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

Not a bad fruit beer. Poured black with a very little head. Smell was distinctly malty and fruity, very pleasant. Taste was almost wine-like, with an alcohol presence, but not overbearing. Mouthfeel was a bit astringent which took away from the overall experience IMO. Drinkability was certainly passable, though you don't want to guzzle for sure.

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Photo of Naerhu
4.61/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

As black as midnight at the bottom of the ocean. As frothy as a completely empty tea cup.

Complex and beautiful aroma. Dark roasted malts and (what a surprise) elderberries. This is all over the place, Sumi, cocoa, light berry flavors on this dry yummy beer. Focused bitterness, complex maltyness. A fruit beer with an stout or porter. Amazing. No trace of the big alcohol. Charred wood.

Although the flavor is not very juicey, the mouthfeel is extremely juicey.

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Photo of putnam
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dry beer.
Combining toasted grain and berries must be difficult. One may easily overwhelm the other. I've smelled $50 Merlots that didn't have this much poise and sophistication. Chunky, brute surges of raw cocoa are decorated with flavors and aromas of deep, concentrated, pasty blackberry reduction. Gamy, wild and peppery attitude rises up from the dry, tightly organized palate. Very Scottish in the sense that it displays all of the coffee-tinged maltiness one expects from that country's ales. The berry fruit is strictly a condiment, but pure, natural and Good.

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

Deep, dark and nearly light-impregnable appearance. Minute attempts at foam unsustainable. Aroma is hintingly malty-fuity-sweet. Taste was not complex in the big-beer sense, but indeed complex in its subtle characteristics: Not overtly sweet in realms of malt and fruit and not acidic. What it does convey are hints of berries against its malt bill of sweet dark and roasted dark malts, though elderberries would contribute in their own right to the beer's dark color.

Interesting beer experience.

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

This beer is real, real dark, and leaves a scrummy brown lacing around the glass. Nice sweet, malty smell packs a punch. Eminently heavy hop finish balances the sweet roasted malts. I had no idea this was really made from elderberries and presumed it to be another Scotch dark ale. The 6.5% disappears in the rich taste.

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Photo of JackTheRipper
3.49/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Is it a fruit beer? Is it a stout? This beer is different, for lack of a better word.

Appearance: Pours a dark, almost black, reddish-brown color. No head. No lacing.

Smell: Smoky, coffee aromas predominate. There's a trace of a fruity smell, but if I did a blind smell, I'd call this one a stout rather than a fruited beer. Letting this one warm up slightly helped the aromas out a bit.

Taste: Initial taste is a dark coffee-like taste, which sort of fades into a smoky sweetness. Finish is a lingering almost-bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is low, alcohol feels higher than the stated ABV%. Very smooth on the tongue.

Drinkability&Notes: This beer had me scowling and looking at it repeatedly, I can't figure this one out. It's a fairly decent beer, it seems to pair pretty well with the chunk of extra sharp cheddar I was munching on. Not as good as a Bell's Cherry Stout, and a SA cherry wheat kicks the tail outa this one, but it's a decent brew, and just the off-the-wall factor gives it a few points in my book.

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Photo of beernut7
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep chocolate color with no head retention. A smooth aroma wafts strongly of berry and a perfume of floral and chocolate tones. The body is smooth as is the malt flavor with deep hints of chocolate and potpourri. The berries finish the ale with a moderate bitterness. Very smooth and melded to be very tasty.

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

Sampled on tap at The White Horse, Parson's Green, London. Listed as 5.8% abv on the tap.

This ale poured a very, very dark, almost opaque black with hints of red-brown near the edges with thin tan foam. The smell was mildly malty with a faint, sweet berry aroma. The taste was slightly sweet and malty with a nice, blackberry-like flavor. Very well balanced, and not overly sweet or fruity. The mouthfeel was smooth with medium body and low carbonation. There was a slight tartness and a lingering malty, fruity flavor. This was actually a very nice and enjoyable ale.

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Photo of Shiloh
3.35/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black as coal with a very slight, tan glass ring. Carbonation is evident in the taste and mouthfeel but missing to view.
Body is medium/full.
Mouthfeel is very smooth and goes down the same.
Aroma to my sences is lightly grape.
The taste is short, fruity with a bitter finish and minor linger.
Very nice offering for the style. Will be happy to meet this brew again.

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Photo of Admiraldinty
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is really some far out stuff. Pours deep black like a stout with a minimal tan head. Nose is lightly fruity and sweet, but also tart. The first thing you'll notice when you take a sip is just how damned smooth it is. Any crispness seems to take a couple of seconds to formulate. The first thing you'll taste is a lemony-berry flavor. Then will come the sweet malts. There seem to actually be some stout characteristics to the flavor of this beer - perhaps its the roasted and toasted malts and oats. The beer also has a real warming effect. This beer is really hard to describe - in many ways the tastes are subtle.

