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 Knapp85
3.38/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This took all I had to try this brew. I was just hoping that this didn't actually taste like seaweed. The beer didn't taste like seaweed thankfully. That has the flavors of a good some faint chocolate in the mix along with the malts they've used in it. The mouthfeel was medium and pretty smooth too. The aroma of the been had a slight smell of ocean to me but mostly malts, hops and other traditional smells were coming off this one. The beer is not bad at all, I just don't see myself having it again anytime soon.

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Photo of metter98
3.8/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark amber (near black) in color and poured with a thin and creamy tan head that slowly fades away. A moderate amount of carbonation is visible.
S: There are aromas of roasted, chocolaty malts in the nose along with some notes of the seaweed.
T: The taste is dominated by flavors of chocolate malts. Notes of seaweed are also well incorporated into the taste, which is well balanced.
M: It feels light-bodied on the palate and has a light to medium amount of carbonation. There is a slight amount of overall dryness.
D: The smell and taste of seaweed is very mild, which makes this beer rather drinkable. I would definitely try this again because it is a unique beer.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.18/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Who knew seaweed tasted like chocolate? A quite unusual beer indeed. Definately a treat for the malt-mouths, and not the hop-heads.

the beer begins with a malty-rich look. Dark brown with lowly highlights. A dense head forms above the beer and endures the session, leaving lacing all along. Think Skullsplitter.

Aromas are heavy on the sweet, toffee-like malts with a hearty dose of milk chocolate. The Scottish influence is felt with the lack of hop scent, rich peaty barley soup, and a complicated bready yeastiness.

Flavors are more dominant with the malts and chocolates than even the nose suggests. Extremely sweet with light dehydrated fruits comming in with the yeasty breadiness/toastiness. Lightly campfire-like and a savory meatiness throughout. Complex and simple flavors at the same time. Again no hops found anywhere.

Big, worty, thick, and nearly syrupy flavors make me think that I could use this on vanilla ice cream. Going to the cloying side the beer doesn't even attempt balance; just a punch with the malts and chocolate.

The beer is very intriguing, challenging, and surreal. The lack of hops make balance and complexity difficult. If you like the Scottish malty beers, then you'll find a lot of enjoyment here. By the way, I didn't get anything in the beer that even hinted at seaweed.

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Photo of brentk56
4.12/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown color with a tan head that leaves a bit of lacing around the glass

Smell: The best coffee with earthy overtones of caramel, chicory, smoke and nuts

Taste: Starts out with an earthy caramel flavor that flattens into a smokey, peaty finish; some saltiness at the end, with a hint of coffee

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: I can't help but enjoy this beer for its intriguing pedigree, if nothing else; but it also tastes good; if it were as rich as I would like I suspect it would be betraying its origins to appeal to modern tastes

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Photo of nickfl
4.07/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - One finger of dark tan head on an opaque, black body.

S - Caramel, coffee, and chocolate. Not getting any strange seaweed notes or anything, pretty much smells like a standard stout.

T - Spicy coffee notes, some chicory and light caramel. Cleaner in the middle than I would have expected, just some watery coffee. The finish is mostly dark chocolate with some coffee and some very nice earthy notes that may or may not come from the kelp.

M - Medium, oily body, moderate carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - I was surprised to detect very little character from the seaweed. This is by far the most drinkable of the gruits made by Heather Ale. Overall it comes across as a nice stout with an unusual, hard to identify earthy quality. A drinkable gruit, what a novelty!

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Photo of oberon
3.58/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown with a few deep orange hints thru out with a slight off-white head that settles nicely leaving a slight sheet of lace behind,kind of an odd aroma of roasted malt,chocalate and saline solution very different indeed.Taste starts out more like a nut brown ale some roasted flavors with some earthiness and then I picked up that ocean-like kelp flavor not heavy at all but I picked up none the less even more in the aftertaste.Not a bad brew at all some little oddities to it I am glad I gave it a try.

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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 ChainGangGuy
3.06/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

16.9 ounce bottle from Olde Crabapple Bottle Shopper in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours out a dusky, walnut brown body with a half-inch-high, beige head.

Smell: Lightly sweetish, malty-scented aroma with meager hints of chocolate, roast, shell-on nuts, and toast with an errant dried-fruit fruitiness.

Taste: Varied malty tastes, but each one is kinda muted: washed out Tootsie roll, RC Cola, lightly toasted nuts, half-heartedly roasty nuts. Puny raisin-like fruitiness. Maybe a hint of imagined seaside saltiness. Low herbal tone, even less, if any, bitterness. Wishy-washy malts, a bit more roast and toasted nuts on the flat finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Lightly carbonated.

