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Kelpie Seaweed Ale - Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Kelpie Seaweed AleKelpie Seaweed Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

380 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 380
Reviews: 276
rAvg: 3.63
pDev: 13.77%

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

Style | ABV
Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale |  4.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
At least four hundred years ago, the coastal & Island farmers of Scotland used seaweed beds to grow their cereal crops. This barley produced very interesting flavors in the ale and whiskey they produced. Including bladderwrack seaweed in the mash tun along with organic barley gives this wholesome dark ale a distinctive flavor.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-18-2001)
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Ratings: 380 | Reviews: 276 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of ryan1788a5


3.48/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

500ml bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Very dark brown in color. Good clarity. Creamy tan head retains well enough. Thin rings of lacing.

S: Briny, salty, sea air, seaweed. Rich chocolatey undertones with backing flavors of brown bread, molasses, and toffee. Perhaps a suggestion of saltwater taffy.

T: Toffee, molasses, brown cocoa, brown bread. Treacle. Cola. Milk chocolate undertones. Steely/metallic. Saltiness builds, but it doesn't have the layered and nuanced flavors of the sea that the nose held. Slight sooty roast. Salt, cola, and cocoa on the finish.

M: Rather light in body. Very creamy and soft with a nice smoothness, but it lacks a little something and ultimately comes across as watery. Soft carbonation seems to knock itself out rather quickly.

O: The nose promised greater things. It falls a little flat, especially on the finish. Needs a little more body too.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2013 18:28:52 | More by ryan1788a5
Photo of burnstar


3.79/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark brown with a small head. Some lacing on the surface. Smell is very mild caramel malt. Taste is primarily a rounded caramel malt. Low sweetness. Underneath, but still fairly prominent, is what must be the seaweed. It's unlike anything I've ever had. Not at all unpleasant. Tastes like the ocean. Not salty at all... but then again, maybe there is a hint of it. Minerals. Makes me want to reread Innsmouth by Lovecraft- this is probably what they were drinking there. Or maybe rewatch the Wicker Man (the original). Low carbonation. Medium to light bodied. I think the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in this case. Maybe this is just good and not great, but it's a must try all the same.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2013 22:10:47 | More by burnstar
Photo of outdoor7or24


3.51/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle poured into sniffer, purchased at hop city in ATL for $4, exp date Oct 2013.
A: pours a dark reddish chocolate brown, one finger light khaki color foam head, some spotty lacing
S: malt, chocolate, some salty aroma, slight sweetness, hint of hops
M: light body, smooth, clean finish at the end
T: roasted malt, salty, chocolate, Cola, hint of hops
O: first time for a Scottish gruit brew, interesting flavor, would drink again, easy drinking dark ale

Serving type: bottle

09-23-2013 01:07:38 | More by outdoor7or24
Photo of Act25

New Jersey

3.7/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is dark walnut (near black) in color with translucent amber, fiery highlights, sporting a beige creamy head that doesnt last but does lace well.No carbonation visible.

S: Plenty of very good, inviting aromas of roasted, chocolaty malts along with something unknown but interesting, is it the notes of the seaweed? Intriguing, rustic, mysterious.

T: Follows the smell, the taste is dominated by chocolaty malts. Sweet, cola-like, hearty, grass and peat, and a bit smokey, but not much seaweed. Although it's probably the smokeiness.

M: Too light-bodied on the palate with a light carbonation. There is a slight amount of overall dryness. no real hop bitterness. Nice after dinner beer, nice session, and nice converational beer. Made me reach for some cheddar after dinner.

D: Great work preserving a one-of-a-kind tradition. I dont get seaweed, but I do get the smokey outdoors, and peat, so perhaps that's it. Gladly would have another.

I rank this "Must try!"

Serving type: bottle

09-04-2013 02:40:08 | More by Act25
Photo of TappaKeggaBrew


2.65/5  rDev -27%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A: Clear, but dark brown color doesn't let much light through. Head is just half a finger of golden blond foam that fades without leaving much lacing.

