Fraoch Heather Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Fraoch Heather AleFraoch Heather Ale
Liked This Beer
3.75 w/ 1,154 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: 1,154 |  Reviews: 724
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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Photo of KFaulkner
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is an exciting beer; purchased as a four-pack in a box labeled "Historic Beers from Scotland," I couldn't wait to try the first one.

The label says that it is brewed using heather in an ancient style that dates back to 2000 BCE. Interesting, I had no idea what heather was, so I looked it up:
According to Wikipedia, Calluna vulgaris is the sole species in the genus Calluna in the family Ericaceae. It is the true Heather of Europe. It is a small shrub growing to 20-50 cm tall (rarely to 1 m), and is found widely in Europe and Asia Minor on well-drained acidic soils in open sunny situations and in moderate shade. It is tolerant of moderate grazing and can regenerate from occasional burning. It is a common component of heathland habitats.

Heather is an ingredient in gruit, a mixture of flavourings used in the brewing of beer during the middle ages before the use of hops.

I found this particularly interesting because upon first taste, the first thing that struck was the complete and total lack of hoppiness. Certainly the beer is not unpleasant though and is quite drinkable. In fact, it's uniqueness was an exciting experience.

The smell is herbal, and slightly cinnamony, without any hop characteristics but still malty. The taste is difficult to describe simply because it is unlike any beer I have ever tasted. The absence of hops is significant, but the heather gives it a more herbal flavor, rather than the typical bitterness of modern beers.

The label is also very cool.

If you ever have the opportunity to pick up a box of "Historic Ales from Scotland," I highly recommend doing so.

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Photo of Shovelbum
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a thin white head over a translucent copper body. Aroma of light caramel malt. The caramel malt comprises a good portion of the flavor as well, and contributes a nice sweetness. It is joined by notes of earth and floral herbs that I can only guess is the heather having never tasted or smelled heather before. It quite pleasant and not over the top. There is a mild balancing bitterness that must also be the result of the heather, since I don’t believe there were any hops used in this ancient ale. Medium bodied, low carbonation. Initially quite crisp in the mouth, becomes smooth and finished slightly dry.

This ale is not just of interest to antiquarians, as it can hold its own as a tasty brew whatever millennium it is. Well-balanced despite its lack of hops and a nice change of pace. The Pictish label art kicks arse too!

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Photo of DogFood11
3.32/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hazey unfiltered type appearance, Orange hue around the edges, oily lacing makes its way down the sides after a good yank.

Sweet malts and a lemony flash of goodness highlight this brew, Some herbal spices. I thought it was kinda thin for my liking but it had such a depth of flavor that the body was an afterthought. Heather gives it the depth of perfume/floral. Unique, deep and complex for (generally speaking) a lighter brew. There is an element of dark fruit and spiced backside.

Its alright in my book. Light but not exactly easy drinking. I think one sampling was enough unless I'm drinking local.

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Photo of snilsen13
4.53/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Great smelling and easy drinking.

The beer pours golden and cloudy like a wheat-beer with a brighter yellow. The head is thin, virtually no head. The look is interesting, reminiscent of a bottle conditioned beer. Smells of flowers, with a deep roasted honey beneath. Very easy drinking, like a lightly sweetened water with a slight tartness and a firm tart aftertaste that lingers gently. Feels like an instant lemonade, slight oiliness gives away the alcohol and particulates. Very drinkable, if cost were not an isuue it would be an easy choice for an all day drinking beer.

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Photo of aforbes10
2.96/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This was one of my contributions to the February meeting of the Michana Coalition of the Drinking. Bottle says best before October 2004, so take this review with a grain of salt. Poured cloudy, orange-brown. no head. lots of sediment. Nose is orangey, flowery, smells like an herbal tea. FLowery taste. orange flavor, some maltiness. interesting and not like any other beer i've tasted. Almost totally flat, which may boil down to the expiration date issue. Too strange to really be drinkable.

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

Foggy, dark tan amber with a smallish white head. For as foggy as it is, I can see a lot of rising bubbles. Smells slightly of apples, white wine, and wild vinegar like notes.

Flavor is light, starts out just faintly sweet, developing into and almost cinnamon-like spicyness touched with lemon sourness. A slight hebal flowery bitterness ties the brew together with notes of heather, and I saw smebody else mention this and they're right, roses! Alcohol is not noticed, but does warm the throat.

Relatively light and smooth body with "fuzzy" carbonation. Intriguing, interesting brew, but I won't likely buy it again.

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Photo of UncleFlip
3.36/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yet another beer I brought back from a church conference. Hang out with the'll drink well. :)

A hazy honey to peach colour with brown hue. Off white head is less than one fnger, and falls to nearly nothing at a decent rate.

Smell is not strong, and has some ovetones of rotten peach- though not in a bad way. There's a bit of brown-sugary malt in the nose, kind of on the bottom.

Flavour is high, light, and sweet- and the heather really does come through. The finish is a little thinner than the rest. I think the flavour is missing something in the middle and bottom of the profile. It just doesn't feel substantial.

Liquid is thin, and the carbonation stays high and tight at the front of the tongue.

For a brew with some shortcomings (IMO), it;s actually quite drinkable. I wouldn't turn it down- but there are other beers I'd take before this one.

Be well

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

"Brewed in Scotland since 2000 B.C." says the label. I must be drinking beer from the oldest brewery in the world!

The first thing you notice about this beer is its intense spicy aroma. In fact it reminds me of some hot pepper beers I've had. But here's where the similarities end.

