Kelpie Seaweed Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

291 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: 291 | Ratings: 420
Photo of TheHammer
3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A black porter body with slight red notes that produced a finger of head the made modest lacing but retained itself up until the bitter end.

Smell: Mild chocolate stout with a slight hazelnut touch upfront, with a touch of peat and that kind seaweed you get in miso soup in the background. Warming helps bring out the chocolate and hides the seaweed. A little bit subdued though.

Taste: Starts with a salty seaweed with a light chocolate that builds up with the well roasted malt that finishes the way it started. I would stress that there is something unique to this one that reigns in the burnt taste you often get with porters and that makes this one very mild.

Mouthfeel: That light touch of seaweed leaves a little bit of a salty note, which is very peculiar to experience with beer. However the smooth transitioning, creamy carbonation and generally mild ride more then makes up for it.

Drinkability: Somewhere between light and medium bodied that sits down incredibly well. A very mild porter, but by no means one that is lacking in flavour or interesting characteristics. Except for that slight salt note, I could drink this all night.

Final Thoughts: An exceptionally well done beer that leaves me asking, why don't more brewers use various herbs in their beer? I can only guess that it's probably hard to get the right balance, however this brewery seems to have nailed it. You really can't go wrong with any of the beers in their Historic Ales of Scotland pack, and if you haven't given them a try and are still reading this, take this advice and seek it out.

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Photo of secondtooth
3.92/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This unique and inventive Scottish ale pours black, with ruby highlights. Light carbonation and almost no lace.

Nose is chocolate and roast. I also get some booziness, although this one is only 4.4%. Odd.

Taste is sweet and roasty, like a good session-worthy porter, and with a light body. There's a slight brininess in there, but it's quite subtle, as the chocolate maltiness and dark roasty qualities come to the fore. A solid and enjoyable ale.

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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 engisch
3.27/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a very dark brown color with a light tan head. Smell is mostly of malt with a fair amount of roastiness and caramel sweetness.

Flavor is sweet with an unexpectedly thin body. Light carbonation. Has an interesting back flavor that I imagine is the seaweed.

Interesting, but not overly exciting. I'd suggest only trying this if you are intrigued by the seaweed ingredient. Otherwise there is not much value to this beer.

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Photo of Maxwell
3.52/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a dark, dark brown that is pretty much black chocolate. There is a nice but uneven finger width head the color of cream with a hint of coffee. The head dwindles down to a slight half-finger width and slowly dissipates leaving a thin outlining of lacing. There does seem to be some good carbonation hiding in the blackness of this beer. The beer smells rich with chocolate malts and salt with an oh-so-slight brine tingle. The beer tastes slightly smoky with peat malts and chocolate. There is also a definite oceanic tint to this beers flavor with slight hints of salt and I assume the seaweed. It is a very interesting taste and actually quite pleasant, like a sea salt chocolate beer. The mouthfeel is very thin and watery, mildly reminiscent of the ocean, though that may be because I am thinking seaweed… While its thinness is a little disappointing, it makes the drink quite drinkable. The after taste leaves a weird lightly brine-like taste while leaving the mouth clean yet slimy, if that makes any sense. Overall this is not a terrible beer. The mouthfeel is definitely off but the taste is unique and refreshing which definitely makes up for it. It is more of a sipper than other beers though, despite its weak mouthfeel. This beer is worth a try if for nothing else than the fact that it has seaweed in it which is weird and different.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 500ml bottle with a BB of Aug 2012. Given to me for my birthday last year, so I've been sitting on it for a while. The label mentions that this ale includes bladder wrack seaweed in the mash.

Poured into a tulip pint glass. A deep reddish-brown hue with medium carbonation. Yields a decent head of creamy tan foam that lasts for a few minutes before collapsing to a surface layer. A sweetish aroma of chocolate malt with hints of caramel, dried fruit, ale yeast and a touch of brine in the background.

Tastes of chocolate malt with a dry, faintly salty finish. A slight, lingering sweetness. Notes of dark grainy malt, caramel, hints of dried fruit, faint yeast and a subtle briny quality. Dry upon swallowing, with virtually no bitterness. Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, with good body and a mild 'salty' sensation. Lightly astringent. Aftertaste of chocolate malt with a hint of the sea.

An unusual brew, but goes down nicely. Could be described as oyster stout for vegetarians. The aroma has a distinct chocolate note that is rather pleasing, while the flavour is balanced but a tad less substantial. Lies somewhere between a brown ale and a porter, with plenty of dark malt character. The seaweed doesn't exactly come through, but it possesses a mild salty twist. Tasty, and well worth trying.