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Photo of ADR
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very deep brown appearance, just slight light transmission. A big-bubbled tan head emerges but fades in about half a minute. Just a slight bit of fruit to the aroma, but not a lot of smells come off of this one. The major flavor that arises is very close to Smith Brother's Original Cough Drops, slightly medicinal and tangy but pleasant and sort of soothing. a subtle bit of background flowery tartness suggests a spare use of hops. Different and drinkable, I like how the folks at Heather are reviving beers that are close to hypothetical styles that are long extinct.

Source: Liquid Solutions

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Photo of RoyalT
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance – Black body with a modest, darkened head.

Smell – This smells a lot like a porter. I can easily pick up coffee and chocolate, for instance. There is though a faint sent of fruity sweetness in accordance with the style.

Taste – The berry flavors come out more in the taste. The porter-like flavors are there as well, giving this one a nice balance.

Mouthfeel – No carbonation and medium-bodied.

Drinkability – This one was quite smooth. I’d drink this after supper to be sure, as it will nicely finish a meal and probably kick off the after-dinner conversation.

Comments – I’ve never eaten an elderberry before, so it’s difficult to say whether this ale is picking up the correct taste. It is supposedly a dark berry, so in this manner it is right on target. Strange, but well done.

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Photo of Cizauskas
3.91/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

cask of Heather Ale's Ebulum Ale

Dark, dark, dark but with a slight dark-mocha head. Strong roast and baker's chocolate aroma and flavor with a hint of winy fruit. The grist contains roasted barley, hence the stout-like character. The brew is infused with elderberries, which appeared as this hint of fruit, as opposed to the sickly-sweet character often encountered in US microbrew fruit beers. The 6.5% alcohol wasn't apparent..until a couple of pints had been consumed!

This is the best product (cask or bottle) I have tasted from this brewery, excluding a few marvelously fresh bottles of Fraoch I tasted last year from among a just delivered shipment.

Tasted 4 February 2003 at Max's on Broadway in Baltimore, MD. The firkin had been broached for 24 hours and then served on the bar, at 50*F, open to atmosphere, and gravity-drawn.

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Photo of hyuga
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black with a tan head, like a regular black ale. Roasted aroma with elderberries and a little peatiness. Light maltiness. Almost reminds me of A1 steak sauce, oddly enough. The flavors are lighter than I expected, but it's tasty. Definite berry flavors with roasted undertones and spices. The malt is grainy and cereal-like. This reminds me in a way of Sam Adams Old Fezziwig Ale or Winter Lager. Or should that be the other way around? Not a bad beer at all, seems like it should be a holiday seasonal with the spiciness and the berry flavors.

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Photo of chaduvel
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very cool bottle cap and I liked the Celtic symbols and design on the label that hint at some mysterious origins of this beer in the Scottish highlands. Very little head appears what's there is a nice tan color. Body of the beer is black, not much light passing through this one. I don't know what elderberries smell or taste like, but I'm hoping to find out. Not much berry smell here, I smell some sweet malts, hint of chocolate [?]. Taste is very nice, a slight tang at the beginning with strong roasted flavors in the middle (barley and malts), some oily hops on the finish and a barely noticeable tangy aftertaste. Unfortunately I still don't know what elderberries smell or taste like. I don't think that I would classify this as a fruit beer. It's a really good black ale though. Seems that I should be drinking this at a renaissance fair out of a leather pint glass after eating a giant turkey leg.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.76/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 11.2 fluid ounce (330ml) brown glass bottle. A very distinct looking charcoal colored label, with heavy Scotia influences, including having the name of the beer “Ebulum” written in a colorful Celtic font. Labeled as Elderberry Black Ale, at 6.5% ABV, with a Best Before End nicked in the label edge as Oct 2004.

Appearance: As expected, a very black looking beer, that lets little light through, even at the edges, though a dark brown hue that is visible through the glass walls at times. Poured with a huge well carbonated head that gave the beer a very Guinness look when first poured. The head settles to a thin brown collar but stays around.

Nose: Well I tried, and tried but I do not agree with what the label describes as a “fruity aroma” – I found no fruit at all. What I could extract from the light nose, was a roasted ‘grainy’ malt nose, dark malts and some coffee. Delicate in strength at best.

