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 WYVYRN527
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter from a 11.2 oz. bottle.

A: Almost black in color with a thin eggshell head that settles quickly to a thin film along the side of the glass.

S: Dark fruit and spice up front with an almost vinous quality. Roasted malts and chocolate aromas appear in the background.

T: almost opposite as to what the nose reveals. The elderberry is almost invisible on the palate, with bitter chocolate and roasted grains dominant. Finish is slightly bitter, with just a touch of dark fruit emerging.

Notes: This beer has less body than I expected it to. Slightly thin mouthfeel with a full flavored palate. It's definitely a drinkable beer and a unique experience, but nothing that stands out amongst other beers of the style. Still worth a try.

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Photo of bluHatter
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Deep dark black, looks somewhat thick and syrupy as it pours and settles in the glass. Little head.

S: Dark berries (elderberries, of course). Also, maple syrup, pine wood notes.

T: Dark chocolate, rich coffee, very faint on the berry flavor - it's more of a smell thing. The slight sweetness really balances out well and removes any hint of the bitterness you'd expect from such a dark ale.

M: Syrupy. Very smooth and actually pretty light feeling despite its thickness... probably because the flavor has very little bitterness.

O: An excellent dark ale. Very smooth and easy but really blossoms when you take the time to taste its subtler qualities. Very good.

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

Big thanks to my sister-in-law Kayla for this mixed box of 4!

Pours black in color with a beige colored head that stood about one finger tall following a medium pour. Foam settled rather quickly and leaves only minimal lace behind as you drink. You can see some deep purple/dark brown hues around the edges if you hold your glass up to a bright enough light.

Definitely getting the elderberries in the aroma. Some roasted barley, burning coals, and a touch of a medicinal smell in the nose as well.

Nice combination of ripe fruit and roasted malt up front followed by just a touch of bitterness. Things start to mellow/balance out towards the middle setting up a fairly smooth finish.

Medium bodied with a bubbly carbonation up front that subsides some on the back end.

A good beer overall. I gave it a 4 in all but one category because everything is well done, but nothing jumps out and absolutely WOWs you.

Morey's Bottom Line: Really glad that I got to try this beer. I would gladly drink it again, but I probably wouldn't go out of my way for it.

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Photo of spitInTheOcean
4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

looks black and opaque. when held to the light it lets just the least amount of mahogany through. creamy brown head. fair lacing.

smells of roasted malts. slight fruit, like maybe raisen, but mostly roasted malt.

taste is sweet. tastes mostly of roasted malts some slight fruitiness in the middle, the fruit flavor is really interesting, very deep and rich i want to say. roasted malts in the finish. finishes sweet some roasted malt bitterness, but mostly sweet. no hop flavor or bitterness detected.

kind of heavy on the palate. i would guess the f.g. to be kinda high. but the complexity of flavors is appreciated. soft carbonation

this is a damn good beer for those who like a good malt forward beer. this is my idea of a stout.

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Photo of JayS2629
3.87/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It pours a black color with dark brown edges, a thich off white head that fades quickly but leaves nice rings.

It smells very balanced between fruity, bright and sweet elderberries and a nice chalky chocolate and caramel backbone.

The tast follows the nose with a deep, fruity but dark sweetness of elderberries in the bakc of a big caramel with notes of chocolate and toast.

A bit thin for its style, but creamy and well balanced.

Overall it is a nicely balanec and enjoyable beer.

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

A friend left this at my house a while back. Givin' it a shot.

A - Pours a very deep ruby red. Some carbonation coming up the sides. A one finger, rocky, fluffy head of a very light brown colour. Some slight lacing and a half finger cap of retention.

S - Very nice with some light roasted malt, some good dark fruit notes blend together with that nicely.

T - More dark fruit and roasted malt. Drinks more like a quality crafted stout. Some licorice or root type groove goin on. Never had an elderberry but there is definately some sort of wild berry note.

M - Proper carbonation, right around medium and a medium to full body with a sweet move towards a roasted finish.

O/D - I have to admit that this is pretty good. It's almost like a stout with roots/berries added. It drinks smooth and is quite enjoyable. The aroma is more fruity while the body is stouty-er so I'd prefer the fruit to carry on, otherwise good. I wouldn't reach for this for a session, but it's tasty and well-crafted. A nice suprise.

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

A - Dark brown stout body with a large choppy, foamy brown head.

S - Fruit skin twang with roasty grains. Some yeasty mineral hints and cherry cordial alchohol. Some faint dark sugar and syrupy malt present. Deep inhalation shows some sweet rubbing alcohol.

T - Fairly malty base with a kick of brown sugar and toffee. Some coffee notes and bitterness in the back of the throat. The berry essence is very subtle here. This tastes more like a mild stout with berry essence. Or a sweet schwartz.

