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Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

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very good
366 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: 366 | Ratings: 535
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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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.07/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Review from 5/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours black with a thin tan head and light lacing. Toasty and dark malt aroma. Odd flavor transition. Stout-like dark malts and dark fruits up front then a dry vinous middle and then light stout with a strong elderberry flavor and moderate chocolate in the finish. Well balanced. Flavors are a bit thin, but still very interesting. Worth a revisit

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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 TheSevenDuffs
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Best Before May 2013.

A - Poured very dark brown and settled black. Very small amount of head that completely disappeared.

S - Chocolate, roasted malts and some brown sugar sweetness. Not much bitterness present.

T - Roasted malts up front with some chocolate and oatmeal. A sweetness in the middle that has some lighter molasses notes and a slight tartness/bitterness that might be from the elderberry. Finish is dry and tart.

M - Light body with somewhat heavy carbonation.

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Photo of engisch
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black ale... It's black, but if you put it up to a bright light you'll see a black ruby hue. Head dissipates to nothing rather quickly.

Smell is of fruity esters and malts. Little tangy scent.

Flavor is sweet with some berry flavor. This is followed up by a slight bit of roastiness. The fruitiness comes out more as it warms up.

Mouthfeel is light bodied. Overall an interesting historic beer. Tasty and intriguing but nothing too exceptional.

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Photo of Groulxsome
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: It's a black ale, but on the lighter side of black. It's clear, so around the edges some ruby caramel colour (almost like a cola) can be detected. The head was quick to dissipate into a slight ring around the sides.

Smell: I'm getting some sweetness, a lot of dark fruit (more like the dark fruit notes from a wine), some vanilla and lots of roasted malt.

Taste: The sweetness comes first. Somewhat like brown sugar, roasted grains, and a little chocolate and coffee. After that there is a notable bog myrtle, herbal note, something almost like vanilla coke. The elderberry is a slight note somewhere in the middle. Almost like a dried cranberry taste which rounds out the body. The finish is slightly bitter, but the dry myrtle is more pungent than the hops, leaving a pleasant dry sensation.

Mouthfeel: Light carbonation and fairly light bodied. I get some of the softness from the oat component, but it's a little underwhelming in this department. Very little in the way of alcohol burn for a 6.5% beer, the myrtle seems to hold over here too.

Overall: I'd take this beer over many standard dark/black craft ales any day, but it has some flaws. There is a lot going on the the flavour that I love (I'm a myrtle junkie), but the appearance and the mouthfeel are just underwhelming. I'd drink this everyday if it wasn't something that was so hard to find. As hard-to-find beers go, however, unless you need a hit of myrtle or want to try something a little different, this might not hit the spot.

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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 ONUMello
3.59/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Pours a very dark brown with a very thin head that disappears in no time. Tons of carbonation. Almost looks more like a Coke than a beer.
S: Lots of dark roasted malt, some coffee, cocoa and some toasted oak.
T: Roasted malt, coffee, a bit of molasses but rounded out by a sour/bitterness (maybe from the elderberries?) that seems out of place.
M: Medium weight yet a bit watery in texture. Lots of carbonation.
O: I think this is my first beer of this style and I would be interested to try more. This particular example is good but not great.

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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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3.62/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle. Pint glass. Enjoyed on dec´11. Dark mahogany in color, ruby hues to the light. Quickly dissipated head. Notes of forest & chocolate to the nose. Toasted malt upfront, coffee hints. Smooth palate, low bitterness. Medium body, medium/high carbonation. Dry finish. Dark fruit infusion-like on the aftertaste. Very good option in winter days. Easy drinkability.

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Photo of wvsabbath
3.17/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark tan/black trance. Very minimal head and lacing. Looks like a coke.

Smell - Roasted malts, bacon?, spices and herbs. nut, berries, fruits like rasin and plum. Some sugars, a little cola aroma also. Intresting.

Taste - Huge spice and herb mixed with some malts and berries. Added sugars and a sweet, cola flavor comes in. Some hops are barely present, as is alcohol. Has a nutty flavor and even a little pepper kick. Odd and different.

Mouthfeel - Big bitter, earthy spice hits the tounge. Palette gets more spices, malts and berries. Aftertaste is bitter spices, fruits and malts.

Overall - Not my style for sure. The berry flavor is very mild and not the featured flavor, seems like spices, herbs and malts are the main flavor. Spices add a odd bold flavor, kinda like when you add herbs to a meal, and the top of shaker falls off and the whole container falls in the food and you try to scrape away as much as you can, but its still to much. Not for me, was expecting more berry flavor.

