WILLIAMS BROTHERS BREWING COMPANY
Williams Brothers is a Scottish brewing company founded in 1988 by Bruce Williams in Taynult, Scotland. Their flagship beer is the Heather Ale which is an historic recipe. They also produce contemporary ales as well as historic Scottish ales using local ingredients like gooseberry and elderberry. This company is proud to produce traditional Scottish ales and they have grown to international status because of it.
- Alba Scots Pine Ale (86 Points)
- Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale (90 Points)
- Fraoch Heather Ale (90 Points)
- Grozet Gooseberry & Wheat Ale (78 Points)
- Kelpie Seaweed Ale (86 Points)
- Scottish Ginger (82 Points)
- Scottish Midnight Sun (91 Points)
ALBA SCOTS PINE ALE: 86 POINTS
This is a historic Scottish ale that was introduced by the Vikings and was very popular up to the end of the 19th Century. This ale is available in the U.S. in 11.2 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Alba is a “triple” style ale, brewed to a traditional Highland recipe using the sprigs of spruce and pine collected every spring. This complex rich tawny ale is best drunk at room temperature from a wine goblet.”
My Description: I drank this beer at approximately 60°F and that seemed to be a good temperature to give this review. This starts off with a decent white colored head but it fades away in about 5 minutes leaving a ring of foam that seemed to linger for some time. However, there was no lacing on the glass at any point. The aroma is mild with sweet and earthy notes. It almost surprised me that the aroma has sweet notes because I was expecting a wood/pine aroma; that must be where the spruce lends a role. Right after my first sip of the beer I had to put my glass down and really think about what flavors I just tasted. I finally figured out that it tastes very similar to rose water and I instantly went back for more. This is a sweet and complex taste that takes time to fully appreciate. The pine is very minimal but the spruce is apparent which is what reminds me of the rose water flavor. You will also pick up on alcohol notes but that doesn’t stop the ale from being smooth. It is best to drink this beer almost like you are drinking a glass of wine, nice and slow.
ABV: 7.5% Color: Light Brown Sweetness: 5.5/10 Bitterness: 1/10
EBULUM ELDERBERRY BLACK ALE: 90 Points
This is a historic Scottish ale that is brewed with a recipe from the 16th Century. It is brewed with elderberries which are high in fruit tannins and oils. It is available in the U.S. in 11.2 oz bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “It is a rich black ale with fruit aroma, soft texture, roasted grain and red wine flavour, with a gentle finish.”
My Description: This is a beer definitely worth its rating. It has a really nice beige colored head that lingers and produces streaks of lacing that seem to be stuck on the glass like an adhesive. This is a breath of fresh air considering the other historic ales that hardly have a head to brag about. The aroma has a strong roastiness smell with notes of berry and some minor alcoholic notes are present as well. You can definitely pick up on the roasted grain taste as well as the red wine flavors. If you let the beer sit on your lips and the tip of you tongue you will pick up on the elderberry which is nice and sweet. You will also pick up on the roasted malts and the minor taste of tobacco on the roof of your mouth and in the aftertaste. This is a very smooth and enjoyable beer; it will feel like you are drinking water when you swallow, it’s that gentle. It is a refreshing beer that is best served around 45°F. I would pair this beer with fish & chips or maybe a sausage platter.
ABV: 6.5% Color: Black Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 1/10
FRAOCH HEATHER ALE: 90 Points
This ale has been brewed in Scotland since 2000 B.C. “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.”
Brewer’s Description: “A light amber ale with floral peaty aroma, full malt character, a spicy herbal flavour and dry wine like finish.”
My Description: This is not similar to many other ales on the market, which means that it has to be really good to get people to try it and understand what they are drinking. I believe this beer has done just that. It starts with a very thin and sparse head that lingers for some time and produces a decent lace. The aroma is very mild with floral notes. The taste is where this beer shines. The initial taste you get as soon as it hits your lips is a strong floral flavor. The aftertaste is a little dry and malty which does actually resemble a white wine-like finish. If you hold this beer in your mouth for a second before swallowing you will pick up on some white wine flavors as well. This beer is medium bodied and very smooth. The flavors seem to blend perfectly together and if you are looking for something different and historic, I suggest this.
ABV: 5% Color: Gold Sweetness: 4/10 Bitterness: 1/10
GROZET GOOSEBERRY & WHEAT ALE: 78 Points
This ale is brewed with lager malt, wheat, bog myrtle, hops and meadowsweet then secondary fermented with ripe Scottish gooseberries. Recommended to be well chilled and served in a tall glass.
