Kelpie Seaweed Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

288 Reviews
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Kelpie Seaweed AleKelpie Seaweed Ale

Brewed by:
Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-18-2001

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Reviews: 288 | Ratings: 418
Photo of Sauron2012
4.67/5  rDev +28.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had seen this on the shelves and not known what to think, so I finally grabbed it.

Pint bottle poured into my Crimson Tide pilsner glass.

A: Super dark and rich looking, essentially a porter, but not quite as dark when held to the light.

S: Rich and malty.

T: Brilliant the malts and hops are traced by a slightly foreign flavor that I assume is the kelp. A delicious dark ale indeed.

M: Impressively smooth and drinkable, not a bad flavor left anywhere at any time.

Overall: I'd recommend this for sure, it's an interesting recipe with some pretty solid results.

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Photo of twaddlac
4.6/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Whoever created this beer, tell them I love them! This is by far one of hte most unique beers that I have had and it is delicious at that!

A- very dark, can't see anything through it. Not much of a head and a little lace

S- smoked beef jerky, a little hint of nuts, and a hint of sea water

T- This is the good part! Initial strong coffee flavor, again with the heavy smoked flavor. Something like the oriental Ramen noodles... soy sauce and seasame seed oil with artificial smoke flavor. The kelp does not kick in until the aftertaste. It is really quite intriguing and a unique experience! The malts are heavy and leaves the mouth feeling a bit dry.

M- very smooth but a bit too watered down, Very comparable to Guiness.

D- I think that everyone should at least try this if they are a biologist or love beer. This was one of the best beers I have ever had and I would recommend this to everyone! Hooray beer!!

IF ANYONE HAS THIS BEER, PLEASE BEER MAIL ME!! I AM WILLING TO BARTER IN ORDER TO GET THIS BEER AGAIN!! I live in Ohio so Great Lakes, Thirsty Dog, and may even be able to venture to Penn. to get something if need be!

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Photo of blakesell
4.55/5  rDev +25%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 16oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance- Pours like a Guiness! Thick two fingers of foam and opaque with a clear reddish hue when held to the light.

Smell- A light fluffy invigorating scent that I can only speculate is the seaweed. Earthy noble hopping with hints of sweetness throughout. Light peat.

Taste- Earthy and noble again. Wow, nothing like the appearance. Malty but light and grainy, once again with that sea breeze on the mouthfeel with hints of peat and smoke. Smooth and balanced.

Mouthfeel- Creamy, well carbonated, smooth, and light medium bodied.

Drinkability- An excellent and unexpected beverage. Who would have thought seaweed? The Scottish, that's who.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.5/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown to black with a nice creamy brown head, good carbonation, and decent lace. Nice chocolate and roasted malt aroma and flavor. A nice funky aroma creeps in later ... a lot like cocoa powder. No seaweed character noticeable to me. Light-medium bodied with light creaminess and a dry bittersweet chocolate finish.

Wow ! Much different than expected ... this stands up there with some damn good stouts ! Both the aged and fresh versions were very tasty - ages well.

Per bottle: "Malted Barley Bree, Hops, and Seaweed" & "Bladder Rack Seaweed - Argyll Coast"

Old Bottle stated: Craigmill Brewery, Strathaven, Scotland
New Bottle stated: New Alloa Brewery, Kelliebank, Alloa, Scotland

Best Before (end): 10/02 & 08/06
Tasted: 04/19/06

(11.2 oz / 330 ml sleek brown Euro-style bottle)

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Photo of thelagerheads
4.5/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A full-on Willy Wonka chocolate drink. It starts out very chocolatey and slowly dissolves into lesser amounts of cocoa with hints of caramel and miniscule amounts of salty plankton garflingus. Obviously it's malty and that's fine by me Ahab and should be by you too if you know and love the sea. I've seen reviews wishing it to be a stout, thicker and dense, but for an ale it is rather corpulent with all the right atmospheric qualities condusive toward multiple servings. Put the bottle to your ear and you'll swear that you hear the ocean in there calling you back home to Big Sur or to Carmel-by-the-Sea to become part of a neo-biblical Robinson Jeffers tragi-drama.

