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Kelpie Seaweed Ale | Williams Brothers Brewing Company

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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 Morey
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz. bottle with "Best before date Mar 2012" stamped on the back label.

Pours brownish black (almost cola) in color. with a beige colored head that stood about a half inch tall for only a minute or so. Almost no head remains and minimal lacing is left behind as you sip. Nice ruby red hues can be seen when the beer is held up to light.

Fairly mild aroma of flat cola, oyster/soy sauce, toasted malt, and perhaps a touch of open ocean air.

I'm even getting a bit of cola in the taste along with some grain and mild hops towards the middle. Slightly fruity on the back end with a suggestion of black currants. Finish is rather crisp and smooth.

Thin to medium bodied with a moderate carbonation that tingles the tongue.

Not bad overall. I wouldn't buy this if left up to me, but I'd certainly drink it again if offered one.

Morey's Bottom Line: Well, I haven't had any other Seaweed Ales to compare this to, but this isn't as good as the Elderberry Ale that came in the mixed 4 pack IMO. Worth a try though. It's pretty easy to drink.

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Photo of StaveHooks
3.39/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark brown/red with 1 finger of tan head.

S - Roasted malts, cocoa powder, prunes, raisins, hints of soy sauce, alcohol.

T - Follows the nose, roasted malt, mildly smoked soy sauce, slightly brackish. The finish reminds me of watered down coke in way.

M - Medium thin body, low carbonation.

Didn't get any seaweed notes. The malts are nice but are very mellow and a bit watered down.

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Photo of bluHatter
3.17/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours with a huge thick creamy light brown head, similar in look to a Guinness but more porous. Good lacing. Deep but clear black in color.

S: Earthy, dusty, dank, musty, dark rich chocolate

T: Chocolate overtones, with roasted coffee bean finish, musty old world bitterness. I don't taste much nori here, but it speaks of the sea.

M: Not much carbonation here, medium thickness. Not quite stout. It feels wet and a little sad.

O: I didn't know what to expect going into this ale, but it definitely had a unique quality. I think maybe it should be renamed, to "Chocolate Seaweed Ale" ... but then that might confuse people. Overall, not bad.

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

The beer is clear dark, black with red tones, a tan head giving little lacing but actually some curtains.

The smell is mostly earthy, concrete, dust, old cellar, some smoked coffee beans.

The taste is very little sweet, a dry smoked nuance, some iodine, coffee beans.

Light carbonation, a small body and watery character, a dry finish.

A quite OK beer, the missing hops are nearly not noticed.

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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 BrewCrew2010
3.58/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a blackish-brown body with a puffy beige head.

S: Dark roasty malts dominate the nose with some, and I mean SOME, saltiness. There is also a sweetness to the aroma as well as some chocolate.

T: Much better then I expected. Palate is mostly chocolate malts with a slight saltiness to it giving it a earthly-like flavor. Sweet roasted malts are balanced with a coffee bitterness. Interesting beer.

M: Medium-full body; mild carbonation; creamy mouthfeel.

O: Didn't expect to like this one, but I did. I don't see myself getting this again because I've only seen it in the packs. Even if it was sold in singles, I probably would only drink 1-2 of these at a time.

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Photo of albertjr21
3.8/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best before date indicated is Nov. 2011. Into a snifter on 6.16.11 this pours the darkest brown color (practically black) under a persistent frothy tan head. Aroma is inviting with notes of deep earthy sweet dark chocolate malt, fresh oatmeal, and a significant milky note to complement. Smells like a more intense version of a chocolate milk. The general feel and taste on the palate is quite different that what the nose indicates. Deep roasted malt character is clearly present but mellowed out by the herbal (Seaweed?) and perhaps hop character that runs a smooth and lightly crisp agenda from start to finish with ending notes of dry cocoa and very lightly salted nuts. With a 4.4 % abv and an overall mild profile, this seems like it would be a great session brew.

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Photo of salvo
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What a wonderful surprise! Pours dark and rich chocolate brown with a khaki head. Mild wafting suggestions of the ocean in the nose; malty and roasty sweetness.

The first taste is all dark roasted sweet tangy malt. As the beer warms, more subtle flavors emerge in the range of blackstrap molasses and dark fruits. Sea breeze in the nose becomes more pronounced as it warms. Unusual and quite delectable. Would like to have with a seafood meal.

