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 chefdejour
2.06/5  rDev -43.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A: Dark Mahogany/red when held to some light, otherwise dark brown/black. Poured with almost no head, and no lacing.

S: Chocolate malts, vegetal and very little hop aroma. Kind of "salty?"

T: Some veg flavors, mostly dominated by the astringent salty and chocolate malts.

M: thin and crisp with med. carbonation.

D: to astringent for more than the 1/2 bottle I shared.

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Photo of seymourbottoms
2.1/5  rDev -42.3%
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.

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Photo of tubaguy
2.29/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Imagine this scenario: you're at the beach catching waves and your beer is firmly planted in the sand near your beach towel. Meanwhile, waves, seasalt, squid, seaweed, microorganisms, and fallen sandcastles are all falling into your brew.

Pour some ocean water in a guinness and then you'll have a Kelpie. The kelp and seaweed tastes were not subdued enough to enjoy this stout-like ale. I could almost taste the sand in the beer.

Smells like ocean and tastes like ocean. Coming from a guy who loves the beach and beer, trust me you can skip this one. Just go to the beach and grab a Corona.

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Photo of flyingpig
2.38/5  rDev -34.6%
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.

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Photo of Murrhey
2.4/5  rDev -34.1%
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.

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Photo of mattmaples
2.42/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

They are at it again!!! This time it is a beer made with sea weed. This is a dark beer bordering on porter. The sea weed give it a bit of a funk smell and after taste. Not the best idea they ever had. I do have customers though that have come back and bought this more than once.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
2.64/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a deep dark brown colour, with tinges of red at the edges. Head is very minimal, just a tiny, loose-bubbled collar around the edge. Lacing is also absent. Body looks a bit thin. To be honest, I'm not enamoured of it, in fact, I feel a little bit of trepidation when I look at it.

Dark grainy notes on the nose. Toasted bread aromas, with light hints of caramel and a little cocoa sweetness. Not huge, and the flavours are a little generic, especially considering what was expected, but it's pleasant enough.

Quite thin on the palate. A slight roasty character, and a dry chocolate note later on, but the feel is woefully thin, leaving just a spent grain character to go with some fine-bubbled but overzealous carbonation. Feels like a very disappointing attempt at a dark ale, much lacking in body, depth and flavour. Mouthfeel in particular is disappointing.

Sorry guys, this just doesn't cut it for me - despite the uniqueness of the recipe, it doesn't have nearly enough on the palate, leaving it flaccid and weak. True, the main characters it has are dark grainy notes, but they exist in isolation with nothing else to back them up. Probably chuggable, but otherwise disappointing.

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Photo of Urbancaver
2.65/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I had NO clue what to expect with this. Frankly I thought it would be aweful but it surprised me... a bit at least

Appearance- No head.. not as dark as I would like to see but a deep brown none-the-less

Aroma- Smelled exactly like your typical stout... no real complexity here

Taste- Tasted like it smelled. A watery stout.

Mouthfeel- Doesn't really sit well on my palette...

Drinkability- Light enough to suck down but it gets worse as it goes

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Photo of chumba526
2.65/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Appears black with a sizeable tan head.

It smells slightly smoky, chocolaty and slightly sweet. It pretty much smells like a stereotypical English style porter.

It tastes much like it smells. It's a bit smoky. There is a bit of roasted nut flavor and a chocolate flavor. There is a very slight seaweed flavor but it blends with the smoky and roasted flavor of the beer.

The carbonation is way too high for the style. It has a very carbonated soda pop feel which is very unappealing.

Overall it's as drinkable as an average light porter. However the high carbonation makes me want to only have one.

Overall an ok beer but it doesn't have that interesting of a taste and the carbonation is too high.

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Photo of TappaKeggaBrew
2.66/5  rDev -26.9%
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.

