Fraoch 20th Anniversary Ale
Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Fraoch 20th Anniversary AleFraoch 20th Anniversary Ale
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Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale
4.08 | pDev: 10.78%
Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Scotland, United Kingdom
Retired (no longer brewed)
Fraoch 20th Anniversary AleFraoch 20th Anniversary Ale
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Reviews: 51 | Ratings: 74 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

For the world's premiere gruit makers, year twenty is a big- one worth celebrating by making the classic ale that put Scotland on the beer map. Aged in scotch whisky barrels for extra measure highlights the culture of the bog and the flavors that come from it.

Deep within its tawny gold hues, a faint misty haze rises to crown the glass with a wisping, soapy froth. Rich peat, whisky, oak and campfire fill the nose with its earthy perfume. To taste however, the ale is surprisingly delicate with trickles of caramel, toffee and dark fruit.

Though laying on the tongue with great finesse, the ale isn't without high complexity. Its soft caramels and butter pecan saturates with the soft, honey-like delicacy of mesquite. Smoked sweetness rounds into a gentle winy taste of red grape, light vinous tartness, rich prune, date and fig. Its whisky-soaked oak has a weathered leather character with sweet and fruity tobacco following it up.

Medium-bodied yet trending light, soft and powdery, the dry and weathered oak with a peaten undertow keeps the flavor abundant on the finish, but without the weight or sweeter body that's associated with whisky, caramel or fruit. The aftertaste of smoky port, peppercorn and sherry echo long after the sweetness evaporates.

Feb 19, 2016
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KYGunner from Kentucky

4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The nose is a lot like a Barleywine with dark fruits and decadent chocolate malts, but there's a bit of earthy peat and perfume to set it apart.

This drinks like a port with alcohol laced prunes, dates and other dark fruits. This is a very smooth sipper.

Jan 04, 2015
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Chinookie from District of Columbia

3.94/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Had been saving this one in the cellar since 2009. Bottle #0997 of 7500.

Foamed up a bit upon opening but fortunately had a glass handy to avoid wastage. Immediate aroma of floral and crisp apple cider.

Poured into snifters; beautiful dark gold with a loose foamy white head. Aroma gave away the sour notes in the taste, but also smacked of wood and funk.

Bracing sour upon tasting, but progressed along with wood and sour mash notes.

An excellent beer to pull from your cellar in the summer. Refreshing and worth the wait. After five years, the funk and sour keep up. Nice all around.

Jul 16, 2014
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Alieniloquium from Florida

3.35/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

750 mL bottle poured into a mini snifter. Plastic cork is strange.

Appearance - Deep orange with a fleeting white head. Nothing after a few moments.

Smell - Whoa, it's weird. Some acidity. Lactic. Malty and sweet. Whiskey. Oak. Crazy.

Taste - Again, it's all sorts of strange. Whiskey comes through. Still a bit of tang to it that I didn't expect. Oaky. Malty. Herbal. Very strange.

Mouthfeel - Sweet, low carbonation. Some tang, but not anything I'd call sour. Some booze.

Overall - Someone likened it to a whiskey sour. Probably an oversimplification, but an apt descriptor.

Jul 13, 2013
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emerge077 from Illinois

3.69/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Looks to be the 2009 vintage, marked down on a seasonal shelf in MN.
Carefully poured in a taster glass, it has some clarity but there are random floating chunks in suspension. Lasting ring of foam with arcs of lace in the glass. Maintains some froth during the whole glass.

Tart with a musty cellar funk to it. Apple notes remind me of sherry, could be from the cask.

Tart with a middling sherry sweetness, almost tangy. Fuller feel, savory with a pervasive tangy fruit taste. Lower carbonation. Unusual, not sure if its worth the price tag at this point. If you love sherry and tart old ale, this might be up your alley.

Jun 23, 2013
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wisrarebeer from Wisconsin

4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Best by 2019. $20.99 Bottle was a gusher and lots of particles in suspension.

