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Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale - Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Ebulum Elderberry Black AleEbulum Elderberry Black Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

464 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 464
Reviews: 354
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 11.61%

Brewed by:
Williams Brothers Brewing Company visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Introduced to Scotland by Welsh druids in the 9th Century, elderberry black ale was part of the Celtic Autumn festivals when the "elders" would make this strong ale and pass the drink round the people of the village. The recipe was taken from a 16th Century record of domestic drinking in the Scottish Highlands. Elderberries were used for many natural remedies to cure sciatica, other forms of neuralgia, influenza and rhumatism as they contain tannins and fruit oils. Ebulum is made from roasted oats, barley and wheat boiled with herbs then fermented with ripe elderberries.

(Beer added by: Mitchster on 09-18-2001)
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Ratings: 464 | Reviews: 354 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of DenisKolkin

Ontario (Canada)

3.81/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up as part of the Williams Brothers taster's pack. Haven't seen this pack before or in any visit since, but was very intrigued. First gruit for me. Served cool

Appearance - Dark brown and opaque. 1/2 finger of tan head that dissipates pretty quick leaving a small amount of soapy deliciousness on top.

Smell - Slight fruitiness, hard to identify (since I don;t have much if any experience with elderberry). Also some grain aromas that are subdued. While it comes together nicely there is not a single dominant aroma here.

Taste - Slightly fruity, lightly bitter. malty backbone is present as well. Again the elderberry is hard to pick out. the flavors become more intense (especially of dark wild fruits) as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel - Light bodied, despite its appearance, low carbonation and very soft on the mouth and palate.

Overall- Drinks very light and has some interesting flavors going on. A worthwhile foray into the gruit field.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2013 04:50:44 | More by DenisKolkin
Photo of dbrauneis

North Carolina

3.91/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a clear and opaque black in color with very light amounts of gentle visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and a hint of cola brown highlights. The beer has a finger thick foamy light tan head that reduces to a large patch of thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of elderberries and anise/licorice over lighter aromas of roasted malts.

T: Upfront there are light flavors of roasted malts with light flavors of anise/licorice. Hints of herbal notes as well. Minimal amounts of bitterness in the finish.

M: Medium bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: This is a real interesting beer and one that I would definitely have again - interesting combination of aromas and flavors with well hidden alcohol.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2013 03:26:24 | More by dbrauneis
Photo of Tone


3.29/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a black color. 1/3 inch head of an off-tan color. Decent retention and decent lacing. Smells of sweet malt, slight alcohol, hint of grass, hint of citrus, and hint of dry hops. Fits the style of a Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with a low carbonation level. There is also a noticeable dryness. Tastes of sweet malt, citrus, slight alcohol, hint of dry hop, hint of grass, and a syrupy sweetness. Overall, interesting beer that was pungent at first, mellowed by the finish.

Serving type: bottle

09-09-2013 19:33:28 | More by Tone
Photo of mick303

Ontario (Canada)

3.76/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured a dark tarry brown colour, with a copious amount of creamy tan, tight bubbled head. Excellent solid lacing and retention. 4

S – some definite herbally elderberry character, heavier coffee earthy and caramel tones, dark malts come through. A sort of mulled berry, winey character which really drives the aroma, dominating. 3.5

T – a dry vineous character, strong herbal notes with tart berries and plummy dark fruit character, and then a bit of jammy sweetness toward the finish. Finish is abrupt and dry, with a mild roast malt note in the aftertaste . A flavor of rich dark fruity balanced with a light body makes for an interesting and also sessionable fruity ale. Could be improved if the berry fruitiness didn’t dominate so much. 3.75

M – a light fruity vineous character. Drying on finish with quite a low carbonation and a smooth winey character. Quite a tasty refreshing brew actually with a hint of tartness toward the end. 3.75

A fruit-forward, dry, and herbally black ale. A bit cloyingly dry at the finish. A bit off balanced, but this was certainly an enjoyable elderberry beer, showing off a good enjoyable ancient ale. 4

Serving type: bottle

08-17-2013 02:56:51 | More by mick303
Photo of sfprint


3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Exp 11/2013
A: a very dark, not so carbonated cola with basically no head.
S:Dark roasted malt, like coffee grounds, toffee, chocolate
T: I don't detect the elderberry, but it's a nice dark ale, not so unlike some german rauchbiers. There is a sort of herbal finish, but not elderberry. Chocolately malt. Slightly sour.
M: slightly drying with a medium body
O: Pretty good dark ale.

