Fraoch Heather Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

very good
1,148 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: 1,148 |  Reviews: 722
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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Photo of daliandragon
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An extremely nice pour, with the beer settling in nicely and producing minimal but attractive head. Light orange body matches the sweet, caramel and malt nose. The lack of hops is slightly unsettling but that's just habit.

Tasty, light bodied flavor with smooth, nutty aftertaste and a quenching mouthfeel after the swallow. Despite having no hops I would still say this is a well balanced beer since the sweet heather contrasts enough with the malt to restore balance.

This is different but not overly interesting from a taste factor. Still, it's a pretty easy drinker and well made enough.

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Photo of BabaJohn
2.73/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This beer looked delicious and smelled very interesting. Beautiful light brown in appearance with some orange and gold hues. Murky with visable sediment. Only a bit of head formed at all. The smell was amazingly complex. Here's the list that hit me (in order): flowers, vinegar, apple pastry, honey, cider, and cinnamon / spices. Unfortunately, that proved to be my favorite part. The taste itself did not suit me and I found it to be a bit lacking in overall flavor. It was somewhat tart and sour, and a bit watery. Herbal tastes, almost medicinal. An interesting beer to try, but I didn't finish the bottle.

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

Nice light copper color that is a bit hazy and caps with a nice lace that doesn't make much head. The smell is light and herbally, presumably heather. There is a malt background in the aroma but it is just that: background.

The taste is quite mellow mostly tasting the heather and the malt. The two balance well and leave a nice flavor in the mouth. It does have a bit of carbonation that I believe initially lightens the mouthfeel but if you let the sip linger just a bit in the mouth you will find that it smooths out and goes down in an almost creamy fashion.

I find this beer very drinkable and a nice companion on a summer evening.

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Photo of beckje01
2.61/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured from 500ml bottle into a Pint glass.

Appearance - Cloudy low to no carbonation, little head. Reminds me alot like the look of local grown honey (I used to work in foodservice).

Smell - Rich flower like.

Taste - Tastes very herbal, starts light and refreshing finishing with the herbal tones yet still refreshing.

Mouthfeel - Tingles a bit but feels smooth, and very light.

Drinkability - Its very refreshing and different but the appeal is something that wears out quickly. I would suggest only a half pint at most after which the novelty wears off. I would have another if it was a hot day and came in half pint or less. Reminds me alot of cold herbal tea.

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Photo of ism
3.6/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500mL bottle this time, marked 6 months old, previously had it cask-conditioned. Nice, somewhat cloudy apricot-gold, with a thin off-white head that leaves thin lacing. Nose is more straightforward this time, with a prominent coriander spice, floral and light, with tar bright berries and a subtle biscuity base. Very mild carbonation, medium body, rolls on the tongue, pleasantly. The floral sweetness is interesting, herbal and citrusy, goes down smooth, finishing dry with a bit of earthiness. Drinks like a tea -- soothing and relaxing. Easily quaffable and enjoyable.

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Photo of ultralarry2006
2.06/5  rDev -45.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12 oz. botlle. Slight head quickly recedes to surface skim, no lacing. Body was a slightly hazy yellow orange amber.

Smell - biscuity, doughy malt. Some grassy, herbal, and floral ( but not floral as in hoppy) aromas.

Taste - not qiute like the smell. This ale tastes like a stale and weak gin and tonic, or like old stale, flat lemon/lime pop.

Mouthfeel - very thin and fluid with low carbonation.

Drinkability - goes down with some effort, was nice to try this ancient style, but that's it, don't want another one.

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Photo of crwills
3.55/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy, cloudy, dirty gold with a small head, even after an aggressive pour. I used a standard pint glass because I didn't have anything more suitable.

Aroma is very different than most beers... extremely floral and grassy, with notes of pepper, candle wax, and some kind of chemical acidity. Strong and unique.

Taste is floral, wildflowers, hay, and clover. It's actually quite bitter, even without hops in it. Mild toastiness to the grain. Aftertaste is a bit soapy, and the mouthfeel is just mediocre.

Not something I'd drink all the time, but good to try. There are better beers from this brewery.

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Photo of afordney
3.31/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Golden straw color, thin head with no lacing around the glass.

Smells very spicy, flowery no hop or malty scents are detected.

Tastes very spicy, citrus and clove, very flowery finish

Mouthfeel is slightly watery, and bitter

An interesting style, you can really taste the heather in this beer. While a well made beer, I don't think it's really my style but hey, at least I tried something new today.

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Photo of sullysbeer
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aroma: Malty Sweet, Sweet Tart Candy Floral Aroma. They Say Floral Peaty Aroma.

Appearance: Clear Golden Color: Nice White Head.

Flavor: Starts Out Malty, Has a Spicy Herbal Flavor and Finishes Dry With a Wine Like Ending.

