Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

very good
365 Reviews
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Ebulum Elderberry Black AleEbulum Elderberry Black Ale

Brewed by:
Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

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.

Added by Mitchster on 09-18-2001

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Reviews: 365 | Ratings: 535
Photo of PapaEugene
4.67/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought this beer at the Bierkoning in Amsterdam after reading about it in the book of the Great Michael Jackson. Shared it with rvdoorn on our beer tasting evening.

A: Deep black color with a light brown head.

S: Roasted malts, Cacao, red fruits and some liquorice.

T: Liquorice stands out. Roasted malts, some coffee notes and red fruits.

M: Medium carbonation and a rather full body.

D: Great beer. A beer with a huge history and that still stands up very well between modern day brews. Will surely drink this again.

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Photo of StevieW
4.63/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz black brown bottle with black grey label. "Ebulum" in olde english script on the label.

Murky black color. Head was a dense explosive, beige pillow. Huge bubbles pop through. One of the more impressive visual beers I have seen. Think Imperial strout on the sweet side. Huge head left a foamy ring all the way down the glass. The smells were a rich, sweet combination of roasted plums, raisans, and elderberries. The elderberry tasted like an earthy roasted blueberry to me. Nice combination of fruit and carbonation make for an very tasty beer. Dark, rich, complex and full of flavors but very light bodied and nearly bubbly. A beer deserving of your attention. Highly recommended and very memorable. I was really impressed by this. A one of a kind fruit beer !

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Photo of Naerhu
4.61/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

As black as midnight at the bottom of the ocean. As frothy as a completely empty tea cup.

Complex and beautiful aroma. Dark roasted malts and (what a surprise) elderberries. This is all over the place, Sumi, cocoa, light berry flavors on this dry yummy beer. Focused bitterness, complex maltyness. A fruit beer with an stout or porter. Amazing. No trace of the big alcohol. Charred wood.

Although the flavor is not very juicey, the mouthfeel is extremely juicey.

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Photo of froggyfrog
4.57/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Williams Bros Brewing - Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale

Plucked from the cold room (which at this time of year in Pennsylvania could aptly be renamed the 'way too' cold room) in this midnight hour, this little Scottish import has got my interests sufficiently piqued. I found this bottle at Stateline Liquors in Maryland the last time I was there. I don't know anything about at all, other than what information the label has seen fit to share of course. This particular specimen is marked best before end Dec 2009 putting this sampling at nearly a full year in advance of that deadline.

Having given the bottle as much time as I am willing to warm, I set about prying the tartan cap from the neck. The crown pops off with a medium hiss and aromas of red wine begin to waft from the open bottle.

The beer is poured heartily into my gold-rimmed Belgian chalice. My senses tell me that a tulip would be the perfect glass for this beer, but as I am quite capable of doing I ignore completely this attempt of sensability to rule my actions.

The moniker 'Black ale' appears to be a suitable one. The beer in the chalice is not fully opaque, but is surely black. The liquid edges incorporate the more translucscent tones of gold and mahogany. The head is a finger-thick and the brown of eggshells.

Initially very much like a merlot or other deep red wine, the aroma of this beer is evolving with some alacrity as time passes. In the begining a round musty red wine aroma asserts the first impression. The progression away from the wine-like character has led to the sweeter aromas of caramels, currants and black cherry. There is an underlying malt character also with a nod toward sweetness and not roasted malts as one might expect.

A refined fruitiness from the ripe elderberries stakes out the foundation for the other flavors evident in this brew. Voilet or rose-like floral notes swim with herbal spices and those of dark fruits and sweet caramel syrup.

Moderate carbonation and a silkiness likely attributable to the use of oat malt combine to give this beer a gentle delivery. There are absolutely no traces of higher alchohols and the lingering earthy finish makes this brew a truly pleasing to sip.

Take your time with this one. This is not a beer of over-the-top flavors or aggressive characteristics. Instead it is a quiet sipper with a depth of complexity to please even the most jaded of beer enthusiasts.

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Photo of MrSeth
4.53/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter an opaque black with a 1/4" tan head. Lookin' good.

I expected a "fruity" nose, but this smells like an ALE for sure. Lots of roasty malt and chocolatey aromas along with plum-like elderberry wafts.