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2013 00:12:52 | More by sfprint
Photo of guityler83


3.05/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown to purpleish apperance with hints of ruby red shining through when back lit. Half finger of quickly receding head in a tan kahki color.

S: Molasis and dark candy sugar at first impression. A wave of berries (raspberrys, sour cherry and blackberry). a bit of an alcohol aroma along with figs and raisins as it warms up.

T: A dull tart berry flavor hits first followed by a smokey buscuit malt character. There is a sweetness in the finish, but it plays nicely with the apperant bitterness that I over looked in the beggining. No alcohol flavor that I expected from the aroma.. must have been the dark fruits.

M: light carbonation and medium body. A bit of lingering astringancy

O: This bottles drink by date was 2 years past when I cracked it open so this probably isn't the best review. I think the dull / stale flavors I was getting was a dirrect result. Had it been fresh I think this would have been alot better.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2013 00:02:57 | More by guityler83
Photo of secondtooth


3.6/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours pretty well black, with only slight carbonation. No lace at all.

Aroma is roasty -- actually very stout-like with some definite fruit notes.

Tastes just as roasty and fruity, with tones of chocolate, raisins, dried berry, and an unusual herbal tone. A curious melding of a roasty stout and a fruit ale, this one is well worthy of a try.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2013 12:47:35 | More by secondtooth
Photo of thecheapies


3.69/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Best before APR 2012. Eesh. Let's ride this one out.

Ruby-black with a tan head of almost three fingers' height. Can't speak intelligently about gruits, in general. Looks like an enjoyable beverage. Good head retention and sporting some lacing. Can't complain over here.

Black patent malt, along with dark fruits, raisin, cocoa, seawater, and generous malt. Light black cherry. Not much that's particularly definable.

Burnt toffee, molasses, dry roasty grain, nuttiness, cocoa, and hints of raisin and other dried fruits. Nearly peaty. Some notes of Port. Leftover sugars are reminiscently wort-y. Best synopsis: a fruity Guinness.

A little gummy. Not terribly carbonated. Not that it's flagrantly under-carbonated, either. Just showy in texture. Body doesn't have that slick and thick oomph to it, either. Just kind of sips (and trips) along.

Sure. I'll use it as the comparison. Seems like it is what it's intended to be. Doesn't knock my fastball out of the park, but I'm happy Ebulum reached base.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2013 02:51:47 | More by thecheapies
Photo of chinchill

South Carolina

3.4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured from an 11.2oz bottle with a best by date of May 2013 into a snifter. The beer is clear but black, with a very thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass. Some deep red highlights under bright light. The aroma features berries, elderberry with hints of blueberry, faint malts, alcohol and a hint of hops. The taste has a much more solid dark malt base but the berries are still fairly prominent. A bit of peat and smoke in the finish. A touch of dark chocolate too. The after-taste is bitter-sweet with hints of smoke and coffee.

M: Smooth, medium-full body; near medium carbonation.

O: Rich and unusual flavor. Carries the aura of an ancient ale.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2013 02:13:34 | More by chinchill
Photo of Rutager

British Columbia (Canada)

3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Yay, Gruit Day is almost over!!! What a shit holiday this turned out to be...

Appearance. Pours a very deep brown, close to black with just a little brown light coming through at the edges of the glass. Capped with half a finger of light tan head.

Smell. Honey, grainy dark malts, some dark berries and a bit of molasses.

Taste. Dark malts and raisins, some dark chocolate and dark fruits and berries.

Mouthfeel. Medium+ body, medium carbonation.