Mouthfeel: Full Bodied Ale

Overall Impression: Brewed in Scotland Since 2000 B.C. Heather Ale is Probably the Oldest Style Of Ale Still Produced in the World. The Heather Flower also Know as Heather Tips Impart a Pleasing Aroma and Smooth Bitterness to Beers. With the Flavor Similar to a Chamomile/Mint Blend with Hot Lavender. Heather Pairs well with Honey. It is Also Great for Tea, with Reputed Calming Qualities. This Beer Definitely Has a Distinct Flavor with the Use of Heather Tips Instead of Hops. Very Smooth and Refreshing.

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Photo of BAbaracus
4.36/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy straw hue with fluffy one finger buttermilk head and mild carbonation. Lemony floral nose with hints of coriander, maybe cinnamon. Very floral taste with cinnamony finish. A little hop presence buried deep in the mix. Well blended. Mouthfeel is of medium density with light carbonation. I got a strange burning sensation on my lips, although I couldn’t tell whether that was coming from the beer or some other factor. I wasn’t eating at the time so aside from the glass I was using, I’m not sure where else this could have come from. I could see this making a good session beer - not too strong either tastewise or in terms of alcohol content.

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Photo of kkipple
3.32/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

My first time trying an "Herbed Ale" of any sort.

Pours a hazy, foamy dark yellow. I smell lots of honey and malt and a peaty earthiness. A bit floral. Nothing too crazy though.

Taste is decent, a very malty, sweet and mossy flavor with lots of honey.. A bit sour on the backend, and a bit of a corn flavor to it. Reminds me of some Scottish ales I've had more than anything. Finish is dry and crisp. Rather drinkable.

All in all, not a bad beer, but not a great one either. I wouldn't necessarily seek this one out, but I’ve had a lot worse. Thanks to Ostevela for the bottle.

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Photo of Brian700
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a light orange with nice clarity. It has a nice white head that sat about one finger's width and then settled to a ring around my glass. Moderate lacing.

The aroma is of sweet malt with some floral presence. It smells alot like a belgian style triple.

The nose kind of leads you to believe that this beer is going to have a big candi sugar flavor to it with a lot of esters going on but it is totally not. The taste like tonic water with a malt presence that is real delicate like a tea.

The mouthfeel is that of tonic water. Light bodied with medium carbonation.

I think this is a drinkable beer. I like a beer with a little more flavor to it but I think this is a nice one to put down with a fresh palate.

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Photo of charlatan
3.37/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From 500 ml bottle with freshness date over a year away. Light amber colour with significant head. Smells of honey with a hint of orange peel and of course heather.

This doesn't seem sweet at all even though there is some underlying honey flavour to it. Heather is dominant though doing the work one normally expects of hops and producing a complexity of flavour comparable to some of the better hops used for potent IPA's, but distinctively different. Unfortunately I'm not really up to the task of describing it. There is a rather oily feel on the tongue and a pine sap aftertaste which I quite appreciate.

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Photo of goochpunch
4.61/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours out a hazy, rusty orange with a weak head. Smells lightly of bready, biscuity malts with a humongous perfumey heather aroma. Almost smells a bit minty and berry-like. Some yeast in the nose, as well. Flavor is big on the heather and berries with a light malt backbone. The malt really seems to take a back seat to the "flavoring," but that seems to work out just fine here. Flavors thin out a bit in the end. Mouthfeel is light and prickly with bubbles. This drinks way too fast.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
2.31/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Hazy light orange brown with a one finger head that dissipates quickly. Intense visible carbonation and no lacing. Not too impressive.

S - A potent sweet chemical aroma with a bit of light bodied malt underneath. The sweet odor is strange, it seems like something that smells like it would taste good, but then would kill you if you drank it. In line with how an upholstry glue, antifreeze or some kind of poison would smell like. I don't like the odor, in fact it quickly became a bit nauseating.

T - A light sweet malt flavor with a slight appearance of the same taste as the smells seems like it would taste like, but much, much milder. Since it is milder, it is not as sickening to taste as the corresponding smell is to smell. There is a dry grainy finish to the beer. Although out of the ordinary, I'd say the taste is a little below average.

M - Moderately smooth, carbonation is just a tad bit strong, a tad bit refreshing.

D - The smell really gets to me. If it wasn't so potent I think that I would like this more. I can't take another sip without holding my nose. The insert said that it goes with "rich and spicy foods" so I tried it with some pepperjack cheese which overpowered it's taste completely. Went very well with a slice of Manchego though. If one could get past the smell then it wouldn't be so bad.

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Photo of rustymoore
3.81/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy orange with a generous head and a decent amount of lacing. Smell is very much like a green olive along with floral hints. Tastes very much like a flower so that must be the heather shining through. Very strange taste combinations. Mouthfeel is very dry especially in the aftertaste. Drinkability is limited in my opinion as this isn't something one could drink regular but rather try out for the novelty aspect.

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Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
3.75 out of 5 based on 1,148 ratings.
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