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: 536
Photo of Overlord
2.04/5  rDev -46.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Pours a bubbling black with a big brown head. Attractive, almost a nitrous pour look to it. Stayed frothy.

Smells like ... some sort of berry, and coffee.
Upon the first sip, very nice. That same berry bite, with coffee and some sweet chocolate. Mouthfeel is way too thin for a porter/stout, but then again, this isn't one of those. Though it looks like one.

It's only as the bottle continues that problems arise. If you gave me three oz. of this beer and asked me to review it I'd say "the strange fruit/berry flavor lightens up what would otherwise be a fairly standard, too thin porter." After 8 oz., it would be more like "that berry flavor has a horrid aftertaste after a while and it drowns out what would otherwise be a pleasant but forgettable porter."

I guess I don't like elderberry, if that is what is responsible for the horrid medicinal/herbal quality of this brew.

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Photo of DogFood11
2.26/5  rDev -40.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

11.2 oz brown bottle. Splashed this into a small tulip. It is a dark shade of brown and carries a tan head.

Not as good as its sister offering Alba. This has more of a toasted malt presence and it lacks the herbal and spiced identity that I like so much in this style. It is "tinny" in the nose but it thankfully doesn't make its way to the body. There is even hints of a dry bakers chocolate that once again isn't what I would consider a benefit to the overall picture.

Notes: Ehhhh not for me.

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Photo of clickpush
2.45/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Pour: 33cl bottle to wide mouth glass. Pours a very pretty dark brown with a cask like lack of head and not much in the way of visible carbonation in the glass.

Nose: Aha! So that's what elderberries smell like! Smells slightly sour and/or hoppy.

Mouth: Nice, dark roasty flavors co-mingle with the rich flavors of the elderberries. Unfortunately, the first flavors are the best. From there we go to a weak showing in the back of the mouth, with almost no bitter balance and a slightly plastic, very undesirable finishing taste. The mouthfeel is horrible - it's like a cask ale except thinner. There's absolutely no carbonation aside from a tine twinge on the front of the tongue. I won't be buying this one again.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
2.52/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

This beer should be consumed at higher temperatures (50-60F).

A - Dark brown with a small dark brown head that is quick to vanish. No lacing.

S - Hmmm. A bit of a slightly offensive floral character. Like flowers that are meant to be seen and not smelled. A very faint coffee odor underneath. After the temperature rises the offensive floral character vanishes and a slight elderberry and apple odor appears. It is no longer offensive, but it is still weak and not that good.

T - A slighty medicinal fruit character paired with a blackened coffee. It sounds worse than it is, but it still isn't great. There is a lingering faint medicinal character in the aftertaste, but it is predominantly a burnt coffee bitterness. It is a mild flavor. It isn't overwhelmingly unpleasant, but is not anything good to say about it. The medicinal character vanishes at higher temperatures and all that remains is a faint coffee bitterness

M - Carbonation is a bit high, thick, and pretty refreshing.

D - I can't forsee this one matching with foods well. Sessionable? Not likely, it is too strong anyway. I don't think I'll partake in this one again. The fruit presence is subdued, this is more like a porter than anything. A not so good porter at that.

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Photo of clvand0
2.57/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This beer pours the blackest of black beers with a slightly red tone around the edges, almost no head and no lacing. The aroma reminds me much of a dark wine with hints of alcohol overpowering slight hints of fruits. The taste is very sweet and tastes of berries, but the alcohol is very apparent as well. This beer is too sweet for my tastes and the alcohol is very poorly masked. This is not a bad beer at all but I don't see myself drinking it again.

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Photo of NV9
2.61/5  rDev -31.1%
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.

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Photo of mwrseeley
2.65/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Not much going on here. A hint of berry but for the most part bland and unmemorable.

An inky black body with meagre head retention, this Elderberry Ale seems more gimmicky than anything else.

I guess Wiccan-types might feel that by drinking this they are directly communing with their pagan ancestors or something but the rest of us shouldn't fall for such hype.

It isn't bad. it just isn't good. Totally bland and, apart from the novelty of the use of berries for flavour, unmemorable.

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Photo of jayc333
2.75/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a jet black with a two finger tan head.

Very fruity nose that includes the obvious berries, as well as a little bit of something else, maybe apple.

Hmm, not what I was expecting in a taste. Fruity characters there of course, but theres something else that I can only describe as coffee grounds. Not very pleasant.

Very smooth, slides down the throat.

All I can say is that this one started out great, and really hit a wall with the taste. I will not be buying this again.

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Photo of Ineedabeerhere
2.77/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This was one weird brew. I was doing a mixed six pack recently at the store and a friend insisted on me trying it.

Pours dark with ruby red highlights around the sides... Ok Im expecting something roasted with some porter characteristics maybe. Thin tan head formed of big bubbles after a few swirls with some gentle lacing.

Aroma... dark fruits but slightly sour or tart. Did I get a bad bottle? Maybe a hint of a roasted note. The taste starts out roasted and gets a little tart in the middle but finishes with a certain dry sweetness that almost tastes a bit chocolatey.

Overall it was really challenging to drink, as I couldn't pinpoint any one defining characteristic. I don't think that I would reach for this again.

