Tag Archive: Heather Ales

Williams Bros: Birds and Bees (Scotland: Golden Ale: 4.3% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. Large mounded frothy white head.

Nose: Lemon cakes. Lime sorbet. Crisp hop character. Clean. Cake sponge.

Body: Lime zest. Bread dough. Slight sulphur. Lemony. Peppery.

Finish: Dough. Light sulphur. Lime. Lightly earthy and peppery. Decent hop character and bitterness.

Conclusion: This is what I would call a simple beer, but done well. It had a few points I initially took as flaws, that I am now enjoying as I come into the tail end of the beer.

So, to take the basics first, this is a gentle lemon and lime filled golden ale with crisp hop feel. Gentle up front, saving the bitterness for a hoppy and bitter finish. Tidy. Simple, but refreshing and pops the bright notes.

The flaw? Or the initially flaw seeming element, is that it is slightly sulphurous, especially in the finish. It felt kind of like it is backed by partially cooked dough amongst that and early on it felt a bit stuffy, which got in the way of the gentle sipping golden ale character.

So, yeah, early on I disliked it, but as time went on it altered, adding an odd steam beer like feel to the experience. A kind of fluffy feel that I oddly associated with direct gas heated whisky. Long story. Anyway, it is a rougher edge but now goes well with the hop punch at the end of the beer to give a nice underline to the thing.

For me anyway, your mileage may vary.

Nowt too showy, but a drinkable hoppy golden ale that slips down nicely.

Background: Back to Flavourly again, where my parents kindly bought me a box of beer to be sent to me. As always many thanks. A few I had done notes on before, and a few I just drank in general, but I made an effort to keep a few for doing tasting notes. Of which this is one. See, backstory is easy! William Bros first came to my attention years ago, back when they seemed to concentrate on brewing with older traditional ingredients. They have widened their range a lot since those days. Anyway, went with New Model Army: Impurity for backing music while drinking. Remember seeing them live a few years back, epic show, man I miss live music shows.

Heather Ales: Fraoch: Heather Ale (Scotland: Traditional Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Light clear amber, an off white head of no duration.

Nose: Syrup and pine cones. Slight cooked chicken and mustiness.

Body: Resin, pine and lemongrass.  Solid malt core, Ginger beer. Slight toffee in the undertones. Bitter back.

Finish:  Ground lemon peel and greenery. Ginger beer again. Slight peppermint.

Conclusion: Now it’s well known that I am a sucker for odd and unusual beers. Add to that the fact that so far the Heather Ales ranges has been batting well and we come to this fourth and last of the pack with not a little anticipation.

Unfortunately here is where it falls down. Just a little, more a trip or stumble than a full on fall, but still not good.  This beer just doesn’t quite play right. Strange as its range of flavours are and they are both unusual and intriguing it should be right in the path of the kind of thing I like. However under all the peppermint and ginger the base of the beer just feels slightly mundane, as if they were just glitzy baubles on an otherwise bare tree.

I don’t want to be too harsh, as it’s not bad, but after the fun of the previous beers from the brewery it just seems weak.  Definitely go for the others in the range instead.

Background: Heather Ales do a lot of old traditional styles of beer with what would now be considered unusual ingredients.  This beer pack was a kind gift from Dylan (thanks Dylan). So far the pack has been well received.

William Brothers (Heather Ales): Ebulum: Elderberry Black Ale (Scotland: Traditional Ale: 6.5% ABV)

Visual:  Dark, almost black but with reddish hints. Treacle brown head of decent bubbled style but little lasting power.

Nose: Coffee and liquorice. Slight sourness.

Body: Elderberry, coffee and bitterness. Almost black lager in its styling. Black cherry. Fizzy feel. Treacle and slight chocolate cake.

Finish: Liquorice, bitter. Sour grapes. Milk chocolate. Slightly oily thick feel to the remnants. Aniseed.