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Photo of RedDiamond
2.69/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Kelpie begins with porter-like properties. It is dark brown, nearly opaque, and pours with a light tan head. It initially tastes porter-like as well, with a fair measure of roastiness. But the further it strays from its porterish attributes, the less good can be said of it. And it does stray afield.

The brew is faintly carbonated with an aroma that floats like a sea breeze across berries – raspberries perhaps. The body is thin; the aftertaste is dank and unwelcome. Thankfully, the taste itself is not overtly suggestive of seaweed as I feared it might be. The fleeing porter notes are supplanted by a berry basket of raw twigs, which in turn is subsumed by wet cardboard.

I gave this highly improbable concept every honest opportunity to win my favor but can only report that the experiment was a ghastly failure. Kelpie is flat and fails on many fronts -- as an ale, as a porter, as an herb-flavored brew, and as a Scottish novelty. By comparison, I have long enjoyed the Fraøch Heather Ale brewed by the same company.

Kelpie has a brief moment of budding potential, but the paint smock of an aftertaste and the coarse woolen mouthfeel destroy any enjoyment that may hope to linger.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
2.7/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark reddish brown color, with a very thin off-white head that fades almost instantly and leaves very little lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of dark fruit, spices, caramel, roasted malts, some chocolate and some hops, none of it seems to blend very well.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of dark fruit and chocolate up front and flavors of spices and caramel in the background. There's a mild hops presence that provides some balance. However, whatever it is that the seaweed brings seems to throw everything off a bit. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, mild kick, it's certainly a unique beer and it's not too bad, but I'm not sure that I'd really want to drink it again.

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Photo of DaveBlack
2.76/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.5

A: Much darker than I was expecting, but almost no head and some very moderate lacing.

S: Big maltiness on the nose, and not much else. Chocolaty, but not a whole lot else going on.

T: Tastes like a watered down brown ale. Some of the chocolate flavor on the palate, as well as a slight brininess. Kind of a boring tasting beer.

M: This is one of the few times that a beer's body makes it much, much worse than it would be otherwise. There is almost no body, it is incredibly watery.

O: I would never seek this beer out again, I find that the utter lack of body is incredibly off-putting, and the flavor is utterly nondescript. Just a boring, mediocre beer with no body.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
2.77/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

From bottle to Bruges hybrid glass

A: Dark brown, almost royal purple in color. When put up to the light, it is quite easy to see my hand on the other side. Zero lacing and head retention.

S: Yeasty, stouty, biscuity. It's easy to pick up the little alcohol that this beer contains. It certainly drew me in.

T: Malty up front, then falls off almost immediately, at which point a dirty, low tide twinge snuck up and bit me on the mid palate. A very short finish that wraps up quickly.

M: The forced carbonation is sharp and unappealing, like drinking seltzer water. It's deceptively thin and lightweight.

O: This is something I have been looking forward to trying, and am really glad I finally got a chance to split one of these with my Pops. Having said that, I respect what is going on here and truly appreciate how different it is, but I can't say it is something I'll go back to. Give it a spin though, as I can't think of another beer quite like it.

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Photo of jaluria
2.77/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Pours a dark brown with a slight creamy head. Aromas of veggies, sea salt, and roasted malt are present. The flavor is hard to describe because the initial taste is very much like an average porter, but the aftertaste is what destroyed this beer for me. My mouth felt like wet grass had been placed in it. The sharpness of sea salt and boiled veggies is what I couldn't get rid of. I did not enjoy this brew at all. I'm glad I tried a different style, but this was my first and last time. The whole concept of including seaweed is rather repulsive, but I tried to keep an open mind and was willing to try it. I definitely would not want another one of these. Good marks are only for the novelty of this style.

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Photo of sullysbeer
2.78/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Aroma: Chocolate, toffee sweetness. Not much hop aroma detected. Hershey's chocolate with a slight earthy aroma.

Appearance: Dark deep brown with a slight ruby hue when held up to the light. Light brownish head retention that lasts with a tad bit of Brussels lace.