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Photo of jamesdergen
2.79/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a dark, coffee black with a minimal fizzy tan head.

Smell: Has that odd burnt coffee/rotten cheese porter smell

Taste: More burnt coffee/cheese taste with a bit of sweetness. I can taste some of the berry flavors at the end.

Mouthfeel: Very thick and carbonated. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Drinkability: A little heavy and fizzy, but overall relatively refreshing for the style. I wouldn't have more than one, mostly due to the taste.

Not my favorite beer in the world. The taste is very similar to a porter, but a little sweeter and not as offensive. If you like porters, it's worth a try I suppose. I probably wont be buying this one again.

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Photo of Patrick999
2.8/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Poured into a taster. Thin head with a pretty reddish-black body.

S - Smells roasty, a clean roasty.

T - Wow, this is a fairly bitter beer. I don't know if it's entirely due to hops, but I'm not that crazy about it. It's a coarse bitterness. Roasted flavors are there, as well as a fruit flavor that must be elderberry...but otherwise, this is kind of like chewing on an aspirin. Very desiccating.

F - Harshly carbonated and otherwise a little watery. A lot of lower-alcohol beers feel like this, and I'm not a big fan.

D - There are some good flavors here, I'm not sure this is a "bad beer," even though I find it a challenge. I think this would be far better served with some food. On its own, it's kinda sharp for my liking.

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Photo of paxkey
2.84/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

excited to try this beer on a blind pick from the store. celtic symbology and graphics and font..very cool.

best before date march 2012.
listening to blind faith sea of joy.

pours black with nice head and lacing

smells amazing. i get creme brulee with a bit of underlying funk. powdered hot chocolate, artificial but yummy.very heady smell. lovely rich and inviting. blowing me away.

the elderberry is a bit hard to construe but being a dark fruit lover i can pick its taste out. if that makes any sense.

i take it back the elderberry is in the repeat. the belch.lol. lots of it and more powdered hot chocolate.

interesting interpretation of an elderberry beer. but a little flat with its message. a little too beery yet fruity, a weird not fantastic mixture.

glad i tried it but would not seek this out again. started out so promising.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
2.85/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Get this at Cyclone Liquors.

Pours a nice head that quickly falls thin and doesn't disappear. The lacing is very good, sticks great. The color is black and unsee-through able. Smell is dark roasted and a little earthy. Like a black ale with some mossy smells to it. There are some chocolate notes as well. Taste is slightly roasty with those mossy flavors and some off-flavors almost rubbery-like flavors. Good mouthfeel very pillowy. Overall, I wouldn't have another one of these. Unless I was in Scotland I can never know when these Gruits are still good.

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Photo of Sean9689
2.9/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into nonic.

A - Pours jet black with a 1/2 finger, off-white/almost tan head. There's evidence of some lacing left behind by the head.

S - The nose is this is very nice! Dark fruits, sweet molasses, a bourbon(ish) smell (even though I don't think there's any bourbon in here), some wood/oak. Very rich and sweet.

T - Kinda blah. From the nose, I was expecting WAAAY more. A hint of dark fruit, but otherwise kinda tastes like dirty water mixed with some raisins and plums. Some coffee/dark chocolate bitterness on the finish mixed in with some herbs, which I kinda like.

M - Very thin...too thin for me. Light carbonation, which goes back into my "dirty water" theory...needs a bit more to change my mind here.

D - While not a terrible beer or drain pour, I think this is prolly gonna be my first and last experience with this one.

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Photo of gnoff
2.9/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Bottle, brought by a friend from England.

Black color, tan to beige "cafe latte" head; beautiful, but non-lasting, head.
Soft gentle a bit chocolate and burnt scent, but more towards the chocolate bit. Warming up the beer grows a fresh fruity scent.
Soft but a bit thin mouthfeel.
Low bitterness.
Small chocolate taste mixed with alcohol, mellow burnt aftertaste.

Can't taste the elderberry and the entire beer is a bit too weak for my taste.

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Photo of dedrinker
2.99/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Murky dark brown - almost black with a tiny cask head. Aromas of distant nail polish and pretzels at the mall. I found that rather intriguing. The flavor was similar with some tartness thrown in. Someone at the bar said, "horse blanket." I tasted horse blanket. Medium body and a slightly sour finish. The night it was on cask I had just missed one of the main guys from the brewery who was there to meet and greet. They said he was cool. Then I found out there was a half-empty cask (now fully up to room temperature) of Bell's Porter in the back that had been taken off the beer engine to make way for this new beer under current review. Which was not in the "cellar temp" cooler long enough to be any cooler than tepid. Then I got mad. The bartender said not a lot of people even showed up for this event either. Great.

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Photo of tigg924
3/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: dark red-brown in color, minimal head, clear, moderate carbonation

Smell: faint berry and roasted malt

Taste: roasted malt and coffee, slight berry at the end

Mouthfeel: dry, slightly bitter with sweet undertones, medium-heavy body, medium-low carbonation

Drinkability: Probably my least favorite of the Scottish Ales pack. This tastes like an ok dry stout with some additional berries. Not a bad beer, but nothing I would rush to get.