Medium bodied medium-dark ale with very little hops presence and just a hint of sea salt and ocean breeze from the seaweed. These brewers from Alloa are doing wonderful things: look out Brew Dogs! You've got competition!

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

Pours very dark brown with small head that soon dissipates. Aroma is roasted malts reminding of stout, not much else.

Taste is similar, dark roasted malts with notes of salt. Mouthfeel is light with significant carbonation, reminds of stout mixed with extra-sparkling mineral water.

The beer feels refreshing, but it seems that the addition of seaweeds did not improve the flavor in any way.

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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 Sauron2012
4.67/5  rDev +28.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

Pint bottle poured into my Crimson Tide pilsner glass.

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

S: Rich and malty.

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

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

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

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

Poured a really dark brown, practically pitch black

S: the aroma was a little thin. Roasted barley malt was at the forefront, with a slight sweet smell towards the end. It also had a "water" smell.

Like the aroma, the taste was thin. It was like a watered down porter at first, but as it warmed up the malts came through. It had a roasted malt flavor - semi sweet, on the chocolate side. I think I detected some dry hops. But this is caught my attention; there was a mineral water taste in the background.

MF: it was like a porter mixed with sparkling mineral water (I'm thinking Apollinaris). At first every sip started off with a roasted malt flavor, but then a mineral taste came up to finish things off, leaving a relatively clean mouth feel.

D: it's drinkable enough. With such a low ABV it was easy to drink. Despite its ease of drinkability, it didn't really make me want to have another.

Conclusion: it was interesting. The mineral aspect seemed to make this distinctive. I'm glad I bought it, but I don't think I'll buy it again. This was a one-time only beer for me.

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Photo of rudzud
3.81/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Picked up on a whim. Hmm...seaweed beer? Gotta try this!

A - Pours almost like a stout with a very dark not quite black but as close to it from brown as one can get pour. Clear but very dark. It took a vigorous pour into my tulip glass but I got a big fluffy two finger tan head from this beer that faded slowly leaving nice thick clumps atop the beer and some nice side lacing.

S - Aromas are alright. Nice sweet malts and just a slight, faint ocean salt aroma. I mean very faint, one second its there, the next its gone. Is it weird I want this to smell mor elike seaweed?

T - Solid taste here. Nice sweet dark, roasty malt flavours. Very close to a stout in that sense, followed at the end by some more light salt flavours. More than on the nose with an even more salty aftertaste.

M - Good mouthfeel, though again similar to a stout. Really wish this was a bit thicker though. Feels a little thin with the appropriate amount of carbonation. Wish it was a bit thicker.

D - All in all this is an interesting beer. Nice malty flavours with that slight salty addition. This is quite unique. I dig the seaweed in this, though maybe want it pushed a bit more with even more seaweed power!

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

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #45 (Oct 2010):

Mashed in with bladderwrack seaweed, which is know for its unique flavor and supposed medicinal qualities. Dark, let's call it black... impressive lacing to say the least. Sweet treacle maltiness with a faint ocean saltiness in the nose. Smooth and wet with a delicate, moderately sized body. Small hop character is there to balance and nothing else. Dry toasted malt flavor seems to play the same tune but at least sticks to the palate. A bit of earthy yeast and vague fruit in the dry and lightly salty finish. A great example of what an extreme beer can be; dark ale with seaweed, BAM! Extreme! Aside from that, this ends up being a great session ale that lands outside of the box.

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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 coachdonovan
3.17/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Best before February 2012, although based on when this appeared in my local store, it should be fairly fresh. I have my fears that this one's a bit gimmicky, from the name to the seahorse on the label to the "MICROBREWED FOR MAXIMUM FLAVOUR!"

Pours a dark dark brown with a little crimson hiding in there. No head/lace to speak of. Aroma is a nutty cocoa flavor and reminds me of a chocolate porter. But that roastiness disappears when I take a sip. Mouthfeel is very very thin and not as chocolatey as the nose would suggest. I guess I can't hate on this beer too much, if indeed it is authentically brewed to style and tastes like it's supposed to. I just don't understand why you'd make a big deal about the seaweed if it's completely undetectable. All in all I wasn't impressed.

