Kelpie Seaweed Ale
Williams Brothers Brewing Company

Kelpie Seaweed AleKelpie Seaweed Ale
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Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale
Ranked #35
Ranked #41,124
3.66 | pDev: 13.66%
Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Scotland, United Kingdom
Kelpie Seaweed AleKelpie Seaweed Ale
Notes: At least four hundred years ago, the coastal & Island farmers of Scotland used seaweed beds to grow their cereal crops. This barley produced very interesting flavors in the ale and whiskey they produced. Including bladderwrack seaweed in the mash tun along with organic barley gives this wholesome dark ale a distinctive flavor.
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Reviews: 291 | Ratings: 420 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of ChrisCummings120
ChrisCummings120 from Florida

4.28/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I was almost too afraid to try this beer. I was thinking seaweed? I was so pleasantly surprised. Great flavor and so unique. Loved it. I am 2000 Club Member at a World of Beer and this beer was one that I'll always remember!

Mar 25, 2017
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The_Kriek_Freak from Pennsylvania

4.14/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

It pours jet black with a lovely tan head. The smell is very roasty, and reminds of a porter. The taste is similarly roasty, with burnt bread and chocolate notes. Fairly well balanced and with a tiny hint of saltiness. A very interesting and enjoyable beer.

Mar 06, 2017
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Malt_Man from England

4.01/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served cold (probably too cold) from 500ml bottle into willi becker glass.

My first seaweed beer, what could possibly go wrong....

L) Very dark chestnut brown, opaque, thin off-white head. Looks like a porter.

S) Again in the dark ale style, roasted fruity malt odour, this is probably too cold to get the full effect, but it is certainly pleasant and inviting. No seaweed.....

T) It's pretty much a porter. Pleasant depth of roast malt flavour, chocolate hint in the aftertaste gives it a nice lasting drink. HInts of coffee on the aftertaste too.

F) For 4.4%, it does have a bit of body to it. Nice mild carbonation. No dirty aftertastes, easy to drink but I have probably cooled it too much.

O) Basically, a nice porter-type beer. The seaweed thing appears to me to be a marketing gimmick; there is nothing unusual about the taste, smell or feel of the beer. Happily recommend this as a tasty, sensible-strength dark beer.

Jun 25, 2016
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Beginner2 from Illinois

4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I like Williams Brothers.
I have had all five of their widely distributed ales at least twice (with this bottle of Kelpie) and some frequently (like Scots Pine.)
We neglect too often that ale should be flavored with something other than hops.

Kelpie looks good in the glass with its head and lace and dark red, garnet. While I really don't pickup the seaweed, I do smell the malt and it comes through very balanced in the taste and after-wards... just enough sweet that finishes ever so slightly semi-dry.

Just because the alcohol is low (as are the hops) doesn't mean you should score it so low. This is a very good brew and I am glad to give it this recommendation: try it.

Reviewed in Roger Protz' "300 Beers To Try Before You Die!"

Apr 27, 2016
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Tusked_pinniped from New Hampshire

2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Looks: alright, just a bit thin. Light lacing for a head
Smell : nothing special at first, near the end it was a little ocean like.
Taste: the very first instant it seems like it's going to be decent then if m it immediately let me down. Seems like it had potential but it lacked depth.
Feel: quite thin and bubbly no body to speak of.
Overall: I'm slightly disappointed but it was worth the try.

Dec 06, 2015
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Antc2382 from New Jersey

3.49/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the pint bottle, from Fairchild's, Roseland NJ

I know, I know- weird beer. A: looks like a thinner Guinness, no retention on the head, some light lacing on the lip. Dark, but some light brownish hues. S: sweet barley, mixed with sea salt, pleasant. T: at first you get the roasted barley (good quality; lacks the richness of a stout). Saltier as the beer goes on. I definitely get hints of the seaweed in here. Almost becomes too salty by the end. F: lingering effects of the salt. There is a brackish quality
to it. The smoothness of the barley balances out the saltiness enough. O: it's definitely worth a try, in the least for novelty's sake.

Nov 14, 2015
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pat61 from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This pours brilliant dark brown under a thin light tan head and looks every bit like a Scott’s ale but the musty, herbal, caramel aromas tinged with iodine point to a deeper past. This is a gruit ale made with seaweed and you can pick up on a little iodine and salt on the palate along with anise, licorice and malt flavors and a dash of pepper on the finish. Medium full body and medium carbonation. A delightful surprise.