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Photo of shand
3.94/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16.9oz bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

This beer pouts out brown with a small, off-white head. The aroma is rich with caramel malts and chocolate. The taste isn't nearly as strange as I expected, this is just a solid English style brown with just a bit of salt on the end, probably from the seaweed. It's a robustly malty ale otherwise, with a touch of chocolate flavors that work well with the salt. The mouthfeel is light and moderately carbonated, and the drinkability is very good. Overall, this is a solid brown ale made ever so slightly interesting with the touch of salt.

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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 drtth
3.59/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The dark amber beer is served in a Shaker Pint with a 1/4" ivory head that recedes slowly. Sipping creates scattered small patches of lacing on the sides of the glass.

The aromas include some light chocolate, a bit of yeast and some of the briny and seaweed smell of the ocean.

The flavors include the malt and some of its sweetness, and the flavors of brine and seaweed, i.e., something a bit like iodine.

The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium bodied and fairly smooth with the light carbonation. The medium length finish begins as the sweetness and malt disappear into the background leaving bits of brine and iodine to finish up.

Interesting beer. I liked it more than i had expected and i'll be happy to sample it again in the future if I find it again. It also helps with understanding what ales without hops were like.

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3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle.Tripel Karmeliet Oversized Chalice.Enjoyed on jul´11.Dark copper color,dark amber to the light.Yeast in suspension. Light beige froth.Close & dense crown.Good retention.Roasted malt, chocolate & subtle seaweed aromas.Floral notes.Dark fruit,dark malt flavors & smooth bitterness,mildy peppery touch.Full body,low carbonation.Toasted malt finish.Hints of coffee on the aftertaste.Easy drinkability.Fried seafood pairing.

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

Poured from 500mL bottle into a pint glass. Bottle says best by July 2012.

Appearance: rich dark hue which lets some ruby highlights through. Head pours a finger of frothy tan foam -- looks rather like a porter.

Smell: rich, chocolatey aroma with a light, indescribable herb component; this must be the seaweed, though it is not readily identifiable as such. I really like it: chocolatey but smooth, not bitter.

Taste: light, smooth chocolatey flavor which maintains its taste all the way through the palate. I find the aftertaste smooth, creamy and chocolatey; I would never guess there was seaweed in this. I find it flavorful and satisfying.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a wonderfully silky texture; good carbonation adds a creaminess which is very complementary. I love it.

Overall: this beer really surprised me. To me, it is just a really wonderful porter. Whatever the seaweed is doing is right; given the chance, I could quaff flagons of this stuff.

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

From the 500 ml. bottle stamped Aug 2012. Sampled on March 24, 2012. This is my 900th Beer Advocate review and I think I picked a pretty good one to celebrate it. The pour is a gorgeous dark ruby red brown with a moderate head. The aroma is wonderfully robust with dark smoky roasted malts, something akin to prunes, and something like molasses. It almost reminds me of a sweet porter. The body is medium to bold. The taste is also smoky goodness, a bit of chocolate, and a moderate bitterness.

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Photo of NoLeafClover44
3.45/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle poured into standard pint glass. Best before July 2012. Ingredients: Malted Barley Bree, Hops, and Seaweed. I'm intrigued.

A - Pours a very dark, deep mahogany color with ruby highlights. A one finger cream colored head that dies to a halo. Not much lacing.

S - Smells strongly of toasted malt and barley. I don't get any hints of seaweed.

T - Taste is a bit unexpected based on the nose. Starts with a slightly tart, almost salty flavor that I attribute to the seaweed. The barley is apparent on the finish. Aftertaste is mostly toasted malts.

M - Pretty low carbonation and a medium feel. Comes off a bit watery to me.

O - My girlfriend bought me this beer because it looked unique. The flavors are strange, but not unpleasant. It was worth trying, but I probably won't get it again.

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

It was cool to see this in the Scottish Ales sampler instead of Grozet. Pours a clear dark mahogany with a whispy short lived head that musters a good amount of lace. The aroma is malty and nearly smokey with a good amount of sea air. The taste is of chocolate malts, roasted malts, chicory and some faint salt in the back. I cant detect any specific 'seaweed' flavors. Hops are quite restrained. The mouthfeel is relatively light with a prickly carbonation.

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Photo of scarfield
3.41/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

App- Pours Dark with some red tones, looks much like a dark cola as you pour it, with a bit of a fizzy head. Minimal lacing.

Smell- Roasted Malt, restrained. Nothing that stands out too much, a bit of earthiness there as well.

Taste- Earthiness is the best way to describe it. A bit of roasted flavor comes through at the back end. Not much in the way of bitterness. Hard to taste any "seaweed" but there is a good brown ale here with a bit of mineral or earthy taste.