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Photo of StoutHearted
4.47/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sweet mother of toned-down hyperboles, is this an great beer! I chose it for the label: It was something new and I thought a seaweed ale would make me daring. (Some folks get tattoos, I buy quirky beer.) However neither the smell nor the taste gave off the salty, oceanic taste I was expecting. Rather, I got a chocolate ale that was somewhere between a porter and a stout. It poured brownish-dark with little to no head, but retained a strong aroma. The taste was very pleasing and featured a subdued chocolate malt backbone. The seaweed contributes an earthy vegetal quality to the brew. It's almost too easy to drink, especially at 4.4%.

I had this beer with spicy Mexican food and it went together fabulously. I was truly sorry to see the bottle drained to the last drop.

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Photo of Citadel82
4.47/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a very good beer. Just what I was looking for on a cold windy day on the Bayshore. The wind is moaning and howling past the windows of my office. Everything is coated in a sheath of glassy ice and powdery snow.... but alas the brew.

Pours a deep dark mahogany brown with chestnut highlights, A healthy if somewhat shortlived tan head theat fades to a ring and leaves sparse lacing.

Smells of chicory and roasted malt, a faint marine scent that is definitely there in the background. Briny breeze off the bay mixed with Cafe' Indulgence's roasted coffee. Not that the walk to the ferry is pleasant this time of year but the scents do tanantalize.

Taste is sweet malt and and tangy underripe berries with chicory and a salty finish. Faint salty finish. Pleasant and somewhat complex. Each sip differs from the next. The finish is long lasting with more chicory /roasted coffee biterness with some tea like notes.

A creamy full bodied mouth feel makes this brew a rare treat. It also makes it very drinkable.

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Photo of JamesS
4.37/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an excellent dark black color, very opaque. Has a good head and nice lacing (if a bit vertical). Great scent! A nice crisp and bold aroma with a great hint of seaweed. Great taste, too, crisp and clean as well, a nice balance of bitter and sweet, leaning towards the bitter side. Great hin of seaweed in the aftertaste, in a good way. Goes down fine, perhaps a bit on the rough side, but nothing out of the ordinary for this type of beer. It won't be my favorite, but it will be a nice change of pace occasionally.

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Photo of patre_tim
4.33/5  rDev +19%
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.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.32/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

01/13/05- Purchased at Mollie Stones Market in Burlingame, CA

Presentation- 16 oz bottle with a best by Dec 2004 date on back. Poured into my Ayinger weizen glass.

Appearance- Dark brown pour with a minor white head and minor sheets of lacing.

Smell- Heavy roasted malts and a musty chocolate smell.

Taste- Tastes like a sweet porter. Lots of chocolate tastes as well as roasted malt. Definitely on the sweeter end of the spectrum. I didn't taste any seeweed though.

Mouthfeel- Lightly carbonated brew with a sweet taste gives this one a moderate feel.

Drinkability- This was pretty tasty. I would recommend it to those who like porters, milk stouts or IRS. Worth a try for sure. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of shadow1961
4.3/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Kelpie Seaweed Ale pours a finger of tan foam over an opaque black ale.
Carbonation is hard to gauge, but probably nothing special. The nose
is deep dark toasty malts with mocha and vanilla notes. The flavor is
rich dark chocolate and espresso- very smooth with a bit of that nice
roasty bitterness of coffee for balance. There's a hard to define trace of
something else- perhaps a ghost of iodine from the seaweed the label
says has been added to the mash tun? Mouthfeel is extremely velvety
and smooth- nice full, and round. Very nice- one of the better Scotch
Ales I've had. It's quite an achievement, too, that you get all that flavour
and only 4.4% alcohol by volume.

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Photo of jamie2dope
4.3/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"So this is the seaweed beer right?" Asked the store clerk when I picked this bottle only reply was "yep." Pours an almost completely black color with a large white/tan head that quickly became a very satisfying lacing to look at. Smell is quite interesting and nothing at all like i was expecting, very porter or stoutish with some roasted grains, malt, earty tones, a slight saltyness as well. Taste was quite nice as well, more roasted grains with some mild coffee and chocolate flavors coming through. Mouthfeel is light to medium...truly a very easy beer to drink. As for drinkability, the low alcohol content as well as the really nice flavors going on make this a beer that is more then worth having a few of, if only to see what new tastes and smells surface as it warms up a bit. Beers like this are the reason that I enjoy the stuff so much. Didn't really detect any strong seaweed in this beer, but what the hell, it still is a really fun offering to sample.

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Photo of CwrwAmByth
4.28/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a thick black colour like a stout with an off white head with awesome lacing.