Aug 18, 2015
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Andrewharemza from Australia

3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aroma sweetish, caramel, toasted, toffee. Clear darker ruby brown colour. Taste is caramel driven as well, but well balanced, also light chocolate/roasted notes. Lightly salty.

Jul 21, 2015
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soulgrowl from England

4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Very dark brown, off-white head with poor retention. Stout-ish. Smells (deliciously) of good dark chocolate and very good dark cherries, with notes of coffee and licorice. The flavor is like a Black Forest gateau with something more long-lastingly savory underneath it all. Dark chocolate, cherries, dark caramel, Coca-Cola Blak (remember that?) and then... the same sort of lingering depth you get from dashi, good beef, or pumpernickel. But with none of those flavors, if that makes sense. It finishes very dry, and the carbonation is a little bit too fizzy, which probably interrupts the marriage of the beer's dark sugar flavor and its mouthwatering umami finish. But overall it is a very tasty beer, one I would LOVE to try with all manner of Japanese food, namely: oysters, fried or grilled; takoyaki; shoyu ramen; tuna sashimi; and monkfish liver.

Jul 16, 2015
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mothmanscott from Georgia

3.31/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear deep brown producing a rapidly diminishing, foamy, pale tan head that leaves no lace. Aroma is thin dark malt with a burnt note, hints of coffee, earth, musty herbal & brine. Taste is light for such a dark brew but not watery: burnt & cola, caramel malt, earth, herbal, faint hint of brown sugar & brine with a light brine, chocolate, grain, fruit & dry finish. Aftertaste is dry, weakly fruity with a burnt & floral hint. No hop character. Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied with moderate-high carbonation, thin on he tongue but prickly becoming becoming very dry at the end.

May 26, 2015
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Ian_B from Massachusetts

3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Very dark black with tinges of blue and brown, light beige head with decent retention.

Smell is like a faintly soft whiff of ocean breeze and sea salt. Nose full of fruit esters like currant and berries, blended beautifully with a mild backbone of chocolate and toffee.

Taste is dry and bright; lightly acidic fruit up front softened by smooth and savory chocolatey-caramel malt. Very light umami savory notes that suggest seaweed add to the long finish.

Light mouthfeel, decent flavour, mildly refreshing, but not sure if it's enough come back to this again.

Apr 16, 2015
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hophugger from Virginia

2.9/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep brown with an amber-reddish brown along the edges where a little light comes through. Smell is mild with malts and maybe a hint of seawater on the nose. Taste, IMO, was a let down. Although there is some malt and a touch(very light touch) of saltiness, this brew is very watery, too light and is missing any depth at all. Carbonation is plentiful but still does nothing for this brew. Where is the body. Don't get me wrong, this is not crappy, just lacking a little oomph that I was expecting...

Mar 24, 2015
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patre_tim from Thailand

4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Chocolaty black with a ruby tinge when held to the light. It’s semi-transparent, no carbonation and 3 fingers of foamy beige head.

S: Chocolate, chocolate and cream, coffee and toffee. Fresh sea breeze? Sure if you inhale deep enough.

T: Chocolaty with a certain sea like brininess that comes off more in the background. Roasted toasted notes, lightly sweetened coffee.

M: Medium body that’s smooth and creamy and slick like the slipperiness of kelp. Medium low carbonation.

O: Excellent brew. Love the bottle, style, and name. Seaweed lover myself living in Asia, the idea of a Kelp beer doesn’t bother me. The kelp is really in the background, and the flavor of this stout like beer is great.

Aug 11, 2014
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

3.79/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: gorgeous, deep rusty red - the color you'd expect in a "wee heavy" - crystal clear ... some light tan foam puffs up then dies down into a messy cap

S: cocoa-dusted chocolate, dried salty seaweed (a la nori), dried blueberries(?)... faint touch of espresso in the back, dark cherry cough drop... all mellow, no intensity

T: oh, wow! - unmistakable earthy seaweed up front... solid, yet soft and dry malty base - kind of reminds me of a dunkel lager - the chocolate malt stands out remarkably clear above all else, minimal sweetness... something like a mix between a cherry pit note and walnut shell in the aftertaste... green, leafy thread throughout, mildly briny bitterness via the plants, with added complexity from the dark malts

M: broad and smooth, lightens in the finish... not much viscosity, delicate foamy wash... just a firm malty foundation

O: pretty good, well made, but could be more interesting... the brawny chocolate malt muscle is laid out, just pile on the seaweed - dry weed it, even - it has an interesting, distinct, somewhat umami quality that should be exploited and abused... could be a little more salty, maybe... I enjoy and advocate balance, but make this a little manlier, huh?

