would not go out of my way to find this one again.

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

A - Dark golden color, bright white head the retains well.

S - Nice maltiness, floral notes, maybe a hint of honey.

T - Smokey, tart, I don't get the floral flavor that I got in the smell.

M - Astonishingly light-bodied, extremely clean.

D - Despite my trepidations, this is a very drinkable beer, and I'm glad I bought more than one.

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Photo of numenor1
4.49/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Nice hazy orange color almost without a head. Smells fantastic, very floral, flowery, but with deep malts and a touch of smoke and honey. Possesses an exceptional light body with medium low carbonation, creating a very creamy mouthfeel. Given the light body the flavor is massive. Honey malts with a very unique flowery quality that I will assume is the heather, somewhat earthy as well. Again, a slight smoke aspect, typical of many scottish ales. Very well balanced, the heather manages to contribute bitterness yet it disappears almost completely from the palate once you swallow. Very clean, crisp finish. Very interesting. Amazingly drinkable, after I was halfway through my .5L in the first couple minutes I had to force myself to slow down. Very nice beer.

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Photo of leedorham
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased in a brown 16.9oz bottle. with car battery style punch tabs on the label for the "best by date" (aug 2007).

Pours a rich golden honey amber with a thin white head that dissipates quickly.

The aroma and first taste strike me as fruity. For an ale, it seems to have lager characteristics. I have no idea what the heather does to it. It does have some floral qualities to it but I would not not say it is overpowering. It is dry but the finish seems a bit watery to me.

Overall this is an exceptionally drinkable beer without a huge amount of complexity to the taste.

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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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