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Photo of GallowsThief
3.87/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured out of a bottle into a bulb glass.

A – Poured out a purple/brown color with a small half finger of tan head that receded to a think cap and left very little lacing.

S – Pick up some mocha and chocolate. Dark fruit with a wine like scent. Sweet.

T – Starts off with a nice but somewhat mild roasted taste. Definite chocolate and mocha flavors but not overly sweet. Just enough in my opinion. Soft fruit flavors that I am assuming are the elderberry but since I have not had an elderberry who knows!

M – Nice and creamy though it does seem a bit on the thin side. Light bodied and average carbonation.

O – Very smooth and easy drinker with some flavor that makes it appealing. My wife loved this one. My first Williams Bros beer and Im looking forward to more.

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Photo of CFHMagnet
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Best before June 2012 printed on the label.

An average steady pour yields a finger and a half of sand colored head. While this slowly dissipates, I observe that the body appears black until held up to the light, when one can see that it is a deep dark brown. An attempt at lacing is noted, and head retains a good ring and thin layer up top.

A good deep malt aroma is coupled with a berry aroma that must be the elderberry. There are also the faint aromas of earthy hops and a light chocolate.

A gentle elderberry flavor guides you into this beer. It is followed up by light toasty malt, earthy hops and the suggestion of bakers chocolate.

Mouthfeel is light to medium. Carbonation doesn't have much to say unless you hold the beer on your tongue. It isn't sticky or coating, nor is it dry. It's simple.

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Photo of MoreThanWine
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured an eighth inch mocha colored head which vanished within a few seconds. The body is a clear burnt umber brown color, nearly coffee. Smell comes across rich and malty. Taste has the malt, an acidic zing which persists through the finish, and a touch of fruit which must be the elderberries. There's both coffee and cocoa coming across in the finish and the acidity adds a spicey nature. Body is fairly light. An interesting and somewhat unique beer.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle
Served in a perfect pint glass

A - It pours very dark brown with ruby highlights. It is capped with two fingers of mocha head.

S - I get a nice mixture of milk chocolate and elderberries. It reminds me of cherry cordial.

T - I get a lot of roasted malt in the taste. The main flavor is the milk chocolate. I get some of the elderberry through the middle and am left with some coffee flavors in the finish.

M - Medium to full

O - This is a very enjoyable beer. It has the perfect ratio of roasted malt to fruit presence. I get a little burnt aftertaste that slightly detracts from the overall experience.

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Photo of Kartoffeln
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours practically black with chocolate brown around the edges and a modest head of frothy, tan foam. Decent retention, dissipating to a ring with minimal lacing.

S: Chocolate, biscuit, and a bit of black malt with mild sweetness and a charred hint of roasted grain, mixed with fresh elderberries and grassy, slightly floral hops.

T: Chocolate and roasted malt with notes of caffe mocha, cinder toffee, and a lingering toasted grain undertone with some oat sweetness. Mild elderberry note, a bit tart and a bit sweet. Earthy, herbal hops, nutty yeast, and biscuit in the finish.

M: Medium-bodied with mild, creamy-smooth carbonation and a slightly sticky mouthfeel. Well-balanced between the palate and lingering bittersweet finish, but the elderberry note feels out of place and somehow a bit cloying.

D: A solid ale but in spite of being a gruit; the elderberries are integral to the style, but I think that in this case it'd be better without them as a plain stout or porter. Still, it's far from ruined and worth a try.

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Photo of horshack7
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Well it's very dark brown to black mostly opaque. On top is a very thin beige head.

Aroma: At the start the is a little bit of a mossy aroma very earthy. Licorice root, roasted malts, floral hop, the nose does have a dark bread dry finish a wisp of pumpernikel.

Taste: Light bodied very smooth mouthfeel a little on the thin side. Coffee, a few indications of ripe dark fruits. Spice and herbal touches are scatterd about. Malts are a little bit sweet.

Notes: It's somewhat thin decent flavor and some decent sweetness. Cheers.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - little to no head with what little lace ring is pretty sticky. Color is pretty pitch black.

S - Smells like a sweet black ale. Subdued roast along side of some berry smells and malts.

T - Well I never had a Gruit but it tastes pretty nice. Mild roast with berry sweetness and a touch of hops in the finish. Leaves an "herbal" taste lingering on the palate. Not bad.

M - Light to medium very nice.

Overall I picked this up since I like strange beers and an elder berry black ale actually worked pretty well. Would consider trying other things from this brewery.