May 13, 2014
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ryan1788a5 from Massachusetts

3.49/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

500ml bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Very dark brown in color. Good clarity. Creamy tan head retains well enough. Thin rings of lacing.

S: Briny, salty, sea air, seaweed. Rich chocolatey undertones with backing flavors of brown bread, molasses, and toffee. Perhaps a suggestion of saltwater taffy.

T: Toffee, molasses, brown cocoa, brown bread. Treacle. Cola. Milk chocolate undertones. Steely/metallic. Saltiness builds, but it doesn't have the layered and nuanced flavors of the sea that the nose held. Slight sooty roast. Salt, cola, and cocoa on the finish.

M: Rather light in body. Very creamy and soft with a nice smoothness, but it lacks a little something and ultimately comes across as watery. Soft carbonation seems to knock itself out rather quickly.

O: The nose promised greater things. It falls a little flat, especially on the finish. Needs a little more body too.

Dec 28, 2013
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burnstar from Pennsylvania

3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark brown with a small head. Some lacing on the surface. Smell is very mild caramel malt. Taste is primarily a rounded caramel malt. Low sweetness. Underneath, but still fairly prominent, is what must be the seaweed. It's unlike anything I've ever had. Not at all unpleasant. Tastes like the ocean. Not salty at all... but then again, maybe there is a hint of it. Minerals. Makes me want to reread Innsmouth by Lovecraft- this is probably what they were drinking there. Or maybe rewatch the Wicker Man (the original). Low carbonation. Medium to light bodied. I think the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in this case. Maybe this is just good and not great, but it's a must try all the same.

Nov 10, 2013
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outdoor7or24 from Georgia

3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle poured into sniffer, purchased at hop city in ATL for $4, exp date Oct 2013.
A: pours a dark reddish chocolate brown, one finger light khaki color foam head, some spotty lacing
S: malt, chocolate, some salty aroma, slight sweetness, hint of hops
M: light body, smooth, clean finish at the end
T: roasted malt, salty, chocolate, Cola, hint of hops
O: first time for a Scottish gruit brew, interesting flavor, would drink again, easy drinking dark ale

Sep 23, 2013
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Act25 from New Jersey

3.71/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is dark walnut (near black) in color with translucent amber, fiery highlights, sporting a beige creamy head that doesnt last but does lace well.No carbonation visible.

S: Plenty of very good, inviting aromas of roasted, chocolaty malts along with something unknown but interesting, is it the notes of the seaweed? Intriguing, rustic, mysterious.

T: Follows the smell, the taste is dominated by chocolaty malts. Sweet, cola-like, hearty, grass and peat, and a bit smokey, but not much seaweed. Although it's probably the smokeiness.

M: Too light-bodied on the palate with a light carbonation. There is a slight amount of overall dryness. no real hop bitterness. Nice after dinner beer, nice session, and nice converational beer. Made me reach for some cheddar after dinner.

D: Great work preserving a one-of-a-kind tradition. I dont get seaweed, but I do get the smokey outdoors, and peat, so perhaps that's it. Gladly would have another.

I rank this "Must try!"

Sep 04, 2013
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TappaKeggaBrew from Virginia

2.66/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A: Clear, but dark brown color doesn't let much light through. Head is just half a finger of golden blond foam that fades without leaving much lacing.

S: The toasty grain is there for sure, but what I notice most is the soy sauce and seaweed aroma, reminding me of something from a sushi restaurant more than a beer.

T: A little sweet malt and well-toasted grain balance each other early. Then the seaweed shows up with its smoky, briny flavors. It really isn't a good combination. Only by pairing it with some spicy food was I able to finish the glass without a lot of effort.

M: Thin, watery, and flat. Even most macrobrews are better on the palate.

O: Creativity in brewing is only a virtue when the result is enjoyable. This one tastes like an experiment, needing a few more attempts and adjustments to get it right.