A: light brown/amber color, gusher with lots of particles in suspension, huge creamy/frothy head, great lacing
S: clean, spritzy with a bit of sourness (CO2?), full nose with spicy qualities
T: clean, spritzy with slight sourness, herb qualities, highly drinkable and very refreshing, taste belies ABV of 11%, has almost a gueze quality
M: very smooth, refreshing

Jun 05, 2013
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maximum12 from Minnesota

2.97/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

A wonderful tradition has begun in the house: my lovely wife goes out each Christmas & buys me 4-5 beers that I haven't had, & would probably never, imports. I look forward to it every year, & this is the first of the 2012 haul. 750ML bottle split with my wife (see how that worked out for her?).

First, the weird, hand-denting cork. Ahh. Towel stops the burning. Pour is...whoa! Gimme the towel back! Slow motion overflow & I have to suck a little off the top before I can grab a glass. OK, pour is light orange, cloudy, with enough sediment to cause a choking concern. Nose is very nice, light whiskey, pear, apple, almost a champagnesque vibe to it.

Fraoch 20th Anniversary Ale is great right up I take a sip. Heather, I presume? The bizareen of heather hits the palate like a jab: did I just ingest the Sound of Music? As close as I can come is this tastes like flowers, tea, harsh lemon. Whiskey is faintly heard in the distance, but grows as it warms. Heather & whiskey don't mix so well. Half a bomber of this is tough to swallow, so to speak.

Truly odd. The primary flavors of heather & whiskey aren't very complimentary, & that makes it hard to drink more than a few ounces. Mediocre is a word twisted into a pretzel to describe this beer, but. well.

Jan 19, 2013
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle 0315 of 7500

Don't know how this was stored prior to it being in the fridge at work for 6+ months...

A lot of big flakes of sediment in the bottle - none of which was poured out. Poured it into several 6oz stemmed glasses and ample, spritzy carbonation. A little bit of lacing and a tiny swirl/collar of suds stayed the whole time. The color is a brilliant gold, hazy, with a touch of coppery hue.

Moderately vibrant floral (heather) scent with a touch of perfumy alcohol and a subdued undercurrent of old, musty fabric (cotton, burlap, etc).

The taste had some fascinating complexity - about 3-4 stages of dramatic flavor development. Floral esters are detected immediately and shine briefly, quickly followed by a mildly tart and sour, lightly metallic flare, trailed by a marginally longer stand of a sort of tenuous apricot-pineapple-mango (take your pick) fruity quality backed by a feather-weight, honeyish malt and, lasting long into the finish, it all drops off to reveal a surprisingly-bold, oxidized, just about cardboard /dry sherry flavor. Rises up like it's gonna explode, but falls short of the need to spit it out. And, you might not realize this comes in a 11%...

Through several sips, the palate adjusts to what's going on and the brew ends up coming across like a heavily-oxidized champagne. Not incredibly fruity, but enough. Pretty darn dry as well. Quite an intriguing drink. Wish their standard Froach had nearly the same complexity. I wouldn't guarantee every bottle to taste like this one.

Dec 17, 2012
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TMoney2591 from Illinois

3.6/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Founders shaker pint glass.

Bottle #2471/7500. Apparently this one saw a second wave of distribution...? Regardless, it pours a clear sunset orange topped by a finger of tan foam. The nose comprises ripe citrus fruits (so intermingled that it's impossible for me to pick the mass apart into its constituents), toffee, and a melange of vaguely herbal spices/spicy herbs (likely some combination of flowers, herbs, spices, and assorted plants and whatnot). A mild twinge of whiskey pierces in there at times, but never does it hang around very long. The taste brings in more of the same, painting one strange panorama of flavors ranging from tangy fruits, spices, mild whiskey, and earthy flowers, though not in that order (in fact, order be damned!). It's not bad, but it's a bit much at times, to the degree that I have been forced to call this flavoring "confusing" for lack of a better term. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slick feel. Overall, an interesting beer, one that shines more brightly than its naked counterpart and is generally tasty and deserves a high rank in its style, but one that comes across as too confusing (there's that damn word again...) for me to wanna return for future drinking.