Overall: Just a thinnish, light alcohol porter is what you're getting here. For having the word SEAWEED plastered across the bottle, I kind of wished they'd have really let me have it with seaweed taste, but, hey, that dried seaweed stuff ain't exactly cheap and in today's global economy, well...

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Barely translucent, dark tobacco brown with crimson-bronze highlights. Up top is a compact cap the color of suede with a finely pitting surface and very little inherent stickiness. There may be some lace once the beer approaches the bottom half of the glass, but at present there's none. Good color, not so good head and lace.

The nose is reminiscent of a chocolate porter with an underlying, subtle, brine-like character. The combination makes the beer smell not unlike soy sauce. While that somewhat odd aspect of the aroma isn't prominent enough to detract from the roasted malt focus, it is prominent enough to give it olfactory interest.

Kelpie tastes, for all the world, like a porter. It's a little shy on malt, yet still delivers plenty of carob and coffee flavor. There's a little cocoa powderiness and just a smidgen of sweet and sour. Where the hell is the seaweed? I was hoping this would be a pale ale so the seaweed wouldn't be covered up by the more assertive flavors of roasted malt.

I'm really struggling to appreciate much in the way of weedy, salty flavor; which is what I assume seaweed actually tastes like. I enjoy the 'green', briney, seaweedy aspects of Islay Scotch whisky (such as Lagavulin), but they're not readily apparent here. Although there's a definite sour tang to the finish, it's nothing that I haven't tasted in plenty of other, presumably seaweed-free, beers.

Lace update: there's a thin, almost unbroken sheet on the glass opposite that keeps visual interest somewhere north of ho-hum. The thin, not watery, mouthfeel seems a little flat as I enter the last third of the bottle. Not bad, but not remarkable either.

Kelpie Seaweed Ale is not at all what I expected. Perhaps the brewers were afraid that a true seaweedy ale wouldn't be palatable, even to those beer drinkers adventurous enough to take a chance on such a non-traditional beer. Nevertheless, they didn't do themselves any favors by brewing an admittedly decent porter and skimping on the weed. Who knows if my pale ale/seaweed ale would be any good or not, but I'm disappointed that I never got the chance to find out.

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Photo of russpowell
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours chestnut/mahogany with 3 fingers of mocha colored head. Great head retention & average lacing

S: Faint dark fruitiness & cocoa notes

T: Chocolate, dryness, a touch of pears & cherry up front along with slight saltyness. Saltyness picks up as this warms, slight smokeyness mixes with cocoa & just a bit of cherry pit. Finishes salty, sweet (cocoa & cherry mix nicely) & slight woodyness

MF: Medium bodied, with slight carbonation, body thins as this warms

Easy to drink & not quite like any other beer I've had

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Photo of smcolw
3.8/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Two finger beige head on top of a nearly stout colored beer (light does not shine through). Some slippery lace on the side of the glass.

Similar smells to what I expect from a porter--Lots of semi-sweet chocolate; a little caramel, burnt sugars.

The body is far thinner than I expected. Pretty high carbonation. The chocolate malt comes through with a nice balance of bittering hop. If there is seaweed, it only shows up as a touch of saltiness. I bought this as a novelty beer...I like it, but I don't sense the novelty.

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Photo of Jason
3.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 500 ml brown slender Euro style bottle with a “Best before end” date on the label.

Appearance: Nearly black in colour but the light seems to make a dim yet brown tinge to the dark colour, acceptable foaming head with a lace that has trouble sticking to the glass.

Smell: Earthy, ocean-like with fresh seaweed. Not fishy but rather a fresh salty seaweed aroma. Mild chicory roasted malt nose with some sweetness also.

Taste: Firm medium body, crisp with a developing smoothness and a semi creamy mouth feel. Carbonation is bordering brash and lets the roasted malt bitterness ride on its back while it crashes on to the palate. Not excessively earthy but it is definitely there, fresh and in the face with hints of salty neutral flavour seaweed. Malt sweetness is creamy with a near chocolate flavour but closer to a rich carob. Hops fit like a glove with out getting in the way and doing a great job to balance. Light salty earthy finish that is comes down dry.

Notes: No fishy ocean flavours or aromas. There is that fresh ocean flavour and smell though, salty and earthy. With that on a beer that is somewhere between a hearty brown ale and a brown porter it is quite and intricate mix. An interesting beer to say the least and well worth a try.