Brewer’s Description: “A pale golden beer, with a refreshing fruit aroma, clean palette, fruity wheat flavour and crisp finish. Recommended with, light foods, pastas and salads.”
My Description: This beer has almost no head at all with minor lacing. Something about these Williams Brother’s beer; they just doesn’t give a nice and fluffy head. The head of a beer isn’t going to make or break the beer but must be judged nonetheless because it is an important characteristic of a carbonated beverage. The aroma is nice and pleasant with sweet fruit notes accompanied by some yeast and candy like notes. This is a lighter bodied beer but the texture is not that smooth for a lager. However, it does produce a crisp and refreshing aftertaste that makes up for the initial disappointment. You will pick up on the gooseberry flavor here and there while drinking this beer which is nice. You don’t want an overpowering gooseberry flavor in this style of beer because it is not a dessert beer; this is a style of beer that invites you drink more than one and the flavor is just right to do so. It’s not my lager of choice, but if you are in the mood to try some gooseberry beer, this is a good one to try.
ABV: 5% Color: Gold Sweetness: 5/10 Bitterness: 4.5/10
KELPIE SEAWEED ALE: 86 Points
This is one of Williams Brother’s historic ales that is brewed by introducing local seaweed to the mash tun which is mashed in with the malted and roasted barley. Available in the U.S. in 11.2 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Kelpie is a rich chocolate ale which has an aroma of fresh sea breeze and a distinctive malty texture.”
My Description: With a beer this low in alcohol I don’t really see an excuse why the head is so thin and sparse. It lingers for a little bit and has a pretty beige color but not the head I was hoping for. Perhaps seaweed is a head killer but I am not that educated in seaweed. However, the aroma is refreshing with notes of chocolate and a little hint of earth and the ocean. This beer is light bodied and very smooth with a chocolate taste mixed in with some earth notes and a minor coffee aftertaste. More on the malty side; its roasty with some minor creaminess in the aftertaste as well. Hops are not apparent in this beer which is expected in Scottish ales. Right when you swallow this beer it gives you a very nice freshwater taste that lasts only for a millisecond or so but it makes you want to keep drinking to get that taste again. Definitely worth picking up for the enjoyment of a fresh and exotic type beer. You can get a bottle for $2-$3.
ABV: 4.4% Color: Dark Brown Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10
SCOTTISH GINGER: 82 Points
This beer is generally available year-round in 500 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “A traditional style ginger beer, made with a malt base, lashings of fresh ginger root, a touch of organic cane sugar, lemon juice & yeast… that’s it. Our ginger has a distinctly ‘beery’ taste without the bitterness of hops.”
My Description: If you don’t love ginger than you need to avoid this beer because this is a ginger bomb. I couldn’t even finish the bottle because it was just too much ginger. It has a weak head that also retains weakly leaving minimal lacing. The aroma has a huge ginger nose accompanied by a touch of lemon. The beer is lighter bodied with a higher carbonation level. No surprise, it has a big ginger taste throughout with some sweetness and some lemon flavors also. The finish is smooth and refreshing with a spice kick from the ginger. This beer wouldn’t be so bad if they just tuned down the ginger. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with sushi, light salads, or stir fry’s.
ABV: 3.8% Color: Straw Yellow Sweetness: 4/10 Bitterness: 1/10
SCOTTISH MIDNIGHT SUN: 91 Points
This dark porter is available year-round in 500 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “An instant classic: Our spiced porter, pours as black as the Midnight Sun and is created from a blend of malted barley, oats, roast barley, chocolate malt then balanced with a generous helping of hops. An after bite of fresh root ginger elevates this ale to another level. The flavours are as paradoxical as the name.”
My Description: This is nice porter to drink at any time of the year because it feels so airy and light. It has a pretty decent beige colored head that has sub-par retention. However, it does leave some good lacing. The aroma is very faint but you will notice a roasted malt scent accompanied by a minor hint of dark fruit and ginger. The beer is medium bodied and smooth but drinks like a lighter beer. At first taste you will get flavors of sweet honey and roasted coffee with some minor chocolate and dark fruit. I didn’t really pick up on the ginger that much but did get a hint of whiskey here and there. The finish is dry with an aftertaste that is slightly bitter but nothing overpowering. It’s a balanced beer that is well made. It is best served around 52°F and pairs nicely with grilled salmon, chicken sandwiches, or fish & chips.
ABV: 5.6% Color: Deep Dark Brown Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 3/10