Oct 15, 2012
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MatthewWilde from Massachusetts

4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sample: 1 bottle 2009

A: Pours an extremely lively head that quickly dissolves into nothing at all, burnt orange in color with large quantities of sediment, as such, cloudy throughout

S: Citrus and tropical fruits, elements of medicinal herbs, spicy and sour notes at once, quite fragrant and complex

T: Much reminiscent of the nose, an excellent combination of citrus, dried fruits, mint, champagne, and a touch of alcohol, amazing

M: Well balanced, drinkable, mild dried fruit aftertaste, not lingering, but a touch drying

O: A complex and delicious limited edition, a must-try, nice representation of the style

Sep 01, 2012
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stakem from Pennsylvania

3.5/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle 165/7500 thanks for sharing this Maggie. This is a slow gusher that errupts the sediment from the bottom with lots of fizz. Chunks of sediment fill the copper colored brew and a white froth sits atop the pour.

The brew smells tangy with alcohol. Spicy undertones are evident that blend into some mild oak character. The smell is fitting for tge style with quite an interesting arrangement of tangy alcohok verse spice and mild barrel presence.

The brew is tangy on thr tongue with alcohol and underlying spices. Some fruit almost like cherry blends into barrel tannins, raw oak and a touch of vanilla. Some tart flavors include a minor hint of caramel malt. This is a unique brew here for sure.

This is a medium bodied brew with a fizzy level of carbonation. Lots of interesting stuff going in here. For 11% I don't think I could enjoy more than a serving. The alcohol creeps up the back of the throat with a solid warmth that clashes a bit with the tangy aspects and spice. i appreciative of the opportunity to give this a try.

Apr 04, 2012
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brokensail from California

3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for sharing this one, Richard.

Pours a clear golden color with a white head. Smells interesting. I get some peat and scotch characteristics from it and an almost funky mustiness that is reminiscent of a sour/wild beer. Maybe some grass and floral notes. The floral and grass qualities are strong, as is the same sort of funkiness that was present on the nose. Not much whiskey/scotch flavor, but maybe a little bit of peat. Medium body with medium carbonation.

Jan 16, 2012
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phichifiji00 from California

3.55/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: Clear, golden in color, white head, minimal lacing.

Smell: peat, scotch, malty, sherry.

Taste: scotch, peat, malty, apple, pear, a bit cidery, hint of tartness, sherry, tastes like a scotch with tons of water.

Mouthfeel: light-medium bodied, moderate carbonation, watery.

Overall: A decent beer. I like the peat aroma/taste, but tastes way too watered down. Very mello for an 11% ABV beer. I agree with Ryan, if you told me this was a 5% beer, I would totally agree.

Nov 16, 2011
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DovaliHops from California

3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy golden color with a medium white head that diminishes quickly. Scent is mellow whiskey, not as much as I was anticipating. Green apple and lemon zest as well. Taste is green apples with whiskey. It actually tastes a bit like watered down whiskey with some added fruit flavors. A bit of hoppiness as well. Drinkability is surprisingly high for an 11% beer. You could tell me it was only 5% and I'd believe it. Overall, this beer is not as good as I was hoping. All the right flavors are there, just a bit watery.

Nov 15, 2011
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scottfrie from California

4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interestingly corked 750ml bottle poured into 25oz snifter. Thanks to jbck109 for trading me this one. First of the style for me. Bottled July 2009.

A: After killing my hand trying to get the unique caged plastic cork out of the bottle, this beer poured a clear dark honey color with a thin off-white head that quickly sank into a fuzzy collar and film leaving a few soft streaks and spots of lacing down the glass. Great film retention.
S: Huge notes of warm alcohol. To be more specific, I can easily smell the sherry, whisky and oak imparted from the casks this beer was aged in. It’s also very herbal smelling, and it’s vinous in a white wine sort of way. I get just a hint of toffee or butterscotch as well.
T: Very very unique tasting, but I guess that’s the style. I get herbal, leafy and spicy notes, as well as sherry, vanilla, woody tannins, white grapes, honey, and I suppose, heather (although I’m not familiar with it). Someone else mentioned tea, and I could see that. Green tea perhaps, or else watered down black iced-tea. The finish contains flavors of sherry and whiskey, and the aftertaste has notes of raisins, earthy woody and honey.
M: Tingly carbonation made up of a million tiny bubbles. The body is quit viscous and thick, and the mouthfeel is heavy and almost syrupy. There are just a bit of gritty tannins that coat my mouth after each swallow.
O: I quite enjoyed this actually. At first I was a bit put off by the smell, but as it warmed I could really tell how complex the flavors were in this beer. No two sips were alike. Thanks again for sending me this Jay, I highly recommend trying it for yourself.

