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 Sammy
4/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.65/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Photo of metter98
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.6/5  rDev -5%
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.

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Photo of brentk56
4.3/5  rDev +13.5%
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

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Photo of emerge077
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

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Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
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.

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Photo of nickfl
3.98/5  rDev +5%
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.

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Photo of jlindros
3.77/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

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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 TheManiacalOne
3.15/5  rDev -16.9%
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.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
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.

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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 ChainGangGuy
3.47/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a black body with brown edges and a bubbly, beige head.

Smell: Aroma of roasted barley and elderberries (which come across as a smokey wild grape). Notes of chocolate as well as molasses.

Taste: Chocolatey, roasted barley flavor with a hint of smoke and, of course, a firm elderberry fruit taste and sweetness - like a blackberry-grape mix. Dash of spice. Light sourness to the roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Interesting and certainly fine enough for a single bottle, but not something I'd want to make a habit of.

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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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Photo of russpowell
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Part of a variety 4 pack,

Poured Mahogony with a bubbly 1" deep tan head. Minimal head retention, but good lacing

Smell: Sweetness, malt, floral notes and a whiff of berries

Taste: Chocolate malt, slight sweetness, & an almost like sweet (think home made) wine/jam taste. Choclate, dryness, and a hint of sourness in the finish.

MF: A little under gassed for me, slick & well balanced otherwise.

Idiosyncratic beer that I'm guessing gives us a glimpse into the past & future of home brew. Seek it out!

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Photo of Slatetank
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 11.2oz brown bottle into a snifter
A - An ebony liquid through and through with a tan head that rises less than 1 finger high in stature. The head is filled with pockets of air like chocolate milk.
S - Dark berry, sweet dark malts and an aroma of subtle fruity yeast w/ gentle oat malt scents.

M - full, creamy and light charred textures at first with a dark roasted feel. Coffee-ish and hints spice are bolstered by enough carbonation to sustain the malt backing.

T - A nice sweet ale with a general amount of fruity ale and dark malt flavors. spice and fruit scents akin to currants and cinnamon add to a woody hop taste.Herbal and sweet berry( I would say Elderberry, but I have only tasted the jam)flavors are noted along with a tinge of molasses when warm.

D - A pleasant dark ale w/ sweet berry and roasted malts - what's not to like. I would consider this a good aperitif, but it would pair well with cheese or lighter fare.

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Photo of Jason
3.7/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 11.2 oz slender Euro style bottle with a “Best before end” date on the label.

Appearance: Black as night with a thin, almost wispy, tan lace that has a decent retention.

Smell: Earthy with a sweet-tart fruitiness and a soft sweetness from the oats and barley, charred wood comes to mind also.

Taste: Silky smooth with a moderate carbonation, medium to full bodied and a slick mouth feel make this brew slide down the throat easier. Sweet-tart fruitiness of lemon and wild berries come through though are mild. Maltiness throws both sweetness and roasted flavours with a charred wood and earthy flavour that are more in contrast to the sweetness. A softness from the oats is noticeable with a mild sweetness also. Hops are light yet balancing, alcohol is deceiving with faint esters towards the end. That same woodiness flows into the finish and helps with the drying effect.

Notes: Eclectic and complex with a juicy sweet-tart fruitiness within, I’d put this in my dessert beer category and pair this one with chocolaty and / or fruity desserts. Certainly a specialty brew and nothing less.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.65/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

The gloomy sky over the highlands on a rainy evening now sits in my shaped pint glass. Normally, I'd agree with you that that sounds at least a bit negative, but this time is different. The gloom is indeed heavy, but there is a glimmer of clarity, some vague smoky garnet highlights that shine through with the sun's dying rays. Beneath this furtively optimistic sky lies a meadow engulfing me with scents of tart berries, rain-soaked heather, fresh raisins, and sugared figs. It's just the right combination of serene invitation and a wild admonition, like the rugged highlands themselves...or so I hear. Bobby Burns can be pretty persuasive. Diving in, those berries, not as tart as they initially appeared, have found themselves enveloped by heather, dark wheat, and tea leaves. It's as new and strange to my tongue as attempting to mimic the accent of the locals. Again, if you've read some Burns, you'll know what I'm talking about. Similarly in this vein, strange though it may be, it's not altogether bad. Just new and unusual. Luckily, the immense weight of the clouds overhead is not mirrored in this brew, which maintains a lightly medium weight that slides nicely along like that babbling brook running through the nearby lea. Like the craggy highlands, this is an acquired taste; if you can get into it, you'll love it, and if not, well, let's just say you won't be attending any local Gaelic Games any time soon. I'd recommend the experience, though.

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