Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

very good
536 Ratings
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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 BeernOnThe4thOfJuly
4.04/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Deep brown with purple twinge. Very strong chocolate and blueberry nose. Really sweet. Taste follows suite. Some porter creaminess in the middle. Could use more hops on the finish. Good, but a bit unbalanced.

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Photo of Svingjo
4.07/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black colour with a slight reddish around the edges along with a slightly beige head that dissipates quickly. The nose leads with plums and other dark pitted fruit. There is a roasted malt aroma present as well. The taste leads with dark chocolate, burnt coffee, toffee and licorice or anise. There is a very slight elderberry flavour as well. The mouthfeel is in the medium range with a light carbonation. I enjoyed this gruit style ale.

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Photo of Andrewharemza
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From bottle, Pours Dark Brown with single finger tan head-goes away quickly. Aroma of Dark Fruits, Burnt Malts. Taste of Dark Fruits, touch of Elderberry, dark chocolate, burnt malts, toffee, caramel.

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Photo of mothmanscott
3.74/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a beautiful, clear, deep ruby brown producing a rapidly fading, foamy, pale tan head that leaves only a thin collar ring of lace. Aroma is fruity with notes of dried elderberries, anise, deeply toasted malt & a herbal hint. Taste is elderberry fruity, cocoa, cola, burnt brown sugar, caramel malt, herbal & faint hint of anise with a fruity, faint chocolate, dry finish. Aftertaste is dry, fruity with a burnt hint. Other than herbal notes & slight bitterness there is little hop character. Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied with low carbonation, thin on he tongue but lightly prickly becoming dry & increasingly astringent at the end.

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Pours brilliant deep mahogany under a thin light tan colored film. S: Fruit, dark malt and light smoke aromas rise from the glass. T: Starts with a shot of elderberry and then segues into dark, sweet malts. The malt and the dark malts interact with and balance the elderberry well – there is a raw grain or grassy flavor running around in the background. F: Medium full body and medium low carbonation. O: A dark fruit ale with a Scottish character.

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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 DaveBar
3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Purchased as part of a mixed 4pk called Historic ales of Scotland. Served at 4deg C in a tulip

A- Opens well but pours no head or film. Very dark brown almost black.

S- Fairly good malt here. Fruity backbone on this one.

T- Nice blend almost ready for a try at lambic these guys. Good overall attempt at a dark ale experiment gone good

M- Dry and crisp. Good and enjoyably heavy but light

O- Very good brew. Enjoyable to say the least. I like it a lot

Food Pairing

This wonderful little brew went well with...... Beef braised short rib in a tomato based sauce. Bay leaf, little onion and some brown sugar. Touch of vinegar to get that edge off.


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Photo of doktorhops
3.57/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

OK, so I’ve done the Fraoch Heather Ale (which sounds like a good way to clear your throat) and the Alba Scots Pine Ale (which is not such a good way to clear your throat but a good beer nonetheless), so the next obvious choice is the Kelpie Seaweed Ale, err, the Elderberry Black Ale... which is what I have right here, right now, right here, etc. Fatboy Slim fans.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Black, opaque body with a thin tan head, basically it looks like a Stout (but with a bit of wishy-washy head). 6/10.

S: Strong roasted coffee notes lead to the fore, with a herbal/berry hint (the Elderberries no doubt, which incidentally your father smells of...) and following this are earthy/nutty tones. Overall a very Druid-ish brew then. 7/10.

T: Roasted and green (unroasted) coffee is the flavour of the day for Ebulum, there are notes of earthy/nutty tones as well but overall this is a coffee tasting extravaganza, surprising considering it doesn’t have any coffee flavours/ingredients in it. My thoughts on Elderberries are that they must be the green coffee notes I’ve detected, otherwise I’m not really sure what to expect (we don’t get a lot of Elderberry here in Australia). It’s a good mix though. 8/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a strangely watery (but at the same time) viscous feel and a flat carbonation. 5/10.

D: Hmmm, I can see why the Druid’s liked this brew, it is quite Druidy, I feel a bit Druidish at the moment and want to commune with nature in some woods, too bad I’m at home in my Philip John’s about to watch some proper British comedy. I didn’t get much of an Elderberry slant from this brew, though admittedly I haven’t tasted fresh Elderberries, or smelt them, I’m relying solely on Monty Python to describe them, which is a bit of a worry. Regardless this is a tasty Stout-like brew which goes down well despite my lack of Elderberry knowledge. 7/10.

Food match: The typical rich, roasted beef/lamb/pork with a side of heavy gravy and whatever roasted vegetables an Englishman can throw at you whilst reciting “God Save the Queen” would work well with this.

PS: Your mother was a hamster.

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Photo of ZorPrime
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

The beer color is black. The head is a light brown/beige. Dense but it disappear quickly. Elderberry... last time I tasted a beer with that it wasn't good. However, this one is pretty decent. I think the roasted malts helps here. Some chocolate notes and dark fruits (elderberry). In the mouth, its complex. The finish is bitter that start light but finish strong... Chocolate notes and roasted malts. Delicious. A nice good beer.

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Photo of patre_tim
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Dark almost opaque, with a slight dark red tinge when held to the light. Creamy beige head. Sexy lacing.

S: Bog, toasted malt, chocolate, earthy. Much like a stout.

T: Toasty, earthy, dark malts, stout like, a certain amount of dark berry flavour, and the elderberry is evident when drunk slowly over the tongue with some air infusion. The finnish has the crisp yet bitter finnish of elderberry.

M: Slightly coridial like, minimally syrupy or sticky, with medium to low carbonation.

O: Does what it says: Elderberry and it delivers. I would think of it like a porter or stout in its scents and flavours. Worth a try, and would go well with elderberry pie.

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Photo of DenisKolkin
3.79/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of dbrauneis
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.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown color with red highlights and tan head. Aroma has roasted malt, some dark fruits and a hint of liquorice. Taste starts roasty and malty, quite bitter with some earthy spices on the finish. Light body with medium carbonation. Quite interesting beer, easy drinking and it has a quite unique flavor.

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Photo of Tone
3.28/5  rDev -13.5%
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.

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Photo of mick303
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

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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.

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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 secondtooth
3.59/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

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Photo of chinchill
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
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.

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Photo of Rutager
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

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Photo of Seanniek91
3.98/5  rDev +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.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Photo of thehyperduck
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.

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Photo of smalenberg
3.22/5  rDev -15%
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.

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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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