Aug 07, 2011
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Knapp85 from Pennsylvania

4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer came out looking like a carbonated white wine or mead of some kind. It's got a beautiful golden yellow color with a fluffy white head on it. The head does settle a bit but leaves a decent sticky lacing on the glass. The smell is spicy and herbal, some grape aromas in there too going back to the wine white elements. The taste is a really good too, I really like the herbal fruity flavors that are going on here. The mouthfeel has a good amount of tingly carbonation to it with a elegant smoothness. Overall I really liked this beer a lot, I am hoping to have it one day in the future but with the price tag it holds it may be a while.

Jul 02, 2011
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ferrari29 from Illinois

4.42/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer poured from cask and served in Snifter shaped glass at Churchkey (DC)

A - Beer pours with a brandy colored look; no head; dark amber colored body; no carbonation; body had a slight syrupy body when I swished the beer in the glass; some sediment floated in the glass

S - Dry; grape-young wine/champagne; faint scents of whiskey; apple and other light fruit

T - Dry and crisp flavor; buttery dark fruit taste; caramel malt back-end; scotch and straw; light flavors; finish has a mildly tart fruit taste

M - Slight burn down the throat; flat; slightly tangy and syrupy body; drink's flavors wash away rather quickly

D - Great stuff; really liked it; if you let is sit long enough, it begins to develop an apple juice flavor profile; sip and enjoy

Jun 27, 2011
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DefenCorps from Oregon

3.97/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at Max's. I've enjoyed this beer out of the bottle, and was looking forward to trying it on cask.

Clear amber with a thin ring for a head, this isn't the prettiest gruit out there. The nose is great. Heather, honey,whiskey complex malt character - very nice! Palate opens with a nice blend of heather, juniper and honey with a sweet and whisky note. Honey, brown sugar, caramel are present. Very complex. Boozy heat is present on the finish. Medium full in body and flat, this could possibly use bubbles. Nice and slick, though a touch of herbal astringency on the finish, there's a little herbal character too. Solid stuff, thought I think the bottled version was better.

Jun 25, 2011
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Huhzubendah from District of Columbia

4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Thorpe429. Thanks Mike!

Currently the #1 rated Scottish Gruit.

The beer is golden hued, with 1/2" white head that leaves a fair amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma is wonderfully complex, with scents of oak, whiskey, flowers, tea, herbs, spices, and lemons. The beer is more fun to smell than to drink, though I must say that this is easily the best example of a Scottish gruit I have ever had. Keeping style in mind, I think the beer is extremely well done and masterfully crafted. That being said, I would not want more than a snifter sized portion, as the deep complexities and growing sweetness can begin to wear on one's palate. The double digit alcohol content is well hidden and the carbonation level is solid, creating a pleasant mouthfeel. Overall, an interesting and tasty beer, great for sharing several ways.

May 27, 2011
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mdfb79 from New York

3.7/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to Thorpe429 for opening this one up. #1 Gruit. Poured into a tulip. Bottle #0543 of 7500.

a - Pours a murky golden color with one inch of white head and moderate carbonation evident. Some sediment evident in the glass.

s - Smells of whiskey, fruit, lemon, citrus, bready, and tea bags.

t - Tastes of fruit, lemons, whiskey, citrus hops, and bready malts.

m - Medium body and low carbonation.

o - Overall an itneresting, and enjoyable beer. Would like to try again sometime.

May 26, 2011
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drabmuh from Maryland

3.97/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a clear dixie cup, Thanks Thorpe429, #1 Gruit ale, until it gets retired.

Beer is mildly amber in color and pretty clear, weak head, no lacing, carbonation is low.

Smells like flowers and tea. I suppose that is what a gruit is for.