Overall. Probably the best from this Wiliams Bros. gruit mixed-4. Like I said, I'm happy Gruit Day is over. Not exactly my style of beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2013 03:52:33 | More by Rutager
Photo of Seanniek91

Rhode Island

4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Served from a 12oz bottle into a Newport Storm Glass.

Appearance- Nice dark purple/black color. No head. Very mild lacing around the top. Pretty standard looking black ale.

Smell- Cherry/elderberry. Sweet smelling. Don't quite know about this... Nice malty notes, with no hops.

Taste- Stone fruit. Not sweet and not fake tasting. Malty, not hoppy. A little earthy/smokiness. Nice aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Nicely carbonated. Not viscous. Rather smooth.

Overall- Not bad. Worth the single price I paid for it. Actually would be nice in the summer.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2013 03:57:06 | More by Seanniek91
Photo of andrenaline

Ontario (Canada)

3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another selection from the Scottish ales mixer from the LCBO.

A - Pours a nice dark ruby red colour, finger of mocha head with little retention and no real lacing.

S - Scent is mild but dominated by fruity notes, hints of burnt cocoa, subtle chocolate and peppery spice.

T - Flavour boasts nice chocolate notes, burnt cocoa, hints of dark fruit, subtle cherry notes and a touch of peppery spice on the finish.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and wet.

O - A unique and tasty brew that had a decent flavour profile and was easy drinking. Probably my favourite of the series, and glad I saved it for last.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2012 21:56:49 | More by andrenaline
Photo of thehyperduck

Ontario (Canada)

3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

330 mL bottle from the LCBO; best before Feb 2014. Fruit beers are rarely up my alley, but I must admit, the thought of combining elderberries and roasted malts piques my interest as a potentially interesting mix of flavours.

Pours an opaque black colour, topped at first with two fingers of thick, creamy, light tan-coloured head. Good retention; it leaves a coating of lacing behind on the sides of the glass as it gradually recedes over the next five minutes, resulting in an even, foamy cap on the surface. Pleasant aroma of toasted, bready malts and molasses, alongside some leafy, herbal notes. There is also some fruity undertones from the elderberries; definitely a nice bouquet that deepens as the beer warms.

Roasted malts and chocolate sweetness start us off, leading into some dark fruit notes - maybe plums, technically elderberry if you insist on specificity. Very herbal, almost spicy feel toward the finish, with perhaps a hint of coffee grounds and licorice. Dry, herbal finish that clings to the palate in the fierce, lingering aftertaste. Bittersweet overall; intense, but nice and balanced. Medium-bodied, a little syrupy as it warms, and although it's not really boozy it's still pleasantly warming. Very drinkable; in fact I finished the bottle before I submitted the review (a rarity for me).

Final Grade: 3.98, an excellent B+. Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale is one fruit beer I wouldn't mind having another glass of. I often find fruit beers to be one-dimensional at best, and barely beer-like at worst - but this particular offering has proven to me that when combined with some spice and a decent dark ale base, they have the potential to become much more interesting concoctions. I am now halfway through this brewery's 4-pack sampler, and Ebulum is the second brew to earn an enthusiastic thumbs up.

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2012 21:17:42 | More by thehyperduck
Photo of smalenberg


3.2/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark as a porter, but with a slight reddish cast to the primarily brown ring of foam that forms as you pour. Minimal head.

S - Fruity sweetness of the elderberry is complemented by rich malt with a hint of chocolate.

T - Surprisingly bitter. If you come to this beer expecting something sweet, you may be disappointed. This does not have the fruitiness you might find in a dessert beer or a something like a lambic. Seems like the use of a black patent or chocolate malt has subdued the elderberry.

M - Biting quality from the bitterness and carbonation gives way to smoother than expected, pleasing mouthfeel.

O - The flavor is good, but it is more reminiscent of a dry stout than a fruit beer. You never know what to expect with a specialty, historic style, but with fruit mentioned so prominently on the label, I wanted to taste it more.

