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Kelpie Seaweed Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

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Kelpie Seaweed AleKelpie Seaweed Ale
420 Ratings
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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Ratings: 420 |  Reviews: 291
Photo of Shaw
3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very deep amber in color. It's almost black. The head is slight and brown. It smells of chocolate and roasted malt. The chocolate malt carries over to the taste. I can't say that I can taste the seaweed in this beer.

The body is light and smooth. This is an easy-to-drink ale. It's a little light for my tastes, however.

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

330ml bottle

Pours a deep, dark chocolate brown with a small tan head that fades. Mild lacing on the glass.

Aroma is slightly roasty and nutty with a nice cocoa scent. Smells very much like a stout.

Taste is slightly roasty with some caramel and nutty tones. A very distinct cocoa taste presents itself midway. Kind of a cross between a nut brown ale and a stout.

Light body, mild carbonation.

I can't really determine the effect of the seaweed, but this is a nice beer. Very sessionable.

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Photo of Zorro
3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deeply maroon colored clear beer with a momentary off white head.

Smell is vanilla, chocolate and smoke in the first sniff. Faint trace of Iodine in here that must be the seaweed. My nose might be off on this one as I live 5 miles from the ocean and I do not really recognize the smell of the ocean anymore, it is just always there.

Taste is mild malt and caramel with a smoky salty edge to it. Mild chocolate and coffee flavors show up next and add a lot of flavor to a very mild Scottish ale.

Mouthfeel is good.

A very easy to drink beer that is really a Scottish ale in my book. Not nearly the unusual style that you might expect this to be. Nothing here but a quite good ale.

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Photo of EPseja
4.27/5  rDev +18%
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 DrJay
3.62/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown, clear, with a thin brown head. The toffee aroma from the grain melds quite nicely with a peaty iodine character, very reminiscent of an Islay single malt scotch. Same in the flavour with a little caramel thrown in, but the malt is a little too thin to fully carry the more distinctive flavours. Salt and iodine really linger. Very interesting, but a little strange. Thanks Eric!

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Photo of Derek
3.65/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark caramel colour.

S: Dark fruit, roasty and sweet.

T: Sweet dark caramel, with a slight medicinal character (like the iodine in an Islay whiskey).

M: Light body and carbonation

D: It's a little different, but certainly approachable. The low alcohol content should make it quaffable, but I couldn't see myself drinking pints of this.

Thanks Eric!

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Photo of canucklehead
3.85/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is one of the best of the Craigmill line due its dark flavour which lingers on the palate. Almost porterlike in colour and taste, I can detect a slight sea odor to the mainly malty taste . Old plums and blackberries also pop up in the flavour profile. Well made and very drinkable.

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Photo of Citadel82
4.47/5  rDev +23.5%
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 sevineyes
3.27/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a brown bottle with a green oval label.

A: Very dark brown. I was expecting more red, but it seems to simply be a dark brown. Small head that diminishes quickly leaving no lace.

S: Dominant smell is a roastiness. Some coffee, some chocolate a little bit of malt presence.

T: Again get a big roast, some burnt toffee, coffee. Finishes unusual. Instead of really having a "finish" the flavor seems to just go away.

M: Thin. Watery.

D: Very drinkable.

Overall: Really does have a lot of porter-like aspects to it except for the finish. A lot of the flavor seems to be present on the back of the tongue. I could drink this all night, but I have to admit that it's not what I was expecting from a seaweed ale - even though I really don't know what I was expecting.

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Photo of brentk56
4.12/5  rDev +13.8%
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 part...rich 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 Cwrw
3.65/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Heather Ales is quite a treat for any beer lover, because their unique centuries-old recipes are literally a chance to travel back in time and taste what beer might have tasted like hundreds of years ago. For this, I have instant respect for these Scottish brewers: I mean, how many other brewers are making these types of beers? Interesting, I actually bought this beer in John O' Groats, Scotland, which is at the very northern tip of Scotland, in 2003. I brought it back home and stuck it on the shelf, wanting to keep it more as a keepsake rather than drink it(it was before I became as absorbed by beer as I am now). Finally, I get to try it, courtesy of the "Beers of Scotland" gift pack now available in Alberta.

Kelpie is a thick dark brown colour, seemingly black. The head, which was fizzy but still very consistent and creamy, is a cola-brown or root beer head colour. Lacing which moved rapidly in sheets. The aroma is not quite expected, but the chocolate and coffee maltiness is very strong. There IS a touch of something salty behind the malt. The cardinal aroma here though is milk chocolate. Raisins, root beer, and coffee grounds as well. Sniffing somewhat above the glass, there is a bit of a sea-water smell--a little sourness, metallic, reminding me just briefly of that difficult-to-define smell in Orval Trappist Ale. The aroma is not too noticeably different from some amber ales or stouts, but is still very appetising, and incredibly refreshing somehow. It also improves after breathing for a few minutes in the glass. My summation of the aroma: like a good malty stout but with a tad more salinity. The taste is fairly one-dimensional: soft dark malts, a little hard-water taste, and maybe the subtle hint of sourness or saltiness from the sea-weed. The malt adds some brown sugar, brown bread, and some chocolate, but there really is not much complexity to be had. Again, that is not entirely unexpected for such an old recipe, when taste was probably not as paramount a concern for the everyday person as much as slaking thirst was. The body is quite thin, a little watery, and the carbonation medium. Drinkable, but not something I would drink more than two of at one sitting. I, for one, am glad to have finally tried it, and anyone else seeing it should pick it up and taste a little history.