Beer is thin and a little watery with this kind of grassy sweetness throughout. An interesting beer, it does taste good, especially for a gruit. I might even consider having it again, one of the best ones I've had for sure.

May 25, 2011
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Thorpe429 from Illinois

3.77/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

That's right. #1 Gruit coming at me. Picked this up somewhere in NJ. No idea which store it was. Served in a Captain Lawrence tulip.

Pours a goldish-amber color. It's relatively clear and without much murkiness. Head is small and off-white and leaves behind some sparse and spotty lacing. The nose carries quite a bit of bread dough along with some earth and whiskey-soaked wood. Also quite a bit of tea, lemon, and heather as it warms up. The flavor really bits up the tea components and blends them fairly-nicely with the wood and whiskey, though not as well as the nose. Medium body with average carbonation and a smooth finish. Well done.

May 25, 2011
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corby112 from Pennsylvania

3.09/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750ml bottle, #3115/7500 2009 vintage.

Pours a murky, very dark rang brown color with dark golden butterscotch orange hues when held to a light source. Almost completely opaque with a very thin off white head that quickly fades into a thin fizzy ring.

Complex aroma with a prominent whiskey barrel presence as well as some caramel, toffee and apple. Slightly herbal and medicinal with a subtle floral presence but the nose is all about the whiskey. Faint hints of earthy oak and vanilla.

Lighter bodied than expected with a strange combination of flavors. The whiskey barrel is less prominent than the aroma suggests but their is still some good scotch whiskey flavor. This beer has mellowed with age and isn't all that hot with slight warmth in the finish. Very sweet with lots of sherry and vinous notes that compliment the barrel presence. Hints of toffee, caramel, sherry and apple along with subtle charred oak. Th floral notes of the base beer are evident with a slightly medicinal/herbal flavor.

Mar 23, 2011
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Arenbeer from Connecticut

4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml, bottle number 2132 Bottled in 2009 Has a plastic cork??? First time I've seen this. Actually worried because i can smell the beer through the cork???

Thanks to finewinemike for sending me this

Fridge Temp into a Tulip Glass

A- Fake cork let out a huge hiss but no smoke. Pours a nice murky orange brown with a thin 1 finger white head with bigger bubbles like soap. Dissipates quickly leaving big bubbles around the edge of the glass and some spotty lacing. Also leaves some impressive legs on the side of the glass from the alcohol.

S- Strong whiskey aroma up front with some nice caramel malts blended in there. Definitely getting some oak and wood notes as well, maybe some vanilla. Has a slight spicey not to it, probably from the heather. Alcohol is definitely present in this one, almost tickles the nose as you whiff it.

T- Nice sweet lighter caramel malts up front that fade into a nice complex whiskey profile that blends really well with the beer. Definitely some spice in there from the heather but gets lost after it goes down and the wood flavors come out and the smooth alcohol take over. Has this crazy sweetness to it that I can't put my finger on. It's almost like bubbly champagne yeast or brett. Could just be the whiskey

M- Much lighter then expected and has a very bubbly mouth feel from the good amount of carbonation. Nice wet finish with a slight tingly feeling on the tongue like a sour ale.

Overall this is a very interesting and very well made beer that is definitely worth the money and a try.



Feb 20, 2011
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ShogoKawada from Pennsylvania

4.07/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml, bottle 3538. $21.99 @ Nikki's. Aged in 20 yo speyside whisky casks. Bottled in 2009.

A- Nice amber pour with a small, super tiny-bubble head that fades to an outer ring.

S- Floral notes and whisky. Strong caramel malty peaty goodness.

T- Wow. Interesting. Total whisky domination. Nothing else here. Well, there's a lot to the whisky, and there are some good fruity and flowery notes. The beer has a bit of tobacco, light oak, nice vanilla and peppercorn. Sweet base beer is.. interesting. Although there's a ton of whisky it's not particularly hot.

M- Boozy, good carbonation, not hot but the whisky is here.

D- Moderately high. Weird beer, but I drank a 750ml with ease. Tasty and very unique. Price tag is high, but if you're adventurous you might want to give this a shot.

Feb 04, 2011
Fraoch 20th Anniversary Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 74 ratings