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Photo of Gagnonsux
4.05/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Kelpie pours a solid coffee black color with a full, somewhat creamy head. Aroma reminds me of coffee with a hint of dark chocolates. Very strong and inviting. The flavor is very coffeeish, slightly roasted, with just a taste of chocolate. I only noticed saltiness at the very bottom of my glass and in the slight feel on my lips. Mouthfeel is moderately creamy and adds nicely to the expirience of this beer. This is something I would gladly have again anyday.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.55/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Interesting concept seaweed ale, I figured after searching though the shelves and taking nearly an hour in D's Six Pack one day, this beer found it's way into my selections. Pours a deep, very dark ruby brown almost black really had to hold it toward the light to see the ruby tinged edges of this black abyss. The tan creamy head pours thick but then dissipates rather quickly leaving trickled lace in my Gulden Draak 20 ounce tulip shaped glass. Aromatics are much of a coffee porter with deep roasts filled with dark chocolate and cocoa. A bit milky with an air of sea air in the background, I am not trying to force the seaweed but it is evident there not dominantly but traceable. Taste is creamy smooth dark roasts slightly bitter, slightly harsh from the dark roasted barley in this beer. The salty finish tingles the back of the throat, but it's not overbearing at all not like gargling salt water just reminiscient of it. This beer works suprisingly I didn't know what to expect here, but I am rather pleased. As for mouthfeel just a little thin bodied not much fireworks or exciting textures going on here. Drinkability is decent but I wouldn't put it on my must taste list something of a novelty beer, but not bad very drinkable just not a classic in my book. Creativity was flowing here and along with the other beers from Heather Ales brewing ancient beer is their art.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.1/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown that shows a little bit of light. No head. Roasted coffee nose with some brown sugar in there as well. Flavor is just the same. Like roasted coffee character. Not really getting any seaweed on here at all. Well bodied, but there is some minor aspect about it that seems a bit thin. Nice biting and pretty full carbonation. This is an easy drinker. Almost comes off like a porter.

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Photo of jwc215
3.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark brown - almost black - with a thin, bubbly, white head.

The smell is of salt water and seaweed. Reminds me a bit of the ocean. Licorice and hints of chocolate underneath.

Seaweed flavor in my beer? I was a bit dubbious, but it works - I'll put it in the "interesting" category. The seaweed is backed by chocolate and suggestions of licorice. Slight dark fruit hints mixed in. Stout-like with salty seaweed describes it pretty well, but it has a nice complexity to it, so that it is not one-dimensional.

Medium-bodied and smooth.

Like I said, "interesting", but in a good way. Certainly unique. Well-done, though I can't see having this with any regularity. But, enjoyable as a "something different" brew.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.03/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

As it is April Fool's Day, I present my review of a beer some would assume to be a practical joke, Heather Ale's Kelpie Seaweed Ale, presented in a handsome and generous 16.9 oz dark bottle.
Aroma spills out of the bottle on cracking the cap, but I hold off from studying it until other aspects are examined. Pours a deep, dark brown, almost black, with a lush, creamy, proud cocoa-colored head that doesn't want to quit.
And that smell? Surprisingly sly snd soft, when lifted to the nose, but virtually indescribable, and utterly unique, but I'll give it a whirl...mossy, briney, vegetal, dark, cocoa, and nuts.
On the palate, very soft and pleasantly smooth. Some slight hops appear, but the thick and flavorful malt is fully in power. More flavors show themselves, more cocoa and nuts, more and more it feels like a very good brown ale. The seaweedy aspect bobs up again and again, but is inoffensive, unobtrusive. Oiliness in the texture, but terrifically smooth, with a nice, tasty finish.
This is their recreation of a historic style, from a time when seaweed brine washed over the barley fields, and infiltrated the flavors of Scottish ales. The label calls it "a rich chocolate ale which has an aroma of fresh seabreeze and a distinctive malty texture." That's about right. Anyone looking for an ale that's all about seaweed (and who are you, again, and why aren't you locked up?) will be disappointed.
I had this with an Ethiopian dish called Raafu, consisting of kale, carrots, potatoes, peppers, herbs, and spices. Went toghether well. And I thank UncleJimbo for sending it.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer is a dark, deep, ruby highlighted dark brown coloring with no head. Aromas of toffee and nut, with some earthy highlights. The nose leans towards a malt bomb of a beer. We shall see. Flavors are a bit more earthy than the nose lets on, with a rich, nut and toffee sweetness forming the backbone. Green, gritty highlights and a touch of brine keeps the brew somewhat light despite the heavy malt characteristics. Smooth and clean in mouth, the beer has a slightly tangy sweet and roasted aftertaste. Light, clean finish. Heavy flavors for such a light ABV, making this surprisingly drinkable.

