Kelp Stout
Tofino Brewing Company

Kelp StoutKelp Stout
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American Stout
Ranked #493
Ranked #21,723
3.86 | pDev: 7.51%
Tofino Brewing Company
British Columbia, Canada
Very Good
Kelp StoutKelp Stout
Notes: If there’s one sentiment that’s constantly repeated among craft beer drinkers it is, “This beer is good but it needs more seaweed!” If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times. Well folks, message received. Tofino Brewing Company presents to you the Kelp Stout. A dark, rich, full-bodied ale brewed with locally harvested Kelp, giving a unique, umami-type quality to this complex beer.
Reviews: 20 | Ratings: 58 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of LiquidAmber
4.17/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing nearly opaque in the glass, with a half finger khaki head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt, light cocoa, hint of vanilla and licorice. There is a faint briny component that I probably would have missed if "kelp" wasn't on the label. Flavor is dark toasted malt with nice char, dark chocolate, mild licorice and like the aroma, a faintly briny taste that is somewhat reminiscent of oyster stout, but mild enough that I would not have noticed if I wasn't looking. Medium bodied with light creaminess. A nicely made stout with a well toasted and flavored malt base. Light notes of chocolate and licorice provide interest and the kelp seems to add a bit of character to the finish. I liked this one.

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LiquidAmber from Washington, Sep 08, 2019
Photo of AmeriCanadian
4.14/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Enjoyed a bomber on a cool, rainy “Junuary” evening in Vancouver at the tail end of a trip home. A little gimmicky in the packaging and product description, but this is actually an exceptional American Stout.

Look is absolutely phenomenal, with a jet black body and huge, thick, lacing mocha head. Can’t emphasize the impressiveness of the head enough: truly robust, fluffy, and lasting. Awfully nice start.

Smell is stout-strong and layered, as long as you aren’t comparing it to barrel-aged offerings — remember this is a 6% stout. Lots of char, deep earth, dark-roast coffee, plus some baker’s chocolate, damp wood, and rye bread. There seems to be a slight hint of salinity on the nose, but that could be my imagination syncing with the beer description.

Taste is a touch more subdued than the nose, but still rock solid. Deep espresso and dark chocolate notes on the front of the tongue, but very little sweetness. A little molasses, lots of roasted malt, a very slight hop bight, and plenty of dark grain cereal. A really solid English stout profile.

Feel is medium and soft, with plenty of carbonation and lots of velvety smoothness. Slightly bitter aftertaste that lingers pleasantly.

IMO this beer is highly under-scored. I’m largely ignoring the kelp gimmick, as I find almost zero traces of its presence. But this is a damn good stout across the board, and my experience far out-paces the average review (to date) of this beer.

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AmeriCanadian from Tennessee, Jun 09, 2018
Photo of kemoarps
4.06/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a rich velvety not-quite-black that is truly a ruddy brown, but so dark as to almost be that other one. Massive fluffy light brown head that finally settles in to a finger or so and seems content. Minimal lacing.

Nose presents roasty and a touch of chocolate in the malts. Subtly sweet and inviting.

Flavour begins similarly, and adds in some bitter coffee and dark chocolate. If I didn't know that it was brewed with kelp I don't know that I would necessarily pick it up explicitly on my own, but knowing it's in there I can definitely recognize it, and it makes sense for what it presents. The finish adds a little bit of briny seashore -- but only a touch. Almost more of an evokation than a full on flavour on its own. But I do find my cheeks tingling reminiscent of growing up on an island and accidentally swallowing seawater/licking my lips and the salty air just gives it that quiver.
I'm actually enjoying this one more than I had expected to.

Finish brings that... tang of a childhood spent exploring seashores and navigating tide pools or making kelp sculptures (no I never made those other things). This is in conjunction with a lingering roasty underpinning and espresso bitterness.