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Photo of cokes
3/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours imperial stout-esque. Very black with almost no carbonation. A small brown head pops up for a moment.
Smoky tones on the nose along with some berries and touches of roastedness.
Interesting flavor. Starts off with mildly sweet black malts coupled with the elderberries (never had them before but think "blue-raspberry flavored"). Berries aren't a big deal, but enough to be noticed. Turns a little roasted, before fading out into a smoky, muggy finale
Body is akin to 3 day old soda. Flat and thin. Probably doesn't deserve the 2.0 I gave it on mouthfeel. No wonder they raped and pillaged (anachronistically or not).
Interesting history lesson, but I won't be studying it again any time soon.

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Photo of CHickman
3/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours opaque black with some brown showing through when held up to the light, and a small 1/4 inch tan creamy head. Smells of roasted malt, toffee, coffee and some faint hops.

Tastes of roasted malt, toffee, coffee, faint hops, caramel, dark fruit (the elderberry???), grains and burnt wood. This beer is creamy on the tongue with a heavy feel, and seems like a stout as it goes down smooth. Pretty good lacing and medium to light carbonation. Not sure I buy into the black ale classification, but either way it's a pretty tasty brew with a dry finish that tastes like oak aged bourbon that has a sweet malty ending.

Pretty good beer that's not very exciting on the palate and on the basic side regarding taste; nothing really jumped out at me as I drank this beer, it's like there were hints of lots of flavors but nothing to really leave a huge impression. It fits either a dark ale or stout category. While it was quite drinkable and the flavor improved as it warmed, I'm not sure that this would be my first choice if there was a big variety at a bar or store. It was decent enough and I would have this beer again, but it would not be one that I sought out.

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Photo of arturorg
3/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a flying dog pint glass

A:Dark brown cola like with a cream color head that leaves a persistent lace.
S:At first a dough like smell hit me (I think it's from the fermented yeast), then some hints of coffee, malt and dark chocolate.
T: It was kind of thin bodied for my taste, no alcohol flavor, some of the coffee and I was kind of thrown off with the dough flavor.

Overall: I dont like this beer but it's a personal matter (my wife liked it), it was kind of flat and watery. I would have it again just to check if it's something wrong with the one I had.

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Photo of battlekow
3.03/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Deep, dark purple--nearly black. Thick, purplish head.

Smell: Upon swirling, smells fruity, spicy, maybe a little piney. Otherwise just smells smoky.

Taste: Wow, I'm not really sure if I should be reviewing this beer; I've never had an elderberry beer (or an elderberry) before, and it's certainly got character. Maybe I just don't like elderberries. Ironically, given my recent, infamous Cock Ale post, this beer tastes predominantly of smoked meat, like beef jerky. Not a terrible taste, just not exactly something I want to taste in my beer, especially one I assumed to be fruity. It's also a little bitter. This isn't to say that it completely lacks fruit aspects. There's an undertone of what I assume is elderberry, but it's overwhelmed by the "rooster."

Mouthfeel: Okay, I guess. Can't really get over the taste. It's reasonably smooth, with a bit of a bite.

Drinkability: Hey, it's not for me. Maybe you like elderberries. Or venison. It does have a cool, medieval bottle.

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Photo of shanecb
3.05/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A - Pretty dark color. Very dark ruby red on the edges when held up to the light. Some light tan head when poured, but only for a minute. Almost no carbonation visible in the glass past the first 30 seconds or so.

S - Not at all what I was expecting. A whole lot of toasty coffee, chocolate smell. A little bit of a dark red/fortified wine smell to it also.

T - Mostly seems to have a coffee flavor to me. Aftertaste seems somewhat acidic/astringent of some sort. Has some of the dark fruit/red wine that was in the nose. The taste isn't quite as good as the smell was.

M - Med. Very thin and no carbonation at all. Not impressed.

D - One seems drinkable enough, but couldn't drink more than one. The flavor is just not for me, I guess.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.05/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I split a bottle with Stopper at cellar temp and poured into a snifter. The beer pours a cola brown with some garnet highlights. A fizzy tan edge layer is all that develops. Aroma is malty with brown sugar and molasses and some general fruity sweetness too. First sip reveals an average body and slightly syrupy texture. Very mild carbonation. Flavor is similar to nose with sweet malt and molasses no hops or alcohol are detectable. The finish is a little like rootbeer. Im not sure what an elderberry should taste like, but I dont think I get any fruit flavors here.
Not a very complex beer but no bad or off flavors either.
Probably wouldnt seek it out again.

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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.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.13/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Dark black pour with copper and ruby hues. Very small creamy tan head that shows some lacing.
Aroma is pretty crazy - sweet roasted malts, dark chocolate, tea and salty sea-water. Unfortunately there's some underlying scent that conjures up images of dumpsters in alleys behind Asian restaurants. If there was any elderberry aroma in there it was pretty well hidden.
Flavours are a lot tamer, mainly roasted malt and sweet chocolate. Pretty thin. Finish is more salty than bitter.
Mouthfeel is way too thin, needs to be creamier.

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Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
3.79 out of 5 based on 536 ratings.
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