Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

very good
537 Ratings
Read the review
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 537 |  Reviews: 366
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What's not to like? A fruity smooth stout with the aroma of its roasted barley, good stout like thickness, no coffee. Good complexity, mild acidicty in the finish. And elderberries are as healthy as wine because they are blue, seriously.Oh, and chocolate too.

 259 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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

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

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

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

 555 characters

Photo of spycow
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of kjkinsey
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of djrn2
3.67/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Knapp85
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured out as a nice looking black color. The head had some good body to it but didn't last very long. The lacing was scattered and thin. The smell of the beer has a faint fruity aroma mixed with some roasted malts. The taste of the beer had some Elderberry sweetness to it upfront that faded into a dark toasted dry flavor. The mouthfeel of the been is very smooth and had just enough carbonation to it. Overall I find it to be a pretty enjoyable beer.

 463 characters

Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of metter98
3.92/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color--resembling that of a stout--and has a thin ring of bubbles floating on the surface around the edge of the glass.
S: There are moderate aromas of elderberries in the nose along with some notes of licorice.
T: Unlike the smell, there aren't really any fruity flavors; the taste has notes of roasted malts and hints of sourness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and smooth on the palate with a light amount of carbonation.
D: It would definitely drink this again because it goes down smoothly and is rather unique.

 539 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
3.6/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyable and nicely drinkable. I have a great appreciation for experimental and challenging brews, though this one falls a little unsettled. A medium viscous black hue with light head retention and fair lacing. Smells quite 'Schwarzbier'-like with a soft, powdered sugar sweetness. Stong with the berries (raspberries and blueberries) in the flavor and lightly in the aroma. Turns to vineous or wine-like midway through the drink with a grapelike flavor and sweetness in the finish. A moderate alcohol feel and flavor shows in the finish as well. Good, but off on the toasted quality and underlying sweetness. Lacks boldness for such character.

 645 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of emerge077
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2 fl. oz. bottle, BBD: 04/09

Pours black with a brownish ring at the edge, and ruby near the meniscus of the glass, under direct light. Thin initial tan head, that fades to a bubbly ring.

Some roast malt and hickory aroma, fairly subdued.

Dry roast, initial bitterness that fades, some light woody tones. Possible bakers chocolate. Lingering aftertaste of wood. Earthy, but with a slight hint of oxidation. No distinct flavor of fruit.

It drinks like a Schwarzbier, or a light American Porter. Sticky on the lips, with a modest carbonation level. Easy enough to drink, but i'd prefer a porter to this.

 610 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a coffee brown color with a modest tan head that leaves ringlets and spots

Smell: Earthy dark fruit and dark chocolate tones

Taste: Initial pruny flavor is quickly joined by black coffee; slightly smoky; after the swallow, the chocolate flavor bursts forth and provides a slightly sweet finish with a bitter coffee elements

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Mellow tones with an interesting panoply of flavors make this one of my favorites from this brewery

 516 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.82/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a dark foamy head with average retention. I can only describe the aroma as a strange mix between roasted malt and semi-sweet fruit (kind of remind me of Weyerbacher raspberry impy stout). Taste is also a mix between the elderberry sweetness/sourness and the bitterness coming form the roasted malt. Overall, I would say that I enjoy this because it is out of the ordinary and that seems refreshing.

 442 characters

Photo of WillieThreebiers
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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

 1,117 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.12/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black in color, and quite opaque. The head is tannish with what seems to be a pink tint. Unfortunately, the head is fairly limited and drops quickly, leaving an average collar and very limited lace. The aroma expresses a soft fruitiness which is quickly overshadowed by roasty notes. Very intriguing. The body is medium and the carbonation is light; giving it a soft creaminess in the mouth. The flavor starts a bit chocolatey, becoming a bit wine-like toward the finish, and leaves a lingering, lightly sweet and creamy berry flavor. Very nice, and quite unique. Well worth trying. Makes a great after dinner beer.

