Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Ebulum Elderberry Black AleEbulum Elderberry Black Ale
Liked This Beer
3.8 w/ 537 ratings
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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Ratings: 537 |  Reviews: 366
Photo of jayc333
2.75/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a jet black with a two finger tan head.

Very fruity nose that includes the obvious berries, as well as a little bit of something else, maybe apple.

Hmm, not what I was expecting in a taste. Fruity characters there of course, but theres something else that I can only describe as coffee grounds. Not very pleasant.

Very smooth, slides down the throat.

All I can say is that this one started out great, and really hit a wall with the taste. I will not be buying this again.

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Photo of jamesdergen
2.79/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a dark, coffee black with a minimal fizzy tan head.

Smell: Has that odd burnt coffee/rotten cheese porter smell

Taste: More burnt coffee/cheese taste with a bit of sweetness. I can taste some of the berry flavors at the end.

Mouthfeel: Very thick and carbonated. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Drinkability: A little heavy and fizzy, but overall relatively refreshing for the style. I wouldn't have more than one, mostly due to the taste.

Not my favorite beer in the world. The taste is very similar to a porter, but a little sweeter and not as offensive. If you like porters, it's worth a try I suppose. I probably wont be buying this one again.

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Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.26/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle

Pours a dark black with a thin tan head that fades quickly.

Smells mostly of roasted malts. I get a hint of fruit as it warms up.

Taste is mostly of roasted grains. I taste a bit of fruit here and there, but it's very subtle. Actually quite smooth, with a bit of a bite in the aftertaste.

Very thin body. Nothing special.

Not a bad beer, but not one I would probably seek out.

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Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
3.4/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Took a chance with this one. Out of all the beers I’ve tried, this one was the one I was/am most clueless about. From its shelf life to it general "assumed" characteristics.

Very deep brown, almost black in color. Poured strangely, fizzed like a cola, but with no head and no head retention.

Does taste quiet good. I was surprised to find the beer tastes smoky. I could say it has an elderberry follow through, but I won't, I don't know what elderberries taste like.

Defiantly a departure from the beers I've tasted lately. Won’t be looking for this anytime soon.

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Photo of fingolfin72
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color- Dark, dark brown, almost black. Virtually no head.

Nose. Somewhat sweet, but subtle- sugar, cola, fruit.

Palate- Rich, bitter. Licorice, coffee, smoke notes pervade. Dry, but mouthfilling. Clean. The berry flavors are there, but restrained. This is anything but a foo-foo fruit beer. It is chewy and smokey. The bitterness is wonderfully satisfying.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.76/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black ale? Man they wern't kidding. This puppy is black with a slight 1/8" head on top. Average aroma-some malt and a slight metalic note to it. Big malty flavor-slight bitterness. Doesnt have that underlying caramel sweetness you get in Scottish ales. The elderberries are there but in a muted presence. They come thru more in the after taste. Nice body. Overall a very well balanced beer. It has a great "inky blackness" to it and the fruit rounds out the whole thing. Would love to have this on draft.

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Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Didn't know what to expect when I saw this, but figured it was worth a try. Not nearly as sweet as most Scottish beers I've had. The berry comes through in the aftertaste. Very dark in appearance. Good balance, easy to drink. A unique beer, suited well for desert. I can't think of another beer to compare it with, maybe a Scottish Three Philosophers? Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of mjohn27603
3.23/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a purplish brown in color with very little head. Aroma is very slight with hard to distinguish anything at all. Maybe smells like a brown ale or some caramel. Dark roasty hints barely detectable. Sip reveals mostly a taste of a black ale with no fruit. Dark coffee notes. Almost like a watered down stout.

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a single at Whole Foods Market here in Madison. Never had an elderberry before, so this should be interesting.

Pours like a stout, black with a coffee-colored head. Smells like dark cherry and old coffee. Taste is quite complex: dark fruits, stout-like bitter malts, and a medicinal, tart berry with a prominant coffee ground aftertaste. It was hard to pick everything out. I would have given a higher taste score if the flavors meshed a little better, but still enough to keep me interested. Really reminded me of a sweet stout. Says it's a black ale on the bottle, so that's kind of vague. Mouthfeel was smooth, a little undercarbonated for my liking, but alright. I don't know if I'd want more than one or two of these, but it was a good beer, kept me interested throughout, and certainly worth a try.

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Photo of Frozensoul327
3.79/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured out to a coffee like black color with a minimal head, and some lacing. Low to very low carbonation. Scents of berries and roased herbs were noted, albeit theyn were very light. Flavor was smooth and medium bodies with flavors of cooked oats, dark berries and grassy earth toward the end. Decent mouthfeel, rather soft and creamy. Not a bad beer. Definitly a night brew, for after dinner or dessert.