Ultimately I would agree with previous reviewers who have essentially said that Tofino started with a really well done base stout and then gave it a little quirkiness befitting coastal towns. I'm not sure that the kelp component makes the beer explicitly better per se, but it does give it a unique element to the finish, and it's a brew I would happily drink again

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kemoarps from Washington, Jan 21, 2018
Photo of VashonGuy
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I see that this beer has a fair number of skeptics. I'm not among them. I think this is a really good stout.

I'm wondering if the problem is the name, or the label. This stout is actually a very well made version of an American Stout, with a fine appearance (dark, nice tan head), and an excellent flavor, emphasizing roasted malts and some chocolate and coffee. The chocolate and coffee don't dominate, but they are pleasant components of the flavor. Then there's just a little something different at the end, a tanginess that must come from the kelp, and it must be what others have called briny. I don't find it prominent enough to call this beer briny, but I can see how it's a note that some might not like.

For myself, I think the Tofino brewers brewed an awesome stout, and then gave it a twist with the kelp. But don't go into this thinking "KELP". Think "Stout", and you may enjoy it as much as I did. And enjoy the twist at the end.

Hey, Dogfish Head does this kind of stuff all the time.

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VashonGuy from Washington, Jul 10, 2017
Photo of 3Vandoo
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Directly from BC.
Very dark pitch black stout with no head at all.

Smell is very sweet, with hints of roasted coffee. There is a sourness taste present that I cannot pin point.

Taste is smooth and neutral. Watery at first with hints of toffee, shy caramel and a sourness that I assume might be the seaweed. Overall it reminds me of some Eastern European soda.

A very different beer

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3Vandoo from Quebec (Canada), Apr 01, 2017
Photo of biegaman
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Kelp Stout - brewed with seaweed - indeed looks like a product of the deep, deep ocean. Whereas some beers have the complexion of a warm, golden sun that supports all life, this cold, inky, pitch-black offering looks like something that would smother it all out. Mind you, splinters of brown highlighting and stained foam do belie that claim a little.

I was a very picky eater as a kid. Not just stubborn either, practically phobic. So growing up I was very familiar with the "but you can't even taste the (blank)" and "you wouldn't even know (blank) is in there if I hadn't told you" arguments. My parents, in a losing cause, tried to persuade me with those all the time. And I'll admit now: they were usually right.

Anyone squeamish about the thought of drinking seaweed - don't worry, you won't even notice it! (If only they heard me saying that now! It's amazing how much we change as adults.) Honestly, there's far too much roasted malt and all the bittersweet chocolate, near-burnt espresso, and toasted nutty flavours that come with it to notice any umami.

... much less something fishy, slimy, weedy, or that resembles the ocean. I might be willing to concede a slight brininess - like that of an oyster stout - but I wouldn't go so far as to call this salty. It may be more apparent in a side-by-side tasting with other stouts but, as usual, it's the chocolate truffle, roasted grain and coffee notes that really capture the attention.

Tofino Kelp Stout isn't as unusual as it sounds but it's a lot better than you might expect. Seaweed may be the beer's selling point but it's not its best feature - this is simply a fantastic stout, regardless of what it's brewed with. Throw away any uneasiness or apprehension, get your tastebuds ready for a treat and approach this as you would any go-to stout.

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biegaman from Ontario (Canada), Aug 21, 2016
Photo of FrankBrewbody
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Overall this is a very unique beer that's worth a try. The kelp flavour comes through at the finish very well although I can see it not being for everyone. If you like an oyster stout, chances are you'll like this

Look - Pours pitch black, 1/4" head with a hint of brown
Smell - Toasted oats,
Taste - Strong notes of coffee, very dry finish with a sea salt taste that i suppose comes from the kelp. Very unique how long the kelp flavour lingers.
Feel - quite thick and creamy with minor carbonation

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FrankBrewbody from Ontario (Canada), Feb 26, 2016
Photo of Bunman3
3.79/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Kelp. Okee dokee, let's give it a whirl. This brew pours dark, on point, with a disappointing disappearing head. I don't get much from the smell aside from a sugary sweetness. The taste, however, does something for me. It is a richly layed taste, with a milky sweetness, cafe o lait, and a salty finish only seaweed could provide. Somehow, the combination works and makes for a darn fine brew. Left handers and the left coast are the only explanation I can muster for the question "Why would you want to add kelp to beer?"