Conclusion:  While this beer is listed as a black ale by its makers the main body of it seems to call with great familiarity to the black lager style. The elderberry elements match up surprisingly well with this.  A slight sharpness against coffee and chocolate underpinnings, and is some larger sips brings in almost stout like touches.

Lovely mix of flavours, in a lot of ways it is a great nightcap ale (good thing too as I was nackered when I drank it).   It’s very soothing and very rounded it flavour, with that slightly thick final feel which soothes.

Balancing sour berries, black lager and stout, try tell me the sound of that doesn’t appeal.

Background: Drunk whilst exhausted after a weekend of Capoeira, where its relaxing qualities were well appreciated.  This beer was a gift from Dylan (Thanks Dyl), and is also if I remember rightly one recommended by the late great Michael Jackson (the beer hunter of course).  Drunk whilst listening to the OST from series 5 of Doctor Who which aided the relaxation.

Heather Ales: Alba Scots Pine Ale (Scotland: Traditional Ale:  7.5% ABV)

Visual: A darkened amber Irn Bru colour. Good sized heather coloured bubbled head and a fair pace of small carbonated bubbles.

Nose: Fresh lime jelly, tiny acidity. Strawberry jam. Pine cones and resin. Syrup. A very sweet set. Light wheat.

Body: Very sweet, fudge. Liquorice. Gooseberry and resin. Sharp citrus flavours – lime. Quite the malt core. Woodland imagery called to mind. Slight bready character. Strawberry jelly.

Finish: Fluffy, liquorice and wheat. Big malt loaf and dry bitter touches. Dry bitter touches. Pine needles. Ground dirt. Milk chocolate.

Conclusion: A real puzzler of a beer this one.  Sweet syrup nose that’s filled with fruit, but makes you think you’re in for a fun, but pretty standard beer. Thus the tales of a pine ale seems to be more a marketing ploy that an important element of the beer initially.

The body then, comes as a surprise with the woodland influences making themselves fully known. It’s still sweet with almost Belgium blond style characteristics, and the fruit jelly touches still being there at the back.  The contrast between the nigh artificial flavouring jelly imagery and the dirt and woodland style creates a striking counterbalance of the flavours into a bitter end.

Overall this works and works well, with the woodland flavours winning out in the finish.  For once an interesting traditional ale experiment that also brings it as a good quality ale as itself.

Background: Thanks to Dylan for the Christmas gift of this beer.  Heather ales seem to do a set of beers patterned on old brewing styles. This beer is listed by the description as being introduced by Vikings, and that spruce and pine ales were used to prevent introduction of scurvy. All interesting touches in the background of this ale


Heather Ales: Grozet: Gooseberry and Wheat Ale (Scotland: Traditional Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Light lager style pour of a darkened yellow brown nature, with a small fizz head.

Nose: Tart gooseberries, cooked chicken. Quite musty. Sour grapes. Rhubarb crumble.

Body: Sour gooseberries, wheat chaff and grain. White wine and grapes. Greenery at the back.  Surprisingly sweet fruitiness and custard sweetness.

Finish: Gooseberries. Bitter and sour at the same time. Mustard trail that offsets a custard sweet touch.

Conclusion: Another moment of beer experiment madness, one which makes me realize that so called traditional ales were just as crazy as some of today’s innovative craft ales.

Now this beer does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin – gooseberries, oh and yes, wheat. In some ways it’s what I would imagine a gooseberry mead to taste like.

Similar to many other oddities of the beer world, its not one I will have often, but when I do return it will be to a mad joy of odd flavours. It’s a beer that makes you glad to have sought something a bit different.

A nice addition to a wheat ale gives it a definite life and spark that suits well a summers day. I must approve.

Background: Thanks to Dylan for the kind gift of this beer. After hearing of this representation of an old traditional style of beer from one of Michael Jackson’s books I had been looking for it for a while but never found it.  It turned up in the end as part of a gift pack given at Christmas, much to my joy, and it was drunk shortly after.

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