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Photo of DrJay
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown beer with a light brown head. Looks like a porter. Foam eventually reduces to a ring around the glass. Roasted and chocolate maltiness with a fruity, berry aroma. More of the same in the flavour, but the berry character is more pronounced and the malt character is more mild. Finishes with a dry, roasted bitter twang. Slick mouthfeel, medium/light body, carbonation on the low side. A nice mix of flavours, quite enjoyable.

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Photo of merlin48
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another historical ale from Brewery Craigmill, this style was supposedly brought to Scotland, by Welsh Druids according to the label. Appearance is a deep purple, almost black body that shines a clear, radiant ruby hue when held to a strong light. Small beige head quickly dissipates, leaving no lace. Aroma is subdued, with dark roasted grain notes and a hint of berry. Light medium bodied with low carbonation in the mouth. Taste has a mildly bitter coffee note, porter like in nature, and a softness from the oats. Mild berry presence could be a bit more assertive in this one, but the taste is well balanced and pleasant to sip. I wouldn't mind having two or three of these at a sitting.

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Photo of NoLiberty
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a dark porter with reddish tint and no head and slight filmy lace. Smell is nice like roasted malt, coffee, and sweet alcohol. The taste is very much a dark ale with characteristics of malt and coffee on the front, dried fig middle and clean fruit finish. Well-balanced. Low carbonation leads to little to no head and thin cereal on the tongue with slight hop tingle on the finish. Nice sipping beer but balanced enough for more than one.

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Photo of battlekow
3.03/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Deep, dark purple--nearly black. Thick, purplish head.

Smell: Upon swirling, smells fruity, spicy, maybe a little piney. Otherwise just smells smoky.

Taste: Wow, I'm not really sure if I should be reviewing this beer; I've never had an elderberry beer (or an elderberry) before, and it's certainly got character. Maybe I just don't like elderberries. Ironically, given my recent, infamous Cock Ale post, this beer tastes predominantly of smoked meat, like beef jerky. Not a terrible taste, just not exactly something I want to taste in my beer, especially one I assumed to be fruity. It's also a little bitter. This isn't to say that it completely lacks fruit aspects. There's an undertone of what I assume is elderberry, but it's overwhelmed by the "rooster."

Mouthfeel: Okay, I guess. Can't really get over the taste. It's reasonably smooth, with a bit of a bite.

Drinkability: Hey, it's not for me. Maybe you like elderberries. Or venison. It does have a cool, medieval bottle.

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Photo of BeerFink
4.07/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark red, almost black. Almost no head at all gets me thinking this doesn't look too far from a very dark wine. Vinous berry and woody nose, with noticeable malt and subtle smokiness. The sweet berrries come in early and move into slight acidity as the flavor progresses. I'm enjoying the roasted grain and smoke flavors as they coalesce with the vinous berries. A little chocolate is there as well. Mouthfeel is a little thin, but the flavor is big, and I think that sounds appropriate for what this beer is shooting for. Finish is a little dry, and composed mainly of roasted grain, with a bit of acidity. Long chocolately roasted aftertaste. I thoroughly enjoy these ancient beer styles from Brewery Craigmill, and this one does not disappoint. Hell of a specialty beer, and way drinkable to boot.

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Photo of MrSeth
4.53/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter an opaque black with a 1/4" tan head. Lookin' good.

I expected a "fruity" nose, but this smells like an ALE for sure. Lots of roasty malt and chocolatey aromas along with plum-like elderberry wafts.

Wow, that's refreshing! I am very pleasantly surprised. Medium-heavy bodied, very wet mouthfeel, great condition. You get a grand tour of what an ale can be like. Imagine every great flavor you've ever had in an ale, rolling across your tongue.. with elderberries.. and there you have it.

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Photo of Brian700
3.87/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a different kind of beer but definately in a good way. It pours very dark/black with a dark brown head. The head on mine didn't last all that long. The taste was sweet and malty with a nice blend of dark fruit. It has a light bitterness to it as well. Good mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. I like this beer a lot. It's out of the ordinary which is always refreshing. I recommend trying this brew for sure.

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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.