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Bunman3 from Alberta (Canada), Feb 07, 2016
Photo of jrenihan
3.59/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

This may be a polarizing beer. Great mouthfeel and the initial flavour is great, but the kelp does not work for me. The briny taste is not pleasant. I expect some would like it very much- just not me.

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jrenihan from Ontario (Canada), Jan 26, 2016
Photo of leaddog
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a dark chocolate brown with three fingers of creamy tan head.

Smell - roasted malts, sea salt, kelp, cocoa, and leafy and earthy hops.

Taste - Roasted malts upfront followed by the sea salt and kelp. The leafy and earthy hops follow suit. The brew finishes with a bitterness from the cocoa.

Mouthfeel - Full bodied with light to moderate carbonation. Finishes with a pleasant smoothness.

Overall - A very tasty stout that takes a local ingredient to its advantage. I like the saltiness in the brew.

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leaddog from Alberta (Canada), Jan 04, 2016
Photo of biboergosum
3.74/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

650ml bottle - I gotta say, I'm pretty certain that I've never had a beer brewed with kelp before, and of course it makes sense for this Pacific Ocean-facing operation to do so.

This beer pours a fairly solid black, with subtle basal red cola edges, and three chubby fingers of puffy, rocky, and somewhat creamy brown head, which leaves some spooky forest tree branch lace around the glass as things slowly recede.

It smells of bready and lightly roasted caramel malt, a weird savoury vegetal thing, dark sugar, bittersweet chocolate, faint earthy and milked coffee, and a further leafy, weedy, and musty hop bitterness. The taste is grainy, gritty caramel malt, a weak biscuity toffee sweetness, some pithy green, I'm gonna say seaweed astringency, dry cafe-au-lait, fading dark cocoa powder, a touch of anise root, and more plain weedy, leafy, and faintly floral hop bitters.

The carbonation is adequate in its supportive and sometimes fun to be around frothiness, the body a decent middleweight, and generally smooth, but for a wee green bitterness that I'm not too sure is hop-borne. It finishes off-dry, the base milky-seeming stout starting to push away its ocean-friendly guest 'star'.

Yeah, I can't say that the addition of kelp did a whole lot for this offering for me, as not having an appreciation for it as a foodstuff, makes me think of poorly-rendered hops when I do encounter it here. That said, the underlying stout is strong enough in its own right, that I can just enjoy the rest of this little science project on those merits alone.

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biboergosum from Alberta (Canada), Dec 22, 2015
Photo of HipCzech
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Serving: 650 mL bottle poured into a small tasting glass.

Appearance: Very dark, near-black brown, with a dark mocha cap of bubbly head; limited lace.

Smell: Roasted malt, molasses and faint berries.

Taste: More roasted malt, bitter chocolate, salted caramel, and slight blackberry fruit notes.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body, creamy smooth, and moderately carbonated.

Overall: A drinkable, malty, creamy stout, though without any obvious kelp umami.

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Photo of maclean25
3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had two 650 mL bottles in Courtenay (not far from Tofino). Certainly gets points for originality and for experimenting. However, I didn't really care for it. Had the expected appearance and aroma of a stout, except that it had a fizzy head which I did not expect. Indeed, it had a higher than expected carbonation in the body. I found its body stood out more than the taste or aroma. Heavy, slick body that actually seems sticky at the end. It is a sipping beer that best presents itself if allowed to roll over the tongue and linger.