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

The colour is dark brown, the head is almost completely absent.

The smell is loaded with seaweed, salt and roasted malt. Almost like the smell of the Atlantic coast.

The taste is surprisingly sweet (cane sugar?) with a salty note of sea. The beer brings a full-bodied taste with lots of fruity malt, some of it roasted. The medium aftertaste is malty with some salt and a hint of mushrooms.

The carbonation is average, leaving more room for all the salty flavours.

A fine different ale, although I had expected even more of those seaweed flavours.

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Photo of jaluria
2.77/5  rDev -23.5%
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 AlexJ
3.03/5  rDev -16.3%
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 ypsifly
3.75/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16.9oz notched best before end of '06, poured into an imperial pint glass.

Looks like a stout. Damn near black with a small tan head that fades to a foamy ring after a minute or so.

Smells dry, with some roasted malts, cocoa, and something vegetal. Again, this comes across as a stout, but with a hint of dried seaweed.

The malts dominate the taste. Yet again, this hits all the notes of a stout, with some salty greens. A bit earthy with some cocoa powder and an almost milky body that is kept in check by bitter hops.

Drinkable, but nothing exciting going on here.

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Photo of smcolw
3.8/5  rDev +5%
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 tgbljb
3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

thanks to fellow BA mtanji for this gift from his beer of the club. Poured a deep brown, almost black color. Smell is similiar to a porter with rich chocolate notes and toasted malt present. Taste is also like a porter, with chocolate on the top and a mildly pleasant salty taste coming through. finish is moderately dry with salty notes present. A very good beer.

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Photo of SwillBilly
3.95/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 11.2 oz bottle.

Appearance: Pours a deep, dark, almost black, brown with a nice 2 finger tan head that quickly disappears leaving minimal lacing on the glass.

Smell: Hints of chocolate, charcoal, with slight "oceany" type aroma.

Taste: Roasted malt and chocolate dominate. Slighty sweet beginning finishing with a roasted malts and a touch of hops leaving my mouth somewhat dry.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thin compared to how it looks. Would like it to be thicker, more chewy.

Drinkability: Due to the low 4.4 % abv this easily could be quaffed all day long. Easy drinking beer that is not overpowering in any aspect.

Overall, pretty decent. My 1st Scottish Gruit so I really can't compare it to anything else. Not great, but worth a try if you can find it.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.75/5  rDev +3.6%
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 Reidrover
3.75/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle the beer is a nice dark brown, almost verging on black, smallish bubbly tan head, good lacing down my glass.
Fine chocolaty/salty aroma, coffeeish.
taste is rather odd..its mostly of dark but with an odd salty tinge underneath..maybe from the seaweed, I am not sure, but the salty thing make for a short dry finish.
quite deceptivlly carbonated and light in the mouthfeel department, but for me this works quite well.
I found this an odd beer, but I liked it and found it very drinkable.

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Photo of budsboy
3.75/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a nearly opaque, deep brown with a frothy tan head.

Smeels of coffee, chocolate and berry. Very aromatic. Somehow (perhaps power of suggestion) there is an oceanic quality to the scent.

Taste is roasted malts -- chocolate and coffee are large and boastful. Ends quietly without bitterness but with a toasty bite. No sense of seaweed, but the impression of the sea and a slight and pleasant saltiness exists.

A bit thin, gritty in the mouth.

A wonderful surprise. I tend to shy away from low-priced imports, but this is a real jewel. Try some.

And no, you can't taste the seaweed.

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Photo of Dithyramb
4.23/5  rDev +16.9%
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.

 1,670 characters

Photo of CBFanWish
3.86/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Who the hell had ever heard of seaweed beer? Not me, at least not until recently. Boy, was I surprised.
The pour was a dark brown, mahogony colour that was almost black. The head was moderate and light tan.
The smell was mostly chocolate and coffee and was perfectly mirrored by the taste. There were only slight hints of seaweed, which seems to be the point of this beer, moreso than an overwhelming seaweed taste, which could have been either too much or a little borring.
In all, it is a fun beer that I rather enjoyed and will buy again on occation.

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Photo of dauss
3.05/5  rDev -15.7%
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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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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Kelpie Seaweed Ale from Williams Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.62 out of 5 with 420 ratings
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