Wow, that's refreshing! I am very pleasantly surprised. Medium-heavy bodied, very wet mouthfeel, great condition. You get a grand tour of what an ale can be like. Imagine every great flavor you've ever had in an ale, rolling across your tongue.. with elderberries.. and there you have it.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.52/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is one hell of a good beer. It pours a near opaque black with a vanishing head and no lace to speak of. The aroma is of roasted cereals, chocolate malts, and a subtle berry fruityness. The taste is an excellent blend of roasted barley and thick malts and dark berry notes. Its like a fruit stout. The hop rate is low but good. The mouthfeel is chewy and thick with low carbonation. This finish is an excellent blend of black malts, hops and an understated berry flavor. The fruit isnt overpowering at all, and very natural tasting. A great beer from a very cool brewery.

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Photo of longarm
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Light tan, thick and creamy carbonation out of the bottle. Head doesnÂ’t fade and caps a very dark brew.

Fruity aromas mix with the smell of green branches, raspberries and dark chocolate.

Dark malts noticed, but not prominent or overwhelming. The malt creates a nice foundation and lends some complexity, but it also leaves plenty of room for the elderberry to make an important and flavorful contribution. A very well-balanced beer. No off-flavors.

Oh so smooth, with medium body and exceptionally clean finish.

Wow, I really like this beer. This brewery keeps pushing the edge with interesting and nearly forgotten recipes, and it continues to impress me. Give me a fridge full of this stuff!

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Photo of czfreeman
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours out a rich back color, topped by a creamy brown frothy head. Looks like a really good porter in apperance. Head is very nice, leaves lots of lacing.
Aromas of elderberries(duH) from the start, this adds ina blueberry-pomgranite sweet-tartness, roasted malts, light cocoa tones,black grapes. Smells really appealing.
Upon first sip, I am taken aback at how good this beer is. Soft red wine like notes, eledr/blueberrys, malty sweetness, less carbonation than expected, nice warming finish with a long lingering fruit-tartness lingering on the palate. This is really good.
I was facinated when I first read about Gruit, and have been anxious to try a really good version. Just thinking about drinking something that was passed around in ancient celebration of life is truly an enlightening experience.

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Photo of Hoppsbabo
4.48/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: Black body with an off-white head.
S: Smokey and vinous. In fact cider-like. Interesting.
T: Hmm, very nice. Doesn't reflect the nose at all though. Plummy, with that Belgian bubblegum quality. Reminds me of St Bernardus 12, but without that crappy bitter malt backbone. A bit of liquorice. Just on the right side of medium sweet.
O: Fucking delicious.

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Photo of Gagnonsux
4.47/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Almost pitch black in color. Head is tan colored and fairly creamy.

Smell- This aroma of Ebulum is excellant. Dark berry smells are immediately apparent, which then give way to a dark, roasted malt aroma. Chocolate is definently noted.

Taste- Taste is strongly of chocolatey roasted malts. Dark berries are subtle throughout a sip, giving the beer a little twang. Finish has a mild lingering sweetness.

M.F./Drinkability- This has that nice roasted feel on the palate. This goes down incredably easy, and is something I will want to drink many, many more times in my life. The only downside is that this style very filling. In my opinion this is a world class brew.

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Photo of Imbiber
4.45/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

From a bottle with one month left to expiry.

Dark ruby with a fair head that subsides fairly quickly but remains there on a minimal basis. Aroma is pleasantly vinous. Taste is slick and smooth, a distinct fruitiness evident which imparts some sweetness. That same vine fruit richness as you would find in a hearty christmas pudding is detectable in small quantities. Very easy to drink, especially as the carbonation is low. Finish is fruity and quite dry.

A bold beer to a historic recipe that is top quality.

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Photo of pmcadamis
4.44/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - This one is WAY more dark than I expected. It's almost like a blackberry juice stain on a white T-shirt: reddish-black-purple with no trace of light coming through. The head is minimal, but it's a frothy white-chocolate thing, although it reduces to a wispy haze within the span of a few minutes. Lacing is sporadic at best, and only a few spots are left on the snifter after a swirl.

S - This smells like a porter to me. I know that its supposed to be an ancient replica of an old tyme brew, but it really smells like a lightly chocolaty porter. There are gentle creamed coffee notes with what I would describe as blueberry, since I have no idea what the hell an elderberry smells like. It smells really friggin' good though! Tootsie rolls, mild coffee with milk, and a vinous wine-like note that I quite like.

T - Honestly, I'm still getting more milk chocolate than anything here. Not that its a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, its just that I don't know if I would peg this as a beer that has ANY fruit in it. To me, it's a well done mild porter with nice chocolate and coffee notes well rounded with a creamy flavor that reminds me of hazelnut coffee creamer. I like it, but elderberry? For real?

M - Medium bodied with a mild silken carbonation and a slighlty dry cocoa powder finish.