M - Soft and faintly carbonated, this one is smooth and easy to sip. Subtly dry end.

O - Not a bad beer but hoped for something bolder from an elderberry black ale. Nice for a mild dark beer.

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Photo of CPeterson
3.61/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A -- A translucent black brew pours to a one finger tan head which settles to a thin skim, leaving subtle traces of lacing.

S -- Berry and dark fruit are softly sweet but present, remnants of roast and earth linger and counter them.

T -- Roasted malts, charred wood and earth, subtle tones of berry and coffee, lightly bitter on the back end.

M -- Medium body and light carbonation give this a smooth and slick mouthfeel, with a light drying effect on the end.

D -- Good brew overall, worth trying, definitely different yet still familiar.

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Photo of CharlieMurphy
3.96/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Preeeety dark. Just ruby amber around the edges. No head but cyst pockets of bubbles rise and bud like constellations of meteoric moss. Laces and traces. Unique indeed.

S: I can only smell roasted malts and dry coffee. Smells good but one dimensional.

T: Very coffee like brew, but works backwards compared to most coffee-esque beers in the sense that it finishes lighter and is more up front with the roastiness. The secondary fruit flavors don't even knock until your gullet's well dry. Almost has some bock undertones.

M: Full and satisfying, esp for 6.5%. Amply carbonation compliments the roast. Finish is dry but fades immediately, barely any residual, and whatever is left doesn't detract from wanting lots more.

O: This beer seemingly encompasses many different beer styles that I enjoy - stout, saison, porter, bock? Would enjoy enjoying again and multiple times in a sitting.

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Photo of IronMickey
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: heavy, fizzy head that recedes quickly. black color but translucent

S: huge nose, I really enjoy wafting this one. malt, caramel, some syrupy sweetness, some heat

T: a little bit of a letdown after the nose. strong molasses, the same caramel, and just a hint of heat that wraps up quickly

M: strong carbonation, nice and medium in body per the style, tight metallic finish

D: smooth, rich, complex, but not at all overwhelming. Good.

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Photo of DrinkingDrake
3.94/5  rDev +4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out black with of hue of deep red. A small amount of head formed and then dwindled to nothing but a ring around the glass. Aroma is huge. A lot of molasses and earthy notes. Dark/fruity(elderberry,figs). Some roasted malt character but a lot of it is covered up by the molasses. Alcohol also cuts through the nose even though it is 6.5%. A carbonation tingle upfront with some elderberry fruitiness which leads to a metallic/sugary flavor. Shortly after roasted grains comes through with a subtle chocolate finish. Sweet and metallic at the end. Also very dry with a lot of the dark fruit characters coming through. A medium body with a good amount of carbonation. Complex flavors transition throughout sipping this beer. Interesting flavors you may typically find in a barley wine.

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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 Interfectus
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was a unique beer. Probably the strangest thing for me was the mouth feel. It left my mouth feeling...raw (?), though not necessarily in a bad way, and even a little numb! It pours nearly black, which I always like! I, like others, am not all that familiar with the taste of elderberries. However, the unique flavor of the berries (i think?) shines through without being overpowering or too sweet. It's fairly carbonated (which I was surprised about). It's not really very bitter, though it does have a slightly sour flavor (that could be the alcohol peeking through at the end). I enjoyed it. If it were readily available, it'd be an occasional buy, but not a frequent fridge addition. As part of that Historic Scottish Ales variety pack, however, it was a great addition (the heather beer is awesome). I love trying beers from all over the world (and even beers from across time (ie: Dogfish)), and this was certainly a unique one!

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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 socon67
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured into the glass dark brown with some swirling drakness. Not much foam.

S - Smells of oak and wild berries. Very interesting and enjoyable combo. Just an earthy vibe to it.

T - The base of this beer is mellow with obvious grains; wheaty feel to it. The eldrerberries have a tartness to it that is almost like one would find in a lambic. This is a beer best had after a heavy meal.

M - I could see this being a bit much after one or two. The tart finish is dominant.

O - I like this and found it to be an interesting ale. On cask it was very tasty.

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Photo of SgtStout
4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours almost opaque, letting some light through, dark dark brown colour. About one finger of light brown head, with good retention but minimal lacing.

The aroma is mostly dark fruits; plums, raisins, some grape, and a hint of coffee.

The taste is very well balanced with a smoky malt character and predominant plum, date, and raisin notes. The raisin notes really came to the front as the beer reached room temperature. I didn't really get specifically elderberry, but there was some general 'berry' flavours in there.

Mouthfeel is a little thin for my taste, but overall a very interesting beer with lots of distinct fruity characters.

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Photo of atis
4.3/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle

Pours very dark brown with rich creamy brown head. Excellent retention with patchy downsliding lacing. Aroma is toasted dark malt with berries, I have never seen neither eaten elderberries, so I can not say it is them.