Serving type: bottle

09-23-2012 20:27:04 | More by smalenberg
Photo of LiquidAmber


4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Review from 5/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours black with a thin tan head and light lacing. Toasty and dark malt aroma. Odd flavor transition. Stout-like dark malts and dark fruits up front then a dry vinous middle and then light stout with a strong elderberry flavor and moderate chocolate in the finish. Well balanced. Flavors are a bit thin, but still very interesting. Worth a revisit

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2012 20:43:04 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of superspak


3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

330 ml bottle into tulip glass, best by June 2012. Pours fairly pitch black color with a nice fairly dense 1-2 finger khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Some decent spotty lacing clings to the glass. Aromas of elderberry, roasted malt, toast, biscuit, chocolate, herbal, molasses, earth, and light spiciness. Pretty nice aromas with good balance and complexity; but are a bit weak. Taste of chocolate, elderberry, roasted malt, toast, molasses, bread, herbal, floral, earth, light coffee, and light spiciness. No bitterness noticed on the finish; with lingering notes of fruitiness, chocolate, toast, roasted malt, herbal, and light spiciness on the finish for a short bit. Good flavor balance and complexity; with a good amount of robustness and minimal cloying sweetness. Medium carbonation and body; with a lightly creamy mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very good ancient ale style. Good amount of fairly robust and balanced flavors; very smooth to drink. Very pleasant and enjoyable stuff.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2012 06:17:49 | More by superspak
Photo of TheSevenDuffs

Ontario (Canada)

3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Best Before May 2013.

A - Poured very dark brown and settled black. Very small amount of head that completely disappeared.

S - Chocolate, roasted malts and some brown sugar sweetness. Not much bitterness present.

T - Roasted malts up front with some chocolate and oatmeal. A sweetness in the middle that has some lighter molasses notes and a slight tartness/bitterness that might be from the elderberry. Finish is dry and tart.

M - Light body with somewhat heavy carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

07-07-2012 00:44:33 | More by TheSevenDuffs
Photo of engisch

New Jersey

3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black ale... It's black, but if you put it up to a bright light you'll see a black ruby hue. Head dissipates to nothing rather quickly.

Smell is of fruity esters and malts. Little tangy scent.

Flavor is sweet with some berry flavor. This is followed up by a slight bit of roastiness. The fruitiness comes out more as it warms up.

Mouthfeel is light bodied. Overall an interesting historic beer. Tasty and intriguing but nothing too exceptional.

Serving type: bottle

07-05-2012 01:59:25 | More by engisch
Photo of Groulxsome

Ontario (Canada)

4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: It's a black ale, but on the lighter side of black. It's clear, so around the edges some ruby caramel colour (almost like a cola) can be detected. The head was quick to dissipate into a slight ring around the sides.

Smell: I'm getting some sweetness, a lot of dark fruit (more like the dark fruit notes from a wine), some vanilla and lots of roasted malt.

Taste: The sweetness comes first. Somewhat like brown sugar, roasted grains, and a little chocolate and coffee. After that there is a notable bog myrtle, herbal note, something almost like vanilla coke. The elderberry is a slight note somewhere in the middle. Almost like a dried cranberry taste which rounds out the body. The finish is slightly bitter, but the dry myrtle is more pungent than the hops, leaving a pleasant dry sensation.

Mouthfeel: Light carbonation and fairly light bodied. I get some of the softness from the oat component, but it's a little underwhelming in this department. Very little in the way of alcohol burn for a 6.5% beer, the myrtle seems to hold over here too.

Overall: I'd take this beer over many standard dark/black craft ales any day, but it has some flaws. There is a lot going on the the flavour that I love (I'm a myrtle junkie), but the appearance and the mouthfeel are just underwhelming. I'd drink this everyday if it wasn't something that was so hard to find. As hard-to-find beers go, however, unless you need a hit of myrtle or want to try something a little different, this might not hit the spot.

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2012 02:53:21 | More by Groulxsome
Photo of kylehay2004


3.63/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: just over a three finger off white head with so so retention on a deep brown body with decent light getting through.