Flavor: Watered down roasted and chocolate malt flavor with a hint of toffee. Light bitterness at the end of swallow.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied and light carbonation.

Overall Impression: Very light bodied dark ale. To me it tasted like a watered down stout. Roasted character is distinct. A session beer for sure. Wouldn't run out and get another bottle anytime soon but well brewed.

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Photo of brewmudgeon
2.82/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5


3-3.5 looks almost exactly like cola.

3.5 smells like chinese seaweed crackers on top of a mild stout base. wonder if this will be salty. as it warms this becomes even more one-dimensional roasted malt.

2.5-3 dry seaweed crackers and roasted malt. not much sweetness at all to this brew.

3 light body, brisk carb.

2.5 did not think it would be so boring, or roast dominated.

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Photo of WrathsU
2.85/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Appears very dark colored with a thick tan head. Head recedes into a thinner, not quite long lingering head. Not much lacing to speak of.

S - Tons of roast in this beer. Smells like a stout. Also a slight mineral smell. Perhaps some biscuit in there as well.

T - Tastes totally different than you'd expect. More mineral tasting than anything else. Slight roast, no bitterness at all, no alcohol taste. Kind of plain.

M - Medium bodied with a hit of carbonation bite to it.

O - Not a great beer but not the worst. I don't get anything out of the seaweed being there at all. If you gave me this beer I'd be hard pressed to figure out what it is supposed to be, let alone that there is seaweed in here.

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Photo of Tusked_pinniped
2.86/5  rDev -21.4%
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.

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Photo of hophugger
2.9/5  rDev -20.3%
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...

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Photo of jsh420
3/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours dark brown almost black with very little head that left no lacing

smells like a milk stout - roasted malts tiny bit of chocolate and a little sweet milk

taste is similar roasted malts mostly - i dont get any of the milk flavor that was in the nose

mouthfeel was very light with very little carbonation

drinkability was ok but i would rather drink a real stout - this beer is a little to watery

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I wasn't really very impressed with this beer, but it wasn't the salty noori/kelp taste I was anticipating. In fact, if you didn't know that it was in there, you wouldn't be able to discern its presence from the taste alone.

Color was dark with a bit of head. Aroma is pretty plain. Flavor is not bad, and is some subtle roastiness. Mouthfeel is unremarkable.

Recommended for novelty purposes only.

 400 characters

Photo of aquatonex
3.03/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A very unique offering...

Pours deep dark brown with a small coffee-colored head that quickly dissipates. Smells of malt, hops, hints of chocolate and seasalt in the nose. Taste follows the smell, with some heavy malts, medium hops, chocolate. However, the body is lacking. It's a bit bitter without the fullness of a stout. Reminds me of a Young's Double Chocolate that was left out for awhile and watered down. I don't know if I'd have this again, but it definitely could have been worse.

 493 characters

Photo of AlexJ
3.03/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Surprisingly dark pour, almost black with a creamy beige head that doesn't lace at all.

Aroma is stout or porter like, with dark malts, powdery hops, dark roasty notes, and a touch of briney vegetation.

Flavor is again porter like, and not a great porter at that. There's a slight nuance of that brine-soaked vegetation that really doesn't do it for me.

Body is rather thin, lightly carbonated, and just plain boring. I'll take my seaweed with my sushi thank you. Leave it out of my beer.

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Photo of dauss
3.05/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: slender 16.9oz bottle with a seaweed on the label.

Appearance: Clear deep ruby. Small tan head, no lacing and poor retention.

Smell: sweet and malty, light roasty character, grainy, and a little caramel. Smells like a brown ale or an alt.

Taste: starts off a little sweet, finishes dry with a little astringency. Very watery, thin, and bland. I really couldn't taste much of this beer.

Notes: Disappointing, not really any seaweed or salinity in the taste or smell. its very drinkable because there isn't much taste. The label gets your attention, but this beer lets you down.

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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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