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Photo of slitherySOB
3.57/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Black. Very black. A shade or two lighter than Pepsi, but still black. No other colours shine through. No real head. Just a ring of lace around the rim of the glass. Still, some strings of lace manage to stick around. Tart berries, lemon, bread, and oatmeal on the nose. Somewhere, their is a smell of a campfire. I'm not sure what it is though. Burning wood? Smoke? Food cooking over the fire? Simply complex, if that makes any sense. Big taste of tart wildberries and lemon mingle with a malty sweetness. The oats come through with their soft, subtle tones. Not very many hops I can detect. The tartness is commanding. Mouthfeel is smooth and full bodied. The blend of sweet and sour makes this an after dinner beer.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(Served in an American pint glass)
A- Dark, dark brown opaque body with only a few small bubbles visible and a few random bubbles make a thin head around the edges.

S- nice roasted malt, cold coffee aroma

T- nice roasted dark malt taste with a light bitterness from roasted grain. Finishes with a faint berry flavor. Roasted malt and berry flavor linger a bit on the tongue.

M- slippery mouthfeel with a full body. A slight stringency but very subtle

D- This is an interesting beer. It has a nice balance of maltyness and bitterness even though there are no real hop presents in this beer. The fruit is a secondary character that compliments the grains very nicely.

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Photo of Imbiber
4.45/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

From a bottle with one month left to expiry.

Dark ruby with a fair head that subsides fairly quickly but remains there on a minimal basis. Aroma is pleasantly vinous. Taste is slick and smooth, a distinct fruitiness evident which imparts some sweetness. That same vine fruit richness as you would find in a hearty christmas pudding is detectable in small quantities. Very easy to drink, especially as the carbonation is low. Finish is fruity and quite dry.

A bold beer to a historic recipe that is top quality.

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pretty hard for one to get their hands on one of these without buying a Historic Ales of Scotland 4 pack, so that's exactly what I did. Poured into a chalice, a deep dark hue, more of an intense opaque brown than a black, ruby red highlights around the base when held to direct light, otherwise pretty damn opaque. Spongy tan head on the pour, big bubbles throughout, but it becomes more creamy as the ale settles in the glass. Sticky lacing. Coffee and roasted chocolate malt immediately on the nose, with a piney backbone to it, somewhat herbal, with notes of dates and currents, the aroma becomes a bit sour at the very end. Roasted malt and some espresso at first in the flavour, a herbal, woodsy taste in the middle, with bitter malt and some grassy, herbal notes on the finish, from the elderberries I would assume. The body texture is light, but the mouthfeel is smooth and a bit velvety, thanks to the good head retention. A nice sipping ale, malty with some herbal quirks, I enjoyed it even though I am not craving another one. I have a soft spot for herbal beers, and the Ebulum tickles it enough for the mean time. Those Welsh Druids knew what they were doing.

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Photo of Goldorak
3.66/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Third from a series of four "historic ales from Scotland" gift-pack.

Appearance: Dark with very subtle reddish hues, with only a few hints of froathy bubbles. Again, I'm sure it's historically accurate, but I don't have to like it...

Smell: Dark chocolate sweet and acrid coffee grounds roasted.

Taste: Roasted malt, but with a nice sweet and tart blackberry twang, it sort of reminds me of Magic Hat's feast of fools, albeit a much more tame version.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
3.33/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Label Lingo and bottle babble: 11.2 euro brown bottle single label with a paragraph Introduced to Scotland by Welsh Druids in the 9th Century. Blank “Best before box.”

Murky violet brown, shade from black, yet onyx clear when held up to the light with purple glints of light escaping. No carbonation present but some thin khaki brown collar ring band around the edges which can be easily puffed up with a few swirls.

Grainy mixed berry scent are most prominent in the nose. Slightly vinous with Dr, Pepper notes.

First Swigs: Woody roasted burnt sour bean. Delicate brewed tea sourness. Juniper and slight Dr. Pepper flavors. Smoky herbal raw mix gone wild here. Short ephemeral aftertaste of burnt sugar caramel.

Slick sugary feel. While unique to be appreciated. Unrefined to be considered drinkable, but an expressive statement about an ancient bold style and method. One was enough to appreciate this offering.

Last swigs: Raw Dr. Pepper and berry sweetness. 6.5% ABV is a surprise. I had this one in the 4-5% range. An authentic olde style which needs to be warmed above fridge temps. Never having had Elderberries, this has a slight berry suggestion at best. History lesson over. 75/3.86

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Photo of WesWes
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a deep dark black color with a thick frothy tan/brown color head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich and malty scent that boasts of roasted barley, black and caramel malts along with a faint elderberry aroma. The taste is great. It has a smooth and rich black malt flavor that goes down easy and finishes with a slight tart elderberry taste. It's got a pretty unique taste. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine beer. It has a complex palate that is quite tastey and drinkable.

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Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 63.5% out of 100 with 537 ratings
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