S: The toasty grain is there for sure, but what I notice most is the soy sauce and seaweed aroma, reminding me of something from a sushi restaurant more than a beer.

T: A little sweet malt and well-toasted grain balance each other early. Then the seaweed shows up with its smoky, briny flavors. It really isn't a good combination. Only by pairing it with some spicy food was I able to finish the glass without a lot of effort.

M: Thin, watery, and flat. Even most macrobrews are better on the palate.

O: Creativity in brewing is only a virtue when the result is enjoyable. This one tastes like an experiment, needing a few more attempts and adjustments to get it right.

Serving type: bottle

08-27-2013 00:37:06 | More by TappaKeggaBrew
Photo of Murrhey


2.4/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Poured from a standard pressure-cap 500ml bottle into a conic pint glass in high elevation Libby, Mont. Reviewed live.

A- Half-finger off-white head with low retention. Limited spotty lacing. Dark chocolate color, very little light permeates.

S- Caramel, toffee, funky-earthy smell. Slight salinity in the nose, along with a very distinct fun that must be the seaweed. Very hard to describe.

T- Earthy, slightly watery, funky. Caramel, toasted malts, some vegetation.

M- Very watery. Not a very nice feel.

O- Swing and a miss.

Serving type: bottle

05-14-2013 02:18:15 | More by Murrhey
Photo of schoolboy


3.76/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Alright, here is something very out of the ordinary for me. And unique works for me most of the time - this not being an exception.

It looks great in the glass with a firm head. The aroma is a typical English malty with a hint of freshness from herbs (seaweed?).

The flavor is lightly roasty, slightly bitter, a little bit herbal, all nicely balanced into a very palatable beverage. This was a cool treat.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2013 20:54:08 | More by schoolboy
Photo of Arborescence


3.9/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark, but not pitch black. Pours a nice, fairly creamy and persistent one finger head.

Aroma: Malty, but with some fresh & salty sea aromas. Somewhat mild aroma.

Taste: A little sharp at first, with a citrus-like bitterness. Quickly settles to a nice malty flavour though, with a salty aftertaste, probably due to the seaweed.

Mouthfeel: Quite thick and smooth, medium to heavy body.

Overall: This is an old acquaintance, one of the Scottish druid / ancient recipe ales that I quite like. For me, they deserve points for originality (even if the recipes are ancient!). Many contemporary attempts at herbed or spiced ales don't produce similar results.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2013 16:55:07 | More by Arborescence
Photo of seymourbottoms

2.1/5  rDev -42.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Ok, here it goes. Long-time crafty drinker, first-time reviewer.

Pours very dark and quite uneventful. Even with a heavy pour, there is minimal head and little more than a dense and dark looking brew here. Carbonation looks to be somewhat minimal, however will be addressed later.

Smell is not surprising with this style, so neither a disappointment or a surprise, just merely, and mostly, non-existent.

On to the taste. We have a beer that uses seaweed as its primary highlight and it shows here. This is definitely the saltiest beer that I have had, and the salt is well balanced. However, I get very minimal accompanying flavors. If you are into very straightforward taste in your beer, then this could pique your interest.

On to the only surprise that i had with this beer. While I saw very minimal head, and little signs of carbonation with this beer, it does have quite a bit of soda-like carbonation on the tongue while drinking. Still a relatively light feel, and somehow it reminded me of drinking a coke if i took all of the sugars out and replaced it with a bit of salt.

There it is... my personal breakdown of this somewhat mediocre beer. At least in this advocate's eyes.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2013 02:26:17 | More by seymourbottoms
Photo of flyingpig

United Kingdom (Scotland)

2.38/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Dark brown in colour with an almost black look to it and a lively looking body. There is a thin, centimetre tall head on top that is an off white colour and settles to a patchy lacing after a few seconds.

Almost nothing in the way of an aroma here when I first smelt it. There is some roasted malts and a hint of chocolate along with a faint stout like aroma. There is also a smell similar to miso soup as well but none of the smells are strong ones.