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maclean25 from British Columbia (Canada), Nov 16, 2015
Photo of wordemupg
3.79/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

650ml bomber poured into pint glass 30/7/15

A the darkest brown with very deep cola edges and a short lived light mocha foam that makes a little noise before falling leaving a single partial ring

S coco powder, salt water toffee, milk chocolate, faint fennel, just a hint of sweetened instant coffee, simple but decent

T a little booze and char added to the nose, has a strange herbal/earthy thing going on not sure if its kelp but it’s different

M silky upon entry and creams up nicely giving it a heavier feel , very slick after the fact and a strange smoked salt aftertaste

O I didn’t mind this one but it does have an odd characteristic popping up from time to time that should be expected when you brew a stout with kelp

Has an odd salty thing going on here and there but I doubt in a million years I’d guess a kelp stout, interesting concept and at the end of the day a decent beer

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wordemupg from Alberta (Canada), Jul 31, 2015
Photo of RBryn
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

NOT RETIRED, I just got a bottle - MAY 2015. The website lists this stout as a "Winter Seasonal."
Soft and easy at first with a delightful salty aftertaste. I was worried with the thought of a "kelp stout," but oncce asured this experience wouldn't be like drinking sushi or something, I gave it a try and was very satisfied with the overall experience. Way to go Tofino!

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RBryn from British Columbia (Canada), May 02, 2015
Photo of papat444
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Kump for this one.

Pours a dark brown with a gorgeous cascading light brown head. Have the glass is filled and slowly recedes to reveal spotted everywhere. Semi-sweet chocolate in the flavor, low carbonation, salty, texture and flavor is different for sure and it works for me. Split a bomber though; not sure i would have been able to go through a whole bottle myself.

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papat444 from Quebec (Canada), May 24, 2014
Photo of EspressoGuy
4.14/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

650ml- serving temp 14C
A: black opaque; tan head
S: deep, rich, creamy moka. Slight saltiness.
T: broad and rich but with a middle of dark roasty toasty bread, salted licorice. Nicely balanced. Long finish.
M: rich and full but not aggressive.
O: A very nice stout. Integrated, balanced, rich subtleties. The kind of beer that makes me want to have another sip to discover more. Thanks to Brewery Creek Liqour Store for the hearty recommendation. One of the nicest stouts from BC.

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EspressoGuy from British Columbia (Canada), Mar 22, 2014
Photo of LampertLand
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Tofino Brewing's 'Kelp Stout' @ 6.0% , originally tasted at release Uptown Cascadia , this review from a couple of 650 ml bottles purchased for $8 each

A-pour is cola brown from the bottle to near black in the glass with a small tan head leaving a sticky lace film along the pint

S-kelp , no seriously , fresh seaweed kinda

T-somewhat sweet start , big booze swallow

MF-ok carbonation , feels full bodied

Ov-ok/good beer , surprisingly good

prost LampertLand

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LampertLand from British Columbia (Canada), Jan 30, 2014
Photo of CookstLiquor
3.79/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 650 ml bottle. Pours a black coffee dark brown colour. The nose is filled with a complex combination of briny, mineral, chocolate, dry cocoa and tobacco notes. Taste is rich, deep and savoury with notes of roasted/toasted grain, nuts, salty ocean and chocolate. Texture is super creamy.

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CookstLiquor from British Columbia (Canada), Jan 08, 2014
Photo of BGDrock
3.49/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: black, with light brown head that doesn't last

Aroma: on the fruity side with hints of smoke, chocolate, burnt caramel

Taste & Mouthfeel: light flavour, but at the same time full and satisfying; chocolate and a little nutty; something almost buttery in taste and texture - it is very smooth; just a bit of smoke again in the finish; and after reading the label, there it is! - they add seaweed which apparently provides an umami flavour;

Overall: in the end the flavour is subtle but does have some richness to it, while the body gets overwhelming due to the texture provided by the seaweed - you feel an bloated in an odd way; best in smaller quantities

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BGDrock from Ontario (Canada), Jan 01, 2014
Kelp Stout from Tofino Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 58 ratings