D - Honestly, I like this better than any of the other Ye Olde Scottish brews for the simple fact that it is much more like a "real" beer. In my mind, this is a tasty and well made porter with a good deal of milk chocolate smoothness. I can' fault it for its lack of elderberry notes because I have no idea what an elderberry is, but it doesn't really taste like any kind of berry to me. There is a gentle fruitiness that is not uncommon to any yeasty ale, but it doesn't immediately strike me as "fruit" per se. This is a really nice beer that I would buy a six pack of if it came in that format. Sadly, this is found as part of an "historical" exercise in beer brewing and he other members of the four pack are enlightening, but nowhere near as drinkable.

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Photo of EPseja
4.43/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 12oz bottle in a pint glass at cellar temperature.

A - Dark mahogany color with rusty brown highlights. Largely opaque when held to the light. Voluminous light maple head with active carbonation. Very good head retention and nice lacing.

S - Clean, but well roasted maltiness and an underlying thread of dark fruits (er... elderberries, I guess). Somewhat like black cherries with a hint of cream and vanilla. A definite contrast in smells that yields a very unique nose.

T - Roasty, almost smoky maltiness on the way in, with a vinous character bordering on a light red wine. Some very light notes of the elderberries are apparent, but very subdued. A refreshing tartness and some notes of coffee and dark chocolate come in the middle, followed by some nice hoppy drying in the finish. The aftertaste is very dessert-like in the coffee department, with fresh hints of tannic berry and fruit-skins. A definite journey for the palette.

M - On the edge of watery going in, but quickly expanding to become rich and creamy. Swallow is thick and substantial without being gassy. Very satisfying. Excellent!

D - I bought this beer on a complete whim and I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. This beer isn't just a weak ale with common berries added (like most fruit beers on the market). Instead, it's a rich black ale (much like a schwartzbier) with elderberries added. This leads to a much more complex character, and keeps the fruitiness completely in check. I'm glad I found this one! Looking forward to having one or two of these again on a cool evening as summer winds into fall -- this beer's perfect weather.

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Photo of selecter70
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked this up while grabbing a couple porters & schwarzbiers, listening to my wife's advice. The 11.2 oz. bottle poured a dark brown with a slight beige head & scotch-coffee-porter aroma. The head dissipated fairly quickly leaving little lacing, but a slight banana and dark berry smell soon added to the aroma's already rich smell. A stout-like feel to the mouth, although not to the Guinness level. The flavor definitely fulfilled the aroma with a Scotch porter taste with tasty earthiness to it. There was a slightly alcohol aftertaste, but not overwhelming. Definitely a fine pour for my mood!

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Photo of stumac
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours up black as night. brown tinted head with moderate retention. aroma of fruit (i guess its the elderberry) and roasted malt. tastes of roasted malts, dark fruit, brandy. light bodied, low carbo. dry malt with sweet fruit finish. scotland the brave!

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Photo of flagmantho
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 11.2oz bottle into a pint glass. Bottle had best-before date of June 2010.

Appearance: quite black with a little ruby hint when held up to the light. One finger tan head; pretty nice.

Smell: distinct chocolate aroma of roasted malts. A little sweet smelling but not too much; this smells like a really good porter. Aside from being one-dimensional, it's an excellent aroma.

Taste: very good chocolate porter flavor. The berries here are quite understated and pair exceptionally well with the chocolate. It really is great.

Mouthfeel: body is medium, heading toward heavy, with a nice creaminess. Quite good.

Drinkability: this stuff is great. Why don't they sell it in sixers?

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Photo of putnam
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dry beer.
Combining toasted grain and berries must be difficult. One may easily overwhelm the other. I've smelled $50 Merlots that didn't have this much poise and sophistication. Chunky, brute surges of raw cocoa are decorated with flavors and aromas of deep, concentrated, pasty blackberry reduction. Gamy, wild and peppery attitude rises up from the dry, tightly organized palate. Very Scottish in the sense that it displays all of the coffee-tinged maltiness one expects from that country's ales. The berry fruit is strictly a condiment, but pure, natural and Good.

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Photo of flowerysong
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Another cola-brown beer with a brown foamy head.

Smell: Soft berry fruitiness and hints of roasted malt.

Taste: Nicely integrated dark berry taste with malt and charred coffee in the background. Some soft tannins contribute to an astringent finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full and creamy.

Drinkability: Very drinkable; while the berry flavour is noticeable, it's not overpowering and the base beer is quite well done.

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Photo of EatsTacos
4.4/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a very dark brown with a small, very fine creamy head that formed a ring around the glass. Drank this in a wine glass.

The aroma is very rich, lots of chocolate and coffee right up front. Roasted barley, earthy and fruity.