Basic in taste as well with some basic dark malts and a hint of chocolate along with that same basic stout characteristic. It does seem a lot stronger than the 4.4% mentioned on the bottle though.

Light medium bodied with an alcohol laced flavour and medium carbonation. There is a slightly gassy feel to the beer as well.

A rather poor beer for me here, it was far too light on the nose and tasted with a cheap stout mixed with salt water. Nothing about this one really appealed to me and it won't be one I'll have again.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2012 14:35:03 | More by flyingpig
Photo of M_C_Hampton


3.45/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: poured from 330 ml bottle ( bbd Nov 12) into pint glass, dark brown almost black with a thin tan head that immediately vanished leaving little lacing, clear
S: dark roasted malt, salty smell, molasses
T: sweet malt up front with a little ocean type flavor that peeks through, some hops towards the end, subtle flavor
M: thin but finishes clean, light carbonation
O: kind of a novelty to have seaweed flavored beer, interesting revival of an old style, an average beer overall

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2012 00:51:45 | More by M_C_Hampton
Photo of TheHammer

Ontario (Canada)

3.9/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A black porter body with slight red notes that produced a finger of head the made modest lacing but retained itself up until the bitter end.

Smell: Mild chocolate stout with a slight hazelnut touch upfront, with a touch of peat and that kind seaweed you get in miso soup in the background. Warming helps bring out the chocolate and hides the seaweed. A little bit subdued though.

Taste: Starts with a salty seaweed with a light chocolate that builds up with the well roasted malt that finishes the way it started. I would stress that there is something unique to this one that reigns in the burnt taste you often get with porters and that makes this one very mild.

Mouthfeel: That light touch of seaweed leaves a little bit of a salty note, which is very peculiar to experience with beer. However the smooth transitioning, creamy carbonation and generally mild ride more then makes up for it.

Drinkability: Somewhere between light and medium bodied that sits down incredibly well. A very mild porter, but by no means one that is lacking in flavour or interesting characteristics. Except for that slight salt note, I could drink this all night.

Final Thoughts: An exceptionally well done beer that leaves me asking, why don't more brewers use various herbs in their beer? I can only guess that it's probably hard to get the right balance, however this brewery seems to have nailed it. You really can't go wrong with any of the beers in their Historic Ales of Scotland pack, and if you haven't given them a try and are still reading this, take this advice and seek it out.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2012 02:12:47 | More by TheHammer
Photo of secondtooth


3.93/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This unique and inventive Scottish ale pours black, with ruby highlights. Light carbonation and almost no lace.

Nose is chocolate and roast. I also get some booziness, although this one is only 4.4%. Odd.

Taste is sweet and roasty, like a good session-worthy porter, and with a light body. There's a slight brininess in there, but it's quite subtle, as the chocolate maltiness and dark roasty qualities come to the fore. A solid and enjoyable ale.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2012 12:31:52 | More by secondtooth
Photo of GarthDanielson

North Carolina

3.9/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer is a dark, deep, ruby highlighted dark brown coloring with no head. Aromas of toffee and nut, with some earthy highlights. The nose leans towards a malt bomb of a beer. We shall see. Flavors are a bit more earthy than the nose lets on, with a rich, nut and toffee sweetness forming the backbone. Green, gritty highlights and a touch of brine keeps the brew somewhat light despite the heavy malt characteristics. Smooth and clean in mouth, the beer has a slightly tangy sweet and roasted aftertaste. Light, clean finish. Heavy flavors for such a light ABV, making this surprisingly drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2012 00:43:10 | More by GarthDanielson
Photo of engisch

New Jersey

3.23/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a very dark brown color with a light tan head. Smell is mostly of malt with a fair amount of roastiness and caramel sweetness.

Flavor is sweet with an unexpectedly thin body. Light carbonation. Has an interesting back flavor that I imagine is the seaweed.