 615 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.43/5  rDev -9.7%
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.

 688 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle at Big T's in Lawton, Michigan. Served in a pint glass. Currently the #1 Gruit.

Pours a dark brown color with a bit of a garnet hue. Light tan head sits atop the brew for a bit before falling back down. The nose brings forward a good amount of the elderberry along with some floral notes and a bit of malty sweetness. The taste hits the fruit notes pretty well with the gruit herbs playing a supporting role. Done quite well. The body is medium with average carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Overall, a nice beer I was glad to try.

 542 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 1/2 finger fluffy and small bubbly head forms and fades at a medium pace over a darker than expected almost pitch black colored beer.

The nose is interesting, some light fruity aromas with a slight berry aroma that I can only assume is Elderberry, (yeah I have an idea what Elderberry is from other beers and tea). Some light dark malts, little roast and toasty, plenty of interesting dark malts. Also a nice crisp ale like aroma, almost lager aroma but not quite there. Some sweetness, light sweet malts and some honey.

The taste is similar to the nose. It comes on first with lots of dark malts, a little black patent I think, some roast, caramel malts, even a light smoked. Some light syrupy flavors, touch of molasses and caramel. A very light smoke and toffee. More nice ale crispness that rivals a lager again, with a definite black lager like flavor. There is some light fruits, and light elderberry, but nothing like the nose brought. Slightly creamy as well. It finishes slightly dry with more of the lingering syrupy feel and flavor, light black lager flavors too despite being an ale, and a slight bitterness thanks to the Elderberry I can assume.

The mouth is medium to lighter bodied with a typical lager crispness despite being an ale, and decent carbonation.

It has a decent drinkability with light crispness, light sweetness, and drinks well. However, the stickiness and dry finish don't bide well together and get a little weird feeling late, and almost gritty.

 1,485 characters

Photo of oberon
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of nickfl
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Two fingers of medium brown head on top of a black body with minor, ruby highlights. Average retention, not much lace.

S - Fruity, aromas of blueberries and blackberries (perhaps just elderberries, but I am not sure what an elderberry smells like). Dark malt notes of chocolate and coffee and a bit of medicinal, phenolic funk lingering in the background.

T - Bright, berry fruitiness followed quickly by coffee and roast malt. A bit of malt bitterness and caramel in the middle that quickly fades and gives way to a nice, ripe blueberry character that lingers, along with weak chocolate notes, into the finish. The flavors don't linger on the palate and the finish is pretty clean, except for a surprising alcohol note.

M - Surprisingly light body with moderately high carbonation. Finishes fairly dry.

D - Quite drinkable; in fact, this may be the most drinkable "historic beer" that I have had. It kind of reminds me of a black lager (except for the coffee notes) with a nice, subtle fruitiness. The elderberries really add character to this beer and rise above the level of the gimmick I feared they might be.

 1,121 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.15/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from an 11.2oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a very thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of roasted malts, coffee, dark fruits and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts is very porter-like and starts out malty with flavors of black coffee, dark chocolate and berries. The berry flavor is a little sharp at times and some sweetness tends to show itself sporadically. There's a very mild hops presence but not much balance. The after-taste is bitter-sweet.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, decent kick, decent representation of style, this one doesn't have as much spice or odd flavoring that other beers in the style have, but I still didn't find this beer to be very good.

 892 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
3.91/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

 878 characters

Photo of Rifugium
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: bottle from Pinocchio's beer garden, Media, PA

Poured dark brown, nearly black, with a small whitish head. Smell of dried fruits, and a little bit of molasses. Taste was of dark dried fruits (I've never had an actual elderberry, so I don't know exactly what they taste like) and, but not very sweet, with some molasses and semi-sweet chocolate. Finishes off pretty dry with a tiny acidic twinge. Medium body, and fairly drinkable, but a little disappointing.

 470 characters

Photo of Ciocanelu
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

 307 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
3.8 out of 5 based on 537 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.