Fraoch Heather Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

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Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale
Very Good
1,164 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: 1,164 |  Reviews: 725
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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Photo of hunteraw
4.05/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a very pretty golden honey color, with a small head. Nothing great about retention or lacing.

Smell: Floral, with some sweet caramel and a smoky earthiness which at first I thought was left over from barbecueing yesterday. I wish I had a better idea of what heather smells like so I could look for it here, but it's not jumping right out at me.

Taste: Crisp, floral (I don't make a habit of eating flowers, but if I did I'm sure this is what heather would taste like). Some herbal character as well, that binds it together with an earthy malt base. Finishes dry. Very nice.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body, carbonation is a bit high but I think it works well for what this beer is - very crisp!

Drinkability: High, I like this one quite a bit.

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Photo of HarleyQuilter
3.68/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours easy with almost no head, if there is, it leaves a small white ring, continuous throughout. Almost no carbination,but that's not a bad thing.
Initial smell brings a slight flower [heather] smell, but it isn't overpowering, just a hint.

Color is dark golden and clear.

First sip says it can be drank all night long, midway, reminded me off mom's rose garden and her rose hip jam. Amazing what you think of when drinking good beer. Maybe has some mushrooms, or someother hallucinogenic in there?!?! LOL

Finishes with a smooth, very slim hop flavor that tastes awsome! We've got three of these babies, and they will be enjoyed ever so preciously, probably in the near future.
(The Chapin Clan)

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Photo of haz77
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear amber with a golden hue and an inch of tight white head. This drops to a thin layer and has virtually no carbonation to help it out.

S - Heather, rose, mixed herbs and flowers, earthiness, a little pine, background of citrus and honey, grassiness.

T - Masses of heather and flowery flavours up front. These actually continue all the way through the drink, but become more subdued as other tastes come forward. The middle has a resinous herbal edge, with a slight spiciness. There's also some honey in the back. Finishes dry, with some lingering sweetness.

M - Medium body and soft carbonation. Fairly smooth mouthfeel.

D - A tasty and interesting offering which is definitely worth trying.

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

500 ml bottle; 6/07 best before date

A: Pours golden with a small white head. Moderate lacing.

S: Interesting smell with aromas of spices and herbs that I couldn't begin to identify. Sort of potpourri-ish.

T: Slightly bitter with a floral and fruity flavor. Some herbal and mint flavor as well.

M: Light-medium in body with subtle carbonation.

D: This is my second gruit, and I still don't know what to think about it. This is just a totally unique experience. I definitely wouldn't want to have more than one of these, but I'm anxious to try as many different kinds of this strange brew as I can get my hands on.

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Photo of Sigmund
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

330 ml bottle, bought at Mahlers Vinhandel, Frederikshavn, Denmark. My first heather ale. Cloudy honey coloured, moderate head. Nice aroma of heather flowers and heather honey, notes of earth, peat and fresh sea air too. Flavour is earthy and moderately herbal, but not quite as exciting as I hoped - still good, though. Mouthfeel is maybe a bit thin, the beer is fairly dry but some heather honey notes shine through. A moderate herbal bitterness in the aftertaste.

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Photo of kimcgolf
2.84/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours to a hazy copper, with very thin white head and minimal lacing. Very strong floral, perfumy aroma. Initial tastes were of floral. At mid-glass, taste of malt and spices crept in, and I even detected hints of alcohol. Although I enjoyed the flavor, the finish came on very quickly, and was much too dry for my tastes.

I have to say that this beer is much better than the other product of their’s that I’ve had....Alba Scot’s Pine Ale. However, I’ll stick to hops in my beer, and leave the heather to beautify the Scottish countryside

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

Poured a bright cloudy orange with a light bit of white head and good retention.

Smell was sweet and fruity with hints of honey and peaches.

Taste was very minerally with lots of spices with a cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves being to most dominating. A slight light peach and honey flavor also comes through.

Mouthfeel is light and crisp.

Not to bad, a little different, but still enjoyable.

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Photo of Blakaeris
3.42/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours hazy golden-orange with a creamy white head that dissipates to a thin ring.

Smell is similiar to a saison. Sweetly fruity and an herbal spicyness with pepper, corriander, and cinnimon.

Taste is similiar to the nose with sweet apricot up front, but the massive spicy flavor dominates. Finish has mild bitterness with lingering spice.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied. Carbonation lends a creamy feeling.

Another unsual and complex beer from Heather Ale. Something off the beaten path but well woth the experience.

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Photo of bort11
3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottel poured into and Imperial pint glass. I really like the label on this bottle, very medieval looking. A nice bottle just adds to the enjoyment. A nice foamy head a little more than a finger that slowly recedes to a very thick and sticky lace. Color is a dirty orange/brown. Smell is very sweet floral and malt with earthy notes. The floral flavor is little overpowering. There is also a bit of vanilla and berry included. Mouthfeel is slightly syrupy and sticky. This is a very interesting adventure of a beer, but I don't think I could drink more than one.

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Photo of Noxious26
2.42/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

500ml bottle poured in a pint glass.

Clear, golden colour. White head is 1/8 inch on the pour, but quickly recedes to a thin ring.

Aroma has a definite sweetness to it with underlying floral and herbal tones.

Definitely has a unique taste to it, though I can't say it's to my liking. Malty at the start with a strange undertone that I can only assume is the heather. A little too sweet for me at the start. Tastes kind of like herbal tea with a touch of malt at the finish. Aftertaste is herbal/floral.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Has a bit of an oily feel to it.

Too sweet and I'm not big on the background flavour that I'm assuming is heather. This might actually be a good example of the style, but it sure doesn't do anything for me. I can't even choke back the entire bottle.

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

Pours a slightly hazy coppery orange, with a half inch head that settles quikly to thin head, leaving behind only traces of lace.

Smell; this has a very floral and herbal along with some sweet malts and a pleasant earthiness. The aroma very different aroma than any beer that I've ever had, and reminds of the fields I used to play in next to my house as a kid.

Taste; once again very floral and herbal with some notes of honey that I didn't get in the smell. This is mildly sweet on the back end, and surprisingly refreshing on this summer night.

Mouthfeel is light bodied with a very low carbonation, and slightly dry in the finish. A very interesting, change of pace beer.

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Photo of therica
3.78/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This wasn't even pouring a head until I fully-inverted the bottle and let it rip. Then, a small but healthy off-white head formed with multi-sized bubbles, lingering for a minute or more. The ale itself is a nice orange-tea.

The aroma is interesting-- a mild bouquet which upon one whiff reminds me of a faded Airwick air-freshener, and the next whiff reminds me of a walk in the woods during the evening.

The taste from the start is very enjoyable. Even my wife's obligatory taste (including the foam) met with an unusual "Hmmm.... good!" Nothing to object to here, nothing offensive.

The taste does have a nice hint of the heather, but it's nothing odd, just very complementary and a smoothly-combined blend, overall. The finish tends to be a slightly watery yet nice flavor. If you're looking for a nice hops-bite or a good belch, you won't find it here. But this is very pleasant beer. I'm sure that between the gaelic-lore and the non-obtrusive not-overpowering taste, it might be a great ale for the non-beer fan or the doubtful girlfriend.

If I could buy this by the case, I probably would-- mine came in a sampler-pack. I'd move on to something with a bit stronger flavor after a few, if I were having more than one, but overall this is a very memorable ale.

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Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.75 out of 5 with 1,164 ratings