Thursday, 20 December 2012

Beer # 93 Froach Heather Ale

Fraoch Heather Ale

Heather Ale Company Williams Bros. Brewing Co.

Kellibank, Alloa, Scotland, UK
Heather Ale 5.0 % ABV Brown Glass Bottle 330 ml.
$2.71 (Canadian) At LCBO $10.85 for a four pack

Twitter: @williamsbrewery

I have wanted to try these beers for a while. They often pop up as a gift pack in the LCBO in winter as we near Christmas. I believe I may have tasted one of them a few years back at a trade show but I didn't take any notes and I don't quite remember, but it may very well have been this beer.

Erica (Spring Heather) Not Used in Brewing,
 but just as pretty.
Common Heather or Summer Heather
(Calluna vulgaris) Used in Brewing.
Bog Myrtle (Myrica gale)
Williams Bros. Brewery started life in a brew your own shop called "Glenbrew" in Glasgow. In 1988, a lady came into the family owned shop and requested assistance in producing a batch of "leanne froach" or heather beer from and old recipe that had been handed down to her. The owners helped her in exchange for a copy of the recipe and then began to experiment with it, and using it as the foundation for the beer we are tasting tonight (I hope the poor lady got some royalties or at least a few cases of beer!). When they had perfected their version, (using different malts and adding bog myrtle as well as heather) they brewed a 5 barrel test batch at brewery in Taynuilt, Argyle. The batch sold out almost immediately, and with heather being seasonal, they had to wait until the following year to brew again. This time they froze the heather to ensure continued brewing. The beer became very popular and the new found Heather Ale Ltd. began to eye expansion. over the years they added Alba a pine beer, Grozet a gooseberry beer, Kelpie, a seaweed beer, and Ebulum an elderberry beer. When the demand for they beer surpassed the capacity of the brewery in Taynuilt, they built a brewerin and occupied it for 6 years starting in 1998. In 2004 further expansion was required and they purchased the Forth Brewery in Kellibank, Alloa, and renamed their company William Bros. Brewing Co.

I will also post three more beers from this pack so stay tuned!

Onto tonight's brew:

Honey coloured with an off-white thin head made up of small bubbles. The nose is very earthy boggish, damp underbrush. First sip is a cavalcade of flavours. Heady florals, ginger, sweet, mildly citrus, spruce needles, and grains of paradise. This beer has a lot going on. The finish is very short, and I find I have to take multiple sips to tell what I am tasting. A very clean beer, only a slight drying of the mouth and the faintest hint of ginger is left after a sip. The malt is there, underneath, takes a few sips to feel it on the tongue. Aeration gives us pure flowers, like walking down a mountain side after the rain dragging your hands through the heather.

Impressions: Fail, So-so, Pass, Exceptional 

Cost: 5/6 PASS
Colour: 5/6 PASS
Beer Style: 5/6 PASS
Re-Order:  4/6 PASS
Experience:  5/6 PASS

Final Thoughts:

Commercially brewing historic beers, is an excellent way to preserve our brewing past. This beer style dates to 2000 BCE that's 3000 years of brewing tradition. Quite a lot of responsibility for one little bottle, but one it carries quite easily. It is a very good beer. I can't imagine it becoming a "regular beer" as it is very unusual. However, it would be great fun to pair it with food, such as a medieval dinner, or just plain BBQ. and I would certainly like to try to cook something with it... Scottish lamb perhaps? 



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