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Photo of EwaldEichstaett
3.62/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I was expecting a unique experience from this beer. It turned out to be disappointing. I don't mean to say that I did not enjoy the beer, but I did not really taste any seaweed infused characteristics-- perhaps a slight hint in the smell.

The beer poured very dark with a poor head and lacing. The smell was mostly chocolate malts with perhaps a slight spiciness to it. It tasted like an English stout. Nice toasty chocolate character. The feel of the beer was very wet and watery. The beer had lots of flavour and it went down very easily. It was quite drinkable, but I paid for the novelty of the beer and was let down.

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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 AdamBear
3.43/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A-dark brown, almost black. good amount of tan head

S-dark roasted malts with a spicy sweetness to the end...quite impressive actually. its a strong smell. there's chocolate in there as well.

T-well its a short experience. it hits with a small blast of the dark roasted malts. its accompanied by a weird tanginess. the malts slightly stay in the palate for awhile but the tanginess stays there as well. its not a very flavorful beer. its not a terrible beer either. its just average.

M-soft carbonation with a watery finish

D-to my surprise i enjoyed drinking every ounce of this beer. it seemed to get more friendly towards the bottom of the bottle. maybe the less desirable flavors started to mesh out. the low abv makes this a great drinker.

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

16.9oz bottle with a Best Before Date of FEB 2012. $4.29. Here goes nothing...Pours about as dark a color I've seen on a beer in a long time. Basically black with a thin head. Some lacing. Smells like roasted malts, earthiness, and a bit salty. Surprisingly for being a "seaweed ale" this brew does not taste like Poseidon's beard. Almost takes like a porter. Somewhat smokey with some roasted malt flavors. A bit chocolatey. Not what I expected. Like I said before, it tastes like a low ABV porter. Not bad.

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Photo of alkemy
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Such a dark brown that it could pass for black. There are some mahogany highlights visible when held directly to light. About a finger of thick tan head that dropped to just a cover over the top of the brew but stayed throughout. The aroma is earthy and nutty. There's also chocolate and a mossy kinda briny note. Maybe I'm just adding this subconsciously, but to me, it was there. Taste is rich bitter chocolate up front with slight burnt sugar and roasted nuts. There's a smoky/briny note in the flavor as well, but it comes across more in the after taste than during the drink. Really creamy feel and very easy to drink. I had no idea what to expect from this, but it certainly exceeded the feeble expectations I had for it.

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

Single bottle (best by Aug 2011) poured into a milkshake pilsner glass.

Appearance: On the table - black with brown at the edges. The beer has a persistent 1/8" dense tan head. Held up to the light it's a dark ruby red shading into brown. Sheets of lacing here and there.

Smell: Not a lot. When first poured I got some chocolate and roasted malts, but now that is gone. I can get it back on deep inhales, but it's still faint. The smells come back a bit when it warms up, but they're still best on deep inhales. I'm not getting the sea smell though.

Taste: The roasted malts are dominant here, with some coffee and chocolate notes coming through, but more of a bitter roasted coffee and bittersweet chocolate flavor. There is something else in here at the end, but I cannot tease it out when it's cold nor when it's warmer.

Mouthfeel: Mild carbonation, a bit chewy with some lingering on the teeth.

Drinkability: This reminds me of a weak English porter overall. If you were to put this in front of me and not tell me where it was from and what bottle you poured it from, I'd think it was an English porter and not a beer with seaweed mashed in. Went okay with a meal and I think it would be fine by itself as well. Overall okay but I think my favorite by this company is the Alba Scotch Pine ale.

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

Pours a clear, very dark mahogany with a light tan, 1-finger head that has some retention and some dabs of lacing.
The smell is a rich, dark malt and chocolate. Oh yeah, there's also the aroma of the salty, ocean air. Ha.
The taste is burnt, bitter malt and a hint of chocolate.
Mouthfeel: At first it seems like it will be full but once in your mouth feels very light almost watery. Has a dry ending.
Drinkability: I suppose this is almost good but it doesn't quite hit the spot for me. The burnt flavor doesn't suit me. This beer really does seem like a porter and one that is just a bit above average.

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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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