The flavor is immediately fruity, floral, and chased by light herbal spice. In fact the initial sweetness fades rather quickly and gracefullly, leaving behind a faint sweetness in the aftertaste. On the whole the finish is drier than you might initially expect. The flavors are surprisingly delicate, especially given what one might anticipate from this ancient, rustic style. A slight bitterness begins to perk up mid-palate after several sips, but this again gives way to the soft finish.

I really have no frame of reference, stylistically speaking, for this beer. I guess I expected more of a rough-edged, primitive type brew, but the actual flavors are surprisingly and pleasantly delicate. I'm sure, therefore, that this is a fine example of the style.

But man I do still love hops in my beer...

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

Best before Feb 2007 (Surprising shelf life!).

A: Gold/yellow-brown with a little chill haze. Pours with a little white head and although there's no retention, it does despirately try to cling to the glass.

S: Bready malt, with a earthy, straw-like odour. Not nearly as floral as an actual heather plant (I happen to have a bouqet left-over from a Robbie Burns celebration).

T: Bready malt that, surprisingly, isn't too sweet. It's pleasantly balanced with a slightly spicy & earthy herbal flavour.

M: Light to moderate body and carbonation.

D: Easily approachable, but it doesn't really bring me back for more.

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Photo of walleye
3.38/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured a cloudy amber color with a medium size white that left some lacing.aroma is yeasty,sweet and hints of honey. flavor fruity spices with a taste of honey.this a differant beer at 1st I didn’t care for it warmed up I started to get in to it.

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Photo of Enola
3.38/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer has a ton of floaters. The color is a cloudy light orange. The smell is sweet. Reminds me of honeysuckle. The taste is somewhat citrus like. The mouthfeel is pretty smooth. No bite or negative aftertaste. The drinkability is fairly good. I like this much better than the first time I tried it. I could drink it again sometime.

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Photo of sitbooboosit
3.78/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy light orange copper colour with very little head that disappears fairly quickly. Beer is only lightly carbonated and hazy.
Smells sweetly malty with a nice yeast aroma and something uniquely floral and plant like that i assume is heather! also a mild flora honey aroma. overall though very mellow.
Taste is mellow and and dominated by base malt. Begins sweetly and finishs with the distinct bitterness of heather. has a lingering aftertaste.
All in all a good beer, easy to drink and something unique. would be good as a session brew.

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Photo of Citadel82
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer smells and tastes of apples. It is a refreshing and quenching beer with a green apple nose, start and finish. I like it alot and should keep some around for the times when I am in the mood for something fruity. There is some bread and cinnamon in the nose as well as the taste. The spiciness is like a chilled slightly spiced/mulled cider. Not overpowering just pleasantly there in the back.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.15/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a hazy rust orange color with little head. Not much carbonation to speak of at all.

Smell is interesting. Different. Citrus and a floral aroma I assume is the heather. Smells a bit like lilac.

Taste is fairly simple. Lilac and lawn mulch.

Very light bodied and quite drinkable once you get past the interesting and different taste.

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Photo of allergictomacros
3.14/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Appearance: Hazy orange without much head.

Smell: A bit of a yeasty smell with some toastiness and fruitiness. Notes of honey as well.

Taste: A bit of tartness and yeast. Some fruit (apricots?). Some hops in the finish but not much. A little on the bland side.

Mouthfeel: Very light. Even a bit watery

Drinkability: Goes down easy.

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Photo of kaimcm
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

bottle poured into an imperial pint glass. first heather ale ive had, no idea what to expect. also have no idea what heather tastes like.

A: hazy, murky, dull, and dark honey color. tons of floaties, very little head, minimal stick. kinda looks like a green or similar tea with honey.

S: Vinous aromas but slightly sour, pretty herbaceous.

T: Very reminiscent of green tea, though the finish isnt as tannic and dry. Smooth with virtually no bitterness to be found. a touch of honey and spice. coating malt body.

M: light but refreshing, nice carbonation level.

D: an interesting and welcome change. Would pair well with more herbaceous foods.

had with some stilton and salami. the cheese was to rich and overpowering but the salami added a much appreciated spice to the beer.

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Photo of russpowell
4.01/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled in an Orval Glass

Pours a hazy bronze with a very thin but filmy head. Head retentention and no lacing what so ever. Bubbles rise to the top of the glass through out the tasting

Smell: Sweetness and berry like fruitness up front. Hints of grassiness and pepper notes

Taste: Crisp and tart with a slight toasted malt taste. Honey, grassiness, and floral tastesthat must come the heather, slight bitterness on the finish

MF: Syruppy and slightly under carbonated

Interesting change of pace that refreshes and is pretty darn drinkable. Wonder if this what William Wallace was chugging back in the day??

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Photo of mdagnew
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml Bottle bought from The Vineyard, Belfast...

Poured a golden amber colour... Big, slightly off white, head faded to thin layer round the edge....

Aroma - Quite sweet, floral, grassy, some lemon notes, peppery, woody, whiskey notes ?

Taste – Nice sweetness, malty, nutty, earthy, some spiciness, definite floral notes...

Feel - Quite sharp - med carbonation.. medium to full body....

Overall - An excellent beer.... recommended...

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Photo of WMBierguy
4.2/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had never before tried a heather ale, and I did not know what to expect from this beer. The beer has a pale brown-gold color. Did not have much of a head. It has a unique, mellow flavor, something that can obviously be attributed to the use of heather flowers. Though an ale, the familiar ale bitterness is very muted. This is a very drinkable and enjoyable beer, and is recommended for anyone who wants to try a new style of ale.

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Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 56.9% out of 100 with 1,154 ratings
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