Interesting, but not overly exciting. I'd suggest only trying this if you are intrigued by the seaweed ingredient. Otherwise there is not much value to this beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-26-2012 23:06:41 | More by engisch
Photo of Maxwell


3.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a dark, dark brown that is pretty much black chocolate. There is a nice but uneven finger width head the color of cream with a hint of coffee. The head dwindles down to a slight half-finger width and slowly dissipates leaving a thin outlining of lacing. There does seem to be some good carbonation hiding in the blackness of this beer. The beer smells rich with chocolate malts and salt with an oh-so-slight brine tingle. The beer tastes slightly smoky with peat malts and chocolate. There is also a definite oceanic tint to this beers flavor with slight hints of salt and I assume the seaweed. It is a very interesting taste and actually quite pleasant, like a sea salt chocolate beer. The mouthfeel is very thin and watery, mildly reminiscent of the ocean, though that may be because I am thinking seaweed… While its thinness is a little disappointing, it makes the drink quite drinkable. The after taste leaves a weird lightly brine-like taste while leaving the mouth clean yet slimy, if that makes any sense. Overall this is not a terrible beer. The mouthfeel is definitely off but the taste is unique and refreshing which definitely makes up for it. It is more of a sipper than other beers though, despite its weak mouthfeel. This beer is worth a try if for nothing else than the fact that it has seaweed in it which is weird and different.

Serving type: bottle

07-26-2012 00:17:29 | More by Maxwell
Photo of jazzyjeff13

United Kingdom (England)

3.68/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 500ml bottle with a BB of Aug 2012. Given to me for my birthday last year, so I've been sitting on it for a while. The label mentions that this ale includes bladder wrack seaweed in the mash.

Poured into a tulip pint glass. A deep reddish-brown hue with medium carbonation. Yields a decent head of creamy tan foam that lasts for a few minutes before collapsing to a surface layer. A sweetish aroma of chocolate malt with hints of caramel, dried fruit, ale yeast and a touch of brine in the background.

Tastes of chocolate malt with a dry, faintly salty finish. A slight, lingering sweetness. Notes of dark grainy malt, caramel, hints of dried fruit, faint yeast and a subtle briny quality. Dry upon swallowing, with virtually no bitterness. Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, with good body and a mild 'salty' sensation. Lightly astringent. Aftertaste of chocolate malt with a hint of the sea.

An unusual brew, but goes down nicely. Could be described as oyster stout for vegetarians. The aroma has a distinct chocolate note that is rather pleasing, while the flavour is balanced but a tad less substantial. Lies somewhere between a brown ale and a porter, with plenty of dark malt character. The seaweed doesn't exactly come through, but it possesses a mild salty twist. Tasty, and well worth trying.

Serving type: bottle

07-16-2012 22:32:31 | More by jazzyjeff13
Photo of shand


3.95/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16.9oz bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

This beer pouts out brown with a small, off-white head. The aroma is rich with caramel malts and chocolate. The taste isn't nearly as strange as I expected, this is just a solid English style brown with just a bit of salt on the end, probably from the seaweed. It's a robustly malty ale otherwise, with a touch of chocolate flavors that work well with the salt. The mouthfeel is light and moderately carbonated, and the drinkability is very good. Overall, this is a solid brown ale made ever so slightly interesting with the touch of salt.

Serving type: bottle

06-18-2012 16:50:16 | More by shand
Photo of DaveBlack


2.75/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.5

A: Much darker than I was expecting, but almost no head and some very moderate lacing.

S: Big maltiness on the nose, and not much else. Chocolaty, but not a whole lot else going on.

T: Tastes like a watered down brown ale. Some of the chocolate flavor on the palate, as well as a slight brininess. Kind of a boring tasting beer.

M: This is one of the few times that a beer's body makes it much, much worse than it would be otherwise. There is almost no body, it is incredibly watery.