Taste is pleasant roasted malt with tart notes and even more roasted flavours in the long lasting aftertaste. Mouthfeel is smooth medium with moderate carbonation.

Overall, it is simple, yet very drinkable and tasty beer.

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

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 330ml bottle into a small mug. The label lists the abv at 6.5% and there is a "Best Before End" date.

Appearance: It has a black body which is nearly opaque. When held up to the light there is dark reddish hue near the edge of the glass. A light tan, two finger tall head rests on top. It is thick and long lasting. Lacing is minimal and slick.

Smell: The aroma has dark roasted maltiness with hints of roasted coffee. Elderberry notes are noticeable but very light and subdued. I would like just a bit more of the berry.

Taste/Palate: Its flavor runs right with the aroma. There is a dark roasted base with notes of dark chocolate/bitter coffee and just the slightest hint of elderberry. The finish has a mild herbal and berry tartness to it. Its palate is medium bodied with a very smooth light texture.

Notes: I found this beer to be very interesting. The fruit is light and delicate. I think it is better to be light on fruit vs. heavy and syrupy.

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Photo of paxkey
2.84/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

excited to try this beer on a blind pick from the store. celtic symbology and graphics and font..very cool.

best before date march 2012.
listening to blind faith sea of joy.

pours black with nice head and lacing

smells amazing. i get creme brulee with a bit of underlying funk. powdered hot chocolate, artificial but yummy.very heady smell. lovely rich and inviting. blowing me away.

the elderberry is a bit hard to construe but being a dark fruit lover i can pick its taste out. if that makes any sense.

i take it back the elderberry is in the repeat. the belch.lol. lots of it and more powdered hot chocolate.

interesting interpretation of an elderberry beer. but a little flat with its message. a little too beery yet fruity, a weird not fantastic mixture.

glad i tried it but would not seek this out again. started out so promising.

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Photo of BrewCrew2010
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a black body with garnet highlights. Head is brown and is short lived.

S: A very earthy nose with notes of malts, herbs, fruits, & spices. Barley can be picked up in the smell as well.

T: Taste follows the nose very well with earthy notes, sweet roasted malts, tart fruit, and herbs.

M: Mediumd body and carboantion with a slick, almost lean, texture.

D: I didn't expect to like this beer, but I enjoyed it very much. Could drink quite a few of these with very little problems.

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Photo of jmvecchio1
3.57/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Drank on the beginning of the best by month marked on the label.

L - Black a night (slight garnet when you hold it to the light) with really thin light chocolate head.

S - Sweet (elder)berry with a roasty almost chocolatey aroma

T - Just like the smell, you get a tart elderberry throughout the taste balanced with the malty sweetness of the black ale style.

M - Smooth with medium carbonation. Feels nice on the tongue.

D - Drinks alright. Overall it's a nice beer, but it's probably something I wouldn't order again.

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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 rudzud
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Been eyeballing this at Austin Liquors and figured I would give it a try.

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a nice dark brown almost black with a light one finger head that rapidly faded to leave a nice halo.

S - Getting some roasted? sweet malt aromas with some big, big herbal almost medicinal aromas too. A super nice berry note can be found too, presumably that is the medicinal note.

T - Much like the nose there are some great malty sweetness but the dominant quality here is the elderberry. There are nice sweet fruit notes as well as the herbal/medicinal qualities too. Very good.

M - Low carbonation here. Feels almost thin or watery at certain points.

D - Stuff is different for sure, which is what I was hoping it would be. Not sure if I would want to drink more than one glass of this stuff though.

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Photo of beer4colin
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Read the history of this first. BTW, Williams Brothers say this is NOT a gruit but a black ale.

A - dark as night poured in pint glass w/ minimal head at UBH from cask.
S - Berry aroma rises above all.
T - nice roasted malt! Not superheavy and still let's the fruit flavor come through. A very muted finish almost disappears...
MF - Nice and round.
D - For some, this could be a session pour. I would enjoy an evening of this but not a football game's worth.

This is an ancient beer and deserving of multiple tastes. Go for it!!

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Photo of airheadmtrcycle
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Excellent looking black beer with a nice tan head that receded quickly, left lacing and a nice tan skim.

Nice fruit and malt aroma and taste. I allowed the beer to warm to get the full aroma. There's a vinous quality as well. Despite the reasonable ABV, my belly warms with each swig. It's a unique and good tasting beer. The mouth feel is slightly luscious and thicker than I expected with a nice carbonation. One is all I care to drink, but this one is going down very easily.

A very cool beer. The history and alternatives to hops used make this a must try beer. I was excited to finally get my hands on one, and I'll get another now that I know where to get one (Hop City in Atlanta).

Highly recommended. Get out there and try a taste of history.

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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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