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Photo of scott451
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A vigorous pour into a pint glass produced a one finger tan head on a very dark ruby, nearly black. The head soon diminished to a ring. Pretty good head for a gruit, a style not noted for heads. Some thin lacing.

Spicy smell with some berry undertones. Tastes somewhat like a dark ale with some fruit. Can’t distinguish elder as a specific taste.

A very creamy texture. Well melded and balanced. Another winner from Williams Bros. The herbals are subdued in this one but it’s a pretty fine ale.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.14/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz. brown bottle. Best before date stamped on back label.
It pours a ruby-hued black oil color with a thin beige head.
Lovely smells of blueberry...and I suppose elderberry mix with the smell of rye malts, oatmeal and crushed dried flowers.
It tastes much like it smells with the added taste of plum brandy rolling in the bachground.
I absolutely love the silky smooth mouthfeel.
It goes down so easy, yet there's a nice warming punch in the finish.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours like a porter thick body dark caramel ruby almost black with a light tan mocha head, fine speckled lacing. Aroma has dark roasted malts with a light fruitiness, really roasty like a porter with dark chocolate and a touch of coffee roasts. Flavor is great a big rustic porter labeled as a berry infused black ale, that works to. It still tastes like a creamy dark chocolate/roasted coffee beer. This is probably the best base beer with the ancient ingredients having less effect than any of the other ancient ales. Mouthfeel is medium bodied creamy texture very enjoyable with mellow carbonation goes down easy the glass literally drains itself. Overall a solid black ale that regardless of the label they're putting on it, is damn good.

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Photo of liamt07
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the LCBO giftpack, 330ml into a tulip. Best before December 2012.

Pours a deep dark violet, bordering on black but some deep shades of red come through in the light. Finger or so of bubbly mocha head sit atop this, a bit of sticky lace and mild retention. Nose has some roast, toasted/lightly burnt breads, some berry notes (elderberries I'll presume). Hints of chocolate and cocoa. Taste has more roast notes, dark malts, milk chocolate and subtler berry notes than the nose had presented. Slight metallic and smoke. Mouthfeel is medium, with a relatively low carbonation - similar to almost all of the other beers in this pack, but this doesn't detract from the experience at all, and almost makes this somewhat creamy. Although categorized as a gruit/herbed ale, this could pass as a black ale as well and is certainly much better than several I've had from that style. Nice.

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Photo of peensteen
3.99/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Deep brown, ruby highlights, light ring of soapy tan head, no retention or lace. Smell is incredibly roasted, malty, coffee, chocolate, forest fruit, berries, quite fruity and works well underneath all that roast, mild smoke notes as well. Taste is of roasted malt and a floral berries initially, some coffee, quite bitter, subtle chocolate, roast malt in finish with a fruity aftertaste that lingers for what seems like forever. Light-med prickly carbonation, medium body, thin at points, lightly creamy. Quite an interesting brew, some nice flavours and scents here, would revisit gladly.

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Photo of bryehn
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Following the brewery guidelines included in the gift pack I'm trying this lightly chilled in a straight (St. Peter's signature) glass.

Pours an opaque black with a cola-like dark brown visible around the edges. The light brown head is fairly large and quite frothy, leaving behind a nice amount of lace.

Smells of fresh berries, roasted malts, chocolate, coffee and fresh grains. A nice, floral and hoppy bite comes through after warming. Very pleasant.

Very well-balanced in taste. Coffee and chocolate are joined by a nice bitterness and fresh berry flavour. The finish is dry and tart.

Full-bodied with a medium carbonation level. Nice pop and slightly oily character on the tongue. Clean aftertaste with berry, earthy and wood notes.

Quite a solid beer, I'd make this a go-to in the cold weather months if I could get it outside the Historic Ales of Scotland gift pack.

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Photo of Stocean1
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a one finger head into my pint glass from the bottle with its ancient gaelic print. This is a dark brown brew with an almost purple hue. The head was short lived and reduced to a thin collar with fine bubbles. The lacing is a fine film that quickly slides down the side of the glass back into murky bottom.

Unripened sour berries and roasted malt come through in the aroma.

The taste follows the nose with oats and herbal hops coming through. This is a dry and slightly tart brew. As it warmed I detected dark chocolate and fruit. Very well balanced and refreshing for the style.

This is a medium bodied brew with little carbonation. It is slightly bitter and dry but again very refreshing and definitely drinkable.

This was the last of my taster pack from the LCBO and I enjoyed all four of the brews immensely. Will definitely seek out anything I see from this brewer in the future.

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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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