The taste lives up to the great smell. There's a sour and sweet berry flavour that is balanced between a really roasted barley grainy malt and the bitter hops. The hop flavour is floral and fruity too. A spicyness that is similar to a dry red wine in the finish is amazing.

Very smooth in the finish, soft carbonation and full bodied. The texture is oily and thick. The carbonation is probably medium to low and very smooth. Fantastic beer. I'd love to have this with red meat or any kind of savoury dish.

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Photo of kernalklink
4.38/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was a great brew. The ale poured a deep dark mahogany with great lacing and a thick dark head. Fruity, hoppy aromas gave way to a perfectly balanced flavor profile- slight berry sweetness with an aggressive bitterness which lasts to the end. Slight earthy and cherry notes enhance the beer as it warms. Very well crafted, refreshing beer.

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Photo of rvdoorn
4.37/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this beer with my Beerbuddy PapaEugene, who bought it, ehhh, somewhere. I always like beer with a long lasting brewing history, so can't wait to try this one.

Poured into a Palm glass. The beer pours a very dark black color, that doesn't let any light come through. Light-brown head with leaves a very messy lacing

Smell: Smocked cacao, roasted malts, sweet fresh fruits (berries I guess) and some fresh mint. As the beer warms up, some liquorish smell comes through.

Taste: Full of liquorish. Beer starts sweet and than becomes a bit salty, nice. Coffee and roasted malts are also strongly present. Some hints of chocolate and red fruits perfectly balance the beer.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied for the style and the low ABV. Medium carbonation.

Overall: Very surprising beer. Different from most beers I had before. I love it!

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Photo of zuggy9
4.37/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I found this one and knew I had to try it. It poirs and very darkih red with a dense tan head that reduces down into a good lacing and a crown. The smell is rich and warm, with sweet berry accents. The taste is rich, with chocolate and berries flavors, and it finishes a bit tart. It goes down smooth too. A very good herbed ale and very enjoyable.

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Photo of yelterdow
4.35/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A totally random find at Wine Country in Bergenfield, NJ. Best before Oct. 2009. Served at fridge temperature in SABL glass, for maximum enjoyment.

Appearance- Deep brown, almost chocolate in color, this beer pours beautifully with a three finger light beige head. The crown sustains well into the next several minutes, packing a soapy consistency and lacing in long, unbroken sheets.

Smell- Chocolate, berries, and roasted malt greet the nose in a light fashion. All is balanced and mellow with regard to ingredients, I can't wait to sample this.

Taste- As with the nose, the notes are primarily roasted malt, chocolate, and elderberries. The finish is exceptional, integrating all elements and leaving behind plenty of flavor even minutes after the swallow.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Soft and very smooth, the texture tickles the tongue and provokes the nuances of the malts, hops, and elderberry to open up and really dazzle the palate. It's a very drinkable beer, with a moderate ABV and fantastic balance. I will be buying this again in the near future.

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Photo of xymyl
4.35/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish brown to black in color with a medium dark brown head small bubbles and some lacing.

Aroma is a complex blend of toasted malt notes and oaky fruity notes. Gooseberries, cherries, and other fruits (for some reason I have no recollection of what elderberries taste or smell like, but I have to assume that's in here too).

Taste very fruity and winelike but not overly sweet, balanced by dark roasted malt and or grain.

Medium bodied, substantial yet refreshing, this is really a brilliant drink.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opaque mahogany with lighter brown highlights at the edges, capped by a wheat toast brown head with a finely pitting surface. Within minutes, the head deflates to a dense one finger disk beneath a thin, unbroken sheet of lace that extends partway up the glass.

The nose is of dark roasted malt with a generous shot of blackberry brandy. It's an intriguing aroma and is one that I find appealing. Ebulum Elderberry is some kind of flavorful; definite points for boldness. It's equal parts heavily roasted malt with a vinous black currant-blackberrry-anise flavor that is both different from anything that I've had before and tasty as hell.

The concentrated dark berry essence is strong enough to easily be the dominant flavor, yet not so overpowering as to be annoying or to limit drinkability. The biting, sweet licorice-anise flavor is a bonus and gives a depth and a badass character to this bewitching brew. The medium-full, slightly viscous body matches the flavor profile perfectly and the mouthfeel can only be described as silky.

I like Ebulum Elderberry Black much more than I thought I would. This is no pansy fruit beer, but is a bold, sweet-spicy, darkly fruity concoction that pushes my buttons and makes me say 'hell yeah'. If I ever decide to become a Druid, this will be my official daily quaff.

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Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
3.79 out of 5 based on 535 ratings.
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