Aug 27, 2013
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Murrhey from Washington

2.4/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Poured from a standard pressure-cap 500ml bottle into a conic pint glass in high elevation Libby, Mont. Reviewed live.

A- Half-finger off-white head with low retention. Limited spotty lacing. Dark chocolate color, very little light permeates.

S- Caramel, toffee, funky-earthy smell. Slight salinity in the nose, along with a very distinct fun that must be the seaweed. Very hard to describe.

T- Earthy, slightly watery, funky. Caramel, toasted malts, some vegetation.

M- Very watery. Not a very nice feel.

O- Swing and a miss.

May 14, 2013
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schoolboy from Ohio

3.77/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Alright, here is something very out of the ordinary for me. And unique works for me most of the time - this not being an exception.

It looks great in the glass with a firm head. The aroma is a typical English malty with a hint of freshness from herbs (seaweed?).

The flavor is lightly roasty, slightly bitter, a little bit herbal, all nicely balanced into a very palatable beverage. This was a cool treat.

Mar 31, 2013
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Arborescence from Finland

3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark, but not pitch black. Pours a nice, fairly creamy and persistent one finger head.

Aroma: Malty, but with some fresh & salty sea aromas. Somewhat mild aroma.

Taste: A little sharp at first, with a citrus-like bitterness. Quickly settles to a nice malty flavour though, with a salty aftertaste, probably due to the seaweed.

Mouthfeel: Quite thick and smooth, medium to heavy body.

Overall: This is an old acquaintance, one of the Scottish druid / ancient recipe ales that I quite like. For me, they deserve points for originality (even if the recipes are ancient!). Many contemporary attempts at herbed or spiced ales don't produce similar results.

Feb 20, 2013
Photo of seymourbottoms

2.1/5  rDev -42.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Ok, here it goes. Long-time crafty drinker, first-time reviewer.

Pours very dark and quite uneventful. Even with a heavy pour, there is minimal head and little more than a dense and dark looking brew here. Carbonation looks to be somewhat minimal, however will be addressed later.

Smell is not surprising with this style, so neither a disappointment or a surprise, just merely, and mostly, non-existent.

On to the taste. We have a beer that uses seaweed as its primary highlight and it shows here. This is definitely the saltiest beer that I have had, and the salt is well balanced. However, I get very minimal accompanying flavors. If you are into very straightforward taste in your beer, then this could pique your interest.

On to the only surprise that i had with this beer. While I saw very minimal head, and little signs of carbonation with this beer, it does have quite a bit of soda-like carbonation on the tongue while drinking. Still a relatively light feel, and somehow it reminded me of drinking a coke if i took all of the sugars out and replaced it with a bit of salt.

There it is... my personal breakdown of this somewhat mediocre beer. At least in this advocate's eyes.

Jan 02, 2013
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flyingpig from Scotland

2.38/5  rDev -35%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Dark brown in colour with an almost black look to it and a lively looking body. There is a thin, centimetre tall head on top that is an off white colour and settles to a patchy lacing after a few seconds.

Almost nothing in the way of an aroma here when I first smelt it. There is some roasted malts and a hint of chocolate along with a faint stout like aroma. There is also a smell similar to miso soup as well but none of the smells are strong ones.

Basic in taste as well with some basic dark malts and a hint of chocolate along with that same basic stout characteristic. It does seem a lot stronger than the 4.4% mentioned on the bottle though.

Light medium bodied with an alcohol laced flavour and medium carbonation. There is a slightly gassy feel to the beer as well.

A rather poor beer for me here, it was far too light on the nose and tasted with a cheap stout mixed with salt water. Nothing about this one really appealed to me and it won't be one I'll have again.

Dec 14, 2012
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M_C_Hampton from Georgia

3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: poured from 330 ml bottle ( bbd Nov 12) into pint glass, dark brown almost black with a thin tan head that immediately vanished leaving little lacing, clear
S: dark roasted malt, salty smell, molasses
T: sweet malt up front with a little ocean type flavor that peeks through, some hops towards the end, subtle flavor
M: thin but finishes clean, light carbonation
O: kind of a novelty to have seaweed flavored beer, interesting revival of an old style, an average beer overall

Nov 16, 2012
Kelpie Seaweed Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 83 out of 100 with 420 ratings