It has an unusual smell which reminds me of the sea actually, so I assume it is the kelp, quite nice.

Tastes very nice, the seaweed again is overriding which is good because it tastes immense, and seems pretty well balanced too.

Overall a very nice beer, would make a decent session beer.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.28/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Has a very interesting aroma - malty and also salty. (Well, it is made with seaweed!) Beautiful deep, nearly opaque brown with a thick, tan head. Flavor is superb - rich, malty, with some sea tang and a hint of molasses. The finish is a little watery, but overall this is a very pleasant ale, smooth and distinctive.

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Photo of EPseja
4.27/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 500ml bottle in a pint glass at just below cellar temperature.

A - Pours a dark mahogany brown. I think it's fairly clear, but it's hard to see through since it's so dark. Very well formed one inch deep tan head rises and sits; taking its very sweet time falling down to a sticky mat atop the surface of the beer. Lacing is evident just from the inital head, but doesn't quite hold up on its trip down the sides of the glass.

S - Initial notes of white chocolate, vanilla and cappuccino - not at all what I initially envisioned. Deep, roasted maltiness with an odd freshness that seems to defy all of the darkness that surrounds this beer.

T - Starts off like a nice dry Irish stout... darkly toasted maltiness with no real hoppiness to speak of. In the middle is where the saeaside action begins, with a very subtle and well blended saltiness and medicinal quality that reminds me much of the gentle notes that pervade Talisker scotch. Being a single-malt fan, this is a big plus. The finish is nicely drying, with only a pinch of bitterness that is overshadowed by a lingering saltiness. Aftertaste is ok, but leaves an odd "not-so-fresh" feeling in the mouth that is quickly remedied by another sip.

M - A bit watery on the way in, but in a refreshing way. Action in the mouth is soft and gentle, rising just a touch. The swallow is quick and very easy. For as roasted and toasted as this beer is, smooth and refreshing are the key words regarding mouthfeel, also due in no small part to the well tamed alcohol.

D - I must say, I was intimidated by this beer at first, expecting a salty, briny mess -- sort of a "dare" beer. I was SO wrong, and pleasantly surprised to find a very well crafted, complex yet smooth and easy to drink product that's only real downside is the offputting word "seaweed" on its label.

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +16.8%
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.

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Photo of scooter231
4.25/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

So I was in Knightly Spirits and picked this out and asked Jason about it and he said, ah yes, Kelpie, seaweed ale, tastes like a chocolate stout. And I thought, zuh? Seaweed... chocolate... so I had to try. Very glad I did, too.

A very, very pretty beer- dark with great head and lacing. Smells chocolatey and slightly bitter, roasted. Rich cocoa going on. There's a hint of a salty, beachy thing at the end of the smell- but if it wasn't a seaweed brew, I wouldn't have noticed.

Tastes chocolatey- deep, rich, not too sugary, roasted toasty flavors. A bit of biscuit going on, a hint of coffee. Delicious. Wish it was a biiiit deeper... but still very tasty. Mouthfeel is a bit smooth and creamy. Overall... a delicious brew. Surprisingly tasty. Thanks Jason!

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Photo of neenerzig
4.25/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A 16.9 oz bottle poured into my pint glass. This beer is a clear dark brown color with some very nice amber highlights. Light tan head was 1/2 inch when poured. Settles so some decent surface covering with nice lace. Has a nice roasted malt and chocolate aromas and a hint of scotch maybe. The taste is fairly sweet and malty with some hop presence and a bit of a saltyness that's not quite like anything I have experienced any other beers before. Has a crisp, light to medium bodied mouthfeel with light carbonation. Finishes nice and smooth. A very interesting beer to be sure. I would enjoy having this again.


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Photo of Dithyramb
4.23/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Brown ½ liter bottle. Nice labeling, but, to be honest, the labeling seemed a bit prefab. I kept away from this one, thinking it was some macro in sheep’s clothing. Plus, when I think of seaweed aromas and flavors, I only imagine large clumps rotting on the beach,or the salty and fishy wraps on my sushi. However, I changed my mind after a recent trip to Scotland and after learning a bit more about the brewery. Best by November 2006 very blatantly notched on the side.

Appearance: Extremely dark, almost opaque black brew with very light amber highlights that are only visible when brought to the light. Dark tan head that dissipated quickly to a dark tan sticky ring, any agitation brought the rising head back.

Nose: Cocoa powder and roasted malts are evident with a bit of earthiness that I generally detect on oyster stouts.