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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 drabmuh
4.1/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass. Beer is dark and forms a thick head. Head is made up of brown bubbles and falls away leaving little lacing on the glass. Carbonation is not detectable.

Beer smells sweet, chocolate, roast. Smells like a stout or a strong porter.

Beer has a lot of roast. Also beer is sweet. Beer is medium bodied and has a very small aftertaste. I don't really like this style of beer but this one was a great example of how to make a stout with ancient ingredients. There is no seaweed flavors or anything like that. A highly drinkable dark ale. Good job. Probably my favorite from this brewery so far.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.28/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Ok, I had seaweed years and years ago, and while I do not remember the actual flavors, I remember it being salty. So....

This beer pours dark brown, just about black. A shiny hazelnut brown keeps it from being pitch black. Off-brown head, somewhat dense. Lacing is sheeting, a bit oily.

Aroma is more along the lines of an old porter. Coffee and some chocolate, sharp snap to it. Overripe black plum. Maybe freshly snapped green twigs.

Taste isn't bad at all. It's not outstanding either. If it had more of coffee or chocolate or roasted malt this would be a darn good porter. But it falls a bit short on all. Seaweed? Not sure. It does have a pinch of salt, which makes the coffee/chocolate stop short. Not sure what the kelp does to this beer. Oh well, it's still a good beer

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Photo of WesWes
3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a translucent dark brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a rich and creamy chocolate malt scent that also boasts of patent and roasted malts. The taste is decent. It has a thin, but smooth and flavorful, dark malt taste that boasts of pale, chocolate, and roasted malts. It goes down easy and finishes slightly watery with an earthy aftertaste. The mouthfeel is average. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a nice concept brew. I love the look and aroma, but it falls flat on the mouthfeel. All in all, a decent drinker.

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Photo of tone77
3.33/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a brown 11.2 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is mild, some notes of coffee. Taste is good, malts and coffee, maybe a touch of chocolate. Feels full bodied in the mouth and has average drinkability. Overall this makes for a good quality brew.

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Photo of biegaman
3.67/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Kelpie Seaweed Ale is, thankfully, not at all green or slimy. Instead it is a deep and dark chestnut brown that is nearly opaque, according full clarity to the light but only in very few places. The thin, loose layer of foam around its perimeter hardly qualifies as head. I doubt it'll even hang around to the end. (Note: barring a few dots, it didn't.)

The aroma has a bit of cola sweetness but is marked by an unusual stink that I can only presume is the seaweed. It smells like something that might be served alongside some maki rolls and a dollop of soy sauce. Overall, however, rich barley towers all: there is a tinge of scorched earth and plenty of toasted maltiness.

Kelpie Seaweed should be appreciated not for its seaweed flavour, which is minimal, but for its tremendously hearty barley. The lightly roasted, somewhat peaty grain brings an infinitude of substantial flavour and body itself. The coffee bean taste has hints of hazelnut and roast not unlike what you'd be find in an English porter.

Indeed, as unusual as it sounds, Kelpie Seaweed Ale is, for broad strokes purposes, essentially a weak porter. The purists out there can disagree - and they would not be wrong - but regardless of details, it certainly drinks like a porter. It has a medium-light body, moderate chocolate character and hints of biscuit, toffee and nuts.

Wary stomachs be not alarmed. Adventurous palates likely be disappointed. The Williams Brothers have made very original material from very unoriginal parts. It is an undeniably enjoyable ale and, to be fair, slightly distinguished but apart from the novelty aspect I can't see much other reason to lay the money down on this one. Maybe pass.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.32/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Best by Date Sept 2007, Sampled June 2007
Pours with a frothy, initially fat-one-finger thick, lightly browned, tan colored head that sits atop an almost opaque, very dark, brownish amber colored brew that shows just a hint of a brilliantly clear deep sherry-bronw hue around the edges if held up to the light. The aroma smells quite beer like, or I don't get anything initially that would be suggestive of seaweed. Aromatic notes of plums, dusty malt, molasses, raisins, toasted malt and even some concord grape notes are noticeable. There is something here that is faintly outside your typical beer aromatic; it is slightly musty, just a bit off and really so light that I can't quite describe it.

The beer is lightly sweet with a light fullness to it that belies the level of sweetness in this brew. The beer has notes of coffee in the finish, toasted grain, perhaps a touch of chocolate and a soft saltiness that could be from the malt, but I would hope was from the seaweed. The seaweed certainly does not leave a signature taste in this brew, or at least one that I can taste. This is actually a bit dissapointing for that reason.

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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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