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Williams Bros. Kelpie Seaweed Ale

by Tara Nurin on Jul 24, 2011 in Beer
Williams Bros. Kelpie Seaweed Ale

Hunting down Scotland’s Kelpie Seaweed Ale in Philly can be as challenging as marking the always-elusive Loch Ness Monster. But once you spy the silhouette of the 500 ml bottle when it does surface at a local beer distributor or bar, you’ll find the experience to be as unforgettable as seeing the mythical sea dragon itself.

Brewed by Williams Bros. with real seaweed in the mash, Kelpie is a 4.4% ABV session beer that’s probably unlike any you or I have ever witnessed. It pours the color of Coke, with a thin fingernail’s worth of head bathed in the hues of foamy river pollution, and smells of fresh barley and alcohol. The body is of a pleasantly medium weight, perhaps heavier than one would expect of such a low-alcohol brew. 

So far, nothing rises to a level abnormal enough to warrant the cover – or even the inside pages – of a newspaper tabloid devoted to gleefully announcing new “evidence” of dragon sightings. But then there’s the taste. At first the beer reveals itself as one with a heavily malted, off-dry flavor, with more than a lurking shadow of a light-bodied stout and flecks of roasted chocolate culled from the malt. Then, three-quarters into the swallow, you taste it: sea water. It splashes over the senses to wash away any upfront dryness and shocks you into wondering if you’d somehow swallowed a mouthful of brackish liquid while you’d turned your back on any hope of glimpsing what you’d curiously come here to . Anyone who’s ever been waterskiing on a lake or river knows the taste of an unexpected gulp, and this essence is the surprise promised by the brewers in the finish of this beer. 

Kelpie Seaweed Ale is part of Williams Bros.’ Historic Ales series. The bladderwack type of seaweed used in the malt was also used to fertilize the barley, which was grown on the Scottish Argyll coast just as it was in the halcyon shipping days prior to the 1850’s. The bladderwack, harvested from the North Sea waters off the coast, is the original source of iodine, discovered in 1811. It also contains a variety of medicinal properties. 

Although it’s rarely available, a phone call to distributor Shangy’s The Beer Authority in Emmaus might help put it within your crosshairs – a tactic that might make your prey slightly easier to capture than the infamous Loch Ness monster.


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