Beer Reviews

Williams Bros Alba and Fraoch


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The Williams Bros is a Scottish micro brewery that has been around since 1988, famed for their outstanding Heather Ale. While they are mainly known for Fraoch, which is their heather ale, they’ve got several other brews under their belt as well, most of them fantastic. In this post, I thought I’d take a look at two of their expressions; Fraoch itself, and Alba.

As I mentioned earlier, Fraoch is a heather ale, which quite simply means that heather flowers are added to the barley. Williams Brothers themselves claim that “heather ale is probably the oldest style of ale still produced in the world”, something I can’t personally vouch for, but whether true or not – it’s old, okay?  While I like most ales at room temperature, I would recommend that you chill this in the fridge for a short while (maybe 20 minutes) before consuming it – but don’t drink it too cold!

Unsurprisingly, the nose is really floral – it’s like Scottish spring in a bottle, with lots of heather, some malt and a mix of honey and yeast. Or in one word: Lovely. The palate is fairly similar, with a very sweet and floral mix of flavors and a bit of citrus. There is hardly anything that would hint of it being alcoholic (it’s bottled at 5%) and it goes down really easily, but I don’t think I could drink more than one or two in a session as it is very sweet.  Overall, a great and quite interesting beer.

Let’s move on to Alba, which is a pine ale – mmmm, pine… If you’ve ever bit in to a pine you may not find the prospect of a pine ale too exciting, luckily though it tastes rather better when accompanied by malt. Unlike Fraoch I wouldn’t chill this at all, just drink it at room temperature (to be honest, I may even put it in the sun for a bit to warm up, but I am a bit of a freak like that).

The nose here is of bready malt, pine and sweet fruit and perhaps just a tiny tiny bit of citrus. The palate is earthy, malty and piny along with notes of dark chocolate and juicy raisins. Something that holds true for both of these ales is that I have never tasted anything like them, they are incredibly different, and I would recommend them both warmly.

If I had to pick one to recommend, I would probably have to go for the Fraoch – though that is probably more a reflection of my current mood than general preference.

Fraoch Summary

Eye: Dark straw.

Nose: Floral, heather, malt, honey, yeast.

Tongue: Sweet and floral, citrus, yeast.

Alba Summary

Eye: Mahogany/amber.

Nose: Pine, bready malt, sweet fruit and a touch of citrus.

Tongue: Earthy malt, pine, dark chocolate and juicy raisins.

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

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