Taste: A thin start, roasted barley and oats form the beginning, the elderberries rise in the middle with some dark fruit aspects. Roasted malts with a grain texture come and go. Has a slightly cloying ending, with some coffee hints and a mild bitterness. As a Tea drinking Englishman, I also detected high levels of Tannin in this beer, as the blurb on the label indicates. This may contribute to the very dry finish – quite the astringent ending.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, often with a ‘thin’ feel at times, but the velvety finish with the lingering aftertaste of elderberries perceptible in the ending aids the feel.

Drinkability: Well, I drank the 33cl without much effort. Not exactly a quaffer, but nor a beer that hung around much either.

Overall: Certainly different and unique, as most of the beers from Heather Ales are. I was hoping for more Elderberries to be honest, but this is still a nice change and quite a pleasant drinkable beer nevertheless. Worth trying, but not one that I would purposely seek out again.

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Photo of Elemental
4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A nice dark brown, but clear brown color, with a light ring of foam for head which quickly fades. The aroma is nice and fruity with a sweet and lightly hopped smell. The flavor is sweet and fruity with nice mellow feel. Its maltly and flavorful with very little aftertaste but a slight bitterness towards the end of the drink. Overall a pretty good sipping beer.

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Photo of GreenCard
3.52/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle with BBD of 10/2003...

Appearance: nearly opaque brownish-black with a meager head development, some sudsy bubbles around the crown, a slight haze is detectable

Aroma: an herbal fruitiness over roasted grain aromas, clovey/vanilla spiciness, coffee, slightly musty/woodsy, the elderberries give it a phenolic medicinal scent

Flavor: very much like a porter but with an herbal twang, the elderberries are definitely detectable in the flavor as well, plays off somewhat like black pepper on the palate, a very unique flavor that is hard to describe, some dark toffee notes as well

Mouthfeel: medium-full body, zingy carbonation, some alcohol warmth, slightly tannic

Overall Impression: Definitely an interesting one. Not quite sure if I like it. Tastes like it might be good for you (beer can be pretty good for you anyway, but this tastes like it). Not as good as their Alba Scots Pine or Heather Ale which are transcendant!

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Photo of granger10
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is one interesting brew. Very dark which I liked to see. Had an aroma of roasted flavors and berries. Tastes of some roasted woody flavors, then a strong sweet fruitness came through (elderberries, i guess) and chocolate was also detected. The finish was very dry which I didn't care for in this brew. It still was a good sweet tasting beer.

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

Pleasing aroma of chocolate taffy brings me back to childhood days spent at the Jersey shore. Chocolate also comes through in the flavor profile along with hints of dark fruit. Poured a black cherry in color with absolutely zero head. No bitterness was percieved. Surprising light bodied considering the color and malt profile in the mouth. Very nice!

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Photo of stegmakk
4.24/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured a beautiful dark black. Even holding it to the light it looked black. There was a nice dark tan head that went away quick but left a little cover of bubbles on top.

Aroma was roasted malt hint of chocolate

Taste...Roasted malt with a nice MILD fruit flavor and an overall tart flavor...

Mouthfeel...slick and creamy...
very tasty indeed.

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

Elderberry. I like the way it just rolls off my tongue. Drinking this would bring me closer to Monty Python, or so I assumed. Poured a dark black color, with barely a head. Hmmmm. Taste was slighty sweet with a somewhat fruity taste. I couldn't really detect the elderberry, but that didn't keep me from saying it over and over again, in an aweful English accent to the chagrin of my wife. Of course, she had to point out it was a Scottish Ale, thus ruining my mirth. Bullocks!

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out black and develops a one finger head which reduces down to a film rather quickly. The aroma is a light malt mixed with elderberry, which isn't necessarily distinctive, I can just detect a fruitiness that I presume is elderberry.

Taste - so that's what an elderberry tastes like, huh? If I had to guess I'd say it resembles blueberry to some degree. The beer doesn't come across as sweet because of it and I thought it had pretty good carbonation for a darker brew.

It's not as smooth as the label had prepared me for, but it's okay. A flash presence of hops and that's about it.

Not a great deal of aftertaste, but I do notice a touch of astringency or sourness, maybe from the fruit juice. Outside of that, it has a rather clean finish, something you won't experience much is a beer as dark as this. I could make a night out of these...

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black in color with just a thin halo of dark tan head. Fruit doesn't come through much in aroma -- smells mostly just like any other black ale, with roasty, grainy malt dominating. The flavor, though is a really nice blend of roasted maltiness at the start, and slightly sweet elderberry mid-palate. The malt takes on a chocolatey flavor midway through which compliments the elderberry extremely well. Fairly creamy, smooth in mouth. I was surprised how well I liked this beer.

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