O: I would never seek this beer out again, I find that the utter lack of body is incredibly off-putting, and the flavor is utterly nondescript. Just a boring, mediocre beer with no body.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2012 00:41:50 | More by DaveBlack


3.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle.Tripel Karmeliet Oversized Chalice.Enjoyed on jul´11.Dark copper color,dark amber to the light.Yeast in suspension. Light beige froth.Close & dense crown.Good retention.Roasted malt, chocolate & subtle seaweed aromas.Floral notes.Dark fruit,dark malt flavors & smooth bitterness,mildy peppery touch.Full body,low carbonation.Toasted malt finish.Hints of coffee on the aftertaste.Easy drinkability.Fried seafood pairing.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2012 00:02:12 | More by GONZALOYANNA
Photo of flagmantho


4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 500mL bottle into a pint glass. Bottle says best by July 2012.

Appearance: rich dark hue which lets some ruby highlights through. Head pours a finger of frothy tan foam -- looks rather like a porter.

Smell: rich, chocolatey aroma with a light, indescribable herb component; this must be the seaweed, though it is not readily identifiable as such. I really like it: chocolatey but smooth, not bitter.

Taste: light, smooth chocolatey flavor which maintains its taste all the way through the palate. I find the aftertaste smooth, creamy and chocolatey; I would never guess there was seaweed in this. I find it flavorful and satisfying.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a wonderfully silky texture; good carbonation adds a creaminess which is very complementary. I love it.

Overall: this beer really surprised me. To me, it is just a really wonderful porter. Whatever the seaweed is doing is right; given the chance, I could quaff flagons of this stuff.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2012 15:29:11 | More by flagmantho
Photo of puboflyons

New Hampshire

4.1/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the 500 ml. bottle stamped Aug 2012. Sampled on March 24, 2012. This is my 900th Beer Advocate review and I think I picked a pretty good one to celebrate it. The pour is a gorgeous dark ruby red brown with a moderate head. The aroma is wonderfully robust with dark smoky roasted malts, something akin to prunes, and something like molasses. It almost reminds me of a sweet porter. The body is medium to bold. The taste is also smoky goodness, a bit of chocolate, and a moderate bitterness.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2012 00:37:29 | More by puboflyons
Photo of NoLeafClover44


3.45/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle poured into standard pint glass. Best before July 2012. Ingredients: Malted Barley Bree, Hops, and Seaweed. I'm intrigued.

A - Pours a very dark, deep mahogany color with ruby highlights. A one finger cream colored head that dies to a halo. Not much lacing.

S - Smells strongly of toasted malt and barley. I don't get any hints of seaweed.

T - Taste is a bit unexpected based on the nose. Starts with a slightly tart, almost salty flavor that I attribute to the seaweed. The barley is apparent on the finish. Aftertaste is mostly toasted malts.

M - Pretty low carbonation and a medium feel. Comes off a bit watery to me.

O - My girlfriend bought me this beer because it looked unique. The flavors are strange, but not unpleasant. It was worth trying, but I probably won't get it again.

Serving type: bottle

03-19-2012 01:47:45 | More by NoLeafClover44
Photo of CAMRAhardliner

Ontario (Canada)

4.05/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It was cool to see this in the Scottish Ales sampler instead of Grozet. Pours a clear dark mahogany with a whispy short lived head that musters a good amount of lace. The aroma is malty and nearly smokey with a good amount of sea air. The taste is of chocolate malts, roasted malts, chicory and some faint salt in the back. I cant detect any specific 'seaweed' flavors. Hops are quite restrained. The mouthfeel is relatively light with a prickly carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2012 23:14:42 | More by CAMRAhardliner
Photo of scarfield


3.43/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

App- Pours Dark with some red tones, looks much like a dark cola as you pour it, with a bit of a fizzy head. Minimal lacing.

Smell- Roasted Malt, restrained. Nothing that stands out too much, a bit of earthiness there as well.

Taste- Earthiness is the best way to describe it. A bit of roasted flavor comes through at the back end. Not much in the way of bitterness. Hard to taste any "seaweed" but there is a good brown ale here with a bit of mineral or earthy taste.

MF- Balanced, smooth, and the fizziness of the pour has gone away leaving a thin film for a head. On the dry side.

Overall- A pretty good beer, seaweed may be more of a marketing tool than anything else, but the backbone is a good brown ale.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2012 01:35:09 | More by scarfield
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Kelpie Seaweed Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 380 ratings.