Taste: Roast toasty malts and dark chocolate flavors are just swirling around with some sweet backbone. The only mild bitterness comes from some more dark chocolate aspects. Has the earthy/organic flavoring that I always get from oyster stouts. Not exactly sure about the previous reviews claiming seaweed flavors and aromas. This one is pretty darn tasty.

Mouthfeel: Thin in body and quickly drank. The heavy flavor makes up for what little is lost because of that.

Drinkability: The half liter didn’t even stand a chance.

Overall: Delicious beer. I don’t know why this is listed as it is, since this appears by all intents and purposes as an oyster stout. My only negative comment is that I recently had the chance to try this off the hand pump, and didn’t. I won’t be passing up the kelpie again.

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Photo of LumpyGuitar
4.23/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up on a whim, was very pleasantly suprised.

Poured a very dark, solid, chocalate brown, thicker than hell, with a finger of foam, light tan, that lasted quite a while.

Smelled like choclate stout, maybe a bit of woodsmoke.

Taste was amazing! Sweet chocalate, with a bit of salt and an aftertaste thats smooth and tastes a tad smokey. Very impressive.

Mouthfeel was light, not grainy as I had expected but very very smooth. Not alot of carbonation either.

Drinkability here is high for me, I'll definately be getting a few more. Get some, you won't be dissapointed.

On a final note, approach this as you would a Schwarzbier, as its very dark but smooth and not that bitter.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.22/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle,

A: Pours a dark brown with a creamy off-tan head, good head retention, spotty lace.

S: Heavy on the dark chocolate, some light notes of peat, salt and greens. Definite maritime influence.

T: Heavy dark malt, chocolate, charcoal, a little bit of coffee even. Some seaweed on the back end, but always stays in the background. Flavour is kind of mix between a mild and a stout.

M: Light-bodied, but this is a 4.4% session ale, smooth with an earthy + chocolate aftertaste. Very quaffable.

D: Aside from the price this is a great session beer. A very enjoyable pint. Love these ancient ales that Cragmill is doing, I feel I'm in homage to my Celtic heritage when I drink them. A beer I'd love to have with oysters and a big seafood spread.

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Photo of beernut7
4.2/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Heavy dark pour with an nice head. The aroma is surprisingly smoky with tones of chocolate and sweet malt. The initial taste brings , again, a surprisingly smooth body with a salty sweet chocolate malt very reminiscent of the sea. Very smooth ale with distinctive flavors. Very nice with sea-food.

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Photo of JISurfer
4.19/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've been waiting for this beast for a while. When I say beast, I guess that's a little play on words, because everybody knows that a Kelpie is a Scottish mythical beast. With that said, time to move on to the review. This is a wicked awesome beer. It had a very nice dark color, but lacke the head retention that I desire with most of my beers. Other than that, it had a nice look to it, super dark. The smell was like milk chocolate, mixed with coffee, and ocean water. I'm a beach bum, so I like that little smell added to it. The taste was similar to the smell. The first initial tast was that of a mocha. There was the obvious taste of saltiness, but nothing too bad. This one also had a nice coating effect to it. I would recommend this brew with a nice sushi or good tuna steak. Ofcourse, swordfish would be good too!

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Photo of morimech
4.15/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with one inch of off-white head that settles to a thick cap. Very little lacing is left on the glass.

Has a chocolate and coffee aroma. Maybe a little sour note in there as well that is covered up by the roasted malt.

Nothing really unusual about the flavor. The roasted malt brings a coffee/mocha like quality to the beer. Just a touch of brinyness on the finish.

Medium body with a fizzy carbonation. Just a little too much to rate higher.

Nothing to be intimidated by the unusual ingredient in this beer. Tastes a lot like a porter or stout. Nice low ABV for a robust flavored beer.

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Photo of acrawf6
4.15/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have never had this style of beer, so my rating might be tainted, but i thought this was a great beer. Poured out very dark, almost black and opaque, but shown a little light.

Smell was very refreshing and seemed a little light for the color of the beer. The taste was great! Great flavor with tastes of chocolate and coffee. The mouthfeel was quite full and almost seemed like a porter beer.

I think this is a great beer! i'll be visiting scotland to see my brother in the next 2 weeks so i will definetly have to try some more styles like this when i'm there.

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Kelpie Seaweed Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
3.64 out of 5 based on 418 ratings.
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