MF- Balanced, smooth, and the fizziness of the pour has gone away leaving a thin film for a head. On the dry side.

Overall- A pretty good beer, seaweed may be more of a marketing tool than anything else, but the backbone is a good brown ale.

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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 Zraly
3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown -- almost black -- with a nice, two-finger head. Gentle nose of earth and roasted malt. Lacing is good.

Subtle and smooth are two good adjectives for this interesting brew. The first notes are of roasted barley, chocolate, and a touch of earth. The finish is a touch tart with a hint of saline. Body is fairly light. Very smooth and at 4.4% ABV, it is a great session beer.

I would definitely be interested in trying this on tap. This would be a great ale to consume with good pub food.

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Photo of rsdaugherty
3.77/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into pint glass
A – Saturated brown brew spawned a 3 finger tan head with good retention and just OK lacing 3.5
S – A rich malty nose with a salty sweetness that reminds me of a chocolate pretzel 4
T – Malts are roasted with cocoa notes and a soft hop floral/herbalness, a mild “sea” character is present which I assume is the seaweed, a good tasting brew 4
M – Thin in my opinion with a moderate body, mild to moderate carbonation, good drinkability but could improve 3
O – A tasty easy drinking beer that I am glad I tried, just don’t think I’ll be buying it again 3.5

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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 tsauce2
3.82/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

P: 16.9 fl oz bottle in to a globe glass.

A: SRM is dark walnut brown. Approaching opaque but light still shines through from one side to the other. Head is light tan, 1 in, dissipates to 1 cm, appears creamy. Medium carbonation. Light lacing.

S: Medium roast malt notes, clean and moderate seaweed tones, light herbal additions. Seaweed smells like a fresh clean breeze off of the ocean.

T: Tastes like a light brown ale, with a touch of sweetness initially but then followed by herbal notes and seaweed. Seaweed gives an ever so slight brine. Aftertaste is light herbs and light sweetness, finished with light seaweed. finishes dry on the edges but slightly wet in the middle of the palate.

M: Medium body. Herbs and seaweed compliment medium roast malt to give a robust mouthfeel. Very drinkable.

O: A good session beer. Definitely something unique; since I have not had a traditional version of this in Scotland, I have no basis for comparison when judging how true to style this beer is. Fun and easy to drink. I would have this beer again if offered.

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

Reviewed from notes.

Pours out a deep dark brown in color which almost passes for black until you hold it up to the light for closer inspection. Two finger head is a creamy tan color and has solid retention but very little lacing left behind. On top of a roasted porter-like malt scent is an odd kind of clean salty brine smell that has absolutely no fishiness whatsoever to it. Flavor is once again like a weaker porter, well balanced with mild hopping on top of a roasted barley foundation, but it also has the slightly thicker umami feel that I have experienced from seaweed soup at a Japanese restaurant, only none of the seaweed flavor....Honestly I was bracing myself expecting to taste and/or smell seaweed and feel strangely disappointed. The seaweed really does just come across as a slightly heavier fuller body and a mild whiff of sea breeze. Otherwise, a fairly nice mild porter.

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

Poured into a goblet.

It gives a large, frothy head that quickly dissipates to a thin layer of foam with slight lacing. I couldn't smell any sea smells at all; rather, all I smell is chocolate. Smells pretty good.

Taste: it's very mild, malty and chocolatey. It tastes like a lighter version of Sam Adams chocolate bock to me. It's pretty good. There is light bitterness in the finish.

Overall: it's a solid, interesting beer. It's a little pricey for what it is, though. I got it for $4.50 for a 16.9 oz bottle.

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Photo of hdofu
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

All around a good beer, drank this first in a sampler of different scottish ales that was put out by williams brothers... I assumed it would probably not taste very good and would be a novelty ale, I was quite pleasant. It appeared dark, had a sort of smokey taste to it with a hint of spice. The barley flavor was the most noticeable element of this brew. It had a very full flavor too, and was not watery at all like some beers in this category. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was a fave, but I wouldn't pass it up if offered one again.

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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 codsmith
3.92/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours black, but can see dark red highlights in the light. Poured with a very small head light tan head that dissipates very quickly. I would have expected more head with the low carbonation.

S: Very complex... it has aromas of roasted and chocolate malt, a spicy twinge and an odd sea breeze that really bring a unique smell.

T: WOW...uhhhmmmm...very unique and taste is a lot like the smell with a salty taste.

M: Fairly light bodied and easy to drink. Carbonation is lacking and should be increased.

O: A very unique and complex beer. Definitely worth trying to the complexities of the flavors.

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Kelpie Seaweed Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
3.64 out of 5 based on 420 ratings.
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