S: cherry/dark fruit note behind a vanilla, chocolate, roasted malt and toffee body.

T: Roasted malts, very light brown sugar and mild chocolate up front. Finish lingers and is oily with mostly chocolate and dark fruit sweetness.

M: lighter body than I was expecting. moderate carbonation.

Overall: a little bland. This is the first I have had of the genre so I had no expectation. Its drinkable but the aftertaste may offend some.

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2012 01:11:04 | More by kylehay2004
Photo of ONUMello


3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Pours a very dark brown with a very thin head that disappears in no time. Tons of carbonation. Almost looks more like a Coke than a beer.
S: Lots of dark roasted malt, some coffee, cocoa and some toasted oak.
T: Roasted malt, coffee, a bit of molasses but rounded out by a sour/bitterness (maybe from the elderberries?) that seems out of place.
M: Medium weight yet a bit watery in texture. Lots of carbonation.
O: I think this is my first beer of this style and I would be interested to try more. This particular example is good but not great.

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2012 04:16:13 | More by ONUMello
Photo of NV9

Ontario (Canada)

2.6/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Dark beer with a good 2 inch head, a slight redness, can't see through it.

Mossy smell with a bit of a stale fruit note along with it, the smell was potent but off-putting to me.

Tasteis dominated by a roasted flavour, hint of coffee. then the berry flavour and lots of malt.

Medium bodied, creamy feel, I agree with the review that said the elderberry actually does more harm than good to the flabour, but at the same time, it's the gimmick that drew me in, so....

Probably won't go for this again, but it was different and a nice change.

Serving type: bottle

05-26-2012 16:27:24 | More by NV9


3.63/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle. Pint glass. Enjoyed on dec´11. Dark mahogany in color, ruby hues to the light. Quickly dissipated head. Notes of forest & chocolate to the nose. Toasted malt upfront, coffee hints. Smooth palate, low bitterness. Medium body, medium/high carbonation. Dry finish. Dark fruit infusion-like on the aftertaste. Very good option in winter days. Easy drinkability.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2012 18:18:40 | More by GONZALOYANNA
Photo of wvsabbath

West Virginia

3.15/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark tan/black trance. Very minimal head and lacing. Looks like a coke.

Smell - Roasted malts, bacon?, spices and herbs. nut, berries, fruits like rasin and plum. Some sugars, a little cola aroma also. Intresting.

Taste - Huge spice and herb mixed with some malts and berries. Added sugars and a sweet, cola flavor comes in. Some hops are barely present, as is alcohol. Has a nutty flavor and even a little pepper kick. Odd and different.

Mouthfeel - Big bitter, earthy spice hits the tounge. Palette gets more spices, malts and berries. Aftertaste is bitter spices, fruits and malts.

Overall - Not my style for sure. The berry flavor is very mild and not the featured flavor, seems like spices, herbs and malts are the main flavor. Spices add a odd bold flavor, kinda like when you add herbs to a meal, and the top of shaker falls off and the whole container falls in the food and you try to scrape away as much as you can, but its still to much. Not for me, was expecting more berry flavor.

Serving type: bottle

03-27-2012 23:11:50 | More by wvsabbath
Photo of GallowsThief


3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured out of a bottle into a bulb glass.

A – Poured out a purple/brown color with a small half finger of tan head that receded to a think cap and left very little lacing.

S – Pick up some mocha and chocolate. Dark fruit with a wine like scent. Sweet.

T – Starts off with a nice but somewhat mild roasted taste. Definite chocolate and mocha flavors but not overly sweet. Just enough in my opinion. Soft fruit flavors that I am assuming are the elderberry but since I have not had an elderberry who knows!

M – Nice and creamy though it does seem a bit on the thin side. Light bodied and average carbonation.

O – Very smooth and easy drinker with some flavor that makes it appealing. My wife loved this one. My first Williams Bros beer and Im looking forward to more.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2012 00:14:39 | More by GallowsThief
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Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 464 ratings.